It was opening morning of archery elk season in Oregon and I was off in search of the great wapiti. I had my camo on, my badlands pack on and my bow in hand. The only thing I needed to do was to find an elk.
I was off on a short solo hike in new area. To my back was camp and in front of me was a deep canyon. As I headed into the canyon I took in the beauty, scenery and fresh elk sign. Just at that moment I heard branches breaking and spotted a herd of 20+ elk heading up the ridge to my left. These elk were on the move and spooked by something in the canyon.
I took a minute to gather myself and began up the ridge in hopes to find where the elk had gone. I sent my husband a text letting him know I encountered elk and was headed up the ridge after them. He decided to get up to the top of the ridge to see if he could spot them. As I hiked up in the dry August heat each branch I stepped on cracked and broke. The hike up wasn't pleasant at all as the terrain of Central Oregon is much different than that of the coast.
There were many large boulders, bluffs and steep terrain to navigate. Step after step, the higher I got. Then it happened... I stepped on a piece of wood about 8 inches in diameter, I heard a crack and down I went. Once I gathered myself and got back to my feet I noticed a cut on the palm of my left hand. Blood was flowing like a river. There I was, alone, on a rocky ridge, miles from camp in the August heat. At first panic set in, next fear, then anxiety. Being a nurse I knew right away that I needed to calm myself down and apply pressure to the cut to slow the bleeding. The cut was about an inch wide and pretty deep. From what I could tell it needed stitches or to be glued closed. That simply wasn’t going to be possible given my situation and location. I got in touch with my husband and let him know I had cut my hand and we worked a plan to meet up and head back to camp.
I was able to cleanse my cut with some sterile normal saline, apply nonstick sterile gauze and wrap my hand with coban to keep pressure applied and my wound clean.
The crazy thing about this whole situation was the morning before I left camp I went through my pack and removed items I knew or thought I wouldn’t need. During this process I removed my first aid kit from my pack and debated putting it back in. The area I was hiking looked to be easy and I didn’t think I was going to end up very far from camp since I was hiking solo.
Since this incident I can’t express the importance of always having a first aid kit in your pack on any hike. You never know when you or someone else may need it.
In 2015 when I attended my first NW Ladies Hunting Camp Kristy Titus mentioned that she always wears gloves when hunting to protect her hands. I did take this advice into consideration at the time; I now own 4 different pairs.
I have learned so much from this situation. Here are my tips for you:
I have personally come to like the Orion Safety Product Survival/First-Aid Kits. Orion offers a variety of different first aid kits for different situations and needs. Most these kits are relatively small in size and are light weight.
Aside from having a kit it is important that you know how to use it in case of an emergency. Basic medical knowledge is very important and could save your life or someone else’s. There are many of books available. My favorites are:
I hope you find this helpful or are able to take something from reading this!
Stacey Sutherlin, Nature’s Paint Pro Staff
There are so many things that go through your mind when you draw a tag that you never expect to get. “I’ve never been in that area before, how am I going to cover it in one summer” was a blaring thought when I found out I drew my dream moose tag. It was one of the biggest areas I have had the opportunity to hunt.
I knew I needed to start preparing right away; top priorities were a checklist and phone calls to get the ball rolling. So what exactly did that checklist look like?
1. Print out a map to bring on the hunt.
I was able to find one online. The first trip I took was in late July canvassing the area, talking to locals and finding out what most people who live up there see during hunting season.
I let as many people know that I had a moose tag in their area. The locals were extremely friendly which was a bonus. When they would see a moose they would inform my local friends who would then pass the info along.
2. Mark key areas.
I used my printed map and GSP to mark key areas. My markings indicated which area looked good for moose and which areas to save for last. This was tremendously helpful when the season opened.
I had everything marked and ready to go, ensuring I didn’t waste time when season opened.
3. Talk to the expert.
I spoke with a couple different local biologists, one old and one new. They are a great resource on population and recent years of filled tags.
