Who doesn’t want to catch a fish as big as you?
Alaska is a destination where you can do this. I recently took a trip to SE
Alaska to check off this task from my Bucket List. Fish in Alaska waters are
big, rough, and tough. Don’t go there unless you are up for tackling the task.
Green Rocks Lodge was our destination. A fishing
buddy had been there many times before. We scheduled our trip and hooked up in
Seattle from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Montana. Fishing has a way of bringing
Green Rocks is a Blue-Collar Fisherman’s lodge. You will
not have candlelight dinners, hot tubs, guided trips, and fancy digs. The lodge
serves family style meals, camp comfortable rooms, and battle tested boats,
tackle, and gear. Showers were hot, beds were comfortable, and meals filled the
Getting there require a few jets stops and airports.
Taking Spartan gear and clothing will serve you just fine. The goal is to Eat,
Sleep, and Fish! Everyone else will look and smell the same. Raingear, muck
boots, and limited wardrobes are the rule.
The fish we were after were BIG HALIBUTTS!!! Our
dreams came true. Big Butts fight hard, taste great, and require teamwork to
get into the boat. Getting a hundred plus lb. Butt into the boat requires a
skilled harpooner, gaffer, and some luck. The great battle begins when the fish
sees the boat. Large Halibut can injure and damage fishermen and boats.
Fishing wild Alaska waters is dangerous. That’s why
so many Big Fish live there. Along with the Halibuts, you can catch Salmon,
Rockfish, and other tasty delights. Crabs and shrimp are also in abundance.
There is no limit on the scenery and wildlife that you will encounter. Otters,
eagles, waterfowl, whales, porpoises, and much more will greet you. Rain and
heavy storms are common. Strong rip tides can also make things rough. Sharp
gaffs, harpoons, knives, deep waters, and adventures must be considered.
Alaska can be the Deadliest Catch in an instance. On
our trip, one experienced crew ran aground and destroyed the lower unit of the
outboard motor. They also lost the anchor, a crab pot, and a shrimp pot. These
add ons became the responsibility and expense of the users. A satellite phone
allowed them to contact the lodge and get rescued. No one was injured. My buddy
said that “It was nothing a credit card and a cold beer would/t fix!”
We came home from Alaska with a couple boxes of
frozen vacuum sealed filets. Alaska Air made sure that there were no screwups
and our trip ended sadly but wonderfully. I will add some more stories to this
series in the coming weeks.
If you have a dream to Eat, Sleep, and Fish, travel to
Alaska for a BIG Reward!
For more Montana Grant, hook up at
Mineral or Salt Licks can improve the quality and health of your local deer herd.“Lick Love” works best to keep deer on your property and attract fresh genetics to your area. Here’s how to best use Licks in your hunting area.
This article was recently published in www.dannerholzwhitetails.com.
The one thing to remember is that there is never just one
thing! Every hunter wants to harvest a heathy Big Buck! Most will try
anything legal to ensure this outcome. Food plots, baiting, Timber improvement,
water and land management, are all good ideas. Licks can also help.
Mineral and Salt Licks are most popular. The best
time to place your Licks is NOW! For best results, Spring Greenup is
best. Bucks have shed their old racks and immediately begin growing the next
generation of antlers.
Lick Love will work best if you have control over your
hunting property. One well located Lick Site is best for every 100 acres.
After learning your property, find an area that is near the center. Water or
bedding areas make for good locations. If you have Natural Licks on your
property, enhance these areas. It may take years to get deer to regularly
pattern to your new Lick Sites.
Common mistakes made by Lick Lovers are to place them
near their hunting stand. Other critters will use your Licks and can ruin a
hunt. Hunters also tend to visit the Lick Sites too much. This only leaves your
scent, disturbs the deer, and defeats the purpose of placing licks. Smart
hunters do not disturb bedding areas and Lick sites.
Most Lick Love happens at night. Check on your deer
using a deer camera. This will give you an idea of what your deer herd looks
like. Lick Love happens when conditions are dry and hot. Spring to
August is prime Lick Love season. Placing licks during hunting season
will impact next year’s herd but not the current population. Lick manufacturers
will argue that Fall use is good but… their goal is to sell a product.
