Archive for the 'Pictures' Category

May 7th 2017
That’s Life©1966 #676 (4-21-17)* By Ted Hickman Feel Free to Email:

Posted under Pictures


‘ll ex

i‘ll explinnext week

weeek… you may be zbler yo figure out what happen234ed 

Ou’ve heard ofg ca cadver dogs, right?

You’ver herd of tyruffle szxnighgging frogs, az,d xszrug snigging fogs, ande dogs thzt retreive3 deuck nd geezsxe, aznd  sdfofd gstht re trineqd tyo find bout anaything right?

Elow you cn see a youg b ritttany pointe3r pup getting smellsx of wiwwldassaagraS]and then ‘pointing’ it out in the field


i‘ll exnext week

weeek… you may be zbler yo figure out what happen234ed 

Ou’ve heard ofg ca cadver dogs, right?

You’ver herd of tyruffle szxnighgging frogs, az,d xszrug snigging fogs, ande dogs thzt retreive3 deuck nd geezsxe, aznd  sdfofd gstht re trineqd tyo find bout anaything right?

Elow you cn see a youg b ritttany pointe3r pup getting smellsx of wiwwldassaagraS]and then ‘pointing’ it out in the field


i‘ll explzin next week

weeek… you may be zbler yo figure out what happen234ed



That’s Life©1966 #671 (4-21-17)*


By Ted Hickman Feel Free to Email: 

Ou’ve heard ofg ca cadver dogs, right?

You’ver herd of tyruffle szxnighgging frogs, az,d xszrug snigging fogs, ande dogs thzt retreive3 deuck nd geezsxe, aznd  sdfofd gstht re trineqd tyo find bout anaything right?

Elow you cn see a youg b ritttany pointe3r pup getting smellsx of wiwwldassaagraS]and then ‘pointing’ it out in the field





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June 13th 2013
“How’s Lulu”…?

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & Independent Voice News Stories & Pictures & That's Life Columns


Linda, Little Lulu and Ted (Linda is 5’1″.)

“How’s Lulu”…?

She’s  finally fine

By Ted Hickman from the IV Newspaper 6-14-13

            “How’s that little girl who had the heart surgery doing”? Say, “How’s Lulu doing, is she OK now?” These are some of the questions we get asked every now and then as people continue to inquire about the little, soon to be first grader, who underwent open heart surgery earlier this year.

            The answer is: She’s fine and doing great. Her stepfather called us and said every time they went by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo on the way to, or back from, Oakland’s Children’s Hospital Lulu would say she really wanted to go there. Her parents told her a soon as the doctors said she could go they would take her. Her stepfather, Daniel Gass asked if we could maybe arrange for a “family pass” so they could take Lulu (aka Julie Scott) to the entertaining, educational/amusement park for a day.

            With one call to the Public Relations manager Nancy Chan, and with the assistance of Lisa Maggard (provided the photos), the PR coordinator, the wheels were put in motion. They asked for copies of the stories the IV and other publications had run on Lulu and shortly after receiving then set a date and a day of “wonderful things” for Lulu and her whole family.

            This past Wednesday (two days ago) the wonderful people at Six Flags arranged for parking, entrance to the park, lunch and dinner for the whole family. The entire family had a day of private, behind the scenes animal visits including swimming with the dolphins, feeding the stingrays, being kissed by a seal and petting an elephant…all of this for only Julie and her family away from the crowds with special attention being paid to the little girl…She loved the dolphins and was amazed by “all of their baby teeth.” The stingray, “felt funny” when she petted them, the elephant had “rough skin” and the sea lion had a “cold wet nose” when it kissed her on the cheek. The dolphin ride was her favorite as she and her family was whisked around the huge pool, one by one, while holding on the fin of these graceful creatures. That was by far her favorite thing…So how’s she doing? Fine, she spent all day behind the scenes getting a very private and privileged visit with her favorite animals and the family planned to return yesterday and spend the day on the rides…We think Julie will be OK as the memory of the surgery fades while swimming with and the kiss of the dolphin will remain forever.

