Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mark & Terry Drury VLOG 1

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rick Malik - Alberta Bound

Many Drury Outdoors team members enjoy fantastic hunting in their backyards. For Gregg Day and myself, many of our best experiences come from trips we make out of state. Living in southwestern Pennsylvania, opportunities for excellent hunting are becoming quite rare. For years, I have been traveling to the Midwest and Canada and have experienced some fantastic hunts. This year would find Gregg and I in northern Alberta hunting with Troy and Lisa Foster of North Alberta Outfitters for huge black bears. On this trip, we would be filming for our new PSE and Drury Outdoors Bow Madness show. The first challenge of the hunt was we had to go extremely early in May because my wife Karen and I were expecting our third child in early June. We had planned 10-days for the trip, and I was confident we would be able to leave early. That said, I was very nervous about not being home if my wife went into labor early. Let's face it, if she did, I might just as well cover myself in honey and spend the rest of May in a bait barrel. The outcome would probably be better than missing the birth of my daughter.

Traveling out of state, and especially out of the country, presents several challenges. First is where to go? I absolutely love western Canada. Alberta is one of the most beautiful places on earth to hunt. Albertans enjoy a very diverse choice of game. Everything from huge Whitetails, Mule Deer, Moose, Elk, Black Bears, Grizzly Bears, Sheep, Goats, Waterfowl, and the list goes on. We were fortunate to be invited north to hunt with Troy Foster who is one of Alberta's premier outfitters. Troy's hunters have traditionally harvested some really incredible black bears. Another benefit to hunting black bears in Alberta is the two bear limit. For the first time bear hunter this alone is a great value for the price of the hunt. It's difficult to explain how beautiful northern Alberta is in the springtime. It truly is a wilderness hunting experience and bear hunting is a very enjoyable and relaxing hunt. Typically you don't get to your stand until early afternoon, so mornings are very laid back and reserved for fishing, running baits or in Gregg's case, sleeping and eating! Another good thing is that it stays daylight in this part of Alberta until 10:30pm at night. This allows for a lot of hunting time. The bad part is that it stays daylight until 10:30pm at night. This means you sometimes will not get back to camp until well after midnight! And oh yeah, it gets daylight at 4:00am! When on stand in one of Troy's baits, you are likely to see multiple bears, wolves, deer, moose and a whole assortment of small game. You definitely will not be bored!

Because we were traveling so far, this meant a lot of pre-hunt planning. Thus the second challenge was getting there. When traveling by plane, my first rule of travel is plan for the least amount of connections. Unfortunately, airline baggage handling falls far short of reliable. In addition, when booking your trip, plan for at least 1-½ hours for connections. This will give you the best chance to arrive in your hunting destination with your gear. For our trip, we flew Northwest from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Edmonton Alberta. I particularly like to make my first connection in the states if possible. Minneapolis allows for a lot of connections to the north country. The reason I like this option is that you do not have to go through customs until your final destination. If you fly through a Canadian city on your connection, you have to go through customs, claim your luggage, then re-check your bags to your final destination.

When Gregg and I travel together, we always try to take our most critical gear and split it between our bags. Putting clothing, boots, releases, broad heads, etc in each other's bags ensures if one bag is lost, we are still hunting. We never pack our bows together in the same case. Gregg and I can shoot each other's bows, so if one bow makes the trip, we are still in luck. Lucky for us, we arrived in Edmonton with all our gear. Another very annoying reality of travel is how much to take. Today, on most airlines, you will be charged for every bag you check unless you are a preferred flyer. For those of you who have seen our hunts, you know Gregg and I always have way too much gear. On this hunt, we only had one extra bag, so it didn't hurt too much.

For a black bear hunt, you really don't need to pack much differently than you would for a whitetail hunt. Any bow that is good for deer is fine for bears. I shoot my PSE X-Force at 63# and have shot through every bear I have shot at. Cutting a big hole is what it's all about on bears, and our Rage 2-blade broad heads performed flawlessly. Must have gear includes good rain gear, a couple sets of Scent Blocker suits, knee high rubber boots, and of course a safety belt. Rest assured you will face temperatures from the 30's up into the high 70's, so dress in layers. One item we never go bear hunting without is our ThermaCell. To me, this is one of the greatest inventions hunting has seen! Another great tip for packing is to put all of your clothing in Space Saver bags. Once sealed, these bags can be compressed to a fraction of their size with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac. Clothes stay both scent-free and dry. Just make sure your outfitter has a vacuum on their side and you are in business.

No bags can be over 50#, so Gregg and I are meticulous about weighing them before we leave. We place as much gear in our bow cases as possible. This includes binoculars, range finders, bow hangers, knives, and even clothing. Another thing we do is take a good size backpack and place all our personal clothing and gear with us on the plane. This ensures you will at least be able to change clothes if your duffle bag is lost. One final thought is to pack a collapsible duffle bag. This can be used to bring your bear hides back to the US. It is perfectly legal to bring your bears back to the states on the plane with you. This may cause you to pay $50-$100 extra on your trip back, but you will save hundreds of dollars in shipping fees by having your personal taxidermist handle your bears.

This hunt was nothing short of outstanding. Troy and his guides worked extremely hard to put all of the hunters in camp on good baits. The result was 4 great bears and a lifetime of memories. I can't wait to get back to Alberta again. For a full description of the hunt, please visit our Drury team journal. The best part was I made it home with plenty of time to spare. The bear hunt was great, but nothing can compare to the blessing we received on June 5th. Say hello to Kolbie Jade Malik!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

John O'Dell - Things to do in the off season..

Beyond my passion for hunting I really enjoy fishing as well. I feel fortunate in that both of my children Madison (10) and Jacob (7) have inherited my love of the outdoors and they both especially enjoy going fishing with dad. That said one of our favorite places to go fishing together is on Fort Myers Beach, FL.

My mother and father in-law have a condo right on the beach where the Gulf of Mexico flows through Big Carlos Pass into Estero Bay. The incoming and outgoing tides make cuts in the beach and the bait fish white bait follow the cuts in and out of the bay to and from the ocean with the tides. This creates some incredible inshore fishing opportunities for a real mixed bag.

During our most recent trip down to the Sunshine State my kids caught many different varieties of fish including the inshore slam of Snook, Trout, and Redfish and the trashcan slam of Ladyfish, Catfish, and Jacks. Our best day we caught over 50 fish on live bait and artificial lures.

My daughter Madison has become quite the fisherwoman and I am pretty sure that she out fished everyone on the beach during the time that we were there including her dad. It is a feeling that is difficult to describe when I see the excitement in my childrens' eyes as they are playing tug of war with a big fish. It is fast becoming a family tradition to make trips down to the Sunshine State to do spend quality time as a family and when we are lucky to catch lots of fish. My daughter says that fishing is ok but catching is way more fun! I have to agree with my 10 year old on that one! Enjoy some photos of Madison and Jacob and their big catch!