On the hunt with Austin Hanlon
A boy and his father made their way through the pines of the Oregon mountains, following trails, searching for the right place. That’s when the boy spotted it—a buck. It was at perfect range. It wasn’t hidden by any trees or shrubs. He had day dreamed about it countless times and finally the moment had arrived. Quietly, carefully, he calmed himself. He pulled the arrow back, took aim and released. It felt like an eternity as the arrow sailed through the air before hitting its mark. “It’s hard to describe the feeling, it’s sad and incredible at the same time. I just took an animals life, but I took it to help fill our freezer.”
Austin Hanlon was 14 years old when he dropped his first buck, but his passion for hunting began a lot sooner. His earliest hunting memories are of hiking those trails with his father. “I would always get the look of ‘you’re being too loud’ or ‘you’re following too close.’ More than a decade later, following my father up those very trails, I’m often reminded about it and laugh.” Austin’s dad was taught by his father before him. And in that same way, Austin will teach those lessons to his daughter and sons. How to quietly hike the trails, find the best hideouts, and how to not only hunt deer, but elk as well. “I remember the first time I saw a bull elk. It was so close, I couldn’t control my heart rate.” Austin coming face to face with that majestic creature sparked something in him. “Elk are by far my favorite animal to hunt. Not only are they incredibly smart, but I think it’s the best wild meat to eat.”
September is archery season in Oregon and that’s when all the fun begins. “I don’t allow anything but hunting to be planned the entire month of September.” While Austin, his brother, and dad will hit the trails in September, they begin to train several months earlier. All summer long, Austin straps on a heavy pack and begins to get in shape by hiking up and down the steep hills just outside of Portland. But training doesn’t stop there. “My brother and head to our archery range every other morning before work.” Shooting countless arrows at 30, 40, and 50 yards away, the boys practice hitting their targets.
“There’s just something special about being out there. The sunrises, sunsets, listening to the elk bugle, looking at the stars, there’s nothing like it. The season just ended and I’m already thinking about next one.”
Austin uses his truck to help him in his everyday life, but especially when it comes to hunting. His Ford F-350 possesses the 4x4 capability to get up the hills, drive through gravel and mud, and pack all his gear along with any animals he caught. “I’m so thankful for it. It would be a far greater challenge if I didn’t have it.”
Husky: If you could go anywhere in the world to hunt, where would you go and what would you hunt for?
Austin: “If I could go anywhere, I would go to Alaska and hunt for a moose. They are enormous! They’re just a really cool animal.”
Are you doing any other hunting this winter?
“This winter, we are going cougar hunting. I’ve never done it, but you don’t know what’s going to happen out there. With a cougar, they can sit up in trees, they are scary quiet, very fast, and we’ll have to find their tracks. We can’t use dogs to tree them, so we have to find them on our own andhope they don’t find us first.”
What is your favorite thing about hunting?
“I just love being out in the woods. If I could stay out there and not worry about money, bills, and if my wife were happy with me, I would never come back. It doesn’t matter if the weather sucks, if the elk are quiet, just being there is awesome.”
What Say You? Tips and Tricks from the Husky Pack
It was my husband’s birthday on our new property, he had our 5 year old with him in the stand. A huge 13 pointer came out of the woods and he got his buck of a life time and our daughter turned to him and said, “happy birthday!”
My favorite eats while hunting is grilled tilapia and Dungeness crabs. It reminds me of where I grew up back in the Philippines. This weekend, we are going lobster fishing!
My favorite memory is the last Deer hunt I had with my grandpa before he passed away. We hunted together every year. Best eats are ham and Swiss sandwiches and ButterFinger candy bars. I will always hunt in Richland county because that’s where all my favorite memories are.
Best eats... Eat what ya harvest.. Goose sticks and jerky all year throughout waterfowl, bear, and deer season. Deer opener breakfast ritual.. Left over pan fried walleye wrapped in paper towel and foil and reheated on me buddy heater.