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Bike Hunting: An Unusual Love Story

Posted by Ford Van Fossan on

 

As a kid, a bike provides ultimate freedom. It gives the ability to roam all over town, hitting up candy shops, dirt jumps, and fishing holes without the oversight of parents. It provides the means to get around and excites the nerves when goaded to hit sweet jumps by an older brother. Though no longer a kid, I’m still tempted by the places a bicycle can take me, though I’ve traded candy shops for breweries, and am mostly concerned with how they can help access hard to reach destinations like summer steelhead runs, blue grouse hideouts and open ground containing antelope or caribou. I used to fill my pockets with Airheads and Big League Chew. Now I’m after backstraps and shanks.

 Similar to the ability to recall every steelhead I’ve brought to hand, I can remember each of the bicycles since the grey and white 16 incher I first threw a leg over as a child. There was the chrome BMX with checkered foam top tube padding and a plastic seat. Later, gears showed up in a six-speed I rode to elementary school, and eventually a red Raleigh mountain bike I could barely straddle. After mowing enough lawns to save up some cash, my first big purchase was a Haro BMX that took me all over town. At sixteen years old, my first job was in the Scheels service shop where I learned (largely through trial and error) how to work on bikes, and quickly spent all my wages on outdoor gear. All those bikes were unique in their own way, but one thing united them all: the feeling of freedom and self-reliance that a bicycle gives its rider.

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Hunting also left its mark on my childhood. The pastures, food plots and sloughs of central South Dakota were a big part of every fall and winter as I cut my teeth chasing pheasants with my Grandpa, Dad and brother. But, in the western part of the state, we targeted mule and whitetail deer. I still laugh, thinking of myself as a twelve-year-old kid, being trusted with a firearm, and heading out alone to the designated meet-up point. The vague descriptions dad gave about where to hike and wait for him taught me to pay attention to the lay of the land. A bounding whitetail showed me that my favorite pair of wind pants were probably not the best choice in outerwear. I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing.

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In reality, Dad was probably never more than a mile away, but the responsibility and trust he put on me made it feel like a big deal. I wasn’t able to put the feeling to words as a kid, and I’m sure I can’t do it justice now, but walking through the woods with the purpose to harvest an animal is primal. The weight, seriousness, and challenge provide a connection to our ancestral past. You’re shaping your own destiny and making decisions that will affect the world around you. It’s how we’ve survived as a species, and it’s no surprise that many of us feel more alive for a few weeks every hunting season than we do the rest of the year.

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Now that I’m older and planning my own trips, I often search for opportunities to combine my two passions, biking, and hunting. Sometimes I just like to head out on the mountain bike with the intent simply to ride. I’ll strap a single shot 12 gauge on the bike, hoping for a fun day in the woods and possibly a blue grouse or two. Other times the hunt takes precedence, and the bicycle provides the transportation. One of my favorite hunting memories is a solo hunt where the bike took me all over the Wyoming high desert and hauled out an entire antelope buck. There’s something about using a bike to access hunting and fishing spots that really appeals to me.

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Bikes are relatively fast and quiet. In the right location, one can easily triple walking speed on a bike. Cargo can be carried on racks or trailers that take the weight off the shoulders and backs. Most importantly, it’s downright fun! On unsuccessful hunts, I’ve been rewarded with grin-inducing cruises down trails on the way to the truck. On occasion, I’ve harvested animals and carried an entire quartered antelope in bags attached to the rack. Regardless of the outcome, the experience of bike hunting or fishing makes me supremely happy. I’m not saying bikes are the solution to every hunt, or that they belong on every trip or location. They’re simply another tool that enables the savvy hunter to travel farther, quicker and maybe even enjoy some swoopy singletrack on the way back to the trailhead. Both purveying wild game and traveling by bike impart a sense of freedom, self-reliance, and adventure. It’s something I think about all year, and you can but I’ll be pedaling after caribou across the Alaskan tundra this fall.

Photo Ambassador Brian Ohlen lives in Alaska and runs the Spoke 'n' Fly, an adventure blog centered around biking, hunting, and fishing. 

In the Raw: Eduardo Garcia's Elk Tartare with Poblano and Peach Salsa

Posted by Ford Van Fossan on

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Photos by Captured Creative and Becca Skinner

There are unlimited versions of “tartare” out there from nearly all parts of the world. The common denominator in them all is this: Raw finely chopped red meat, garnished with bold-flavored ingredients such as onion, capers, chiles and fresh herbs. All bound by the addition of a fat such as a raw egg yolk, mayonnaise or a virgin oil and then balanced with added acidity via citrus, worcestershire and vinegar.

On a recent trip to Idaho, my buddy Ryan Callaghan (“Ol' Cal") leaned into me for some culinary advice and described some elk meat he had from a rank old bull that simply wouldn’t lose its chewiness. I suggested we chop it up into a tartar! I hope you dig this version we whipped up at 8,000 ft in a backcountry cabin as much as we did.

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Elk Tartare with Poblano and Peach Salsa:

Serves: 8-10 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 LB elk, eye of round - diced (cutting meat that is partially frozen will make this very easy and clean)
1 shallot - finely chopped
6 green olives - finely chopped
1/4 cup - parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons - Montana Mex Avocado oil
1/2 tsp - Montana Mex jalapeño seasoning
1/2 tsp - Montana Mex mild Chile seasoning
1/4 tsp - sea salt
1/2 lemon

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until evenly distributed. Squeeze Lemon and grate zest into the mixture and again mix well. Check the tartare for taste and adjust according to your preference. Add another pinch of jalapeño seasoning for a kick or more salt or lemon as you’d like!

