We’re sad to let it go, but it has served its purpose very well and we’re excited to pass it along to a new owner – it’s built to last and will be an excellent rig for someone to use for years to come. It …
It’s far too often that we hear about tragedies involving kayak anglers. In recent years kayak fishing has exploded in popularity and during pandemic years the Coast Guard reported an increase in the number of kayaking fatalities. If you’re considering kayaking on the ocean, there …
Last December, just before the new year, a big storm absolutely hammered our house with record-breaking snowfall. Our touristy ski town gets flooded with people when it snows. But when it gets really, really snowy, people panic and instead of sticking around and riding it out, they hit the road; the worst place to be.
We were stuck at home and couldn’t work or go anywhere – not because of the weather but because what usually is a 15 minute drive was 9 hours. But we could only stay home so long. After several days of cabin fever, the traffic finally cleared and we decided to dig ourselves out and make a run for the coast.
Most people wouldn’t think of mushroom hunting when they have 6 feet of snow around their house, but coastal forests on the west coast offer some of the best mushroom hunting in winter months. We really enjoy it because we just walk around anywhere near the coast in the winter and without worrying too much about tree species, habitat, or location, we usually run into several desirable edible species.
We aren’t going to go into any detail about mushroom ID in this post; make sure you make educated and responsible decisions about what you choose to pick. We just want to share some excitement about getting outdoors during the dreary winter months. Fresh wild mushrooms are full of nutrition and they’re a great excuse to get the rain gear on and get outside!
The Black Trumpet
These delicious, though ominous-looking mushrooms are very aptly named. They’re our favorite mushroom to dehydrate and store for the rest of the year. Some say that they taste similar to truffles and we’ve also heard them compared to fancy cheese. We think they just have their own, delicious flavor and they’re full of umami. We’ve also heard that after they’re dehydrated they get even better with age, but ours never last long enough to know!
They can blend in with the leaves be very difficult to spot at first. The photo below is absolutely full of them. I will post another picture after to circle where some of them are.
Walking right past a small clump of Black Trumpets is easy to do. The nice thing, though, is that when you find a few there are usually many more. And once you find a few and get the right search image going, you’re likely to bring home a considerable amount of mushrooms.
We typically find Black Trumpets in mixed coastal forests that have oak. We look for slopes with some erosion and rockiness to them. And we don’t really look for them until there have been some truly colder, ideally freezing temperatures. January is our month of choice for Black Trumpets
Another one of our favorite winter mushrooms is the Hedgehog. Also aptly named, they’re easy to identify by their toothy underside.
Hedgehogs are delicious fresh – similar to a chantrelle. We dehydrate them sometimes but they don’t reconstitute as well as a black trumpet or morel.
We find hedgehogs in what seems like every coastal habitat in the winter. Redwoods, pygmy forests, oaks, anything near the coast seems to have some hedgehogs in the winter. There are several species of hedgehogs which perhaps is why they seem to occupy so many different habitats. Sometimes we find hedgehogs that are like icebergs; only a small amount of the top is exposed but a massive mushroom is just beneath the soil.
AKA yellowfoot chantrelles or just “tubies”. We really like these, too.
We find these in big numbers on the coast throughout the winter – it seems like they last through rain longer than some of the other winter mushrooms. We don’t like them as much as trumpets or hedgehogs, but they’re still nice to eat. They dehydrate fairly well and we like to add them to soups throughout the rest of the year. They’re usually very clean and small enough that they usually don’t need to be cut up to be dried or consumed, which makes them very quick and easy to process.
There are many, many more species of edible and inedible mushrooms species that flush during the winter on the coast. It’s a really fun time to get out just to see how many species you can find. Grab a good ID book like All That the Rain Promises and More and some rain gear and get out there – you’ll surely find some cool mushrooms! We’ll end this post with photos of a few interesting species that we observed on our last winter mushroom hunt:
When my brother took this photo, I was right there but I didn’t notice the beauty in front of me. I was steaming up the hillside, shotgun in hand, completely consumed by the sound of chukar calling from the distant rim rocks above. In a …
If you’re an experienced hunter, this article probably isn’t for you. But if you’re an experienced hunter and have friends that don’t hunt, you might want to send this article to them so they can keep an eye out for you. It can’t hurt… For …
Morels are truly a spring delicacy. They exist all over the northern U.S. and can be found anywhere from orchards to alpine forests, but out west we’ve usually harvested them from April-June in forests that burned in recent years. They’re super fun to hunt for but they can also be very hard to find. You can do all the right research and pick out the perfect area on a map just to walk right past the mushrooms. They can be very hard to spot for a beginner, and even a trained eye can miss them easily. The more you find , the easier they become to spot and once you find one you’re likely to find a lot more.
For a beginner, we highly recommend bringing a few photos of them on your first outing. Don’t forget to take a look at our other post about mushroom hunting essentials for some great books and tools to bring along. Keep looking at the photos occasionally to help train your eye and increase your chances of finding them.
Since the season is coming up, we thought it would be fun and helpful to post a bunch of photos of to help train your eye. One thing we try to do when we are out in the field is to look both nearby, like right under our feet, and to also look out further away for any obvious mushroom shapes.
Here are a couple of close-up photos to get your eyes warmed up:
As you can see, there are many different shades, colors, and sizes, some of which are easier to spot. It’s more of a shape/texture that you’ll learn to look for. Sometimes they’re super hard to see, but other times they can stick our like a sore thumb just asking to be picked!
Scroll down and try to find the mushrooms in each photo. After each photo I will provide a “key” with blue circles around the morels (or at least most of them, maybe I missed some!)
Just kidding, those are pine cones.
We hope this was helpful. If you want more information about finding morels, or about the safety of picking morels, check out these articles:
Morel mushrooms are a prized delicacy and it is well known that the best way to find them is to search through burn areas during the spring(s) following a wildfire. Recent fire seasons out west have been unprecedented, so it’s safe to say that morel …
First of all, this post isn’t about identifying morels but that’s obviously a very crucial part of any foraging. We have a brief post here where we provide recommendations for resources to learn to I.D. morels. Here is a mushroom that looks similar to a …
Wow, we’ve been busy. We went from wildfire evacuation directly into a big hunting trip for two weeks. We followed that up with moving and here we are. We are barely settled in our new home but we’re back to hunting before it’s over for the year.
We’re happy to share that we’ve had a consistent audience of people who are using our web pages to learn about harvesting wild food. Our main goal in the first place was to help people get started, so we’re on the right track.
Our most popular posts have been about “how-to” stuff, like reading the tides, how to process clams, how to kayak fish, and so-on.
So for this article, I wanted to get very basic and write about what someone needs to do to start hunting. We’ve talked to quite a few people who are interested in hunting but are intimidated for one reason or another. Mostly it’s just difficult to learn without a mentor, which I completely understand.
