Hunting season 2019

Warning!  Graphic photos ahead!  If you are a softy, you may want to just move along now.

You win some, you lose some.

This sums up our hunting season for the most part, and we definitely won…eventually!

But that win only came with countless hours of trial and error.

September 1 marked our first ever season of bow hunting.

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Okay okay, this isn’t entirely true I suppose. I should back this up a bit here.

Spring 2019: We are hunting black bear via bow. The entire bear season was a barrage of learning lessons. From choosing a location, figuring out where to put bait stations and how to protect trail cams. We asked (and subsequently) figured out questions we had like:

What do bears eat?

SPOILER ALERT: It’s generally not humans. They tend to favor popcorn and donuts.

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Do bears shit in the woods?

Yes, yes in deed. We witnessed this quite a few times. Want proof?  ↓↓↓↓↓

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Do they make noise when they fight?

No, not overly. They are quiet, very very quiet. We now like to call them bush ninjas, because with the blink of an eye they appear or they are up your tree! Calm down, I will add we never had any come up our tree, but they sure did come up all the trees beside us! And I say calm down because that is what you need to be in these situations CALM….phew!

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Wait, was that a bear?

Nope just another effin squirrel! remember bears are bush ninjas, you most likely wont hear them!

Bear season was one for the books. So, so many nights sitting in the tree stand watching, learning and absorbing.

Side note: bears are an amazing animal to just watch!

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Behind us please note… Elvis and Priscilla as we named them

In the end, only one of us tagged out on bear. Troy waited and waited and finally the brute that was on our trail cam, that we named Sam Tarly wandered in while he was there. He took his shot and ended his season with a perfectly placed arrow on a beautiful black bear, one that filled our freezer and unknown at the time, also put Troy in the record books with a Boone and Crockett score of 21-15/16.  And this also meant that Troy and our friend Colin were up for about 25 hours by the time they got the bear out of the trees, back home, skinned and in the freezer)  Yes, most bears are excellent to eat! There is a huge stigma about bear being terrible to eat, but it’s a misconception. The only thing to realize is that you need to cook the meat to a minimum 165°f as that will kill the potential bacteria called trichinosis!

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Colin, Sam Tarly, Troy

Fast forward to September 1 and we are back to walking with our bows in hand. For bow season we had tags for Mule Deer, White Tail Deer, and the prairie unicorn (in our area of the non-woods anyway) Elk.

 

We spent our first week out walking, learning the terrain, sitting and glassing hillsides, meadows and fields with some good friends of ours.  We saw a few deer, a couple of those elk, but nothing ever close enough to make something happen. Because the thing with bow hunting is that you need to be close. I personally would feel most comfortable taking a shot, only if it was within 40 yards.

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The bow crew:  Bottom to top:  Paula, Colin, Me and Troy 

Weeks turned into months and while we saw lots and had many opportunities, nothing ever panned out for us. But we are ok with it! We learned so many lessons during bow season. Next season will be epic!

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Views like these…

November 1st we roll over into rifle. We spent 2 days checking known spots for Mule deer.  On day 3 Troy decided we should walk into one of our little honey holes and sure…

**Pause here for a minute, remember those two months of bow season that we were unsuccessful with? Well, we gained a little knowledge as we learned just where to go!**

Continue: Sure enough there was the big bucks we were looking for in bow season, but that is not what we are after for rifle, as we had been drawn for Mule does.

“So, where were the does?” I asked

“Be patient” said Troy, “they are he….”

“Oooh I see them!” I said.

Troy was already setting up to take a shot lol.

BOOM…

“Did you get her?” I asked.

“Yes”  he said.

“Why is she still running?”

“Shes not!”  he said.

“Oh I see… Way to go!” I said.

She only ran like 20 yards, it was a perfectly placed shot, double lung, she did not suffer at all.

