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08
Mar

Snapping Turtles and Me

Posted by on in Wildlife

I’ve always been enamored with all sorts of wild critters, whether it was bees, snakes, lizards, spiders, frogs, you name it. So it was just natural that I’d develop a fascination with the snapping turtle. This sharp-jawed,  beady eyed, nasty looking beast lived in all the lakes and ponds where I grew up. I’d see them with just their heads poking out of the water’s surface, or swimming near shore, or crossing a road. Several times I tried to catch one by skewering a chunk of fish on a hook and tossing it out in the lake, leaving it overnight. I always came back to find a busted line or straightened hook. 

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16
Feb

JACK ATCHESON, ONE OF MY GREATEST MENTORS

Posted by on in Hunting
OUTDOOR LIFE was my favorite magazine. When growing up, I read it cover to cover. Jack O’Connor, the Shooting/Hunting editor, was one of my heroes. I read every article, sometimes twice, especially his feature stories that would take us on his faraway adventures. From time to time, Jack would write about one of his companions, Jack Atcheson Sr. I knew that Jack Sr. lived in Butte, Montana, and wondered if I’d ever get to meet him. 
 
As it happened, I met Jack at a meeting in Butte, and we immediately hit it off. As the years passed, we hunted together many times, for whitetails in Iowa, pheasants in South Dakota, mule deer and elk in Montana, two Alaskan adventures for moose, antelope in Colorado, and others. Every trip has its own set of memories, and I cherish them all.
 
Jack was fun to hunt with, a laugh a minute. Having said that, he was extremely tough, savvy about the quarry, and didn’t know when to quit. He was one of my favorite mentors. He drove a suburban, which was totally full of "stuff". It appeared that a bomb had gone off in it, but he had the amazing ability to quickly locate every item he needed, even if it was buried two feet under other stuff. His pet rifle, a .338 Mag, looked like it had been through two wars and run over by a couple tanks, but it worked, and he shot it with incredible accuracy. He liked to tell people his gun had "character". 
 
I’d like to relate some amusing stories about our hunts together. I need to say that Jack and I cussed each other so much in public that people who didn’t know us thought we were always mad at each other. Too much fun. 
 
I think the most profound moment I ever had with Jack was during a dinner we had together, after a busy day at a hunt Expo. We chatted about hunting, which was almost always the case. At one point I casually mentioned that I wondered where Jack O’Connor had made his last hunt.
"I was with him on his last hunt, "Jack said calmly, like it was no big deal. 
I was astounded! "What did you, say?" I stammered. "You were with him on his last hunt? Are you serious?"  "Yes," he said. "We hunted whitetails in Eastern Montana. He passed away shortly afterward."
The wheels quickly turned in my brain. I couldn’t believe it. Here was the story of the decade, a bombshell. 
I quickly called the editor of Outdoor Life magazine in NY. He couldn’t believe it either. As it turned out, I wrote the story as an ATT (As told to). When it appeared, the credit said, by Jack Atcheson Sr., as told to Jim Zumbo. 
There was a picture of Jack O’Connor on the cover of the magazine in a hunting scene. As I understand it, the issue sold very well.  No surprise there, and thanks to Jack Atcheson for sharing the story. 
 
I invited Brad O’Connor, Jack O’Connor’s son, to hunt antelope with me. I planned on filming it for my TV show. I also invited Jack Atcheson. As it turned out, Brad had open heart surgery several months before the hunt, and his cardiologist was advising him not to hunt. Then, a few months before the hunt, Brad’s doc cleared him to go, and the trip was on.  To our enormous surprise, Brad brought along his Dad’s Winchester .270, the very rifle that Jack O’Connor used on many of his hunts. It was because of that rifle that O’Connor was responsible for the huge surge in popularity for the .270. To Jack Atcheson and I, and Dick Dodds, the outfitter, that gun was akin to the Holy Grail. When the hunt began, a respectable buck antelope was spotted, and Brad made the stalk with Dodds and my cameraman. I stayed behind, to reduce the size of the party. The hunters eased over a rise, and I said a silent prayer that Brad wouldn’t wound the animal. I had no idea what shape he was in due to his open heart surgery. I scrambled over the hill when he shot, and was delighted to see the antelope on the ground. Jack Atcheson hunted next, using a .270 cartridge that Jack O’Connor had given to him specifically to shoot an antelope. Jack Atcheson obliged, and made a great 300 yard shot. After the hunt, we retired to the lodge and poured over old photos that Brad brought along in a scrapbook, showing both Jack O’Connor and Atcheson on numerous hunting adventures. It was a historical night, and one to remember.
 