Deer Love Licks because they offer salt. Minerals are
bitter and will not attract deer. That’s why some Lick additives include apple,
molasses, and sweeteners to improve taste and mask the mineral flavor. Salt is
also found naturally and may be why some areas have great deer herds. Farmers
also use Licks for cattle and other farm critters. Deer will also visit these
11 Minerals are found in deer antler. Calcium and
Phosphorus make up about 60 % of the antler. 40 % of antler is protein. When
antlers are in the Velvet growing stage, this changes to 80% protein and 20 %
minerals. As the antler grow up to an inch a day, and deer can use minerals for
proper nutrition. Salt helps with overall health and wellness. Once the Velvet
dies, in mid-August, the lick no longer serves a purpose for antler growth.
All deer and natures critters are attracted to Licks. The
salt and minerals will help with all of their general health needs. Licks serve
more as a vitamin supplement for health than antler grower.
Sportsmen are always looking to do things on the cheap.
One Allegheny County hunting friend used to dump a cheap 50 lb. bag of road
salt into a stump on his hunting property. The deer would eat the stump apart
to get to the salt. A huge crater was left when the deer ate the dirt beneath
the stump. Each Spring, he would drag in a new stump and repeat the trick. For
over a decade, the Hunting camps harvest was great. When he passed, no one kept
up his salt stump chore. Harvest declined and the club folded.
Here is a smart way to make your own Lick Supplement.
HOMEMADE LICK LOVE !!!
One 50 Lb. sack of Dicalcium
Two 50 Lb. sacks of Trace
Mineral Salt (this will contain additional minerals such as zinc,
manganese, and iron)
You can find these materials at a
Farm Store where feed and fertilizer are sold. Agricultural animals benefit
from many of the same nutritional needs. The Dicalcium Phosphate will cost
$25-30 a sack. The Salt will be $12-15 a bag.
During the hot summers, deer are
looking for salt. Locate a spot on your property where there is water. After
salt, deer need water. Bedding areas are a good idea. Deer trails will show you
where deer travel but place the Lick Site several feet ff a trail. Pick an area
that will be left as a sanctuary. Once you apply the Lick, it will not need
attention for 6 months. If you must visit the site, use a Camera that you can
Clear an area that is 5-6 feet
across and shovel up the dirt. Mix the Lick Love in a ratio of 2-1. Salt
masks the bitter taste of the minerals so twice as much is needed. One lick per
100 acres is all that is a rule of thumb. Too many Licks is less effective.
Dump the lick material over the cleared area and stir It with the shovel. A
bucket of water will help set the powder and keep it in place.
It may take a few seasons to really notice a difference
in your deer herd. Attracting other deer will enhance genetics. Heathier
does will reproduce healthier overall deer. Larger branched antlers will become
more common. The results can be monitored using your deer cam images. At the
very least, you will be enhancing local overall deer health.
Take time to add some Lick Love to your hunting area!
For more Montana Grant, Lick him up at www.montanagrantfishing.com.
No one wants to
unintentionally kill a fish. If we plan to eat the fish, it gets a “head
thunk” and goes into a creel or ice chest. Fish
can also be released and caught another day.
Correct Catch and
Release techniques are discussed, debated, and often disregarded. Three
fishermen will give you 4 opinions. Just because a fish swims away does not
mean that it will survive.
Cell phones may have
become one of the reasons even more fish die. On one trout fishing trip to
the Yellow Breeches Creek in Pennsylvania, I met an angler with a selfie stick.
He had just caught a small brown trout and was taking dozens of pictures with
him and the fish. He would hold the fish in the water, throw the fish in the
air, and tried every pose that he could think of. When I questioned what he was
doing, he told me “Oh I never keep any trout. I only Catch and Release!”
Grip and Grab has
often been the way to hold a fish. Dragging or booting the fish onto the
shore covers them with dirt and debris. Allowing them to struggle in a net or
flop around the deck is also a death sentence.
