Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Dream Catching
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09:43 AM (MST)
"Dream Catching"

LAST EDITED ON Oct-11-10 AT 11:51 AM (MST) by Founder (admin)

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I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had spent the past year rehabilitating a torn Achilles, and it is torn again? You've got to be kidding me. "Doc, what does this mean for my summer plans? What about hunting?", I asked.

I didn't like the answer, and went home with a new cast and a depressed mood.

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  Table of Contents  

 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-08-10   1 
  RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-10-10   2 
   RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-14-10   3 
    RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-17-10   4 
     RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-18-10   5 
      RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-18-10   6 
       RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-20-10   7 
        RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-21-10   8 
         RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-22-10   9 
          RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-24-10   10 
           RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-25-10   11 
            RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-27-10   12 
             RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-28-10   13 
              RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-28-10   14 
               RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Oct-31-10   15 
                RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-01-10   16 
                 RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-09-10   17 
                  RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-11-10   18 
                   RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-14-10   19 
                    RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-16-10   20 
                     RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-20-10   21 
                      RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Nov-22-10   22 
                       RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-04-10   23 
                        RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-06-10   24 
                         RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-11-10   25 
                          RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-13-10   26 
                           RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-16-10   27 
                            RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-19-10   28 
                             RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-23-10   29 
                              RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-27-10   30 
                               RE: Dream Catc...  predator      Dec-29-10   31 

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08:20 AM (MST)
1. "RE: Dream Catching"

You see, I had plans for this year. Big plans. A good friend had drawn a Wasatch elk tag, and I planned on scouting out a big ole' stinky for him. In addition, I had been helping a few lucky non-residents plan for their hunts on a couple other units.

And I had my own tag, to boot. A coveted Wyoming elk tag. One that would allow me to cross off the long-wanted wilderness elk hunt experience. I had already found an outfitter and booked the hunt, and now everything hung in the balance. I called him and talked it over, and he encouraged me to wait before I made a final decision, but that whatever I decided he would honor and that included putting it off for a year if we needed to.

My primary physician referred me to a specialist, a guy who had some different ideas about healing sports injuries. My first visit was to endure a painful ultrasound, which showed exactly what we thought-the tendon had a large partial tear.

The big black hole is the tear. The doc proposed a non-conventional treatment consisting of injecting platelets and stem cells directly into the tendon to encourage healing. After much research, I underwent a series of VERY painful injections. I desperately hoped that they would work.

In the meantime, I called my application coordinator and told him to withdraw my apps and only apply for points. The only hangup was Arizona, we could change the app, but it was too late to pull it. So he changed my first choice to a unit that I should not draw.

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10:46 PM (MST)
2. "RE: Dream Catching"

By mid-summer, I still can't wear a hiking boot. I'm gimping around like a pirate with a wooden leg, and my summer is flying by. But I get along by taking a few road trips to keep my mood up.

Can't beat those mid-summer sunsets!

In my down time, I work on helping out some lucky non-residents who have drawn the Fishlake and Wasatch. I sent them pics and scouting notes, talked on the phone and generally got them totally excited for their hunts. I hoped that my information helped them have as good an experience as I had.

Except for a special guy I met a few years ago on MM, and then in person when we both drew a 6A tag in Arizona. Salmon and his friend Jim both had drawn Wasatch tags. I was so excited for both of them, as the Wasatch is pretty much my back yard. We talked by email and phone frequently. I made no promises other than I could suggest a good area that would be easy on the knees and the lungs, as they live at sea level. Not to mention that our group would be up there all summer most weekends looking for a bull for TwoToms.

The Wasatch is a huge unit. You can either lose yourself in some killer terrain or road hunt; it really is a unit that is tailormade for any type of hunter and hunting style. And it has plenty of elk!

By mid-summer, I was back on my bicycle training as hard as the tendon would let me (which was pretty disappointing). But my August, I could finally hike around a little bit. It was really difficult for a person like me to behave; but knowing the consequences of a complete tear kept me in check.

I took a few trips to the High Uintas for some trail work and fishing. Forgot how beautiful and quiet it is once you get away from the trailhead.

TurKrazy, TwoToms and families even made our annual "Utah's Deadliest Catch" trip. If you haven't taken the kids (and I mean those adults that act like kids, too) on a crawdad safari, man you are really missing out!

Who doesn't like a mouthful of melted 'mallow?

