Articles

Upland Pursuits – Dove Decoys Enhance the Hunt

Published in the East Oregonian, August 18th 2021 My decoy spread, offset slightly to my left, lit up like little gray beacons as the morning sun cast its golden glow. A light breeze kicked up, spurred by the sunrays piercing the cool air of early fall. Aside from the emerald foliage of the occasional tree, … Read more Upland Pursuits – Dove Decoys Enhance the Hunt

Palouse Outdoors – The Ebb and Flow

Published in The Waitsburg Times, August 5th 2021 The old cliché phrase “The only thing constant in life is change” was coined by Greek philosopher Heraclitus. This epiphany struck him around 500 B.C. I assume taxes were not a thing at the time, otherwise that little tidbit would likely have been included, as folks like … Read more Palouse Outdoors – The Ebb and Flow

Upland Pursuits – The Caddis Revolution

Published in the East Oregonian, July 16th 2021 If you’re a fly-fisherman, think back on your first trout on the fly. Can you remember it? Turns out I cannot, but I do recall my teenage years spent trying to crack the code on mountain brook trout in Appalachia. While my casting skill left much to … Read more Upland Pursuits – The Caddis Revolution

Three Keys to Mountain Stream Trout

Published July 2021 @HarvestingNature Stepping into a reach I had never laid eyes on, water spilled across the floodplain through newly cut side channels, occupied new backwaters, and spilled through massive apex log jams. Beautiful pools formed below the jams and behind precisely placed root wads. Riffles spilled across cobble bars parallel to the head … Read more Three Keys to Mountain Stream Trout

Upland Pursuits: Urban Resources for Pointing Dog Development

As an adult onset uplander living in the heart of the “big city” flanking Walla Walla’s downtown shopping district, I never really considered owning a pointing dog. A German shepherd and buff tabby marauded throughout our 600-square-foot apartment space as it was. However, I had also never lived anywhere with legitimate upland hunting opportunity. When … Read more Upland Pursuits: Urban Resources for Pointing Dog Development

The Phenological Calendar of Kokanee

The Phenological Calendar of Kokanee – Harvesting Nature Whether you realize it or not, most outdoor enthusiasts are phenological scientists. You may never have published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal or even considered proper phenology as practical in everyday life. Maybe you’ve never even heard of phenology. But if you appreciate the outdoors or even … Read more The Phenological Calendar of Kokanee

The June Hogs of the Columbia Basin

Our jet sled bobbed near the infamous “Buoy 10” in the mouth of the Columbia River. It was a stormy September afternoon with angry Pacific surf bullying its wave action far upriver. Coho were the target, yet no one aboard complained at the prospects of landing anything willing to trounce the cut herring corkscrewing behind … Read more The June Hogs of the Columbia Basin

Upland Pursuits: A Brief History of the H&R Topper Model 158

You recognize the name, but shrug with indifference at its mention. In mint condition, their shotguns compare not to the finer side-by-sides of the past. They sell for pennies on the dollar relative to the spendy, yet (occasionally) affordable names like Fox and L.C. Smith, and may as well be a door prize for simply … Read more Upland Pursuits: A Brief History of the H&R Topper Model 158

Bluegill Beginnings

Picture a portly, toe-headed boy standing along the muddy shoreline of a farm pond as the sinking summer sun casts a warm amber glow across the water. He wore pastel yellow jogging shorts and a Mr. T “I pity the fool” shirt, white socks with two red bands pulled up just below the knee, and … Read more Bluegill Beginnings

Upland Pursuits: Conservation of the Western Monarch Butterfly

Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley, livestock pastures peppered the landscape. Black and red angus, and Holstein to supply the dairies were commonplace. Spring and early summer sprouted lush green fescue and stands of various weeds unbeknownst to me at the time, save for the patches of flowering thistle and milkweed, head high to a … Read more Upland Pursuits: Conservation of the Western Monarch Butterfly

Carving out a Memory

Honestly, I have no legitimate excuse for having not returned. The experience still calls like a siren song playing softly in the background. Snow-capped peaks and glaciers. Expansive vistas of low-country lakes surrounded by ghostly granite, golden grasses and solemn conifers. Hot springs and chapparal scrublands. Mountain quail. And honest-to-God golden trout. The jewel of … Read more Carving out a Memory