One of the great
things about Catch and Release is that you don’t have to kill the fish. You
can enjoy fishing, catching, and celebrating the day without a fatal outcome.
This is not an option when hunting unless you hunt with a camera.
Even with the best
Catch and Release techniques, some fish will die. Many fishermen do not
choose to kill the fish, they simply do not know how to prevent heir demise. Science
suggests 5-15% of fish released may die. This varies based on temperature and
type of lures, flies, hook, or bait used.
Here are some points
to Catch and Release Right!
Sharpen Your Hooks!
Studies show that a sharp hook will
catch more fish and are more easily removed. Barbed hooks do not make a huge
difference.The mouths of most fish
are mainly cartilage. This fingernail like material has no nerves and is hard
to penetrate. A sharp barbed hook makes a larger and cleaner hole for the hook
to be extracted.
If the fish is gut hooked, cut
hook or fly is deep in the guts of the fish, cut the line near the fished
mouth. They will pass or dissolve the hooks in a few days. Even a hook left in
the eye will eventually rust and dissolve. Their stomach acids are strong
enough to do this job. A bled fish is a
Use a proper net!
Nets vary in size and
material. A wider net is easier to fit the fish into. The best net is made of
wide gapped fabric. A tight net mesh will wipe the protective mucous off the
fish’s body. Once this protective layer is gone, bacteria, parasites, and
disease will attack the fish. The key is to WET the NET before touching the
fish. Nylon, rubber, and poly nets of the proper fabric size will make for a
safe and quick release. They need to be attached to your vest or readily
Keep the fish wet!
saves fish lives. Once out of the water, the fish begins to suffocate and
dehydrate. How long can you hold your breath? A wet fish stays cooler, calmer,
and protected. Now deal with the hook and get ready for the release.
Hold the fish properly!
Grab means certain death. The air bladder of a fish is fragile. If squeezed, it
will burst. Hanging the fish by the mouth can damage the vertebrae. Putting
your fingers into the gills and under the gill plate will damage them. Any
bleeding means almost certain death. When squeezed, the heartrate, blood
pressure, and stress increases. These are a lethal end.
Plan pictures ahead of time!
Fishermen love to show off their
success. Have your plan made ahead of time. You know where your phone is and
imagine the angle you desire. Close is often better than far. Mix up your
angles, backgrounds, and themes. If you need some time to get the picture
ready, prepare your selfie stick, comb your hair, change your hat, or put
people in position, keep the fish calm in the wet net. Gently wait for
everything to be ready. Getting into the water, along a shore, helps. Lift the
fish by the tails and just in front of the pectoral fins. Throwing the fish
around and making faked action shots adds more stress. The actual photos can
now take just a few moments. Say cheese
and release gently please!
Shoving your fat fingers down the
fish’s throat does damage and stresses out the fish. Use FORCEPS! Attach the
forceps to your shirt, vest, or coat where they are always available. Grab the
bend of the hook and unstick the hook. Avoid causing any bleeding. Use forceps
in the length needed for the species you are targeting.
No fish towels or rags!
These will wipe away the fish’s
natural protection. Imagine removing your skin. Mucous keeps bacteria, disease,
and parasites off the fish’s body. Dirt, gravel, grass, and debris will also
remove the mucous when the fish is beached or flopped on the shore or deck. Use
a towel after dealing with the fish.
Resuscitate before release!
The longer the battle, the longer
the recovery. Hold the fish in the water and work it back and forth. Allow
fresh water to pass through their gills. Keep the fish in the wet net as you do
this and face the fish into a tide or current. Holding one hand around the base
of a fish’s tail is helpful. When they can easily pull free, the release is
Circle Hooks save lives!
The correct size Circle Hook is
hard for a fish to swallow. This means more hook ups in the mouth and lips and
less damage to the gills and internals. This is especially important when
fishing in areas with slot limits. Match the hook size to the fish species, and
bait, that you are using. Many areas now require Circle hooks when live lining
or fishing baits.
Fight the fish quickly!