If you haven’t been to this family friendly place, a half an hour from here, you should plan on spending several days there. You can buy a “season’s pass” on line for not much more than a single day pass. You’ll need one day to see all of the shows and a second day to try and go on as many rides as possible; including the new “Superman” that will give you the willies just watching it go through its paces.

When they found out my first wife Linda and I hadn’t been there since the 90’s they asked us to join Lulu’s family for the day. Wow has it changed. The pace is huge. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for weather changes from cool to warm. A water bottle and sun screen are good ideas and checking on line and mapping out what you would like to do is also a good idea.

Good, clean, affordable, educational, family fun really close to home…really, go see for yourself.

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March 7th 2013
Wild turkey abundant…not that kind…

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & Hunting/Fishing Articles & Independent Voice News Stories & News Stories & Outdoors & Pictures


Wild Turkeys are being


Seen throughout the city




This young wild Tom (see the “beard” and red head) was seen with a group of seven in the front yard of a house in the city limits on Pitt School Road one afternoon a few days ago. The flock frequents this area but roams all over the city.
Photo by Ted Hickman


Wild Turkeys not long ago were unheard of in Solano County and never in and around Dixon. Times have changed to the point where grown adult turkeys both Toms (boy ones) and Hens (girl ones) are seen regularly within the streets of the city. This nationwide, is one of the most successful re-introduction of a decimated species on record thanks largely to the WTF…Wild Turkey Federation. 

    Last week a small flock of about seven were seen roaming around the southwest area of the city, and right downtown by the funeral home, and another bunch in the northwest subdivision, all in the same day. There appears to be two to three flocks living in and around the city.
    Always a novelty when they first show up people are mesmerized by the shear size of the birds (they can get up to around 20 pounds) and the Toms “fanning” their tail feathers this time of the year as a breeding dance for the hens. As the bird numbers grow people tire rapidly of the Toms gobbling and “messes” the birds leave along with their ability to eat just about any garden foliage one can plant. Then they don’t endear themselves by hopping up on the slippery hood of a car or truck and gashing the paint as they try to get a foot hold. The other thing people are amazed by is the fact these huge birds can fly, and fly high and fast. They typically come out of their roost (in a tall tree) a little before sunrise and go back to them a while before dark.
    There is both a spring and late season for turkey hunters. The spring season is just around the corner with the general season March 30 thru May 5. Special youth hunts are set for March 23-24 and May 6-19th. Archery only is also listed as being May 6-19th.
    The birds are traditionally hunted with shot guns from ground blinds and are called in to decoys by several methods form diaphragm to box calls. The limit is three per- person-per season with the daily bag limit set at one bearded turkey per day for the spring hunt (see beard in the photo above).

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August 25th 2010
500 “Bikers” came to Dixon…

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & Hells Angel story 8-21-10 & Pictures

500 “Bikers” came to
Dixon last Saturday


Story and Photos by Ted Hickman©2010

Click on pictures to enlarge 


All of the law enforcement and city angst was wasted worrying about motorcycle clubs from throughout the area gathering in Dixon this past Saturday for an end of the year “Blowout.”
Bikers started arriving as early as 11 am and event organizer, Greg Coppes, Commander of the Dixon American Legion Post 208 nervously paced waiting for the “Pack” of unknown numbers to reach the new Vet’s Hall on North First Street. He said, “There was only supposed to be about 225 people but we had over 100 here before the pack arrived.” The event wasn’t really publicized and is a kind of impromptu get together that just happens. This get together in Dixon reportedly was the “biggest ever.”

They started out in Vallejo picking up numbers as they took a round about route to Dixon. At times they were shadowed by a helicopter, and law enforcement folks from Napa and Solano Counties, the CHP and of course, local sheriff deputies and Dixon City Police.


When the “pack” arrived their numbers stretched, bumper to bumper, from the Vet’s Hall at least back to Wal-Mart which was as far as one could see.

