Ep 24 – Hunting Season Prep and Motivation with Mike Merrill



Summary

Living Country in the City hops on the line with Mike Merrill to talk about preparing for the hunting season, fitness and motivation to start running, sharing wild game with friends and family, setting up trail cameras, predator management and finding a quality hunting partner.

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Websites Mentioned

Episode Partner

Transcription

Mike

So, I’ve always kinda been a fitness guy, been into sports and athletics. But, I actually hated running. What I decided is my pace isn’t what matters right now. It’s not. I don’t have to run the fastest mile. I just need to keep moving. Do not accept that this is impossible. Do not accept that this can’t be done. Do not limit myself. I’m gonna push myself and try to figure out how much more I can accomplish and what can I do if I really set my mind. If I can see it, I can get to it. And I just don’t ever feel like I’m limited by that. I got into mountain running and trail running and I found that neither roads are boring. I can’t stand running on a treadmill now. I’m excited each hunting season as I’ve improved in the last few years on fitness and focus on being in shape and not being intimidated by anything. Hi, this is Mike Merrill and you’re listening to living country in the city, episode number 24.

Living Country in the City

Y’all ready for your dose of fly over state spirit, straight from the concrete jungle. Well, put down your latte and pull on your boots. It’s time for living country in the city.

Hey y’all. Thank you for joining me for episode 24 for living country in the city. Living country in the city is brought to you by Bowhunter Brotherhood. Whether you’re spotting and stalking a high-country ram, calling in a bugling elk, or a full draw in your tree stand waiting for that trophy white tail to turn. There’s a universal spirit that’s imbodied by passionate hunters and outdoorsmen. That spirit is what Bowhunter Brotherhood represents. Check out the latest blog entries and videos at the Bowhunter Brotherhood website. And get 10% off al purchases from the Bowhunter Brotherhood store by visiting our partners page at livingcountryinthecity.com/partners. Thank you all so much for tuning in today. If this is your first time joining us for the podcast, welcome. Now, wherever you’re listening from make sure to take a moment to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. It’s really easy you can search for living country in the city on iTunes, Stitcher, PodBean, or whatever your favorite podcast platform is. You can go to the show notes page for any of these episodes, and I also linked directly to several different podcast platforms that you can subscribe from. Now, something you could really do to help this podcast grow is to give it an honest review on iTunes or Stitcher. It really only takes a minute, and you can honestly probably get one done before I even really start the podcast here. You know as a matter of fact. Why don’t I just give you a quick second to head on over and do that right now?

So, yeah. This is just the spot where you hop on over, go to iTunes or Stitcher and start leaving that review. {whistling} You aren’t just sitting here listening to this, are you? You’re actually going over and, you know, giving me some stars and writing nice things about me, right? Or you’re not? Because if you’re just listening this is kinda creepy.

Well, anyway. Now that you’re back from leaving me an honest review and rating on iTunes or Stitcher, we can get into it. Today I’m talking with my good friend Mike Merrill. Mike is a very experienced hunter and I’ll tell you when I’m dragging some mornings trying to get out to shoot or hike before work and I’m just really not feeling it. Mike is one of those guys that always manages to inspire me to just get out there and work harder and push further. Now this guy is always out hammering the hills and shooting his bow and just working his butt off. Even in the wee small hours of the morning he’s always just grinning ear to ear, loving every mile he runs it seems like. And I’m excited to talk with him today about preparing for the hunting season. So, without further ado, Mike, thank you so much for joining me today.

Mike

Thanks for having me, I appreciate it. 

Living Country in the City

So, really quick. Why don’t you give us an intro about your history with hunting, and the outdoors, and fishing?

Mike

Ok, great. So, I grew up loving the outdoors, hunting, fishing, back packing, hiking, all those types of things. Grew up with the boy scouts. Spent my life just trying to get out of doors as often as possible. So, as a young man probably like a lot of people. My dad was a weekend deer hunter, and rifle only. And in fact what’s kinda funny is I think I was probably 17 or 18 years old when I realized that the deer hunt went longer than Saturday {laughs}. So, as I got more into hunting on my own and kinda grew up loving that. I of course have found my passion and have continued on that for the last 35, 40 years. 

Living Country in the City

And found out that they issue tags for more week days than the weekends, right?

Mike

Yeah, that’s right. It’s funny because I grew up in a big family, had actually 13 kids in our home. So, 7 boys and 6 girls. Huge family. So, the deer hunt was quite an adventure and it more ended up just being a night up in the mountains in the motor home where we got a camp fire, stuffed our pockets full of salt water taffy, root beer barrels, and butter scotch. And we’d hike up the nearest bridge, sit there for a couple of hours until it’s time to go home.

Living Country in the City

Well. So, did any of your brothers or sisters hunt?

Mike

Yeah, it’s kinda unique for me. And my dad actually passed away when I was 13. So I was pretty young. He died of a heart attack. He was young, he was only 45 years old. So, I didn’t really have a whole lot of hunting history or background growing up, I was always so drawn to it that I made my older brother Chris take me hunting every year. And even though I couldn’t get my own tag until I think the year I was 15 they finally allowed 14-year-olds to get a deer permit in Utah. And so, at that point and from then on, I’ve just always had a tag and always made sure I got out on a hunt.

Living Country in the City

So, tag or not. What was your age when you took your first deer?

