Washington Elk & African Big Game

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with Derek Abrahamson about Big Game from Washington to Africa and everything in between!

Derek is a wildlife biologist for his local Tribe in Washington State and helps manage the Reservation’s natural resources and wildlife. Derek is an avid hunter and has been on some amazing hunts from limited-entry elk on his reservation to an African Safari with his family. Derek and Brian talk about broadhead differences between large and small animals, the different ways the Tribe manages their wildlife to keep the quality of the game high, and what happens when Derek gets calls about bears caught in a trap. Check out the links below to see more of Derek’s adventures!

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Show Transcript

Brian Krebs: Welcome back to another Western Rookie podcast episode. I'm your host Brian Krebs, and today I have Derek Abrahamson on the call. And Derek I ran into Derek on social media and I found your page and I. I was like, wow, you do, you spend a lot of time in the outdoors and part of it is for fun and it appears like part of [00:01:00] it is your job.

You have a career in the outdoors, so I thought it'd be a really exciting conversation to have you on and just talk about the West. How are you? How does that sound to you, Derrick?

Derek Abrahamson: It sounds good. Yeah I tried to find a career path where it didn't really feel like I was necessarily working.

I, I do spend a lot of time out there.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. So you, it says wildlife biologist. And you, we talked a little bit in the green stream how that used to be your official title, and then you've switched a little bit. But did you get go to school or training like in For wildlife biology, like you, you obviously does that mean you're formally trained in biology?

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. I I did a two year program in Spokane, Washington for, I got my Associates of Applied Science for Fish and Wildlife Management, and then I transferred down to the University of Idaho and got my bachelor's in wildlife resources. Wow.

Brian Krebs: So it seems like if someone loves the outdoors, If you could become like a big game biologist or a wildlife biologist, [00:02:00] especially in the West, man I feel like that job, obviously there's some weather you're gonna be outside and it's gonna be raining or snowing or hot sometimes, but for all of us that just love the outdoors, I feel like that's a pretty solid career path to have a fulfilling life.


Derek Abrahamson: it's.

I guess it's there's a lot of stuff that is behind the scenes that, that people don't realize. I'd say 20% of my job is in the field and the rest of it is a lot of grant and writing and Yeah. Budgeting and things of that sort too. But the 20% that I do get in the field, really, it makes it worth it.

Brian Krebs: Awesome. Awesome. One thing that I was. I was really interested in when I saw all of the adventures you've been on is the two things. First of all, I did not know Washington was known for some of the caliber of elk that you have both tagged and also just pictures of trail camera, pictures of, [00:03:00] so the first thing is those must be, those aren't Roosevelt Elk, are they?

Those are the Rocky Mountain, like the American Elk. Yeah. So

Derek Abrahamson: those some of those are from other states Montana and such, but a lot of those are from Washington State. And those are rocky mountains. As a program here, we did a elk reintroduction, elk numbers were super low in our area, and we did a release of elk from wind cave.

Okay. And then we did another release from the Hanford Reach outta Washington State. And that was in 91. So since then the elk, her's been growing pretty good.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, it definitely looks like it's been growing. And then the second thing that I thought was really interesting was the size of the whitetails on your page.

Now this one, are those Washington Whitetails or are those, are you traveling for some of those whitetails? 'cause there are some hammers, which obviously the West has big white tails. But I wasn't expecting Washington to be one of those states. Yeah,

Derek Abrahamson: those are all from Washington. I've never I've never hunted Whitetail outta [00:04:00] Washington state yet.

Brian Krebs: Okay. Just getting pictures of them or, I see what you meant. Yeah. Like you have never left the state of Washington to hunt whitetails.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. I've had a deer tag in my pocket here and there. There's kinda I really like l cutting so. When it's applicable I'll put in for a whitetail tag and just to have it in my pocket, but I've yet to harvest a whitetail outta state.

Brian Krebs: Oh, there you go. Yeah. Which, the caliber of some of these animals we were talking about a little bit before we started the podcast, but you work for the tribe and the reservation as the wildlife management team, as part of the wildlife management team, but it. It appears whatever you guys are doing is working, 'cause you have some really high caliber animals that you've obviously had on your adventures.


Derek Abrahamson: A lot of it's just through, through proper habitat management. We've put habitat as number one and it seems that the the animals do the rest for us,

Brian Krebs: oh, do you think by being a part of the tribe and working for the [00:05:00] reservation, it. Do you guys have more, we talked about you guys have a little bit more power because the politics of Seattle don't influence as much what you're doing as it would maybe the game and fish, but does it also allow you to have like better funding and easier access to get these projects done?

Derek Abrahamson: I wouldn't say we have better funding. There's a lot of grants that come through periodically throughout the year, and some of those are directed at tribes. A lot of times they're, if they're federally funded, they'll allocate so many percent to tribes, but that's open nationwide.

If there's millions of dollars available, they might set aside. 10% of it specifically four tribes, but it's we're putting in for the same grants that like Washington State could get, the, okay. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation could potentially get, other entities.