As the day progressed some came and some went and over 450 were served meals, about 500 bikes appeared and disappeared and dozens of raffle prizes were won. Cases and cases of non-alcoholic beer were drained and the event had all of the earmarks of a big family reunion.

The day was trouble free and those who worried that, “Some Hells Angels might come” should have been glad they showed as just one of the over 30 different motorcycle clubs represented. The difference in having the Hells Angels there was decorum. During the several hours this reporter was at the “blowout” it was quietly acknowledged who was in charge of acceptable behavior…and it wasn’t the police.

All of these men and women came to Dixon to have a good time and help raise money for the American Legion…Over $1,000 was raised.
There were no incidents or accidents reported and as the roar of bikes faded the Hells Angels proved what kind of guests they were by leaving the entire structure, including the parking lot, even cleaner than it was before they came. So if you drove down North First Street any time Saturday and wondered what was going on…now you know.

The IV was the only news media invited and the pictures and story are exclusive.

Here are additional photos:








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August 7th 2010
90 Year Old Great Grandma sky diver

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & News Stories & Outdoors & Pictures

90 Year Old Great Grandma Oldest to Sky Dive in Davis

“I’m 90 years old and I sky dived
what did you do today?”…Marian Arnold


The Arnold/Shane Family


Story and Photos by Ted Hickman


Amy Shane works for Dr. Troy Stevens here in Dixon and when I went in to get my back crunched recently she said, “You aren’t going to believe this but my 90 and a half year old grandma is coming up to sky dive and Kevin (her active duty USAF husband) is going to do it with her.”

That started it and last Friday at Sky Dance Sky Diving at the Yolo County Airport in Davis a little bitty woman weighing about 100 pounds, with her little pink walker showed up raring to go…her grandson Kevin was excited too but a little less raring. (After the jump Kevin said, “It was great” and he “Couldn’t wait to do it again”. His wish came two when two days later he made his second jump with friend Trey Hickman…who made his first jump on his 34th birthday.)

 It seems as though Marian Arnold of Rancho Mirage, Ca. was here visiting her family, son Howard and wife Jan Arnold in Vacaville, grand daughter Amy and Kevin Shane and great grandson Ben of Dixon. Skydiving came up in conservation with Amy and Marian said she had always wanted to do. Amy told her, “If that’s what you want to do you should do it.”

 The feisty senior said she would jump out of a plane if she had someone to do it with so Kevin came to the rescue and joined the cause. He said he had “thought about it” before since he’s flown many hundreds of hours with his work. Marian said she has “thought about it” since she was 16, when for the first time, she saw parachuters in Denver, Co. She Said she really didn’t want any publicity and just “Wanted to do it and if it inspired others to get up and go” then so much the better. She didn’t really appear to be phased by all of the attention but obviously could have done without it.

 Marian’s tandem partner was Charlie Brown who has over 16,000 jumps and was with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights for 12 years.

Because she was the oldest woman to ever jump in Davis, and maybe in the country, the Sacramento Bee sent a crew to follow her as did Channel 3 news. The IV was the only local paper there.  She told the media after the jump, “It was amazing, it is something for everyone. Everyone should do it and if you don’t you’re crazy.” Having spinal problems and having to use a walker didn’t stop her from free falling for about a minute from 13,500 feet (from two and a half miles up) and then floating to the ground and landing semi-softly in the special gravel area. When asked if she would do it again, with out hesitating said “I would love to.” Right after the jump she was given a T-shirt made by Dixon Embroidery’s Bill Birdsong that read, “I’m 90 and I sky dived…what have you done today?”

 Marian worked at a munitions plant in Denver during WWII inspecting 30-06 ammunition and then moved to Rio Vista, got married and raised a family. In the 70’s she moved to Palm Desert.
 I asked her family members if this was characteristic of her. Grand daughter Amy said, “Yes she is a pistol and when she puts her mind to something she does it, she’s stubborn like that.”
 Before the jump everyone, including the media, kept asking her if she was scared. She said at the time, “I don’t know why everyone keeps asking me if I’m scared. If I was scared would I be doing this? The only thing I’m a little worried about is the landing I don’t want to break a leg, but if it happens it will heal.”