Now rifle season probably doesn’t seem like a huge deal to most, but to me rifle season was scary and intimidating. I went with Troy last year and sat and watched… I fired the gun once at a target. Guns used to scare the jeebus out of me. So this year when it was time for rifle, I was a bit terrified. I didn’t know what I was doing, but Troy had complete unwavering confidence in me. He taught me gun handling, how to aim and properly shoot, and I took 3 practice rounds at a target. “You’re good! ” he said.  But I’m still not fully confident in myself, he reassures me again and we continue on.

One week later we get some Intel from a friend about where we can find a whole herd of mule does. We go out one evening and tracked them down.  From there we formulated a  plan for the next morning. 7 am, its -23 with the windchill and Troy and I head out. We spot them where we hoped they would be, but we are about 600 yards away across an open pasture, not a great shot to take. So we crouch hustle walk across the pasture staying in the low spots to try and get closer. The doe spots us so this takes time and patience, and we manage to get to about 250 yards from her, then we wait for the right shot.  FINALLY she turns broad side.  I’m nervous and my fingers are frozen solid.  I get her in my cross-hairs, and in what feels like a split second-  I hear Troy say “shoot when ready”  I don’t even remember pulling the trigger.  I heard the boom, I heard Troy shout that she was down, but I wasn’t going to get too excited. He reassures me she was down, but I was still so nervous that I had made a bad shot. I will add that I was confident that I put my cross hairs right where I thought the vitals should be but that looming thought and self doubt of a newbie kinda took over. As we went over and found her, I realized she was not 10 yards from where she was standing.  A perfect double lung shot,  I was now a bit more excited.  But I was still feeling like it may have all been a fluke lol!

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Draw Tag!  Mule doe

The next week, we are out again.  This time scouting to fill our general white tail tags.  This means we can take either a doe or a buck.  We decided to go out, just for a drive with the kids one night, just to see what was out and about.  And what do you know?  White tail buck, chasing a doe across a field and into a bush.  Troy was anticipating it coming out of the bush and across the field.  It did just that, but not towards us. We were quite a ways away for a shot. So we load up and head around the field to get over to it and intercept it at another bush.  He was not there.  So we continue along the bush line and what do you know Troy spotted him. Since I was lagging, he went for it!  One buck down. Another double lung shot.   This was super exciting because all the kids were with us and got to see first hand what we were putting so much time into and what it all entails to get that deer from the field to freezer.

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white tail buck

 

 

 

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Some pretty pumped kids

A few days later….

My turn to find the white tail.  We were able to go out during the day while the kids were at school.  We knew where the white tail would be, as we have been seeing them since September in the same area.  The problem this day was getting there.  A steep icy/muddy hill was in our path, and after sliding backwards down the hill in the truck in 4 wheel drive, we decided to walk in from there.  Up the hill, across the canola, and over another knoll and there they are!  2 does.  We sat and watched them for a bit, waiting for the buck to come out.  He never did, and the does started to wander away.  This was pretty much our last opportunity to go out, so Troy left the decision up to me.  Did I want another doe, or wait it out and see if we luck out on a buck?  As I was contemplating, this I was watching her in my scope.  She turned broadside, and I don’t think it even registered when I pulled the trigger.  She hopped and went about 10 yards then stopped.  I thought I missed, but then she stumbled and down she went.  Another double lung shot, and I think I validated myself… slightly.

Troy now calls me “old dead eye” and I am pretty proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone, and learning something that literally scared the shit out of me.  I still have a long ways to go, but I can confidently say that I have stepped 100% into a world I never thought I would be in.

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Now the real work begins! There is a lot of work I never went into detail over in this write up.  From getting the deer gutted, skinned and hung to processing the meat yourself or at a butcher.   And work it is! As we choose to do all of it.   It is time consuming and when you have four deer to process it can take awhile. The end result is so worth it though.  A fully filled freezer with wild game meat can not be beat.  And knowing that you helped to put it there is a major pat on the back.