Mike

So, I was about 18 years old the first time I took a deer. I grew up, again, the weekend hunter mentality was, and we were lucky to see a couple of roes usually [Laughter] so, I didn’t really have the background of really understanding that we have one pair of sears 10x50 binoculars that we kinda shared. I mean it was just really not an environment where I was gonna learn a whole lot of skill. And so I had to kinda pick that up on my own. My girlfriend at the time and towards the end of high school, her father was really into hunting. And so, I really glommed on to that and hung out with him as much as I could. And learned about good optics. So, in my early 20s I was saving all my paychecks and my extra money to buy Zeiss and Swarovski and getting Leopold scopes and getting better weapons. Eventually, I got into archery where I really found my passion about 15 years ago. And so, I’m trying to use my bow just about whenever I can now.

Living Country in the City

So, what got you started on archery versus rifle hunting?

Mike

So, she’s my wife now. So, my girlfriend’s father would always shoot whatever buck he could have an opportunity at with his bow. And not always ended up being his meat. And then he would try and get a little bit nice and more mature dear with his rifle. So, I kinda watched him archery hunting and I eventually got my own bow and started going out with him to target practice in the backyard, they’ve got 5 acres down rural Utah. So, started on that and really the place where I found my passion of archery hunting was Utah came out with this program called a dedicated hunter permit. And I’m actively in that program still and it lasts for 3 years and you can legally tag 2 buck deer within the 3-year period but it gives you an opportunity to hunt during the entire archery season, the muzzle loader season, and in the rifle season. So, I just learned back in my first year that I entered that program I tried to spend a little bit more time on the field and focus on archery. And I have counted 34 bucks that I had an opportunity to shoot my bow if I had chosen to. Now that was my first year hunting, I could only tag 2 dear in 3 years so, I never really got my sights on the total monsters and so I didn’t end up shooting on that first year. But it just opened a whole new world for me. In the rifle hunt you’re lucky to see a few bucks. So, archery was just a lot better opportunity at some of the wild life but more quiet and more skill and just really enjoyed it a lot more than the rifle hunt.

Living Country in the City

So, talking about building up your skill, what do you do to prepare for the hunting season?

Mike

Well I think, you know, and over the years this has continued to adapt and even you know this year I’m doing more trail cameras and spending more preseason preparation. I think it’s been 4 or 5 years ago I really started following and kinda watching people like Cameron Hanes I noticed they were really into the fitness and I’ve always kinda been a fitness guy, been into sports and athletics but, I actually hated running. My wife has been a life long runner.  And she’s really out about it. And she does it just for her health, she doesn’t enter a bunch of races and go crazy but, she just does it for her health and her fitness. So, she was always telling me “you gotta come running with me”. So, once in a while she’d drag me out and other than like junior high track I couldn’t stand running. [Laughs]

Living Country in the City

Can’t blame you. [Laughs]

Mike

But, hit somebody, tackle somebody, or chase a ball, I was all about it always into sports. Baseball especially, loved basketball, played football, but I just never could get excited about running. And so, Cameron really turned me on to it and I have a cousin, her husband is known as the iron cowboy. And his name’s James Lawrence, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him. But, fascinating story what he did. He’s actually a triathlete and he did 50 full iron man triathlons in 50 days consecutively in all 50 states in the united states.

Living Country in the City

Are you kidding me?

Mike

No. So, a world record, crazy, yeah.

Living Country in the City

{laughs} that is insane. I can’t imagine doing a single triathlon.

Mike

Yeah, so he did that about 3 years ago. And because of Cam I really started taking fitness more seriously kinda off season preparation, and other people like Zac Griffith you know and others, Josh Bowmar, other hunters that I was familiar with and really enjoyed following and learning about their story, kinda inspired and motivated me to do this. But, this James Lawrence the iron cowboy was undertaking his feet about 3 years ago. And so, I’ve made up my mind at the beginning of the year in my new year’s resolution, I’m gonna start running, and I’m gonna run 3 or 4 times a week, and I had a goal to run 250 total miles by Easter. So, that was my goal, and I’m very goal oriented. I love accomplishing something. So, with the apps that are around on our phones now, and being able to keep score of my run, that helped motivate me in the competitive juices start flowing.

Living Country in the City

You use the Nike run app on the phone, right?

Mike

I do yes.

Living Country in the City

I’ve seen the maps, I recognized the maps ‘cause I’ve used them in it. That app is one thing that help me get more into running, and I still absolutely hate running and don’t do it enough. But, the fact that it compares you and ranks you with the friends you’re connected with, oh man. Like I had zero desire to run, but the second I saw that there was some sort of ranking I’m like “I’ve got to get up and run, I’ve got to get up and run”. And this was before I started hunting anything. But I’m just so competitive that when there’s one data and 2 rankings, oh man, get me out there.