4. Scout the area.
We all know how important pre season scouting is. Scouting the area at least a few times before the hunt is essential, especially in the absence of a guide.
5. Practice, practice and then practice some more.
It doesn’t matter what you come across during season if your arrow isn’t flying true and rifle isn’t sighted in. I took the time to practice as season neared to be sure I was on and ready to go.
6. Check your pack.
Last, but not least make sure you have everything you need in your pack. I was sent a package to do a blood test, skull measurement, and tooth removal for FWP. Make sure you have plenty of food, water, tags, GPS, bear spray, gloves, game bags…etc. I always triple check and lay everything out so I don’t forget anything.
The season had finally opened. As I hunted each area I made note of area with and without moose sign. Based on the sign I made decisions on whether to return to the area later in the season or not.
8. Keep in the loop.
Keep track of where others have had success. Who has harvested? Where did they harvest? The more conversations you have the more information you will receive so no time is wasted.
9. Bonus: Save your coordinates.
You never know when you will have the opportunity to help a friend. I saved my map and GPS coordinates and was able to pass them onto a friend who was lucky enough to draw the tag this year. I was able to help him tremendously when he left to start his checklist.
Happy hunting, I hope this helps any first time hunter who draws a special tag.
Erin Loecker, NP Prostaff
If there is one thing I have learned about hunting, there is nothing that is predictable or guaranteed. The animals are unpredictable, the weather is ever changing, guns jam, releases break and the list goes on and on. No matter the condition or situation if you don’t go you won’t be successful.
A few years back I was hunting mule deer with my rifle in Eastern Oregon. Deer season in Oregon is always a crap shoot; the weather can go from 70 degrees to snow in a matter of 24 hours. This particular year it was hot, dry and honestly kind of miserable. Opening day was a bust; I saw a few smaller bucks but nothing of my liking. Sunday morning was much of the same, it was noisy and the grass was crunchy. As the wind blew the sunflowers would rattle like a territorial snake. As the morning hunt ended I had a feeling about a hunt I wanted to make. It wouldn’t be easy and would be a pretty good hike, but the current hunts weren’t panning out. When I told my hunting party what I wanted to do I was told how stupid of an idea it was and that it would be a complete waste of time. Well that may be but if I didn’t go I wouldn’t know, and something was telling me to make the hunt.
So being the stubborn girl that I am I made the hunt on my own. The weather conditions did nothing but get worse. The grass was really tall and every step was crunch, crunch, crunch. By now the wind picked up and was blowing in what seemed to be every direction. I was about a hour into the hunt and jumped a half dozen beef cows. In case you don’t know what that is like, imagine Wal-Mart on Black Friday one TV left and six women with full shopping carts with their eyes on the prize. There is a lot of balling, running into one another and it is not pretty or quiet. Once the dust settled I just stood there and had pretty much written the hunt off. I continued on my way crunching as I went, the only thing I had going for me was the wind. It was at least hitting me on the side of the face, not the back. I made my way through a timber patch and just started onto a sagebrush bench when I thought I saw a buck. One buck all by himself, could it be? I actually rubbed my eyes because I thought I had so much dirt in them that I was seeing things. “He’s still there and he has no idea that I am here.” As I pulled my rifle up to my eye I was thinking so many things; this is a really nice buck, breath, the guys don’t know what they’re talking about, squeeze the trigger. BUCK DOWN!
I am not going to lie there was a happy dance performed. As I approached the buck, there was no question he was one of the biggest ones I had harvested. “Thank you Lord for leading me to this boy.” I think every bee in the county came to help gut out this buck, but I didn’t care, against all odds I had made a successful hunt.
As I reflected on the hunt, there was really no way that it should have worked out, but it did. It just goes to prove that if you don’t go then you can’t be successful. The conditions or circumstances will never be perfect, but if you go and follow your gut it may just work out.
-Brooke Smith, NP Pro Staff
We have all seen the tree stand accident statistics. It’s easy to think it will never happen to me. Nature’s Paint Pro Staffer, Chad, recently encountered his first tree stand accident and has taken the time to share his story with us. We encourage you to use this story as a reminder, accidents can happen to anyone, it’s important to take the time and properly secure yourself in your stand.
