Well of course this hunt starts out toward the end of September as I alluded to earlier. I think nigh on about the 25th. I really dont remember and I'm just too lazy to review the calendar on my Iphone because that would constitute effort, and since I'm writing this on Sunday, and we dont work on Sunday, I'll just have to tell you that it was a Wednesday opener near the end of September. Well right now my phone is busy sending me about 20 photos of the even that are yet to fully download on the ol' Yahoo, so I'm going to try and reconstruct this event from memory now while we wait.
So, as I stated earlier Your Honor, we went up on a Tuesday evening and settled into the cabin there at Strawberry Reservoir just off the Highway 40 you heard so much about in the hit song, "Highway 40 Blues." Ricky Skaggs put that little ditty together back in March of 1980 and 3 and it's been a favorite every since. Anyhow, so our cabin is just off the South side of said highway just about a hop, skip and half a jump from the Soldier Creek Marina. That's not on the test or anything, I's just tellin' ya. Anyhow, so we occupied the assembly area and set about pulling security and setting out the daily requirements for the following morning's events. There was plenty to do of course, there was loading the refridgerator, there was watching a little of the Whisper Channel to get psyched-up, there was finding all of the accoutrement for his inline Knight .50 caliber rifle, and lining out the various and sundry clothing items for which many a heart has been set a flutter each time we visit the Fruitland Store, now, aptly named, "The Big G"...or, as some may have come to find it, "The G Spot." It's not really a spot really, more of an area...you know what? Never mind, when you're a little older we'll go into that, suffice it to say, Google it, just discussing this with you is making me a little weirded out at the whole concept.
So where were we? Oh yes, so we set all our toys out on the kitchen table for the next marnin'. Well, as soon as we closed our eyes, we had to turn around and open them again, because it was around 4 am and there were eggs to be eht, and bacon for ta be fried, and a whole smathering of such and some to get done. We elected to load up the Arctic Cat on the big blue, (now Black) double axle. So we drove on over to the ....oooh, I almost told ya, now didnt I? Anyhow, we weren't quite to the G Spot, and we were a ways off from the Highway 40 Blues. Anyhow, we missed the dang turn again, and flipped a U-ey and then rolled up into the sportsmans' access area du jour. Well, we had devised ourselves a little plan in which we were going to drop Papa Bear (that's Dad in this instance) off at the Highway, and I'd go on in to the parking area (aka "Beaver Pond") and park then head into the aspen and meet in the middle. Hey, let's start a new paragraph shall we?
Ah, that's better. Well, I got parked and climbed out and since I wasn't carrying any weaponry of any variety, just sort of, well, walked up into the trees. Well I was having myself a nice old time just walking, and listening, and walking a spell, and doing some more listening. Well, I got pretty close to the ridgeline and into that damnable buck brush. Well it's not the oak brush, it's that black, willowy aspenesque crap that whips you in the face and you duck under one, climb over ta utherin' and well, by the time I got to the ridgeline I was pretty well covered in those little stickers that look like ticks and working up a real lather under my fourteen layers of clothing. Which is a good departure for myAdult A.D.H.D. really: >>>>you ever (guys), realized on a really cold day, that you may have put just two too many layers of clothing on? On this particular day, I was wearing underwear (Spiderman in this case), a layer of ninja jammies, a t shirt, a ninja jammie top, a pair of pants, a pair of quilted overalls, a camo sweater, and some gloves. Well, let's just say, that if you elect to use the trap-door system on all of your men's wear, you've got quite a hump to get to Objective Kitty Litter. By the time you swing wide and around Door Number One, under and over Door Number Two, Under the T-shirt, Over the Overalls, well, by the time your volunteer fire department gets to the scene, you may as well just call it a total loss and call the insurance agent for the damages. Anyhow, this isn't normal mind you, I'm just sayin' it was cold outside. You know, shrinkage. You....KNOW about shrinkage...right???<<<
Anyhow, so I got up to the ridgeline and as I crested over I heard a thunderous applause for my efforts in the form of what sounded to be four or five quadrepedials departing with gusto. So I got up and over and started up the ridgeline to Phase Line Blue, or "The Saddle" as we've come to term it. Mostly because, well, it's a saddle. Not a literal, a mountain, you know what, forget it. Anyhow, I got up to the saddle, and started looking around for a 68 year old man in full-on camo, which, believe it or not, even when you're looking can be sorta tough to find. So, I set on down snug-up again' this stand of oakbrush and commenced to looking out over the vast area which I had come to survey. I watched as the first rays of light...well, second rays, I was running about 17 minutes late due to the buckbrush and urinary destractions we covered earlier, and I sat down with my thoughts and a pair of binoculars.
