Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grandpa Bill's Elk

Well this Fall we had a wonderful opportunity again to get out into the wilds and again chase some of the most beautiful creatures God has put here on this Earth.  Dad drew out for the Wasatch Mature Bull Muzzleloader tag this year for the elk.  This is the same tag I picked up last year if you are playing along with the home game.  It was a September hunt, and now of course it's December 15th (in the year of Our Lord 2013) so if you want to sit back, kick your feet up and read a little drivel, I've got a yarn to tell for you.

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 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,


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sometimes a Melody, Sounds like a Memory... (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Well good morning. Hey, how've you been of late? Wow, been a while huh? So today I'm at work, AGAIN. It's a Sunday. Yesterday was "Governor's Day." That's where we invite all the Soldiers and Airmen in the State and their families to come and stand in the hot sun at attention and listen to the Governor and The Adjutant General (TAG) wax eloquent. It was a good one. There were probably five thousand Soldiers and Airmen out on the field at West Lake High School in Lehi, Utah. We normally do it at Camp Williams, but we have all sorts of construction going on throughout post and it just wasn't a tenable solution to our yearly requirement to bring kids and cotton candy and burgers together in celebration.

So, I just told you a little about what we've been focused on hot and heavy the past little while. I've personally got a few irons in the fire. Here at Camp I'm working to get our Morale Welfare and Recreation organization a café up and running so we can capitalize on the 600 Soldiers and Civilians and now the 300 some-odd construction workers that want coffee and donuts in the morning. See, our PX (little store that never has the uniform items you need) doesn't open until 11:00 hours (That's 11 am to you civilian types). So, nobody can get the requisite temperature of starter fluid in the morning to kickstart their days. So, the post Executive Officer and I were rapping, you know, keepin' it real, one day, and we synergistically stumbled upon this idea(r). So, originally we were talking about buying a double-axle gut-wagon type trailer like you'd see at the Fair. Then I reminded him we have about 30 metal shipping containers scattered from Hell to Breakfast across camp and we could use one of them. Then we took a field trip up to the Big City one afternoon and visited a Starbucks made from shipping containers ("connexes," in Militarese). He was smitten at first whiff. So, I've got my guys designing and scoping out old junk stuff to make this thing get up and fly. So far we've located some potential connexes for repurposing and some stainless steel tables and what-not for-to-which to outfit her. So, the idea is we'll have a drive up window for the laziest and latest of us, and a walk-up window for the talkative minority. Anyhow, now we're talking about using some firing platforms we used to use to fire the .50 cal machine guns from back in the day and making a 6' high deck to sit on. Anyhow, so picture this, you go to the, "Connex Café" then you go over from there and sit in the filtered sun beneath the 80 year old English Elms and sip your Folger's Crystals and eat your day old donut in the crisp Fall air. It's totally gonna rock. We're going to shorten it to the, "C2" which is Militarese Acronym for, "Command and Control." Not to bore you much further, but if you talk there, it becomes the, "C3-I". The, "Command Control and Communication and Information Center." Ok, it's a warrior thing, you don't get it. Whatever, point is, I'm going to ensure they have Diet Coke on tap for those of us forced to enjoy our caffeine cold.

So, I brought you up to speed on the bunk house stuff, so I won't bore you with that. Point is here, in the spirit of brevity, that I'm hoping that dad dumps his muzzleloader elk within the first three days of his ten day hunt. Then I'll hijack his time and we'll work on cutting more logs and milling them before Winter hits. The family says all I talk about are logs. They even joke I talk in my sleep, "20 foot logs.blubherb bhhallah." OK, it' s true, I've been a bit obsessed.

So that's a nice segue as any I suppose. Dad and I are going to head up to the cabin on or about the 24th and begin his hunt the next morning. He's been exercising his elk bugle and cow mew diaphragms at Josh's games whenever there's a touchdown. What can I say? He's his own man, you can't change the guy. He loves his grandkids and he loves being unique and chances are I'm going to turn into him so I might as well smile and enjoy it. The other day he was forced by my mom to attend church at our ward and he was noisily voicing his opposition sitting there in the pew. Because of his hearing, he doesn't know exactly how loud he's speaking and so people around us get a little stiff at his remarks. Which, turns out are spot-on, but really shouldn't be voiced to the people sitting in front of you, whom happen to be the parents of the return missionary speaker who's now 15 minute over time.

So, here I am at drill. I've already found a bunch of Pinteresting things including the songs I'm listening to on my I Heart Radio, currently set to, "Miranda" (meow meow kitty meow). I've powered down a 32 oz Diet Luv, eaten two breakfast Mcburritos and now I'm totally unmotivated to do just about anything else. Don't get me wrong, I have ALL kinds of things to do. But I'm just a little burnt out.

