Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 Duluth Outdoors Party at Bent Paddle a major success!

Winter is here
I am not sure what made our Duluth Outdoors Party such a major success. Was it the winter blast we received the week of the party?  The awesome poster Jordan Sundberg created?  The buzz that all the awesome user groups in town caused by pushing the word out to their membership?  The killer beer from Bent Paddle or the awesome food from the Smokehaus?

Not sure but there is no doubt the party was awesome.  I was shooting for a hundred solid folks and we nearly tripled that!

Super stoked we had the turn out we did and I will take that energy and put it back in the bank as we move forward on more hard work in the City of Duluth!

Thanks to all of you that made the night so great.
DXC and the Lester 

Cliffy being Cliffy

Minnesota Land Trust ED Kris Larson, listening to some sort of tall tale

A bluff country buck hunt: Deer Season 2014 in Homer, Minnesota

Bikes for Bucks!
Views from the stands.
Fellow hunter
The last few deer seasons my father, brother and I have been truly blessed to be able to hunt a friends property near Homer.

A lot of people will tell you that their property is special but suffice to say the story of this property is especially amazing as is its setting.  That setting being on the bluff tops directly overlooking the Mississippi River.

The property is stuffed full of Whitetails and has the space to accommodate a solid party of hunters every year.

This season I was able to haul down two Cogburn CB4's and brother and I used them to get to our stands each morning.  Although, my brother only had to head out to the stand one morning as he was the lucky guy this season.

It was an interesting opener to say the least.  Late on Friday night as I was getting all geared up I realized that I had forgotten a bottle of my grandfathers "Bucks Deerscent" and was down right torn up about it.  It remains to be proven that this stinky stuff truly works or not, but just purely in the act of respect and remembrance of my grandfather, I usually put some out.  Its like tossing salt over your shoulder.  That all said about 1 am that night I was up digging through all the odds and ends in my fathers basement and just like a Xmas miracle I found a box of 20 year old stink, one for each of us!
Old barn rest stops 
Harvest time

Little guy
Rutting post.  How many bucks have hit this in the past 20 years????
Big guy
Come morning I found myself with cobwebs in my head pedaling bikes through the woods with guns at 4.30 am.  

We parted at our designated spot and headed to our stands.  

Within 20 minutes of sunup both my brother and my father had shot bucks.  Both of them smelling Gramps concoction before they parted this world.  So while the stuff ended up being extremely lucky it was not for me!

That said, it was lucky my father was even hunting.  Recovering from an operation from this spring, we have all been concerned with what he would or would not be able to do.  

So dad just making it to the stand was a victory, but dad on the stand shooting a deer resembled normalcy and that was enough of a victory for me that day.  

As for my little brother, he whacked a monster and again, that was lucky for me because a score like that makes him want to pack his bags again next year and make that long flight from Durango to both see your family and hopefully another big buck.  

So while I did no shooting that weekend, I was the big winner regardless.
Dinner to kick it all off 
Strategery (yeah I know I misspelled it)
We hunt with a really solid group of guys.  All of them are serious deer hunters and all of them are on the quest for harvesting big bucks as humanely as possible.  A bunch of them have done a lot of work over the summer adding food plots, stands and doing research as to where the deer live and move. Something I hope to be able to lend a hand with this next season.

I am as moved by the photography of the hunt as much as the hunt itself.  Don't get me wrong I would love to shoot a dream deer myself, but I see the art here as much as the drama. 

 Last season I shot a lot of photos, as well as this season, but the guys we hunt with have become used me being the eccentric guy with the lens.  I have also made it clear that they can have any shots I shoot of them as well, which I hope is enough to keep them happy!

Does and Oats
heading to the stand
fade in fade out
Big boy of the weekend
The big buck of the weekend was shot by our buddy from Wisconsin.  It was a gorgeous 150 class buck and it was really fun to photograph.  Its a lot of deer!  I am not usually keyed into the size of horns as the reason I hunt is mainly to feed the family but its hard to ignore the majesty of a really large whitetail!

As usual I want to say thanks to all the folks that make this hunt possible for me and for my family.  It is some of the most valuable time I spend with my family every year and I am already looking forward to next season......