Next thing I knew, the bow season was upon us. I pretty much sulked at home. I knew I had through December to hunt on the Front, so I just took it easy and did everything I could to keep the tendon on the healing track.

That was when I got the call from Arizona. Larry started out by saying, " I don't know how this happened, I am so sorry...."


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04:06 PM (MST)
3. "RE: Dream Catching"

My breath caught in my throat. "What do you mean, Larry?" I asked. He apologized several more times before telling me that somehow, some way, I had drawn a late bull tag for Unit 8. When I remained silent, he apologized again.

Then I started laughing. I was elated!! Two great elk tags in two different states, several great elk tags to help out at home, what a great fall I have lined up!!

"WOO!" I yelled, and laughed some more. Only Larry would apologize for DRAWING an unexpected tag.

Bow season had begun. Between scouting trips for TwoToms, I swung down to the Fishlake to check on the non-residents who were hopefully having as much fun as I did when I had the tag. It was like swinging down memory lane. I stopped at the Haven and caught up with Sue and Jeff Bates, then found out that WapitiBob was right close, so I popped in and heard some of his experiences. I was really glad to hear that between his paper scouting and my hunting experience, that he was at least having a good time, and putting a whole heckuva lot of leather into the trails.

I moved on toward where the other guy was camped. On the way, I looked wistfully up at Bull Mountain, Cardiac Ridge and all the other places I had close calls. The memories came with the smells, the sounds, the emotions of those glorious few weeks. I just felt so good!

The second fellow looked to be spike camping, as his main camp looked unused. At least I hoped he was spike camping, and not lying under his quad somewhere. A co-worker had been badly hurt not more than 12 hours into his hunt not far from here; he woke up in a helicopter wondering who he was and why his head hurt so dang bad.

There was another guy setting up his trailer, and as hunters do, we began talking about the chase. When he found out I had the tag previously, he literally was begging for information. He said that he was really having trouble finding any bulls, let alone elk, and seeing that he was in the archery industry, "I just can't fail!! I can't!!". I told him that I was obligated to some other hunters, and I felt that I couldn't just give him the same locations and jeopardize what they might be doing.

But then I recalled Willow Wallow. That one I held close to the vest. It was my last secret spot. The guy looked so forlorn that I told him I was heading to a place I had not given anyone to hunt deer, and he was welcome to come along. His face brightened up at that, and when his partner showed up, off we went.

Oh yea, the memories walking in.....

We crept to the glassing spot. Uh oh, looks like the willows have already turned. Man, was it quiet. When it looked clear, we crept over to the 'spot' and had a seat. We sat in silence, three hunters bonded by the same love of the hunt and watched the shadows grow long.

Dang, it was really really quiet. You could have heard a pin drop. As the last sunrays painted the mountaintop pink, three Great Horned owls began their version of a bugling war. I had never heard anything like it. Their calls echoed through the timber behind us. It made the hair on my neck stand on end.

I recalled the Indian folklore about an owl calling. Some say it foreshadows your death, others say it is the spirit of one gone but not yet taken.

And here we were, hunters hearts beating loud, wishing to cause the death of a bull.

We felt so.....ALIVE.

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05:28 AM (MST)
4. "RE: Dream Catching"

The shadows finally caught up to us and we had to admit that there was nothing coming to this wallow on this night.

The sun set and we parted ways after exchanging emails. I wished him luck and strongly hinted about a spot right behind his camp. I haven't had a chance to email him, but I hope he found his bull.

Within minutes, the moon began to rise and I realized that I needed to hit the road.

Salmon had left early and should be trying to call me, and sure enough, I had two messages from him. He had driven straight through from Washington a week early so that he and Jim could get used to the altitude. I made arrangements to meet him the next day and give them a Grand Tour.

I was just really excited to spend the day showing them around one of my favorite places!

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12:20 PM (MST)
5. "RE: Dream Catching"

Let me give you some background about 'my backyard', especially for those of you who are NOT Utards. You are not an official Utard if you have not spent some significant time in the Strawberry Valley in some form or fashion. I qualify in that I was practically raised on Strawberry and Soldier Creek Reservoirs. In fact, if my birthday wasn't so late, I might accuse my parents of birthing me in the boat.

Strawberry is a high elevation lake in whose depths roam some of the largest cutthroat trout in Utah. In fact, it's one of our finest fisheries and renews itself through a natural spawn every year. Strawberry's kokanee provide eggs for the rest of the state. It's rainbow trout grow into footballs. It's full of crawdads, too, so you can imagine the family possibilities at this place!