She mentioned in passing she would like to go horse back riding next but the family is afraid of her bad back…she’s not, they are. 

When I asked her, “What’s next,” she said, “I don’t know it took me 74 years to do this.” Right after the jump she talked about the sensation and how much she enjoyed it and basking in the afterglow of a potentially dangerous few minutes said, “What do you dream about it at 16…something like this and the fact you want to do it some day…and now I’ve done it.!”

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September 22nd 2009
Kuujjuaq…Just about as far

Posted under 2009 Caribou Hunt & Hunting/Fishing Articles & Outdoors & Pictures

Sleeping quarters

Sunset on Kodiak Lake

Joel, Kurt and Trey

Trey’s first caribou with bow

Trey with some of 15 Ptarmigan

Bull Caribou looking at you

Joel and the float plane

Ted’s second one

Joel’s second one

Ted’s first one

Color in the barren tundra

Sunset in the arctic tundra


Trey’s caribou img_1806.JPG

Click on links above for photos, double click to increase size.



Kuujjuaq…Just about as far
Away from Dixon as you can get


By Ted Hickman
I.V. Outdoor Editor

(©Re-printed from the Dixon’s Independent Voice Newspaper)   


          This was another one of those impromptu trips that comes with owning a business that books quality hunting and fishing trips all over the world. Outdoor Connection is our family owned business and we were at the Yolo County Fair when we got an urgent email asking if we wanted to take advantage of several cancelations that had just popped up for a caribou hunting trip, in mid-September, in the far flung reaches of Nunavik, Canada.
Our eldest son Trey, 33, and I had been there before but our youngest son Joel, 30, had never been anywhere before and didn’t even have his passport. So when everyone’s schedule worked out Joel had to hustle to San Francisco and get and emergency passport to get him in and out of the country. Then we had to hurry to get our permits to take guns and bows on the planes and to make arrangements on the other end.

          We flew from Sacramento to Denver for about two and one-half hours and then three and one-half hours to Montréal where we over nighted before flying another two and one-half hours by jet to Kuujjuaq (an Inuit Village in the middle of nowhere) and then another hour and one-half by float plane to and outpost camp called Kodiak…Just about as far away from Dixon, Ca. as you can get on this continent…and not that far from the Arctic Circle and close enough to see the Northern lights each night. The last two rides took us over thousands of miles of “barren” tundra with thousands of lakes and little hunks of land dotted throughout, without seeing a single building, vehicle or sign of life.
As the float plane landed on the isolated lake we were greeted by our guides, stored our equipment, re-sighted in our weapons, had dinner and watched a nice lone caribou bull stroll behind the camp about 350 yards away. That was a good sign.

          During our first trip with Safari Nordik (if you’ve seen caribou hunting on TV in the Quebec Province east coast of Canada near Labrador chances are it was booked with Safari Nordik and their 32 some camps covering some 15,000 square miles) we saw less than a dozen animals the whole trip. We just weren’t where the animals were at that time. This time we were hunting animals from both the George River and the Leaf River herds. The number of animals in the George River herd has increased exponentially from about 15,000 animals in 1958 to 800,000 in 1993.  Both herds now number between 450,000 and 500,000 animals and the Wildlife and Parks of Quebec tries to manage the herd number to keep them from being to many, or too few, to prevent another extreme drop in numbers. Not only the animals, but the environment must be managed in the delicate eco system. Each hunter, Canadian or visitor, is allowed an annual take of two animals.

          Because of the pristine environment the animals are among the best eating in the world. The water is pure with no industry within more than a thousand miles or more in any direction.  They weight between 300 and 400 pounds and act like a big mule deer on speed. They feed as they move and move at a frantic speed always going somewhere, but in reality nowhere. They migrate in a huge circle in an area the size of the State of Texas and being in the right place at the right time is the key to success. You may see hundreds one day and none the next. This happen to us…and then the next day, far away from the camp, hundreds were spotted again. They follow age old paths and beeline to wherever it is they are going over, around, and through rocks, lake, islands…it doesn’t matter. Wherever the leader goes the others follow.