Mike

 It’s funny I’m built the same way, I think the same way, it just drives me. So, then I thought okay I got a goal now so by Easter I gotta hit 250 miles. So, the Saturday before Easter, I eclipsed, think I’ve landed on 254 miles. So, I was excited I thought okay. And what’s funny you know I like to invest in good equipment and I’m not afraid to invest money in something that I’m passionate about, but I had not decided that I was a runner yet. So, I’m buying these 30 dollars Ross dress for less shoes that look like running shoes {laughs} you know, whatever I could get. And my wife’s like “You really should get yourself a nice pair of shoes” like these Hokas that she had and Under Armour had awesome fat tires that were out. And I told my wife “As soon as I really fell like I’m committed to this and I’m now a runner, then I’ll start investing in taking it a little more seriously”. So, I ran for a few more months and what I decided at that time of Easter I thought well, I’m getting better at this, I’m getting faster, I’m actually enjoying it a little bit. Took me about a month to really enjoy it. The other thing and this is kinda secret, at least for me, What I decided is my pace isn’t what matters right now, it’s not, I don’t have to run the fastest mile, I just need to keep moving. And if I have to walk just because I have to for a minute or this hill is too steep, I’m okay with that. I’m not in a race. I’m running to be fit and to get into shape and to feel better. And so, that really allowed me the latitude that I needed to kinda hit that stride and to find that passion and to really start enjoying it for the sake of running as opposed to like it was a chore or something that is a punishment you know. So that was something that was deep for me. But that year that I started that goal that’s been 3 years ago now, James, this iron cowboy has determined that he was gonna do that 50-50-50. And he already had like the world record for most triathlons or half triathlons in a year and a couple of other records but, he really wanted to push himself. And so, I think it was a Memorial Day, a holiday picnic for the family, we were getting together after visiting graves and spending time together and I was talking to him about this and he was in about 2 months from that time he was getting ready to embark on this journey. So, I decided well I’m gonna get in shape and I’m gonna run a marathon with him. Even though I’ve only been running for like 5 months at this point. My furthest run was like 7 miles by that point you know. So, then I had another goal. I’m like okay. And not only that I’m gonna run a thousand miles this year. So, I thought, I gotta run a 750 in the last two thirds of the year, it was already April Easter time by then. So, I set those 2 goals, and we got to closer to James doing this 50-50-50 thing. And I found out my wife and I were in charge of the family reunion which is gonna be in southern Utah while James is gonna finish his 50th race in Utah and I was gonna be like 4 miles away or 4 hours away from where this was gonna happen. So, I was literally like depressed and sad and felt like oh my gosh how could I miss this, this is half the reason I’m even doing this is to be a part of it, I’, so excited, and my wife said “well, you’re travelling for work all the time, why don’t you just lay out somewhere and run with him wherever he’s at? That makes sense.” I’m like “Why didn’t I think of that?” so I booked a flight for like 5 days from that date and flew out to Waconia Minnesota, never heard of it before, and decided I was gonna run this marathon for the first time. So, I flew a red eye flight got there at 6:30 in the morning, he was starting his swim at 7:30 in the morning so I went straight from the airport to, it ended up being in a life time fitness because there were 4-foot swells in the lake he was gonna swim in. So, he had to do it indoors. But, when we watched him do that, sent him off on the bike ride, and at that evening he was gonna finish up with his run from like 5 pm to about 10:30 or 11 pm. So, I went and took an hour and a half nap, at the hotel. So, now I’m going on 3 hours total sleep and half of it was on an airplane {laughs}, and I’m getting ready to run a marathon. So, I ended up doing it, I made it, he encouraged me, helped me, he was wonderful, and I finished this marathon. And it was just an amazing experience to be a part of that and to watch him accomplish this, 9 days later he’d finished his 50th and he accomplished this. The doctor said “you’re gonna die doing it, your body can’t handle it, it’s not possible” and he just had a book come out and a movie and some other things, really fascinating story but, it’s people like that just do not accept that this is impossible, do not accept that this can’t be done, do not limit myself, I’m gonna push myself and try to figure out how much more I can accomplish and what I can do if I really set my mind to it.

Living Country in the City

That is absolutely amazing. Since you’ve been getting into fitness and running more, have you seen your hunting style change?

Mike

Oh man, it really has. You know the thing is everybody, you know, when you have quality optics you get the spotting scopes and you have the ability to reach out pretty far and see a gain up on a mountain side or up in canyon or up in the cliffs. It’s really easy to say “oh man that’s a big buck, that one’s worth hiking up there”. But, very few people actually ever do it. And so, now, if I can see it, I can get to it, and I just don’t ever feel like I’m limited by that even this year, even the last few months. Another thing you know Cameron Haynes been packing his pack full of rocks and hold the stuff up mountains forever right?  Well I started doing that. I got into mountain running and trail running and I found that neither roads are boring. I can’t stand running on a treadmill now because I don’t get the same workout. So, I kind of you know got my pace and figured out there are really steep mountains here really close to my house about a thousand feet again in the first mile. And, I run as much as I can and I hike fast up what I can’t. and in about 3 months I’ve improved my pace by about 8 minutes in that first mile.

Living Country in the City

Oh, wow!

Mike

So, it’s just a whole different. Well, the last few weeks, I’ve been putting a 50 or 60-pound pack on my back and doing the same thing. And I’m not that much slower now. But, it’s just my fitness level, my endurance, my ability to move quickly and have confidence is just at a whole new level that I’ve never had. So, I’m excited each hunting season that I’ve improved in the last few years on fitness and focus on being in shape and not being intimidated by anything.

Living Country in the City

Well, I mean, I have to say, you know every time I see one of your photos pop up on Instagram of you running. And I did not know anybody but Cam Haynes could smile this much while running this far with a pack. And guys if you haven’t checked out Mike’s Instagram, we’ll post up a link to it in the show notes page, it’ll be on livingcountryinthecity.com/24. But you’ve gotta check this guy out. I mean if you want like encouraging and inspiring photos. like it’s just non-stop the biggest smile he’s hauling butt up these mountains and it’s just super inspiring, it’s super inspiring for me. But you know I’m the same way where I run on a treadmill, I work with a personal trainer twice a week and I run on a treadmill for that. And it’s funny when I compare that to even when I just run on the street, it’s so much more difficult, like I feel so much more tired and winded. When I run on a treadmill versus doing that same pace on the street, just because it’s, I’m sitting there staring at you know the tenth of a mile tick by slowly. And then at least you know when you’re running on the street there’s distractions you know, you’re listening to music, there’s stuff to look at, and the one thing I just really want is to be able to run a little bit more in nature and that’s one of the difficult things for me being in the city is I just don’t have access to that and I’m starting to kinda look around in a lot of the parks here you don’t necessarily wanna run in at night.

Mike

Yeah right. Different kinda wild life there right?