But it’s worth the learning curve – there are tons of reasons to get out there and harvest your own wild meat. Maybe you just want to eat healthier. Maybe you want to feel more connected with your food. Or maybe it just sounds fun. All of these are good reasons to go on your first hunt. So here’s what you need to do to get started.
5 simple steps to start hunting
1. Take Hunter’s Education
Every state wildlife agency offers a basic hunters education class. This is an easy class that is sometimes entirely online. You need to take it once in your life and then it’s valid forever and in every state.
In a lot of hunter’s education classes you can get paired up with a mentor through a mentor-ship program if you want. This is huge for anyone that’s worried about getting started without one.
2. Pick the type of hunting you want to start with and learn the rules
There are open seasons and closed seasons. There are lots of other rules. Get a regulations book (you can get them free online in PDF or mailed to you by your local fish and wildlife office) and read through it, and you’ll learn that it actually isn’t that complicated. Generally, you are allowed one big game animal per hunting season. In your area it might be that it has to be an antlered animal (aka a Buck), or maybe you can only harvest 2 of the birds you want to hunt. Either way, you’ll need to know when you can hunt, where you can hunt, and what the limit is. There are also more detailed restrictions on ammunition, legal shooting hours, etc., that you will learn in hunters education and by reading the regulations.
If you have any questions about the rules, I strongly encourage you to contact your local fish and wildlife office and ask them – don’t rely on asking someone who hunts unless you really trust their expertise.
3. Learn how to process the meat
This is potentially the hardest part to do without a mentor, but it’s definitely not impossible. It’s fairly intuitive – humans have been hunting for a long time and they didn’t have Youtube to watch every time they encountered a new food. Watch some videos of people processing the animal you want to hunt, and just remember the main goals are to keep your meat clean, cool, and dry. This just means you should avoid hunting when it’s hot, and if you are lucky enough to harvest something make sure to take good care of the meat and it’ll be great.
4. Learn your weapon
Whether it’s a bow or a gun, this is a very important and sometimes overlooked step. After spending time and energy in the field looking for game, you’ll be very disappointed if you make a bad shot. Most importantly, you have to be consistently accurate with your weapon to be ethical. One reason we love archery is we can practice at or near home, but practicing with a gun usually means going to a range.
Once you feel comfortable target shooting with your weapon, it’s important to practice in real-life situations. For archery, I like to bring a target out into the woods and shoot uphill, downhill, and through vegetation. With a rifle, I like to practice in a variety of shooting positions.
The bottom line is that when you’re ready to shoot at an animal, you will know. You will have practiced enough to feel very confident with your weapon.
5. Gather up the gear you’ll need
Hunting can be so incredibly simple. In addition to the equipment you would want to bring on a hike, you just need a license, a weapon, and a couple of small tools for processing an animal. Bird hunting is a great way to start. All you really need is a cheap shotgun (about $200) and basic hiking gear to get started. Here’s a list of the basics:
- Hunting License
- First Aid Kit
- Water and Food
- A good pair of hiking shoes
- Weapon and ammunition
- Field processing equipment – knife, game bags, gloves, knife sharpener
- Orange vest – not required in all hunts but we always bring along in case we find ourselves hunting near other hunters
You really don’t need much! The beauty of hunting is in it’s simplicity. You’ll find yourself in beautiful places where you never would have otherwise wandered, and you’ll appreciate the food you eat more than you ever have.
The main hiccup for most people is just finding the motivation to get started, but once you do you will never stop. If you have any questions about getting started with hunting, please feel free to reach out to us. Here are some photos of what keeps us hunting every fall.
A Few Hunting FAQs
Is hunting expensive?
Hunting does not need to be expensive. If you stick to the state in which you are a resident, it’s very affordable. Hunting gets expensive when you start buying tags to go hunting out of state as a nonresident.
Do I need to wear camo to go hunting?
No, you don’t need camo. Camouflage can be very helpful (and almost necessary) for some types of hunting like turkey and duck, but it still isn’t necessary. We often hunt big game in our regular outdoor clothes and just try to wear grays, browns, or greens. It’s more important to be safe and comfortable with clothing that is appropriate for the weather.
Do I need to wear orange to go hunting?
In some states and for some types of hunting, orange is required. We wear orange any time that we hunt an area where there are lots of other people hunting. We generally avoid this though. Read the regulations for your area and the type of hunting you want to do and you’ll learn if you need it or not.
Can I start hunting without a mentor?
In short, yes you can. If you’re the type of person that can really do the research ahead of time, you can start hunting without having a mentor.
We have been perfecting this recipe over the years, but it all started after a successful elk hunt in Idaho. I had been daydreaming about maple breakfast sausage, so after I got my first bull and a friend loaned us his grinder, it was on. …
If everything were going as planned, Olivia would have her full attention on finishing out her first school semester and I’d be working hard to prepare for the upcoming hunting season. Instead, we’ve packed some of our belongings and we’ve left home to get away from the head of the Caldor fire. Since the day it exploded, we’ve been watching it creep steadily towards home. Counting down the miles and trying to keep track of its pace has been mentally exhausting. All the while we’ve been trying to push forward through smoky air to accomplish our school and work obligations. Here is a screen shot of the fire map the first day smoke was visible from our house.
And here is a screenshot of the fire today, with a small black outline I drew around our neighborhood. You can see that it’s generally moved east and north, towards us.
We decided to leave and start staying in the school bus before the evacuation warning came, mainly because of how bad the smoke was. Even indoors with air purifiers cranking, our lungs were irritated and it was time to get out. Ashes, small bits of charcoal, and entire burnt oak leaves (there are no oaks where we live) were landing in our neighborhood.
That said, we’re extremely grateful to have the school bus and and a place to park it where we can mostly get out of the smoke and continue to live.
Last week I started working at a different job site out on a property that sits right in the center of where the tamarack fire just burned. A storage container/office and a lot of other valuable stuff burned in the fire, but the main structures were saved so we’re back to building.
Although the fire burned through the area several weeks ago, this week we found a tree that had relit from the inside. The forest service had to come and put it out.
Anyway, we mainly wanted to update friends and family and let everyone know that we’re safe and out of harms way, but we also wanted to share our experience of having an adventure rig like a skoolie to use in an emergency like this. It’s certainly a huge bonus to having one that we didn’t foresee needing, and if anyone we know is thinking of building one, we think it’s something worth keeping in mind.
The past few days have been really good for troubleshooting and really testing out our systems. We’re sorting through some minor solar/electrical settings issues, but other than that we have a bed, stove, sink, shower, electricity, two great dogs, and each other. We also have the means to pick up and leave whenever we need to. What more could you ask for?
It isn’t nearly finished, but it’s certainly worth it’s weight in gold to us!
