SCI 2013 Artist of the Year–Fred Boyer

Boyer,-FredWith an admiration of nature expressed in each design, professional artist and bronze sculptor Fred Boyer turns clay and wax into works of art. He has taken his love of art and wilderness, which stemmed from his childhood spent in the stark beauty of Montana’s mountain peaks and green valleys, and turned them into a life passion evident in each of his bronze sculptures. Working from his studio, nestled deep in the foothills of the Pintlar Wilderness Area, Boyer blends his passion for the outdoors with emotion and elegance.  This passion has inspired unique detail, movement and authenticity in his bronze sculptures, which have won international renown from art and wildlife enthusiasts.

Boyer’s love of outdoors and wildlife is the result of a lifetime of experiences.

As a young boy and through his teenage years, Boyer grew to appreciate the captivating wilderness that surrounded him in the rugged mountains and streams of Montana. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in art education from Montana State University, Boyer moved to Alaska to teach art in a public school and worked as a guide during the summer months.

In 1983, when the school system had budget cuts, Boyer returned to Montana to work as a guide. Eventually, Boyer’s passion for teaching art led to creating it. He conducted extensive research on animals and birds native to North America, Africa, Asia, South Africa and Mozambique. While experiencing the thrill of hunting, Boyer studies each element of nature so that emotions evoked in the wild may be expressed in his bronze sculptures.  He continues to grow in stature as an exceptional artist dedicated to his work and capturing the essence of nature’s real miracles in the western land he loves.

To give back to the source of his inspiration, Boyer is involved with Safari Club International and other conservation groups.  His superb wildlife bronzes, vivid illustrations and original custom jewelry are displayed in shows and galleries nationwide and on his website, www.fredboyer.com.

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PH Spotlight: Joaquin Morales

MOJMDSC_0112-2ndAt the age of six, Joaquin Morales made a career choice.  “I began to hunt by holding my father’s hand, and I owe him my love for hunting, my attachment to nature and respect for the animals,” he explains. Though he began hunting in Spain, his family relocated to Cameroon when he was 20 years old.

In 1985, Joaquin secured a contract with the Environment/Fauna Ministry for management of a camp in the Boubandjidah National Park and developed his career as a professional hunter in Cameroon.

Joaquin manages five camps for Mayo Oldiri Safaris in an area called the Sudanese Savannah. The hunt in this open area is exciting because the traditional method of following tracks is used. Specializing in Lord Derby eland hunts, Joaquin has taken more than 125 trophies for his clients during the past 25 years.  The camp accommodations, food and atmosphere are first class.

Mayo Oldiri also offers hunts in the Cameroon rain forest area.

When guiding clients, Joaquin carries a powerful .460 Weatherby Magnum for the client’s safety in case of problems with African big game.  When hunting alone, he carries a .375 H&H Magnum topped with a Zeiss 1.5-6x scope, a gift from his father.

The serious business of hunting does have its lighter moments. Joaquin recalls a nine-day hunt tracking a dwarf buffalo. Weather conditions were so bad the hunter wanted to quit unless Joaquin thought there might be one more chance. “When we found the track of a buffalo, the client asked, ”How old?”  Joaquin replied, “I think about 12 years old.” The hunter could not understand how a track that old could be followed.  “When I explained I was referring to the age of the animal, we had a good laugh.”

Joaquin recalls another memorable for elephant hunt with a Spanish client.

MOPHAmezaga“Hunting is to go to the bush and forget about time, suffer from the Harmattan wind, the dust or the infernal heat. Hunting means getting up at dawn and walking for a long hard day.  The hunter had these experiences and more.

When we finally found the elephant, late one April afternoon, we could not take photos because it was too dark. We posted guards, planning to return the next morning. We returned to find someone had extracted the tusks from our elephant.

“My client became discouraged and confused. We returned to camp, but I did not want to give up so easily and brought up this case with the traditional authority, the Sultan of Rey Bouba. With his support, we initiated an investigation with the help of the Sultan’s entourage.  He sent messengers to the chiefs of all his settlements and provided us with a group of trackers to return to the crime scene to help with the investigation.

“After three days, the Sultan’s representative reported they had located the thief and the tusks were in the hands of a merchant who agreed to return them because he was unaware they were stolen. The safari ended happily when the tusks were returned to my client.”

Mayo Oldiri Safaris has an active 12-year-old anti-poaching program. A year ago, an association called Mayo Rey Conservation was established. Its objective is the conservation of natural resources in all the areas bordering Boubandjidah Park. The association brings together the traditional authority represented by the Sultan of Rey Bouba; the management of Boubandjidah Park; the Department of Environment , represented by the Conservation Service of the Park; and Mayo Oldiri Safaris, which has five hunting areas in the sector.  Safari Club International is an honorary member of the association. Negotiations are underway to enable SCI to become an active member by contributing directly to Mayo Rey Conservation Association. Mayo Oldiri is a founding member of the Mayo Rey Hospital Foundation, which provides clinical services and surgery.

