Monday, September 25, 2017

More South Dakota Visitors!

Our time here in South Dakota is quickly coming to an end. When we arrived the end of August thinking 6 weeks was a long time but now with only a couple days left we wonder where the time went.
Granted our days were busy with working on the property and visiting but time just seemed to fly by. Jim and Brenda Jordan arrived on Thursday the 14th, a few hours after the Belisle’s departure and we put them to work almost immediately.
Our latest visitors Jim and Brenda!
Still discovering the best eateries in the area we went to the catfish fry Friday night at the Hitchrail in Pringle with Rudee and Phil from Custer as well as the Jordans. It was no shore lunch of Canadian walleye but both the fish and company were good. We were amazed at how much Jim and Brenda had in common with Phil and Rudee. Both had belonged to different chapters of the same motorcycle club and even though they lived more than a thousand miles apart, they had attended some of the same events and had probably walked within feet of each other. Now years later they met in Pringle, South Dakota…..what are the odds?

Next up was a trip to Custer and the Purple Pie Place! It is well worth the visit if you are in the area, both for the food and the pie.

While in Custer we took in some of the sites..... Did you know there is a herd of buffalo roaming the streets of Custer? Almost every street corner has one. We were not able to capture every one on camera but we got a few!

Kevin arrived Saturday morning and so started a busy week of working on each other’s property. He had brought a hammer drill with a 2” bit so we spent several days drilling holes into the rock so we could eventually get T posts into the ground. Some of the holes went good while others took up to 20 minutes to get down the 24”s. When we return in November we should be able to pound the T posts in and finish this project.
Barb and Brenda were busy with their own project which involved tearing apart an old wooden fence that was on the property. Barb hopes to use some of the wood for a feature wall in the house so they carefully took the fence apart and stacked the wood on a pallet.
We have also been kicking around some different names for the property. Being in the west (or at least western South Dakota) we are thinking of something with a “-“ (bar) in the name and since it fits in with Barbs name, all the better! We are thinking of J - - (pronounced J bar bar), or J – B (pronounced J bar B). Still thinking about it but we are leaning towards the last one…..

Meanwhile over on the Filip estate Kevin was doing some grading to level his building site and getting his driveway in!
Kevin digging in the electrical line

The driveway going in on Kevin's place
 Once his site was done the same excavator came over to our place and started leveling our site.

The dozer cleared the site and is pushing some trees
This meant that we had to move to another part of the property and live “off grid” for a few days until our site is ready. When we come back in November we should have sewer and water right at our site!
After having to move parked near the cattle pen (Jordan's in the background)
But the biggest excitement for the week was the fact that bow hunting opened on Saturday the 23rd. We had seen a couple of nice bucks on the property with one of them definitely being the one I wanted if the opportunity presented itself.
Nice, but not the one I wanted.....

This is will be nice next year....

This is the one I wanted!!!
Opening day arrived and it was cold, overcast and rainy but with only 3 days before we headed to North Dakota I headed to my stand at 5am an hour before first light. While I was waiting for the sun to rise I heard a deer walk by near where the trail camera was positioned. It was still too dark to see it but in my mind I just knew it was the big one!
As the night turned to day, I saw 3 smaller bucks and several does and when I headed in at 9:30 for a break (I was wet and freezing!) I grabbed the SD card out of the camera in front of my stand. When I got back to the camper and looked at the pictures….sure enough, the big guy had walked by just before shooting light!
Still raining/misting I went back out at 11:30 with plans to sit until sunset. I saw two of the same smaller bucks from the morning but not the big guy. Then around 3:30 I noticed movement off to my right and there he was! Walking through the woods about 40 yards in front of me, I drew back my bow and waited for him to stop. He stopped several times but he was behind some brush the arrow would never make it through but just when I thought I could not hold the bow back any more he stepped forward into a clearing and I released the arrow.

Almost immediately the buck turned and ran but it looked like the arrow hit where I wanted it to. I got down out of my tree and went to the spot where he was standing to see if I had hit it but found nothing…no arrow, no blood….nothing, just some tracks of him running away. I followed the tracks for 50 yards expecting to start seeing a blood trail but found nothing. I spent an hour scouring the trail looking for my arrow or the tiniest speck of blood…nothing. Did I miss? Did the arrow hit an unseen branch and deflect? Dejected I walked back to the camper and relayed my story to Barb.

She said lets go out and look again so we went back out into the rain for another look. We covered much of the same area and found nothing. As we were walking the back fence line looking for any sign I looked up and laying 20 yards ahead of me was the deer! It was obvious that he had been dead awhile so my shot had been good. We backtracked the trail and could not find any blood, the deer had traveled about 100 yards with no blood trail at all. Upon closer inspection I saw that the arrow hit a couple of inches higher than I was aiming and did not pass through so the blood stayed inside the animal. 
Dejection turned to elation as Barb and I hugged each other right there in the woods. After taking a few pictures, we loaded it up in the 4 wheeler and hung it in a tree for the night. The next day we processed the deer, packaged up the steaks and took the rest to the processor to make some sausage and burger. Now we need to find someplace to store all this meat!
Next up is North Dakota to see our good friends Bob, Deanne, Chris, Holly and Bob and Sue for some farm work and with luck some ducks and bucks!    