It’s safe to say that this spring was hectic. We worked on our school bus every chance we could, often running late into the night. We also got a puppy who we named after one of our favorite towns in Idaho – “Stanley”. Stanley is …
That’s right, one of Olivia’s many dreams came true. She bought a school bus. It’s going to be a big project converting it, but it’ll be really fun. Olivia thinks the main purpose of the bus is for her to live in while she is …
If you haven’t read parts 1-4, you can find them here.
I started my first afternoon of Rosie hunting disappointed. As I took my first look with my binoculars, I spotted an ATV down where I was planning on hunting. Bundles of fog were quickly blowing east across the landscape, and sometimes they would roll in so thick that I couldn’t see anything but my immediate surroundings.
Instead of hiking in towards the ATV, I decided to drive over to another area where I knew my friend Trevor was hunting. As I was walking down the road in search of Trevor, I took this picture to show what a typical Western Washington forest looks like; it’s so thick that in a lot of places you can’t walk through it.
I quickly ran into some big elk rubs. This is my favorite type of elk sign to find.
If you are uncertain about whether or not something is an actual elk rub, lean in a little closer and look for hair.
Get your nose really close and take a big whiff – if it smells strongly of fresh sap, it’s probably a fresh rub.
This time of year, though, I wasn’t going to be finding any fresh rubs. Bull elk start to rub (or “rake”) their antlers on trees and large bushes to remove velvet from their antlers in the summer. They continue to rake trees to show themselves off through the mating season that occurs from late August into October.
During the late archery season that takes place in the end of November, I wouldn’t expect to see any rut-like activity from bulls. BUT, when you find a rub they probably haven’t gone too far. True coastal Roosevelt elk don’t migrate nearly as far as their Rocky Mountain relatives (they really don’t migrate at all).
I didn’t end up seeing much else that first afternoon other than lots of hunters. And I never found Trevor until after dark when we finally met up at the trucks.
The next day, Trevor and I hiked in to hunt together. In the morning we hiked into a reliable area where we have seen elk nearly every time we have been in there. We left the trucks in the dark and headed up to a prominent ridge to glass from, but the elk were nowhere to be found. Once again we were dealing with lots and lots of fog and not a lot of visibility. That’s hunting the coast.
Here’s one of many useful tips for Rosie hunting that my friend Trevor taught me: Sometimes it might be foggy down low but clear up high, or vice versa. While it might seem like a day to throw in the towel, it might be the perfect day to hunt somewhere else. Don’t stay at home.
On this morning we were down at sea level, so we decided to drive elsewhere for the evening hunt.
We hiked in to another reliable area again to find fog blasting through from the west, so we could see for brief periods and then we couldn’t.
We were hiking out in the evening when we barely caught a glimpse of some elk that were walking up the road we were on, and they were walking directly towards us. We quickly hid off of the road in the bushes and dropped our packs in anticipation of the elk continuing up the road towards us.
Unfortunately, before they made it to us on the road, they turned off of the road and dipped down a steep hill through a clear cut. They weren’t spooked by us, but they just happened to decide to leave the road before they got close enough for a shot. Trevor snuck down the road towards them and tried to sneak into archery range from above. In the photo below, you can see Trevor on the road on the left. The elk are at the bottom of the hill on the right, not very visible in the photo but you get the point; from my point of view, it looked like the elk were really close to Trevor. Some of them started to bed down, some were casually feeding.
Really, though, they were out of bow range when they caught our scent or something spooked them, and they took off into the timber. It was definitely a bummer, but I found some prime consolation chanterelles that day and they made for an excellent addition to dinner.
At the end of day two, I knew that the next day would be my last day to hunt. If I was lucky enough to get an elk, it might take a day or two to pack the meat out.
If you absolutely have to be back from a hunting trip on time for work (or something else), you need to account for at least an extra day to pack meat out depending on how far you are, who you have to help you, etc.
For my last day, I decided to break off and hunt alone so that Trevor could hunt with another friend. In the late hunt, when you can’t call for the elk, I haven’t found there to be much of an advantage to hunting with a group of friends (other than good company).
I knew this last day would be really crowded because it was the day after thanksgiving (aka black Friday) so everyone was off of work and more than ready to ditch (or bring) their family to go elk hunting. In anticipation of the crowds, and because it was my last day, I decided to commit to the “Hail Mary”. I decided to “send it”. I wanted to go “hard in the paint”. It was “the bottom of the 9th”. It was overtime. And I figured I may as well be really tired for the long drive home.
I decided to go back to where I had seen the ATV on day 1, but this time I was going to just put my head down and hike in reaaaaaallllly far for the day.
I left hunting camp and friends behind and I drove in to the trailhead in the dark. Last year, at this exact same spot, when we got back from a long hunt my friend Nate’s car was stuck in the snow and my truck battery had died. This year, when I parked and got out of my truck at the exact same parking spot, my tire was hissing.
This parking spot HAS to be cursed; I also found an entire set of brand new arrows in a really nice quiver someone had dropped there. Fortunately I was able to find them in the internet world and mail it all back to them. But this parking spot is for sure cursed.
After being gone for two full weeks of camping, I contemplated putting the spare on and just heading home. With one day before work, I could get my tire fixed and have a day at home to unpack, process the bull I had harvested, and maybe even find time to relax. I also knew that by the time I put the spare tire on, I probably would lose my early start advantage that I had over the weekend crowd.
But, you only live once, and I was already there, so I decided to press on. I swapped my tired out in the dark and rushed to get my gear together. Now I was starting my Hail Mary late.
My plan for the day was to hike down a huge clear cut and cross a decently sized river using my fishing waders. After I was across, I would hike about 6-7 miles out to an area where I figured I would be the only hunter. I at least knew there would be less hunting pressure way out there away from the nearest drivable road.
I immediately spotted elk across the river so I made my way down quickly. On my way down, I was rushing and I foolishly bumped one group of elk that were right below me. Before I even made it to the river I ran into some of the thickest, nastiest vegetation I have ever experienced. I took a slightly different route than I have before because I followed the elk that I had spooked for a little ways. It was a huge mistake. I was literally crawling and climbing through thorny bushes and downed trees to try to get through. Eventually my only option left was to climb across some tall, slippery, downed logs, so I had to back track to find a better route.
Despite recent rain, the river was crossable with waders without a problem. Once I was across, I stuffed my waders into a garbage bag, took a waypoint with ONX so I could find them again, and started hiking up towards the elk I had seen on the other side of the river.
I immediately ran into several groups of hunters where the elk had been – between my flat tire and getting stuck crawling through the rainforest, I got there too late. I was surprised to run into people so early in the morning. I hate that type of hunting. Never mind the elk, I just wanted to be alone and not have to worry about human competition on my last day. So, I put my head down and told myself I wasn’t even going to stop to look for elk until I made it way out there, 5 more miles or so. I couldn’t resist so I did stop to look for elk, but I hiked fast and didn’t look long. It’s amazing how much ground you can cover if you hike fast and keep up the pace – a couple of guys with bicycles said they were heading the same way and I never saw them again. As I finally approached the area I wanted to hunt, there were tracks and scat everywhere. I felt like a mouse following a trail of crumbs, except the crumbs were elk turds scattered on the road.