Many of our elk hunts were in the Centennial Mountains, whose high peaks were the border of Idaho and Montana. We hunted with our dear friend, the late Keith Rush, an outfitter who lived in a tiny community called Lakeview. Other than Keith’s family and employees, only a handful of people lived there. It was also the headquarters for Red Rocks Lakes National Refuge. On one hunt, Jack and I took off from the lodge before dark and hiked up the nearby mountain. It was bitterly cold, with a foot of snow on the ground. At one point we had the option of going around a steep ridge, or over it, which would have been exceedingly difficult. Jack was adamant about going over, so we did, but before doing so we built a small fire and warmed up our sandwiches on forked sticks. On thé back side of the ridge, we came across a fresh set of bull elk tracks. We followed, and an hour later saw where he’d walked up to our old campfire so closely that he must have smelled the warm ashes.  "So much for elk being frightened by campfire smoke," Jack said. We never did catch up to that bull. 
 

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01
Feb

Thoughts about Wolves

Posted by on in Hunting

Last year we were able to hunt wolves again in Wyoming. The wolf season didn't come easy. It was a hard fought battle in the courts, and the state was able to get the Federal Court of Appeals to sign off on it late last winter of 2017.

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13
Oct

Where Is Your Rifle Shooting?

Posted by on in Hunting

Elk season is here or about to start, depending on where you hunt. Most hunters traditionally head to the range to insure their rifles are still zeroed. Having confidence in your firearm is all-important. Before I hunt, I want my rifle to be as accurate as possible, as we all are. We should demand the best performance possible. My sweet-shooter is a Mossberg .308 equipped with a Timney trigger and topped with a Swarovski scope. With that combination, I'm ready to hunt.

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23
May

Turkey Hunting's Deadly Secret

Posted by on in Hunting

Some years ago I was invited on a crossbow Oeceola turkey hunt in south Florida by Ralph and Vickie Cianciarulo. I'd hunted the Osceola subspecies before, but hunting with Ralph and Vickie was a treat. They host a popular TV hunting show, and are my favorite outdoor couple. The crossbow hunt was a first for me, and this was shaping up to be a great adventure. As soon as I arrived, I practiced with a 10 Point crossbow, and was amazed at the accuracy. It took just a few shots to develop confidence with this unique and unfamiliar hunting tool.

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12
Mar

My Take on Wolves

Posted by on in Hunting

As one who lives in wolf country, with wolves commonly seen around my home in northern Wyoming, and as one who has been researching and writing about wolves long before they were introduced into Yellowstone and Idaho more than 20 years ago, I'd like to clear the air. At least -- my perspective.

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04
Mar

Mountain Lions and Me

Posted by on in Hunting

"That lion is scared of you," Willis said, as I slowly climbed up the juniper tree.

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07
Feb

Hunt with a Man with a Sense of Humor

Posted by on in Hunting

When the editor of Outdoor Life told Pat McManus and I to go on a hunt and write a double feature, we were all for it. For those of you unfamiliar with Pat, he wrote the back page for Outdoor Life for years. He was the Humor Columnist, and was regarded as the most-followed outdoor writer in the business. In the double feature article, Pat and I would each write our own versions of the hunt. Interesting concept with plenty of room for humor. And maybe some of it would be true.

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03
Nov

Two Funny Bear Hunting Stories

Posted by on in Hunting

My cameraman and I had flown into Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to film a black bear hunt with Linda Powell. She was Press Relations Manager for a firearms company and was hosting a hunt with a group of outdoor writers. My cameraman, who I'll call Larry, and I were going through customs. He was carrying a huge camera that was probably two feet long. I breezed through customs, but a female agent who spotted the camera confronted Larry and asked him a number of questions. We were vaguely aware of a Canadian work permit, but didn't have one. We'd been to Canada many times before with no problems but we'd heard the agents were cracking down. Larry invented fib after fib as the agent kept up the interrogation. He said he was just tagging along as a friend and filming the hunt for personal use. Finally, the agent stuck her finger in Larry's chest and said, "I'm tired of your bullshitting. You guys are up here on business. I'm deporting you right now." And she led Larry away where he went to a departure gate for a flight back home. Work permits protect Canadians who could do the work, rather than an American. In other words, I could have hired a Canadian cameraman. I was ok to go because there's only one me. No one else could obviously fulfill my role on my TV show.