It also is surrounded with hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, well-roaded in some spots, well-trailed in others. And it is beautiful elk country.

During the fall, when the aspen leaves turn gold and the oaks run as red as the spawning kokanee, Strawberry turns positively magical. Elk bugles echo from vale to vale, the wind turns a bit more gentle than in the summer, and every little plant has it's own turn of leaf or berry or flower.

This is the place to which I invited Salmon and Jim. When I met them that Saturday, you wouldn't know they were retired guys who had just driven over a thousand miles to hunt elk. They looked like kids in a candy store. We all piled into my truck and the Tour began.

I had mentioned some places I like, and they had done their homework on the map. Now it was time to put the homework into actual acreage. The more I showed them, the more excited they got, and the more concerned. I have to admit, having that kind of public land laying at your tent door can be overwhelming. You could drive two hours or just walk out of camp. Sit on a road, or walk down a logging trail.

First I showed off Strawberry, and where the guys could get the most common supplies, ice and a shower. At one of the outpost marina's, we saw some folks cleaning some nice fish. Now, if any of you know Strawberry, there are several things about it that are givens. 1-the wind will ALWAYS blow, 2-any cutthroat you catch will be within the slot limit, and 3-you will NEVER EVER catch a rainbow when you want fish for dinner.

Well, there we were, watching some guys clean some really nice Rainbow Trout. Now I had already told Salmon that should he tire of elk chasin', that he should take advantage of the often positively insane fall fishin' at the lake. Of course we had to investigate the catching method of these obviously expert Rainbow slayers. When all was said and done, we all marched right over to the marina store and outfitted ourselves with the latest in Rainbow Trout attractants.

Then off we went again. At the end of the day, we had seen some deer, some grouse and even a fleeting glimpse at some elk and put some 200 miles on the truck. The boys were wiped out, I mean, I come to this elevation all the time, but honestly for them it was like ME going to 15,000 feet. We looked at maps, I made some suggestions.

I was really excited for them. You see, unless you are a Utard, you may not understand what a big deal a Limited Entry tag becomes. In a place like this where family means everything, having a LE tag is like having permission to bring a small city on the hunt. And we do. Our elk camps are multi-generational, often through several family ties. We understand that having a LE tag is akin to winning the lottery. We take it seriously.

The best advice I left them with on that day was to not be bashful in talking with other people they run into for the next week. Tell them you are a lucky lottery ticket winner, and you might be surprised the help you get.

I left them to set up camp, and we set up a messaging system to communicate.

I now had 6 days to prepare to help my buddy TwoToms fill his own lottery ticket. I scouted out a campsite, and the wheels were set in motion. Saturday morning could not come quickly enough.

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09:38 AM (MST)
6. "RE: Dream Catching"

During the week, Salmon called me a few times to let me know what they were seeing and where. He was a little concerned as they were not hearing much bugling and the elk were bedding pretty early and coming out pretty late. I assured him that his hunt was going to hit the rut at a great point, to be patient and see what the upcoming days brought.

Turkrazy and I arrived at camp Friday. We wanted to do some bowhunting as an excuse to find a bull for TwoToms, so we split up and went different directions. He went to a series of ponds, and I still hunted some timber in an area where I had seen a good bull previously.

I cozied up to a deadfall blind and waited out the evening. It was sure quiet, I didn't hear any bugling at all, but it had been pretty warm. Once the mountainside was in shadow, animals started leaving their beds and feeding into the open. I was glassing the opposite side when I heard a twig snap to my left. I looked over to see this year's fawn walking right toward me. She was so small, and still had spots, darn cute if you ask me. She got within a few feet when she realized something was amiss, but she didn't really spook, just looked hard into my blind, ears twitching forward and back like little radar dishes. She was so close I could count the whiskers on her nose, absolutely beautiful. Eventually she ran back up the trail and a short time later, came down with mom. Now Mom was a much better eye, she pegged me in a heartbeat. Couldn't smell me though, as I had the wind, so she did that stiff-legged prance closer and closer, bobbing her head up and down, looking at me from one eye then the other. Finally, she decided enough was enough and circled her fawn away.

I got back to glassing and just happened to catch a cow elk emerging into the last sunny spot on a small saddle between timber and aspen. Right after she went over, a really nice bull followed. Oh yeah, would I love to see TwoToms smack that elk!