The longer you fight the fish, the
less likely it will survive a release. Lactic acid will build up in the muscle
of the fish and remain for a long time. This will also impact the fish’s flavor
if you plan to eat them. Fish become dormant and may not feed. Eventually they
weaken and become vulnerable to predators or disease. Fight the fish aggressively! Use a proper balanced and matched rod
and reel. The reel needs an excellent drag loaded with quality line.
Swap out Treble hooks!
Lures, spinners, and crank baits
work better, get snagged less, and will catch more fish with a slightly larger and
sharp single hook. Use the split ring attachment to change the hooks. A rear
hook on a popper or surface plug is often enough. Now you have only one hook to
take out of the fish. A single hook is also less likely to hook the fisherman.
Avoid Stainless Steel hooks.
These hooks will not rust or break
down from a fish’s stomach digestive acids. If you plan to keep the fish, a
stainless hook is durable, stays sharp, and is efficient. For Catch and Release
it may be a released fish death wish.
Gaffs are for Catch and Keep only.
Catch and Release of gaffed fish is
a unlikely. Once you slam a sharp gaff into the body of a fish, the blood
pressure immediately drops, and the fish begins to go into shock. If the next
stop for the fish is the cooler, then fine. Even a lip or mouth/gill gaff hook
up is damaging. The vertebrae, gills, eyes, and are all vulnerable to a fatal
Charter Captains and experienced anglers need to be masters of the Catch and
Release skills. They have a responsibility to protect and manage the
fishery correctly. After all, these fish are their lively hood. Without the
fish, their clients are just going for a boat ride. Educating their clients is
an important part of their job and what the clients need to learn.
All anglers must
become Stewards of our sports if we hope to have them in the future. “The most
important things that we learn in our lives are the things we learn after we already
Don’t even get me
started about kissing a fish!
For more Montana
Grant, Catch and Release him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.
ble 4 Acce
Thank You for your
Service! This is the line we give to police, firemen, military, teachers,
and other wonderful public servants. They sacrifice, save lives, and protect
our freedoms and democracy.
There were times when
“Thanks” were not given. Soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War were
insulted and disrespected. Police have been ridiculed after a flawed shooting
or abuse. Firemen were once considered drunks and lazy. Teachers are wonderful
until they are not.
One group of American Citizens has been consistent,
generous, and important for our outdoor spaces. Sportsmen have a heritage of conservation, wildlife management,
watershed and fishery protections, and guaranteeing we all have outdoor places
Without Hunters and
Fishermen, we would not have public lands and watersheds. These guardians
of the outdoors pay a tax on all gear, equipment, and things needed for their
sport. The taxes are then returned to states based on the total amount of
sporting licenses sold. The more sportsmen, the more revenue.
Open Space Funds
are supposed to be used for outdoors management, purchase, protections, and
maintenance. Sadly, many states just throw this revenue into their public
general funds and violate their true intention.
Ironically much of these funds go to support trails, access,
parks, and areas where hunting and fishing is not allowed. Despite this misuse
of funds, the public still has an abundance of outdoor places to enjoy. Without
Sportsmen fees, taxes, and support, there would be little.
Buying your states sportsmen’s licenses is a great way to
support our outdoor spaces even if you don’t hunt or fish. These funds go
directly into the programs that protect and maintain our parks, waters, and
Thank a Sportsman!
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.
Everyone has a grill but not everyone is a
Grill Master. Hunting and fishing camp are better when a Grill Master is on
Great Grillers kill
it when they warm up their coals. Grilling can mean fewer dishes, more
flavor, and fat and happy campers. Here are a couple different Grill meals to Master.
FISH in CORN HUSKS
husks will keep your fish moist while adding a nice smoky corn flavor. You can
also use the corn husk to eat from. Walleye and thicker fish like Halibut work
well with this recipe.
Ingredients include; 4 fish filets, 4
ears of fresh corn with husks, Salt and pepper or Old Bay seasoning, ½ cup of
thinly sliced green onions, ¼ cup of chopped red peppers, 4 teaspoons of
drained capers, 4 tablespoons of butter, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme and some fresh
Pat dry your fish filets. Peel back the corn husks and
remove the silks. Break off the cob at the base and leave the husks attached.