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Our First South Dakota Visitors!

All work and no fun makes for a grumpy couple. Luckily we averted GCS (Grumpy Couple Syndrome) by infusing some fun into our week.
After working all day, we started taking drives at night right at sunset to see if we could run across some of the area wildlife and boy, did we ever!

Our most exciting events of the week was the fact that we had lots of visitors! Our first visitors were a local group of turkey’s who discovered that we put up bird feeders. Now they visit 3-4 times a day and have become so accustom to us and the dogs that they walk within 10 feet of us when we are outside sitting in front of the rig.
Our daily visitors

Our first human encounter this week was dinner with friends Phil and Rudee, on Phil’s birthday no less! Phil and Rudee are originally from Indiana and were fulltiming RV’ers for over 5 years until they started their “summer” job at Crazy Horse Memorial just outside of Custer. They liked the job and area so much they decided to buy a house in Custer and have taken a temporary hiatus from life on the road and enjoy life in Custer for a few years. For dinner, we met them at Lintz’s Pizza in Hermosa. We are slowly but surely learning the places to go for good food in the area.
Rudee and the birthday boy in front of their bike
Next up was a 3 day visit from virtual friends, bloggers and fellow fulltimers Jim and Diana Belisle. Although we had not personally met until this week, we have been virtual friends for several years following each other’s blogs and travel adventures. They have been on the road for about 3 ½ years and are passing through the area on their way back to their home state of Michigan after spending the summer in Oregon.
They are a great couple, we spent one day visiting the Prairie Berry Winery for a wine tasting and the Alpine Inn for a great lunch. Then it was off to Crazy Horse Memorial. Having never been here before we were amazed at the size of this complex and the number of displays there were to see. And bonus, if you are from Custer County, you get in for free! They just ask that you bring a few items for the local food self.
Diana and Jim at Prairie Berry

One of the many displays at Crazy Horse

With the temps up into the 80’s most of the week it was hard to work past noon so we tried to get as much done early in the day and spend the afternoons running errands or doing other nonphysical activities. One afternoon this included a tour of the local 4 wheeler trails by the owner of Country Charm Cabins. Owen and his wife Lois have owned their campground/cabins and horse camp for over 15 years and know the local trails like their back of their hands so when Owen volunteered to take us on a ride, we could not say yes quick enough!

He showed us a section line road where we could access the National Forest within a mile of our property. From there you can access literally hundreds of miles of trails. We saw some really cool country including an old homestead, an elk carcass and some beautiful scenery. Thanks Owen!

Ruins of an old cabin

This tree was growing right out of a rock!
But wait there’s more, we our second visitors arriving today! Jim and Brenda were too on their east after spending the summer in Alaska and are stopping by for a few days on their way through! Stay tuned for more Black Hills adventures..... 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Work and Fun in South Dakota!

Back when we were working we would often drive 8, 10 even 12 hours or more to get to our destination. Now our daily treks rarely get over 4-5 hours. We are not in a hurry, there are no deadlines so why push ourselves? MapQuest said our trip from Ontario to Pringle South Dakota was somewhere around 1,100 miles and 18 hours. We were so excited to get there we reverted to our former driving habits.
Day 1 found us rolling out of Pasha Lake Cabins at 9:00 EST. 2 ½ hours later we were pulling up to the border. The crossing went without incident and we were headed towards Princeton Minnesota where we were scheduled to have dinner with our friend Joe. It rained most of the way, we stopped several time for fuel and to walk the dogs before we pulled into the restaurant at 7:00 CST. Day 1, 11 hour drive totally exhausted. We had a great dinner with Joe then headed to the local Walmart to park for the night. Let me tell you what a vast difference this day of travel made trading the sound of loons serenading us at night with the sound of trucks and traffic. We were already missing Canada but were equally excited about our ultimate destination.

Day 2 we decided to take it easy, rolling at 9:00am and only drove 6 hours from Princeton to the Cabela’s in Mitchell, South Dakota. We walked the store (did not buy a thing!), ordered Chinese food (disappointing) and just had a lazy evening.

Day 3 we were up and rolling at 7:00am, 7 hours later we pulled up to the gate of our property, we made it! After setting up we went for a walk around the property. It was good to see that the prairie dog population did not double while we were gone. We also checked our trail cameras which had been out in likely hunting areas between our place and Kevin's since our last visit in July. There were whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, turkeys and coyotes on camera, how cool is that!?