         Safari Nordik is partially owned by Kurt Santoro from Merced, Ca. who spends the entire 11 week season in Canada. He also owns Life Like Taxidermy the foremost Caribou mounting company in the western U.S. If you ever saw the caribou booth at the sports show in Sacramento, that’s his business. We, through Outdoor Connection, can book through him, or directly with Safari Nordik, at the same price but with a little more hand holding because our volume is lower. If you know someone who wants to book a hunting/fishing trip of a lifetime now is the time to put down a deposit and sew up a space for the 2010 or 2011 season. The hunts are all inclusive including round trip air fares from Sacramento, heated sleeping quarters with showers, great meals, etc. It is usually one guide for three hunters so if you can go as a group its even better. They only operate for 11 weeks and there is a quota for the number of animals which can be taken…and you are guaranteed to take at least one mature bull or your trip the following year if free! We took six mature bulls in the all around, greatest hunting trip, we’ve ever had.

          The fishing is unreal (arctic char, brook trout, lake trout) the same as the ptarmigan hunting (see photo). The fish have never seen a lure, the caribou likely have never seen a person and the ptarmigan show no fear of you either. It is possible to see black bear, musk-ox, wolves, foxes, geese, etc. We saw wolves and they had seen musk-ox near camp just before we arrived.

          We each took the limit (2 caribou each) as Trey got his first one with a bow and arrow and Joel his first one period (see photos). We also took a half a limit of ptarmigan (the “p” is silent) which amounted to 15 birds. They were in a color phase change, were just going from brown to white and will make beautiful mounts. They are unique since they have feathers covering their feet.

         We once again we surprised by both the weather and the flora and fauna of the tundra. We packed for the arctic and found mellow fall temperatures that ranged from the mid 50’s during the day to maybe the high 20’s at night. One time we saw a few snow flakes and some winds but most of the time it was light dressing…”stupid hot” one Canadian called it. Believe it or not it takes the hot weather to get the caribou moving during this kind of weather pattern. When the winds die down the bugs come out, the biting flies bug the caribou to the point where they get on the move.

         If anyone is really interested in seeing some of the colors we saw in the various plants and lichens, email and I’ll send you some photos…It’s really hard to believe the stark contrast of many bright colors in the “barren” ground.

          To get more information on booking a trip or to have me send you some photos email me at: For a complete look at the Outdoor Connection hunting and fishing options just go to and click on hunting.    

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December 1st 2008
Hickman’s Take Whitetail Deer

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & Hunting/Fishing Articles & Nov. 08 Oklahoma Hunt & Pictures

1.Trey with his first deer with a bow and arrow and first whitetail on November hunt in Oklahoma

2.Ted with Sand Hill crane from a pest hunt in Oklahoma in November

3. Trey, left and Ted Hickman with several of the 10 to 12# Sand Hill cranes they harvested on a November hunt in Oklahoma.img_0273.JPG

(Click on links above for photos)


Hickman’s Take Whitetail Deer
and Sand Hill Cranes in OK.

By Ted Hickman
I.V. Outdoor Editor



You half a dozen or so loyal readers may remember back in September when I said friends of ours in Oklahoma invited Trey and I  to shoot in the Oklahoma Sate Squirrel Hunting Championships, with 22’s no less…we passed on that.

 They also invited us to join them in November for a Sand Hill crane hunt and we thought they were kidding. Here in California they are like protected and kind of endangered or something. A couple will land in this area and “birders” from all over will flock (clever play on words huh?) to wherever they are to watch a couple of big stork looking birds feed in some rural field.