You know, I had a lot to talk about, but it turns out it's all internal. I'd rather be in Huntsville, Alabama today having a Sunday afternoon burger watching a game at a little local bar. Some place with tin roof panels on the wall and a waitress missing a tooth and a juke box in the corner, an old coke machine, some red bar stools and a fifties setup. I know of just such a place. Sometime I may take you if things work out in our favor. Then we'll head over to the NASA Air and Space Museum and later hit this other place that has local bands play in a courtyard behind the bar that you can watch tipsy blondes dance inappropriately. Nothing like a southern belle slurring her words trying to talk you into reconsidering to really make you realize it's time to get back to post. Sorry, I was projecting a little. Anyhow, I could use a trip someplace where people are real and you can enjoy a Sunday afternoon the way the rest of the world does instead of packing it full of meetings and places you HAVE to be.
I guess, after reading through all this, what I'm yearning for right now, is something that reminds us that sometimes a melody, sounds like a memory, of a soundtrack to a July Saturday night. Maybe I should play some Springsteen now?


You take care, I'm going to fake it a few more hours, have lunch, and fake it again till end of exercise.
All the best Kids,


P.S. the photos have very little to do with anything, just stuff we've done over the Summer. It's just eye-candy. You're welcome by the way.

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Summer 2013 Update...

