Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Meat Wagon Returns

I woke up yesterday not really having much enthusiasm for the final day of the waterfowl season out here in Montana. We haven't had the weather so the hunting has been sub-par at best; at least on the upper part of the Missouri River near Craig, MT. But that's a "me" problem I have quickly come to realize. 

The upper stretches have been getting pounded by local hunters in recent years, which compiles the problem with the weather being so mild. Ducks and geese have miles and miles of open water and food and don't need to be in the shooting gallery the upper stretch has become. Usually, by now the reservoirs are all frozen up as well as the lower stretch of the Missouri below Pelican Point. If not completely froze, at least enough cake ice floating downstream that the birds get really nervous and look for warmer, less obstructed water. Snow in the fields definitely help as well. 

This last weekend, we did a couple cast and blasts down low just trying to find birds. We did pretty well and did see a ton of birds but to float that stretch is a big commitment. It's 9 1/2 miles long so access without a motor is a little time consuming and by yourself, a little boring. Tuesday, I hunted the upper stretch thinking maybe, with the break in the season and it being late in January, those birds would have found that water. They did not so yesterday I decided to put the Meat Wagon back into commission for a final hunt and go to where the birds are and not where I'd like them to be.

If you recall, the Meat Wagon is a 13 foot fishing boat with a 9 hp motor. I bought the boat for $120 and am borrowing the motor from a buddy. I'll be honest, it's a little scary once you get all loaded up so I haven't been using it much. Then you put a dog in there with sever anxiety issues and it's not the most pleasant experience rocking back and forth and bucking riffles. But it's the last day and you only live once...

The only drawback to yesterday was feeling like I should have done this sooner. I'm not saying it was epic but I will say the birds were there and they were in a much more cooperative spirit then what they are on the upper stretch. I wound up shooting a couple geese and should have shot a couple more to make it a wrap and also a handful of mallards. Again, had my shooting been better, I could have left with a limit of geese and mallards to round out the season. Cutter was happy. I was happy. It was a great way to end the season and we all made it back to the boat ramp safely, which is saying something given the condition of the Meat Wagon.

I know I've harped on this before but I'm going bring up a couple points to re-emphasize. Pick up your garbage. Seriously. Nobody likes seeing shotgun shells laying around on the islands. I spent about 20 minutes yesterday, picking up shells from someone else shooting. Why? Because I'm a hunter and I want to preserve the privileges I have as an outdoors man. The more people see crap laying around from a group of individuals that can be defined as a certain type of hunter, the more they can find common ground to limit that group's access, e.g., "all those damn duck hunters do is sky-blast and leave their crap lying around for the rest of us to have to look at or clean up after."

In fact, as I was putting the Meat Wagon in, an older couple from Great Falls had just parked and was about to take a little walk along the river. I talked to them for a minute and mentioned it was the last day of the season to which the woman replied, "Good! I hate those damn goose hunters..."

The other thing I would say is that it was so pleasant being the only person for about a mile, hunting. I heard shots upstream from me but what was apparent is that there was nobody out there blasting away at golden eyes. What that did, is it made the few mallards that were around more apt to setting into your spread. Yeah, go figure. Not having shots fired all around actually makes the good ducks more susceptible to calling and decoying and you get to shoot them!

I'm grateful for how the last week of the season played out for a couple reasons. I've developed a hobby of putting together GoPro videos for YouTube and got some cool footage to use. You can check out those videos at: The Montana Dream YouTube Channel. I also enjoy processing game and now I have enough meat for the grinder and sausage stuffer. I also learned a lot about adapting to less than ideal hunting conditions and feel like I have options now until everyone else catches up and I have to find more options. (By the way, I realize this blog is counterproductive in that out information freely to people that may potentially screw things up for you in the future? I know. It's a tough balance, trying to promote the business and brand yourself while still trying to preserve a little piece of heaven for you and your com padres. It is something I struggle with. I guess I hope by having people read the blog and benefit from the information they also internalize other aspects of the blog like the discussions on ethics and etiquette.)

If you are reading this blog, which you obviously are if you've gotten to this point; that's all I ask is for you to take that last little bit to heart. You get free information. Some of it is valuable and some, you might think is crap but it's FREE. All I ask is that you are respectful with that information and you think about other people in your pursuits. Be considerate. Don't be a dick. Go out and have fun but don't ruin it for other people. Think about ethics and etiquette and talk about it with your buds. If you want to preserve your privileges as a hunter and angler, don't mess it up. Be considerate of those folks using the resources that don't hunt or fish too. 

Keep 'em where they live...

A Side Note:

I just saw a post from a FB friend who lost a couple people recently due to depression. Since I'm in the mood for prophesying right now let me just say, depression is real. It hurts. It's often found in people you'd least expect. It comes on like a vengeance, sometimes unexpectedly, and often crippling. It can make a person do and say things that hurts those around them. It's embarrassing. It's perpetual and it's difficult for people who haven't suffered from it to understand. But the reality is, most of us have gone through it at some point. We just forget what it was like so we don't have an answer for it when we see others going through it or we just don't understand the severity of it because everyone is different.  

