About Backcountry Chronicles

Friends of mine me will tell you that my favorite quotes is “everyday above ground is a good day” and I usually add my bit “and everyday spent outside is a great day”. Now, I always thought the quote was from a Clint Eastwood movie… you know, from one of his Sergio Leone “spaghetti westerns”, but I found it is from Scarface (Harris Yulin’s character). How did I make that mistake?  I was a little disappointed to learn that, but it is still a good quote and a good philosophy for life.

about backcountry chronicles

Checking on Prairie Falcon Chicks in Old Raven Nest 1999

I grew up in the South, so I know that the sugar is supposed to go in the iced tea and not in the cornbread. My favorite memories are of hunting and fishing with my Grandfather and camping with my family. When I was young (10-12), my father also went hunting and fishing, but as I got older, especially after I could drive, it was just me and my Grandfather and sometimes one of his friends. One of my brothers had zero interest in hunting and fishing and the other would go only if he thought our Grandfather would not have too many chores for us beforehand. We still laugh at one of his saddest stories. We had to clean out a horse stall and spread the manure around the peach trees before the 12:00 noon dove season opener. And to make it worse, it was his birthday.

I was like most other small town kids and hung out with a small group of good friends that mostly played sports together. When we couldn’t get a game together for what ever reason, I went fishing or hunting or just hung out in the woods, usually by myself. Once in a while, someone else would go fishing with me, but nobody else had a rifle or shotgun, so nobody went hunting with me. Imagine a teenager that would give up a Saturday of  hanging with friends to hang with his Grandfather instead. Damn, I still miss that old man!

I love living in the Inter-mountain West that I have called home since 1992. I love the access to public lands for hiking, camping, fishing and hunting.  I  hunt public lands with publicly available tags and hunt mostly with a muzzleloader since there still seem to be fewer hunters and I seem to be luckier with drawing muzzleloader tags. I usually hunt by myself and still get as far from roads as possible.

Like Forrest Gump, I have worn lots of different shoes. I have taught Biology, Physiology, Anatomy or Ornithology at two Universities and at two Community Colleges. I sold both life insurance and cars and was co-owner of a horse breeding and training facility. I even lived in West Africa for a few years and built fish ponds. But the last 15 years have been spent as a “low level” wildlife biologist for a state wildlife agency here in the Inter-mountain West. I emphasize “low level” biologist because I quickly found out that once you are promoted, they will take you out of the field and turn you into an office jockey. If I wanted that life, I would have gone back to selling life insurance. Nothing wrong with that, just not my purpose in life.

I used to joke that my goal was to be the oldest living field tech in the country, well as long as the knees would hold. I didn’t quite make it, but the knees are still good enough. The Federal budget crisis (2011) trickled down to all the States and specifically to each State Wildlife Agency. My Agency foolishly become too dependent upon Federal money. So there was basically only enough money in the state budget for people to sit in the office.

That began the next phase of my life.  Like my Grandfather told Field and Stream magazine upon his retirement in 1975 as he explained why he canceled his subscription… “I don’t have to read about it anymore”.

cow elk harvested 2014

Cow Elk 2014

Technically, I am still too young to retire, but have lived frugally and have saved some money so I didn’t have to rush out and find another job right away. I didn’t even sign up for unemployment.

The last few years have been great and I’ve been able to spend more time hunting, fishing, camping and all the things I love about being outdoors. I’ve learned to fly fish and have even been doing some guiding. I plan to continue as long as the knees hold out and I am still above ground.

When I try to learn something new, I spend a tremendous amount of time and effort researching and trying to find out all that I can. I have been told that I am somewhat compulsive, but I believe that only people with some level of compulsiveness actually finish any thing.

Anyway, it has been suggested to me that I write some of this stuff down, all in one place and maybe some of you can benefit from this and help me along as well.


  1. Spent 4 days fishing with you and did not even know you had a website…need to work on your self-promotion! Hoping you will become compulsive about fly fishing and the next time out, you can teach me something about stream biology.

    • Backcountry Chronicles says:

      Thanks Barry. Yes, need to work on the promotion. Thanks for the fly fishing intro. Now that I’ve taken the first step, I will continue the journey.

  2. My son is a new resident of Colorado in the Boulder area and is hoping to hunt deer and elk in 2017. It is somewhat confusing whether he has to apply for a tag or can get one over the counter. Any information on this would be great. Also looking for public hunting areas within several hours of Boulder. Thank.

    • Hi Paul:
      Yes, the hunting regulations are confusing if you are used to hunting in Eastern or Mid-western states.
      You should apply for tags to you start building points to get the opportunity for limited entry hunts. You should also buy general tags each year (over-the-counter = OTC). He will be a resident, but you can also buy tags OTC as a non-resident.

      Colorado has plenty of public land and he won’t have to go far from Boulder. Spend some time and look at harvest reports so you can learn which units have the most deer and elk (and hunters). I have listed the top 20 Colorado Elk units (by harvest numbers and by hunter success) here.

      Consider my DIY Elk Hunting Guide. I wrote it specifically for out of state hunters in mind. Your son will be a resident, but he still needs to learn how to negotiate the hunting rules, find public land and learn about new habitats and terrain of the Southern Rockies.

      I assume you are coming out to hunt with him. What state are you coming from?

      • Thanks for the information. I am from Pennsylvania and have done several DIY hunts in the west. I did a 7 day backpack elk hunt in the San Juans off the train coming out of Durango, but was unsuccessful. The elk never came into the drainage we were hunting. The first couple of years I plan on helping him find some good hunting areas. I’m not really concerned with getting a tag myself. I am retired and have lots of free time to spend in Colorado.

  3. I just purchased your DIY Elk Hunting Guide book, but was wondering if it came in a hard copy. Thanks

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