Beyond the Cortex

Kansas sunrise

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion” -Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Have you ever had a song come over the radio that instantly transported your mind back in time to a moment in your life? Or maybe you have walked into a bakery and smelled something that took you back to grandma’s kitchen when you were a kid.  Sensory triggered memories happen to all of us, probably on a daily basis, and maybe sometimes only passing through your mind for a second before you get back to sending that text message or punching the time clock.  No, I am not a scientist, but I do spend a lot of time reflecting on what connects me to my passions on a deeper level.  You can’t truly understand your passion for anything without really knowing what drives it beyond the basic reasons. On Christmas Eve morning I took my favorite 4-legged hunting partner, Remi, out for an early pheasant hunt on land I grew up hunting in northwest Kansas. I generally enjoy pheasant … [Read more...]

If You Could Only Pick One……..

Yote Call

Most hunters I know enjoy hunting a variety of game.  I myself enjoy hunting elk, mule deer, hogs, predators, turkey, upland game, and anything else I can get a tag for or a chance to hunt.  If I had to pick one as my all time favorite animal to hunt I would choose mule deer with coyote, upland game, and elk all tied for a close second.  Some may look at my three way tie for second place and think coyote seems out of place amongst elk, deer, and upland game, which may seem like more sought after or desirable, traditional game to pursue.  Growing up in the coyote rich environment of north west Kansas I witnessed the devastation these predators caused (and are still causing) to other game.  This coyote hot spot taught me to successfully call coyotes and do my part in trying to control the predator population.  And lets face it,  the rush of having one or several coyotes come charging in to the call is an awesome experience!  Now the warm weather is finally giving way to winter … [Read more...]


Remi's first KS pheasant hunt.
Photo credit: Michelle Haines

“A hunt based only on trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” -Fred Bear   Merriam-Webster defines success as: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame the correct or desired result of an attempt What makes a hunt successful and/or makes you a successful hunter? A good portion of hunters could use one of the two definitions above to describe how they envision success.  No one goes on a hunt with the goal of not filling a tag so # 2 above probably applies to almost every hunter with the exception of the miserable bastard that only wants to get away from his wife or go on a week-long bender with his buddies, or as he calls it “hunting”.  There are also those that hunt for the sole purpose of # 1 above, with an emphasis on respect and fame as achieved wealth is not something that is synonymous with hunters (for the most part).  Everyone knows this person, or at least this person thinks everyone knows them.  To them, success … [Read more...]

Remi in the Wild: 2015-2016 Upland Hunting & Training

Remi locked in.
Photo credit: Trevin Haines

    The musical beeping of the Dogtra e-collar sounds off and Remi goes from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye.  Not that he has ever truly been at o....  The chimes of that collar are a switch that fully engages Remi into working mode and he becomes a totally different dog that is nothing but business.  I have seen major progress in Remi from late spring of 2015 to the present and the level of guidance I am required to give him has dropped significantly since then as well.  He has found his own style and own methods to work places familiar to him and to work the wind from any direction.  Sometimes I see him going in a direction or to a place that seems strange and, right as I am about to blow the whistle to command him to quarter, he will lock up on point like he knew all along there was a bird there.  I know at that moment he is thinking "don't tell me my business, I know exactly what I am doing".  I am excited that the wild pheasant population seems to be making a … [Read more...]

The Cliff Diving Hog of Texas

Trav and Nate with the toughest pig in Texas.

The built up anticipation and excitement transformed into reality as we rolled into the great state of Texas and the sun started to peak over the horizon. It was the trip to bridge the painful gap between the fall seasons and spring turkey, the trip that always creates lifelong memories (both from the hunt and the road trip itself); it was time for our annual pig hunt!  The journey had kicked off around 1 a.m. from Parker, CO, as Greg loaded the last of his beer rations in the trailer, and took us south into New Mexico and east to Texas.  Hunger set in as we rolled into the booming town of Dumas, TX, so what better place (only place) to stop then Alberts Diner?  At a glance it looked like any small town diner, but inside waiting for us was something special.  Little did we know we were about to walk onto the set of Blazing Saddles, 2016!  As Travis, Greg, and I walked through the sounds of customer chit chat ceased, the place went mute, and the 50 or so senior citizens having coffee … [Read more...]

