Over the Rainbow
Marc Pierce stood on a bed of new moss in Warm Springs Creek and released a plump rainbow trout he caught on a Hopper Dropper rig, a grasshopper fly with a Copper John nymph dropper, during the midsummer PMD hatch in July 2010. “Ten years ago, there were no trout at all in this mile-long section,” he says. “Cows had overgrazed and pummeled the banks, holes filled in with silt, and the water was less than 4 inches deep.” Re­sculpting and replanting of the streambank on this tributary to the Gallatin River has resulted in wild trout growing to between 16 and 20 inches. “The water temperature and insect activity make a spring creek the holy grail for flyfishermen,” says Pierce. –K.B.
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Issue: June, 2012
Photo by Denver Bryan
Hey, I Found the Deep Spot
During the short window for wade-fishing the bayside flats near Wellfleet, Mass., one cloudy June afternoon, Tom Keer chased a striped bass off the edge of a sandbar into a neck-deep channel. “The 12-foot tides drop to less than 2 feet for just a few hours,” Keer says. He had been sight-fishing a spot where stripers often go after sand eels when he hooked one on the fly. “It ran into deeper water where the current started to drag it, and I had to follow or risk losing all my backing.” Eventually the striper broke off. Keer adds that there are ways to pass the time between wading opportunities on the Cape. “At slack tide, it’s all sand and we amuse ourselves digging for littleneck clams until the tide comes back up.” –K.B.
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Issue: June, 2012
Photo by Barry and Cathy Beck
Cutthroat Cut-​​Through
John McMillan followed Geoff Mueller, carrying their fully assembled fly rods, as they bushwhacked a path through an old clear-cut replanted with young Sitka spruces and thick with alder trees and vine maples, on their way to the Sol Duc River outside Olympic National Park in October. “I got in the habit of building my rod out by the logging road, before I hike the half mile in,” says McMillan, a 15-year resident of the one-stoplight timber community of Forks, which has recently experienced an economic reprieve due to the filming of the Twilight movie series and related tourism. “Sometimes the spruces and stickers are hard on gear, but you want to be ready when you reach the river, especially during the crowded winter steelhead season​–if someone else shows up, they might cork your hole.” Photographer Tim Romano wishes he’d prepped his camera, rather than his rod: “Skating dry flies to coastal cutthroats in the pouring rain was pretty cool, but my viewfinder was full of water for most of the shots from that trip.” –K.B.
Location: Forks, Washington
Issue: May, 2012
Photo by Tim Romano
Longbeard Lane
On their annual turkey hunt near an abandoned Kansas farmstead last May, Joe Lemmerman, left, and his son Jeremy, of Delano, Minn., spent 45 minutes calling in this 22-pound gobbler with a 101⁄2-inch beard from more than half a mile away. “It was already midmorning, and we’d walked 2 miles to get there,” says Joe. “We didn’t even know he was there, but when I started ­working a box call, we heard a faint gobble.” Joe continued calling, coaxing the bird across an open wheatfield and into a full strut 35 yards from where Jeremy was waiting with his 12-gauge Browning. Jeremy, 22, who has been turkey hunting since he was 11, carried the gobbler as the pair headed back to camp. –Kristyn Brady
Location: Courtland, Kansas
Issue: May, 2012
Photo by Mitch Kezar

Bear-Knuckle Bout

Two brown bears sparred on the shoreline of Katmai National Park and Preserve, where photographer Lee Kjos spent an afternoon surrounded by up to 10 adult bears in Aug. 2010. “Just like teenagers, if they’re not boxing and chasing each other, all they do is eat and sleep,” says Kjos of the large grizzlies, which are protected in the park portion of the reserve. When they left the bears, Kjos and his friend and business partner, Tom Martineau, had to wade back out to the crab fishing vessel that brought them to shore. “The tide had changed, and there were silver salmon by the hundreds surfacing in pools by my feet. It was crazy cool.”
** Location**: Katmai National Park, Alaska
Issue: April, 2012
Photo by Lee Kjos

Ring Around the Wing

This spruce moth, fluttering and creating rings on the water’s surface, was about to be eaten by a 16-inch rainbow trout in Cliff Lake in 2010. Photographer Brian Grossenbacher, who was there for a Labor Day weekend camping trip, found 10 to 12 rainbows in a morning feeding frenzy over moths blown down from the overhanging spruces. “My first instinct was to grab my fly rod, but instead I wound up taking pictures of this fish for almost two hours,” he says. Knowing he had some good photos, Grossenbacher picked up his rod and threw a size 14 Elk Hair Caddis. “The fish and I had a serious bond until I hooked him. Then I swear he gave me a look that said, You jerk.”
Location: Beaverhead National Forest, Montana
Issue: April, 2012
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Snarling Snood

In a show of dominance over a jake decoy that Bill Buckley had placed in a clearing, this 3-year-old gobbler thrust his head directly into a shaft of early-morning sunlight. “Gobblers are so worked up with hormones in the morning, and there’s a hierarchy of aggression,” says Buckley, who took the shot in May 2010. “This tom was clearly perturbed by that jake–it pushed up against the decoy and bumped it right over.” Then the gobbler beelined for a nearby hen decoy and strutted around it for a full 10 minutes before giving up. “It made for a great morning of photography,” says Buckley. “Sometimes the shutter’s sound will spook a turkey, but once it’s strutting it’ll go dumb and deaf. And I sure love a stupid gobbler in good light.”
Location: Gallatin County, Montana
Issue: March, 2012
Photo by Bill Buckley

Grab My Tail, Bite Your Rail

Key West fishing guide Bryan “Bear” Holeman (right) sold this boat to an out-of-state buyer earlier the same morning that he and angler Carter Andrews hooked this lemon shark on the flats west of the harbor in Oct. 2010. “Bear just wanted to take the boat out one more time,” Andrews says. “After he told the buyer that it didn’t have a scratch on it, this shark latched onto the rub rail and scratched the heck out of the gel coat. It even left some teeth behind.” They were chumming with barracuda and jack crevalle, and at one point there were 15 sharks, a mix of bulls and lemons, swimming around the boat. “It’s what we do. It’s only nerve-racking when you go to grab them,” he says. “I don’t recommend it, because they don’t always behave.”
Location: Key West, Florida
Issue: March, 2012
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Generation iHunt

Not a single duck had flown over their cornfield that morning last November when photographer Bill Buckley looked over at the layout blind of 17-year-old Nick Rabias, from Tyngsborough, Mass., and saw him scrolling through a play­list on his iPod to pass the time. “I just thought, ‘If that doesn’t say everything about this generation of duck hunters, I don’t know what does,'” says Buckley. When the skies are empty, Rabias enjoys pop hits and country music, but Buckley’s tastes would be radically different. “For a hunt like that, I’d probably go with the blues,” he says. “A little Stevie Ray Vaughan would sum it up nicely.”
Location: Kidder, South Dakota
Issue: February, 2012
Photo by Bill Buckley

Beached Boat. Bonefish. Beer.