Summer Update
    OK, let's see now…where…did we leave off?  Ah yes.  So let me just do a little outline here to ensure that we cover most everything I planned on boring you to death with:
1)  Cattle on Camp Williams
3)  Log cutting for the Pergola, and Bunkhouse projects
2) Septic System at the lot…no wait, switch the order of 2 and 3 there. The chicken came first, not the egg.  The egg is STILL a little miffed the chicken rolled over and went to sleep…where were we?
4) Boat and ATV rides this Summer
5) Santa Fe, NM
6)  Random Thoughts…
    OK, so here's the deal.  We brought some cattle on Camp Williams this year.  'Bout five hundred tuther 'em.  Well, why am I writing about this??? Well, mostly because, "THEY" said it couldn't be done.  See, cattle on Camp is no new thing.  The last time we had them out was over a decade ago though.  It has something to do with the riparian streams and how cattles mush up the edges of the stream and then poop in it and what-not.  Anyhow, you may recall we had a fire a few years ago, and sorta…well, burned four houses down in the community directly to our North.  Well, anyhow, the Lehi Cattleman's Assoc. (A loosely compiled group of about 11 families in the Lehi, Utah area) approached me about brining cattles onto our here Camp see?
    So, anyhow, they were selling how great it would be that our cows (their cows that is, I'm jumping ahead) would eat down the fine fuels on Camp to include the highly flammable, and dern-near explosive cheat grass that invades everything about us.  Well, after some discussions with our Environmental folks, they just plum said that not only, 'No' but, "HELL NO." Which rightly didn't sit right with me.  So, anyhow, we've been having a pissin' match with them over the past year about another issue entirely, so I figured this was a good a time as any to go to blows. 
    So, anyhow, they give me every reason under the sun as to why we couldn't do it. But, see, we pay over $200K per YEAR to have goats and sheep on Camp to selectively graze along our firebreaks all throughout Camp. The idea is (and they're quite good at it) that they strip down literally EVERY green thing there is in their path.  So, I'm no environmentalist, but cattle that eat JUST grass, and leave the sacred deer-habitat Utah Sagebrush, cant be much worse right?  Anyhow, so I opened some dialogue along with my superb Non-Commissioned Officers and an as-yet unsung hero we'll call…. "Sean." (Cause his name's Sean) and we set about to scientifically remove the mental obstacles keeping us from our steak….er…cows. 
    So, in a stroke of genius…(mine, I claim it, SHAMELESSLY I might add) I axed the Environmental weenies for a copy of their goat/sheep contract.  Then I axed them what would keep us from re-bidding a similar contract along our Southern boundary and adding two words, "…OR  Cattle." Well, they really couldn't argue with me, mostly because I'm so damn convincing when the Chief of Staff and the General want us to NOT burn down houses…so we let the contract bid.  Well I'll be gat-damned if they didn't come in the lowest bidder, and we run these here cattle all across our border with Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs and plum stripped out ALL the June grass and fine-fuels betwixt our Southern road (Watt's Road) and our Southern boundary.  And oh uh, it looks GOOOOD.  There's a complete void of fine fuels where once there was cows, and where there a wasn't –en.
    Well, I was kinda pissed about it at this point that they made me jump through so many hoops to do the right thing, so after discussions with Stacey (who's purdy smart it turns out) she gave me the idea(r) to have a dutch oven breakfast for the Generals and the Chief of Staff and all key leaders that needed to see this here success story.  Oh and uh, we put them on horseback to ride for an hour through the recently chewed down wasteland of fuels and on into a nice sit-down complete with pancakes and Daileys Bacon (my favorite) and some home-made jam and eggs and syrups and stuff.  Oh, RESOUNDING coup! I was extactic.  By the way, we invited the Unified Fire Wildland Firefighters we just hired to come out and have breakfast with the Generals and hob-nob.  Turns out, it was just plain a kick-ass success.  I've got more planned for folks that are dumb enough to stand in the way of progress, but since I'm not building a railroad to the Pacific, I'll just have to focus on kickin' ass and takin' names on my 26,000 acres here for now.  Oh, you'll see some pics of a couple of the cattle drives we did. In particular, my favorite, is a day I brought Lexi out as we drove the cattle off Camp and into West Canyon. 
    OK, next you'll see some pictures of a couple of log projects I started this Summer.  One is a log Pergola.  It's about 14 feet x 28 feet and will ultimately have an outdoor kitchen and wetbar when things all fall into place over the next couple of years.  For now, I'm just going to pour some footings and concrete and erect the structure, then maybe next year I can start the outdoor kitchen (a la HGTV) and then a step-down into a fire pit area complete with block walls and retainers and one of those giant block pizza ovens you saw at the Home Show this Spring.  Anyhow, over the last few weeks I've made a couple of trips with Craig and then again with my dad and Wayne and cut some sizeable specimins for-to-which to work into a picture that I blatantly stole from  Anyhow, with a little bit of imagination you can see what we plan on doing.  The pictures are taken both on our lot in Fruitland, and up the aptly named, "Timber Canyon" where we harvested these logs after pulling a 35.00 permit for four cords of wood.
    It should be noted that some of these are in excess of 12" in diameter and the bigger ones are about 10 feet long and represent the corner posts, where some others are 8" in diameter and about 14' long and are the horizontals.  Also of note, you'll see plans I've started draw(r)ing up for a small bunk house, which will be 16x24 with a half-loft.  There wont be water or electrical (for now) because I don't want it classified as a cabin quite yet, but I'll slap on a nice sitting porch, and it will serve as over-flow seating/sleeping for visitors and kids as we are quickly reaching capacity in our $6K trailer we purchased in '10. 
    Let's see, what else??? Oh yeah the septic system is in, and I need to run another lateral for two more hookups for visiting trailer trash, and I figure about 500 in parts and a little tractor work and that'll be in.  I'm thinking about a log covering for the trailer complete with rock fascia uprights that needs to be about 20' x 35' and 15' high at the center to accommodate the trailer, but that's after I'm successful with the pergola and are started on our bunkhouse.  All in all, for the cost of some concrete and forms, as well as miniscule amounts for cutting permits, and with the help of friends like Craig and my dad's help, we're gettin' her done.  I'm going to need a few truckloads of gravel at about 150 bucks per load, and the concrete at a five-yard minimum at about 180.00 a yard, so it's pay as you go, but the biggest portion of the effort of getting the logs, cutting them to length and notching them is well under way. 
    Meanwhile, you'll see some pictures of our latest trip in the boat with dad and the two oldest girls. That was taken over the weekend of the 24th this year.  Additionally, about two months ago, Dad, Josh and I rode up and scouted logs and looked over Strawberry, then we did it again a couple weeks later over the 4th with Stacey's mom and pop (not pictured here).  They are good people and loaned us a couple of ATV's to go with them which was really nice to say the least.
    I'll be honest, I can't believe you're still reading, but earlier this year I took a trip to Santa Fe, NM for a week of training, and then again in June I went to my CGSOC (Command and General Staff College) Phase I in Wisconsin, where I met up with my Uncle John (my dad's old Navy Buddy) and his wife Londa and stayed overnight on their farm.  I've included a picture of their cabin which is 20x30 that they built by hand (well their logs were purchased and milled, but still) that sits about 300 yards from their house on their 200 acres.  Pretty cool, but they're going to sell it, and I'm about $2 million shy of being able to purchase it.  Bummer. Well hey, listen, I gotta run, but it was great talking to you and sometime you should maybe try and get a word in edge-wise.  I know I love listening to myself, but perhaps you don't, so if you bothered to read this, thanks, if you didn't, well…it just plain sucks to be you I guess. OK, I'm closing now, you be sure to remember who ya are and where you come from. I'll put pen to paper this Fall after dad and I kill his big elk on the Muzzleloader (same tag as mine from last year) and I'll have more pictures of us doing lumberjack/Mountain Man stuff just like Jeremiah Johnson.  All the best to you and your's.