May 14, 2017

Long-Overdue Update

In no particular order, highlights since my last blog post include:

  • Archery hunting for elk in the Missouri River Breaks,
  • Buying my first firearm,
  • Shooting a mule deer while hunting with my sister and good friend, Jeff, with said firearm,
  • Moving to Truckee, CA,
  • Starting a new job,
  • Buying a house,
  • Going on a 3-1/2 year delayed honeymoon,
  • Gaining a nephew, and
  • Adding a canine member to our family.
I spend most of my time working, which has the dual consequences of me doing fewer blog-worthy things and having little to no time to write about the few blog-worthy things I manage to squeeze in. That hasn't changed, but I will attempt to post more frequently nonetheless. Below are a few more details on the events listed above.

I spent a week during archery season elk hunting in the Missouri River Breaks with Jeff. We hunted a few days from the river/reservoir out of Jeff's boat before experiencing motor problems, limping our way back to the put-in, and hunting from the roads for the last few days.

Hunting elk from a boat - a totally new experience for me

Classic terrain of the area we hunted

One of the few bulls we saw, and the biggest. Photo taken from about 550 yards.
I heard the bull above from about a mile and a half away. I quickly closed the distance to about a mile where I got my first visual, and saw about 10 elk milling around and feeding just on the other side of a major drainage. It was getting late and I didn't have much time before dark. I continued to close the distance anyway, using gullies and land features to hide my presence as I moved. I took a quick video from near the bottom of the drainage, after running out of good cover at about 550 yards. I could see a route to stay hidden and get within about 200 yards, but then I wasn't sure how I could quickly get close enough to seal the deal. I executed my plan and ended up backing out just after dark from about 200 yards away.

The next day, Jeff and I went back to find the herd, which we eventually did after hearing a bugle around 2 pm. The bull and his harem were slowly working there way down a draw toward where I saw them the previous evening. We planned an ambush and both set up at different locations in hopes that the elk would continue down the same drainage. Long story short, the elk veered up and out of the drainage until they winded Jeff, at which point the spun around and ran back up hill. As it turns out, I was up hill of Jeff and the elk were running right at me as I sat under a lone pine tree. The elk didn't come into view until they were about 20 yards away. I had an arrow nocked, but couldn't draw as the elk were facing me and very close. About 12 cows ran by me at 8 yards followed by the bull in the rear - nostrils flaring and breathing hard. I planned to draw after they all passed, call, and hope the bull would stop. He did, briefly, but he was in direct line with a branch from the tree I was sitting under. It was truly amazing seeing all those elk so close, and them having no idea I was there. I would have loved to come home with meat in the freezer, but that's as close as we came.

Rifle season approached and my meat supply from the previous year was dwindling fast. I broke down and bought my first firearm in preparation for a boomstick-assisted meat harvest. My sister, Molly, and Jeff joined me on the first day I was able to get out during the rifle season. Three hours later, I passed on a small whitetail buck. Five hours later, my new Browning X-bolt in .270 Win had done its job. Thanks to this amazing animal for its unwilling sacrifice. The fact that Jeff and Molly were with me made it very special. Molly had yet to be with someone when they took a big game animal, and she got to experience everything from the hunt to the kill to the meat in the freezer.

After a couple of years spent working for NOLS, remodeling, and working as a carpenter, I accepted a job offer with an engineering firm in Truckee, California. On the up side, Truckee is in the mountains, surrounded by mountains, and close to Ava's family. The only real negatives are that I'm now a Californian and elk hunting is virtually non-existent in this state.

The job's going well. Compared to other engineering positions, I've been given more trust, more responsibility, and more work. The firm, Holdrege & Kull, has about 50 employees in three offices. Only 5 of those are year-round, full-time employees in the Truckee office. About a week and a half ago we were purchased by a larger, publicly traded engineering company (NV5). It's too early to tell how that will affect things for me, but it doesn't seem like anything notable will change in the near future.

Planning to be here for a while, Ava and I decided to buy a house. We did so just in time to get buried for the winter, as the Sierra set some new records...and we're in the area that gets less snow than anywhere else around Truckee. At one point, the snow berms on the side of the driveway were about 12 feet tall, causing me to seriously consider purchasing a snow blower.

In February we temporarily left the snow for a luxurious trip to Baja California. We spent most of our time relaxing and eating good food at the resort we stayed at in Pescadero (Rancho Pescadero). We did escape the black hole of luxury for a day to travel across the peninsula to La Paz, where we spent the day on a boat in the Sea of Cortez, swimming with whale sharks. We didn't take any pictures, but there are several on the internet like the one below. Just imagine snorkeling next to a 30 foot long fish in 10 to 20 feet of water where the fish looks like it's just sitting there and you have to swim relatively hard to keep up with it, all while trying to remember to breathe and convince yourself you won't be eaten.

We spent enough money on the trip to justify calling it our honeymoon, which we promised each other we would do, eventually. It ended up being an excellent escape from both the snow and our very busy lives.

Shortly after we returned from Baja, Turner Iluka King was born. Congrats to Maiya, Turner, and Shaun! I'm super excited to have a nephew who lives in the same town as me, especially if he's as crazy as those videos suggest Shaun was when he was little.

Last but not least, we acquired Ethel from the local humane society. We've had her about 6 months now, and it's often hard to tell if we love her more than she loves us. In a few words, she's adorable, highly submissive, very energetic, a great running, skiing, and mountain biking partner, and she hates riding in cars. We often call her Ethel Sue, but her whole name is "Ethel Susan B. Anthony Holliott, first of her name, relocator of sticks, queen of flopping, lover of all beds and people".

And in case you're still reading, I'm hoping to post again soon regarding my renewed commitment to home brewing.

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