Manuel Battista and Judith O’Keefe threw Crazy Charlies to bonefish, snappers, and tarpon swimming around a beached sailboat on the southern part of Long Island, Bahamas, on an October trip. “It was a tough time of year to fish, with lots of wind,” says Battista, who flyfishes for trout and steelhead back in Bend, Ore. “I had some tarpon come up to my fly but no hookups. There was enough action from different kinds of fish that it was still really interesting.” The pair explored the island with four other friends and found some great fishing spots without a guide. “We also stumbled upon a few little roadside pubs, plywood shacks where they serve the coldest beer, and just listened to the locals tell stories.”
Location: Long Island, Bahamas
Issue: February, 2012
Photo by Brian O’Keefe

Frozen Falls

Local angler Toby Thompson had this waterfall on Kitchen Creek all to himself last December as he threw a Royal Wulff to native brook trout from a ledge covered in 15 inches of snow. “I was 2 miles from the access area, and not many people go up there at that time of year,” says Thompson. “It’s too rugged for cross-country skiers, and most other fishermen are hunting.” He had better luck casting from the area under the long icicles to the left of the falls. “Trout are sleepy to begin with, so when it’s cold you just try to find the best drift.” He caught and released two foot-long brookies, on the large side for native fish here. “The fishing becomes secondary with a view like that,” he says. “It’s very good for your mental health.”
Location: Red Rock, Pennsylvania
Issue: December, 2011/ January, 2012
Photo by Barry and Cathy Beck

Frozen Calls

Photographer Rick Adair caught waterfowler Chris Irwin scrambling back to his blind to call at a group of ducks coming into this cut beanfield near Pomme de Terre Lake in Jan. 2010. “I’d just run out to pick up two Canada geese, and everyone was yelling at me to come back,” Irwin says. “That’s what we call getting caught with your skirt down.” Irwin’s group had set a decoy spread at four o’clock on a snowy morning in negative-teen temperatures, using cordless drills to put silhouettes into the frozen ground, and limited out on Canadas before turning to ducks. Irwin has what he calls a battle wound from this particular moment, when he was bringing a Rich-N-Tone call to his mouth with an ungloved hand. “I got frostbite on my thumb where it was touching the brass band of that call. It was so cold that the snow wouldn’t melt against my skin. I have a scar from the blister.”
Location: Bolivar, Missouri
Issue: December, 2011/ January, 2012
_ Photo by Rick Adair_

Moose Ferry

Gary Hakkinen steers his johnboat on a tributary of the Yukon River in southwest Alaska, hauling out a bull moose with a 58-inch rack last September. After a rainy week of sighting only grouse, Hakkinen and photographer Bill Buckley were sitting in camp on the eighth day and heard grunting right outside their tent walls. “After all our effort–hiking and glassing for hours, soaking wet and tormented by mosquitoes–a moose walks right into camp,” says Buckley. Hakkinen made a 12-yard shot, and the moose dropped 30 yards from the boats, making for an easy pack out. “You really see what 1,500 pounds looks like when you’re standing over a downed bull thinking, ‘Now I have to skin and quarter this!'”
Location: Holy Cross, Alaska
Issue: November, 2011
_Photo by Bill Buckley

A Cackle in the Cold

Photographer Tim Christie caught this ringneck pheasant rooster mid-crow and at the very moment its breath hit the 20-degree air one early May morning. “The roosters do this weird dance, stretching their necks and flapping their wings in a display for the hens,” says Christie. “I was just trying to keep his head in focus because it was in constant motion.” He didn’t notice the vapor cloud until he reviewed the images later. There is a very small pheasant population in Idaho, and Christie spends many mornings looking for them. “I’ve shot hundreds of thousands of wildlife photographs, and this is one that I’m really proud of.”
Location: Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
Issue: November, 2011
Photo by Tim Christie

Birdie Blast

After limiting out on private land the second day of their annual pheasant hunt last October, James Stormer (right) and Keith Debow found a new way to pass the time. “We were standing around the truck, and my golf clubs were in the back from a few days earlier,” says Stormer. “So I said, ‘Why don’t I hit a ball and you guys shoot it?'” While Stormer chipped balls up into range, each pheasant hunter took a turn with Debow’s 12-gauge Beretta. “It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, and we had a blast,” says Debow. “I work at a shooting range so I knew we could be safe and have some fun.” Debow is already discussing who will bring the clubs this season. “I was teasing one guy that I’ll bring tennis balls and a racquet, in case golf balls are too small for him.”
Location: Burke, South Dakota
Issue: October, 2011
Photo by Rick Adair

Hurricane Harbor

Photographer and flyfishing guide Jim Levison captured this striped bass feeding frenzy in front of Montauk Point Lighthouse while piloting through choppy seas in Turtle Cove, the day before Hurricane Earl was projected to hit Long Island in Sept. 2010. “It’s the first time in 10 years that I’ve captured all four elements of this scene together: the beauty of the fish coming out of the water, and the birds, lighthouse, and boat in the distance,” says Levison. It turned out to be an extraordinary fishing day as well, with thousands of bay anchovies moving through and attracting migratory stripers. Levison was throwing a Glen Mikkelson bay-anchovy pattern covered in epoxy. “They look flashy on a hook and are almost indestructible,” he says. “My buddy and I once lost one to a bluefish and he threw a fit.”
Location: Montauk, New York
Issue: October, 2011
Photo by Jim Levison

Lab Launch

Cassie, a 4-year-old black Labrador retriever, leaps off a platform into shin-deep waters to retrieve ducks for owner Robert Chandler and members of Greentree Hunting Club in late January. With only two days left in the season, and unseasonably warm temperatures already pushing ducks north, club members hunted the flooded timber until unusually late in the day, calling aggressively to circling birds and splashing playfully to lure them down so that Cassie could do her part. “If you’re having trouble spotting birds, just look to your dogs,” photographer Bill Buckley says. “They see more than you do.”
Location: Desha County, Arkansas
Issue: September, 2011
_ Photo by Bill Buckley_

Cleared for Landing

Angler Cory Reistad, left, and Montana flyfishing guide Dan “Rooster” Leavens netted this 12-pound steelhead during a six-day charter from Wrangell to Sitka in late May. They had piloted 14-foot jet boats into the secluded rivers of Kuiu, Kupreanof, and Baranof Islands. “Those jet motors allow you to maneuver in just a few inches of water,” says photographer Brian Grossenbacher. After losing about 19 fish, Reistad threw a Prom Dress fly to this 32-incher and was pleased to finally land–or air–​a big one.
Location: Gulf Coast of Southeastern Alaska
Issue: September, 2011
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Oh, Baby!