I was finally alone. No human tracks, no bicycle tracks. Just elk tracks and silence. I would pass though clear cuts and then dense, beautiful coastal forests.
Finally, as I popped out of a large stand of trees, I spotted a group of elk that were hanging out mid-day in the open.
In my experience I’ve noticed that if you hike far enough to where the elk are less-pressured, they seem to hang out in the open more during the day.
In this particular area, I have never been there when they AREN’T out in the open – the perfect place to go when you really want to make it count.
This particular time, the elk were hanging out in the open and they were also right below the road I was walking on. In the photo below, they were straight across in the open clear cuts.
The thing is that I had to either drop down, cross a creek, and approach the elk from below, or I could follow the road I was on for two miles around the top of the drainage down the next ridge they were on to approach them from above.
On the coast, it’s almost always better to stay on the roads and trails when you can. Short distances through the forest can take hours or even all day.
I’ve made that mistake before. You think you can make it through to a road that is just out of sight. Hours later you are soaking wet, forcing your way through thorny vines that are way over your head, wishing you had just walked around on the road.
At this point it was late morning and I had hiked for 5 miles and hadn’t had a single bite to eat. Not even breakfast. My plan was to just get away from all of the people and stop for a late breakfast when I got there. But now there were elk. And they were in the open. And they were in the perfect spot – JUST below the road where I might be able to sneak up on them from above. I really didn’t want to have another hunter pass me on a bicycle or something and beat me there, so I decided to press on for the last 2 miles, eating while I walked.
When I passed through the last patch of timber before the elk, I found myself about 100 yards away from the closest cow, so I stopped to take this picture – the red arrow shows where the elk are. It was a group of nine and one was lagging behind as they fed horizontally across the slope away from me.
This is where rifle hunting easily ends – 100 yards is an easy shot. But this is where archery hunting begins.
My heart was pounding as I crept down the road (remember, no vehicles are allowed out here). I knew it was the perfect situation. The wind was steadily blowing in my face so I knew they wouldn’t smell me. I could hug the left side of the road to stay out of sight, so I knew that if I was quiet enough, I would at least get close.
I really took my time. I was kneeling but really I was at a crawl. When I got far enough down the road that I thought they were probably below me, I crept towards the edge of the road. As I was looking down the hill, the only elk I could see was off to my left, so I hadn’t made it far enough down the road to be directly above the herd. I used my rangefinder to range it at 60 yards. This is my maximum range if shooting conditions are right (no brush, not a steep slope, animal is broadside, etc.) and only if I have been practicing a lot.
Since I had been out hunting for two weeks without shooting my bow much, and I already had harvested one elk, and I was REALLY far from the truck by myself, I decided to risk spooking the elk to get much closer. This is a decision that’s tough to make. I know that at 60 yards my odds of making an ethical shot are very good. Getting closer than 60 yards when it is dead quiet, and there are dozens of big ears listening, is very difficult. I knocked an arrow.
I slowly backed out from the edge of the road and scooted down the road a little further until I thought I would finally be above them. As I crept to the edge of the road and looked down, I could see that an elk had bedded down right there, but I could only see its rump. I ranged it again, this time at 40 yards. It was bedded down facing to the right, away from the other elk. But I didn’t have a clear shot at its vitals. I knew, though, that if it heard anything, it would stand up and turn around to face the other elk. If that happened, I knew that at that moment I would have a brief window of time to get a clear, ethical shot.
So, I attached my release to my bow string and continued to creep forward very carefully. Once your release is attached to your string, you really don’t want to fall. Your hand is essentially attached to your bow, so if you fall, things could end poorly.
As I got closer to the elk, I went exponentially slower. I took one carefully placed step, then a quiet breath to calm myself down. Another step, another breath. I tried to consciously slow my heart rate.
After about ten yards of this, I snapped a twig. Though my step was carefully placed, there are twigs everywhere and eventually one will pop. The elk stood up and quickly turned around to get eyes on the other elk just as I thought it would. It wanted to know where they were to see if it was one of them that had popped a twig. It didn’t expect noise from above. As it stood up, I drew back.
Here I was, 30 yards away from a still, broadside elk that was looking the other direction. This is the PERFECT opportunity. So I took it. In the Hail Mary metaphor, this is the quarterback letting go of the ball. I still didn’t know what would happen next.
In most of my previous archery hunts, my adrenaline is pumping and everything happens SO fast that the details never really soak in. This time, though, was very different. Since I had taken the time to calm myself down and approach the elk so slowly, it’s almost like everything happened in slow motion.
The dead silence was broken as my arrow made the classic “thwung” noise that it makes. The sound of my arrow hissing through the air seemed louder than it ever has been because it was so incredibly dead silent out there. I watched my arrow hit the elk right in the perfect spot and continue onward like the elk wasn’t there. Because I was uphill of the elk, I could see the arrow exit from the other side of the elk’s body and continue flying, appearing to still be at full speed.
This is when, as a responsible hunter, you have to continue to stay calm and pay very close attention to what happens next. There is no celebration after you make a shot at an animal.
There is continued silence and undivided attention. You are looking for blood on the body as the animal flees. Is it a lot of blood? Where exactly did the arrow hit? If the animal turns, is there blood on the other side? How is the animal reacting? Where is it going? These are all things that are essential to look for after you make a shot.
In this case, all of the elk took off across the slope, down into a small ravine out of sight, and then immediately popped back out into sight on the other side, heading uphill. When they got to the top of the other side of the ravine, they all stopped and looked back. They were staring towards me, but there intense stare was broken by occasional glances at each other as if they were wondering what to do next.
I lifted my binoculars and carefully looked for any sign of blood on one of them. This was going to be my last chance to get eyes on the one I had shot. I was looking for any evidence that might help me with a successful tracking job (if needed) and harvest.
But there was no blood; no sign of a successful shot. My heart sank. Had I just imagined a good shot?
One cow turned and trotted away into the distance and the others followed. I continued to watch eagerly with my binoculars for any sign of injury, but found none.
I sank into a sadness and fear that no one can fully understand unless they’ve had an experience like this. But I also kept telling myself that I KNEW it was a good shot. My gut was telling me it was a good shot.
I crept forward a few steps and looked down into the small ravine that the elk had gone through, and there it was, down on the ground with its head down. It had gone down so quickly that I didn’t suspect it could be right there below me. I thought it was dead for sure, but wasn’t close enough to tell with 100% certainty.
