Final Alberta Mule Deer Hunt Checklist

AB Mule Deer Cold weather (final) hunt checklist November 2017

After sleeping on the list (yes I am obsessing), I concluded that some changes were needed. So here they are.

Instead of taking my large rifle case, I’m taking a small case. Decided that extra items in the gun case could bang against my rifle and scope. Not good. Going with case that holds only the rifle. Eliminated rifle soft case. No place for it.

Along with that change, I had to find a way to carry my spotting scope, field glasses and range finder, so I will now have two carry on items, a small rolling suitcase and a day pack.

Also finalized my checklist which is attached above in PDF.

Hope this will be helpful if you are going through this exercise.


Equipment Check List for Cold Weather Alberta Mule Deer Hunt

AB Mule Deer Cold weather hunt checklist

(Double click on the link to see the list.)

This check list is tailored for a hunt where airline travel takes place. I’ve tried to include only items that are necessary. Minimizing clothing is the key to keeping baggage under control.

I once purchased an archery South Dakota combination mule deer and white-tailed deer hunt. The hunt took place during the first week of December. My luggage practically buried me. That was about 20 years ago and since then I’ve been through the ordeal several times.

On this trip it appears that the temperatures will be between 10 and 20 degrees fahrenheit most of the time. In order to minimize the luggage load, I’m not taking any large coat or heavy wool clothing, I am taking wool clothing, but it’s all to be layered.

Maybe I’ll regret it, but I’m taking only one pair of boots. That helps luggage wise. And, I’m taking only one pair of wool trousers, but the wool trousers can be worn underneath two types of Sitka gear that is efficient.

The “90%” jacket and trousers are insufficient on their own, but there may be a day or two when they will work fine in combination with the medium weight wool trousers I’ll bring along with other layer options up top.

If the weather gets truly brutal, I’ll go to long underpants, wool trousers and the Sitka “Stormfront” top and bottom. The heavy-duty Stormfront clothes allow no air or moisture to penetrate. I had very good results with these on my last Bob Marshall Wilderness pack trip when the weather was brutal.

One of the nice things about a guided “prairie” hunt is you don’t have to bring your pack saw, skinning knife, rope, meat carrier or deer bags.

So here’s my check list. I’ve got a full day left to review, so I’ll probably find that I need to add a couple more items. I’ll have two bags to check on the way to Calgary. That’s my rifle case and one very large rolling suitcase that tops the scales at exactly 50 pounds.

The rifle case is large enough to hold my spotting scope, range finder and field glasses as well. Because we will be in a pickup much of the time, I’m bringing a window mount for my scope as well as a tri-pod mount that doubles as a rest for my rifle.

My carry-on bag is on wheels. I finally got tired of lifting. But it will be expandable to double the volume- the rolling bag plus a small pack.

If I kill a deer, I’ll purchase a cooler and pack it with about 45 pounds of venison and give any extra deer meat away. If the rack is a big one, I’ll pay a taxidermist to skin and salt the cape, clean the skull plate, build a crate and obtain an export permit so it can be shipped home.

Antlers from a big buck are nearly impossible to bring home on an airplane, unless you commit the crime of splitting them.







More on Buck Run 2017

The first three days were for viewing, the fourth was for action. The idea was to look at the deer first and then decide which one to go after.

Unfortunately a couple of the biggest bucks were never properly vetted as they stayed in an alfalfa field far enough away that we never got a comprehensive view of them, but I think they were not quite as big as the one I finally decided on.

couple of big bucks in alfalfa DSC_0047[1 ]

The wildlife on the ranch was very calm. While David was talking out the window to a friend, this coyote passed by at about 50 yards. I snapped a photo out the window.

coyote DSC_0062[1]

The ranch has many food plots that provide winter wheat for green forage and standing wheat for thermal cover and a late-winter food supply.

DSC_0035[1] deer at dusk

David and Derek had fun with me seeing if I could figure out what critter left this pile of scat. I did not know.

scat IMG_3789

The key is to know that the critter was eating apples from the only orchard around. Proves how omnivorous coyotes are.

Buck Run has a two state refuges on the ranch. Here is a photo of one of them.

refuge DSC_0049[1].jpg

And yes on day four, my buck. He was one of the two finalists. The other was a tall-horned velvet buck that Derek thought might be bigger than the one I shot. He was lucky that we couldn’t find him on “shoot” day.

buck IMG_3797

He was a huge buck with great antlers and he’ll be prominent on my wall in a few months.