Montana trout guide Brett Seng hooked this baby tarpon on a chartreuse Bunny Leech in Campeche Bay this April, after an eight-hour bus ride from Cancun, where he’d gone on business. “If I’m spending money to fish, it’ll be for tarpon. That’s the fish that makes my knees knock,” says Seng. “And baby tarpon are so full of spunk but don’t have enough body mass to wear you out.” This 12-pounder didn’t disappoint, bursting out of the water a split second after eating the fly in a signature J-shaped swipe. “Without needing to resort to video footage, Brian [Grossenbacher] sums up the whole experience in this one photo.”
Location: Campeche, Mexico
Issue: August, 2011
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Turf War

This 6×6 bull elk and his 8×9 rival launched into a nine-minute fight in a clearing last September, with seven cows and calves nearby. Once their antlers locked, the bulls tore up the ground and uprooted vegetation as they tussled their way down an embankment into a swale. The larger bull, which photographer Don Jones says “was pushing B&C, maybe with deductions in the who-cares category,” lost -advantage when he was pushed backward into the base of a hill. At that point his body could only bend so much before he had to turn and break off. “As soon as one bull turns, the fight is over,” says Jones. “It’s a show of weakness. I’ve never seen a fight continue after that.”
Location: Wester Alberta, Canada
Issue: August, 2011
Photo by Donald M. Jones

Face Full

“This is one of the few times Annie May was looking into the camera instead of up in the sky for birds,” says photographer Bill Buckley of his 3-year-old yellow Lab. “She is obsessive about duck hunting.” The pair hunted the Canadian border in late October, and a cold front bringing 20-degree weather also pushed lots of snow geese and ducks their way. Annie May retrieved their limit of snow geese early in the day, and a few ducks as well. “She had this mallard in her mouth and was so proud, she didn’t want to let it go.”
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Issue: July, 2011
Photo by Bill Buckley

Fish Face

Mark Castlow guided angler Ryan Stark, visible in the reflection of Castlow’s sunglasses, through a Florida Keys hot spell in pursuit of redfish, bonefish, and tarpon on the fly last June. Flyfishing was slow, but Stark later connected with a few snappers on a spinning rod with a white bucktail jig. “It was a very wicked heat wave and the water was slick calm,” says Castlow, who repeatedly soaked his sun mask in cold water for relief from the heat. Castlow, a Florida native, began guiding shallow-water fishing excursions in 2007, after years of surfing, studying wave conditions, and designing boats and boards to handle them.
Location: Islamorada, Florida
Issue: July, 2011
Photo by Bill Buckley

Canvas And A Campfire

The original handwritten caption dates this photo of two young fishermen cooking over a campfire to the spring of 1915, but they and the photographer remain unidentified. In other photos from this trip, acquired as part of a collection from a Seattle estate sale, -curator Thomas Robinson has identified landmarks around Mount Rainier. “It is clear that the photographer was young, very -interested in wildlife, and spent a lot of time hunting, fishing, and camping,” says Robinson. A few months after this photo was taken, the road above Nisqually Glacier was opened to automobiles for the first time, as motorcars were quickly replacing horse-drawn -vehicles in the U.S.
Location: Near Mount Rainier, Washington
Issue: June, 2011
Photo by: Unknown

Soft Spot In A Hard Place

There are no footpaths around this stretch of the Big Thompson River, so photographer Tim Romano and angler Charlie Bloch had to fight their way to the fish. “We were bushwhacking, wading through pools, or crossing the river over fallen trees,” says Bloch of their trek around Forest Canyon last August. Bloch had to scramble up the small boulder behind him in order to reach this deeper pool, where he cast a Yellow Sally to three or four greenback cutthroats. “I caught so many that day, you couldn’t even recognize the fly anymore,” says Bloch. “It was ridiculously fun spot fishing.”
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Issue: June, 2011
Photo by Tim Romano


The fins of this 6-pound brown trout, caught on a Royal Wulff this January in the Nevis River, seem to glow gold in the underwater light. The Nevis is a tributary of the Kawarau River, where a major gold rush erupted in the 1860s. Spikes in the price of gold continue to bring prospectors to the river even now. The Nevis received more attention in 2008, when the Otago Fish and Game Council challenged a Water Conservation Order that allowed energy companies to divert sections of the river and build hydroelectric dams. Two years later, a Special Tribunal ruled to prohibit these projects for a number of reasons, including the need to protect native fish populations and angling waters.
Location: Otago, New Zealand
Issue: May, 2011
Photo by Andy Anderson

Fish Out Of Water

Oregon steelhead guide Jeff Hickman casts for tarpon, displaying the native artwork of his Pacific Northwest home on Southeast coastal waters. The salmon inked on his upper back is as inspirational to Hickman as the symbol is to the Haida people, who traditionally hold a ceremony on the banks of the Yakoun River on Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands at the first sign of sockeyes every May. “To me it symbolizes a subsistence lifestyle that is in balance with nature,” says Hickman. “I am not Native American, but I believe in their core values, and my tattoos are a badge of that.” The Thunderbird symbol on his left arm represents the legendary bird of prey, which makes us wonder why it isn’t on his casting arm.
Location: Big Pine Key, Florida
Issue: May, 2011
Photo by Jeff Edvalds

Better Watch Your Back (Pack)

“We are literally walking among bears every day of our season,” says Dan Michels, owner of Crystal Creek Lodge and pilot-guide to anglers Carter and Heidi Andrews, shown here during a run-in with a sow brown bear and her cub last year. “The bears were cruising up and down the creek for salmon, so occasionally we’d reel in our lines and back up to let them pass.” At one point, the bears made a move toward the fishermen’s backpacks, so they had to make a quick grab for their bagged lunches and move on. When they weren’t being ousted by bears, the Andrewses managed to catch and release 40 to 50 silver salmon.**
Location:** Katmai National Park, Alaska**
Issue:** April, 2011
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Lily-Putian Anglers

Jeff Benton and Matt Raynor appear dwarfed by water lily pads emerging from shallow, duckweed-covered Reelfoot Lake in early -September of last year. Photographer Bill Buckley waded in up to his waist and partly submerged his camera, protected in an underwater housing, to get the perspective for this shot. “The water level was down from normal because of a drought,” says Buckley, “but the moment I brought my camera out, it started to rain.” While they look to be the height of your average angler here, in reality the lily pads stand about a foot out of the water, and their leaves are about 2 feet in diameter. The root systems create great habitat for bass.
Location: Hornbeak, Tennessee
Issue: April, 2011
Photo by Bill Buckley

Two Long Commutes

Idaho’s big “B-run” steelhead usually spend two years in the Pacific Ocean (“A-run” fish stay only one year) before navigating seven man-made dams and traveling more than 400 river miles upstream to the South Fork of the Clear-water River. Jason Wise, who caught this 17-pounder last March, has been fishing there for eight years. “It’s one of those streams you can become very intimate with,” says Wise. “I don’t need to do a lot of prospecting anymore.” Between January and early April, he monitors the water levels and weather conditions online at home in Billings, Mont., and when things look promising he makes the eight-hour drive to his -favorite spot. “Timing is -everything with -steelhead.”
Location: Clearwater River Outside Kooskia, Idaho
Issue: March, 2011
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Snood Sensation

Dusan Smetana snapped this Merriam’s gobbler midcall and -midstrut, catching a funny view of the tom’s engorged snood tossed up beyond his beak. The photographer was quietly lying on his belly nearby while the small but noisy tom provoked a group of four larger males on a clear afternoon last April. The color of his head deepened and his snood extended as the other toms responded with a cacophony of calls. “When he got angry that thing doubled, maybe even -tripled in size.
Location: Gallatin National Forest, Montana
Issue: March, 2011
Photographer: Dusan Smetana

Ice City, U.S.A.