I still wasn’t celebrating. I backed out of the area quietly and got far away to make sure that if it hadn’t died yet, it had time to die as peacefully as possible.
Hunting can be an emotional roller coaster. At this point I was pretty sure the elk was down for good, but there is always a paranoia related to losing an animal and it never goes away until you are up close and certain.
I struggled to eat lunch while I waited for a half hour or so (I would wait longer if I wasn’t as confident that it had died quickly). As I laid there in the old dirt road, I was appreciative of the beautiful sunny weather. One week earlier, I was hunting in single digit temperatures. Now I was laying in the warm sun with my boots off.
It started to sink in that I was really far, across a river, by myself. I knew this was a possibility and was prepared, but this is when I started to realize how much work I had gotten myself into. I already had a blister forming on one of my heels, so I taped it up and got my boots back on. I called Olivia to let her know where I was and what had happened. I had already marked my location on ONX so I sent it to her and a couple hunting friends. Knowing I might be out late, alone, working with knives and such, I wanted to make sure someone knew where I was. A week prior I had dealt with a mountain lion at night, but at that time I had a gun and a friend with me. So the thought definitely crossed my mind.
At this point I felt like I had given ample time for the animal to pass, so I walked back down the road and again and very quietly approached the area. I checked the wind direction constantly to make sure I was downwind of the elk – that way it wouldn’t startle and run off if it was still alive and it smelled me. When I got to where I could see the elk go down before, it was gone. I knew for sure I was looking right where I had seen it, but it was gone.
As I said before, hunting can be an emotional rollercoaster.
I am going to stop right here and add a little side note to address anyone reading this that is concerned about the ethics of big game hunting or hunting at all.
I’ve never really shared details from my hunting trips like this except for with my hunting partners and with Olivia when I get home. It’s not that I believe anything we do as hunters is unethical and worth hiding. It’s that a lot of non-hunters don’t understand why we do what we do. A detailed description about an animal’s death feels like a touchy subject when it shouldn’t be.
Members from my own close family, like my mom, will openly admit that they didn’t initially understand why I started hunting so much. Initially, they really didn’t even want to hear about it.
I think a lot of people who don’t hunt don’t understand because they are never exposed to it in any sort of detail, or maybe they’ve been exposed to it by an unethical or unsportsmanlike hunter. They are simply never given the opportunity to learn about it and appreciate the skill, the passion, and the mindset that a conservation-oriented hunter has.
I realize that details regarding an animals death can be bothersome or even hurtful for people to look at or hear about. But, if your someone who is offended by hunting, hear me out.
We appreciate and respect every wild food meal more than anyone could possibly appreciate the meat they pick up from the grocery store. We earn it by working very hard for it. We even risk our own safety (to an extent) to acquire it. We also earn it by funding conservation through the licenses, tags, and other fees we pay to be able to hunt and fish.
Hunting and fishing licenses and tag sales are the number one source of funding for wildlife conservation. Period.
Number two is from gun and ammo sales.
If you don’t believe that us humans should eat meat, that’s one thing. But if you are buying meat from the store and eating it in restaurants, you probably have no idea where it came from, how the animal was treated, or how it was killed. And this is another reason why I believe hunting is ethical – we harvest animals that are unsuspecting of their death and have been left alone to live their lives until then. An arrow through their heart is a much more peaceful way to go than ‘most any other death out there in what we hunters call nature.
So, if you take issue with hunting, consider what you are doing with your life to help with the conservation of wildlife and redirect your concerns to the mass-produced meat you can find in any grocery store.
We are sharing the intimate details of our hunting, fishing, and foraging experiences with those of you that aren’t our family for two main reasons: One, to reach out to non-hunters to help them understand where we are really coming from and hopefully inspire them to get their own wild foods. And two, to help fellow outdoorspeople improve their skills by sharing knowledge and experiences with each other.
Anyway, on with the story.
Fortunately, it had just rolled a couple of times down the steep hill and was right there, just in a hard spot to see.
This is when I knew it was dead for sure. It wasn’t bedded down like it was sleeping. It was piled up against what appeared to be the only log that could have stopped it from tumbling the rest of the way down the steep hill.
When animals are badly/mortally wounded, you often see them try to get up but they can’t. As they are losing blood rapidly, they want to get up and walk away but it’s not physically possible, so they struggle and can fall, roll, or slide down a steep hill to their final resting place. It’s a very sad sight to see, but it’s part of it.
The shot I had made was nearly perfect. When I shot, it was quartered just slightly away from me, facing to the left. I wish the arrow had hit just a little bit more forward towards its front leg, but it worked.
This Roosevelet elk was big. She was slightly larger then the Rocky Mountain bull I had harvested a week earlier.
I looked up from the elk and I could see where my truck was parked wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy out in the distance.
This was when it REALLY sunk in. I had a lot of work to do. I had a 600 pound animal to process and carry out 7 miles and across a river by myself.
I got to work on the sunny slope and things went smoothly. I tied the elk off to a stump uphill to make sure it wouldn’t slide down the hill further as I worked. When I got halfway through, I learned that flipping an elk over alone is very tough. I am not super strong by any means, but it’s a task that I could see being very challenging or even impossible for some hunters, especially for someone older.
After a couple hours of skinning, cutting, and quartering the elk, I started shuttling quarters up to the road. Imagine hiking up a hill much steeper than a staircase with 100 pounds on your back, then add small sticks scattered about everywhere so that they are often a foot or two off of the ground and require stepping over. It was only a couple hundred yards, but it was extremely difficult and would have been downright dangerous without trekking poles.
After four trips up to the road, I decided to start by leapfrogging the elk, one half at a time, down the road as far as I could get it that afternoon. I have never attempted carrying half of an elk at a time, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was doable on an open dirt road, but it was quite uncomfortable and it felt unhealthy for my hips.
When it was just about dark I had successfully shuttled the meat two miles closer to the truck. I found a tall tree with strong, open limbs and I got to work hanging three quarters of the elk.
At this point I was having a really tough time. It was dark, I was 5 miles from my truck without a tent or any sleeping gear at all, and I had just had a mountain lion encounter a week prior.
I’ve never really been afraid of the critters out in the woods, even when it’s been dark and I’ve been hunting alone. I still wasn’t terrified or anything like that, but it was enough of a worry that I wasn’t having fun any more. I also knew that I had a tremendous hike ahead of me with meat on my back and I still had to cross a river.
It definitely wasn’t fun anymore, and hunting should be fun. I have always told myself that. While I was out there that night, burning my hands with rope to try to hang the meat high enough in the tree, worrying about my long hike back to the truck, I realized that I need to readjust my thinking and my plans for future hunts. I need to hunt with a buddy or at least have one hunting close by, otherwise I won’t be hunting so far out by myself.