The ranch has a Washington State approved hunting program which offers an opportunity for ten unattached deer hunters to draw a tag to hunt on the ranch. Contact Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.




Flickers on Bush Hog

About four or five years ago I was sitting in my deer stand about 12 feet off the ground when a flicker landed on the oak tree next to me about 25 or 30 feet away. He was gorgeous.

Flickers are common, but elusive to the lens.

It was my first opportunity to take some serious flicker photos. When I got home and checked them out, they were tremendous.

For some reason, I misplaced those photos and I’ve never figured out how, but they are gone forever.

The wind was blowing hard a few Sundays ago while working on my Airstream trailer. It was the same wind that started the now famous Napa and Santa Rosa fires.

Birds were greatly affected by the wind. A pair of pheasants walked by me without giving me a look. Then this pair of flickers landed on an old piece of farm equipment.

It was an opportunity too good to pass up. It’s not a great photo, but it is my best flicker photo. I’ll keep trying to do better, but for now – here it is.

flickers on bushhog DSC_0032[1]

Flickers on a bush hog.

Thoughts on how California Subdivisions have Impacted Wildlife Habitat

Subdivisions of real estate can protect or limit habitat. If they set boundaries that conform to natural barriers which separate human activity from wildlife, they can be helpful. If they subdivide large tracts of wildlife habitat so that it can never again function as habitat, they are a problem, even if nobody lives there.

During my 37 year career as a real estate broker, I was often unhappy with the California Subdivision Map Act (SMA).

The SMA creates the basis for many limitations of property use and restricts property rights. For a real estate broker, these restrictions are at least annoying and often impact property value.

This Act was created in 1937. If you’re interested in more history, you can find it easily by searching on the net. It is a very complicated topic. But for now, I’m looking at the SMA and where it stands today.

One of the unintended results of  the implementation of the SMA was to create an avalanche of subdivisions of rural ranches in the mid 1900’s. Once faced with dwindling opportunity to create new rural parcels, developers rampaged through counties with wide open and relatively inexpensive land and created large subdivisions which created small parcels where large tracts of land had previously existed.

Much of this type of subdivision activity was done in anticipation of real estate shortages and projected upward values – land speculation.

The subdivisions were relatively inexpensive to create from a land survey and map filing perspective. Between 1940 and 1970 many small (often as small as one acre) rural parcels were approved in areas where the demand never came close to fully absorbing the supply. Many lots created over 50 years ago remain vacant. Many without power, water or sewer.

At worst, these subdivisions have created land no longer of use to anybody or any thing – not even wildlife. The SMA is an example of a well-intended attempt to protect the public from unscrupulous developers and unplanned development, but there have been many unintended consequences and many of them continue to impact wildlife negatively.

Wildlife corridors are impeded by these sprawling and failing subdivisions. Winter range is impacted negatively and habitat is unnecessarily declining.

Modoc County, on California’s northern border may be the county most negatively impacted by sprawling subdivisions that are mostly vacant, tax sales are common and homes often fall into foreclosure.

IMG_3729 Pit River Subdivision

This is a photograph of a subdivision in Modoc County. It has been in place for over 50 years, yet it has no buildings, no paved roads, no water development, power or other utilities. The road is deteriorating. Because of diverse ownership, resolution of these issues is highly unlikely.


2017 Duck Opener

Recovering from my trip to Washington State, I didn’t have the will to get up early on opening day so I chose to get up at the regular time and drive down to the Kerry Club for mostly social exchanges.

However, I did make it out into the ponds. The result was a fat pintail drake that I ate for breakfast this morning.

Here is Lola with her initial retrieve of 2017. She wanted to keep it, but finally decided to let me have it.

IMG_3801 2017 opener

Wednesday I’ll get an early start with my blind partner, Tom Billingsley and we’ll see it we can bag a few teal.


Buck Run 2017

Just got home from Washington. The drive from California to Washington is a long one, especially when you’re solo.

My good friend David Stevens and his son Derek have a great ranch in Washington and I was the benefactor early this week.

On day four of the ranch hunt, I killed the best buck of my deer-hunting career. Here’s a photo.

IMG_3797 Buck Run 2017

More on this later. Almost time for bed.