The Brainerd Jaycees’ $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza is the largest charitable ice-fishing tournament in the world, drawing participants from 22 U.S. states and six countries to Hole in the Day Bay on Gull Lake. “The event is completely organized by volunteers who basically build a city of tents,” says the Brainerd Jaycees’ Mary Divine. Populated by 10,000 to 13,000 anglers, it becomes, temporarily, the largest city in Cass County. Participants have three hours to catch and register fish. First place wins a pickup, but 100th place could still win you an ATV or large cash prize. The tournament has raised over $2 million for local charities since 1991.
Location: Gull Hale Near Brainerd, Minnesota
Issue: February, 2011
Photo by Bill Lindner

Cold Comfort

“It was just warm enough that the rod wasn’t freezing–one of those perfect Montana days,” says fishing guide Greg Bricker of this snowy March afternoon on the Gallatin River. “The snow wasn’t even blowing. It was such a weird effect.” The Gal-la-tin was a more picturesque stand-in for the Blackfoot River in the film A River Runs Through It, and the scenery didn’t disappoint Bricker. “Nobody had been down there and everything was fresh.” Bricker says the fish were plenty cooperative, too. He caught half a dozen rainbows and only retired once 8 to 10 inches of snow had accumulated. “You go out when you can in winter, but you don’t get many days like that one.”
Location: Big Sky, Montana
Issue: February, 2011
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Heart And Pole Of A Town

Atlanta’s elk pole stands in the center of a small town known as “The Elk Capital of Michigan,” which can cause some rubbernecking. “People come out specifically to see the elk pole, and sometimes there are traffic jams,” says Atlanta Chamber of Commerce president Phil LaMore. His office sponsors a two-day hunt in December with trophies and cash prizes. “I’ve seen the pole with 12 elk up there. The biggest bull I’ve seen is an 8×8.” The state’s herd of 800 to 900 is the largest east of the Mississippi. Any of the 300 tag holders who bag an elk must visit the Michigan DNR to officially check in. But they go to the elk pole to get their trophies checked out.
Location: Atlanta, Michigan
Issue: December/January, 2010
Photo by Lance Krueger

Tundra Thunder

Photographer Don Jones spent three days in subzero temperatures trying to get a glimpse of these musk oxen. “It was incredibly cold,” Jones says. “My eyelids froze shut twice.” In late February, the middle of a limi-ted hunting season for these animals, they were particularly alert to humans in the area. “I parked my snowmobile a ways off and hiked closer, because the sound freaks them out.” These four oxen were part of a herd of 30 that included three mature bulls, which Jones kept a close eye on. “I watched for pawing and head shaking,” he says, agitated behavior that may indicate their intent to charge. Males are about 5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh 600 to 800 pounds. “I’d be nailed.”
Location: Bering Sea Coast, Alaska
Issue: December/January, 2010
Photo by Donald M. Jones

Yoopers Then…

Very little is known about this photo, which was recovered from the trash at the photographer’s funeral in 1972. Thomas Robinson, who inherited the group of hunting photos, researched the photographer, Richard Heininge, who grew up in Detroit, Mich. Heininge and his buddies hunted at this Upper Peninsula deer camp each year. An auto mechanic turned amateur photographer, Heininge captured the group at the cabin circa 1945. “It was time for hunting, whiskey drinking, and playing the accordion,” says Robinson. “They were hanging around and doing as men do.”
Location: Upper Michigan Peninsula
Issue: November, 2010
Photo by Richard R. Heininge, Courtesty of Thomas Robinson

Yoopers Now

Editor-at-large T. Edward Nickens joined these members of Stevens Recreational Camp for a game of poker the night before opening day of the 2008 deer season. It’s a long trip to Drummond Island, but being far removed from civilization is what has attracted four generations of mostly Michigan hunters to this deer camp. “This crowd is as much if not more about the camp as they are about the deer,” says Nickens. “Maybe the smoke and liquor and lack of running water hurts them a bit as far as scent, but the memories and connections are as much a kind of soulful restoration as a four-footed animal can be.”
Location: Drummond Island, Michigan
Issue: November, 2010
Photo by Michael Sugrue

Three Shots To The Wind

These Canada geese flew in at dawn, exactly when Mike Towler (left) expected after he’d scouted this field for weeks. He and his hunting buddies divide Idaho Falls into regions each year and plan hunts based on their findings. “It’s each person’s responsibility to find geese, know what time they’re coming in, find who owns the property, and get permission,” says Towler. The effort paid off when everyone limited out in an hour and a half and even got a few snow geese. “The right decoys, equipment, and scouting made for a really good day of hunting,” he says. “It doesn’t get much better.”
Location: Roberts, Idaho
Issue: October, 2010
Photo by James Nelson

Guide Guiding Guide

When Capt. Bruce Chard and guide Jeff Hickman had an evening free of charters, they took advantage of the palolo worm hatch that occurs for only a few days each year in early June in the Keys. “It’s possibly the only time you’ll ever see hundreds of large migratory tarpon slash, roll, porpoise, and gulp wildly all around you,” says photographer Jeff Edvalds, who was fishing nearby. “A true wonder of nature and perhaps your best shot at a giant tarpon on a fly.” Chard was tired from guiding all day in 90-degree temperatures but was motivated to leave the dock again when he saw worms in the tide. “Just thinking about getting to fish myself for once gave me the energy I needed,” says the guide, who landed this 100-plus-pounder after a 40–minute fight.
Location: Bahia Honda Bridge, Florida Keys
Issue: October, 2010
Photo by Jeff Edvalds

Mocking Bird

Halle, a black Labrador retriever, leaped up to 6 feet in the air chasing ringneck pheasants at Sand Wells Outdoors, an upland bird hunting outfitter in southwest Kansas. Trent Marr, Halle’s owner, brought the Lab to a combo hunt and dog training event last November. “One of the fun things about having a flushing dog is that they charge in there and get acrobatic when they smell pheasant,” says photographer Bill Buckley. “They usually can’t catch the roosters, but it’s all-out predator when they think they can.”
Location: Hugoton, Kansas
Issue: September, 2010
Photo by Bill Buckley

Rack Time

Bowhunter Drew Stoecklein reclines on a 6×6 elk rack after a full day of hunting solo and hours of packing the bull from Gallatin National Forest. Stoecklein called photographer Dusan Smetana to help make two trips to his car, 4 miles away. “Drew got a nice trophy bull,” says Smetana, “but it was so much work to pack it out.” The pair transported at least 300 pounds of meat and the 100-pound rack down steep, uneven terrain. “When you carry that much for that long, you get lazy enough to lie down with the whole bag,” he says.
Location: Bozeman, Montana
Issue: September, 2010
Photo by Dusan Smetana

Rest For The Leery

On a trip to photograph Alaskan wildlife in August, Don Jones was one of several photographers tracking this 400-inch bull caribou. He finally captured it on film after eight days of searching. “Even with his big rack, he would disappear like a ghost,” says Jones, who was the only photographer in the area to find the bull. He caught up with the ‘bou as the animal was resting in bearberries and lichens after feasting on giant mushrooms in the brush. “I’d be resting my head, too, if I were carrying that much on it,” he says.
Location: Central Alaska
Issue: August, 2010
Photo by Donald M. Jones

Catty Cornered

Flop, the youngest Walker hound of four, takes the lead while the pack keeps a mountain lion at bay 12 feet up in a mountain mahogany tree last January. The hounds spent a long, snowy day training Flop to follow the cat’s scent and stay with the pack. Houndsmen Kevin Parker and Steve Sorensen wanted Flop to learn not to chase other animals. “The three older dogs are well-trained hunters and Flop’s buddies,” says photographer Becky Blankenship. “I watched her become a part of their team.” This particular cat was too young to take, and the pursuit was only for training purposes. “When we leashed the dogs up, that was one happy cat,” says Blankenship. “He was probably a little wiser for that day.” Location: Logan Canyon, Northern Utah
Issue: August, 2010
Photo by Becky Blankenship

