Archive for March, 2016

The Social Event of the Season

Written by Jim Huckabay on March 25, 2016. Posted in Uncategorized

As you are no doubt aware, we are two weeks away from the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club’s 30th Annual Chukar Run banquet – the social event of the season. It happens Saturday, August 9th, at the Fairgrounds.  Doors open at 4:00, dinner at 6:00 with fun and laughter until 9:30 or so.  This year’s event is celebrating 97 years of fun, games, camaraderie and looking after the outdoor future of Paradise.

Thanks to the Cle Elum Branch of Wells Fargo Bank, you can bid on, and own, the celebratory memento of Super Bowl 48. The Cle Elum team earned top recognition in the four-state Wells Fargo system, and was awarded the autographed Russell Wilson jersey to pass along to a charity of their choice. Because of its long history of work on behalf of access, habitat, and outdoor families, the Cle Elum Wells Fargo team chose the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club. This year’s auction and raffles feature donations from more than a hundred local businesses and individuals. Russell Wilson’s jersey will be the centerpiece of the auction.

Funds raised at the Chukar Run help the Field and Stream Club carry forward its unique work on behalf of our outdoor activities and quality of life. The club may be the most active in the state in terms of looking after short- and long-term fishing, hunting and outdoor activities. Indeed, very few residents of Paradise have not been touched by the work of the Field and Stream Club.

From the day it was formalized in 1919, Kittitas County Field and Stream Club members have been committed to “working today for tomorrow’s wildlife” and all that such a promise requires. For a fascinating look back at the club and our community check out the “Club History” link at

The outdoor future of Paradise depends on an educated and committed population. The club sponsors and carries out youth fishing activities, with gear, coaching and encouragement. It regularly works to get kids to outdoor camps, and misses no opportunity to help kids connect with the outdoors. Each year, life members select a graduating high school student who shows promise of a career in wildlife or habitat management for a $1,500 scholarship.

Through nearly all of a century, Kittitas County Field and Stream has stood the sportsman’s ground. From the development of the L.T. Murray to creation of the Naneum State Forest, the club and its members have been involved. Access to public ground – our ground – has fallen under greater threat over the last couple years than at any time in the past century. The club is not passively accepting these threats; it is in deep into the struggle for access, and for the public’s right to have a voice in decisions about it. Members see this as work done on behalf of our kids and grandkids and their outdoor heritage.

The Field and Stream Club pioneered hunter education classes more than 50 years ago. That training in safe hunting and firearm handling is a big deal. More than 4,000 youngsters have graduated from club-sponsored classes. It saves lives.

Every winter, the club provides free bird seed at Ranch and Home and Shaw’s Furniture to help you get your feathered buddies through tough spots.

Chukars? We have (and may) periodically release chukar partridge into prime habitat all over the valley (thus, our “Chukar Run”). Some will be hunted, but hunting is the least of their problems when you mix in hawks, coyotes, foxes, skunks, food supply and some pretty iffy weather. The shrewdest, fastest and strongest of them will be making more chukars next spring. Releasing chukars is the keeping of promises made long, long ago; they run in honor of Bob McBride, Ike Hamblin, Ray Wheeler, Loel Knudson, Martin Pedersen, and the hundreds of club volunteers before them.

Looking to the future, the Club has created a Washington Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, and spearheaded efforts to get it through the Washington State Legislature. See where that is now at

All of this work is supported by a huge number of volunteer hours, dues of 25 bucks a year (up from 50 cents in 1919), Rodeo Weekend Hilltop Parking, a couple raffles and the Chukar Run – the primary fundraiser.

This year’s raffle is for a Ruger SR Model 1911 stainless steel semiautomatic pistol in .45 auto caliber. Tickets are twenty bucks and only 100 will be sold. Food will be by Cascade Mountain Grilling – often called “the finest banquet food in the state.” Dick Culver will handle the auction. Jim Huckabay and Deborah Essman will keep games moving and everything on time. It is, after all, the social event of the season.

Banquet tickets – only $30 – are only available in advance. Get them from Arnold’s Ranch & Home, Sure Shot Guns and Pawn, the Grizzly Safe Company, Shaw’s Furniture, or online at Board members have tickets also. Even if you can’t attend and play, stop by the businesses above and thank them for their strong support of our forever outdoor lives here in Paradise.