Brian Krebs: Agencies. Okay. It probably does make it a little bit more streamlined to get the work done once you get approved for the grant, because you're working with. I [00:06:00] would say everyone's on the same team, maybe more so than if you have to deal with the entire state of Washington and all the people in Seattle want one thing and all the people on the east side of the state want another thing, then it can probably be pretty hard, even though it's funded to actually get it through and get it complete.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, and what we're pretty streamlined it kinda, so as a wildlife program we report to, there's a. A wildlife committee that's appointed by our tribal council, and they decide the seasons and the regulations and that's upon from the wildlife program's recommendations on what we're seeing with population dynamics and numbers for the year and things of that sort.

So we kinda work out our goals together and. Make plans from there.

Brian Krebs: Okay. So one thing that I've always wondered, and I'd be really curious to see how it works for you in Washington, is I've seen a lot of people especially when I lived in North Dakota because they had big game on, or, they had elk on reservation land, whereas like Minnesota, where I'm at [00:07:00] now, we just really have white tails as big game species and some black bear, but they're pretty evenly distributed across the entire state.

So it, it's the same opportunity whether you have like private land or tribal land. And so no one really talks about hunting a, getting a reservation license as much as they do maybe in the west. But that's something I've always been curious about is is it common that like a non-tribal member or a someone that has no Native American ancestry or genes at all, can apply for a tag on a reservation?

Derek Abrahamson: So that all depends on the reservation. There's over 500 different tribes in the United States, so 500 tribes, 500 different treaties or agreements, and 500 different rules of fish and game regulation. On our reservation we do not allow for hunting. We do allow for spouse tags and the first line descendant tags.

Okay. We allow for non-member [00:08:00] fishing in our reservoir, but on, on our tribe we don't allow for public hunting.

Brian Krebs: Okay. So if you do find a tribe that allows public hunting, you could apply for it, and then obviously it just comes down to whether or not you get it. Or maybe if there's a tribe that has over the counter and you can purchase it, that sounds like it could be an option.

Have you, are you familiar with any like reservations or tribes near you that, that offered that opportunity?

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. Correct. So there's various tribes I know. The reservation across the river from us they sell tags for like chuckers and game birds and things of that sort. I know the one of the tribes on the coast, they have really big black bear that they sell hunts for, and I think you're required to have a.

A tribal member is a guide. Same thing goes along the lines with say the San Carlos or White Mountain Apache. They have gigantic elk and they're selling hunts for, I've heard numbers of $70,000. So it just depends on the reservation. [00:09:00] This episode

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But I've always been worried that even if I got a reservation tag, Would it feel like an outsider encroaching on the people that live there as resource? 'cause I understand it. In a way, if I found someone hunting on my farm here in Minnesota, I wouldn't want them to be there. Okay. This is, [00:11:00] something that I've built and this is my home and it, does it get that feel or would it, if the tribe is open to public hunting and you can buy a tag, is people there pretty used to it and common with it.

You know what I'm saying? Like I just, it's so unfamiliar to me. I don't wanna I don't wanna do something that's gonna be not received well by the local people. 'cause I don't wanna in I don't want to impede on their resource and on their home if that's not what they really want. Yeah.

Derek Abrahamson: I mean, I imagine anywhere you go there's, you can get that out outsider feeling coming in.

Even you could, me being from Washington, I can go to Idaho and buy a. General Elk tag can get that, that feeling just 'cause I have Washington plates on my pickup. But for the most part, a lot of the tribes that do allow for hunting, a lot of those profits directly go back into the Fish and wildlife programs.

Okay. So I think there's a understanding that, you know, that this is for the overarching benefit of the [00:12:00] fish and wildlife species on those reservations. Yeah. But I imagine you, you still get the few people who just. Aren't happy with

Brian Krebs: anything, yeah, maybe it would be best to like at least go guided if it's even allowed to go unguided.

That's a separate thing, but go guided. So you have someone that's from the local community that can be with you and say, yeah, this is how we do it. And then if anyone does stop you, they know that like you're doing it right. Like you have a guide from the tribe with you.

You're, you're following the rules. Maybe that'd be the way to go. I like how you mentioned like the plates thing because that is big. And yeah, I have Minnesota plates, which is one of the worst received plates in the Midwest. When you go out of state, like when you go to Montana and you have a Minnesota plate, you really get the outsider treatment.

And I think, we typically see a lot of Washington and a lot of Minnesota plates at Trailhead, and I think the locals just, they start to get sick of everyone's coming from, Minnesota to hunt my elk.

Derek Abrahamson: I've had that feeling too. I've hunted elk in Idaho and got [00:13:00] that feeling, they, they see my Washington plate and so yeah, it depends on where you go, how welcoming it could be.


Brian Krebs: Yeah. That, we'll see. Colorado will be new for me. I don't know if it's gonna be as bad as it is in the past, but we're headed to Colorado archery season in just a few weeks, actually, by the time. No, I don't think this one will quite be, this one will be before we go, but a couple weeks after this airs we'll be in Colorado elk hunting, which I'm excited for.

But our tag is like basically an over the counter tag. And so it's not nearly as exciting as what you've got lined up this year. 'cause you said you have two limited entry elk tags this year, it sounds

Derek Abrahamson: yeah, I'm actually, so depending weather there's a lot of fires around I guess the Fairbanks area and it's blowing smoke into the hunt area.