Joaquin has guided many SCI members and past presidents.  Mayo Oldiri Safaris, a long-tenured SCI member, is seventh in the SCI exhibitor ranking list. In 2012, Antonio Reguera, owner of Mayo Oldiri, received SCI’s Outstanding International Professional Hunter of the Year Award.

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Hunting for Stones in the Rocky Mountains

P8030020_-YoungIn a small area of northern British Columbia where the Rocky Mountains are real and the weather is conditional, the Stone sheep stands tall in his own landscape. When sheep hunting, you must hunt where the sheep get old enough to be legal, and just because there are sheep in an area does not mean that big rams live there. As with several big game animals, mature sheep travel to areas that are remote and safe. In some cases, that movement is just a part of their normal migration from spring to summer or fall.  There are many essentials needed for a successful hunt, and legal rams in the area during hunting season would be one of them.

My second trip for Stone sheep started with a booking agreement with Endre Pipics. Pipics is the owner of Besa River Outfitters in British Columbia, operating northwest of Fort St. Johns. Pipics grew up in Hungary and as a young lad dreamed of moving to Canada.  By the time he was 30 he had saved the money needed to self-sponsor his immigration.  Leaving all his family behind, his flight landed him in Edmonton, Alberta, where he opened a small butcher shop and worked as a guide on the side, saving every dollar made.

Eventually Pipics bought the hunting area known as the Besa and started to live his dream. The area sustained a harvest record of nine mature rams for many seasons in a row, but with the cutback in tags that can be issued, the region is currently allowed only four tags each season.  I’m told the cutbacks in tag quotas are not because of reduced sheep numbers, but because the Ministry of Environment Wild Life Branch would like to see Canadian residents take 70 percent of the sheep each year.

Weather in the Besa had been unseasonably wet all spring and the trail to camp was not negotiable by horse.  Mud was knee-deep to a horse and in some cases up to their bellies. Blow-downs crisscrossed the trail like matchsticks and the river system was blown out with raging white water.  In some cases, landing strips were under water and access to camp for summer repair and scouting never came until a week prior to the hunt. Even then there was continuous rain.

P8020012_-YoungUpon my arrival, the rain had parted and the blue sky was as dark as the Mediterranean Sea. With several camp supplies still needing delivery, I jumped a plane to main camp to shorten my horse experience. 

On opening day my guide, Shane Crow, and I left camp for what would be 16 hours on horses. Shane is an experienced horsemen and a First Nation Indian of Canada with dual residency in both the U.S. and Canada.

At one point, Shane walked his horse around a bog, or so he thought. The horse sunk to his saddle in just minutes and after multiple attempts to pull it out, it became apparent the horse was digging its own grave. Shane was forced to take a drastic decision–shoot the horse and carry his belongings, or make one last-ditch effort to free the horse. Choosing the latter, Shane fired his gun behind the horse to cause a reaction.  It did, as the horse freed itself like a rocket instead of becoming grizzly bait.

While returning to main camp at dusk, we chose a shortcut across the Besa River. Forty yards across the water and we would be almost home, but the other bank presented a steep exit from the river and, despite all his horse skills, Shane was about to give me a good show.  His horse attempted to scale the steep bank, but its hind feet sunk in the soft river bottom.

Shane’s weight pulled the horse over backward, and he splashed down in the water like a returning Apollo capsule in the ocean–maybe even a bigger splash than that.  The water may have given Shane a soft landing, but the cold water popped his eyes out like a goose bump on my arm.  My horse was not too happy with the situation, either, and decided to start bucking in the river.  Its hooves smashed on the river rocks, making sounds like a rock crusher and water splashed everywhere. I held on with no desire to sink my dry boots, not to mention the video camera that hung on my side.

P8040092_-YoungShane quickly scrambled like a wet beaver up the other bank. His horse was already standing above, looking down at the river like a spectator waiting to see a repeat performance with me.  My horse stopped bucking and I thought for a minute about going back the long way to cross the river. I gave my horse two good spurs, he launched out of the river like a cat and landed on the bank with all four hooves digging in as his legs curled under the stress of the climb.

I leaned into the horse to balance his position and hung on like a spider. Though I made the flight, my horse was not done. He continued to buck, perhaps just to prove his point or to say, “Next time let’s take the long way around.” I couldn’t agree more.

The following day was another eight-hour horse ride to spike camp. There, we laid our bedrolls near the edge of a babbling brook surrounded by steep mountains.  The horses were hobbled and set free to feed and I sat glassing the rock walls for sheep. We rested all night with a clear sky overhead and the occasional horse bell ringing in the distance.

