Closing out the 2020 elk season, Steve just wrapped up a guided Chama, New Mexico elk hunt with a first time elk hunter. The hunter had been lucky enough to win an awesome prize package this spring that set him up with, among other things, a new rifle, optics and an all-expenses paid elk hunt to Chama, New Mexico. Steve says the hunter had not only never hunted elk before, but hadn't fired a rifle more than 150 yards either. By the end of the hunt, he was able to guide this hunter to a great 6x6 bull that was shot at 450-yards. New Mexico is home to incredible elk hunting, but also a lot of predators. Steve says while elk hunting he saw 4 different mountain lions and likely 40 to 50 coyotes. This is the time of year where the focus for many hunters turns to predator hunting after having filled big game tags. Mountain lion hunting is available in some capacity in 14 states across the country. While hunting these cats in the snow is typically the norm, Steve talks about a unique hunting experience he had in Utah tracking mountain lions on dry ground. In what ended up being the biggest mountain lion he has ever shot, Steve says this Utah hunt afforded him the chance to experience some of the best hound work in the world. The highly trained hounds cut the lion track and worked it for 3 ½ days on dry ground, methodically sniffing out the lion. Just as impressive, Steve says, was his guide who had incredible tracking skills and early in the hunt ended up correctly predicting where they would take the lion based on the tracking pattern.
An advocate of predator management, Steve says it's important to take a balanced approach to conservation. Not only do game and predator species need to be managed, but hunter numbers have to be managed as well so that predation can be balanced for the overall long term good of all wildlife. In addition to mountain lions, Steve talks about the role that wolves play in the landscape. Having a very personal understanding of how wolves impact the landscape, Steve talks about the pack of 17 wolves that live on his ranch in Oregon. This kind of close proximity to a wolf pack means that he interacts with them every week, they are constantly around, and he is always dealing with the fallout of having a pack on his property. Predators, like wolves, are going to put an expected dent in the wildlife population, within reason, Steve says. If you have a managed number of mountain lions and wolves then there is an expected predation loss and state game and fish agencies can then manage for that with the number of tags that are made available each season. Unfortunately, management practices are not designed and implemented solely based on science, political influence also plays a role in management now. Steve explains how political interference handcuffs state game agencies and makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to manage predator populations. He also highlights what the mismanagement of predators could do for hunting in the long term.
Not only is Steve a diehard outdoorsman and hunter, but he also has irons in several other fires that benefit hunters. First, he works hard to coordinate and set up other outdoorsmen and women with incredible hunting and fishing experiences. His consulting business, Steve's Outdoor Adventures, is a reputable place to book hunting and fishing trips with a large variety of options. Whether it's deer, elk, moose, bear or virtually any other big game animal you want to hunt, Steve's Outdoor Adventures can set up great hunts for you. Steve says he personally oversees every booking and he only works with the top outfitters and guides which equates to about the top 1% of professionals to provide the best hunts possible. If you're looking to book a hunt for 2021 and beyond, be sure to check out all the offerings that they have available. Steve also owns and operates Pendleton Ammunition, a custom hunting ammunition company. With ammunition in short supply this year, Steve says his crew has been cranking out and shipping about 1,000 rounds of hand loaded ammo a day. Pendleton Ammunition creates quality, premium hand loaded ammunition with loads designed for the ultimate in precision shooting. Steve is also an owner of Adventure Armory, a one stop shop for hunters to get a quality rifle, scope, and ammo package. Steve uses Bergara Rifles and Burris Optics to create exceptional custom rifle packages for hunters and shooters. Steve says he will soon be selling suppressors through Adventure Armory, as well. One of the biggest complaints with suppressors is weight and length, they make the gun heavy, cumbersome and long. However, Steve says he has been involved in the design process of a new suppressor designed specifically for hunters that is only 6 ½ inches long and 10 ounces. This new, super light suppressor will be called the Adventure Hunter. Steve says it's not as quiet as bigger, longer, heavier suppressors, however it is significantly quieter than shooting without a suppressor and it also greatly reduces recoil and improves barrel harmonics. This new suppressor he anticipates being available by Christmas.
Be sure to catch "Steve's Outdoor Adventures" on Sportsman Channel, Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. ET and watch for the Chama, New Mexico elk hunt he talked about which will air in February or March.