Upland Pursuits: Regret, Relief and Reflection at Season’s End

The rich aromas of a moist, finely blended pipe tobacco drifted from the crooked briarwood clenched between my teeth. Taking a slow pull, I puzzled over the two spent 20-gauge shells lying before me, signaling a close to the 2020 upland bird season. Each season brings new and unique experiences, and lessons learned, and re-learned. … Read more Upland Pursuits: Regret, Relief and Reflection at Season’s End

Short-eared Owls of the Plains

Glimpses of white flashed through the heavy sagebrush as Finn dashed across the scablands. There were Hungarian partridge and valley quail hunkered somewhere among the sage sea and She was working her best to locate them. A carpet of spent grasses and forbs provided ample food sources for upland birds, which were inexplicably absent from … Read more Short-eared Owls of the Plains

Upland Pursuits – Animals Survive, Adapt and Thrive in Winter

Here we are again, on the far side of the winter solstice, hunkered beneath a blanket of freezing fog and snow. Our latitude offers approximately eight hours of daylight early in the calendar year. And, while most humans seek winter shelter in our heated homes and celebrate holiday feasts, wildlife experience a greater challenge, making … Read more Upland Pursuits – Animals Survive, Adapt and Thrive in Winter

Upland Pursuits – Short Hunts for Sunset Roosters

The sun rested against the crest of the horizon, a massive sphere radiating vibrant magenta. Wind turbines stood solemnly shadowed in the foreground while a rich golden hue settled across the bunchgrass sea laid out beautifully across the hills and swales before us. Yuba trembled in anticipation as the GPS collar chimed and vest straps … Read more Upland Pursuits – Short Hunts for Sunset Roosters

Outsmarting River Bottom Roosters

December 15, 2020 – Outsmarting River Bottom Roosters | Harvesting Nature Picture an expansive river bar with a variety of cover and vegetation types, and terrain ranging from flat bottomland to steep and brushy slopes topped by shallow soils over basalt formations. Riparian cottonwood and willow present with sparse, brilliant canary yellow and amber foliage, … Read more Outsmarting River Bottom Roosters

Upland Pursuits – Pursuit and Conservation of Greater Sage Grouse

An icon of the western U.S., the wary, spike-tailed adult males of this species boast the endearing nickname “bombers” due to their large size and lumbering liftoff. An obligate Inhabitant of the high sagebrush, greater sage grouse are as quintessential to the range as pronghorn and mule deer. A spectacle to behold, my first encounter … Read more Upland Pursuits – Pursuit and Conservation of Greater Sage Grouse

WDFW takes Important Step in Post-fire Habitat Recovery

Wildfires that tortured the Pacific Northwest in September did a number on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area (Swanson Lakes), located about 10 miles south of the town of Creston. Swanson Lakes is a 21,000-acre tract of native grasslands nestled among the channeled scablands of the Columbia Plateau. Shrub-steppe … Read more WDFW takes Important Step in Post-fire Habitat Recovery

Upland Pursuits: Black Powder Pursuit of Mule Deer in the Foothills

I’ve never experienced anything quite like spot and stalk mule deer hunting in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The open expanse of golden wheat stubble and grasslands pressures a hunter into honing their creativity in the use of wind and terrain. Having pursued my fair share of mule deer with the stick and string, … Read more Upland Pursuits: Black Powder Pursuit of Mule Deer in the Foothills

Pheasants Forever Cooperates with Local Growers to Preserve Sagebrush Habitat and Wildlife Guzzlers

Blue Mountain Pheasants Forever (Pheasants Forever) recently cooperated with the Mike and Steve Erwin to relocate two wildlife watering guzzlers on their 1,000-acre lease with an expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract near Prescott.   Signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, the CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in … Read more Pheasants Forever Cooperates with Local Growers to Preserve Sagebrush Habitat and Wildlife Guzzlers

Streaming the Depths for Lahontan Cutthroat

October 13th, 2020 – Streaming the Depths for Lahontan Cutthroat | Harvesting Nature The experience may be miserable. But landing a weighty Lahontan? Utterly unforgettable. Ever dream of landing a Lahontan cutthroat on the fly? Want to know more about these intriguing desert trout? Read more at Harvesting Nature.