Anyway, to end a long story quickly- I was rescued. Headlights appeared and I got a free ride out in a truck, all the way down to the river where all I had to do was cross the river and climb a steep hill to the truck. I didn’t even have to hike in the next day for the meat because they took all of the that out for me too. I just gave them some gas money in exchange for what was the best gift I have ever been given in my life, period. Like I said before, this was private timber company land where the public can’t drive the roads – you have to walk in and walk out. I just got really, really lucky.
If you haven’t read part 1, you can check it out here.
By the end of our second day of hunting, we had seen dozens of antelope and mule deer, whitetail deer, several moose, bighorn sheep, and several herds of elk. This was enough to make for a great trip in itself.
On day 3 I was exhausted from our big hike the day before, so we decided drive to another area (what was originally our plan A) to glass for elk and get an idea of what roads and trails were accessible in the snow. After turning off of the main road, we pulled over to have a look at a new area on our way into “plan A”. From there, we spotted a huge herd of elk that was on the other side of a private ranch. There were several bulls with the group, so we started to formulate a plan to get closer to them.
Using the ONX app on my phone I was able to determine that we could get to the elk by walking around the private property, keeping us on public land. This is one of the main reasons I use ONX for hunting. The app is great for showing property layers and it really helps to keep us on public land where we won’t be bothering anyone. It has come in handy in past years when our animals have died on or near private land as well.
We parked in a spot where we knew we wouldn’t spook the elk and started walking. Our plan was to use a small finger ridge to gain elevation while we stayed hidden from the elk. Once we got as high as the elk, we could side-hill across on a small bench towards them, all the while staying hidden below the taller hill they were on.
As we started up the ridge, we heard an ATV coming down the road. The driver stopped briefly where my truck was parked, probably debating whether or not to continue on. At this point we hoped they would respect our hunt and turn around, but they decided to drive past my truck towards us, presumably to get as close as possible to the elk before having to get out and walk. When they finally got close enough to where we made eye contact and I waved, they respectfully turned their vehicle around and left. At this point we couldn’t see the elk anymore so it was a guessing game as to whether or not the elk had spooked and left the area. We decided to continue up the ridge in the hopes that they were still near enough for our plan to work.
From this point on, we were following wolf tracks.
The interesting thing we noted about the wolf tracks was that the wolf had decided to take the exact same route we were taking. It knew how to stay hidden from the elk while it got closer, and here we were doing the exact same thing.
After a long, slow stalk through the snow and across the mountain, I could see the herd of elk across a small drainage and ranged them at 400 yards. For some people 400 yards is a very doable shot with a rifle, but I wanted to be closer, and I couldn’t see any bulls.
Unfortunately, as I started to get closer, the elk were acting spooky and they were looking downhill at something. I looked down and realized that the two guys in the ATV had driven out and around and back in on a road that was closed to motorized use. The other hunters had tried to beat us to the elk and now the elk were looking down at them and running up the mountain to get away.
This isn’t the first time I have had a hunt spoiled by someone using motorized vehicles where they aren’t allowed. It’s a real bummer. Anyway, the elk were gone so we started our way back down the mountain on foot.
It was late in the afternoon when we got back to our camp. From there we spotted another group of elk. It was debatable whether they were within reach before dark, but Scott and I seemed to be on the same page – may as well go after the elk even if it’s just for some good old exercise.
As it started to get dark, we got closer than I thought we would. The elk were 600 yards away but I couldn’t spot any with antlers and it got too dark to shoot before we could get any closer.
As we hiked out in the dark, we were re-vamped with enthusiasm. In just a few days we had seen elk often enough to have lots of excitement, and the next day wouldn’t disappoint. The next day was the day of the mountain lion.
For those of you who hunt and are looking for pointers, here are a few things we learned on day 2:
- Just because wolves are around doesn’t mean you should be discouraged and abandon a hunt. In this case they were definitely around and we still got close to the elk.
- Don’t force yourself to stick to any plan. This was the third time that we decided to abandon “plan A” and go to where the elk were, even though they were behind private property and up a huge mountain. If you see elk, go for it.
When I was visiting with family this fall my grandmother said something like, “your grandfather doesn’t like to kill things” and I immediately thought “Well, if I enjoyed killing things, that would make me a psychopath”. What she meant, really, was that my grandad wasn’t interested …
Today I was supposed to be leaving for a 9-day Roosevelt Elk hunt in Washington and instead I am sitting at my computer, unable to go outside because it’s too smoky. I’m delaying the hunt for now and I will probably end up bagging it …
This recipe is relatively fast and easy, and a great way to use some of the frozen clams in your freezer. It’s a family favorite, and one that my mom makes every time I fly back east for a visit. Now that we harvest our own clams we have tweaked the recipe to suit any kind of edible bivalve you manage to dig up. The buttery white wine sauce carries a little kick from red pepper flakes and a little citrusy zing from the lemon. We love it!
- 1/2 lb thawed clams (razor, horse, cockles, etc.) roughly chopped reserving their juice
- 1 lb linguine fini
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (we usually use pinot grigio)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp high-heat oil (avocado is our go-to)
- 2-3 medium-large shallots finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1+ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 packed cup fresh, chopped parsley
- Juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup pasta water
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan and add the oil. Start a pot of water for the pasta, salting the water generously.
- Add shallots and garlic to the butter and oil, and turn it down to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine, it may seize up in the pan which is fine, but you want the alcohol to mostly cook off at a very low simmer uncovered.
- Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. At this point your water should be boiling, so go ahead and cook the pasta to just a little softer than al dente.
- About 5 minutes before the pasta is done, add the chopped clams and all their juice to the sauce. Do not let them overcook or they will get tough and chewy. They will be a very pale pink and slightly springy when they are done.
- When you drain the pasta, reserve about a half cup of the pasta water. At the same time, add the parsley to the sauce and stir it in.
- If you feel like the sauce isn’t liquidy enough, add a little of the pasta water at a time until it is the consistency you like. For reference, we usually serve this dish in a shallow bowl with a small amount of the liquid in each serving. It can be more dry if you like.
- Just before serving, add the lemon juice to the sauce and stir.
The most important thing about this recipe is not to overcook the clams. It’s a real bummer when they have the texture of a rubber band. You can always taste the sauce as you go, and add more red pepper flakes if you like it a little hotter, and adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.
The blue Osprey backpack that I used for years worked well for backpacking, but when we started having success big game hunting and it came time to haul large loads of meat (like the elk that Olivia harvested in the photo below) it was uncomfortable …
What to bring along for a successful and fun mushroom harvest One of our favorite activities is mushroom hunting. We started to get passionate about fungi when we lived on the coast of California for a time. From our little home in the redwoods we …
The last post I wrote about strategies for kayak halibut fishing received a lot of positive feedback so I decided to take it a step further. In the past couple of years we fished the Strait of Juan De Fuca fairly extensively, mostly by kayak but sometimes on a friend’s boat.