We're kinda listening day by day. We're supposed to go to Alaska for caribou on Sunday that this coming Sunday. So That's first on the [00:14:00] list. And then I have I drew a reservation, muzzle loader tag here in Washington State. And I also drew a elk tag on the Navajo reservation. And that's a spouse tag, my, my wife's Navajo and I down there, they also draw for non-member tag, so that, that's also a possibility.

Brian Krebs: Oh, interesting. Yeah. So that, I assume it's probably not much easier than like a non-resident. Off reservation tag to draw. Obviously the, a majority of the tags they pick are probably going to tribe members, spouse tags, the, what you would maybe think of more as a resident. Obviously it's a little different, but I'm assuming it's a pretty small percentage for us folks that are non-resident and non-native.


Derek Abrahamson: The number, I think for the take I drew, I think there's, I might be wrong, but there's four or six spouse tags available and I think there's about the same amount for non-member tags.

Brian Krebs: Okay, interesting. Yeah, I might have to look into that. 'cause New Mexico is on [00:15:00] the list. I know if it's, that's only part of the reservation.

But New Mexico's on my list at Elk Hunt one day. 'cause I think it would be so much fun, especially after shed hunting down there and just seeing the different type of ground. But the, so you've. You've shot a few elk it looks like, and you're around them all the time with your job, whether it's in the office planning for the elk or in the field doing projects for the elk.

I see some he really cool helicopter pictures of like bulls traveling in the winter and stuff like that. So when it comes to these limited entry tags, are you setting a specific bar for what you want to see and get out of it for, from like an animal standpoint? Do you have a number in your mind that you're gonna.

Gonna hold out for

Derek Abrahamson: in my mind I'd like to hold out for three 50 plus. And that's I think I think I've hit that number a couple times and I just since I, I get the opportunity to fly the reservation and I hunt the reservation a lot too, so I feel like that's an achievable number with one of [00:16:00] those special tags.

Brian Krebs: Yeah I definitely think that's a fun goal. I've hit that number one time in my life and man, is it a special bull when they hit numbers like that, they just have, they have more character, more mass. It, they're just, I love it. I get so ate up with big elk that I, I definitely feel you with holding out for an animal like that, especially on a special tag.

I shot mine on a once in a lifetime tag, so I can't even apply for it again. And I knew there was big elk in the area, so I definitely held out. And so it's, I always ask because elk are such a, an interesting thing where you can have someone like yourself that lives in the area and most people can't fly the range, which that's a huge advantage to you all summer long, being able to like, just get eyes on and see what's out there.

But some people live there and they can hold out and they can hunt all season. And other people like myself have to travel and we get seven days to get it done. And so in, in Colorado, for example, I'm gonna shoot the first legal elk, [00:17:00] whether it's a cow or a legal bull. I'm not holding out for anything with my bow versus I've already shot.

I'm, I've already shot a three 50. But that's because that tag was so special that I waited and passed up a few elk even though I hadn't shot one at that time. That was my first elk was a three 50. So I just, I like hearing what people, what their goals are, because it's really interesting on a hunts like this to be able to really look at some bulls and pass them up.

I think that's my favorite part about hunting the west is the number of game you get to lay eyes on and if you have the right tag that allows for it, you get to pass up some and be a little picky. And I love that.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, I've flying the range, I just more or less get a index on what's around.

Since we fly in about the January, February months everything's in its winter range, so that, that's not extremely beneficial to, I think, Like the archery and muzzle litter seasons. I've, huh, I've never shot a big bull with a rifle. On reservation. [00:18:00] What happens is if you don't draw one of the special tags, we have a general rifle season, and that's I guess I'm the opposite.

I don't hold out with a rifle, but I will be picky with a bow in my hand or a muzzle loader. So

Brian Krebs: is it with the, with those two seasons then, is there a drastic difference in the challenge? Is it ha is it just hard to find mature elk in rifle season because of the time of the year? Or is it more so like at that point in the year you're just looking for meat in the freezer and you want to bring something home to feed the family?

Derek Abrahamson: It's both. It's it's also, there's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of people out during our general season and I have a, I have five kids too, so filling the freezer gets pretty important. So if I see something with a horn on it with they're in our general rifle season it's going

Brian Krebs: down.

Yeah, no, I hear you. I don't have five kids, but me and my wife eat a lot of meat every year and. It, you start adding it [00:19:00] up like a white-tailed deer doesn't make much of a dent in the meat needed for the year number. Like we, we go through 300 pounds of meat a year and a white-tailed dough only usually has 30 to 40 pounds of meat on it.

So it really helps when we get an elk.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah I agree. And typically I'll buy a Washington general Elk tag and I've only drawn these limited entry reservation tags. This will be my third time. So it, that don't come around too often.

Brian Krebs: No, but it's gotta be really fun when it does.

I, there's something when you have when you have a limited entry tag in your pocket, doesn't it seem like the entire summer it just has more excitement to it? This is coming, you plan harder, you shoot more, you exercise more because you know there's something special coming versus, I think there is a difference between just a, an elk hunt and a limited entry l hunt in that regard.


Derek Abrahamson: The reservation we draw super late we just drew, I think two [00:20:00] weeks ago. So we find out pretty late. But I have drawn a good Montana tag and that draw comes a lot earlier. And I agree with that. The preparation is tenfold of what it normally would

Brian Krebs: be.