Three nice bulls headed to water

This is before I fixed the time and date on the camera

This little guy made an appearance
Young fawn running and enjoying the day

That night when we went to bed, it was quiet, too quiet. No loons, no truck or traffic sound, nothing….we had to turn on a fan for a little white noise just to get to sleep! On top of that our bodies are still on Pasha time which is not only Eastern Time is it also get up early stay up late time. For the past two weeks we had been getting up between 6 and 6:30 and going to bed between midnight and 1:30am depending on how many bears came in. Now that we are in Mountain Time that has turned into getting up at 4:30am. I am sure that will change over time but for now it is kind of a pain.

So here we are for the next 3-4 weeks. We have several goals we would like to accomplish while we are here. The main one is fixing and installing new fencing around the property. The current fence is in disarray and is a combination of barbed and barbless wire on 2 sides.
The current fence is broken and falling over.....
We would like to remove all of it and put up high tensile electric fencing as we plan to lease the property to a local livestock rancher. There is a huge tax benefit to do this. So the next day we made a list of necessary parts and made the 1 hour drive to Running's and Menards in Rapid City for supplies.
First on the list was a 50amp outlet, a breaker and some 6-3 wire for the rig. The temperature is supposed to get up into the 90’s later this week and we wanted AC! This project was not too bad and within an hour we were hooked up to power.
Power is in!
Next up was fencing supplies, T posts, wire, splices, springs and ratchets. The first fencing project was to replace the fencing along the road at the front of the property. Barb and I spent several hours cutting down the old fence and pulling the T posts.
Barb working hard ripping out the old fence

The dogs just sat back and watched.....

As did the other "dogs" on the property
The next day our friend Kevin arrived from Wisconsin to give us a hand for a few days. During his visit we were able to get the front fence line in and lay out the fence line for the east and west property lines. Let me tell you, this is no easy feat to draw 2,600’ straight line through the woods! But with the use of our GPS and a chainsaw we were able to get enough stakes in the ground to see that we were installing the fence right along the property line.
Kevin putting the finishing touches on the front fence line
Over the next couple of weeks we plan on continuing our projects around here but we also want to make sure we get out and about and enjoy the sights of the Black Hills!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Saying Goodbye to Pasha

Departure Day!
10 weeks, hundreds of fish and unforgettable memories…. It was with mixed emotions we pulled out of Pasha Lake Cabins and headed south back to The States and eventually South Dakota. We were planning on staying a few weeks longer but hitch itch got the wheels rolling early Sunday morning.

This area is one of our favorite hang outs for the year and we are going to miss it. Most of all we are going to miss Chad, Michelle and Wanda whom we spent countless hours hanging out, walking or spinning tales. We also reconnected and met with other friends while on their annual fishing/hunting trips; Bob, Chad L, Nate E, Kim….for some this is the only time we will see them for the year while others we hope to catch up with again while on the road this fall in winter.

But before we left we had more visitors! My sister Carol, her son-in-law Steve and her grandson Aiden were able to spend an event filled week with us before we left. We had not seen Carol in over a year and it had been several years since we had seen Steve and Aiden.
Carol, Barb and Daisy hanging out one rainy morning
Aiden is now 15 and full of excitement and questions during his first visit to Canada. With bear season in full swing, much of my time was consumed with checking stand sites and recovering bears. All three were able to join me on at least one of these adventures as well as several fishing excursions.
Aiden pulling the boat through a channel to a remote lake

Steve and Aiden getting ready to do some fishing!
Speaking of bears, by the time we left 14 bear hunters had arrived in camp harvesting 14 bears, a perfect 100% the first 10 days of the season! It does not get much better than that.

I was able to create one more fishing video before we left. Barb did not want me to publish this film. She pleaded, she begged, even threatened me! But it is my responsibility as the ethical journalist I am to publish the truth, so without further ado......

This one represents how our fishing trips truly go, none of this edited video to make Barb look good and me look bad, just true to life fishing as it usually goes every trip. Because of my honesty, life for me around here is going to be miserable for a few days.......Your thoughts and sympathy would be appreciated!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Farmer Bob’s First Bear Hunt

Warning…..this post includes photos of dead bears at the very end. (This note is for you Pam)

This past week was one of our favorite weeks we have had since coming up here in June. It was also one of the most stressful….. If you read last week’s post, I introduced the “Bobs” in our lives. Two of those three came up to do a little fishing and bear hunting this past week. It had been months since we have seen either of the Bobs and wanted to show them the best possible time. Barb and I were confident that we could get them on the fish but fulfilling someone’s dream bear hunting trip can be very stressful as the bears are much less predictable and there is so much out of our control.
Brother Bob was the first to arrive on Monday afternoon with Farmer Bob arriving the following morning. Since it was opening day of bear season I was excited to get Farmer out on his stand. I had two areas in mind for him with multiple bears visiting each site. I had set up a ground blind for him in each area for him to sit in and hunt. A ground blind is basically a camouflaged tent with multiple windows around it so the hunter can sit in a chair and have up to a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.