It’s a dreamy area for a kayak angler to spend time because you can just drive up the road and there are tons of places to pull over and launch a kayak. The strait is productive and you have the opportunity to catch Halibut, several types of salmon, bottom fish, crab, and more. In this video, you can see bait fish boiling underneath me, a common site along the kelp beds in the strait.
Yet the only thing I caught that day was, well, this giant red sea cucmber:
One thing, overall, that I think can be sort of counter-intuitive about fishing the strait, is how much more dangerous it can be compared to the open ocean.
I’ve seen people mention kayaking in the strait as sort of a “warm up” or a prerequisite to fishing the open ocean, and while I think that some spots on the strait (and also in Puget Sound) are awesome beginner spots for saltwater fishing, some spots on the strait have conditions that I found much more dangerous than anywhere I have fished in the open ocean (See safety tips below, as well as the article Kayak Halibut Basics). Mostly, the strait tends to have a lot more current than where I have fished in the open ocean.
Here are a couple of general safety precautions for kayaking in the strait:
Current, current, current
There can be a LOT of current on the strait – standing whitewater waves in a river type of current – 5 to 6 miles per hour or more.
Most importantly, know that the current is strongest in shallow areas that are directly adjacent to deep areas (e.g. underwater ridges, points, and mounds) and at points or islands where the water is forced to go around something. These are the places where the current will pick up and move much more quickly than surrounding areas.
Think of the strait like a giant river – eddies in coves and bays can be moving in the opposite direction of the main current. Currents can occasionally be moving straight out or towards the shore. I like to use my GPS to keep track of my movement because sometimes it can be hard to tell how fast and/or what direction I am moving once I am further out.
Before launching your kayak on the strait (or anywhere in Puget Sound), do your research into the tides and current so that you at least have a general idea of what to expect. Here is an article I wrote about Deep Zoom, a great website for learning about tides and currents.
I don’t mean to scare anyone away, – it can also be super calm and very easy paddling depending on the location, weather, and tidal exchange.
The best advice I can give about current is to not only plan ahead, but to stay alert on the water. In a given day the current will change speed and also change directions, so if it starts to become a problem you want to notice sooner rather than later.
Prepare to be Snagged
You’re going to get snagged. It just happens. Don’t get snagged with line that is too strong to break because it can be downright dangerous. The trick is using tackle and rigging that can break off if you get snagged, but is strong enough to withstand big teeth from big fish. See my article about halibut fishing from a kayak for specifics.
Conditions on the strait are similar to the open ocean in that you can have large swell and big winds. The biggest swell I have ever kayaked in was on the strait near Neah Bay. You need to have knowledge of this stuff before you go. If you don’t, start by looking at some of our HOW-TO articles, keep doing more research, and start by going with someone that knows what they’re doing. Generally, the further west, the more the conditions are going to be reflective of the open ocean. The most protected launches on the strait face east and are therefore protected from the primary west and northwest swells.
Huge ships travel through the strait and they have the right-of-way. They usually stick to shipping lanes that you can see on the Navionics Chart Viewer or other maps. In most cases on a kayak you aren’t far enough out to be in the way, but check before you launch to see if there is a shipping lane nearby – sometimes the lanes are close to shore.
As for smaller power boats, there can be quite a few. Use a flag and any other bright gear that you have to stay visible. Carry at the minimum a whistle so that you can make noise if someone’s headed towards you. It’s not nearly as crowded as, say, the buoy 10 fishery on the lower Coumbia, but it’s definitely worth making yourself visible especially when there is swell and/or wind.
Seven Spots, from East to West
Enough about safety, you probably skipped that section anyway.
I picked these seven specific spots to share because they’re representative of the diversity you can find kayak fishing the strait, and because they’re all spots that I know I can talk about with out “blowing up” anyone’s secret spot – they’re all public launches or easy roadside pull offs. I’m also just going to talk about access and safety, not so much fish.
What I can definitely say is that halibut are a possibility at all of these spots and some of these spots are great for bottom fish, salmon, and/or crab as well. Know that fishing regulations vary depending on where you are on the strait.
#1 Port Williams County Park Boat Ramp
This is the most docile place I’ve launched and fished on the strait. If you just want to get out on the strait on a kayak and haven’t done so yet, I would check this out. The launch is a boat ramp where there has always been plenty of parking and not much boat traffic. It’s protected and there isn’t much current. And it’s free.
#2 Dungeness Spit via Dungeness Landing County Park
This is another free and super easy launch at a boat ramp. At lower tides it can be a bit muddy. It’s very shallow leaving the launch at low tides so I would be especially careful with a pedal-driven kayak.
The really cool thing about this spot is that if you time it right, you can ride the tide out to the lighthouse.
Dungeness Bay, which is directly west of the launch, fills up and drains through the narrow channel that is right at the launch, so be ready for a bit of current.
One thing to note about this area is that the southbound ship traffic lane comes very close to the end of the spit (again, you can see this on Navionics or other maps). There might be some crazy-folk that venture into shipping lanes on their kayaks, but I don’t ever want to be caught peddling away from a container ship so I just avoid them entirely.
I decided to fish this area for the first time when the strait had a small craft advisory for 25+ knot winds coming from the west. I didn’t want to skip a day of fishing, and it was the only place I could think of fishing where it would be protected enough. On the west side of the spit it was NASTY. It was still breezy on the east side, but the waves don’t have enough room to build from the west as long as you stay close to the spit.
I caught a variety of fish that day, including a huge skate and this spiny dogfish.
#3 Freshwater Bay
Freshwater is one of the more well-known spots to kayak fish on the strait, and for good reason. It’s very well protected, it’s a free launch, and some huge halibut (that made the news) have been caught there – don’t get too excited. That type of news has come from everywhere on the strait.
Here’s a photo from one morning a couple of miles from the launch.
And here is a video of me high-tailing it in because the wind was picking up very quickly.
Like anywhere else on the strait, Freshwater Bay can have good or bad weather. Inside of the bay, though, it’s very protected from wind, swell, and current. It’s a good place to launch and work your way out.
#4 Crescent Beach
Crescent Beach was the nastiest place I have fished on the strait – on the day I was there anyway. I was warned by an experienced friend about the “hellacious tide rip” when you get outside of Crescent Bay, and he was right.
I could hear it when I was paddling out of the bay. When I got to the buoy at the mouth of the bay, the whole area past that was literally standing waves – breaking waves like you would see in a river. It was peak current of the morning, so I fished inside of the bay for a while until it calmed down.
My friend also warned me about a big, sneaky rock that sits just under the surface of the water near the mouth of the bay. At certain tides and swells, like on the day I was there, it only breaks every once in a while – just infrequently enough that you could easily paddle over it without knowing until it broke right on you.