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Duluth Outdoors Party!!! November 13th 2014 at Bent Paddle

So one of my big goals with my new job is to get ALL the Outdoorsies in town hanging together.  This event on Thursday is our first attempt.  Some great folks came together for this gig.  Bent Paddle, MLT, Ski Hut, Conti, Northern Waters Smokehaus!  Should be a killer night.   The original impetus for this event is Give to the Max day, that said we hope in the future to have a much bigger event with the ability to pull in more sponsors and users so if your feeling left out don't be!  Please come and socialize and celebrate Duluth's amazing outdoors!

Big month for me in Photography: Bicycling Magazine Portrait of Don Ness

All on the rack this month!

My pick of shots
Back in September I received a call from Rodale Press and Bicycling Magazine.  They were doing a story on Mayor Don Ness and they were wondering if I could shoot a quick portrait of Don Ness.  When do you need it I asked?  This week, they replied......

I am not a portrait photographer and most likely never will be.  My strength is in action photos.  Indeed Bicycling had an art director and a specific look and shot that they wanted.  Don, standing by a mountain bike trail smiling.  Oh geez.  I immediately called Clint Austin who had been teaching me a bit about his light set up for the DNT.  He uses remotes and Alien Bees.  Clint is an amazing career photographer and he was cool enough to let me try out his lights.  After a quick tutorial with Clint I hit the trails looking for a good spot.  I found it at Amity on the Lester Trails.  I goaded Ryan Mallek to be my test model and we shot a few quick test shots and shazam I had my shot.

The day of the shoot I was supposed to pick the Mayor up at 4.30 as that was my light slot.  Well politics had another idea and due to some political shenanigans Don was not able to get down to the car until 5.30. There goes the light slot!

We humped the gear into the woods and set up.  I hauled along a good beer and Don drank it while I fixed up the lights.  There is a lot of pressure when you have a tuned up politician who is really fired up over an issue!

Finally I got the light set up and we shot the shots.  We hit a few more spots, but eventually we packed it up as it was dark.  I sent in my shots and low and behold the final shot picked for the spot, was a test show WITHOUT flash!  Ha, sometimes it just pays to leave the technology behind!

In any case I went down to the Barnes Noble to buy this issue so I could have a copy.  It was a cool moment.  I looked at the rack and there was Mountain Flyer, Outside, Bicycling and Powder all sitting there and all of them with photographs of mine.  Its been a long journey but at some point I have to admit, things are starting to work out photographically for me.

Gunflint gravel ride and grouse hunt with Adam Harju!

Grouse Woods 
 I am way off the back in posts this month.  Sorry this happens in the fall.  I spend way, way too much time outside to be bothered by the digital world, yet I have this blog to keep alive.....

So hunting is the thing for me in the fall.  I am not a numbers guy when it comes to hunting.  In fact I am way more about the journey then the trigger pulling, however when you combine a lust for adventure and hunting it is an intoxicating mix that I can't seem to pull myself away from.
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 I was lucky enough to be able to hook up with a like minded guy, Adam Harju for a fun overnight grouse hunt on the Cogburn CB4's.  We originally thought camping would be the ticket but as we quickly threw the hunt together Adam related that his family has an off the grid cabin in a remote spot in the Superior National Forest.  No water, no electricity, just wood heat, candles and lake water!  I am in!

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 The original plan was to hunt our way to the Cabin, then feast until we had to loosen our belts by the fire place.  I loaded a lot of cans of Cream of Mushroom soup, mushrooms, eggs and all sort of food to cook grouse.  We brought no protein, we were in for eating what we shot.

The week before I had been hunting and had shot a lot of birds.  That was in the Chippewa Forest. I assumed we would have similar results on the Gunflint.
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 We had an amazing day on the bikes.  However the wind was rocketing and that is generally NOT a good condition to have for grouse.  That said we only saw two birds in eight hours and one of them we were lucky to have shot.  So we rambled into the cabin with a lot of soup and only one grouse between us!

Adam and I unloaded our gear and went out for a couple more hours before darkness.  While we saw some amazing sights, we saw nothing for grouse and ended up back at cabin working on heating it up and cleaning our single grouse.

On my way up to Grand Marais I ran into Casey Krueger at the gas station. He has been building a clients cabin on the Gunflint for the fall.  I related where we were staying and gave him about the most redneck, general directions I had to the cabin.  Truthfully I figured him showing up was about 1 in 1,000.

However at about 7.30, in the pitch dark here came Casey.  He did think to bring a bag of potato chips and beer which was greatly appreciated.  After a few we say down and dug into a one grouse meal for three hungry dudes.


