Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bighorn Sheep Hunting in the Idaho Wilderness - Revised (Paperback)

 ... just now published a revised edition of my book Bighorn Sheep Hunting in the Idaho Wilderness.

Cleaned up a lot of editorial stuff - reads a lot better.  Plus added `Nate's Second Hunt'. 


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Is it Dangerous?!!!

Is it `Dangerous’?


I doubt I will ever forget the words of the neighbor-boy whenever he would come out and cross the street to see what I was unloading from my rig after a morning hunt.  Deliberately and safely I would offload my firearm and related equipment, and then go back to get any table fare, if I had been so blessed, to take on into the house.  On such hunts I had sometimes encountered moose, bear, and perhaps had at least a few times been under the watchful eye of cougar.  I had crossed streams in freezing cold, and got into thick, dark tangles.  To someone not started young in the outdoors, and not brought up around firearms, it was not surprising to hear him ask, with all sincerity, “Is it dangerous?” … to which I would calmly reply, “not as dangerous as the [five mile] drive out there.”

Outdoor activities are as dangerous, or safe, as we make them.  I take the `dangers’ of outdoor activities (physical injury, getting lost, hypothermia, etc.) seriously, plan on how to avoid or mitigate, and then go out and enjoy.  I have been in some situations where enjoyment, and adventure, turned very serious, and I had to take careful steps to make sure the situations didn’t get worse, or even fatal, but overall, the outdoors need not be more `dangerous’ than the drive to work, or the long drive of a vacation.  I will say two things, however, that can make the outdoors quite dangerous.  One: alcohol.  Alcohol reduces physical coordination, and, perhaps worse, good judgement.  And two: (kind of like it) hypothermia.  With hypothermia comes poor judgement and depression.  Poor judgement in the outdoors, and/or mixed with firearms, can take a normally safe situation, and turn it bad.

That all said, consider these 100 Rules of the Outdoors - Things to Think About … here:

My Small Hunting Pack

`My Small Hunting Pack’ …

So here is what is in my small hunting pack, with a few notes added.  It is a pack I have handy, so I can, at just about any time, grab it, and know I have what I need, additional to what I have in my hands, or on my body.  In my hands will be the equipment specifically needed, such as firearm, bow and arrow, or camera equipment.  On my body will be ammo, or extra lenses for my camera.  And appropriate clothing.  Here goes.

In the Main Back Pouch:

1.       Bone saw.  Yes.  Cuz if I get a deer, or other big game, it is worth the weight, as I generally bone out the game where it falls.  Admittedly this item is not necessary if I am hunting small game, or fowl, or am only shooting with a camera.  But for all of hunting season, it stays in the pack.

2.       Cloth Game Bags.  Two or three.  I simply use cotton pillow cases.  They breath, are fairly light, and do the job.  Admittedly they also are not necessary for small game, fowl, or adventures with camera, but in hunting season, they stay.

3.       Plastic Bag.  Great addition, as they may serve as an additional game bag if necessary, or for other storage, or to keep things dry (including me), or endless other imaginable uses.

4.       Raincoat.  Cabela’s or other.  Actually, the brand is not important; having protection from driving rain, or a bit more barrier between body and elements, is what’s important.

5.       Spare stash of Paper Towels, or T.P.  `Spare’ because it is additional to what I might also have in my pockets.

6.       Cash.  Spare cuz the cash in my wallet, not listed, doesn’t count.

7.       Lighter.  I have started fires with a striker and (alloy) flint, but, seriously, using a lighter is much easier.  And if either method requires remembering to put it in my pack, I’ll just put in a lighter, actually several.  Matches work, also, if they aren’t, or weren’t ever, wet.  A lighter will eventually run out of fluid, but the striker and flint don’t last forever, either (especially when just learning how to use them).

8.       Full-fingered Gloves.  Great for warmth, handling hot things, or pokey things, for stability in rocky terrain, etc.

In the Front Pouch:

9.       Knife for Field Dressing Game.

10.   Sharpener.

11.   Handkerchief.  All purpose, from use as a bandana, to cleaning glasses or lenses, to what they might normally be thought of being used for.