If I'm going to be totally honest, there have been times recently that I felt like the only reason I'm alive is because the alternative would put too much of a burden on others. How messed up is that? Even admitting that just brings more embarrassment and shame but I feel like it's important to share to show it is real and maybe reading this you recognize others that are going through it and we can all develop some empathy and a little bit of understanding and compassion for those going through it. Maybe you even feel a need to take a stand for someone close to you and you help them through it. 

But if you are going to try to help, you know what doesn't work? Telling someone to "buck up." Saying things like, "Everyone's gone through a break-up. You're not the first and you won't be the last. You just gotta move on and get over it." Telling someone, "You are living the life; a life every other guy dreams of--no responsibility, being able to hunt and fish whenever you want? Guys all across the world are jealous of what you have..." Trying to convince someone of how great their life is doesn't help and you know why? Because it just ads to the embarrassment and shame like you're an idiot for feeling that way. Like somehow you're feelings are wrong or aren't real or not deserving. It causes that person to withdraw--to avoid the judgement and the embarrassment, which also compounds the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Those feelings are real. The pain is real and you just want it to go away.

You know what does help? Things like, "Hey man, you got plans for Thanksgiving? If not, stop on over, we'd love to have you." (Thanks Jim and Leslie.) Or, "Dude, swing up to the house. Let's have a beer." (Thanks John.) Or just a call asking for advise or checking in. (Thanks Stephen, the other John, and everyone else that reads the blog.) You know what really works? Hugs.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Casting and Blasting

To complain about the weather is kind of pointless, right? It sucks for ducks. It just does but what are you going to do? Setting decoys up, hoping the random goose or duck decides to drop in is pretty much a waste of time. If you don't have wind and cold and snow to cover up the fields, hunting on the river can and has been, pretty abysmal. might have to go after them and that's what John Chase and I decided to do.   

Last week, while guiding some folks for fish, I couldn't believe how comfortable the geese were with us floating up on them. A quick recall of opportunities and I'd say we could have had a couple limits of geese in an hour or so. In fact, I'd say the best camo for geese is probably a Simms jacket and a fly rod. It's an entirely different story if you put a shotgun in the boat. Somehow they know. We learned very quickly that your best bet was to spot them from a distance and if everything lined up, meaning there was cover along the bank or even better, a cut bank to hide behind, you weren't getting anywhere near them.

Some folks don't really like the idea of jump shooting geese. It seems a little red necky. It's kind of like worm dunking for trout. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) But this season has been so crappy for setting up decoys on the river and I don't have fields to hunt so you got to do what you got to do. I need geese for snack sticks. Yeah, and if you've ever had my snack sticks, you know what I mean. They are delicious and pretty much the only way I'll eat geese. And clients love them so...the last two days we were casting and blasting and getting geese for the grinder. As dirty as it felt, it was pretty fun.

Keep 'em where they live...

Sunday, January 6, 2019

January Doubles

Sitting in the duck blind on Friday watching hundreds of golden eyes fly by, no good ducks or geese, and this one damn trout rising just outside the decoys I thought, "It's January but man, we should be fishing..."

Later that evening, a guy from Helena, (Greg Beebe, on the right,) who has become one of my best clients sent me a text wondering if it was worth going out for a day...

"Hell yeah!" I said. Let's do it. So we got Bob Page from the BobKat Motel to jump in with us and we made it happen. If the ducks aren't going to fly, you might as well fish.

So how was the fishing? The morning was a little tough but we got a few before lunch and then the afternoon lit up for about three hours. We didn't see much as far as rising fish but the nypming was solid. Find the deep slow water and you will find fish and they are hot. They're not the lethargic winter fish you'd expect. These guys have shoulders and they will impress.

As for lunch; Bob's wife Kathy cooked up some amazing chicken enchiladas so as we made it to their newly developed lodge, which will be open to the public this season, we jumped out for some delicious hot food. A beautiful day.

If you're interested in getting in on the action, I'm open all winter. Give us a call at Montana Dream Fishing Outfitters: 406-403-8163. And if you're in need of lodging and some great food where you don't have to worry about whether or not the local restaurants are open, the BobKat is definitely the way to go! 

Keep 'em where they live...

Monday, December 31, 2018

Bowling with Super Woman over the holidays.

Here are the winners and losers and honorable mentions for the Annual Dobrzynski Christmas Bowling Tourney. The first thing I'll mention is that I lost $10 to Travis Dobrzynski as he hustled me for a couple games, giving me a false sense of dominance and superiority before offering the bet and then crushing me for two games. (Hey, don't hustle your uncle!)

All the other participants from left to right: My nephew Jake Schienbein, (Jake didn't actually bowl...) Travis Dobrzynski, Me, my niece Allison Taylor, niece Katie Schienbein, and Travis's wife, Tess. 

The real winner that I would like to mention is Katie Schienbein. With her high score of 136, she proved that a heart transplant less than 6 months ago can't keep her down. Yeah, you heard me right. She had a heart transplant at 29 years old just 6 months ago but that's not even half the story. 

