Words by Brian Ohlen a.k.a. Spoke'n'Fly
Writing blog posts for WTB throughout the past year has made me stop and ponder, “why do I do these things?” It’s obvious I like to combine biking, fishing, hunting, and camping into multisport adventures, but why? At first I thought using a bike might give me some advantage over the next guy when getting to a prime hunting spot or fly fishing stream. While this is sometimes true, it’s only a side benefit. The real reason, when distilled down, is that bikes make other things better.
Exhibit A: I met Adam at the 2016 Blackburn Ranger camp. I knew he was good stuff when I saw a hatchet strapped to his seat bag. Anyone who appreciates quality steel and bothers to pack wood cutting tools by bike is a friend of mine. We geeked out on hand forged Swedish blades before he mentioned he was curious about getting into hunting.
Fast forward to September in Wyoming: yellow aspen, fresh snow, bugling elk: hunting season. Adam flew out and assembled his bike just in time for the first big snow dump of the year. We adjusted our plans to a lower elevation area, and headed to the mountains. In typical Wyoming style, there was a gun show in a tiny town our route. Naturally we stopped.
We set up camp in a BLM campground on the flanks of the Bighorn mountains and loaded up bikes with shotguns, water and spare clothes. Our path was an abandoned road that climbed out of the sagebrush and juniper into lodgepole pine and douglas fir above. Our quarry was dusky grouse, a forest dwelling member of the grouse and pheasant family. Finding these brown, grey and white creatures is a little like searching for a needle in a haystack. Sure, you can focus in on likely areas, but mostly you just have to cover lots of miles until you stumble upon an animal. Most of the time you won’t even know they are there until they flush at your feet, scaring the bajeeezus out of you. This fact makes bikes a perfect method of pursuing these flighty creatures. Just load your bike up and start pedaling your favorite trail or mountain road.
Up we went, past a covey of chukers and a herd of elk, eventually flushing a solitary blue grouse. We caught up to it in the forest and Adam took aim and harvested his first animal. For those who haven’t experienced such things, it is not something taken lightly. While there are certainly some folks out there to collect a ‘trophy’, my purpose couldn’t be more different. For me, hunting provides my family with the cleanest meat available, adventures in magnificent landscapes, and most importantly, an almost spiritual connection with the world we live in. Taking an animal, hauling it out of the woods, and processing it into life sustaining meals for the rest of the year is one of the more rewarding experiences I’ve taken part in. It’s something our species has done to survive since the beginning, and it connects us to the past, the environment, and to a deep seated instinct most of us rarely experience in today’s strange world.
Introducing a friend to hunting is a special thing, and what better way to do it than by bike.