Peacock Pride

Charlie Conn caught this 15-pound peacock bass while hosting a flyfishing excursion in Roraima, Brazil. The colorful and powerful fish were hitting large streamers and poppers fished on 8- and 9-weight rods. “The smile says it all,” says Conn. “When you fish for a month straight, the surroundings and relationships define the trip as much as the fishing.” The anglers stayed in a floating lodge that moved along tributaries of the Amazon basin each day. “It reminded me of when I was a kid fishing for largemouths,” says Conn’s fishing buddy, photographer Brian Grossenbacher. “The only difference is these bass were 10 to 15 pounds heavier. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.”
Location: River X, Brazil
Issue: July, 2010
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

End Of The Rainbow

Tim Romano found some gold when he photographed the tail end of this 16-inch rainbow trout after editor-at-large Kirk Deeter released it. “This wasn’t a large fish, but a gorgeous specimen,” says Romano, who stood to capture the image of the fish over the sunlit orange-yellow streambed. “It was especially spotted and perfectly proportional.” The FlyTalk bloggers at caught more than 20 trout when they saw grasshoppers jumping near the water in April and tied on hopper patterns. “It’s almost unheard of,” says Deeter, who usually wouldn’t try a Dave’s Hopper until August or September. “Fish were snug right up against the bank, waiting for hoppers to fall and eating them like popcorn.”
Location: North Fork of the South Platte River, Colorado
Issue: July, 2010
Photo by Tim Romano


With the mirror image of the Rocky Mountain Front as backdrop, this bighorn sheep appeared to defy gravity, perched on a craggy ledge above a lake reflecting the sky. Photographer Don Jones was able to frame this trompe l’oeil effect from a spot across a gully from the ram and seven or eight other males that had just made their way uphill and out of view. Jones had to balance on dicey terrain, with his back to a steep incline, but he felt that the ram was in a more precarious position. “Let’s just say that if he slipped, he would have fallen 100 feet into the lake.”
Location: Western Alberta, Canada
Issue: June, 2010
Photo by Donald M. Jones

Rooster Watch

Jeff Rogers, fly rod in hand, stood beside an abandoned driftwood shelter and scanned the Sea of Cortez for the dorsal combs of roosterfish. Rogers and his buddy Tim Romano spent three days on the east cape of Baja searching for these elusive fish and running up the beach to cast baitfish patterns into their path. “Roosters are super aggressive and react really well to a fly,” says Rogers, “but we did a lot of running and casting, and not a lot of catching.” After covering 5 to 15 miles on foot each day in wet, sandy clothing, and taking maybe 20 shots at fish, Romano says, “We were just dying for some Vaseline on our legs. We were stupid gringos.”
Location: Baja California Sur, Mexico
Issue: June, 2010
Photo by Tim Romano

Jumped In The Junipers

Resentful of the interruption to his roadside foraging last May, this cautious male black bear poked his head up from behind a juniper stand and waited for photographer Don Jones to depart. At about 300 pounds, the bruin was big for a male only one month out of hibernation in a western region, considering he lacked access to fatty food sources, such as acorns and tree nuts, that eastern bears enjoy. “I didn’t realize it at the time,” says Jones, “but when I viewed the photos later I could see that he never took his eyes off me.”
Location: Western Alberta, Canada
Issue: May, 2010
Photo by Donald M. Jones

Already Hooked

Eric McQuoid, age 7, peered over the edge of a dock on Mille Lacs Lake before a summertime smallmouth and walleye trip. “Fishing is definitely in this boy’s genes,” says photographer Bill Buckley, who points out that -McQuoid’s parents, Kevin and Karen, run a lakeside resort and regularly place in local tournaments. McQuoid -recently caught a 28-incher on a bobber and leech–his biggest fish to date–but hasn’t left the shoreline behind. “I still fish on the dock a lot,” he says. “I like to catch little perch.”
Location: Isle, Minnesota
Issue: May, 2010
Photo by Bill Buckley

Wading Out The Weather

Dan Dietrich of Denver, Colo., got caught in an unexpected snowstorm while flyfishing the North Umpqua River last March. Photographer Mike Greener says he, Dietrich, and friend Ryan Peterson were “on an extended weekend mission in search of chrome” in the 31-mile, flyfishing-only stretch of river when the temperature plummeted. “The sky opened up and started dumping fat, huge flakes,” says Dietrich, who was dressed for milder weather, “and I was debating if I should wait for a break or fish. It just looked too juicy to wait it out.” A Paul Miller’s Predator fly drew some hits throughout the 20-minute storm but no hookups.
Location: Roseburg, Oregon
Issue: April, 2010
Photo by Mike Greener

Butt, Back, Beak, Bang?

By their muddy bills, some still clutching winter wheat, it was clear to photographer Rick Adair that these Canada geese were returning from their morning feed. “It was like being at an airport,” he says. “I would wait a few minutes and another group of six to two dozen would come in to land.” The lake was mostly frozen in mid January, so the geese quickly descended to land near a break in the ice by side–slipping. This move allows them to rapidly drop altitude. Geese and ducks have the ability to shift their body position wildly while keeping their heads level with the horizon to remain oriented, a function of the vestibule of the ear.
Location: Atwood, Kansas
Issue: April, 2010
Photo by Rick Adair


Wading in the Firehole River between a geyser basin and a thermal pool, Kevin Westlund of Bruce, Wis., caught some decent rainbows and browns on an Iris Caddis emerger in the warm river waters last June. Water temperatures ranged between 62 and 75 degrees, depending on his location with respect to the geyser runoff. “If you find fish, you’ll find safe water to wade,” Westlund says. Algae growth within the pool and in geyser runoff areas is responsible for the dramatic blue-greens and vibrant oranges in the landscape. “The strangeness and beauty of this river is remarkable, and the fishing isn’t so bad either.” Location: Yellowstone National Park Issue: March 2010


These two gobblers strutted for dominance within a small group–“like boys at the Junior High dance,” says photographer Tim Christie–before separating to posture menacingly at each other. Christie sensed that there would be a rumble, and by the time he was in position with his camera their beaks were already interlocked. They struggled while conjoined for more than 45 minutes, pushing each other around the pasture, into some brushy cover, and back out again. Eventually, the pair freed themselves, and one tom led the entire group out of sight. Christie has also come across dead toms with their tongues completely ripped out from fighting.
Location: Coeur D’Alene, Idaho Issue: March 2010

When Life Gives You Lemon Sharks

Carter Andrews hooked this lemon shark pup on a Storm Chugger plug while fishing the flats of the Abaco Islands this past November. “I can usually get most sharks to take a look, but only about one in four will eat topwater,” he says. Though Andrews has released hundreds of sharks without incident in his 15 years of living in the Bahamas, a 6-footer hooked hours after this one bit his fishing buddy, Marty, on the leg while Andrews was trying to land it. “It was probably a 14-inch bite pattern,” says Andrews, who broke off the biggest catch of the day to give his friend first aid.
Location: Abaco Islands, Bahamas Issue: February 2010