Yeah. And it looked like you, I'm trying to like piece together the story from all the pictures you have, but it looks like you ended up with a really nice bull after what appeared to be a pretty hard

Derek Abrahamson: hunt. Yeah. There was one thing with that hunt was I'm so used to calling being outta Washington state.

There's a lot of steep country. It's really timbered. So calling is extremely beneficial. And going over there to Montana where it's so open, there were so many elk that, that the big bulls didn't seem to care about the calls. I was able to call in some smaller bulls and that the big bulls just, they don't care when they have, 80 cows with them.

So it, it was a little bit of a culture shock almost, [00:21:00] of figuring out different tactics on how to sneak up on those big open sage flat bulls.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. It, that's the other thing I was gonna comment on is, I don't know where you shot the bull, but where he tipped over, there's almost nothing to hide behind.

Was that a south, like a eastern side of the state tag? Yeah. Yeah. That's funny. I just met, I've, I just found out through this podcast that I have a cousin that is an outfitter in that part of the area, but I always thought man, it's gotta be hard to hunt elk in the open because calling's only gonna be so effective if you can't set up a collar shooter and there's nothing to hide behind.

You're basically like crawling through sage to get close enough.

Derek Abrahamson: So the elk herd was moving up one of the ridges leading up to their bedding area. And I was getting ready to come home within the next couple days. So we just made a effort. I have a brother that lives over there and we we just decided to, more or less, every time the elk would look away, we would just run across this this [00:22:00] sage.

Flat leading up to the ridge and every time they'd stop to, pick up their head and look around, we would just red light, green light the whole way. And it had to been a mile or so before we were able to get in close enough. And we snuck up behind the elk and I was able to get a shot at 63 yards on that one.

Brian Krebs: Wow. So was it a whole herd, like a, this bull and a full harem of cows that you were trying to dodge eyeballs with?

Derek Abrahamson: He was actually one of the satellite bulls. He was probably one of, I'd say about five or six bulls in that herd. There was a great big bull in the front, leading the way and, he was one of the bigger bulls towards the back, so I.

Brian Krebs: Man, I'm looking at the pictures right now and it's hard to believe that's a satellite bull in any unit in America, but that, I believe it. It just, that's a big bull. That's a solid bull.

Derek Abrahamson: I almost I almost shot the wrong bull. We popped up there, like on the other side of the picture, there's [00:23:00] some pinion junipers and when we first got up on the, that ridge with them a different bull had walked out and I just about did the blackout mode and shot the wrong bull. But I was able to hold off a little bit and. Connect on the right one we were targeting.

Brian Krebs: Oh yeah. That looks cool. That looks cool.

What I've noticed from the all, actually, really all of the bulls that you've got, pick that you've tagged, they're all wide bulls, or at least they look wide. Yeah. I've never shot a wide bull. I've shot two decent bulls, but both of them were, I think one was like 34 inches wide, and the other one was like 33 inches wide.

Very narrow bulls by all accounts, really for a mature bull. And so I'm, look I just, I feel like those wide ones just add a different aspect when they're, 40, 45 inches wide, that just frame looks so much more impressive.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. I think that Montana Bulls probably 46 or 47 inches wide inside.

[00:24:00] I'm a pretty big guy, so the. I typically make my animals look smaller.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. There's nothing making that elk look smaller. It looks a pretty big elk, but yeah, that's what I mean. The 3 54 that I tagged, that was the one that was only 34 inches wide. So imagine taking 13, 14 inches off of your bowl and then adding it back in time length and mass.

Really, it came it back in mass to make it. 3 54 anyway. It's, it looks extremely narrow for how big everything else is.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. I shot a similar bowl. I don't know if it's if it's on my Instagram or not. It might be on one of the pictures that I have of my wall at my house. But I have one bowl that came outta Oregon that's the same thing.

It has a, like a 34, 35 inch inside spread and just really long timed.

Brian Krebs: Okay. Are all those the, so I see some mounts one of 'em looks like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation building. Oh

Derek Abrahamson: yeah. [00:25:00] That, that okay. I think that's when I first got my Instagram and was just putting up pictures.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, there you go. Yeah, those, the, it's, I'm waiting for a wide one and I think maybe it was just where I was hunting, they didn't, weren't known for wide bulls or maybe I just picked a narrow bull. But I'd love to shoot a nice, big wide one. 'cause I think it just makes. I just think it makes 'em look like really cool to have all that space and that big, like the big hoop, like the big frame.

I think that looks really cool on a mature bowl.

Derek Abrahamson: But yeah I think some of that's genetic too, here in the, with RL Curd, Where I work, we're plagued with short thirds and we get that, that double royal quite a bit. And it seems to just be a gene that stays in there.

Brian Krebs: That's not a, short thirds aren't the best thing, but they're usually short anyway. So that double royals definitely not a problem. You'd love to see that on every elk. [00:26:00]

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. So the, if you're hunting area that historically has wide bulls, I'd say your chances of getting a wide bull would be pretty good.

Brian Krebs: The one thing is we've never, we've, we usually don't hunt the same unit multiple years in a row because we're all non-residents and so we all have to bounce around to get the tags. And so this year it's a brand new unit for us as well. Last year was a new unit to archery hunt. The year before that, we rifle hunted instead.