12.   Camo Face Paint.  So as to not look like a clown in the outdoors.

13.   Laser Range Finder.

14.   Binos (Small, Swarovski).  Brand not important, but quality and modesty in size are.

15.   Flagging. To mark a route, or location.

16.   Wind Indicator.  Particularly important for hunting big game.

17.   Wool Hat.  In case you get cold.  Also important in the event of needing to be out longer and in colder weather than anticipated.

18.    Scent Killer.  (Obviously, some items can be omitted, or traded for others, depending on the situation, or season.)

19.   Vinegar.  For Poison Ivy, because we live in the South, and it (Poison Ivy) is everywhere. 

20.   Water.

In a Smaller Pouch or Bag:

21.   Compass. Hard. The old-fashioned kind, in case my phone runs out of juice and thus can’t use the compass app.  It’s the kind that points toward Magnetic North.  And so you also need to know the Magnetic Declination in the area you are venturing in.  `Here’ it is almost exactly zero.  `There’ it is about 19 degrees (East of North).

22.   Headlamp.

23.   Spare Batteries.  For the Headlamp, and …

24.   FRS radio.  And decide on a standard channel beforehand.

25.   Lighter.

26.   Extra Cellphone Battery.  Charged.

27.   `Vet Wrap’.  Self-sticking bandage wrap.  Great for emergency first aid.  And also can serve the purpose of the old `Ace Bandage’, or `duct' tape.


28.   Hunting Hat.  (Camo or Blaze Orange, depending)  Attached on top.

29.   Extra Ammo.

30.   Map(s).


Size: Small

 Weight: 10 pounds (without the water)

Description: Handy, Awesome, Perfect!

One more thing:  it's sure nice to have a little snack of some kind in the pack (or pocket).  May not keep one from starvation, but sure good in lifting the spirit and getting a burst of energy.

Common Sense for the Outdoors, 100 Things ...

Common Sense for the Outdoors -

100 Rules, and Things to Think About ...

The following is a list of tips, rules, and general wisdom spawned from hundreds of trips in the outdoors ranging from an hour or so just outside of town to serious adventures in remote wildernesses. Some are just tips that might make an outing more pleasurable while others are rules that I demand be followed absolutely, as to stray otherwise might result in physical harm or worse.

Some of these tips have been written with humor, but please take them all seriously. Sometimes I give this list to potential companions, instructing them to read beforehand. In my opinion what is listed herein is open for discussion, but not debate. If you come with me, you are expected to obey.

1. In general, be quiet. Don't scare the wild creatures away.

2. Don't ask other people to carry your stuff. If you're not willing to carry it yourself, don't bring it.

3. When setting a pack down, make sure it can't roll or fall, or be bumped and roll and fall.

4. Avoid snow bridges, areas of possible crevasses, and other potential dangers.

5. Plan. Let others know your plan and stick to the plan.

6. Don't change plans, especially in a panic or cold or tired.

7. Don't break the rules.

8. Don't step on wet logs, logs with rotten bark, or smooth, wet rocks.

9. Consider what would happen if you happen to miss that next step.

10. Children: Don't play with the fire - especially when I am cooking with it.

11. Consider collecting some dry wood and kindling the night before for the next in the morning. And if any chance of rain, make sure to cover it.

12. Coffee, if you're hooked - either bring some, or get off it ahead of time. Caffeine withdrawal, plus altitude, is not fun.

13. Work gloves are nice for handling hot frying pans and gathering wood.

14. Put your eyeglasses in a safe place at night. Maybe bring an extra pair. On a once-in-a-lifetime trip, it would be a bummer if you lose or break the only pair.

15. Have an extra car key at the car and show your companions where it is.

16. Altitude sickness: If you get it, drop a 1000 feet and see if any difference. If still sick, continue going downhill in altitude until you feel better.