Adam Bruno wrangled our horses in the morning as Sid Cacioli finished cooking breakfast. With frost still on the ground and breakfast in our bellies, Shane and I rode out of camp past a natural salt deposit where the local animals take their ration. Two hours later we were on top of a mountain, glassing what seemed to be a vast land of rocks the same color as our sheep. Stone sheep can blend in so well that, unless they’re on the move, spotting them can be a challenge even with good optics. If there is any sheep hunting advice I can offer, it’s to have good optics and good boots. Mountain Extreme Kenetrek boots are light as a feather, fit like a glove, and wear like iron. Swarovski’s 10×42 EL series binoculars have been my choice since they were first manufactured in the late 1990s, and now the EL Range is even better.

While glassing, I spotted four rams more than a mile away. Shane quickly set up his spotting scope and determined there was a shooter in the group.  By then it was pushing noon and the sheep had bedded down.  It looked as though we could close the gap to 300 yards with the use of the landscape, or so we thought. Murphy’s Law was dealing out cards and we had yet to read our hand.

Two hours later, we crested the ridgeline and the rams were gone.  Soon, a group of ewes and lambs fed down past us as we sat in the remaining brush line.  Once they passed, we advanced to the top of the ridge and studied the situation. The rams had left, though their beds appeared still to be warm–or at least that was what we wanted to believe. We decided to sit tight.  At times, they were only 10 feet away and the video I got is spectacular.

P8040046_-YoungI was sitting in the rams’ bedroom, hoping they would return for another stay as the sun continued to pass overhead and time slipped by.  Shane commented that he had only five cigarettes left and that his personal sundial for the day was casting a shadow on the last cigarette.  The horses were a way down the mountain and spike camp even farther.

Glassing the area below us, Shane dropped his binoculars and said, “I can’t believe it, but here come our rams.” If they followed the same path as the ewes, it wouldn’t be long before the echo of my shot bounced off the mountain wall. Scattered brush covered their vitals as they slowly fed toward us. With three hours of daylight remaining, the rams laid down.

Thirty minutes passed before the rams stood again. When they did, they showed signs of confusion as if they were going to reverse direction. Just then, the “Mac Daddy” ram took the lead and headed in our direction. They slipped behind some small spruce trees and then emerged on the ridgeline trail in a single line as if in a processional event or even a funeral.  Walking horn to bumper with no separation or shot opportunity, they approached our position straight-on.

The rams looked like they were on a string at 250 yards.  There was one big rock outcropping that would soon block our view for an extended time and when they cleared the cornice they’d be at 100 yards.  I rested my Blaser 7mm on some shooting sticks as Shane leaned over and whispered that he felt the tension building. I, too, felt the tension. It was as if time stood still and I wondered if Murphy would join the party again.

Five, ten and then fifteen minutes went by and nothing happened. I kept glancing down the steep west side of the ridge just in case they give us the slip.  Shane watched the east side and reported nothing. We decided to power down the camera and wait, and then sit for another 15 minutes.  The sun would be setting soon. The pressure to advance forward for a peek was blocked by my experience.

I glanced to the east over Shane’s head and spotted a sheep.  “Shane,” I whispered, “There’s a ram at 400 yards on the opposite hill.”  As Shane turned his head, I could see the other three rams feeding away from us.  “Holy cow!” said Shane. “How could they have slipped by us like that?”

P8040030_-YoungThe rams were at a tough angle to judge horn mass or length, and judging the animal could take time we didn’t have. Shooting a ram that’s not legal is unacceptable and the authorities will keep the trophy.  There is no room for a mistake. Legal rams must be a full curl or seven and a half years of age.

I adjusted for the shot. With the rifle resting on my pack, I turned the elevation turret on the scope to adjust for four minutes of angle, equaling 425 yards distance on my setup.  Shane studied the horns closely, trying to count the annulus rings for age. The first ram fed over the skyline and only three remained.

The remaining sheep swapped positions on the hill again and I called out the middle upper ram as the best. Shane danced back and forth and said, “Wait.” The rams fed 20 yards farther and Shane said, “That’s correct. The upper ram is your boy.”

The ram stopped moving just as I hit rock bottom of my exhalation breath. My trigger finger was in tune with all that was happening around me, and with only a two-pound trigger, there was no pulling the bullet back. The sound of lead hitting its target was like music, good music, only this time it was funeral music.  The sheep was dispatched with a direct hit to his pump and he fell to rest immediately.   Shane turned with a smile and said it was incredible that I got him, followed by a knuckle knock and then a bear hug.

