Hunting Trips

Hunting high: physical and mental preparation for high-country hunting trips (P1)

They left camp in the dark, he and his guide, and climbed steadily for an hour. Every ten minutes the guide stopped and waited for him to catch up. He’d arrive, chuffing like a steam locomotive, breaths driven by his heaving belly. Above his left eye lived a dull throb, an incipient headache that had been with him since they reached camp last night.

The plate of eggs and bacon that the cook handed him at breakfast turned his stomach. He’d downed juice and coffee and stuffed granola bars in his pocket. Though he’d only had a couple of Scotches the night before, he felt as if he were in the throes of a monumental hangover. It was a hell of a way to begin a five-day high-timber elk hunt.

His guide thought so too, and with the aplomb of a diplomat asked his hunter how he felt.

“I’ll be all right when I get … my breath,” the hunter said.

Hearing the rasp in the hunter’s voice and seeing that he’d not yet stopped his open-mouth panting, the guide made a decision: They’d hunt close to camp. Chances of getting a bull, any bull, let alone a trophy, would be slim. But if the hunter had a heart attack or began to hyperventilate, the guide could get him off the mountain quickly and perhaps save his life. So much for the hunt of a lifetime.

Nothing ruins an elk, sheep, or goat hunt like the occasionally lethal combination of altitude sickness and exhaustion. Add the pain caused by little-used muscles and ill-fitting boots, as well as the unaccustomed discomfort caused by cold and wet conditions, and a $5,000 hunt could be over before the sun sets on the first day out of camp.

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Hunting Trips

Nice Guns

Imagine walking into Cabela’s or Gander Mountain and having your pick of shotguns for the next hunting trip. Browning made that happen for us in South Dakota. When I learned of the trip, I was told to leave my shotgun at home. It’s a good thing I did. I don’t think Browning representatives would appreciate me showing up with my Remington Model 870 pump action.

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Hunting Trips

Good potholes: a hunting trip for the ages

 Crisp, fall air blanketed northeastern South Dakota as my Ford truck rambled down a nearly deserted highway toward a little piece of hunting paradise. I rolled down my window to get a better view and take in the cool, fresh air that could only mean one thing: It’s waterfowl and upland bird hunting time.

I passed through one of the several small towns located in the region until I arrived in Veblen, S.D. I love small town America. Veblen totes a population near 300 and has your ordinary one stop through its city limits. After double checking my map, I turned down a gravel road and made one of my final maneuvers toward Prairie Sky Ranch. I was about as excited as a hunting dog loading up for another weekend trip to the duck blind. It was tough to stay bottled up in the truck as I passed slews (known as potholes here) loaded with waterfowl.
This was going to be a great trip.

After four hours on the road from my Minneapolis home, I had finally arrived at Prairie Sky Ranch. Thanks to a partnership formed by Polaris, Browning, Mossy Oak and Winchester, I was about to have the hunt of a lifetime.

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Hunting Trips

Priarie Sky Ranch

Immediately upon arrival, I was greeted by Bruce Prins and his wife. Corrine, who together have created a top-notch hunting facility. The Prins’ Prairie Sky Ranch is located in the Glacial Lakes Region, which means wetlands and lakes dot the area and wildlife is abundant. The ranch is located on the top of a ridge formed by glaciers thousands of years ago.

The Prins directed me to the cabin I’d be using to “rough it” in for five days. As I walked up the porch which has a terrific view of the hills and prairies and walked into the cabin, I realized I wouldn’t be coming close to roughing it on this trip. The comfortable cabin featured a stone fireplace and wonderfully designed pine interior. The cabin I would share with three others in camp featured a fully operational bathroom, two bedrooms and a loft for a total of five beds. A comfortable couch and chairs were spread out in front the fireplace and a dining room table was positioned nicely by a window with wonderful views of the surrounding landscape. In fact, the cabin was designed so nicely members of my hunting camp were plotting to build replicas after snapping off several photos.

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