 Our eldest son Trey, and I, met Larry Lockwood (about my age) and his son Lacy (about Trey’s age) when we were hunting Caribou in the Canadian Artic Tundra. Over a week’s period we became pretty good friends and they invited us to “come on down and shoot a deer on our place.” Seems as though Larry has a “little farm” of about 1200 acres, located a couple of hours from Tulsa that is a wildlife haven. They manage their place well. They have a lot of deer, turkey, a zillion Fox squirrels, Cardinals, (not the Catholic kind but the red birds) cottontail rabbits, ducks, geese, foxes, coyotes, elk, and the ever elusive, and much hated armadillos.

 We made arrangements to go for the Sand Hill hunt and Larry said, “You’ll be here during archery deer season, so bring your bows.” Trey had never taken a deer with a bow and arrow and although he’s harvested many black tail deer and some mule deer he had never even seen a whitetail. So we packed our bows and shotguns and headed for the land where they think we talk funny.

  The trip was full of firsts. Trey saw his first armadillo and had his first serving of ‘grits” all in the same day and deep fried Okra the next. The Oakies (Larry said real people from Oklahoma don’t mind being called Oakies…“It’s a lot better than Oklahomans”) have a refined sense of humor. When they see an armadillo lying by the road they can’t resist laying it on its back and propping a beer can up to make it look like its drinking…it is a funny sight. We wanted to get a couple to have mounted and bring home but the only live one we saw scooted out, to our surprise, faster than a rabbit.

 The Oklahoma folks are well mannered, golden hearted people who butcher the English language as we know, into fine little pieces. All of them “seen” what we saw, use double negatives as a common practice, and they have a range of sayings that are just plain unique. When we got near Muskogee for instance, I said something about Merle Haggard living in Northern California. Larry said, “That man’s face looks like it done wore out four bodies.” Not only true but a great line huh?

 Any way, we have never really hunted out of tree stand to any degree so this was a first for us too. The first day I got four shots at a nice seven point buck all under 30 yards. The first shot hit my sleeve and went left, the second him the front of my jacket and went right and the third tweaked my clothing and went low shaving hair off the critter’s belly. I missed another shot when I hit a limb trying to make a hole placement shot. I haven’t bow hunted in many years and in practice I was more than adequate…that was here without heavy winter clothing.

The next day we left for the five hour drive towards Texas, to Lawton, where we would spend the night and then get up at 3:30 in the morning to meet the guide, drive another half hour or so and then put out a dozen real mounted Sand Hill decoys. We then each were given a big burlap bag with strings all over it and had to pull out tumble weeds and tie them to the bags. The guide said Sand Hills have the best vision in the animal world and the slightest thing showing would cause the whole flock to divert their flight pattern. He said they would come off the river bottoms at first light and we needed to stay completely hidden until he called for the shot.

He estimated there were about 10,000 in the area and the limit is three a day. He said they can fly into a field, and in short order, destroy a whole newly planted crop. At the heaviest flight time as many as 20,000 birds would be migrating through “from up north” headed for Texas. Farmers want them to hurry along and encourage hunting. From a distance they kind of resemble our Blue Herons. Our herons weight four or five pounds and are lightweight birds. The Sand hill run 10 to 14 pounds, are noisy tough birds and very difficult to hunt. Their meat isn’t bird like but more along the lines of beef and is highly prized throughout the southwest…It is delicious by the way.

Flock after flock squawked as they flew low right over our heads and the guide called for shots about once every five times the birds were in range. We all got birds (using 12 gauge shotguns, with 3 inch magnum’s, with big lead shot) (see photo) including Larry’s 12 year old grandson, Cody…who by the way took a great eight point buck during muzzle loader season.

They, Oklahoma residents, can take a buck and a doe during muzzle loader season, a buck and doe during the rifle season (which is now) and a buck and a doe during bow season…they eat a lot of venison. We could have taken gimmie shots a does and passed and with a rifle could have harvested a couple of real wall hangers. As it ended up Trey got his first deer with a bow, and his first (six point) white tail all in one shot…the super thing is of all of the bucks coming and going he took the same one I had grazed several days before (see photo)…and that’s a good thing.