I love this dish with tortilla chips and topped with the Poblano & Peach salsa. Enjoy! It’s hard to imagine this tasty meal not being consumed on the spot. However, Callaghan reported back that this tartare recipe made a  remarkable burger patty the following day!

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Poblano peach salsa:

1 poblano pepper - roasted, skinned, seeded and chopped
1/2 a peach - chopped (if outside of peach season I will use frozen peaches)
A few sprigs of cilantro - chopped
1/2 teaspoon of Montana Mex jalapeño seasoning
1/2 teaspoon - Montana Mex mild Chile seasoning
Pinch of sea salt
Squeeze of lime

Method: 

Stir all ingredients until well mixed.

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First Lite Team Member Eduardo Garcia is a chef, hunter and media personality and the creator of Montana Mex.  Check out this link to see a few of Ed's favorite pieces of gear.

Layering for October in the Rockies with Brad Brooks of Argali

Posted by Ford Van Fossan on

The warm September days are quickly disappearing and being replaced (finally) by cooler days, wet weather and the feeling that fall is finally here. I’m putting away the bow and dusting off the rifle for a few upcoming elk and deer hunts.

The change in weather also means it is time to alter my clothing kit for hunting. Even though I keep track of everything I wear on every hunt and keep notes on how it worked, every hunt seems to be different, and I’m always tinkering.

Argali.FirstLite-12 The colder temps of October require a couple more layers. Photo: Mahting Putelis

My struggle with getting my layering dialed is driven by a strong desire not to carry anything more than I need to be comfortable, both to reduce weight and bulk. And since most of my hunting these days involves backpack hunting, I’ve increasingly become militant about cutting weight. Unfortunately, I also seem to get colder easier than I used to, and on multi-day trips being miserable and cold just isn’t that much fun.

This is my full October layering kit for day and multi-day backpack hunting with a few caveats and exceptions based on the dramatic weather variations that we can have out west during October.

Argali.SeekOutside-5 A stout shelter is another crucial part of October backcountry hunts. Photo: Mahting Putelis

Accessories:

- Aerowool Liner Gloves—These gloves are breathable and thin enough to hike with and still fidget with gear, trekking poles, triggers, etc. They’re like a second skin when it is cold out, and I bring these on every hunt.

- Shale Hybrid Gloves- When combined with the liner gloves, this glove combo still allows me to use my hands, even in colder weather. If I’m day hunting, I might bring a warmer pair of gloves, but this glove combo covers most of my hunting except for extreme cold weather.

- Aerowool Neck Gaiter—Stays in my cargo pocket when not in use, but great for concealment, warmth and sun protection if the weather turns warm.

- Tag Cuff Beanie—I’m not sure why a good wool beanie has been hard for me to find in all my years of spending time outside, but this is without a doubt my favorite knit hat of all time, and it goes with me on every hunt.

Brambler Gaiters—If there’s snow, or it’s wet, these gaiters are on all day.

- Mountain Athlete Triad Sock—Great socks. I’ll pack one extra pair on a backpack hunt.
Argali.Meat-4 The reward for braving the cold. Photo: Mahting Putelis

Top Layers:

- Fuse 200 Quarter Zip Top- Great baselayer, but also love to wear this piece alone when I’m hiking up a steep mountain and really exerting myself.

- Kiln Hoody-Pretty much always on me. When I’m backpacking, I wear it to bed at night, and I love the hood for close encounters with animals to conceal my face.

- Sawtooth Vest- I’m not much of a “vest guy”, but I love this vest. On cold morning hikes, I sometimes wear this over a baselayer for the perfect combination of warmth without sweating like a pig while hiking.

- Sawtooth Jacket-A staple of my kit, and one of my favorite mid/heavy weight layering jackets. Hardly ever leaves my pack or my torso.

- Chamberlin Jacket-This jacket is amazing. Great warmth to weight ratio, and packs down well. If it gets cold, and it definitely can in the mountains in October, this jacket is in my pack and comes out every time I stop to glass.

- Vapor Stormlight Jacket—Love how pack-able this jacket is. I hardly notice it in my pack, but if a cold rain pushes in, I’m always glad I packed it.

 

Argali.BlackRifle-6 Coffee warms the body and spirits in the snow. Photo: Mahting Putelis

Bottom Layers:

- Kiln Long Boxer—On the comfort scale, these underwear are about as good as it gets.

- Obsidian Pants—Still love how quiet and comfortable these pants are. My go-to pant for all but the coldest temps.

- Uncompahgre Puffy Pants—If you still haven’t tried out these pants, you’re seriously missing out. Every night, morning and glassing session these pants are on my legs. They’re easy to slip on and off, and they make long glassing sessions much more comfortable.

- Fuse 200 Aerowool Bottoms: On cold mornings I can actually hike with these and the Obsidian pants without feeling like my legs are on fire.

- Furnace 350 EXP Bottoms—This is a conditional item, but I had to throw these in because the fleece lining on these things is unreal. Incredibly soft and wicked warm. Definitely not for hiking big mountains in, but I wear these to bed at night and in the mornings glassing near my tent. I will only pack these around if it is going to be particularly cold.

Argali.General-45 The stars aren't too bad back there, either. Photo: Mahting Putelis
FL Team Member Brad Brooks hails from Boise, Idaho. He runs Argali.com, an online resource for backcountry hunters.