Cut the kernels off 2 of the cobs and set aside. You will cut the other two
cobs in half and grill with the meal. Simply grill indirectly while cooking
your fish. You want a little char on the corn. Butter, sprinkle with Old Bay
seasoning and serve.
Fold back half of the husks, add a filet and season. Top
with 1/4th of the cut corn kernels, green onions, sweet peppers,
capers, and butter. Top with a sprig of Thyme. Fold the husks back over and tie
the package together using 100% cotton cord or string.
If using Charcoal;
you need a medium heat. It is best to place the briquets around the edge and
the husks in the middle. Cover the grill and roast for 20 minutes. Indirect
cooking is best. If using propane, a
medium heat is best. Avoid flareups.
If using a Smoker Grill, like a Traeger; Smoke the corn
husks for 20 minutes then turn the heat. Low and slow is always best. Another
20 minutes should do it. Test for doneness by seeing if the fish flakes.
Some folks like their fish blackened and crunchy. Play with
this recipe to make it your own.
You can also add a simple salsa or taco sauce to the fish
when done. The sauce will cover up the delicate fish flavor but may be your
choice. You can serve in the husks or transfer to a plate, roll or Tortilla.
The simpler the
For more Montana
Grant, catch him Grillin and Chillin at www.montanagrantfishing.com.
If you think your
knot is a problem, then you are right! It is amazing how so many fishermen
make sure that every other part of their gear and rigs are correct and perfect.
They wear the most expensive and stylish boots, hats, glasses, and sport the
best rods and reels. When it comes to a knot, the fish is lost before the
All knots will weaken
your line. It does not matter what type of line you choose; knots will
weaken them. If your monofilament is rated at 10 pounds of strength, even a
perfect knot will make it 8.5 lb test. A crappy knot will decrease its strength
50% or more. Throw in the sun, wear and tear, and a wind knot or two and you
should just throw your lures and flies into the river.
should learn a Clinch Knot, Blood knot, and a Uni Knot. The Duncan Loop is also a good choice. Search
on YouTube videos for great directions and demonstrations on how to tie them.
Each knot has a special application.
The Clinch Knot attaches a hook, fly or lure to your leader. Using
a Duncan Loop variation will allow this knot to stay loose to the hook eye and
add action. The Improved Clinch Knot
can cut itself using some lines.
The Blood Knot attaches two pieces of line or leader together.
These lines need to be close to the same diameter or within a few pounds’
strength of each other. Fluorocarbon can be dramatically stronger and thinner
than other tippet materials. In this case, look at the diameter. You may be
able to make the final section the strongest and thinnest tippet.
Knot is what fishermen that can’t tie a Blood Knot use. This cheapo knot
weakens the line significantly. They will ague all day about the Surgeons Knot
because they are too lazy to learn a proper knot, or their eyes make it a
challenge. Take the time to learn a Blood Knot or buy more flies.
The Uni Knot is needed when using braided or woven lines. It will not
slip and is simple to tie. There are also many other useful knots to tie.
Certain knots do better in salt water, trolling, or other specific
applications. As the fish get bigger and stronger, so should your knots.
Try to fish with the finest lightest lines and gear that you dare.
This makes fishing more of a challenge. Lighter line will invite more hook ups.
A great reel with a great drag will also help you land the big one. You gear
also needs to stout enough to not over tire and over play out the fish. This is
important when considering Catch and Release.
Tie one on!
For more Montana Grant, catch him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.
This is the time of
year when we think about the things we want to do or do different. Last
years deer season is done, and our dreams turn to new bucks and deer
adventures. Maybe a missed shot, or blown set up, or mistake cost you a great
buck last season. Maybe you are disappointed with your gear, hunting spots,
skills, or techniques.