17. Double check - maybe even triple check - when breaking camp that you haven't left anything.

18. In regards to the above, taking someone else's word for it, especially a child's, is a bad idea.

19. Make sure things are fastened well. It's amazing what can come loose and get lost or broken.

20. Cocoa mix, with instant coffee, is awesome.

21. Break your boots in before the trip.

22. Keep your boots tightly laced.

23. Sharpen the knives you will use beforehand.

24. Clip your toenails beforehand. Unclipped toenails jammed into the fronts of your boots while going downhill can be quite unpleasant.

25. Think.

26. Prepare.

27. Keep your hands free of carrying things. You'll get less tired and your hands will be available to catch yourself if you stumble.

28. In case you stumble or fall, it is better to have your things strapped to your pack or packed inside than to be carrying them with your hands.

29. You may offer to carry other people's things but you are not obligated to.

30. Make every effort to keep your feet dry. Bring extra boots or shoes for stream crossings if necessary.

31. Make every effort to keep your clothes dry. Bring extra clothes as necessary. Wet clothes are uncomfortable and accelerate hypothermia in even mildly cold temperatures.

32. Wear the boots you plan to use beforehand. Give yourself enough time to heal from any blisters caused by new boots before you head out.

33. Don't push, shove, rush, or crowd.

34. Don't run. Don't goof off. If you get hurt, it is harder, sometimes much harder, to get to a doctor if you end up needing one.

35. Don't throw rocks in the lake. Someone may be fishing or getting ready to fish.

36. In general, while climbing bad terrain with loose rocks, don't get below or above others in the group. Take your turn going up, or down, in such terrain. If you do knock something loose yell, "ROCK!" It is best to plan your routes to avoid such situations altogether.

37. If you are climbing and there are others above you, moment by moment consider what you would do if someone above you yells, "Rock!

38. Do not roll or throw boulders or rocks unless you are absolutely sure there is no one below you. This applies also cars, buildings, cattle and horses.

39. Don't forget to bring toilet paper.

40. Redundancy is a must. Make sure you have extra of the items that are important.

41. Do not bring pets if they are a nuisance or a hazard to others or themselves. Ask the party beforehand about bringing your pet. If you are traveling with me I will probably say, "No." Large, undisciplined pets can pose a particular danger along narrow trails.

42. Don't shoot tracers or light fireworks in fire season.

43. Opportunity comes to the prepared. This is true of the outdoors. One should consider having at close hand the gear, firearms, ammunition, cameras, or other equipment necessary to take advantage of whatever situation might come up. You alone are to blame if you are not prepared.

44. It gets dark quickly in the outdoors and it's irreversible. There are no street lights where we are going. It is a long time until dawn, especially in late autumn, winter, and early spring.

45. Sleeping bags are shaped such that they can easily roll. This is to your detriment if you set them carelessly next to a stream or lake and they end up rolling in.

46. Don't set things down where they might get stepped on.

47. Do not step over or near other people's possessions.

48. Don't set something down in any place where you might forget and leave it.

49. Consider leaving your two-way radios turned on. If you lose one you might be able to find it using the other one.

50. Always do a radio check before you need to use the radios. Both radios don't do any good if one is turned off.

51. Redundancy applies to radio batteries and even radios. If you have two radios and lose one, or one runs out of batteries, both are of no value.

52. Digital camera batteries need to be hot and fresh.

53. Sunglasses are absolutely necessary in snow, as well as sand and even grain fields.

54. Girls who feel uncomfortable urinating and otherwise relieving themselves in the outdoors should do it beforehand or wait until the trip is over. This may be difficult on long trips.

55. Let people, preferably several people, know where you are going.

56. Streams, fences, and tight spots should be crossed one at a time.

57. Rehearse from time to time what each should do in an emergency. In particular rehearse a course of action if something were to happen to the group leader.

58. Generally it is best to have at least two adults on any trip. This is particularly important for groups including children or others who will have difficulty finding their way out if an adult gets hurt.

59. Be careful playing with sticks.

60. Don't get so far ahead or behind the others in the party that you can't be seen or heard.

61. Pay attention to landmarks and terrain in case you have to find your way out alone.

62. Make sure you have enough clothing to accommodate a quick change in weather.

63. Consider what you would do if you had to spend the night unexpectedly.

64. Always take along at least a little extra food.

65. Consider the need for First Aid and the need for dealing with other emergencies.

66. Don't forget your 'personal' stuff. (You know what I mean.)

67. In snake country, do not put your feet, hands, face, or other body parts in or near places you can't see. You might accidentally step on or startle a snake. Snakes should be avoided, not startled.