So that didn't count. And then, we do have a favorite spot, but it takes us like three or four years to draw that tag. Yeah. And that gets worse every year. But how does it compare? 'cause I've seen you've done some African hunting and it looks like you used your bow for some of it as well.

So how does it compare? Is there like a, is there a major difference between the animals over there? In like shot placement, shooting distances like arrow design or is it pretty similar to an elk? [00:27:00]

Derek Abrahamson: So I think I think elk are still the toughest thing that I. Most bow hunters will ever go up against, elk, just have this will to live.

That seems unmatched. They're so strong and they're such amazing animals. I don't know that there's an animal as tough as an elk. The African stuff, I went on that safari probably seven years ago, and the game over there is a lot thinner skinned. I wasn't quite sure on what I was getting into going over there.

I was told by the pH just to aim farther forward than we're used to. So I was almost aiming just straight up from the leg. Oh, interesting. On all my shots. They said, the African game, they were explaining to me that the muscle and bone structure of the African game pushed farther forward in the chest cavity.

So they said just straight up the leg. And I brought over a pretty heavy arrow. I think my arrow was probably about [00:28:00] 560 grains or so. And I got passed through and I'm skipping arrows out off the ground into the trees through threw everything. And yeah I'd say none of it was compared to a elk.

Brian Krebs: Interesting. Yeah. Do when the African game was hit, in your experience, obviously it's just, you can only talk to your experience, but do they, were they run as hard and as long as an elk or would they tip over a little faster? 'cause in our experience, when you hit an elk, man they death run down the mountain and they can cover we've double lung, some elk, and they still cover 150, 200 yards or farther before they tip over.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. The only animal the pH we were hunting with, he had a camcorder going the whole time. And the only animal that didn't die on video was the wilder beasts I shot. And he made it probably 150 yards or so. Okay. Everything else just seemed that they'd run out there and on, on camera end up tipping over within about a hundred yards.

Brian Krebs: Would they [00:29:00] just like stop and think about what happened and what spooked him and then eventually run out of like blood and tip over? Yeah,

Derek Abrahamson: and then all the shots were super close. It was pretty thick in the area where we hunted it and it was flat, so most of it was out of elevated ground blinds.

And so I'd say my farthest shot was probably. 26 yards. Oh, wow. And so that, that's something I'm not used to either. So

Brian Krebs: yeah. 26 yards. And it's for the most part, pretty large game. Like it's, they're giving you a big bullseye to aim at.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. The Kudu was probably, The closest size to a elk.

They're just skinny. So if you put say 50 pounds more meat in their hind quarters and about the same in their front shoulders, they'd be about the same shape as a big bull Elk is a

Brian Krebs: kudu. The one with the big, long, twisted horn that goes up in a spiral. Yeah. Okay. Those look pretty cool. [00:30:00] Those look really cool actually.

That's a pretty cool looking animal. Yeah, I was just curious about that. I wonder if what you saw over there. Is because you were shooting such a, I assume you, if you're a bigger guy too, you're probably shooting like a longer draw and maybe a higher weight bow. And with that heavy arrow just punching through so fast, I've heard people talk about, they used to see a bunch of deer die on camera when they were shooting fixed blades, and then the mechanical blades all came about and everyone switched to 'em, but they started getting less pass throughs.

And deer started, it seemed like deer were running harder after they got hit with those mechanicals because it was cutting wider or hitting harder, more energy transferring to the animal instead of punching right through. And so they knew that. It's almost like they knew they got hit by something and they would take off, versus they thought when they were shooting those heavier fixed blades, they'd punch through and the animal would maybe go into shock so fast that they're like, I don't know what happened.

And then they'd run 50 yards and stop and look back and then tip over.[00:31:00]

Derek Abrahamson: That makes a lot of sense to me. I've never I've never heard that, but thinking of all the elk I've shot the farthest. They ran. Were all with mechanicals. I've went back and forth. I'm mainly a fixed blade guy.

And thinking of all the elk I've shot with a fixed blade, broadhead, they'll stand there more or less. They'll jump outta ways and try to figure out what happened and eventually just tip over. And the couple big bulls I've shot with a mechanical head they're running a lot harder.

Did you I totally

Brian Krebs: agree with that. Did you get pass throughs with both broadhead

Derek Abrahamson: types? So I shot a big bull frontal with one of the older rages. So that just went fletching deep in that bull. And then my Montana bull I shot with a sever and it buried in his offside shoulder.

So that wasn't a pass through. But I have shot a smaller bowl with the original Ulmer edge, which I think is what the sever broadheads based off of from trophy taker. [00:32:00] Okay. And I did get a pass through with that. But for my fix blade heads I've gotten a lot of pass throughs.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Do you switch your broadhead based on the game you're taking? 'cause like I'm looking at an antelope and an elk side by side. Is that something where you'll switch your broadhead over. Just like a mechanical, just to get a wider cut on an antelope and more accuracy because it's a smaller target.

Derek Abrahamson: I'm pretty much switching my heads out if I know the. Like antelope punt in Montana, it's, it gets really windy and the shots can be quite a bit farther. So I'll switch just to cut down on that wind drift. And for this Alaska hunt, I'm expect expecting quite a bit of wind too.

