For generations, ranchers have practiced the art of skin grafting orphan lambs and calves onto new moms who often aren’t receptive to the idea of an additional or new offspring to take care of. When a lamb dies, its cape (the skin, hide and wool) is cut and peeled away from its body in a way that creates a coat or vest-like garment. This is then fitted to an orphan lamb to be grafted back to a ewe whose lamb died. Confused? It makes more sense when you’re in the lambing barn making decisions for the overall good of the flock and watching it play out.
“Why am I here?” was the question that drifted hazily around my over caffeinated, but sleep deprived mind as I fought fatigue, bone-chilling cold and the emotional instability that comes from spending all night in a lambing shed with 1,1100 ewes, 3 teenage daughters and an ornery dog. Continue Reading
Blaze orange clothes, tackle boxes, boots, wool pants and socks, deer rifles, old boxes of Remington Core-Lokt ammo and back issues of Sports Afield and Fur, Fish, and Game were on the shelves all around me and the smell of wood smoke and Hoppes No. 9 permeated the air. This was the place where my boyhood imagination was sparked and the dream of being a big game hunter and an outdoor writer was hatched. This was my Grandpa’s Workshop.
My Grandpa, George Torger Klippenes was born May 8, 1925 to Charlie and Nancy Klippenes in Brainerd, Minnesota. George grew up an integral part of the family farm, working hard to help feed the family and to put some spending money in his pocket. This work ethic served him well over the last 83 years, from his time with the 11th Airborne Division in World War II to the taconite mines of northern Minnesota where he earned a living for his family.
From the time I was little, Grandpa Klippenes was the personification of a man’s man to me. He worked hard, hunted, fished, trapped, farmed, and made personal sacrifices to raise his family with integrity and to honor God.
After moving to Oregon in the 5th grade, I didn’t have a chance to hunt the family farm in Minnesota with Grandpa until I returned for college. After waiting 18 years to hunt deer with Grandpa, I was thrilled to have the opportunity and didn’t get much sleep that night.
As the pitch black of night gave way grudgingly to the gray of dawn and the first hint of color began to show in the East, we spotted our first coyote of the day. He was hunting his way across the snow covered pasture, looking in every nook and cranny for breakfast. Two feet of snow had fallen over the weekend with 50 mph winds driving it across the flat and through the mountains, making life miserable for man and beast. Now, 3 days later, conditions were ideal to catch coyotes on the prowl. Continue Reading
We walked up to our camp, dropped our gear and an elk bugled just up the mountain. I grinned at my Dad who had never been elk hunting and said “This is going to be good”!
Our hunt actually began several months prior when my Uncle Jeff drew a non-resident permit for Montana. I’d wanted to share an elk camp with my Dad and Uncle for years, so when Jeff drew out, I knew this was going to be a great time together. Past archery hunts, scouting trips with the family, and a couple of bonsai solo trips left me feeling pretty confident I could get Jeff into the elk. I was planning to hunt also, but a dislocated shoulder two weeks before the archery season opener turned me into a one-armed hunt planner, guide, and camp cook.
The snow was deep, the mountain air cool, the ridge frighteningly steep in places and my sweat was pouring. Fresh mountain lion tracks in the snow and the bawling of the hounds ahead urged me on even as I wondered how smart it was to bring my 8-year old daughter along. One look at Sydney’s flushed cheeks and excited smile, though, dismissed that question and refocused me on the task at hand…catching up to the hounds that were bawling “treed” just up the canyon.