Katie suffered through congestive heart failure when she was 2 years old. At three she had her first heart transplant. Things went well but that heart wasn't a perfect match. She led as normal of a life as she could, even playing hockey and doing what "normal" kids do but always living with the issues of having a foreign organ inside you that your body is naturally going to try to reject. 

Ten years ago, Katie had her second heart transplant. Yeah. I know. Could you fricken imagine going through 2 heart transplants before you were able to legally drink? And then think about having a third...

When you look at the photo above, you see Katie is obviously the smallest of the bunch--in fact so much that one would assume that she's still in her early or even pre-teens. I think her bowling shoes were like a size 3. But don't let that fool you. She is the absolute toughest person I know. She is Super Woman if there ever was a Super Woman. And if I were going into a fight, I'd be taking her with me. 

I'm so proud of this woman. I'm so happy that her recovery this time has gone so well and that her prognosis is so positive. I look forward to MANY more Christmas Bowling tourneys with her and all my nieces and nephews. You are an inspiration Katie. Thank you.

Keep 'em where they live...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Muddy Water Blues

If you've known my for a while, you know music used to be a huge part of my life. It was vehicle for me to see nearly half of the US, a good portion of Canada, Japan, Germany and several other European countries. It got me out and about in the off-seasons and even introduced me to other local musicians where I was part of a band called "Parachute Adam." (I know, that was on purpose.) It gave me a little spending money but was never something I really thought I'd pay any bills with. I had fun with it.

The past 5 or 6 years, life got busy and music took a back seat. I gave everything I had to a new love. I don't regret it. It was a choice I made without reservation. There certainly were times that I looked at my guitars hanging in the man cave and felt a little guilty. I was neglecting something that meant so much to me but again, it was a choice and I was proud of other things I was accomplishing like remodeling a house and being part of a family. 

Life takes paths that I, unfortunately, have very little say in and it's because of that, that I find myself with a lot more time on my hands. It's winter so no guiding. The weather has been too nice for the ducks and geese to come to the river and what used to be a priority for me is now gone. 

I recently got my Fender Strat and bass guitar out of storage. I hung them up in my studio in my new home. They look cool anyway. I woke up one morning though, and sat at my computer checking emails, and thinking about ways I could pass the time and fill my mind with more positive thoughts. I stared at my bass for a good twenty minutes or so and decided to do a little thumpin.

I hadn't really picked up my guitars for at least 5 years with the exception of doing some sound bytes for The Montana Dream Cast. The bass...that's been probably closer to 7 years. I started laying down some tracks and twelve hours later...well, check out the YouTube video above. I know. It's a little weird but it is therapy. You'll probably be seeing more of this. Just sayin. 

Keep 'em where they live... 

Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2018

December Guiding on the Missouri

All bundled up and hitting the river in Mid-December. These trips are certainly a bonus and with the weather the way it's been, entirely worth the effort. And if the ducks aren't moving, you might as well fish, right?

I've guided 12 years now and this trip makes it official. I have guided on the Missouri in every month of the year. Granted, in January, February and now December, it's only been one day each but with the climate changing, maybe the season will be shifting as well. The days, however, are still pretty short and when the sun sets behind the canyon, it does get cold so there is that. 

So how was the fishing? It was decent. We didn't see very many fish up as the midge things didn't really happen but the nymphing was good in spots. The water is 36.5 degrees at the dam. With sun, the water warms up a little bit down stream but not much. Fish are pretty lethargic and won't move more than a few inches to eat so you have to bonk them in the head. Depth is really important and you have to fish the slow, deep pools. That also means fish get a long time to suck in a fly and spit it out before the indicator even moves so you have to be quick on the draw. 

I'm sure some of you are asking, "Is it really worth it?" 

That, my friends, comes down to perspective. We caught about 20 fish yesterday. We spent a day out of the house, on the river with a couple good dudes doing what we love and I got paid. So yeah, I'd do it again.

Keep 'em where they live...

Friday, December 7, 2018

Winter Waterfowl-Follow The Montana Dream

I spent a lot of time in the mountains doing the big game thing this year so I missed the first big wave of birds coming to the river. Since then, we just haven't had the snow and cold to bring more birds down. The other day, the weather changed and the birds came. It was pretty solid and I managed to get some cool videos of birds dropping and Cutter earning his keep. Check them out on The Montana Dream YouTube Channel. 

As for the hunting, it was kind of a mixed bag. There were a lot of mallards on the water and with guys floating and jump shooting, the birds were moving a little most of the afternoon. Big flocks of mallards passed over just after sunset but were on a mission. The reservoirs are still open so they'd rather be on the big water. As soon as those bodies freeze up, the game will change. The geese kind of came in waves. Had I had a few more decoys, I probably could have done a little better on them. There are also a few other ducks coming through. I shot a couple redheads, which I don't think I've ever shot, plus a ringneck along with a couple geese and a couple mallards. 

The weather is getting warmer again and no snow until probably late next week so unless I get the opportunity to hunt some fields, I'm not all that optimistic for what the river is going to offer. I might have to go try to fill my damage hunt tag. 

Keep 'em where they live...