Tip of the Ice Bull

This antler emerged from ice covering a bull elk carcass trapped beneath frozen Soda Butte Creek in January 2008. The bull, and two other 6-points whose remains were lying within 100 yards, had been taken down by the Druid Peak wolf pack. Photographer Don Jones says he observed the pack–named for the region where they were first released–traveling as a group of at least 16 and managing the borders of their hunting grounds ruthlessly. “For me, this photo tells the story of how tough it is to make it through a winter in this landscape.”
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Issue: Febraury 2010


“Every time this buck pulled on a branch he’d get a face full of snow,” says photographer Don Jones. “That’s just a northern whitetail’s dilemma.” Jones crept up on about 30 deer browsing on the branches of Douglas firs and cedars, pushed far from their normal feeding grounds by temperatures 20 degrees below zero and a storm that dumped 3 feet of snow overnight last January.**** Location: Western Montana Issue: December-January 2009/2010


Last December, subzero temperatures sent geese flocking to reach their winter homes, and Tom Caffrey of Dillon, Mont., wasn’t about to miss out while the skies were full. With the mercury as low as 30 degrees below zero, he says, “I was the envy of my group because I had a down sleeping bag to wrap around me in my blind.” The frigid, dry conditions resulted in some technical difficulties: Almost every hunter’s gun seized up at some point that morning, and they had to keep hand-warming pads wrapped around the calls in their pockets to prevent them from freezing. The coldest day Caffrey has ever spent hunting, it was also one of the best: “The geese came right in on a rope.”
Location: Twin Bridges, Montana Issue: Decmeber-January 2009/2010

No Country For Young Men

Brothers Cody (left) and Tyler Ward and their friend George Peters III (center) wore Duckmen beards in homage to their favorite celebrity duck hunters after a successful outing during ­Arkansas’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days weekend in late January.
Location: Almyra, Arkansas Issue: November 2009

Beam Field

Last fall, at the peak of the rut, photographer Denver Bryan made his way up a hill and spotted this doe just as she spotted him. Only then did he notice the buck also in attendance, his 10-point rack floating eerily behind her. Bryan had seen other does that morning, but this one was clearly in estrus and the buck was not going anywhere without her. “If he needed to bed down and wait, he was going to do it.” Location: Flathead Lake, Montana Issue: November 2009

Dupe Diligence

­Photographer Rick Adair and his hunting partners spent two hours just ­working to completely hide their layout blinds in this Canadian wheatfield last October. The challenge was finding stalks tall enough to fully camouflage the blinds. Hard work paid off for the well-hidden hunters, who had a flock of geese come in to their decoy spread just 15 minutes after they finished the job.
Location: East of Edmonton, Alberta Issue: October 2009


Don Jones says this was one of the most intense encounters between two bulls he has ever seen in his 22 years of photographing elk. Right before the fray, Jones was so focused on getting within camera range that he didn’t realize the subject was bugling to his cows more frantically than normal, in anticipation of a challenger’s arrival. The second bull appeared, and the two began strenuous battle, clashing their antlers violently and overturning rocks with their hooves. “Sometimes paralleling each other is enough to settle things, but not for these two,” Jones says. The challenger, and eventual victor, flipped his opponent over a downed tree and strutted away with the cows. Location: Western Alberta Issue: October 2009

Goose Down Pillow

Boyd King and Goose, his chocolate Labrador, take a well-deserved power nap in the sun after a successful morning duck hunt at a nearby beaver dam. “I’ll tell you why that dog was so tired,” says photographer Rick Adair. “He retrieved 40 ducks through thin ice.” King takes Goose out with him in rotation with his two other dogs, Specklebelly and Floyd, who are Goose’s parents. The dogs watch for the guns to come out and trail King closely until he takes his companion for the day out to the truck. Whoever stays home sits on the step and pouts until King returns.
Location: Edmonton, Alberta Issue: September 2009

Homegrown Beauty

Kory Kober hiked through fall foliage on the river late in the day with his black Labrador, Crazy Emma, hoping to find some low-­flying doves. Kober hunts doves, Hungarian partridge, and sharptail grouse here. A fourth-generation Montana native, Kober was born and raised hunting, fishing, and trapping on the Yellowstone. “You have to be happy living on deer steak and ramen, which I am.”
Location: Yellow Stone River near Park City, Montana Issue: September 2009

Whitetail Mini-Me

When photographer Tim Christie saw this whitetail buck in the outskirts of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, he reached into the backseat of his pickup truck for a camera. By the time he looked back, the buck had moved directly in front of the truck, apparently peering through the windshield at the toy bobblehead of a whitetail making a rub, which Christie keeps on his dashboard. “My son bought me that bobblehead as a Father’s Day present,” he says. “This could become a whole new hunting strategy.”
Location: Coeur d’alene, Idaho
Issue: August 2009

Jawing At You

This 24-inch, 5-pound brown trout hit an adult stonefly pattern in Fishing Creek last June. “When my friend Ron Taniwaki hooked it, I got down in the water to snap a few pictures,” says photographer Barry Beck, who attributes the size of the fish to that of the fly. “A big fish likes a meal, and that was certainly a meal.” Male brown trout mature after their third or fourth year, keeping their hooked jaws even after spawning. The hook becomes more prominent as the fish ages. This brown was probably 7 years old or older.
Location: Northeastern Pennsylvania
Issue: August 2009


This bull elk swam through Talbot Lake in Alberta in mid July while photographer Donald M. Jones and his son, Luke, were fishing for pike from shore. “I’d gotten my camera to take pictures of white crown sparrows, but then I heard this sound,” says Jones. “It was a deep blowing, like the sound a whale makes–but it turned out to be the breathing of the elk.” The 6×6 bull came within 40 yards, then spooked and swam to a spit of land. The elk’s antlers, though rounded and in velvet, were at their full size.
Location: Western Alberta
Issue: July 2009

Emerald Setting

In April, Beau Strathman hooked this 80-pound tarpon off the coast of Andros Island, jumping the fish five times. “I was casting a small, sparse cockroach imitation that I tie,” Strathman says. “I think a lot of shop flies are too gaudy for these fish.” He fought the tarpon for less than 10 minutes before straightening his rod, holding the line taut, and breaking the fish off. “Tarpon need to keep their strength down here,” he notes. “Bull sharks like to follow them.”
Location: The Bahamas
Issue: July 2009


This cow moose spent almost half an hour feeding in deep water in Kilbrennan Lake last July. “She’d go under to eat grasses and get away from the bugs, then come up to shake off and munch her food, kick around, and go back down, like a person in a pool,” says photographer Donald M. Jones, who was taking pictures of loons from a floating blind when the moose waded into the lake. “A couple times she got into deep water, lost her footing, and floated up on her side.”
Location: Northwestern Montana
Issue: June 2009

A Dog for All Seasons

Fishing the South Fork of the Snake River in July, 11-year-old Parker Stenersen cast a pink Albert mayfly imitation upstream as River, his German shorthaired pointer, watched. “She keeps her eyes on the fly,” says Stenersen, who caught a 19-inch brown trout that day. “When a fish takes it, she’ll start whining and get in her pointer mode.” But though River likes to fish, she hates getting wet. “That’s why she has a paw in the air–she never puts all four in the water.”
Location: Southeastern Idaho
Issue: June 2009