A Tag for the Table

September 15th, 2020 – A Tag for the Table | Harvesting Nature It was one of those years. Forced to fall back on “Plan B” for every hunt led me to lackluster locations and conditions with equivalent results. The general rifle deer season in southeast Washington is a predictable warzone. Public lands resemble a pumpkin … Read more A Tag for the Table

Restoring an Heirloom

I don’t know when dad purchased the gun or from whom or where, but one of its few outings captured on film was in 1977. My brother was a toddler and dad had hunted a gray squirrel on his parent’s farm in what used to be the middle-of-nowhere Appalachia. The Herrington and Richardson Topper Model … Read more Restoring an Heirloom

Status and Conservation of Oregon’s Mountain Quail

“…the covey scurried across the trail ahead and levitated above the sage, sailing elegantly into the safety of a nearby snarl. Mountain quail. “Read more Status and Conservation of Oregon’s Mountain Quail

Upland Pursuits: No Shortage of Good Days

“Any day catching wild trout on the fly is a good day” I said to my buddy Jim as we traversed a bedrock cascade on one of our favorite mountain trout streams. It had been a couple years since I visited my Virginia home town, so we capitalized on my impromptu June arrival to carry … Read more Upland Pursuits: No Shortage of Good Days

Wilderness Hues

Climbing the mountainside, the temperature began to drop with the elevation gain. A welcomed change from the 90-plus degree heat in the Walla Walla Valley. In the truck bed lay my frame pack, stuffed to the gills with my pack tent, sleeping bag, spotting scope and scant provisions for an overnight in the wilderness. Glassing … Read more Wilderness Hues

In Pursuit of the Eurasian Collared Dove

“If there were ever a time to doubt Wikipedia, you can count the claim that ‘The collared dove is not wary…’ a busted myth on rural farms and public lands… A perfect opportunity to introduce a young hunter to wingshooting or soothe the gripping withdrawal mid-way between the end of the prior and beginning of … Read more In Pursuit of the Eurasian Collared Dove

Angling for Archaic Sturgeon

Once a teenager with wild dreams of becoming a fish biologist, I set my graduate school sights on studying the prehistoric and long-lived sturgeon that swim among the barges, gators, and salmon in our nation’s largest river systems. And, as all best laid plans, sturgeon were far from the focus of my master’s thesis. But … Read more Angling for Archaic Sturgeon

Fishing the Lakes that were Not Meant to Be

Fishing desert lakes April through June is tough to beat. Flipping around on a float tube, the warm spring sun across my back, and wild trout smacking small streamers like mini freight trains is what I have come to love about desert lakes. Well, that, and the rugged, burgundy and chocolate-colored basalt rims punctuated by … Read more Fishing the Lakes that were Not Meant to Be

Tenkara Angling for Mountain Trout

The sun sets early in the deep canyons of Kelly Creek in the Idaho wilderness; the opulent evening glow casting an amber hue upon considerable granite outcrops and emerald pools below. Rugged ridges and peaks reach skyward looming over the river, defying its brazen attempts to break free of their control. Diminutive yellow stoneflies flitter … Read more Tenkara Angling for Mountain Trout

Spring Trout on the Fly

____________________________________________________________________________________________ My Tundra bounced up onto the old wood plank bridge. The dark planks rocked and popped beneath the weight. I was pushing the width limit. My hands, white-knuckled on the wheel, managed to avoid shredding a quarter panel against the steel rails while the Selway River boiled a bit off color below. Upon a … Read more Spring Trout on the Fly

Speaking Valley Quail

Published in the East Oregonian, April 18th, 2020 During these days of house-arrest, I am lucky enough to telework in my basement “deer room”, yet maintaining sanity within the confines of my own property is largely left to sunny day chores like gardening and tending to our small orchard and food plot. Unfortunately, no matter … Read more Speaking Valley Quail