Living Country in the City

Yeah. I do have Griffith park not to far from me, and it’s a little bit nicer. There’s some areas where I might be able to get away with running. So, I’ve gotta go check that out. But, I definitely need to get out running more often and I think you know I’m gonna take a note from your book and I’m gonna look at you know what I think I can realistically achieve maybe by hunting season or whatever that is, you know, set my goals, figure out what I can realistically achieve each week, you know, figure out what that will be up until September and then add 5 miles to it or something and you know, see what I could do. I think I’m gonna pull a page from your book with that one and give it a try.

Mike

I appreciate that. And it’s funny too because I think a lot of people are pretty goal oriented, I mean we always make new year’s resolution. But, for me, and that is another thing really, social media, the blessing of it, to me at least, is it holds me a little bit more accountable. I wanna do what I say. So, I’m not gonna say I’m gonna do this unless I’m gonna do it. And so, as soon as I post that, that’s it, you know. And I have people like you mentioned, mentors and people that inspire me and I get words of encouragement, people cheer me on, people that I maybe haven’t seen in like 20, 25 years. But we’re motivating each other and we’re helping each other along. And it’s those massages of encouragement and those people that are cheering for you that really keep me motivated. And even when, one of the things that I hear from a lot of people “how do you even stay healthy?” I mean now I got those fat tire 2 Under Armour shoes that I just love. I couldn’t find any keep hammering ones that Cam Hanes wears. So, I had to buy the ones that Under Armour would sell me. But, I just love those shoes. And they look like a big knobby mountain bike tires, like a fat paramount bike. And I’ve been able to run anywhere and up anything and I’ve been able to stay, I haven’t wiped it yet it’ll probably open at some point. But I almost ran over like a dozen people last Saturday coming down this trail, they were hiking up there. Their eyes looked like sauce they could not believe that this dude was running down this steep trail with a poodle following him having a big backpack on. They’re like “don’t kill yourself” and I’m “I’ll be fine, I’m just you know, heading on down the mountain”

Living Country in the City

So, does the dog keep up pretty well?

Mike

He does for the most part, yeah. And that’s another thing, I mean it’s just might even sound stupid but he’s a great running buddy, I get tired before he does, so, that makes it nice, and it motivates me to get him out also, it’s my daughters dog but I have a lot of fun getting him out and he doesn’t even need a leash anymore, he’s just used to it. He loves getting in the track, he knows when I’m getting ready to run, he sees me put my gear on and get ready and he just gets excited so, yeah, it keeps it fun and a little bit more interesting too.

Living Country in the City

I’ve tried running with my dogs a few times and after a while they kinda recognize the running gear. I love them to death but they are the most miserable dogs to run with. I almost ended up breaking a finger because you know we were running and I was like “awesome, we’re going good, this has finally kinda got into our rhythm” and then one of them just decided he’s like “nope” and so just as we’re passing a street sign, he just dives off to the left and the way I had the leash is kinda wrapped around my cuz I’m running through the city, it slipped off my hand and landed around my pinky finger, and he wraps around this pole at high speed and jerks my hand back, and I swear I just snapped off my finger. And yeah, that was the last time I ran with them for a while. I need to find a good spot. Once I find a spot that’s a little more outdoors, that I can run regularly, then I can take them out again and start running. But when it comes to just running around through the city and to be honest there’s a lot of like homeless encampments under the bridges kinda where I run, and so with the dogs they wanna go off and interact and there’s always dogs there and they wanna play. So, it just makes it a little more difficult to focus on getting out there but, I enjoy having them out and it helps you know break up the monotony of just the plain old run. I gotta find a solution for this.

Mike

You know one thing I used to do and I still I mean like you said, I’ve been really just focusing on trail running more lately just ‘cause it gives me such better workout, I used to run around the cemetery locally here that was a really good place.

Living Country in the City

You know I do have like probably a 10-minute walk from me, I do have the Hollywood forever cemetery and that’s a huge cemetery it’s beautiful it’s where a lot of movie stars are buried and stuff like that. And I have to check out what the access is to that ‘cause that would actually be fantastic place to start running.

Mike

Yeah, it’s pretty peaceful, and again my wife she runs a lot too and we actually try to run together, I’ve taken her up on the mountain a few times, and she actually loves that also so, she’s not quite as wrapped up over it as I am, and I wont see her wearing a camo backpack any time soon. But, I definitely, it’s good to have a running buddy, whether it’s your spouse or girlfriend or you know your dogs or whatever it is. That can help.

Living Country in the City

On that note, let’s take a quick minute to hear a word from one of my partners.

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So, is there anything else you’re doing right now that’s kinda helping you preparing for the hunting season coming up?

Mike

Yeah, so another thing, you know, I’ve really gotten into Ryan Carter with DC outfitters has some really awesome stuff. In fact, he did a podcast with Zac Griffith talking about trail cams, and where to set them and how and kinda some of the methodologies that they use. I subscribed to a page from Ryan’s book on some of those strategies, I really enjoyed doing that. It also gets me up in the higher mountains and some of those canyons and deep pockets before the season really starts to get out there and kinda see what’s going on. So that’s another thing that really helps me prepare. Another thing too, you know, it is funny how even this last year or so I always thought it was crazy to like when I go to the gym I would run on the treadmill only after doing my weights you know, if I lift them first then it seems like the run was something I could get myself through. But, I found that if I did it the wrong order, I didn’t have the energy to lift those weights because I was tired of the running. But now, I keep my bow in my truck, and as a reward for myself, cheesy as it could sound, I shoot a dozen or 15 or 20 arrows after my run. And I leave my pack on if I have it on or if I didn’t run with the pack, I throw the pack on and just make it as much like I’ve just hiked up this crazy mountain and I’m on the ridge and now it’s go time, you know, get the bow out and see if I can get dialed in. And that has really, really helped me dial in my accuracy I'm not even if I'm a bit winded I'm used to shooting that way now where before all this you know I would like a lot of people I pull my bow out three four weeks before the seasons dust it lot of people I pull my bow out three, four weeks before the seasons dust it off start throwing a few arrow through it and you know I'm this last year I've been shooting my bow all year since last season so from it's just a it I can feel  it's an entirely different game now and I just feel a lot more prepared and lethal to accomplish whatever you know I certainly won't I won't shy away from getting where I need to get if if there's an animal that I that I want to go after

Living Country in the City

So, with this new ultra-lethal mentality what are you excited for this year?