Sliver moon 

The remains of a small woodland bird after three guys hit it.
 After dinner we spent a lot of time outside looking at the sky.  The moon set and the stars rose and the sky was alive with shooting stars.  Who needs a tv when you can watch the heavens?  A lot of beer was drunk that night and a lot of snoring occurred because of it!

Starry night 

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 The next morning we arose with the sun.  We ate what was left of Adam's eggs.  Despite protecting them the rough riding on the Cogburns over the harsh Superior National Forest two tracks had broken and scrambled them.  We fried em up and threw in some Elk sausage that Adam had just brought back from Colorado.  Siting by the wood stove, eating the eggs and watching the sun rise was pretty sweet.  Casey blew off back to the job site and Adam and I loaded up.
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 River crossings are a mandatory deal in the Superior National Forest.  At some point your going to have to do some.  Earlier in the fall with the Salsa crew we had to cross the Brule.  That was in September and the water was chilly, but not overly cold.  On our hunting ride Adam and I hit a beaver pond and had to wade across.

Adam was able to hold his tongue as he crossed but I knew it had to be cold.  We went barefoot and there were tons of gravel and small rocks.  I made it halfway when the pain started to become unbearable.  3/4 of the way and I was pretty sure I was going to puke.  When I hit the other side I rolled up into a little ball and just let the pain, pins and needles do their work, there was no hiding from it, just bear it.  Our feet did not warm up the rest of the day.

We rode most of the morning back to the car with similar results as saturday.  A really pretty ride, but no more birds.  To be honest we did not care.  We had just had two days of riding and hunting in one of the most remote and prettiest places in the state.  No work, no worries, good friends and full bellies, what more could you need or want?

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Powder Magazine "Latitudes" Article out now in the November 2014 issue!

November 2014 Powder Mag.
The call came late one night in January.  I was just feeding Tae some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and he was complaining about it.  I remember giving him the classic, "quit your whining and eat" parent line when the phone rang.

It caught me enough off guard to realize what I was doing.  One handedly slapping down a plate of horrible food, snapping at the kid and grabbing the phone.  Holy dang how did I get there?  I remember my dad doing the same damn thing to me!

The call was from Dave Reddick of Powder Magazine.  

Now I was even more befuddled.  I have wanted for YEARS to get a call from Dave Reddick of Powder Magazine and he finally calls and here I am pulling a Mr. Brady feeding my kid food from a box and bitching.......not feeling super cool at the moment Dave Reddick!
Heading to Copper Harbor 
Long story short was that Dave had a writer doing a story on Midwest skiing and was wondering if I could shoot some images to tie this all together.  While I wish I was number one on the list I have to think I was number 3 or 4.  In fact I am quite sure Dave was desperate to be honest and somehow I landed on his list.....way down the list!

I heard the story concept, I asked some questions and then I asked when it had to happen?

Next week.

Holy shit.  Next week?  At the time I was neck deep in IMBA.  Things could not have been more busy with work, with family and with me in general (common theme).  I told him I was interested then did the rest of of my domestic duties.  Put Tae to bed, read him a book you name it, all the while raking my brain as to how I could make this work.  Panicking might be a better word.

Damn, a chance to try a shoot for Powder!

God bless my wife Margaret.  When I told her I had this chance, she told me immediately I had to do it.  Without that vote I would have most likely bagged it.  With that vote, I threw in my hat and told Dave I would make it happen.

Powder Mag writer Abigail Barronian trying to see Lake Superior
Basically I dropped everything to take this shoot on.  

I had just recently been named boss of two folks for the IMBA region.  I decided this was the time to see what they could do with me on the lamb.  They were more than gracious, so thanks to Lori Hauswirth and to Matt Andrews for covering for me.  

The shoot was a three part deal.  I met Abigail the writer in Copper Harbor and we shot Bohemia.  Then we rolled down to Whitecap Mountain near Hurley and shot there.  From there I was supposed to head with Abigail to Lutsen to finish off the set.  However a huge storm hit and I realized I would not be able to shoot and make it back down to Frostbike an event I had to be at in Bloomington at QBP.  

So I hit Lutsen later that month, unfortunately without the great snow that Abigail had.

I shot a ton, but in the end I have to fully admit that I struggled hard with this assignment.  I learned a lot but it was super hard.  

To shoot as an amateur has its advantages.  There is little stress, no deadlines and no sense of pressure that a team is counting on you to get the images they need.  

However that said, to shoot as an assignment is also the photographers equivalent of lead climbing.  It puts you out there....far out there.  Especially when your working in places you have not experienced and don't have your local posse to mug for you.  

