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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Big Horn Show: Tips from the best

Troy Pottenger, 45, a Post Falls middle school teacher, poses with just a few of his trophies.

Ted Forsi’s Alaska adventure started with some mentors in Spokane who invited him to join them 45 years ago on a hunt up north.

After more than four decades since working as a volunteer for the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show, Forsi, an Auburn, Washington, native and Washington State graduate, is traveling here from Alaska to give a seminar that he hopes will give someone the same spark that changed his life forever.

“There are probably a lot of young guys and young hunters. They think about going to Alaska but they are not sure where to start or how to put their hunting plans together,” Forsi said. “I want to encourage them and give them some information. This is our last frontier up here, still.”

Forsi will join a list of presenters at the 55th annual Big Horn Show, which starts today at noon and runs through 4 p.m. on Sunday. The sold-out show for the first time includes a climbing wall, along with all things outdoors. The show raises money for the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.

And, yeah, there will be antlers.

Presenting along with Forsi is a Post Falls eighth-grade health teacher and business man who spends most of his waking hours pursuing large whitetail bucks on public land from Dworshak Reservoir in Idaho to Bonners Ferry.

Troy Pottenger, 45, takes the day of Christmas off, but otherwise he’s looking for sheds, studying tracks in the snow, checking game cameras and hunting with a bow.

“I spent probably a minimum of 250 days afield last year. At least partial days,” Pottenger said. “I’ve already found 70 sheds. Yeah, it’s kind of my life passion.”

Sheds to trophies

This is the fourth year Pottenger has shared his insights on finding huge mountain-dwelling bucks, mostly on public land. Perhaps he could also talk a few minutes about time management.

Along with teaching, Pottenger has his own business to manage while trying to find time to hunt Eastern Washington, North Idaho, Montana, at least one Midwestern state and sometimes a Canadian province.

“I grew up a logger’s son. I’ve logged for 30 years. I’m a busy dude. I pretty much don’t sleep a lot,” Pottenger said. “My teaching schedule during the hunting season is teach and go hunting. I used to be the head football coach. I gave that up so I could hunt whitetails.”

Other than taking Christmas off, Pottenger said he’s in the woods following trails and setting up what he calls a “trap line” of trail cameras.

“The snow shows me what they are doing. I’m looking for bucks that survive and made it through the year,” he said. “I log it in my memory bank.”

He divides his seminar into four steps: locating, monitoring, setting up a game plan and then the hunt.

While most people use shed hunting as a relaxing way to get back in the woods after the hunt, Pottenger uses finding antlers as the beginning stage of learning everything he can about the buck he will target.

“I have 13 bucks that I’ve killed with archery that I first found sheds from,” he said.

Pottenger, originally of St. Maries, Idaho, places his arsenal of 30 or so trail cameras on deer scrapes, which typically appear during the rut. However, the bucks use the licking branches above the scrapes all year long, he said.

“I use scrapes like crazy. I hunt and find deer by using scrapes,” he said. “Deer are very social and community-based animals. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, a whitetail buck will want to know who moved into his area.”

To that end, Pottenger uses synthetic scents to pique a buck’s interest.

“Then when I find him, I hone in on him and continue to monitor him on the scrapes,” he said.

Pottenger’s results speak for themselves. He often uses his 11-year-old son, Tyson, to film his hunts for Whitetail Addictions TV show.

Alaska dreaming

Forsi harvested a moose, a mountain goat and a caribou on that fateful trip in 1969.

“I was 23 years old,” said the 69-year-old guide. “I can’t climb the mountain like I used to, but I still love sleeping in a sleeping bag.”

Forsi also became a pilot 40 years ago, which can’t hurt his guiding service. He’s also been a licensed guide since 1986.

“I have a beautiful home. I love Alaska,” Forsi said. “I am licensed as a civil engineer. But my true love is the outdoors.”

Now residing in Soldotna, Alaska, Forsi recently traveled to Dallas to give a seminar there.

“I can’t believe the traffic and the people down there in Dallas. I couldn’t wait to get home,” he said. “Even Spokane is hard for me. Division Street can be a little busy.”

For his seminar, Forsi will provide information for those who want to plan an Alaskan hunt.

“If you want to come up and do a caribou hunt, there is a lot of stuff to analyze and collect. You will have fun, but you’re going to spend some time and money doing it,” he said.

“You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”