Now is when you begin
to prepare for next season. Make a list of what you need to do to become a
better hunter. Is a new bow or gun needed? Were you uncomfortable and cold in
your old garments? Were you getting blisters or sore feet from old boots? Did
you shoot just over your target?
Let’s start with your
Archery Look at the ballistics of your bow. Fast is
good but accuracy is critical. Are you using feather or plastic fletching’s?
Are illuminocks a part of your shafts? Are your broadheads working properly and
are they sharp? Did you wax or Armor All your shafts? Is your release smooth
and efficient? Can you hit a teacup at 20 yards with every shot from the ground
and a tree stand? How often do you practice? How far can you accurately shoot?
Do you use a range finder when in your stand? Do you practice from a tree
Rifle or Gun Know the ballistics of your firearm. How
fast are they? What is your trigger pull? What is your drop at 100 yards? Are
you using a red dot scope or more significant optics? Is your scope adjustable
in the field? What is your eye relief on your scopes? Do you have a BDC system
on your reticles? Do you need a bipod? Which is your dominant eye? What is your
maximum effective range? How often do you shoot? Does your weapon fit properly?
Clothing Normally hunters wear camo or safety
clothes. Does your camo pattern match where you hunt? Does it fit comfortably?
Are you too cold or warm when afield? Do your toes get cold? What kind of liner
socks are you using? Is your camo flat or 3-D?
Do you wear Gore-Tex? Do you practice shooting in what you wear afield?
What style hat do you use? Is the brim too long? Do you wear an orange safety
hat? Is your safety vest solid orange or a broken camo pattern? Do you wear a
safety vest or Great Pumpkin Suit?
Seeing is believing. What
type of eyewear do you use? Do you need a prescription? Has your dominant eye
changed with age? How do you measure distance? Have you tried amber shooting
glasses? Are your binoculars effective in all weather? Do you clean your
lenses? What do you see when you aim? Can you see the rear sight, front sight
and target at the same time? Is your scope too close to your face? How often do
you even use your binoculars?
Scent Smell is so important. How do you store
your clothes and gear? What scent is best? What do you wash your clothes in?
Does your scent match the smells in your hunting area? Do you use scent drags?
Have you tried a 100-yard scent line? How do you identify wind direction? Do
you use attractant, urine, or estrus scents? Do you wear rubber scent free
boots and gloves? Have you tried hot scents? Have you made mock scrapes?
Location Are you hunting public or private land? Do
you scout the area and find bedding and feeding areas? Are you in a tree stand
or on the ground? Where is the water source for your property? Are you hunting
mornings, evenings, or all day? What is the prevailing wind for your area? Did
you recently cut shooting lanes from your stand? Is their nearby hunting pressure?
How high is your stand? How long has your stand been set? How early before you
hunt is your stand set? Is there a history of good bucks in your area? Where is
the sanctuary where no one can hunt? Have you tried to discover better hunting
Calls and Decoys Do you use calls? Can you grunt, bleat, or
make any other deer calls? How far from your stand is your decoy? Are you using
a buck or doe decoy? Which way is your decoy facing? Do you add scent to your
decoy? Do you use a manual or battery powered call? How loud and often do you
I think that you are beginning to get my point. The one thing about deer hunting is that
there is not just one thing! When you tag a deer, it is because of many things
that you have done correctly.
Learn from your
mistakes. If you don’t you will repeat them. Never look at deer hunting as
something easy. There may be times when it seems that way but over the course
of your hunting life, Big Bucks are earned. Celebrate each success but always
challenge yourself to become a better hunter. As you age, adjustments,
compromises, and changes will happen. Hopefully your experience will compensate
for these shortcomings. You may not be as fast, flexible, strong, and slim, but
you will be able to adjust and adapt.
Be the Best Hunter
you can be!
For more Montana Grant, hunt him up at www.montanagrantfishing.com. See this article and others at www.dannerholzwhitetails.com.
We see too much
disagreement in the world today. All of us have different opinions, ideas,
politics, and needs. In many cases there is common ground. “What is good for
the Goose is good for the Gander”.