I'm gonna bring both to Alaska. I've been shooting my bow quite a bit with fixed heads and the the srs. Okay. So if it's windy, I'm gonna end up using the mechanical.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Caribou aren't quite as big of bodied as an elk, is that right? Or is that, am I off on that assumption? [00:33:00]

Derek Abrahamson: I've never seen one.

There, there's actually, there's a place close to where I live at and I think they raise reindeer for I Santa Villages or, they dress 'em up around Christmas time and I've been really watching those caribou all summer or reindeer? I don't, I think it's reindeer if they're domesticated, but there's some pretty big ones out there and I've been trying to gauge body size, but I don't know if that's the same body size as a wild caribou.

Yeah, that's a good point. But from pic, from pictures I've seen, I don't, they look like they're bigger body than a meal. Deer buck, more closely to, I. Spike Elish. Okay. I guess they, they kinda

Brian Krebs: look, yeah. So you shouldn't have too much issue with either Broadhead then?

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, as far as hunting them, this is my first time to Alaska.


Brian Krebs: That sounds exciting.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. I was supposed to go last year on a moose hunt, but I broke my leg early [00:34:00] in the on Memorial Day weekend and I wasn't able to make the moose hunt last year.

Brian Krebs: Yeah, that would be a pretty rough moose hunt without being able to train a majority of the summer and then expect to go in after a moose and haul it out.

Oof. That'd be a tough hunt.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. So the hunting season last year wasn't too eventful.

Brian Krebs: It gives you a chance to maybe sit back, relax, think of new dreams and new places you want to go, and new animals you wanna hunt. So might be some benefit to it.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, and I, the outfitter understood, the special circumstances and they let me rebook the hunt for 2025.

So I'm still gonna go on the moose hunt, but it just, I just gotta wait longer.

Brian Krebs: Sorry about that folks. We had a brief technical issue if you hear a gap, but No, I was asking on the African stuff, I've always been curious, is that something that it's more attainable than people think for an average hunter, or is it something where you really gotta plan that out and make it like a 10 year goal if you want to do that?[00:35:00]


Derek Abrahamson: I'd say the African stuff is more obtainable than I'd say. A lot of the North American hunts. So my African hunt was, it was $5,000 and it was I think the original package included a Kudu and then a Wilder Beasts or Zebra and Impala and a warthog was the original agreement. But when I got over there it seems the.

The tags are just whatever they allow you in that area. And so one thing that the pH told me was if Hoyt comes out with a new bow, say in October, they don't get it in Africa. He was telling me until about the next year. So I went over there with a new bow and I had new equipment. So he was also a hard, hardcore bow hunter.

So we just started trading different equipment for, I [00:36:00] guess more animals. I. So you just said

Brian Krebs: so it, did it work out that you're like, Hey, if you wanna shoot like extra animals, I'll trade your bow for it. And then like you just used your bow for the whole hunt and then you left it with him when you left.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, so he was actually the one that was like picking my gear that he wanted. And I don't know if he had an agreement out with with whoever runs the area. South Africa is a lot different than it is in the. Us. So he just he's you can shoot this now for your site and your quiver.

And I should have traded in my bow case because coming back through customs with an empty bow case they didn't like that.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. That's a good point. Okay, so was $5,000, man, that doesn't seem like a lot of money. Was that. Obviously travel's probably not included with that, but was that lodging and food while you were there as well?

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, so it was I think our flights were, we booked them pretty early and I think the flights to Johannesburg from [00:37:00] Washington State were around 16, 1700 bucks. Round trip.

Brian Krebs: That's obviously not something someone just goes and buys tomorrow, but that could be like a one or two year goal and pick up a couple extra shifts a week, and all of a sudden you're there.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. One, one thing that I, I didn't know when I booked the hunt was South Africa's a lot more, I guess more of a canned hunt. We were on a. On a property. It was 16,000 hectares, which I think is probably, I don't know like 50,000 acres or something. I'm not sure of the conversion. But so it was a high fence hunt.

But we did see Kudu jump over the fence. I was unaware that the hunt would be like that. I guess all of South Africa's like that we were up farther north on the. The border of Botswana on the Lepo River. Most of the ground we were on didn't have a [00:38:00] fence along that river. So game was free to go back and forth from Botswana to South Africa where we were.

But yeah I didn't know it was gonna be like that. I was expecting I'd say when we were hunting, we never seen the fence actually, but I am more accustomed to, a back country elk hunt or Yeah. Something more North American.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. No that's, it's a good insight.

So if anyone wants to to go and do that hunt to be aware hey, just ask if that's important to you, ask about it and pick it accordingly. But you'd almost think if it was a canned high fence hunt that it would be more expensive.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah I think I think that property, since they were on that river I am I could be wrong, but at the time we went I think Botswana didn't allow for hunting, so there was a lot of big animals moving back and forth across that river.

It, it wasn't much of a river, and in Washington we got pretty big river, so I'd call that a crick, but.

Brian Krebs: Oh yeah. True. That's fair. That is fair. [00:39:00] Especially if animals are easily crossing it. It's obviously not like the Missouri River or the, the Mississippi River, so yeah.