Canyon Contortionist

“I go wherever I have to go to catch fish, whether belly down on big rocks or belly deep in waves,” says Scott Morrison, who scaled this granite formation last October to drift a Parachute Adams over the cutthroat and rainbow trout below. The fish don’t usually break the 10-inch mark in this tributary to the Clarks Fork River, but to Morrison, the challenge and beauty of fishing the canyon outweighs the size of the fish. “The rocks are so finely eroded and the stream kicks up so much mist that it’s very slippery, but very fun.”
Location: Sunlight Basin in Wyoming
Issue: May 2009

Extra Anchovies

Last October, as an angler cast to tarpon with a Gummy Minnow fly, these brown pelicans were looking for easy food. The tarpon and birds had come for the same reason: a school of millions of bigeye anchovies. “It looks like that fisherman was fending off the birds,” says photographer Barry Beck, “but he was just casting. They weren’t that close.” But pelicans can cause problems: Once Beck saw an angler hook one accidentally, and when the man tried to free his fly, the bird bit his nose and wouldn’t let go.
Location: Los Roques archipelago, Venezuela
Issue: May 2009

A String and a Prayer

After fighting for five hours and pulling Howard McKim over 10 miles out to sea, this 300-pound blue marlin still had the energy to jump. “That was the most fury I’ve ever had on a line,” says McKim, a kayak fishing guide based in Ketchikan, Alaska. He hooked the fish, the second blue known to be caught from a kayak, while trolling live bigeye scad on only 20-pound-test line. In the end, the marlin dove deep, and McKim cranked down the drag and broke it off. “I’d had enough thrills, and I was happy knowing that fish would stay in the ocean.”
Location: The East Cape, Baja California, Mexico
Issue: April 2009

Spring Awakening

One morning last May, this Merriam’s turkey flew from its roost at 6:30 A.M., well past sunrise. “I’ve never seen a gobbler come down so late, unless a coyote’s on the ground or the weather’s bad,” says photographer Tim Christie. “This one just slept in.” The tom joined eight others already feeding in a cattle pasture–the breeding season had ended, and the males had reunited.
Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Issue: April 2009

Deke Dazed

It was “love at first sight” when this wild Merriam’s tom turkey encountered a Dave Smith hen decoy, says photographer Bill Buckley. “He obsessed over the poor thing–he even mounted it.” Buckley found the gobbler last May on his neighbor’s property in the Bridger Mountains and called it in, making yelps with a slate. “That tom locked onto the decoy and followed it everywhere. I’d push him off, move the deke a hundred yards, yelp, and he’d come right back. A lonely bird at the right moment is a beautiful thing.”
Location: The Bridger Mountains, Montana
Issue: March 2009

Chasing the Rainbow

“Marya hooked up to that trout, and I just followed with my underwater camera,” Andy Anderson says of capturing this photograph in the super clear water of Armstrong Spring Creek last October. “In the fall, when everyone’s hunting, you have the rivers to yourself. This was an 18-inch rainbow, which is like the graduate class for Armstrong.” It also turned out to be the only fish of the day for Marya Spoja, 30, who caught it on a midge pattern and later released it.
Location: The Paradise Valley, Montana
Issue: March 2009

The Icing on the Cast

“Those guys were hardcore or nuts or both,” says photographer Dusan Smetana, who spotted these two fishermen in the Yellowstone River in January 2006, stripping streamer flies for rainbows and brown trout below Yankee Jim Canyon. “They had a choice of 365 days to fish that river and they picked a miserable one–freezing temperatures and 30-mph winds. Maybe they were being stubborn, but maybe they loved it.”
Location: The Yellowstone River, Montana
Issue: February 2009

Winter Solstice

Jim Wallner returned with this coyote in one hand and his shotgun in the other after a successful morning’s hunt in a Minnesota snowstorm last December. “We hunt coyotes with shotguns for two reasons,” says Wallner’s hunting partner, photographer Mark Palas. “For one thing, coyotes come in fast and use any ground cover to their advantage because they’re smart, so your gun has to be maneuverable. Also, pellets don’t damage the hide nearly as much as a bullet does.” Location: Afton, Minn.
Issue: December/January 2009

Storm Appeal

Ray Antaya III braved a nor’easter to fish for striped bass off Brenton Point in late September. The seas were 41⁄2 feet above the normal high-tide line, and the winds were gusting at 40 mph. “I took a tumble with a wave that smashed my reel,” says Antaya. “I had to run to the truck and pound the handle flat with a sledgehammer, but I was fishing again in half an hour.” That day he caught nine stripers over 20 pounds, including a 36-pound cow. Location: Brenton Point State Park in Rhode Island
Issue: December/January 2009

Wapiti vs. Wolves

For several hours, this bull elk staved off 16 wolves in the Lamar Valley in January. Don Jones found the bull already in the water at sunrise with several juvenile wolves on the bank. “It was 20 below,” Jones remembers. “The wolves would get tired and bed on the bluff, the bull would march to the timber, and then they’d chase him right back to the river.” That cycle repeated four times, the wolves hesitant to get wet. Eventually the bull headed into the trees and didn’t return. “They followed him and I thought they’d kill him–but they didn’t. We found the same pack with a different kill the next day.” Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Issue: November 2008

Rain Maker

After sitting in the sagebrush and the pouring rain for over three hours on a cold September morning, this bull moose finally shook himself dry and headed for the woods with five cows. “He was full in the rut,” says Noppadol Paothong, who had been photographing the moose for a week near the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park. “For one of the biggest bulls in the park, he was remarkably calm. But when I came between him and a rival just days later, he nearly trampled me.” Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Issue: October 2008

Mirror Finish

Ben VanHouten picked up the decoys after a morning of duck hunting with photographer Greg Sweney and Sweney’s black Lab, Hopper, in Washington last November. The Snoqualmie River had flooded the fields, and the fog that had rolled across them before daybreak was lifting. “I love hunting the fog,” ­VanHouten says. “You put the dekes in clusters, wait until the ducks whistle overhead, then call like crazy. They appear as if from nowhere. And when the sun burns away the fog, it’s time to go home.” Location: The Snoqualmie Valley, Washington
Issue: October 2008

Pretty Boy

“This drake is finishing preening–flapping to straighten his wing feathers and get rid of excess water,” says Neal Mishler, who photographed the wood duck at a local pond last fall. A wood duck preens by spreading oil from the uropygial gland on its tail over its feathers with its beak. Then it dips under the water, and finally stands and flaps. This ritual keeps the duck buoyant, clean, and healthy. Location: Great Falls, Mont.
Issue: September 2008

A Bull Market

“Folks from as far away as Pittsburgh have stopped in to see the trophies,” says Stein’s Market manager Jim Baillie, 53. The grocery first displayed elk, moose, bear, and other
big-game mounts in 1984, the same year that hunters founded the Rocky Mountain Elk
Foundation in the very same Montana town. More than 40 mounts, all donated by local sportsmen, now deck the aisles.
Location:** Stein’s Market, Troy, Mont.
Issue: September 2008

Where’s Whitetail?