The ram met requirements for both age and full curl. After the drying period, it scored 161 3/8.– Rick Young

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Friction Folders From Knives Of Alaska

Long a favorite with the hunting community, edged game care tools from Knives of Alaska are designed right and built tough. Their latest knife series are four pocket folders that are sure to be a hit with outdoor folk of every persuasion.

One cutlery manufacturer that has what it takes to produce peerless edged game care tools is Knives of Alaska (KOA). The primary reason this is that company owner Charles Allen is himself a hunter and fisherman. He is also the owner/operator of a world-class fishing and hunting lodge in southeast Alaska, an area known for its burgeoning population of brown and black bear, moose, incredible numbers of waterfowl and some of the finest salmon fishing in the world.

Even though the KOA manufacturing facility is housed in northern Texas, the preliminary design and field-testing is done at the lodge, which sits along the famed Tsiu River in southeast Alaska. There, every knife is put through a series of model-appropriate field tests, which can include field dressing, skinning, fleshing hides, quartering and boning-out big game, as well as filleting copious quantities of silver salmon, pink salmon and Dolly Varden trout.

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The new Ranger (top) and Drover (bottom) friction folders from Knives of Alaska (KOA) feature drop-point pattern blades crafted from D2 tool steel, oversize main pins and orange/black layered Micarta handle scales. Either model can easily handle small game care, as well as serving general utility cutting needs.

“Having a manufacturing facility in Texas provides ready access to needed materials, as well as being a central shipping point for the entire nation. Our Alaskan location allows us to escape the heat of those long Texas summers and participate in some of the best fishing and hunting in the world. There, we are able to create new designs and use that real-time experience to put our knives to the test under demanding field conditions,” Allen said.

The latest KOA introduction is a series of four, one-hand opening friction folders. They’re small enough to slip into any pocket, but big when it comes to functionality. Much of that performance potential is credited to the D2 blade steel used in all four new pocket folders. Long favored by custom makers, D2 has a enviable reputation for being extremely tough and highly resistant to edge chipping. Since each blade is heat treated to Rc 59-61, these handy pocket folders feature solid edge retention.

Both the Ranger and the Rover feature classic drop-point blade patterns, making either one a great choice for work on small game. With the point “dropped” well below the spine, the user is able to slit open rabbit and squirrel hides without cutting into the underlying viscera or muscle tissue, something that can be difficult to avoid with a clip pattern blade. The Ranger features a 2.32” blade and weighs just 2-ounces, while the Rover has a 1.95” blade and weighs in at a miniscule 1.4-ounces. An oblong thumb engagement hole just beneath the blade spine allows one-hand opening. A short section of jimping is situated on the spine for forefinger positioning when making precise cuts.

Interestingly, the main pin that attaches the blade tang to frame is oversize and inset into the Micarta handle scales. This eliminates any potential lateral blade movement and enhances the overall strength of this critical joint. Lastly, the blade itself has a square tang, which provides a halfway blade stop when opening and closing the knife. I found it to be a safety feature allowing the user to be fully aware of the position of the sharpened edge in relation to one’s fingers when closing the knife.

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The Model 400 (top) and Spike (top) are two more friction folder pocketknives from KOA. While both share some features with the other two models, differences are apparent. Notably, the blade patterns are also drop-point, but they have been modified to include a back swedge and a far more tapered point.

Handle scales on both the Ranger and the Drover are crafted from orange/black layered Micarta. This is extremely rugged material that’s unlikely to crack, split or fracture like so many other natural or molded synthetic materials. Furthermore, in comparison to similar size pocket folders, I found handle scales both ergonomically designed and far more robust. The slight downward curve and taper at the end of the handle allows for perfect contact with the grip pocket of the hand.

The Model 400 and Spike folders are identical in both size and weight to the two aforementioned models, however, the Model 400 features a 2.55” blade and the Spike has a 1.89” blade. Blades are also D2 tool steel and heat treated to the same Rockwell hardness. While the blade patterns on both of these models are also drop-point, the design is modified so it’s much straighter with a far finer point. A slight swedge is integrated into the blade spine and a thumb stud on the back of the blade allows for easy one-hand opening. Like the Ranger and Drover models, both the Model 400 and Spike blades have square tangs, oversize main pins and orange/black Micarta handle scales. I’ve used both knives to gut trout and various warm water species and they were an ideal choice. So much so, that I keep one in my tackle box and the other in my fishing vest. The larger Model 400 has also functioned well as a caper on deer and antelope, as well as being useful when field dressing game birds.

While there are lots of features to like about this entire series, the fact that they are made right here in the USA, come with a limited lifetime guarantee and are affordably priced (Ranger/Model 400 $69.95, Drover/Spike $59.95), make any one of these handy pocket folders a “must have” acquisition.– Durwood Hollis

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