ALPS OutdoorZ

ALPS

What a great day shed hunting. Being able to use my new MatriX ALPS Pack makes such a difference when I am hiking. Finally, a pack that I can comfortably carry my Compound Bow and Rifle! You can check out their products here at ALPS OutdoorZ. Find the pack that fits your needs!

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Jolly Ole` Goose Hunting

TJ and I were up and at`em with the good ole smell of coffee brewing.  I walked into the kitchen to read the temperature gauge that read -5ºF, but with goose hunting on the brain I really wasn’t worried about the chill.  Katie (our dog) was up at this point tail a wagging knowing we were about to be on our way for some shotgun action. I opened the door to let her out and wow was it ever so cold brrrr….   
Living on the river is always an advantage for us because once we are ready we just head out the door and walk a few 100 yards and goosing here we come.  We hiked down to the river, glassing to see if they had any deer or elk grazing late morning; just enjoying the moment of being in the outdoors.  Once getting into our blinds the sense of cold started to set in.  It was cold enough that I immediately started to wiggle my toes and my fingers to ensure blood circulation would move through my feet so they wouldn’t freeze.  The snow had been so deep that when I had set my gun down snow had covered my chamber.  So I was quickly rubbing the snow off my gun so my old trusty Mossberg wouldn’t jam.
The morning started off slow with only a few birds flying high.  It was foggy on the river so the visibility made it a little harder than usual.  The sun started to perk up over the mountains and I could see something big flying over the river, “What is that?” I asked TJ.  As it came closer and closer it was a bald eagle.  The Eagle was soaring over the river and as soon as it flew by us we could see duck action but no geese.  We waited and waited, which felt like forever.  I was really starting to get cold.  My eyelashes had ice on them from the steam off of my breath and they were literally freezing.  
At this point we could hear the honkers and the sound kept getting closer and closer.  My heart started to beat faster; I am wide eyed looking to see where they were.  At this moment the feeling of cold had disappeared.  They were flying down river right towards us.  Katie started to get anxious as she could feel my nervousness, I am telling her “wait, wait, wait,” then in a split second they are right in front of us.  I shot off 2 rounds watching a big Canadian tumble into the river and Katie took off.  The flock was flying in the middle of the river so Katie was out swimming in the worse of it.  I bailed out of my blind running down river to keep up with my dog and the goose.  With my being a worrier I always meet Katie down river so she won’t try to swim up river to me, especially in these types of weather conditions.   I am trotting as fast as I can to keep up with them, WOW does the river run fast, or am I just out of shape?  LOL When Katie catches up to the goose she starts nudging it to me.  I yell, “Fetch it uppp!”  She is doing what she is best at, RETREIVING!  As she has that big ole` jolly goose in her jaws I can see that it is as big as she it.   Finally she was in safe waters and drops the goose onto the ice shelf.  She climbs up shaking and wagging her tail.  I continue to tell her, “Good Girl, come with it.”  I was so proud of my dog. 
Katie and I walk back up river to show TJ our prize.  He was hugging me all smiles.  We got our 1st goose of the season!  We were so happy.  Even though I was all warmed up at this point from running down river and walking back, I had to call the day with one goose.  We had enough for dinner and I was ready to eat some breakfast. 
The most important was being able to experience these adventures with not only my best friend but my future husband, TJ Guccini.  As always Smiling Big!

 

Loving My Mossberg’s

 

Dreaming of a duck limit I woke up in just enough time to realize that I was only dreaming, and it was time to catch the ducks before they started to take flight on the river. My lab Katie was sprawled out on the end of the bed glaring up at me. I started the coffee pot and I could smell the sense of being at home.
As a little girl that is how I always knew it was almost time to wake up because my Dad (George Gross) would start the coffee going. It wasn’t about an alarm clock but about the smell of the coffee brewing. I would stretch and get my eyes all wiped up so I could see and walk into the kitchen. My Dad would be drinking his 1st cup of coffee watching the weather channel. He would tell me if the ducks were going to be flying high or staying cover, if it was going to rain or be windy. My Brother (Chris Gross) would then get up and at this point our black lab would be all tails wagging knowing we were about to hit the lake for some quackers. Growing up in Louisiana it was never a rush in the morning. My Dad always had to finish at least 1 full pot of coffee, leaving my Mom (Jody Gross) just a cup. She would then wake up right before we were leaving and tell us, “Bring back some ducks so I can make yall brown gravy, and I will have breakfast when yall get back.” I could already feel my mouth watering knowing we were going to have some good ole’ bacon sandwiches on Evangeline made bread! So Yummy!
So even now being a grown up and having a family of my own those same memories come to mind every time a smell the coffee brewing, especially during duck season. It makes my heart smile really big and it also makes me miss my home of Louisiana. Like they always say, Home is where your Heart is!
By this point I am dressed in long johns, dogs fed, TJ has coffee poured, and we are ready to get to quaking. With us living on the river we have the advantage of just hiking a few 100 yards and we are duck ready. Most mornings are cold, very cold, in the low teens and sometimes below 0ºF. As we walked to our blinds the only warmth that I feel is the steam off my breath. TJ sets up ensuring that the ice shelves are safe and then Katie and I crawl into our little honey whole. No decs, just the natural flow of the river which makes hunting tuff but it is worth every shot. TJ watches down river and I watch upriver waiting on some quack action. A couple of mallard drakes and a few hens come our way and we shoot for height. Katie hits the water swimming after a cripple that crossed the river. Katie is sliding along an ice shelf watching the duck under the ice swim back and forth, and Katie is running back and forth like a silly prank that you would play. I am worried that she might fall through because I worry too much. I am trying to call her off, “Katie, HEAR, HEAR, HEAR!” Katie is more than just a hunting dog she is our family pet. Katie gives the duck one last look and comes back across river. The river is flowing at such a fast pace that I trot down river a ways and keep up with her so she won’t try to swim up river towards me. She comes out the water, tail wagging and kind of mad that I called her off, but for me I know she is back in safe waters. We start walking back to our spot and 2 ducks fly over us, boom, boom TJ shoots knocking down a mallard hen! Katie hits the river and to her success brings us back some dinner. All I can think is, “Umm just a few more and we will have enough for a pot roast!” Back in the blind we wait. It is cold! Katie is shaking, her body is iced over and I pat her to keep her blood circulating, and then here they come, Greenheads! TJ and I shoot to another great success. Katie comes back with our birds, tail wagging! At this point we are all cold, my belly is growling and it is time to call it a day for a bit and eat us some yummy ole breakfast. Breakfasts in our Cajun house usually consists of crawfish omelette’s, pan fried pork chops w/hashbrowns, yummy ole sweet pancakes, and always your choice of eggs. It just depends on what me, the cook feels like fixing. As TJ calls it the short order chef, but as I call it, get your tail feather out there and clean those ducks, so I can get them in a pot, as always smiling big! This is usually how our duck hunts begin and end. But the greatest moments are making the memories.
Quack Jackin~Colorado Style