Larry and his gracious wife “Cotton” are hunting a lot now during rifle season. Cotton can keep up with the best of them and treated us like an immediate member of the family…as they all did.  Living in California we forget what real hospitality and friendship is like. It is a real “mi casa es su casa” and they mean it. They asked nothing in return and were insulted when we at least tried to pay for the crane hunt.

We also hunted and took a couple of trophy squirrels which we are having mounted along with a sand hill. We hunted for Woodcock and ran out of time before we could get an armadillo to bring home?

If we are invited back next year and are we going? You betcha, “If the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise…” And they want our other son, Joel, to come along too. #

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October 17th 2008
Wilderness Hunting“The Way it used to be”

Posted under Feature Stories from the IV & Hunting/Fishing Articles & Montana hunt/fish 08 & Outdoors & Pictures

img_0090.jpgimg_0090.jpgimg_0090.jpgimg_0090.jpgClick Click on links below for photos:









Wilderness Hunting
“The Way it used to be”
By Ted Hickman
IV Outdoor Editor

 Our eldest son, Trey and I just returned from an early fall elk/deer/ hunting/fishing’ “inspection trip” to Cheff Outfitters in Charlo, Montana, nestled right at the base of the snow covered mountains of  a national wilderness area. We went there to both hunt/fish and inspect this newly proposed outfitter for Outdoor Connection, the hunting/fishing trip booking company with which we are associated.
 I will be the first to admit this isn’t a trip for just everyone. The 76 year old business still does most everything the way grandpa Cheff, now 93 and still kicking, did it in 1932. “Mick” Cheff, 63, the patriarch now in charge of the family business where they still travel by horse back and mule train 28 miles into the million acres plus Bob Marshall Wilderness area in the wilds north western Montana. The only things that have really changed is they now mule train a propane stove and have a satellite phone available for emergencies…everything else is about the same. There are still grizzly and black bears, wolves, and wolverines, etc. Trey accidentally got about 30 yards from a grizzly bear (that he mistook for a Lama?) feeding on berries before he (Trey) made a quick and silent retreat.
Cheff only take about 70 fishermen in the summer and 70 hunters (four to six at a time) in the fall/winter into one of the three tent camps they have established.
 For those of you that haven’t ridden a horse before, or who haven’t ridden for a while, 28 miles is a LONG way up and down steep mountain passes. There can be nothing motorized, and nothing with wheels in a federal wilderness area so everything must be packed in by mule train or horse back. The Cheff’s have about 200 head of riding and pack animals with which they operate their three wilderness camps that are used for fishing in the summer and hunting in the winter. When they leave, just after Thanksgiving everything must be broken down to the point that no two things are nailed together.
 The ride in was over eight hours and the weather was unseasonably warn for early fall. There was some snow in the higher country and we saw many things from the 4,000 to 8,000 foot levels in which we traveled. The quiet was deafening most of the time (except for the constant clacking of horse’s hoofs on the rock and shale) and the high country beauty of painted fall trees and low running world class trout streams ate up a lot of digital pictures. We caught 16 to 18 inch native cutthroat trout and a 25 inch “bull” trout from a fork of the famous Flathead River. The fishing is a paradise for the ardent fly guys and gals and a delight for the light tackle folks too. The bull trout is an endangered species and I was lucky to be able to catch, photograph and release a 25 inch “baby.” They swear these things get up to over three feet long and gobble whole trout on fishermen’s lines rather regularly.
 I bought a Tom-Tom GPS unit for the SUV just before we left and we were amazed that it was errorless in its “fastest” directions to the little place in the middle of nowhere, 1,200 plus miles from here, and then back home. We will not travel without it in the future. It took us around one of the largest lakes in this country, Flathead Lake, and got us to everything we needed, like motels and restaurants. It cut about and hour and a half from the route we took into the same general area last time. By the way, the speed limits are 75 (so that’s 80 to 85 to most drivers unless near a populated area) most of the way there and back and the triple semi truck trailers looked really odd to us once again.
 When we finally got to the tent camp we were greeted by one of the Cheff sons, the camp cook and one of the guides. The all looked like back woods people and we were surprised to find out later that Monty Cheff 32, the camp manager, had a degree from Cornell University. The camp cook was Amanda Wlaysewski, 23, and she has a degree from Montana State and Monty’s father-in-law, Bob Bristol, was a retired middle school teacher. One of the other guides had a college degree and the youngest guide of the group was in junior college…I was really surprised.
 When you haven’t been the real back country for a while you tend to forget things like how sweet and great tasting spring water is coming right out of the side of a mountain. You also forget just how cold a toilet seat can be from below freezing night weather and what real quiet really is like. It also doesn’t take long to understand why they call Montana “Big Sky Country”.
 Some of the more interesting things I learned on this trip were:
1. City guys that knew what they were doing wore bike shorts (with the pads in the butt) to ease the  pain of a long horse back ride…clever huh? If I did it again I’d wear two pair.
2. All feed for the animals must be packed in, and in all of Montana all bailed feed (hay) must be certified as “weed seed free hay” and tied with a two colored orange and blue (Denver Bronco) bail tie twine. The special twine is made in Denver.
3. Montana is definitely Dodge truck country. We hardly saw any other kind. Elsewhere else we have been we have only seen Fords and Chevys and few Dodges…not in Montana though.
4. I tried to order a Cobb salad in a famous steak house in Missoula and the waiter simply shook his head and quietly moaned Nooooo. I ordered a steak and Huckleberry ice cream for dessert instead.
5. All things Huckleberry are good. They apparently can’t be farmed very well and locals have secrete wild patches they harvest every year. There’s Huckleberry (which are blue and look a lot like blueberries) candy, jam, jelly, honey, wine and the great ice cream. None of it is cheap and all of it is good.