When it happens to you…
All I remember is hearing a snap and instantly I was on my back looking up at the sky. As I tried standing my left knee buckled. I knew falling back to the ground wasn’t an option; if I did there was no way I would get up again without help. I stood there, balancing myself trying to figure out what had just happened. I was wearing my safety harness and using a linemans belt. How did I fall on my climbing steps?
I started to investigate. First, I looked to make sure that none of straps broke on the tree. Next, I checked my linemans belt to see if it pulled lose. Come to find, the stitches on the end attached to the carabineer clip broke lose! All I could do was stand there and think great, what was supposed to keep safe caused me to fall. Luckily, I was only about six feet up when I fell back.
The only problem was I still had to figure out how to get back to the truck. I couldn't walk on my own and I was too far from the steps to use them as crutches. I was down to one option, calling the wife. Luckily I wasn’t too far from the truck and was able to give her directions to my location.
She helped me the best she could but just wasn’t big enough to support me. After a couple crashes I called my dad for a little extra assistance. It was slow going but we made it and I was very thankful!
My thoughts on tree stand safety has dramatically changed. I will no longer be using hang-on stands or climbing stands (nothing against them). I will only trust my hunts to ladder stands and ground blinds. I will also be changing my safely harness brand. While this accident caused me to miss work and part of my hunting season it could have been way worse.
To all my fellow hunters, please make sure you inspect you safety equipment just as much as you inspect the rest of your equipment before you enter the field. God bless and always enjoy the good lords amazing wilderness!
Chad “Sasquatch” Bales
We have reached the final countdown to archery season in Oregon. In less than a week the woods will be flooded in hunters looking to fill their tags, but before that happens let’s take a look at our day trip hunting pack must haves.
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If there is risk associated with Parabens, why do companies continue to use them? These chemicals are inexpensive and therefore very popular in the cosmetic industry. The most common types listed on ingredient labels are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. They can be found in deodorants, face soap, body wash, camo makeup and shampoos to name a few.
Even though parabens are considered safe by the FDA, we believe there is enough concern around these chemicals to avoid them, especially on a repetitive basis.
We formulated Nature’s Paint to be 100% natural and and 100% safe and therefore free of harmful chemicals and parabens. We are passionate about providing you with a safe alternative to other products on the market.
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Elk season is approaching, how do you best prepare? Start scouting.
Preseason scouting is imperative, especially when hunting a new area. What you learn in preseason could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful season.
The best place to start is at your laptop. Google Earth should be your best friend as you identify the area(s) you wish to hunt during the upcoming season. The object is to understand the lay of the land. You will want to identify ridges with 360 degree views. These will be fantastic areas to glass.
Once you have done your homework and marked your vantage points head out into nature to start exploring. You will want to head straight to those vantage points to locate water holes and feed areas, and gain an understanding of where the elk may migrate when hunting pressures arise.
So you have studied the lay of the land, but what about the elk? While it is awesome to see large bulls preseason, you want to focus on locating large, undisturbed groups of cows. Remember, September 1, when archery season kicks off, elk go into a transition period. Those monster bulls you are looking for are now looking for large groups of cows as their urge to breed grows.
You have found the cows, now what? Determine where they are going to head to once hunting season starts. Chances are you will not be the only hunter out in your “secret spot”. Hunting pressure is going to cause the elk to relocate. Study the countryside and anticipate where they will head, it may become your new hot spot.
By now you know the lay of the land, you know where the elk are hanging out (right now), you have guessed where they may head, now it's time to cover some ground and look for sign. You are looking for places the elk might hang out during the rut. Check out places with plenty of water, wallows, and rubs and be sure to mark these areas on your maps.
Once you have located an area you think the elk may be during the rut bring in some mineral/salt, set up a trail camera and test your theory.
We wish you the best of luck this upcoming archery season and look forward to hearing your success stories.