68. Do not shoot a rattlesnake in rocks or other hard surfaces where a bullet may ricochet. Better to leave the snake unharmed than accidentally shoot yourself or someone else in the party.

69. Take plenty of pictures and write it all down while you can and while the memories are fresh.

70. Sometimes fences are electric fences. In my opinion a fence that could be electric should be left untouched. Learning by touch that a particular fence is electric is painful.

71. Porcupine quills can be extracted in the field if the victim (pet) is well disciplined. Otherwise the adventure just ended.

72. Once in a lifetime, or maybe twice, you'll really get into the game. It would be sad if you didn't bring enough ammo.

73. Plan for good contingencies as well as bad.

74. Regarding your equipment: practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. This goes for firearms, cameras, navigation equipment, bows and arrows, climbing equipment, actually everything. You alone are to blame if the dream-come-true situation unfolds in front of you and you are not prepared or can't make the shot.

75. Go through your gear and go through it again. Make sure it is all there and that it works.

76. Do you know where all your stuff is?

77. I know that what I am about to tell you next varies in difficulty from person to person, but I am going to say it anyway. Think!

78. Make sure you have ammunition for the firearms, arrows for the bows, and memory cards for the cameras.

79. Make sure you have all the parts and accessories to your guns, cameras, and other equipment, particularly if you just took something apart.

80. Make sure you have all the appropriate licenses and permits.

81. Make sure you have owner permission to be on any private property.

82. Make sure your equipment is clean and functioning.

83. Do not set a loaded gun unattended. Do not set a gun, loaded or unloaded, in a place where it may fall and discharge.

84. Do not bring a firearm at all if it will pose a hazard.

85. Bear repellant is proven to be a more effective against bears than even the biggest firearms.

86. If you continue to jabber and talk and make excessive noise do not be surprised if people put things into your pack to slow and quiet you down.

87. Do not shoot your guns just to make noise. There may be people around the next corner of the trail, or a trophy buck just outside of camp.

88. Don't litter or leave trash. If you are a slob, I will be mad at you and not take you hiking again.

89. Except for footprints and some coals and ashes please leave the place looking as though you've never been there. The footprints will disappear in time. Coals and ashes are also produced by forest fires.

90. Don't sleep under a dead snag.

91. If you do something stupid at home and get hurt you can run inside and someone can take you to the Emergency Room. In the outdoors it is not that easy. Be careful.

92. Cell phones don't work in a lot of the places I go.

93. Preventing accidents is far better than dealing with them.

94. The drive home is typically more dangerous than the adventure itself because you will be tired. Don't drive if you're too tired .

95. Don't sleep too close to a stream; you'll find it's wetter and colder. Don't sleep in a flash flood path.

96. Don't sleep on a logging road, trail, or a place where you could get run over.

97. Don't assume you can outrun a forest fire. Don't assume you can survive one passing over you.

98. Don't walk around barefoot. Protect your feet. They are your transportation to the car.

99. Don't put your boots too close to a fire to dry them off. Wet boots are better than burned up ones.

100. Finally, don't do anything stupid, dangerous, or careless. Don't break any laws, in addition to these rules. Don't be a nuisance, obnoxious, or overly loud, or else I will not take you the next time. If you are a child I might cut you some slack but don't count on it.

NOTE: the list started in real time on the back of a map, a scan of which is below:

Originally posted by Author as `101 Things' on and (first 100)  as revised on Yahoo Voices under `Commons Sense for the Outdoors.  Copyright (c) Jeff R. Filler, 2014 and 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

User Beware - Bullet Bounce


So, we got invited to hunt some property in rural Alabama.  There were two shooting houses, overlooking two greenfields (one each), and two shooters (namely my wife and I).  We arrived too late to hunt the first evening, but were given a description of the houses and fields, and I decided we would head out into the darkness, with flashlights, and reconnoiter.  I didn’t want any surprises early in the morning.
The first shooting house was just as described, overlooking a greenfield out in front, and supposedly, out the left side and down a short, steep hill, a stretch of forest road about a hundred yards long, after which by forest trail one would travel on to the second shooting house, overlooking the second greenfield.  The forest trails to the second house were a bit trickier to navigate in the dark – which fork to take where, `remember to bear to the left’, and so on.  But we found the second house without incident.