 

In closing I will leave with this:  Hunting may not be for everyone, and we fully understand that.  We however take great pride in the fact that we were able to set a goal of learning, understanding, and committing to an adventure that not only filled our freezer for our family, our friends and ourselves, but also aids in the conservation of these animals so that there are healthy herds for our Eco-system and future hunters alike.

We submitted all of our heads to the conservation office for testing and surveillance of Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD.   Two of them have come back negative. (Still waiting on the last two). We truly believe that testing and monitoring of this is vital to future generations of deer populations.

Tell us about your hunting season this year!  Send us an email or leave us a comment!  Please feel free to share this blog!

Exploring the World Waterpark In Edmonton Alberta.

Last Christmas we got our kids some tickets to go to the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall. A few months ago, we FINALLY got to use them! Here is our day at the waterpark.

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We had originally planned to go to the park on a Saturday. After doing some reading and research, I got a little apprehensive about how busy the park would be on a weekend. (My husbands words: Could you imagine all those little nose pickers running around? Thousands of them! Yelling and screaming with joy! I just want to go on a slide) I didn’t want crowds, I didn’t want the kids to have to wait in line for 20 minutes to get on a slide, and I didn’t want to mowed down by an endless barrage of tubes in the wave pool. I also discovered that this particular Saturday was the day before the Grey Cup, which was being held in Edmonton, so we decided to pull the kids from school for the day and head up on Monday instead. That decision was entirely worth it! We beat the crowds, full of mostly joyful little nose pickers!! Lol.

Tickets:

We lucked out and decided to order our tickets through redeeming our air miles. You can order 2 tickets for admission to the park for 495 air miles, so we ordered 6 tickets total. Only word of caution here is that they do have expiry dates! We ordered ours last christmas, and they were set to expire Dec 1 2018. Also be sure to order them way ahead of when you plan to go as they do ship them to your home. If you need to purchase tickets directly from the store you can do so here: World Waterpark Tickets are not cheap by any means. If we wouldn’t have redeemed our air miles, just to get in the door for our family of 5 would have been around $200.

Cabanas:

This was a difficult choice for us. I had read about the private cabana rentals that the park offers. These are placed at various locations throughout the park and offer a private place to sit, eat and take a break if needed. Initially we didn’t think they were worth the price tag, BUT after some reading we decided to book a Palm Cove Cabana for $125. Let me tell you, it was worth every penny! The cabanas come with a locked box to store all your things, so we didn’t have to rent a locker in the family change room. Everything fit in our bench (lockbox). The cabana had curtains to close for privacy if you need it, and a place to sit and eat. There was also a semi- private bathroom 10 feet away so you didn’t have to run all the way back to the change rooms. They provide you with a lock & key for the lockbox bench as well. There is a $100 deposit (cash, debit, credit) for the Cabana which you get back when you return the key at the end of your day. The costs of the different cabanas run from $90 to $200 a day. You can reserve them online here: Cabanas

Things to do:
SLIDES

The park offers some fantastic attractions. Slides range from beginner to extreme. Beginner slides are generally aimed at those under 48″ tall. Caribbean cove is an excellent place for the little ones. There are three slides attached to the structure and a stand alone slide called the Caribbean Cruiser. There is also a splash pad for the littles kids to play on. Next up are the 2 intermediate slides. One of these (Sideboarding) is an interactive video game type slide that you ride down on a board and try to score some points. Next are 3 advanced slides. And finally 4 extreme slides (for the biggest adrenaline junkies in your crew).


Blue Thunder Wave Pool

The park also offers a massive wave pool. The waves run in intervals and you can catch the biggest ones (4.5 feet) at the deep end of the pool. Tubes are allowed in the wave pool and things can get a bit crazy when the waves are going and tubes are flying at you from every direction, so take caution with little one if you’re out to catch some waves.