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15
Sep

Plan Your Elk Hunt- Part II - Nonresidents Can Hunt Elk for Less Than $1000

Posted by on in Hunting

Of the most common big game species to hunt in the lower 48, excluding hogs and bears, the most popular are, in descending order, whitetails, mule deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. Of the four, elk require the most complicated logistics because of the difficulty of hunting mountain terrain, unfamiliar hunting strategies, and simply transporting them out of the woods. Then too, an elk hunt may mean a long drive from home if you don't live in the west, an expensive nonresident license, and, if you choose to hire an outfitter -- an expensive hunt. Over the years, I've heard many folks lamenting the fact that they couldn't afford an elk hunt. The perception of an expensive hunt is due to assumptions that aren't necessarily true. Notice the word "expensive" here, used many times.

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28
Jul

Plan Your Elk Hunt Series - Part 1

Posted by on in Hunting

Even though I'm no longer writing for Outdoor Life or hosting my TV show, I constantly get requests from people who want information about hunting elk. Most of these folks have never hunted in the west, and most live east of the Mississippi.

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30
Jun

A Moose Hunt That's Hard to Believe

Posted by on in Hunting

"What's that?" Madonna asked as we drove up the forest road. None of us in the truck saw what she saw. "Probably nothing," she said. "Keep driving." Maybe it was the shadow of a willow bush or a stump. But something told me to back up. When I did, I saw a huge bull moose in a willow swamp, slowly walking away from the road. I'm no stranger to moose hunting, and quickly realized what I was looking at. This was a world class bull. Larry Weishuhn was in my truck, and he was as impressed as I was. Larry also had a moose tag, but in a unit adjoining mine. We were both fortunate to have drawn Colorado moose tags.

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26
May

Spring Turkey Season Over in Most States Leaves Me Reminiscing of Crazy Hunts in the Turkey Woods

Posted by on in Public Blog

Wanna laugh? Shake your head in disbelief? With the 2016 spring turkey season over in most states, and still open in a few, I thought I'd offer a few funny stories of my past hunts.

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21
Apr

He did WHAT in the turkey woods?

Posted by on in Hunting

One of the perks of my career was hunting with the best of the best. As Hunting Editor of Outdoor Life, that was my job-- to seek out the experts and write about their techniques and strategies. I learned much along the way. There were failures as well as successes; each incident added to my store of knowledge.

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05
Apr

My Most Embarrassing Hunting Misses

Posted by on in Hunting

Every hunter misses shots at birds or animals. It's a fact of life in the hunting woods and fields. If a person has never missed, he or she hasn't hunted very much or they have a bit of a problem with the truth. Missing is caused by many factors. No two shot opportunities are alike, and a variety of external and mental conditions can contribute to the miss.

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31
Mar

Should You Shoot Jake Turkeys?

Posted by on in Hunting

Want to start an argument among turkey hunters, or get a lively discussion going? Then announce to your group that you plan on shooting a jake if one comes along. In most instances, that's guaranteed to cause some consternation and gnashing of teeth among some of your hunting pals.

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19
Mar

Hunting Shed Antlers

Posted by on in Public Blog

Wanna see a fistfight in the woods? Find a place on public land where a lot of people are looking for shed antlers. You might get your money's worth if you're at the right spot at the right time.

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27
Feb

Jack O'Connor's Rifle and Me

Posted by on in Hunting

Having been a full time outdoor communicator for more than 35 years, I've had the great fortune to have been involved in many memorable events. One of my fondest memories didn't occur in some faraway jungle or backcountry wilderness, but in Colorado. To tell this story, I need to start from the beginning.

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12
Feb

Is there a perfect elk rifle?

Posted by on in Hunting

I've been asked many questions about hunting over the years, given my full-time career as a hunting journalist, especially with Outdoor Life magazine. Of all those questions, the one most asked is my opinion on elk rifles. Most of those were from folks who didn't live in elk country and were coming west for the first time, but some came from experienced hunters who were no strangers to the elk woods.

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29
Jan

Coffee, Me and Elephant Poop

Posted by on in Public Blog

Many years ago I saw a sign on the bulletin board in my daughter's college dorm. It said, "Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits." So now that I'm convalescing from my open heart surgery, I often sits. Thinking, at least deep thinking, is often not a priority. I'm reminded of an English professor when I was in college. He was a bit strange, and at one point instructed us all to go outside and lie down in the grass. He asked us to focus on a single blade of grass and write as much about it that we could. So as I sit here, I look around and see my cup of coffee on the table. Taking a cue from the weird prof, I'll write about coffee. At least, whatever is worth writing about. Some info will be entertaining, some educational, and some worthless.

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