The weather is a big issue too.  Flat light, fog, no powder, on and on and on.  At one point my 5D MK2 locked up due to moisture from the snow.  Totally dead. I had to dry it out over Aaron Rogers wood stove and thank goodness that worked!

In any case I met a super bunch of people, got to interact with Powder and put myself on the line.  

The article is in this Months (November 2014) issue of Powder Magazine, under the Lattitudes section.  

I am ok with it.  It is not what I had hoped for visually, I give myself a C.  I will admit though that I am glad I even came up with a C due to the challenges that I faced in even gaining that. I had to get really creative and really into my own headspace to both follow the theme and gain images that might work within it and all with zero lead time and prep. Is it my best work?  No but I delivered on a deadline and in adverse conditions so I feel good about that. 

In any case here are some of the pics that did not make the Magazine, I will post more if I have time as well.

Gibbs being Gibbs

A-Rog doing the dipsy doodle 
These guys are NOT skiers 

Gibbs again

Skier shall remain un-named.  
Its coming and soon 
Copper Harbor and Bohemia were amazing and thanks to Aaron and Amanda for letting me crash on the floor.  The rub here was that I was there at a time when it had not snowed for a couple weeks and of course leaving as the biggest storm of the year was rolling in.  

Despite that Aaron, Scott Gibbs and I had a gas, as did Abigail.  I really enjoyed the hut scene at the end of the day.  I could have shot Bohemia for a week straight but only had two days.  

Its the hard corp snow lovers scene in the Midwest, no doubt about it.  Small apologies to Sam Luoma who made the mag and is now a buddy I see in town these days.  You are labeled as a skier in the magazine Sam and I am sure that hurts....

Shot ski at the Wine Hut at Whitecap Mountain 

Your friendly Wine Hut bartender

Past and present

Shit, not another one

Dave Lundberg owner and founder of Whitecap Mountain
Whitecap was awesome too.  Not for the killer skiing, but for the crusty Midwest vibe it has.  That place is pure gold.  The Wine Hut is genius and because of that I spent my whole day shooting there. 

The people were chill, the scene so Wisconsin it hurt and it is a place I hope is there forever because more people need to head there, ski a run then chill with a spiced wine in hand by the fire.  
It was also great to meet Dave Lundberg.  A true 1960's visionary with a lot of knowledge to spread to us younger folks, I shot his portrait twice that afternoon and I am stoked one shot made it in.  In his 80's Dave was still rocking a snow machine and a chainsaw.....

Superior, WI

Super One Parking Lot, West Duluth
Our ride from Whitecap to Duluth was truly epic.  For a local as myself it was tedious.  For Abigail, driving a rental car from Chicago, it was pure hell.  Most certainly it was PhD level winter driving.

I don't think she had a full break down but it was close.  Her wipers kept freezing in place and yet we were on a major highway with logging trucks rushing past frequently.  I have heard countless stories of people being killed by plows, other cars, logging rigs you name it, when they have pulled over in zero viz to do anything. Because of that I kept encouraging her to press on until we could get off the road, which was longer than she could endure.

We did make it though and that was where we parted ways.  I thank her for her patience and she did a bomber job in the writing.
Day break at Lutsen
Terrain park rippers at Lutsen 
Rosie cooking one up at Rosie's cafe. When I asked how many egg sandwiches she made, she smiled and said "hundreds of thousands"........
Hmm, which line next time?
Lutsen was super fun of course.

I got to hook up with The Buhrito and the Damage gang.  Always a head thumping!  I was also able to meet and ski with Jim Vick of Lutsen, learned a ton from him.  My favorite story at Lutsen though was Rosie from Rosies Cafe at the base.  She has been working there since the 1960's.  She reminded me so much of my late Grandmother June Johnson.  In fact I had literally just returned the week before from a visit with my grandmother Helen Shaw, who was ailing and near death, when I met Rosie.

It was so great to know that while my own grandmothers were passing away there was somebody so similar in the world that many people get to meet and interact with in a place like Lutsen.  Gratefully she did not whack my fingers when I was in the kitchen (June would have).

In any case I have rambled too much already.  Hope you like the shots and I hope you pick up a Powder this month.

As to my results giving shooting a go for Powder?  Hmm I don't think I made the grade, at least not yet.  Who knows, maybe I am good enough to hop off the C-list for the B-list but believe me I intend to keep on trying until I can make the A-list!