We just need to get along and work together for the same
Climate Change or Global Warming? Timber Stand Improvement
or Deforestation? Fossil fuels or wind and solar? Conservation or preservation?
Stream improvement or let nature take its course? Everyone has their opinions.
What we have learned is that in most cases “Natures Knows Best” and “always finds a
way”. Humans, despite our pollution, mistakes, and fiddling with the
environment are at the mercy of nature. It is certainly better to not make life
harder for Nature, but humans also have a knack of screwing things up.
important. All sides of environmental issues have their opinions. What is
most important are the facts. Science is key to understanding what we don’t
know. Sadly, Science is not always on target or consistent. Human greed is also
a problem. Rhino horn would not cost $28,000 a pound if someone wasn’t willing
to pay for it.
All sides need to
work together to help each other. It’s ok to disagree but it is not ok to
fight and discredit others because your opinion does not matter to them. When a
disagreement arises, create a Hypothesis and use the Scientific Method to
answer the questions. Arguments, yelling, sabotage, guilting, and discrediting
others does nothing to help anything.
All sides of
environmental issues also have the same ultimate target. We all want a
healthy and clean environment. Working together for this goal is better when
resolved together. This is the Common Ground!
All Sportsmen, Tree Huggers, Nature Lovers,
Environmentalists, Miners, Industry, and Communities can easily find Common
Without a healthy
environment, we are all screwed!
For more Montana Grant, find him at www.montanagrantfishing.
Catching fish is great fun but it is also fun to reward you and your buddies with a fish dinner or lunch.
Years ago, a crew of friends went onto Canyon Ferry for some great ice fishing. We were loading the ice with yellow perch, trout, and ling. Our veteran ice master, Josh, was not only a great fisherman, but was also a great cook. While we all happily ripping lips, Josh pulled out a grill, a roll of foil and a sack of other ingredients. There were several of us fishing near the ‘Hole in the Wall’ that day, so he made each of us a foil packet of fresh filleted perch. When you are sitting on a frozen lake in minus degrees temperatures, miles from the truck, and someone hands you a hot meal…what can I say.
That foil pack of fresh fish was amazingly delicious and a perfect way to reward everyone for venturing out in a Montana winter. There was no leftovers and I swear most of the foil had been licked clean. Fish are best when eaten fresh. It takes a little planning and preparation, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
Josh’s Simple Foil Wrapped Trout recipe.
Usually 4-8 filets per pack are needed. This may vary based on the size of your grill, appetite, or fish. You can use whole fish, but it takes longer to pick through the bones. Normally we use skinned filets.
¼ stick of butter/ pack
4 tablespoons or Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper
An onion cut into slices.
You can also modify and adjust this recipe to use what you have or what other flavors you may like. Some folks like lemon slices, or vegetables thrown in. You can also bring some tartar sauce or seafood sauce.Heck even ketchup will do in a pinch.
A grill with a cover is best. You can use charcoal, wood, or propane. Cooking by the warm grill or fire when ice fishing has its advantages.
Place the filets onto a double layer of heavy-duty foil. Add the spices and cover with onions. Cut the butter slices and add on top. Seal each layer separately and securely so no juice leaks out. Build all your packs and start cooking them. Normally 5-7 minutes per side is all you need on a hot grill or fire. Having a pair of tongs and/or a spatula makes for easy packet flipping.
Test one packet to make sure the fish is flaky and the onions are soft and sweet. A few paper plates, napkins, and plastic forks will seal the deal.
Make sure to take your trash with you so we can keep our special beautiful places perfect for our next trip out.
Hunting is a Blood sport. Blood Trails are a part of the deed to harvest a deer. Once you release the arrow or pull the trigger, an ethical hunter must finish what they started.
Not every shot ends well. An unseen stick can deflect the shot. A last second flinch by the shooter or critter will change the point of impact. Sadly, the deer may be wounded and must be tracked.
Following a Blood Trail is an often undiscussed but an exciting part of the hunt that requires learned skills. Not every hunter is a good tracker here are some thoughts and ideas that will make you better at tracking.