Why Hunting?

"Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”-Fred Bear "Sometimes simple questions have the deepest and most complex answers.  A co-worker, friend, neighbor, or complete stranger has probably asked you some variation of this question at some point.  “Why do you hunt?”  Your answer could be based on factors such as: challenge, escape, food, memories, the time spent with your hunting buddies, tradition, escape from your spouse, a combination of these, or something totally different.  I imagine that non-hunters generally expect a simple answer because they don’t understand what drives us to hunt and they certainly couldn’t understand what hunting means to us.  With that in mind I challenge you to answer one or both (I can see it may be necessary to answer both to fully explain) of the questions below: -Why do you hunt? -What makes hunting special to you? Compose your answer in the comment section below.  Your … [Read more...]

2015 Colorado Elk Quest, Round 2


From the second I pulled away from camp and left my first attempt at filling a 2015 archery elk tag in CO behind me, all I could focus on was my second and final attempt for the season and what I should do different. I had about two weeks until I would head out and hit the mountains for the last few days of the season and during that time all I could do was dissect and criticize everything I did or didn’t do in my first hunt.  I should have went further, I should have been earlier, I should have been later, I should have been lower in altitude, I should have studied the area more, I should have scouted more, I didn’t push myself hard enough, etc., etc., etc.  The time between my two hunts was a blur of studying maps and satellite images, range time, studying everything elk on, checking gear, repacking, and working.  Before I knew it the time had come to load up and head out for my final bout of the season.   We hit the road on the morning of … [Read more...]

2015 Colorado Elk Quest, Round 1

vantage point

September 3, 2015. The kickoff date of my 2015 CO elk quest. A date burned into my mind since November 2014 when I decided it was time to make changes and start training for high country elk hunting like an athlete training for the big game. Countless 3 a.m. trips to the gym, numerous torture climbs up and down Red Rocks and Green Mountain Park with a weighted pack, and many miles of trail pedaled over followed. I also researched and upgraded my gear and spent hours at the range tuning my setup and educating myself on everything elk. Top that off with a few productive scouting trips with tons of elk spotted and I was ready to hit the high country and punch my tag on the screaming monster, the thing I envisioned all those times I needed an extra blast of motivation to finish that last set or climb the final 100 feet.   12,000 ft. appeared on the screen of my Garmin shortly after sunrise as I hit the mesa my first day out and I was hot on the trail of what seemed to be a decent … [Read more...]

Gifts and Lessons From Dad

Jess, Uncle Ace, and Dad

By Jess Wickizer Two, just two Christmas gifts in my 34 years of life do I clearly remember opening, they both gave me chills, a rush of excitement and a feeling of wonderment. Both of these I received before I was 10 years old and I still have them both to this day. Both of them after opening and looking at my dad gave him this look on his face that I would see a few more times in my life. The first I was 6 years old about to be 7 as my birthday is 9 days after Christmas. My Daisy Red Ryder BB gun was that gift. It is the full size model with wood fore end and stock, adjustable rear ramp site and the loop with leather strap so I could tie it off to my saddle. Over the next few years I would shred cans, and take down a few birds out of the trees in the back yard. I made shooting galleries with targets at different distances, stuck on tree branches and some even dangling by string blowing in the breeze. I would learn how to adjust for distance, elevation and the ever present … [Read more...]

Alpha Tom and the Mountain Thunder Chickens

Element Arrows, Heads Up Decoy

  Until a few years ago April and May were just part of the long painful stretch of time between late winter coyote calling and go time, AKA September.  However, after picking up turkey hunting and getting my first Kansas Rio in May of 2013, I look forward to hearing the loud gobbles in the cool early mornings and evenings of spring time.  Turkey hunting is now just another piece of my ever expanding addiction that I look forward to as winter starts to melt away.  Between life not allowing me to chase elk and high winds every time I tried to hunt anything, 2014 was a cursed year for me and I was determined to knock the bad luck off and make 2015 an epic year.  The best way to start this year off seemed like making an attempt at my first high altitude Merriam turkey.  I had seen many of these nomadic birds over the last few years in the fall while elk hunting but never had a fall tag.  As luck would have it, I became acquainted with Matt Tezak, a fellow turkey hunter, when I was … [Read more...]