Come on down to Paradise two weeks from tomorrow. It’s for now and for tomorrow. It’s for wildlife and open land – and the ability of your children’s children to enjoy them.

Loading for Afrika

Written by Jim Huckabay on March 18, 2016. Posted in Uncategorized

Several of us are heading to South Africa this summer, to play with our friends Richard and Ruth Lemmer and Safari Afrika. This will be a return trip for some of us and a first adventure for others. Numerous conversations are being held. Anticipation fills the air.

This time, a couple of us are taking our own firearms, rather than using those of Safari Afrika. There are several reasons for that – not the least of which is that when you run off to play and leave old friends behind they may balk at an odd moment when you count on them. Given that Westside Homey Kevin Clements and I are planning a couple days of partridge chasing in the midst of our plains game hunting and photography, we realized our most-loved shotguns and rifles had to go with. That meant a trip to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) office.

Thus, I recently found myself at the Grant County International Airport at Moses Lake, chatting with a very pleasant agent as we filled out CPB Form 4457 (Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad). My firearms were checked (serial #s, brands, etc.) to be certain they matched those on the form, my ID was confirmed, and the 4457 was stamped and returned to me. The form is not kept by Customs, it is only for my use in proving ownership of my sporting arms as we leave the U.S., travel internationally, and return home together.

That settled, and flights booked, the next task is preparing the ammo to go with my rifle (shotgun shells will be arranged in Africa). Richard and most other South African outfitters prefer a heavier bullet than what I have used over the past few decades. With a little coaching from Homey Buzz Chevara, I will be hand rolling several new powder/bullet combinations and testing them at the range in coming months.

In addition to the sheer pleasure of being responsible for everything that happens when you pull a trigger and watching bullet after bullet hit the target where intended, there are many good reasons for hand loading ammo. It starts with accuracy, I think, but there are significant cost savings compared to factory loads, too, and a great satisfaction in reusing spent brass cases.

I got the loading bug in 1964, not long after I finally bailed my shiny new Savage 110 Premier 7mm Remington magnum out of Layaway. As I burned into a second box of factory ammo, it dawned on me that, young and mostly broke, I’d never be able to shoot as much as I wanted. By the end of that box, I found that my expensive new rifle wasn’t all that accurate, either.

Over a few months, I picked up a press and dies and powder and bullets and instruction manuals. Over a couple years, squeezing off thousands of rounds of handloads, I learned about accuracy, and what MY rifle needed to shoot the way I wanted it to shoot. Over time, I learned that now and again when I popped the cap on a cartridge I’d loaded, the bullet would follow the one before it through the same hole in the target. When the bullets didn’t go exactly where I wanted them to go, I knew why, and could make adjustments. That knowledge grew from hundreds of joyful, peaceful hours honing skills to take afield.

I came to know and trust the rifle, which gradually came to be known simply as “Boomer.” Together, we came to understand our hunting partnership. I saw how that rifle became, as The Old Man used to say, “an extension of self and a guarantee of meat in the pot.” And what he meant as he added, “There’s that other thing, too, boy. If some critter gives itself to you and will feed your family, you and that rifle owe it fair chase, straight shooting and a clean death – and thanks every time you eat it.”

It’s simple, wise and moral; the more you know about your firearms – the tools of your hunting – the more skill you will develop in their use. The things you learn in rolling and shooting your own ammo will help you master hunting and ensure the future of our enterprise.

If I had my way, all hunters would have to learn the process of rolling their own ammo. Not going to happen soon, I think, but there are some great coaches in Paradise. Sure Shot in Kittitas (509-968-4867) can put you in touch with one or another of them, and Three Forks Ammo in Cle Elum (509-674-2295) has regular reloading classes.

For decades, I have hand rolled “standard” loads for Boomer and a couple rifles the Hucklings use. I know where and how they shoot and I can count on them round after round. Now I guess I’m heading back to the drawing board as I find the right combination of powder and bullet for these heavier slugs. I’ll be forced to spend many quiet hours at my loading bench working up combinations of powder and those heavier bullets. Then there will be hours and hours more out on the range shooting at paper to make sure each hole on the target is where I intend it to be. All this just so Boomer and I can go to Africa together. Bummer…

We’re loading for Afrika.