Mike

So, I I'm still waiting to hear on my Wyoming draw results I know they had a really rough winter so I think the deer herd is really struggling up there. I put in for Unit G, so we'll see if I draw that also went in for an Antelope permit and if I draw that I mean I'm gonna try and take that with my bow also and then I did draw a really cool tag in New Mexico for the Barbary sheep and they're a really cool-looking animal one of my partners at work my buddies drew one of those a few years ago and he and a friend he guess we're able to harvest a nice ram and I'm very excited about that I mean also try and go after that with my bow too.

Living Country in the City

I just I just looked one up I've never I'm not familiar with the animal but that is cool they got the those like long beards.

Mike

Yeah, they got a mane almost there even down their legs they've got that that hair on the front of their body that's just really really cool so it'd make a great full body mount for sure.

Living Country in the City

That's really what I'm thinking I might start looking at tags for that maybe next year.

Mike

Yeah, what's cool about that one and this is a mate this is I put in for a couple times over the years but in New Mexico they don't do points so I have just as much of a chance as anybody every year and so this year my father-in-law, my wife's younger brother, and I drew a Barbara shoot permit. So, we're excited.

Living Country in the City

So, you did the draw as a group?

Mike

We did yep.

Living Country in the City

That's really fantastic I like that you know I'm like I said I'm brand new at this and I'm was really learning about all the draw stuff and how it works and finding out that they let you draw as a group I thought was one of the most interesting things because you know yeah you want to be able to go hunting with family and friends and you know you don't you're not everyone's able to necessarily go on three separate hunts and so you know everybody can go on everyone else's hunt it shows a lot of forethought by the you know the people managing these animals that they set it up that way that you can do a group application I just thought that was a cool feature that I don't think a lot of new hunters know about you know.

Mike

Yeah you're right and I know the other thing too in the states that have points what they do is they give that advantage to the guy with less points and average those out so you've got a better chance if you put in with people and add a few more points and I've benefited from that Wyoming in the past where someone else had more points than I am and put them together and harvested a pretty good buck in unit H a few years back and so really you know really excited about that I have I've got 16 moose points in Utah for the shy wrist moose and I'm hoping I think it'll probably the next few years I'll probably draw that permit and that will absolutely be an archery experience for me for sure so yeah there's just you know lots of lots of great hunts around and you can only do so many in a year when you got a full time job and a family and everything.

Living Country in the City

Oh you're preaching to the choir my starting this new job about a year and a half ago my vacation day allotment suddenly got a whole lot tighter ‘cause I didn't have seniority anymore and so you know and I before I started getting interested in hunting I really honestly didn't take vacation you know I didn't need much more than a weekend or the holidays you know occasionally I’d maybe do something during the summer but when I started getting into hunting and all of a sudden I started realizing oh man I I gotta figure out a way how I can hunt over weekends a little bit better I need to get those I'm getting into the world at a Saturday tag.

Mike

It's a tough thing to do for sure, you know that again in Utah that's why I have just you know I'm a very big proponent of that dedicated hunter program if you're not familiar with it we commit 32 hours of service in a three year period to wildlife and projects building fences breaking trails cleaning up trash watch you know helping boats that are coming out of lakes I have the tiger zebra mussels and making sure that that they're not transporting those anywhere so you're doing inspections I mean anything that's helpful you're donating time for and then as a reward you get to hunt all three hunts, and you know one of the give backs is I’m only gonna tag two deer in three years at the very most and…

Living Country in the City

Which, for a lot of people, is a lot more than they expect out of three years.

Mike

 Yeah, yeah it definitely could be but if you really get out on those hunts and you you're out in the field that often and earlier before the rifles start cracking and they’re chasing the deer all over hades and they’re scattered everywhere you have a lot of opportunities that you're just not going to get otherwise they also have one other requirement to attend a they call it a RAC meeting it's a regional Advisory Council and it makes you've got to go and attend and sign up on a list and that's where they make the laws and make adjustments to regulations they talk about statistics and mortality rates based on winter or predators and other things so it gives you an opportunity in a more public open forum to voice your concerns and to speak to those people that are making the laws and the decisions that affect the hunting community so it's just a really great program.

Living Country in the City

That’s something that people should be doing anyway is going to these meetings as hunters we should be involved in those we should be finding out locally where those meeting and going to them I mean they you know we shouldn't necessarily need a reward to get involved in that way because I mean that's our future and our you know our posterity’s future that we're managing and if we put our voice in that's you know we have no excuse otherwise.