Supposedly, the second greenfield would be better, so the next morning, before light, I walked my wife out to the second house, and then retreated to hunt out of the first house.  We were told that, from the first house, the shooting down the road was actually better than the first greenfield, as it afforded shots at any deer crossing the road going up or down the draw between the two houses.

As it got light I readied my rifle down the `lane’ of the road, as something crossing the road would require much quicker action than something coming into the greenfield.

But something bothered me.  The trail from the end of the road up through the woods to the second house went right, but then back left.  It went up, and then down over a crest, but only a tiny bit.  It occurred to me that after all the switching back and forth, and going up and down, the second house was actually in line with the road and the first house, and thus in line with any shot I might take at a deer crossing the road.  “Had the owner not thought of that?”  I could NOT get serious about taking a shot at something crossing the road with the possibility of my wife being in a shooting house, right in line with the path of any bullet bouncing off the road and zinging up the hill her way (whether or not the bullet went through a deer, first).  

For me the morning hunt was over.  I texted my wife that I had to do some `exploring’, and would message her before coming up to her house, to hopefully not bust her hunt also.  I pulled out my bicycling/running app on my phone, that tracks my course, and turned it on, going on down the road, and then on up to the second house.  And I came back in somewhat of a straight line, to try and determine if there was enough `hill’ in the way to shield the second house from a shot from the first house ricocheting off the road. 

 It looked real `iffy’. 

And my app betrayed that, indeed, first house, road, and second house were almost in a perfect straight line. 


I abandoned the first shooting house, and ended up hunting the other end of the road, facing exactly away from the shooting house with my wife, and didn’t have to worry.

Later in the day I alerted the owner, who, to my amazement, scoffed at my discovery.  “The ground is soft, a bullet won’t ricochet.”  I volunteered that,  while shooting tracers in other situations, I discovered that an amazing number of bullets, even in mud, ricochet.  “Well, my daughter just took a hunter’s ed course, and she thinks it’s safe.”  That night we went back to the shooting houses with flashlights, to `cast more light’ on my discovery.  Sure enough, through the dense Alabama vegetation, my wife’s flashlight, held at her head level, was perfectly in line with, and visible from the road.  A bullet truly could, fired from the first house, hitting the road, and bouncing, sail straight toward the second house. 

Yeah, it might slam into a tree first ... but what if it didn't.

The next day, positioned again at the other end of the road, and pointed away from the second shooting house, instead of straight toward it, I got a small buck.  Perhaps a reward for `user beware’, and not just assuming every situation handed me is safe.

NOTE: shooting tracers is mentioned above.  I recommend that anyone serious about firearms, and particularly firearm safety, get hold of some tracers and shoot them in a variety of scenarios.  You'll be amazed at how many bullets indeed bounce ... and how far.  Shooting into mud, with hard packed (or FROZEN) ground underneath, will educate you indeed.

Monday, December 28, 2015

tornado buck

28 December 2015

Still dark, I surveyed the culverts at the two creek crossings.  Shortly after waking to my alarm at 5:15, a tornado advisory was posted for our area.  In case we needed immediate shelter, the culverts were our only solution.  The `real' shelter was some 15 minutes away, up at the trailers. The first culvert was small; we’d have to crawl in, and share with the creek running through it.  I figured the creek wouldn’t swell until any tornado would be past.  But what would make more sense would be to simply hide in the two-foot deep and three-foot wide narrow stream bed itself, also to be shared with the creek.  The bigger culvert could be stood in, crouching.  In the duration it would be shared with the creek I doubted we would get hypothermic.  Besides, it was unseasonably warm; the day before I actually stretched out and tanned in the afternoon sun between hunts.

