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14
Aug

One Great Game Warden

Posted by on in Hunting

When the late Gary Clancy asked me if I wanted his deer, I told him I’d take it. We were hunting whitetails in Saskatchewan with a film crew from Realtree, but the weather was all wrong for a big buck. Instead of cold temps and plenty of snow, it was balmy. The woods were dry, and deer weren’t cooperative. Gary, a well- known outdoor writer who lived in Minnesota, had flown to the hunt. I drove my pickup to Canada from Wyoming. He had taken a modest 6 point buck, the only deer killed on the hunt, and decided not to ship the processed meat home. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was about to be involved in a profoundly frustrating adventure.

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08
Apr

Me and My Cat

Posted by on in Hunting

Once upon a time I was an official card-carrying member of the Cat Haters Club of America. It didn’t matter what kind of cat — housebound cat that never goes outside, house cat that goes outside and kills stuff, or a feral ( wild) cat.  My dislike for cats was based on their prey favorites, not mice and rodents, which is acceptable, but songbirds and baby rabbits, squirrels, and the young and adults of upland game.  Then too, I never appreciated a cat’s personality. Independent bastards, totally disloyal, (in my experience), don't give a damn attitude, and unresponsive to commands, unless you say, “here kitty, kitty,” while holding some catnip or other treat, and then it may still give you the finger.  I base this behavior on the few cats in a former life that I never bonded with. I figured bonding was not possible when it came to the cat-human relationship, at least with me. 

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10
May

Enjoy ALL of your Wild Turkey

Posted by on in Hunting

        Of all the birds we hunt, I think the wild turkey is the most under-utilized when it comes to enjoying all the body parts. Many hunters will “breast” the bird, cutting off only the breast and discarding the rest. To me, that’s a cardinal sin, but that’s just me. I must have a weird chromosome, because I see every gram of wild meat, whether it’s on a dove, moose, or fish, as a precious piece of flesh that should be enjoyed at the table. And, I should mention that each state has rules regarding the edible portions of wild game. You could be in violation of the law if you toss the turkey carcass after removing the breasts.

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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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