We didn’t harvest any fish or game on this trip. We returned the fish pictured above to the waters and didn’t see any deer or elk we wanted, so it was more of an expensive sight seeing trip. Naturally the weather broke as we were leaving and the area got hammered with storms, snow and cold weather which forced the game down into areas that will be more reachable for those who followed behind us…we were a week early in other words…the story of my life…you know, “Man, you should have been here last week,” or the other dagger in the heart, “The day after you left all hell broke lose.”
On last little bit of interesting trip trivia. After the eight hour ride out of the high mountains we were headed back to Missoula and had to go through Polson, Mt. on the way. The young lady, Amanda, who was the camp cook, lived there and we offered her a ride home for which she generously gave us a bunch of salmon fillets she had just brought home from Alaska. As her mother an aunt met us in a Safeway parking lot her aunt said, “I understand you are from California, so am I.” Right, like we haven’t heard that a zillion times before. Then I asked the obligatory, “Oh, where from?” To which she answered, “A little town you probably haven’t heard of…Dixon.”
There was no doubt she was pulling our leg and I said, “Yeal, right, we’re from Dixon.” She said, “No I was born and raised there, I lived on Marvin Way right next to the Dunnicliffs.” I said, “That’s where Floyd Smith lived,” and her jaw dropped open and she said, “Who are you?” I said, “Ted Hickman,” to which she replied to her sister and niece, “Oh my God he use to go fishing with my dad and was the editor of the paper and on the city council…”
Polson, Montana about 1,300 miles from here, in the late afternoon, in a Safeway parking lot I run into Floyd Smith’s daughter from Dixon…What are the odds? So any of you who graduated from DHS with her and wondered where she went…She’s in the remote, neat little city of Polson, Montana on Highway 93 where they announce on the radio deer being hit on the highway each rush hour like we do car accidents here.  #

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June 10th 2008

Posted under 5-27-08 OC Canadian Fish Trip & Pictures


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December 30th 2007

Posted under Aus-New Zeland part 2 & Nov. 07 Australian trip & Pictures

Ted with Mauri warriors

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