I sent Linda on to far greenfield and shooting house.  I figured she had a better chance; the evening before she had seen a doe there.  It had crept to the edge of the field to take a look, and retreat back into the trees without giving Linda a shot.  I would hunt the first greenfield and shooting house.  It had two shooting directions – one across a greenfield toward a county road, and another aligned with the private access road that went on to the second field.  The day before we figured out that, though the trail from the road on to the second house wound all over the place, the second shooting house was perfectly aligned with the stretch of road in the firing lane from the first shooting house.  A shot at a deer from the first house to anything in the access road (hit or miss), would have a high likelihood of bouncing, straight toward the second house … the only thing in between being vegetation.  I alerted the owner of the danger we discovered, which was dismissed.  I couldn’t keep him from sending a bullet zinging toward one of his kids the next time he goes hunting there, but I wasn’t going to send one toward Linda.  So, if anything crossed the road, I would simply watch. 

 We slept little the night before, stuffed from food and drink at dinner before, and having to cope with a low just under 70 degrees F, with all the humidity.  By morning a wind had picked up, and the tornado advisory.

 Texting ...

[Jeff, 6:14] I hope you didn’t hear that sneeze.
[Linda, 6:16] Nope
[6:16] Keep alert.  With this wind they may be more reluctant to go out into the open.
[6:16] K
[6:46] Crazy orange sky.

[6:46] Calm before the storm
 [6:56] I am going to move down to the road.
[6:57] Okey dokey

We had looked at game camera photos the day before, and not much was moving at all.  I figured the best chance would be to position myself at the other end of the shooting lane along the road, get prone, and see if I could catch something crossing.  Linda was now behind and above me, maybe 100 yards, but overlooking a field the other way; I would be shooting away from her. 
I brought two foam pads on which to lay, and positioned my wool hunting pack under my chin.  With little movement I could be deadly.  From my position at one end of the road to a patch of grass at the other, about 100 yards.
[Linda, 7:04] On the weather map it shows the storm is almost to us.
[Jeff, 7:05] Getting darker.
[7:06] Any tornados?
[7:06] I’ll go in whenever you say
[7:06] Many being watched
[7:06] Many what?
[7:07] Pie shape tornado warning areas, maybe 6
[7:08] Grrrrr
[7:09] We (have) 15-20 min to decide
[7:09] Shit
I started to type out a text to reel her in, but decided to squeeze in five more minutes … so instead of ` … to 20’ minutes to decide, it would be 15; I had five to play with, as I figured the tornado shelter and the rest of the gang were 15 minutes away.

 [7:12] Me think wait 5 min then you come meet me here at road.

Two tiny things of white caught my attention in the brush.  I thought them to belong to one of the many squirrels in the area, but, since still prone, and in shooting position, swung the scope of the –ot-six over, and saw a deer with two (white) short horns.  (Whoa!)  He was only giving me glimpses, and moving toward the road.  I would catch him at the crossing.

As he mounted the shallow berm on to the road, I put the crosshairs mid-height behind the shoulder, and fired.

At the blast the deer dashed across the road and into the brush of the creek bottom on the other side.  I hoped the bullet would smash muscle and bone and drop or disable him, but no, gone in an instant.  But, with that look of a good hit.

[7:13] Me just shot a deer.
 [7:13] That was loud
 [7:16] We have ...  meat

I wasn’t 100-percent sure I had a lethal hit, so I didn’t immediately say anything.  I got up and walked toward where the deer crossed.  Blood spray, pink blood; …  I knew I had a good hit.

 [7:16] Come help find deer
 [7:16] On way

The trail was easy to follow, with a lot of blood spray and some bits of lung.  I was amazed how far the deer went.  Surely it had depleted all bodily fluids and blood supply … We found him piled up against a stump.  Though it seemed far, probably not more than 75 yards from where I shot.




We started to dress the deer.  I had Linda keep alert of the tornado situation.  We were near the second creek – if the trees started snapping, or we could hear a `freight train’ coming - we’d drop into the creek.  It only ended up raining … but Oh Did it Rain!!!