During one woodland hunt, I was still hunting up a valley. Off to my right I saw a buck looking at me head on. He had seen me and was perfectly still at 100 yards. It was black powder season and I was shooting a 50 caliber Hawken muzzle loader with iron sites. I took aim on the center of the buck’s chest. This is a shot I rarely take but I was confident with my skills. My aim was helped by a tree limb and I took the shot. The buck turned and ran out of sight. I carefully marked the spot of the shot and the last place I saw the buck.
When I got the place where the buck stood, there was no blood! No way I missed, I thought. I saw some kicked up leaves and was able to track the movement of the buck but still had no blood. Next, I went to the spot where I last saw the buck run off after the shot. 10 yards from the spot lay my buck! The shot was dead center in the chest. The 50-caliber slug passed through the lungs, liver, and stopped at the rear ham. It rested just under the skin. No blood had come out of the deer. It wasn’t until I field dressed the buck that I discovered it had bled internally. The cavity was full of blood. Follow up every shot that you take.
After the shot Watch the critter. Look for behavior that indicates a wound. Mark the first and final positions of your target.
Wait, watch, and listen There is no hurry. If you made your one best shot, observe to see the outcome. Use your optics to scan for movement or the fallen critter. Take a compass bearing from your stand. Mark the two positions. Travel to the position of your shot and look for sign. Hopefully you will find hair, blood, and sign. Mark the sign with a ribbon and begin to track it out.
Examine the last place you saw the critter. With luck, you are on a blood trail or have tracks and trail to follow. Scan ahead looking for a fallen critter or movement. You may also hear sounds. Use all your senses to help find the deer.
Back out if it is getting dark and you have no sign. Mark the last spot with a ribbon so you can return with help.
Examine the evidence If you have hair and blood, evaluate where you hit the deer.
Blood color will tell a lot Bright bubbly blood means a lung shot. Dark blood with debris in it means a gut shot. Dark clean blood means a liver hit. Are there bone chips in the blood trail, Rib pieces, leg bones. Understand the anatomy. Is the blood on the ground, right tor left of the main trail, high on twigs or leaves? This will tell you where the critter is bleeding from. If blood in in the footprint, it is dripping down the leg. Evaluate what you see.
If the deer is continually moving, slow down. Look for places where the deer stood or bedded. Allow the wound to do the job and let the deer relax, stiffen up and die. If you push it harder, the deed will get more adrenaline and ca quickly clot. It may then move leaving little or nor blood trail.
If you lose the trail Start making circles from the last blood sign. Mark the spots with ribbon so you can guess a path. Hard hit deer seldom go up hill or through thick cover. They also are losing fluids, so thirst is a factor. Wounded deer will travel to a water source. Be sure to search these areas.
Two trailers are enough. The more company, the more chance you have of ruining a limited trail. Flag every drop or bit of sign as you go. Slow and thorough tracking is important. Communicate and ask questions like, where would he go?” Is he walking, limping, or running? Where is the closest water source? Where would this buck bed? Read the sign and make a plan.
Tracking at night A Coleman Lantern will help you see a blood trail. The wet blood will reflect the light. Other Blue light or heat sensor tracking lights can be useful. Some dogs are good at tracking a blood trail. If you are not sure you are seeing blood drops, pray hydrogen peroxide onto the spot. If it fizzes, its blood.
If all else fails and you are sure that the deer was head, take a break. Get some additional help and lay out a grid. In most cases the mortally wounded deer is usually within a few hundred yards of where it was hit. Start in this area. If the deer went further, there is a good chance it may survive the wound. Once you have exhausted every hope of retrieving a deer, start looking for ravens and scavengers. This may happen weeks later. Use your nose to smell a dead critter. You may at least put an end to the mystery and retrieve the antlers.
Deer can sustain huge damage. They clot quickly and heal fast. I have seen lost deer weeks later chasing does in a field. Harvested deer have also been found to carry slugs and broadheads for years. Nature finds a way.
Be the BEST hunter you can be! Make every trigger pull your one best shot!
For more Montana Grant, aim for him at www.montanagrantfishing.com.