So I sat there a while and then as I looked over into the sage across the way, I spied this here old man. He was a lookin' at me, and I went to a lookin' at him. Turns out it was my dad as there were only four of us bipeds anywhere on this mountain. So I trucked on over to sit with him and ask if he'd seen any. So he told me this story about how he'd had a running shot at a big six point bull running through the trees playin' caboose with a couple of cows. So we went on over to where he shot and tried to reconstruct an episode of Columbo, but to no avail. We were plum out of Avails and the G Spot is fresh out of them too it seems. I think there's on back-order. Anyhow, so we walked just a smidge on over to the private side of the island to just get a little peak-a-loo of what we may have been missing. Well lucky for them and luckier for us, we just chased three bulls and a harem of cows just outside of range for the better part of the morning. Dad had one open shot and his gun failed to fire, because the Knight rifle which he owns has a function where the little doohickey (That's a firearms term you may not be familiar with), wasn't screwed all the way out and the cap failed to fire.
So, that constituted just about all the elk we saw for the next three days. As I recall it started then to get progressively colder and a couple of days at just over 10K feet elevation, we just stopped hunting at midday and started a fire to thaw a little. Which is a good placeholder for a little lesssons learned here. If you're trying to start a fire, and you're critically low on toilet paper, and your kindling is mostly wet, DONT crush up a pyrodex (gunpowder) pellet, and put it into a little flashpan of t.p. and try to ignite it like Rambo might in an abandon mine. All it does is flash and blow out your fire, and your wet sticks, and most of your eyebrows really.
So, we hunted the side canyon over the next day or so, and then the girls and mom and Josh came up. Wait, back up, I went home Friday night and watched Josh's football game and then brought him up after it on Friday. I'm pretty sure they lost, but they were all winners for trying. Which is why the U.S. is so enamored with soccer, competive cup stacking, and other non-sport sports. So, about that time, Isabelle and Lexi showed up on scene with my mom. Josh went out with dad that Sunday, and I took mom and the girls to the Fruitland LDS branch and just had a lovely time. I repented of the vast majority of my sinnin' and then headed out Sunday afternoon to try and rack up my score again.
So, Josh had school Monday, but the girls were off the next week due to the commemoration of the wedding of the second son of Fatimah's martyring or whatever the hell Utah Education Association (UEA) thing they have going every Fall in Vegas. Well, let me back up, I think Josh AND Lexi went home with Grandma on Sunday. So Isabelle stayed.
Well that leads up to our nearly-exciting conclusion. Let me just say I am THOROUGHLY impressed with Isabelle this year. The girl was sick, coughing and weezing, and she accompanied us the entire rest of the time. We bird dogged the next three days and she didnt complain ONCE. Poor kid. Well, it's about time to wrap this up, so here goes.
Just about Wednesday or Thursday, about two days from end of the hunt, we finally got into them again. There was all kinds of bugling going on in this little tiny draw. So we sat down in this stand of aspens and started cow-calling to two near bulls and two distant bulls. We could hear them fighting just across the little draw from us, but couldnt get them to come in. Up the draw we could hear one moving away from us, but continuing to bugle. Finally, it sounded like they all began to move away from us, so we closed the gap a little as quickly as we could.
Well as we walked up out of the draw, there was a long flat area with downed aspen. Just above us, right at the tree line, we could hear an elk bugling. So we quietly moved up toward the treeline quite out in the open and hanging in the breeze as it were. Well right as we hit the tree line, off to our right an animal jumped. We immediately went to a knee and looked. About seventy yards out, there were two doe deer. Behind them, and I wouldnt have believed it if I hadnt seen it, was a bull elk feeding. He was under heavy canopy in the aspens and it was really difficult to see his rack, but we could tell it was a larger bull. Well, the does got a little nervous, and started to cut across the side face right above us. Well, I could see the bull was following them. We let Isabelle know to be quiet, that the bull was going to follow right behind them, as he was using them as look-outs. So, as they cut across the sideface, they got nervous, and started to head back up the hill. Just as we'd predicted, the bull came right out into the same small opening they had. There wasn't much time to aim and less time to judge, and the hammer fell. A big cloud of white smoke filled the air and the bull stood there. What seemed like an eternity he stood there and finally decided to walk again while we endeavored to charge the musket for a second go-round. Well, just about then, his rear end gave way and he fell down and crashed to the ground. We headed over, prepared to shoot him again, but he was done for. The .50 caliber slug had entered low on the left side, and exited high on the right, making short work of the lung. He expired right there before us and Isabelle went quiet for the next two or three hours while we went about the ugly work of quartering him out to pack him to the trail.
So, a few short hours later, we had the cape and head, the quarters and loins and we were back at camp making lunch and fleshing out the hide. Dad has since had the little four point mounted in a European mount, that is to say, "just the horns" on a wood base. It's now displayed prominently in the cabin adjacent to both Brandon's and my bull in the great room. We had a great time. We really enjoyed the trip. Perhaps the best part about it, was the fact that Isabelle has since come to understand that the grocery store doesnt manufacture burger. That it comes from somewhere. More importantly, some animal gave everything for us, and a failure to appreciate that is of great disservice to both us, and the animal. Her eyes were opened that day to what we should all remember, that animals are to be respected and appreciated, never wasted. That what we are given and the bounty that our Heavenly Father gives us should not be taken lightly. We had a wonderful time together. Memories that will be ours to cherish forever. I hope you enjoyed the story, and if I've left anyone, or anything out, I'm sorry. It's a simple oversight.
Talk to you again soon,