Spring Outdoor Safety

Written by Jim Huckabay on March 4, 2016. Posted in Uncategorized

At last. Spring may be on the way. In response to these increasingly spring-like days, I’m hearing more and more talk about impromptu hikes and adventures. Given how quickly spring weather and hikes can take an unexpected turn, I’m thinking more and more about how simple it is to keep self and family safe during a “Let’s take a hike” moment.

A few years back, local survival pro Ken Matney and I spent some time with our old friend and survival instructor Peter Kummerfeldt. (Peter was the survival instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy during the time son Tim and Central President Jim Gaudino were cadets.) At any rate, Ken and I came away with a commitment to look at spring survival issues and some of the new survival locator tools we discussed with Peter. Ken, in his roles as a member of Kittitas County Search and Rescue and Survival Education Chief for the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club, took the task very seriously. At the time, he buried himself in phone and web research, then disappeared into wild places for field testing. When he was satisfied with the results (or just finally had enough fresh air for the moment, he filed a report to you.

Now as Ken sits, smiling, somewhere in the Desert Southwest his report has been updated and is offered to all suffering the ravages of early spring fever.

“One of the symptoms is the desire to get out and recreate. One of the things many of us love about our bit of Paradise is the ability to take off on a spontaneous outing. And, because of that spontaneity, we may not take all the gear we would normally carry with us. Or the gear may not be in top notch shape after lying in the closet all winter. So, as part of spring cleaning, or getting-the-body-in-shape process, this is a good time to give gear a good going over. It would also be a good time to build several small easy-to-carry Personal Survival Kits; kits that can be left in vehicles and then easily stashed in a pocket when needed for one of those impromptu trips.

“As a quick review: these kits should have items that you can use to signal your position (mirror, whistle, flagging tape), provide an expedient shelter (large garbage bags), give you fire making ability (matches & tinder in a watertight container), provide minor first aid supplies and minimal water and food. Include a good multi-tool and knife (I don’t believe anyone should venture off-pavement without one.)

“These small pocket kits provide the minimum supplies necessary to give you an edge in surviving an emergency and aiding rescue.

“One of the new electronic devices I have been examining is specifically designed to effect your rescue.

“The Satellite Personal Tracker or SPOT, which uses the Geographic Positioning System (GPS) and Globalstar satellite technology to pinpoint a position and relay a message (via email, text message or telephone) to the appropriate level for assistance. You can use the tracker to notify recipients that you are okay, that you need help, or are in a life-threatening situation and should activate the 911 system. Various messages are built into the devices, including the SOS signals which are now credited with more than 4,000 rescues. After a fair amount of research and testing, I have come to the conclusion that anyone who takes solo or small group trips and may be out of cell phone coverage areas should consider buying this device. SPOT devices start at just over $100, with a reasonable annual subscription fee. I can easily think of a number of situations where this may save a hiker’s life or extremities. You will find a great deal more information at

“As you might expect, there are other electronic devices performing similar functions. The TracMe is a low power non-satellite based transmitter that uses the Family Radio Service (FRS) emergency frequency to send a distress signal. A more expensive option to consider is the 406 mhz frequency Personal Locator Beacons – similar in function to those that have been carried on aircraft and boats for years, and approved a decade or so ago by the FCC for individual use. Some of my knowledgeable friends didn’t rate TracMe very highly in its early days, but much has changed, and it is being used widely. I invite you to treat yourself to straight-up and interesting reviews of almost anything survival-related; the tools discussed here and many, many more have been regularly and recently tested. Check out Equipped to Survive, at”

Follow up, as well, with Peter Kummerfeldt’s always family-oriented outdoor care and survival tips at

I think most of us are eager to get outside – and right now. Bird watching, hiking, antler hunting or just getting out to smell the spring air, take a few minutes to think about and prepare for an emergency. That few minutes may save your hide, and (maybe more importantly) your loved ones’ anguish.

Aah… Almost spring!