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FLOWRIDER

FlowRider is a simulated surfing attraction (Troy’s favorite). This can be rather extreme so there is height restrictions. You can do bodyboarding (laying down) or flowboarding (standing up). You need to fill out waivers for this one. The cost isn’t cheap. 3 consecutive rides is $10. This means that once you fall, it counts as one ride. Half an hour of ride time is $15. Though you have to circulate with other riders who are on the ride at the same time, so your half hour isn’t all board time. Other options are an hour for $19 and all day for $40. The height restrictions are there for safety purposes. Both our boys were tall enough to try it out, however they just weren’t strong enough to stay up. They did refund our money for them since they only went once each.

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Old Men with thinning hair can do it too!

SkyFlyer Zipline:

The zipline flies you across the wave pool. There are weight minimums and maximums to follow. This, of course, has extra associated costs as well. The prices fluctuate for weekdays/ weekends and holidays. My boys were both heavy enough to go on, so they teamed up with dad and the three of them went. Double check the prices here: SkyFlyer Zipline and don’t forget to grab your photos from the booth afterwards.

Other info worth knowing ↓↓↓↓↓

There are a few different snack shacks to buy food from. Basics such as pizza and corn dogs, chips and nachos. You can load cash onto your waterpark bracelet to save you from carrying your debit card around. There are several coca- cola drink fountains around the park. These are FREE and offer a variety of different drink options (including water). There is a rental shack to rent tubes from, they also offer free life jackets for the kiddos so you don’t have to bring your own.

All in all I would say we had an amazing time at the World Water Park. The kids have been asking to go again, since the moment we left, so that must count for something.

Would I go back? I would, however, it is still difficult for me to digest the ticket costs for our family. By the time we travel two and half hours, get in, eat, and do ALL the activities, well that leaves a pretty massive dent in the wallet. Perhaps we can save up those airmiles again and make another trip!

Have you made a trip to the World Waterpark?  Leave a comment below and let us know how your day went!

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Cataract Creek 2018

Cataract Creek Adventures

Calgary snowmobile club

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Family Day out.  Quick stop for a break and taking in some of the views.  This is right before the eldest sons sled started to have issues.

 

If you ever get a chance to check out Cataract Creek (Calgary Snowmobile Club) I highly suggest you do!  My husband and I have been wanting to check out this area for a while now and it finally worked out for us to go! Cataract creek is located southwest of Calgary in the foothills of Kananaskis. Offering mountain views and tons of snow, this was a dream day out for us.   We started out on Saturday with our three kids in tow.  However, our eldest sons sled had some mechanical issues so we didn’t venture very far that day.  (Only about 18km!!)

 

The next day my husband and I were able to get out and explore for the day on our own.  There are two staging areas for you to unload at.  We chose the first, Etherington Campground.  However, you can continue down the road a few KM and go to Cataract Staging area.  For our first time out, we weren’t very sure what to expect.  The “upper trails” as I call them were awesome!  Family friendly, easy going trails.  They were a lot smoother and offered short distances between junctions.    The “lower trails” we found a bit more technical in some areas.  I would take my kids on them but be prepared for slow going in some areas. They were also a lot rougher and slow moving for us through some areas, although I’m not sure how long it had been since the groomer had been out when we were there.   We were breaking trail through a good portion of them.

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One of the best things about the trails.  They pop you out in some pretty spectacular viewpoints.

The lower trails offer some of the best views!  If going, do not miss out on the Skyline summit trail.  It pops you up on a ridge that gives you some of the most amazing views.  We happened to be out on a cloudy, snowy day and it was still awesome! There are also tons of little meadows and places to play.  We may have gotten ourselves stuck a few times on our adventure.  (Remember to bring a shovel!!)  For this outing, I knew we would be working and playing a bit more, so I decided to go with my less insulated gear the DSG Craze.  My DSG (Triple 9 Optics) polarized goggles worked amazing on this snowy, cloudy day!  The polarized lens has been a game changer for me.  I have very light sensitive eyes and I find these polarized goggles help me tremendously.