Flying over a field of kochia weeds in northwestern Kansas last October, Rick Adair photographed these two whitetails. “I could see them easily because of their antlers,” Adair says. “They were nice bucks with heavy racks.” Kochia, known as “poor man’s alfalfa,” is drought resistant and can grow over 6 feet tall. Deer like it because it provides good cover and forage. Location: Rawlins County, Kan.
Issue: August 2008

The Beautiful and the Dammed

Last summer, Pat Clayton put on his dry suit and snapped this photo of a native westslope cutthroat trout at the headwaters of the Upper Blackfoot River. Mining pollution there has been particularly damaging to westies, Montana’s state fish, which are becoming rare. But in April the state and mining companies agreed to a $37 million settlement to restore the river and remove the Mike Horse Dam and the contaminated mine tailings it holds above the headwaters, which could help save these fish. Location: Upper Blackfoot River near Lincoln, Mont.
Issue: August 2008

Bow Fishing

Winds smashed this motorboat onto the rocky banks of the Frey River in Patagonia the night before Travis Smith made a few casts from its bow. The area is famous for its wind as well as its trout. “We caught 30-some fish apiece that day, browns and rainbows,” says photographer Brian Grossenbacher. “It’s as if you’re fishing Montana, but 50 years ago on a river getting zero pressure. It’s spectacular and surreal.” Location: Frey River, Argentina
Issue: August 2008

The Long Haul

“This lake was going to be perfect if it had fish,” says Charlie Bloch (shown). “And it did. But the cutthroat trout would only hit this one ugly yellow ‘hopper, and I had to cast as far as I could.” To reach the unnamed Colorado water in the Gore Range, Bloch and his friends hiked in 8 miles, gained 3,500 feet in elevation, and climbed a 12,000-foot saddle. “We wanted an adventure,” Bloch explains. “Mountain peaks and no trail.” Location: Eagles Nest Wilderness, Colorado
Issue: July 2008

Palms Red Here

This bull moose had just shed his velvet when Mark Raycroft found him last August in central Alaska’s scrub country. “He was eating and thrashing the alders, trying to get those last strands of velvet out of his eyes,” Raycroft says. “He’s one of the biggest I’ve ever seen. You could lie in his rack and he could hold you up, too. By morning, he’d washed all that dried blood off and his antlers were completely brown. They’re only red like that for a few hours.” Location: Denali National Park, Alaska
Issue: July 2008

Jacked Up

“Hooking an amberjack is like catching a car on a freeway 400 feet down,” says Jon Schwartz, holding a 40-pounder off the Hawaiian coast last July. Schwartz pursues everything from marlin to tuna to tiger sharks from a kayak (this one is only 121⁄2 feet long), using custom rods and 80-pound-test braided lines. “In a ‘yak, it’s just you and the fish. It’s primordial. And I want the biggest monsters possible.” Location: Kona Coast, Hawaii
Issue: June 2008

A Bough Time

“The boar, on the left, pawed at her face and growled, but she was having none of him,” Donald M. Jones says of the two black bears pictured here, 70 feet up a Douglas fir. Jones shot the photo in early June, during the mating season. Large males do not typically follow sows so high up in their search for romance, and in this case the extra effort was wasted. “She just climbed down, and he stayed there sulking.” Location: Southeastern British Columbia, along Highway 95
Issue: June 2008

Road and Reel

“When the lake floods, I go to heavier tackle,” says Steve Schiele, shown here on Lewisville Lake last July. “It happens about every 10 years, and suddenly you’re fishing chain-link fences, culverts, backyards, treetops. It’s a whole different animal.” Schiele, 41, guides on the lake, located just north of Dallas, and has won over 60 local tournaments. That day, he and two friends caught 15 largemouths and some 70 white bass. Location: Lewisville Lake, Texas
Issue: May 2008

Breakfast Bill

On a February morning, this anhinga rose out of a swamp in the Everglades with a warmouth speared on its beak. “Then he tossed that bream in the air and swallowed it headfirst–so that its spikes wouldn’t hurt his throat,” says photographer Donald M. Jones, who had been walking the Anhinga Trail at the time. An anhinga is similar in size and shape to a cormorant but has a slimmer head and neck. Location: Everglades National Park, Florida
Issue: May 2008

A Bird of a Different Color

When a gobbler is sexually aroused or spooked, his head often turns white, a transformation that can be dramatic. The loss of color is due to the constriction of the muscles in the neck and head, which reduces blood flow to the face and wattle. But after the turkey has been killed, his muscles relax, blood returns, and the brilliant blues around the eyes and snood and the reds of the caruncles appear again. The crown, however, remains white. location: Caswell County, N.C.
issue: April 2008

Off the Deep End

Duke, a 4-year-old yellow Lab, is a retriever extraordinaire–he not only fetches bumpers in his backyard pool, as shown, but he snags pennies and diving ducks, too. “He can hold his breath for 30 seconds,” says owner Doug Nail. “And I’ve watched him dive as far as 20 feet down in Lake Tahoe.” Duke enjoys diving so much that Nail can’t keep him out of the pool. “If you don’t throw a toy to fetch, he’ll toss it in himself, let it drop, retrieve it, and do it all again.” Location: Encinitas, Calif.
Issue: April 2008

Wingside Seat

“That tom on the right got all beat up,” says Donald M. Jones, who stalked these Merriam’s turkeys last March. “The others attacked and attacked and didn’t stop until he stayed a hundred yards from the flock. It was relentless.” Though the turkeys were not breeding at the time, this type of behavior is not unusual for birds that are setting up a pecking order. Location: The Kootenai National Forest, Mont.
Issue: March 2008

A Double-Wide Deer

“I found that deer sleeping in a backyard among kids’ toys,” says photographer John Eriksson about this 13-point nontypical muley. “At first, he didn’t pay any attention to me. Then he decided to go next door and jumped the fence.” After speaking with residents, Eriksson learned that the buck has spent his entire life right in Helena, near Carroll College. Location: Helena, Mont.
Issue: March 2008

One and a Gun

Lt. Clebe McClary has undergone 40 ­reconstructive surgeries since losing his left arm, left eye, and most of his right hand in 1968 because of a suicide attack in Vietnam. But he hasn’t let his wartime injuries keep him from hunting–he’s just grateful to his surgeon. “The man got my trigger finger working,” says McClary, shown here at the 36th Annual One-Arm Dove Hunt in north-central Texas last September. For his military service, McClary received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Location: Olney, Texas
Issue: February 2008

Break Room

Samuel Ish and company had to take a warm-up walk during this December duck hunt. Hopper, the black Labrador retriever, needed to work out a leg cramp after retrieving a mallard from an icy pond. But Ish’s 100-plus-pound chocolate Lab, Texas, was doing just fine. “He’s a dumb-happy dog,” Ish says. “As a pup, he used to fall asleep in the blind.” Location: Cherry Valley, Wash.
Issue: February 2008

This is a collection of jaw-dropping hunting and fishing photos from Field & Stream‘s “First Shots” magazine section, from 2008 to the present.

First Shots are visually arresting, intriguing, and sometimes humorous hunting or fishing photographs that run across two full-page spreads in every issue of F&S. They serve to showcase both the world of sportsmen and the talent of the magazine’s contributing photographers, who submit some of their best work for the section.

Though the images sometimes speak for themselves, the short caption which accompanies a First Shot reveals more about the story behind the scene, the species of fish or game pictured, and the location where the photo was taken. Enjoy this collection of nearly 100 First Shots from the past four years.