Mike

Yeah, it's a very valuable resource and we're blessed to have the opportunity to continue the tradition of hunting one of the things about it too and you know I'm you know my mother growing up her family had a meat locker called Springville meat locker just a couple towns over from where I live and so she kind of grew up around that and her dad hunted and all that but, a lot of guys you know they take their gain in for processing and but we field dress ours we cape them out we quarter them out if necessary we use all the meat we cut it up put it in our packs we bring it home we get the family together we get some friends we all have a meat wrapping party and we process a hundred percent of our gain meat and so my freezer is usually full of you know deer or elk meat or you know other gain that I've harvested fish and other things all year round and I personally I'm someone who enjoys cooking and those kinds of things for my family so I I prepare all that because it's a part of me really putting a period or an exclamation point at the end of the sentence of you know this is why we do this I'm providing for my family physically and literally with my sweat blood and tears I enjoy it 99.9% of my enjoyment honestly and this is just the this is the honest truth has nothing to do with releasing an arrow or pulling a trigger I enjoyed the entire process I love and respect the animals that I'm able to harvest and to and to kill and ultimately bring back to my home and feed my family with and neighbors and people in need there's just so much good that is done with that when you know when you when you harvest an animal on your own and I'm just not paying McDonald's or Walmart to do my killing for me.

Living Country in the City

Well what was it? you know talking about it's that interesting point you know you share that with your neighbors and your friends and your family and I think it was from a speech by Shane Mahoney where he talks about wild gain and like the stuff you harvest yourself so often we do you know you take that and I remember my first experience ever with wild gain is I had a neighbor and he brought over some deer sausage and a few slices of deer sausage for us and I tried it you know and I was obviously really sentimental and I'm like this is deer Bambi's great I know I've I was a really sentimental kid about Disney movies I'm sure but it's one of those interesting things where you do you will take that and you will share it and it will you know it feeds even more than just your family you know and it feeds the community and builds your community and causes it to grow and you don't get that with a stake you bought from the store you know it's like what happened you're gonna go pick up some tri meat don't get me wrong I'm not gonna complain if any of my neighbors rolled up said “hey man I got you a tri tip” but you know you do that in most places people are gonna look at you kind of weird you're like “what did you do to it? why are you giving it to me? is it old? What?” versus you roll up and you're like “hey you know I’m a hunter I went out and I you know I harvested a deer this year and I you know I just wanted to share it with you” people are like “that's so cool” well I mean for the most part I've definitely got some neighbors who would not appreciate that too much but I might actually get an earful from them about how cruel and horrible of a person I am but that's also Los Angeles for you.

Mike

Yeah. And another thing that I'll do you know I'll make my brother's my family my friends they all know I mean you know and I like to bake cinnamon rolls you know my mom did that growing up we always had these cinnamon rolls and it's kind of nostalgic a little bit so I've kind of kept that tradition going I'll make up a big batch of cinnamon rolls I'll make jerky from the previous year's you know animals that I've harvested and we're enjoying jerky and cinnamon rolls and this comradery on the hunt that you just you don't get any other way and I've never in fact I can't think of anybody yet that I've ever taken as a guest or a friend or a family member that came on and they didn't want to come back the next year I mean they all it's you know a lot of people that I have my brothers-in-law and some of my brothers aren't really into hunting but they absolutely come and join in and help out and you know I can't tell you how many elk I've helped somebody else pack out drag out cut up what you know that I didn't even know but they were up on the mountain and they you know they had an animal down and it's hot and you're trying to help him get it down to the bottom of canyon and you know you're not seeing anything and it's like you know I got a few hours instead of going back to the truck taking a nap let's get this thing take care of. and that's just a brotherhood exists within the hunting community that I know and all of the people that that I'm used to you know seeing out in the field and being in that community so it's it really stands for you know for me it just feels like it's just super American you know that's what it feels like to me.

Living Country in the City

You know it's really it is it is really cool thing you know I don't you know I like I said I keep repeating this on podcast after podcast as I am brand new at this you know and I'm the first one to admit I don't know a ton of stuff but you know so I don't you know I'm still meeting a lot of people I met a lot of fantastic people but most of the people I know you know have their next two years of hunts planned out and you know so I'm working on finding a hunting partner and you know somebody you know if I need to all go into the backcountry but you know for safety's sake and just the fact that I'm going out and hunting elk rather than you know necessarily whitetail it's gonna be a bit more effort to if I get something to get that out and you know my two best friends and you know neither of them are hunters but you know they're used to me talking about all this and I won't shut up about it and my co-workers probably wish I would but you know I'm talking with my two best friends and they're both hikers and neither of them are opposed to hunting but neither of them have a desire to do it and one of them my buddy Matt he's like “I should just come out with you on one of these hunts” and I started thinking about that I'm like hmm and so you know we started talking about it more and I like I said I've said it before he's I'm like so wait you're willing to come out you're an avid hiker you know he hikes mountains he's traveled all over the world and it's his goal to hike every major mountain in the world and so he's got gear he's got good boots he's got a good pack you know all he's really missing is the camo and I'm sitting there I'm like if I can get him in the camo and we were talking he's like “yeah I'll totally come out with you” I'm like so you have no desire to shoot an animal but you'll help me pack one out you'll carry a camera I'm like I'm gonna buy you a bugle tube and some reeds and you're gonna practice and there you go so right now I've kind of got the ideal in theory I've got the ideal hunting partner

Mike

You do you don't have to compete with them and he's just there to help you that's perfect.

Living Country in the City

Yeah, yeah you throw a camera throw a camera on him and we're good to go but hopefully Matt if you're listening to this you better not back out I'm just throwing that out there I'm uh you know I can shoot a bow yes that's a threat.

Mike

Yeah, a good partner is a really important thing and you know I've got some good buddies in hunting and you know sometimes just kind of depending on schedules and whatnot doesn't always work out then you can get out with them I know you know you here year Cameron Haynes talk about Roy Roth and what a huge part of his life he was it's a really you know a neat story and history there but i can so relate to that that yearning and haven't really I don't know that I've really found that you know lifelong hunting buddy that I mean the closest thing that I have would be my father-in-law and you know he's in his mid-sixties he's still in great shape he could still spot deer that you know most people would never even know we're there I mean he's very skilled so that that's very enjoyable but at the same time you know I think just that level of appreciation that passion for what you're doing is you know it's a little bit unique I mean there's a lot of hunters that are don't take it quite  so seriously and so when you're when you're really passionate about it I think know might be a little tougher to find that ideal hunting buddy that feels the same way you do about it if you if you can find somebody that’ll help you and take pictures and help you pack something out you're ahead of the game that's for sure.

