28 August 2012Summer! Do you like it? Me? I have mixed feelings about the Summer Season. I live in southwest Texas where the average summer daytime high is usually pretty close to 100. Quite often I question myself, “Why?”. I do not care for hot or even warm weather. When our temperatures go above about 75 I’m ready to go somewhere else where it’s cooler or simply hide in the house. I’m one who believes the world’s greatest invention EVER is indoor air conditioning. As long as I can afford the electrical bill to keep my home cool, I will do so! I grew up in the country, on the edge of the Texas coastal plains in a little German Community known as Zimmerscheidt located between Houston and San Antonio albeit closer to Houston. The summer temperatures were and continue to be high as was the humidity. My summers years ago were filled with hauling hay, for our family but also for others in our community. Pay was not all that great, but in most instances hay hauling duties also included being fed dinner and supper. The folks where I grew up knew how to cook good food. Breaks also occasionally included cold watermellon! The benefits of the summer work were getting in great body conditions and procure enough pocket change to buy .22 shells and the latest issues of Outdoor Life and Sports Afield. I lived for the latest issues of those two outdoor publications, back then costing a whopping 35 cents each. As summer turned to fall there were always hunting tales from Jack O’Connor, Pete Brown, Russell Annabell, and many others. I traveled the world with those writers and secretly dreamed some day I would follow in their footsteps to hunt the Northern Rockies, Alaska, Africa and elsewhere. I’ve been fortunate and have indeed hunted some of the areas these early writers did. Love it! Got a bit side-tracked there thinking about hunts I still want to do, which some of those early writers did. Later this summer I’m headed to Kyrgyzstan, which used to be part of Russia. The object of my hunt will be the Asian ibex, the largest bodied of the ibex clan I’ve been told. I’m also hoping we’ll have time to hunt Siberian roe deer. I’ve never before hunted Asia and I’ve never before hunted any of the ibex clan. I am truly looking forward to doing so. I’m trying to learn all I can about Asian ibex, including going back and reading Kermit Roosevelt’s “East of the Sun West of the Moon”. And I’m doing my best to find other books that might provide some insight as to what to expect. Too I’ve got my old friend Bob Harper, with Outdoor Visions (>www.outdoorvisions.com), going through their extensive video/dvd list and book list to see what he can find for me about hunting Asian Ibex and Siberian roe deer. I have hunted roe deer in Austria and England, but the European variety. I’ve been told the Siberian roe deer is considerably bigger in body and antlers. The primary focus of our hunt will be ibex and if there is any time left, or a chance encounter of a roe deer, I’ll do my best to collect a “representative of the species”. With a few exceptions, I normally look for mature representatives. There are exceptions, such as when I hunt kudu and mule deer. Whenever in Africa I am always looking for a 60 inch or better kudu. I’ve taken several and I dearly love hunting greater kudu. When it comes to mule deer I shot my first in 1970, a desert mule deer high on a ridge just north of Kent, Texas and I love hunting older bucks with big antlers. Later this fall I have three mule deer hunts set up, one in Montana, one in central New Mexico and one in Sonora, Mexico. My goal in each of those hunts will be to find and take the biggest antlered buck I can. Those are the two exception to my “I’ll take the first mature animal I see!” and I make no excuses for doing so. This morning, I have just returned from my usual 2 mile walk. To stay in shape for various kinds of terrain hunt I walk a minimum of 2 miles each morning and while doing so I carry a pack that weighs a minimum of 25 pounds. Usually two to three weeks before I go on a hunt that will require a lot of walking I increase the weight in my pack to 50 pounds. I live where it’s relatively flat, and I’ve found, for me personally, the best thing I can do to prepare for such hunts is to carry a heavy pack while walking. I live at an “altitude” of about 600 feet above sea level. And when “mountain hunting” I’ve always noticed about the third or so day when I’m at higher altitudes I finally am not quite so out of breath. I asked several lung and heart specialists about this and they told me, “It takes your circulatory system about three to five days to adjust to drastic changes in altitude because of the lower oxygen in the “high country”. There is nothing you can do about this beyond arriving three to five days early to adapt.” When and where possible these days when going to above 5,000 feet elevation I try to do just that, but I can’t always do it. In those instances I simply try to be in the best possible shape and then take it slow the first few days. “Slow” has many advantages! Several years ago while on a goat hunt in the Muskwa River region of British Columbia with Tom Vince, I learned a lot. Tom’s continual saying was “Slow and steady kills the goat!” We did just that, moved slowly, but also steadily. And after numerous hours of inching our way up an extremely steep slope I shot my goat! As I’ve gotten older I’ve slowed down quite a bit when walking while hunting. The result has been I’ve become a much better hunter, because I spend more time looking and actually seeing! Regardless of whether you have mountain hunts looming in your future, or you’re simply going to only have to walk about a hundred yards to your whitetail stand. Getting in better shape and staying there is important! So as soon as you finish this, let me suggest you get up and walk. In better shape you’ll enjoy your hunts all that much more, no matter where you hunt!