Interesting. Did you see, when you were there, did you see any like extraordinary animals? Did you have any lions come in or like any pre big predators, big cats or like elephants and stuff like that? Obviously, I know those tags are a completely different price range, but I was just curious if you saw anything like that while you were there.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah I got tired of sitting in the blind. And so we went for a walk down by the river. And I got a Yellowstone touristy about it. Okay. Because we see if, we see to heard of elephants. And so I'm standing there and I get out my camera and I'm excited to see elephants and the pH didn't notice 'em.

So I get out my camera and true Yellowstone tourist fashion to take some pictures and he turns around and asked me what I'm doing. And He, I got an ear beating from him 'cause I guess that situation can get dangerous pretty fast. There was [00:40:00] some bulls in the herd with some young calves as well, and I guess they get pretty territorial and we were too close for his comfort anyway.

But there I was with my camera trying to take pictures. How close were you? We were, I'd say a hundred yards or so, but I guess. I guess that's pretty close for wild elephants.

Brian Krebs: I've seen videos of them running and they can run pretty darn fast. I wonder obviously it's dangerous no matter what you do, but if you got into a situation, I wonder if we are like, nimble enough to like, you, like kinda like a bowl in a matador situation where like they're gonna charge you and then you just duck dart to the side and they can't maybe turn as fast.

I don't know. It'd be a pretty stupid thing to try if they're like, no, they can turn pretty darn fast and clip you.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah I don't know a lot of that brush over there, it's I don't know if you've ever hunted Arizona or not, but it seems like Arizona every plant wants to rip ya and po ya and South Africa is yeah, worse that, every plant over there has, [00:41:00] it's what size of Thorn it has is more of the question.

And I think those elephants are just, Mow it all over. I don't, there's not really much to hide behind where we were.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. That wouldn't be a long-term play. It would be like, I'm gonna avoid the first charge and hopefully the pH can take care of it. But yeah, I suppose you have to decide, am I gonna take my chances with the elephant or am I gonna go through the meat grinder on the brush?

Yeah. That sounds interesting.

Derek Abrahamson: But lucky for us, the elephants never noticed us. We were fine.

Brian Krebs: Okay, cool. Did you, how does it work for taxidermy, you're taking your animals home? Did were, are you able to do that or, I know like sometimes they hold onto 'em for a certain number of

Derek Abrahamson: years the way we'd done it was I talked to my normal tax dermis and he told me that they will try to get you to hire a trophy consultant.

He said, it's a big rip off. Don't do it. It's not worth your money. And he told me the game plan, he's had [00:42:00] other clients go to Africa and do it both ways. So he said, make sure to specifically tell them that I want my trophies to go to the Seattle port and not J F K or whatever the port is in New York City.

And so when I did that the taxidermist there and the trophy consultant kind of knew, what I was up to. So they weren't too happy about it, but I just had my shipment sent to Seattle, which is about. Four and a half hours from where I live. So I just drove over there and I went to Fish and Game and got a piece of paper and I brought it to Delta Cargo and brought it back to Fish and Game and had the paper signed and brought it back over.

And it was those two buildings were a mile apart. So it was 15 minutes of work that I guess could have cost me a thousand extra bucks. And they just sent in a big crate.

Brian Krebs: So did they send did they just send like your skull caps and like a tanned hide or [00:43:00] assaulted hide? Or did they, did you have to get it mounted over in Africa?

Derek Abrahamson: So the, my taxidermist told me that over in Africa they tend to he said they pickle their hides and it's It's not as good of a process as the soft tanning that detects dermis in North America use. Okay. So he'd also told me just to have them salt, the capes and we would be able to work on 'em from there.

So I, I just had 'em salt all my capes and they sent over the skull caps.

Brian Krebs: Okay. So is it, was it, first of all, like the people that you go with or like your professional hunter or pH was that an American person or was that not an American person?

Derek Abrahamson: No, he was south African.

Brian Krebs: Okay. But obviously there's not a very strong communication barrier.

Like he spoke English just fine and you could communicate what you wanted. Yeah. How did you find so one thing that I would be worried about is like going to a new continent, doing a new thing. Like, how did you find this is the person I wanna hunt with. They're like, This is [00:44:00] the trip I want to go on.

Did you meet this person while he was like, promoting at trade shows in the States or how did you know that this was a place that you wouldn't basically, that you would go to and you're not gonna get ripped

Derek Abrahamson: off? Thi this was a connection from my, my brother in Montana, he he lined up everything and he has a friend in New York.

Who has been on this hunt with this his name's Yani a few times. So he lined everything up. Oh, okay. For us to go. So it he knew about Yani and got us all set up with the hunt.

Brian Krebs: Oh. So that helps. Like knowing someone that's been there before and has done it. 'cause that's, that would be my biggest thing, like going in blind.

And they say, Hey, yeah, you can, for example, they'll tell you maybe on the phone yeah, you can do whatever you want. We'll send your hides wherever. Then you get over there and they're like, ah, nevermind. We're just gonna use our own taxidermist. And then shipping would be a nightmare to ship.

Like a shoulder mount over.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah. And then the guy that was also there in camp, his name was John, he was a A New York police [00:45:00] officer and he gets his stuff taxidermied over there and he said it, it takes them about two years to, to get his mounts back to him. Oh, Jesus.

Brian Krebs: To be fair, it took me about two years to get my elk back.