Living Country in the City

Oh, he’s open so what what's your absolute favorite animal in the hunt you know we talked a lot about deer we've talked about some of the other tags or drawing what's it what's your absolute favorite?

Mike

So I have over the years and more recently I've gotten a lot more passionate about elk I do you know where I live it's hard to draw a premium elk permit I mean it's all they say it's almost one's a lifetime tag now so every year I can buy a spike out permit or I could shoot a cow elk I don't have any desire to shoot a cow elk and so last year I did not I did not harvest a spike elk on the archery hunt there are some big bull units I went up in and didn't have any opportunities there could’ve shot cow elk but collected not to do so I'm really enjoying elk generally I've been a mule deer hunter in my entire life and that's something that I always love but I think elk with the bugling and the rut the way that it is and just how majestic they are as an animal there's they're the meat is wonderful and they're a big animal so when you're able to get one you really do pretty well on the meat you know I've you know I've killed some decent deer that you know you end up with 50 60 pounds of meat you know does it last a real long time so the bigger animals the better bear hunting is something else that I really enjoy I haven't done that I haven't done that annually there's a reduced bear permit up in Idaho that you can buy for cheap if you're hunting deer also or purchase a hunting permit that's like 250 bucks you can get a reduced bear tag for $65 and you can buy up to two and so if you're gonna hunt deer in Wyoming as an out or I'm sorry in Idaho as an out-of-stater anyway I would always buy those bear tags as well.

Living Country in the City

That's one thing I've been looking at is because I'm doing this I'm doing an Idaho rut hunt archery rut hunt I'm I was looking and I'm like I saw that that same tag and I'm like well you know same 65 bucks might as well you know if and then I was also looking at picking up Wolf tag as well because just with the amount of wolves out there nobody's obviously you know everyone's like shoot a wolf shoot a wolf.

Mike

Yeah, the wolf population unfortunately is doing too well and there's a problem there there's wolves in Utah now too you know I've gotten down into this area I don't think well commonly but they are here and that's a problem especially you know the Bears are very tough on those moose calves and elk calves moose really struggle with black bears I know the thing about Idaho and where we hunt bears there it's about an 11 or 12 hour drive from where I'm at it's up near the Panhandle northern Idaho but the first year that I went it was raining like crazy on that first day that we hunted and we spotted six bears off the road like deer up on hillsides and that were you know a thousand yards away or less I mean just there were everywhere so that's you know that's an opportunity where you don't need dogs we didn't have bait and we got a couple bears up right here so there's a lot of opportunity out there there's a lot of lot of gain that needs management.

Living Country in the City

Have you seen it irritates that every time I see it, it irritates the hell out of me for two reasons but it floats around every few months to every year there's a time when it'll get passed around it'll float around again and it's this video and it talks about like mother nature is so amazing you know I think they're talking about now I always get them confused and one of them's in my state Yellowstone and Yosemite which is the one that's uh?

Mike

Yeah Yellowstone yeah Yosemite is up and in California Yellowstone up in northern Idaho and Wyoming.

Living Country in the City

I’ve been alive for 34 years and to this day I still cannot keep them straight but it's talking about you know the wolf reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and it's just this whole mother nature is so glorious and look what happened when wolves were reintroduced it started reducing this and it redirected rivers and everything is so beautiful and I'm sitting there and I'm just and I just fume as this thing keeps I'm just sitting there stewing as this video keeps going and going and going one because they keep calling elk deer which I'm just like come on basic research this is obviously not a deer and two I'm just I'm like yeah you know it did balance out things for a while but they didn't take into account there's nothing than to balance out the Wolves and the populations are gonna grow and they're gonna spread to other states and I'm just I'm like sitting here fuming the whole time at any time oh man I was a keyboard warrior when my friends would post that I'd be like actually “tap tap tap tap tap” and my friend I'll be like dang you guys how do you really feel about it.

Mike

Too fired up, yeah. Yeah, the wolves are a problem for sure they're on the top of the food chain and you know black bears or this they need to be managed for a similar reason I mean at least they’re omnivorous to a degree but they may feed on some carry in here and there but they're tough on those populations of deer and elk and moose and they need to be managed.

Living Country in the City

Our deer here in California are almost non-existent because of the black bear you know we've got our black bear tags it's basically you know you can there's a reporting limit and then anybody can buy a tag it's you know super cheap I think it's like 30 bucks but anyone can buy a tag until that limits reached and then it's then it's never reached but that's one thing the two things just kind of to get my hunting in here in California I want to I want to start doing more trips to look for bear and I want to start doing more trips for pig because we have you know here that's the other thing we have just more than an overabundance of here in California is pig and you know those are things I can do over the course of a weekend you know for bear I could do you know I could take it 1, 2 hour drive and find some spots them might have bear and you know two three hours for good spots for pig and so you know that's something I can do over a weekend you know packing the tent do some dispersed camping and doesn't all have to be these grand out-of-state hunts that I desperately want to do but.

Mike

Yeah, that one and you know like your question earlier that's where trail cameras can be very helpful I know you know I some of your podcast and a lot of them that are out there now a lot of people use Google Earth I invested in our Rhino 650 T GPS with the radio on it man what an amazing tool I mean I've got all my cameras mark I've got glassing points marked I've got on a map that I can do a Google Earth overlay I can see where you know where this animal was or that animal was and you start getting some years of history in some of these places that you found and you really get a feel for what's out there and what you can do to help yourself be more successful so you're not spending weeks and weeks and months and you know ultimately to fail because you're starting over every time that you go out in the field.