Embracing our Native Mason Bees

Published in The Waitsburg Times, April 2nd, 2020  NOTE: Featured image of a blue orchard bee taken by the US Geological Survey.  Early morning strolls through the summer garden at our little McKay Alto homestead can only be described as an angelic wakeup call. The capacious songbird melody wafts on a gentle breeze as the … Read more Embracing our Native Mason Bees

Dreams, Misery and Steelhead

Published in the Waitsburg Times March 21, 2020 The unusually warm 34 degrees greeted us under bluebird skies as we turned up Highway 153 toward Twisp. My last trip up this highway was five years prior in 2015; the last steelhead season open to the public on the Methow River as fish returns to the … Read more Dreams, Misery and Steelhead

Shed Hunting the Wheat Country

Published in the East Oregonian, March 21, 2020. March is a fine time to work a bird dog on the Palouse. With the upland season a couple months past and the snow freshly off the wheat fields, my girls and I took to a secluded parcel for a run and maybe put up a rooster … Read more Shed Hunting the Wheat Country

CZ Bobwhite G2 – A Side-by-Side Shotgun for Practical Upland Bird Hunters

At just $650, this sleek yet humble side-by-side boasts attractive design, light weight, superb handling, and is tough as nails. Published by Project Upland February 21st, 2020. Read it here.  

Swinging the Runs for Wallowa Steelies

Published in the East Oregonian, February 15th, 2020. The majority of my winter trips to the Wallowa River are characterized by slippery travel across Toll Gate under an active snow or ice storm. The five-foot walls of packed snow confining the highway are intimidating, yet comforting in the fact that I might simply bounce off … Read more Swinging the Runs for Wallowa Steelies

Winter Birding Brings Nature to All

Published in the Waitsburg Times, February 6th, 2020. Growing up a hunter, my mother and I agreed rarely in our views of humans interacting with our ecosystem, save for our thoughts on habitat conservation and a deep appreciation for nature’s beauty and songbirds. Sitting together by the back-porch door of her Appalachian home, sipping a … Read more Winter Birding Brings Nature to All

Late-Season Roosters

Published in the East Oregonian, January 18th, 2020.  Let’s face it. Whether satisfying a hard-charging, time-consuming passion or taking afield as a weekend warrior, hunting hard can wear you down. And, Heaven forbid, at some point you may even want to take a break. From my perspective, I don’t necessarily want a day off. But … Read more Late-Season Roosters

Just Follow the Dog

Breaking into upland bird hunting can be intimidating, what with the spendy gear and quintessential image folks push on social media these days. But the bottom line, the only requirements are to grab your shotgun and just follow the dog. Published in the Waitsburg Times, December 5th, 2019. A hint of the long shadows of … Read more Just Follow the Dog

The Rios of Fall

Fall turkey hunting the Walla Walla Valley is as fine an experience as it gets! Published in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, September 22nd, 2019. The grandeur of a wild turkey in full strut, spitting, drumming and gobbling their hormone-crazed heads off lures the masses of anxious hunters, wrought with spring fever. Spring is an … Read more The Rios of Fall

Fixed on Pinks

Published in the Fall 2019 edition of Tenkara Angler. A rare high-pressure day, the sun shone beautifully across my shoulders into the turn pool where the river met the ocean. The tannin-stained river spilled over the cascade perpendicular to the boulder I stood against, then curled downstream alongside my perch. A large eddy occurred between … Read more Fixed on Pinks

The Autumn Stream Palette

Published October 3rd, 2019, The Waitsburg Times Fall is undoubtedly the most anticipated and contested season of the year, and rightfully so in both regards. The fat days of summer are quickly drawing to a close at our latitude, even more dramatically in climates further north. Darkness cloaks our early waking hours and morning routines, … Read more The Autumn Stream Palette

Elk in the Abyss

Published as a series in the Milton-Freewater Valley Herald, August 9th and 16th, 2019. Friday, October 28th, 2016, at 10:00pm I was startled awake as my lovely wife, Ali, bailed out of bed in a mad dash for the phone. We are early-to-rise, early-to-bed folks, and our friends typically don’t call after about 7:30pm; therefore, … Read more Elk in the Abyss