And that was from my guy in my hometown wow. That sounds cool. I'd never really have had the African bug. But hearing you talk about it and looking at the story, I do think it would be fun. I don't know if it, how, where it would rank for me, but just the shot opportunity and the the game and just, I feel like it's like type one fun, not type two fun.

Where like an elk hunt, like a back country elk hunt's, like type two fun, right? You. It's grueling when you're doing it, but you look back on it and just loved it, loved the story, and loved that you did it. Whereas like I would say, Africa's probably like more type one fun, where it's just a fun, easygoing hunt, but maybe not one that you're going to tell the most stories about because it wasn't like as grueling or challenging or, yeah.

Derek Abrahamson: I totally agree with [00:46:00] that. And that was something since I didn't line up the hunt, I didn't know what exactly we were getting into. But yeah, we were. We were eating good every night and the pH would drop me off food and stuff in the blind at midday. So yeah, it was for sure type one.

Brian Krebs: Fun. Cool, cool. Did you get to eat any of the animals? 'cause I know typically the animals go towards like the local people or like most of the meat goes towards the local people, but did you get to eat any parts of it?

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, so we we actually made some jerky while we were in camp. My mom actually went on the hunt too, so we yeah, the, I got a black bear in a trap, so that's why everyone's calling me.

We gotta go collar. This black bear.

Brian Krebs: Oh I'm definitely not cutting that part out of this podcast because that sounds really cool.

Derek Abrahamson: But yeah, we've we've been so along the lines of our elk herd we've noticed some population dynamics and some Bullhead ratios that have been off. Really make, making our [00:47:00] rutt length really long.

So when tribal members get a cow tag for the general rifle season, we'll take out the embryos and we can tell the date that cow was bred. Okay. So what I started noticing was, we were getting cows bred as early as Labor Day weekend, and we were getting cows bred as late as Halloween. Oh. For years.

And Quite a while. I think going back to oh seven or so, we were allowing for a open general spike bull harvest in the south portion of the reservation. Okay. And so we're really cutting down on our bull recruitment. So our bull cow ratios were pretty low. We were getting really old bulls who were getting wise to the hunts and we were getting a lot of spike harvest every year.

So we were missing that middle age class of bull. Like looking into our population dynamics and I think a lot of spikes, we're trying to do a lot of the breeding, so they're missing cows. And the cows are forced a second, even third Este extra. [00:48:00] So we're also tacking on a black bear study and we're looking into like neonatal go.

Okay. I finally texted him. I told him to quit calling. Okay. But I am on my way back out there.

Brian Krebs: Yeah. Okay. So it does sound like, so it sounds like you're studying, it got choppy there, but it sounds like you're studying if there's more predation from black bears on calves because they're having a longer drop window.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah just because, elk and a lot of the other. Serve it and game species, they're evolved to, to really focus that rutt length, and con condense it so you know, there's less predation and you get a big boar black bear that gets into a cabin ground. And if say that, that black bear can eat one calf a day, if our rutt length ends up being 60 days, that's potentially 60 calves he can, can eat.

Brian Krebs: So yeah, I definitely get it. I definitely get that, that de predation thing. And so it's really cool that you guys are able to do studies like that and make an [00:49:00] impact because you got a kind of a fixed landscape that you're dealing with the reservation. So that sounds pretty cool. Yeah.

But right before the Black Bear topic came up, you said that you guys were able to make some jerky in camp, and so did you bring some of that home then?

Derek Abrahamson: No it's actually illegal to bring back any meat so that meat has to stay in Africa.

Brian Krebs: Oh, that's a bummer.

Derek Abrahamson: Yeah, it's especially being like a North American hunter, the meats, like your main prize as well.

So not being able to bring any of that home was

Brian Krebs: a bummer. Did it, do you feel like most of the meat went to good causes, though? Like it was feeding people in Africa or did they not use most of it? I

Derek Abrahamson: think they used most of it. I think they, they mentioned that there was a meat. Processing facility where they make a lot of sausage and stuff too.

And I think that's where they were planning on taking it, so

Brian Krebs: Oh, at least that's good. At least that's good. Yeah. But man, Derek, just like that we've been racked [00:50:00] up an hour and obviously you gotta go deal with the black bear. And so I will I'll wrap this up. And it's been an amazing podcast talking to you, talking about Africa and all the cool adventures you've done here and.

North America as well. But before we do that, if you'd like to give the listeners a quick rundown of your socials and the Instagram and where they could go and maybe look at some of these pictures we've been talking about. Feel free to do

Derek Abrahamson: okay. Yeah. My Instagram is heck, I don't even know it.

I think it's Derek Underscore Abrahamson. Yep. And it just spelt like that. And I should upload a lot more. I have a lot cooler pictures on my phone. I'm just not the best social media guy I don't do the Facebook thing or anything like that either,

Brian Krebs: cool. We'll put a link to your Instagram or there's a lot of cool pictures on there already, so if you upload more, it's just gonna be that much better.

But I will I'll let you go. I'll let you take care of that bear, put a collar on it, add to your study, and I will Obviously if you, I would love to have you on again in the future if you have some cool stories from the exciting hunts you're going on this fall [00:51:00] and for everyone else, thank you for listening.