On the particular day I was there, it was a super easy launch but I knew the swell was supposed to pick up to 5-7 feet. When I got back in the afternoon, all of the surfers were out and they were raving about the 6-foot waves. This photo doesn’t do it justice, they never do, but it was definitely one of the bigger surf landings I have done.
Lastly, it’s $8 to park and launch. It’s actually $8 per person, $8 per pet, $8 for anything living, apparently.
That said, this area has some really good underwater rocky structure and you can head west from here to fish the Whiskey Creek area as well.
#5 Twin Rivers and Deep Creek
There are several places to launch a kayak in this area where the road gets really close to the strait. You’ll want wheels or a friend to help carry your kayak down the beach. Since you’re parking in a pull-off, it’s free.
These launches are pretty much entirely unprotected from swell – If there is a swell, there will be waves on the beach. Twin Creeks is a popular surf spot and the waves pick up there in particular some times.
This area, overall, has a good combination of rocky areas and some big mounds and shelves that aren’t too far from shore.
#6 Pillar Point Recreation Area
Pillar Point Rec area is another free launch where there is a boat ramp. However, at lower tides, the boat ramp can be VERY far from the water (several hundred yards). On one particular day I went it was very low when I launched, so I rolled my kayak west over to Butler creek (much closer) and let the river take me out to the strait. It was fun.
One of the times I fished the Pillar Point area, I let the outgoing current take me west around Pillar Point and past Codfish Cove. I fished the slack out there and then let the current take me east back to the launch. I definitely wouldn’t recommend that type of trip until you are very familiar with tides and current, but it really pays off when you figure it out.
This is one of my favorite areas on the strait because there are huge, scenic cliffs, and it just feels really productive. If you look at bathymetric maps you can see that from the shore it drops off very quickly.
I have also seen orcas cruising the shoreline here, which makes for an amazing day regardless of number of fish caught.
#7 Sekiu River/Kydaka Point
Once you pass Sekiu, the road leaves the water for a bit. When it returns, there is a long beach with several pull-offs where you can launch a kayak. This beach is open and unprotected so it’s only an option when there isn’t much swell. From here you can paddle east and fish Kydaka point.
Kydaka point is another area that can be really sketchy. There is an underwater rocky point that extends north from the point itself, and the current picks up speed to the point where it forms a standing, breaking wave. You wouldn’t want to go east past the point and then come back to a surprise. The nice thing we found, though, is you can avoid the strong current and waves by going out deeper to fish – sometimes it feels counter intuitive to go further away from the shore to stay safe, but sometimes it’s exactly what you need to do.
This area, like a lot of the other spots on the strait, has a good combination of rocky structure, sand, and more.
The Strait of Juan De Fuca has excellent opportunity for kayak anglers in terms of both diversity of fishing and accessibility for launching. I could easily spend a lifetime exploring the area and would highly recommend it as a kayak fishing destination for those with the necessary experience and safety gear.
Here’s our favorite, and definitely our easiest, grilled salmon recipe. My friend’s dad made it for me YEARS ago and I have made it ever since. It has even been a hit with friends who “don’t eat fish”. You only need two ingredients in addition …
Windy.com is a really awesome interactive website for wind forecasts. It’s easy to use – you just zoom in to the area you are interested in and click on the map and it will tell you the current wind speed and direction.
For a forecast, click on the yellow/orange (i don’t know, I’m color blind) down arrow next to the wind speed.
The default forecast model is from the ECMWF (the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather). If you use this and weather.gov, you’re already using two wind forecast models and you are off to a great start.
But here is where you can really get into the nitty-gritty of wind forecasts if you want to have the best possible understanding of what the wind might be like on your next trip: down at the bottom, find the area where you can change to GFS, METEOBLUE, NAM, or click “compare” and you can look at all 4 models at once.
In short, GFS is the model provided by NOAA that most weather apps use. METEOBLUE is a Swiss model, and NAM is another NOAA model. All of these have benefits and drawbacks and you can read about if you click “compare” and then look all the way on the right.
Last, but definitely important, scroll out a bit on the map. Down at the bottom, above the forecast details, there is a horizontal bar where you can click to change the day and time.
Click on the time and day when you are planning on adventuring, and take a closer look at the map.
Is the wind pattern consistent over a huge area? Or are you in a smaller, calm “bubble”?
If you are in a smaller bubble, be aware that the wind forecast is probably less dependable. In extreme cases there can be small areas of calm with nearby areas of extreme wind, and it makes forecasting very difficult. But if the wind pattern is the same over a huge area, its likely to be more dependable.
The best possible situation is to have all four models be consistent, and a mild forecast that is consistent across a huge area. If that’s the case, I’m going halibut fishing!
It might seem excessive to look at four wind models, but if it is the day before you are planning on going offshore on the ocean or have some other reason to really want to study the wind forecast, it can’t hurt to compare several models to see if they are in agreement.
Play around with Windy.com, and you’ll surely become better at understanding wind patterns and forecasts.
This recipe serves 2-3. It is one of our favorites and is super easy and fast! Ingredients The basics: 1/2 pound halibut, rockfish, lingcod, or any other white fish cut into boneless strips about 1/2″ thick. Corn tortillas For the salsa: 1/2 English cucumber, chopped …
We use www.weather.gov for ocean weather forecasts for the same reasons that we use it for land forecasts – weather.gov offers an accurate marine point forecast that is specific to the exact location where you plan on fishing. If you’re interested in an ocean weather …
Why You Shouldn’t Use the Weather App on Your Phone – How to Read the Weather for Outdoor Activities
If you just look at an app on your phone to get the weather forecast before you go outdoors, you have been seriously missing out. If you want to catch more fish, find more mushrooms, avoid bad weather when hunting, and generally be a better out-doors-person, it is important to be able to read not only the daily weather, but to use specific forecasts for things like swell, river flows, tidal current, and more.
Bellow you’ll find a couple of short tutorials on a few websites that we find very handy. If you already feel great about your ability to read general weather forecasts, check out some of the other websites we use for wind and tides.
For general weather, we use the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov for several reasons. Mainly, NOAA forecasts give you an accurate POINT forecast for a very specific location that takes into account elevation and other highly localized factors. Phone weather apps usually give a forecast for the nearest city or town, which can be a very different forecast from where you are actually going, especially if there is a difference in elevation. In remote areas where towns are few and far between, these problems become even more extreme. Here’s an example:
To get a point forecast, go to the NOAA website.
Search for the nearest town or landmark to where you are going. In this case I will do Salmon, Idaho:
The forecast for Salmon on this day is a high of 76 degrees. But if I click on the mountains just west of there:
The forecast in the mountains calls for a high of 56 degrees. That’s a 20 degree difference!
Point forecasts are a much more accurate way to predict the weather, especially if you are headed out into the woods away from the nearest town. Try using weather.gov and you’ll be happy knowing that you’re using the most accurate forecast possible.