Paddle-boarding the Snake: It’s for the Dogs

Published August 1st, 2019 in the The Times The first time I spied a stand-up paddle board (SUP) was cruising South on Highway 97 somewhere around Orondo, WA, on the Columbia River. A perplexing and comical sight, it appeared that folks were paddling surf boards and going nowhere for no reason and not getting there … Read more Paddle-boarding the Snake: It’s for the Dogs

Propagating an Outdoor Heritage

Published July 26th, 2019 in the Milton-Freewater Valley Herald What do native habitat restoration, clay targets and the youth of our local communities have in common? Pheasants Forever. And the future of native habitat conservation and outdoor recreation at the hands of our future leaders advocating for all of these. Habitat enhancement and youth involvement … Read more Propagating an Outdoor Heritage

Back-country Trek for Treasure Lakes Trout

Thirty minutes of channeling my inner mountain goat, teetering and hopping up, over, and across jagged granite perched me 11,300 feet above sea-level. With burning thighs and short breath, I gazed back at Long Lake about a mile and hundreds of feet below. The journey to landing a California golden trout on the fly in … Read more Back-country Trek for Treasure Lakes Trout

From Raghorns to Riches

An special draw elk hunt in Idaho’s Unit 37, Big Lost Wilderness, gave us four seasons with warm summer sun, firgid winter temps, gale-force winds, snow and fog, forty-five miles of steep mountain terrain, botched stalks, and sleepless nights. What we took from it? Incredible scenery, solitude, mental and physical health, and in the end, … Read more From Raghorns to Riches

Pheasants Forever Hosts First Fundraiser Hunt Test at Clyde Preserve

Blue Mountain Pheasants Forever holds their first Pheasant Challenge to raise funds for habitat and youth involvement in the outdoors. Published in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, February 17th, 2019.

Hunting for Habitat

Pheasants Forever hosts their first hunt test fundraiser to bolster habitat and youth shooting funds. Published in the Waitsburg Times, February 14th, 2019.

Idaho Gold: Prospecting the Overlooked and Underrated for Backcountry Cutthroat

The cutthroat angling in the Idaho backcountry can be phenomenal, but is no secret. When the pressure is on, taking to the “marginal” water, tenkara-style, can avoid fishing used water and salvage an epic experience. Details are available in fall 2018 issue of Tenakra Angler.

Pheasant Hunting the Walla Walla Valley Uplands

Published in the Union Bulletin, September 23rd, 2018. I sat alone in the gray calm of dawn, gazing contently across my food plot. A few wary whitetails snagged a snack on their morning commute. Steam curled up from a hot cup of coffee, tickling the hairs on my face and nose as I sipped in … Read more Pheasant Hunting the Walla Walla Valley Uplands

Shedding the Blues

  Walla Walla Union Bulletin, April 29, 2018. I spent the last several minutes marveling over the roster’s brilliant plumage. The girls were electrified, showered in praise as I slid the rooster into my vest. It was late in the season; the thick reed canary grass was crusted hard with snow and broken over the … Read more Shedding the Blues

Anticipate the Flush

Every bird dog has its own style with nuances that tell a different story in a variety of hunting situations. In this post, I explain the subtleties in the posture and eyes of my oldest Llewellin setter, Finn. What has your pointing dog been telling you over the years? Give it a read at Uplander … Read more Anticipate the Flush

Pheasants Forever Promotes Family Fun and Getting Outdoors

While many were braving the wee hours, and elbowing their way into good deals downtown, seven families thought better of the Black Friday chaos and opted to attend the annual Family Hunt, courtesy of Blue Mountains Pheasants Forever (BMPF). The Family Hunt is a special event that BMPF sponsors to express appreciation for our membership’s … Read more Pheasants Forever Promotes Family Fun and Getting Outdoors

Yuba

               The 2015 upland bird season in southeast Washington provided a better bird year than 2014 and I found my Llewellyn setters hunted better than ever. My pup, Laurel Mountain’s Yuba was in her first season afield. She was born with severe hip dysplasia; hence, we don’t work her very hard or long, but she … Read more Yuba

Tales of a Novice-Run Bass Tournament

University of Connecticut Student Subunit