After dropping him off at his site Brother and I returned to camp and anxiously awaited his return. Including Farmer, there were a total of 5 bear hunters out. Two of the other hunters included Kim and Breanne a mother/daughter team from Texas also on their first bear hunt. Since it was Tuesday the rest of the camp was at the fish fry when we heard a car coming down the drive at 6:30. Did Farmer Bob shoot one already? When the vehicle pulled into camp we saw it was not Farmer but Kim who had shot a bear within her first hour on the stand! A half hour later we heard a 4 wheeler coming down the drive. Not Farmer Bob, he was driving a truck…. When this hunter pulled into camp we saw that he had a bear on the back of it. 2 bear for 5 hunters and we were only hours into the season! Certainly Farmer would see something tonight….. Day turned to night and the other 3 hunters returned to camp bearless. Breanne had seen a bear while Farmer and the remaining hunter saw nothing but squirrels and chipmunks. No worries, there are 5 more days to hunt…..
Day two after Farmer went to his blind, the rest of us just relaxed around camp. He pulled into camp after dark and reported another bearless night while Breanne pulled the trigger on a nice bear. Two nights and Bob has not even had the slightest of bear sightings! And here I thought I was the Bear Whisperer setting him up in this great spot. Ugh! The pressure is starting to build!

The next afternoon after getting Farmer out to his stand, Barb, Brother and I went fishing. It ended up being one of our top fishing days of the season fish after fish after fish!

Maybe all this fish activity will translate to active bears in the woods. When Farmer returned that night he reported that he had seen one bear for a few seconds but it was small. Well, at least he saw something!
Day four time to switch it up…. This afternoon we were going to move Farmer to another hunt sight to see if there was more action. Barb, the two Bobs and I went fishing in the morning and brought the 4 wheeler with us to the lake so Farmer could go hunting directly from the lake. We fished the same lake and the same spots as the day before but the fish were not nearly has active. We had a good day but not a great day like the day before. Bob headed to his ground blind around 3:00 as we headed back to camp. Two other hunters arrived in camp and the remaining hunter from the original 5 hunters arrowed a 300+ pound boar. Now Bob was the only hunter from the first group not to get a bear. Now the pressure is really mounting and I am seriously second guessing myself! When he returned that night he was all smiles, he had not gotten a bear but a smaller one entertained him that night by hanging around the area and he was thrilled to get to see a bear in the wild for an extended period. That made me feel a little better, at least he was seeing bear!

Look at who is doing all the work while the boys just sit back and enjoy the day!

Headed out to the lake

Nice Northern Farmer!

Enough for a couple of meals back home....
Day five….only two nights, left time to close the deal or go home without a bear….Thunder, lightning, hail and rain for most of the afternoon. Other hunters came in early but Bob stuck it out and the evening sit turned out to be perfect. It was almost dark when he said he noticed movement out in the woods. A Bear! After looking it over Bob decided that this is going to be “The bear”. As he was lining up the shot something spooked it and it took off into the bush, so much for that night’s opportunity. To top it off one of the newly arrival hunters tagged a bear. Now the hunters from the second group were getting bear and Bob, with only one day left to hunt had yet to pull the trigger….. If he does not get a bear Barb and I will not be able to show our faces in North Dakota again!
The last night of his hunt we not so patiently await his return. Soon we hear a 4 wheeler coming down the drive but alas it is not Bob, it is another hunter from the second group with a nice boar. Day turns to night and I mentally start altering our fall plans as we can no longer spend our fall in Bob’s farm in North Dakota…..Bob pulls into camp well after dark but instead of going directly to his cabin be pulls up to our trailer and says: “I shot a bear!” He said with only minutes left in the day he saw the tan muzzle of a bear moving through the brush, it was now or never and was able to make a clean shot. High fives and hugs all the way around and we head back out to the bush to recover his bear. It had only gone 20 or so yards after the shot and after a short drag to the 4 wheeler we had it loaded up and were headed back to camp.

We were up until 2:00 skinning and butchering the two bear that came in that night but the excitement level was high.
All in all it was a great week. Great times fishing and visiting with my brother, we don’t get to do that as much as we used to. Barb prepared great meals every day; pancakes, French toast, fish, ribs, blueberry pies and cobblers with lots of ice cream! I think we all gained 5 pounds throughout the week…..

Both Bob’s gone Barb and I relaxed for one afternoon as we had more guests arriving that night. My sister Carol, her son-in-law and grandson were arriving that night for another week of fishing and adventure in the North Country!

Farmer Bob with his bear!
Breanne and her mom with her bear