Living Country in the City

And you know honestly like I feel kind of dumb right now because I thought to myself I'm like well you know I just I don't have the time to get out to these you know out to Arizona or out to Idaho or Colorado or wherever you know I want to go hunting and set up trail cams and scout and then come back and check on my… but I'm thinking why am I not doing this for... yeah, I may not be out hunting elk here in California I may not have gotten the Tulle tag or anything but I can do this for bear there's other animals that walk in front of trail cams and I feel kind of dumb right now but I'm like I need to start doing that and especially with apps like camo fire there's absolutely no reason for me not to buy trail cams when they're so stinking cheap at this point.

Mike

Yeah. They have some great deals, 75 bucks with SD cards and batteries for some really nice stealth cams and they work wonderful I bought a bunch of those

Living Country in the City

I think I'm pretty sure they have a stealth cam available on camo fire everyday if not at least you know two out of three days and multiple models and stuff like that.

Mike

Yes, and for me lately and this is kind of what we were talking about earlier but I have turned my run that I was doing along the streets of Salem Utah before around the cemetery into a mountain trail run workout with my backpack I had my binoculars on my bows in my truck with my target in the back and then I've got a pack full of trail cams trophy rock, buck Jam, so I'm weighing my pack down with 50 60 pounds of cameras and bait and I'm turning my run into a spotting trip a trail camera setting trip a trail camera checking trip and then at the end I'm shooting my bow and I can do all of that in a couple hours or maybe two and a half hours on a Saturday morning and I'm multitasking to the nth degree in those cases know it you know it makes it not such an event every time you've got it because that's one of the this last year I just didn't have time and then the snow came and it was deep and actually went on around Easter to try and retrieve some trail cameras I had up in a really high canyon and there was literally an avalanche that had covered on of my trail cameras. So I went up about two months or about two months later which is just barely and snow was melted my camera was still there to the tree and the craziest thing about it the batteries were still working and I had pictures from a week before so that’s fortunate for me.

Living Country in the City

Probably got some nice wide Avalanche pictures too I imagine

Mike

I did, I did get some of that.

Living Country in the City

Well so looking at the time you know we're kind of winded down here you know I always like to end with maybe some advice or some words of wisdom or encouragement for some new hunters that are just starting to get into the outdoors and hunting as well as maybe folks like me from the city who just feel intimidated there's so much to learn it's you know this is too hard for me to do what would you say to those people

Mike

Yeah, that's a great question I think for me the advice I would give is invest a little bit in again things like you know Elk101 with Corey Jacobson if you want to learn how to bugle and call elk and learn about elk habitat and behavior you know get on GoHunt or some of these other services that are available that that will help you figure out the tag system kind of what to put in form what your odds are there I have always used monstermuleys.com. There's some others out now that are pretty good there's a one called point hunter app that I bought for a few bucks a couple years ago keeps track of all of my points in all the different states just a few dollars one time they notify me through the app and by email when the permit deadlines are what I drew if I didn't draw I mean they're really it's pretty cool there's a lot of really neat tools out there because of technology so I would you know do some of those things YouTube is incredible I mean you can really find all kinds of stuff there how sight in your bow or how to get this into that there are a lot of online resources and then more than that you know find somebody go to the local archery shop go to your Cabela's go to the archery counter or the gun counter and talk to those folks because they'll I mean they'll help you out like crazy I actually the place I bought my bow Humphries archery down in Payson Utah I called Austin there the other day and was asking him about this total archery challenge I haven't done that in the past wasn't able to work it out in my work schedule but I'm signed up this year up at Snowbird here in a month or so excited signed up for the 5k keep hammering trail run with Cameron Haynes up there really excited about those events get involved in those kinds of things when they're around you'll find people there that will help you willingly they're excited to talk about their passion just like you know you and I are and I think you know just borrowing that knowledge from willing you know brothers in the sport is probably the best way to not only find the passion but really learn from other people wisdom.

Living Country in the City

Well that's some great advice from a very experienced hunter thank you so much for hopping on the show Mike if people wanted to find you online what's the best place to scope out all your runs and get some inspiration

Mike

Yeah just my name, michaeltmerrill, is my username on Instagram and Facebook and all that so I try to post stuff of what I'm doing and you know enjoy the encouragement the cheers from those that need a lift and I like following all kinds of people that motivate me too.

Living Country in the City

Fantastic well thanks again for hopping on the show tonight.

Mike

Thank you, Sam, appreciate it. Love to come back anytime you need.

Living Country in the City

Alright y'all that'll do it for episode 24 of living country in the city if you're needing some inspiration as you prep for this hunting season if you looking for that little extra bit of drive to kind of get you going in the morning make sure you head on over to Mike’s socials check him out give him a wave get your inspiration and you can find all of those links on our show notes page at livingcountryinthecity.com/24. I am flying out tomorrow for Snowbird total archery challenge super excited can't wait to get out there really not thrilled that it's gonna be a hundred degrees on Saturday and Sunday I may actually die during the trail run there's a very good chance I was already concerned about my performance but running two and a half miles at altitude in hundred-degree heat is definitely gonna be pretty brutal either way I'm looking forward to getting out to Utah and meeting y'all make sure you hit me up if you haven't already I know it's gonna be a crazy time I'm looking forward to get there but in the meantime stay country y'all.

Thank y'all for listening to living country in the city. Get show notes, and check out the blog, product reviews, events, and more at livingcountryinthecity.com

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