 

There is only one warm up shack, so be prepared to have bonfires or head back to your vehicle to warm up.  If you stage at cataract it is central to both the upper and lower trials making it a convenient pit stop.  Both staging areas have signs and maps so make sure to grab one before you head out.  One of the nicest things about Cataract creeks is that even though it is in Kananaskis, its location in the foothills means that there is no avy danger and packs are not required.  (As long as you stay off the trail to Fording pass).  Many of the people we have talked to don’t even realize this amazing trail system exists.  Cataract creek has gone through some tremendous changes in the past few years.  They have recently seen an increase in their membership numbers, which means more funding, which means the trails are better taken care of so people like myself and my family can enjoy them.  So, if your heading out, buy a membership, or drop the club a donation.  I’m excited to see what these trails have in store for them in the future!

 

Adventures at Abraham Lake

Some people may get fancy hotel rooms, go for quiet dinners, or get some relaxing massages in some high end resort spa for their anniversaries. But us, well that’s just not our style. For our anniversary we decided to take on our first crown land camping experience. Our anniversary is October 8th, but we decided to head out the last weekend in September. Abraham Lake (Bighorn Dam) was our destination. We had read many wonderful things about it.

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So here’s the thing with crown land camping. No power, no water, no bathrooms, no showers. You just pull up to a vacant fire pit you like and make camp. We nustled back in some trees that still gave us a gorgeous mountain view. When we pulled in there was a total of only 4 other people there (and this place is massive) the peacefulness and quiet was amazing. Now don’t get me wrong. I am sure that during the busy season it can get extremely full. We lucked out being end of season and the weather was quite cool. In fact the first night it snowed and we woke up blanketed in fluffy white goodness. That didn’t deter us any though…

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After many,many “debates” back and forth we decided to bring our quad and our kayaks. Let me tell you for once, the husband was right! There is an endless amount of quading trails! Our first day we set off to do some exploring closer to our campsite just to check out the area. The views were incredible. The lake itself is pristine. Glacier blue water, rocky beaches and white capped mountains surround it.

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So here’s a little history on Abraham Lake. Abraham lake is an artificial lake on the North Saskatchewan River in western Alberta Canada, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. It lines the David Thompson highway between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Nordegg. It was created in 1972 with the construction of the Bighorn Dam. Although its man made, it possesses the breathtaking blue waters of other glacial lakes which is caused by rock flour.

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Day 2 we decided to make a trek up the highway a bit and hike Crescent Falls. This is a gorgeous hike, and in some areas not for the faint of heart.  ( I most definitely did not look down at some points!)  We parked at the upper look out and started there. The trail head can be hard to spot but look for the two big boulders to the right. This is where it begins. There are some steep cliffs and some sketchy points at the beginning, however these level off and leave you with a beautiful hike through the woods. The views at the end are worth the scary beginnings!!

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Later that day we decided to try out the kayaks and fishing. While we had no luck on the fishing point the quick paddle around the lake was awesome! We launched from what appeared to be a boat launch of some sort near the entrance.  The water isn’t overly deep where we were but the wind can pick up quickly and things can get challenging pretty quickly.  So make sure you are prepared if you decided to venture out on the water.

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On our third and final day, we decided to make it an all out quading adventure. We loaded up and headed out. The amount of trails in this area is endless. So much to see and explore. Cross the damn and there is a trail head with all your maps and signage. The trails are signed and easy to read. The trails we took were mostly easy, though a few spots had our hearts pumping a little quicker. I’m sure if you are a quadder who loves to get muddy and stuck there are endless opportunities for that as well.

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Overall we had a fantastic anniversary road trip! Abraham Lake has taken a top spot for one of our favorite places we have visited. We can not wait to go back and explore some more.  If you plan on visiting the area, please remember to leave it as you found it.  These crown land camping areas may be harder and harder to come by if we are not taking care of them, and what a disappointment that would be.

#dsgouterwear #outdoors #camping #lakelife #quadding

 

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