I hiked out in the dark and sent an OK message with my new Spot messenger. I had bought one to alleviate my parents concerns about me going out and about alone all the time. It's really neat in that you can customize messages. So when they received the email, it not only told them I was OK, but gave my longitude and latitude as well as a Google map link. I have two young nieces who would also be receiving the emails, so I got a little smile about knowing they would be really excited to see where Auntie was chasing 'eks' (as they pronounce it).

After leaving a message on the board for Salmon as to where we were camped, I returned and Turkrazy and I delved into maps and trails and generally discussed what would be best for TwoToms. We had to pick a place not to physically demanding, as TwoToms wanted his two young sons and his wife to come along. They all have some physical limitations, so we wanted to get him a good bull without hurting anyone. I told him about the bull I saw, and felt that if we took our time, could get everyone into the area the next day.

TwoToms arrived late in the evening, and after we presented our plan, he agreed. We would go to Big Bull Saddle in the morning.

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08:29 AM (MST)
7. "RE: Dream Catching"

We were up early the next morning, donning orange vests and hats. Just before piling into the trucks, TwoToms asked for a prayer circle. It was really touching to be included in something like that, and it was even more touching that all he asked for was everyone's safety and a good time.

Off we went! Now the Wasatch only had like 90 some odd tags, but let me tell you- I think over half of them were in the Valley. There were trucks and people everywhere. That being said, our little plan worked out for the morning, as we had the hike into Bull Saddle all to ourselves. We slowly worked our way up the canyon, stopping to look and listen as the dark turned to light.

Eventually we found ourselves in a really great spot overlooking Bull Saddle and what I could not see during scouting trips-that below the saddle were some pretty obvious game trails from bedding areas to meadows, just what elk love! We cozied up into the scrub oak and began to wait.

It wasn't more than 30 minutes when I saw a cow work over the saddle. Then another. Then another. "BULL!" We looked at this bull and found him to be a six point, just what TwoToms had wanted. And here was his family right with him, also just what he had wanted. Unfortunately, that bull stayed just out of range and with trees covering his vitals. TwoToms rightly declined to shoot. It was a wistful moment to see that bull follow the cows to bed. The day began to warm, and the thoughts that no more elk would be moving began to creep into our minds.

We stuck at it, though, this was sure a great spot to just be still and patient.

As the hours wore on, I got fidgety. I hiked a bit further up the ridge and found to my delight a much better vantage point. If that bull came out in the evening where he went in on this morning, TwoToms would have a solid nearly zero elevation shot at him. I came back down and we discussed leaving. It was getting pretty warm, we didn't think anything else would be moving. I could tell TwoToms was reluctant to give up his watch, but we finally convinced him to come back later.

The afternoon blazed by, and we found ourselves again slowly working up the canyon. TwoToms youngest and Mrs. TwoToms were played out from the morning, but we took radios to keep them updated. A big blue grouse taunted me on the way up by sitting like a decoy in an aspen tree. I thought about shooting him, but let him go (and wouldn't you know, never saw another one!!). We eventually made our way to the lookout. The wind was iffy, swirling one way then howling back down the canyon. The vigil went on into the sunset, and we were sure that we had lost our chance, when lo and behold, here comes a cow over the saddle.

It wasn't but a moment later that the bull showed, and he was nearly black from his wallowing. TwoToms looked him over and decided this was his bull. With his oldest son at his side, he made a fine shot, and before the echo died away Turkrazy had sent a simple text message to his family- "Big Bull Down". I'm sure if our celebration was a little bit less enthusiastic, we could have heard our own camp miles away hootin' and hollerin'.

We had to cross the canyon to get to the bull, and Turkrazy did a great job of talking us into him. Good thing, too, because it was pitch black by the time we were anywhere near him. Not to mention that he had fallen in a little bench in big sage, we darn near walked right by. We knew we had a lot of work ahead, long into the night, but heck-we didn't care. TwoToms had his bull, and we as his friends were so happy for him.

I think his son's smile says it all:

We got to work quartering and skinning the bull, and it went well with a bright full moon. Then I got a bit silly. I had used my Badlands 2800 to pack out most of a mule deer last year, and had wanted to see if I could pack out a quarter with it. Being the idiot I am, I thought I would try a hindquarter forgetting that an elk hind weighs nearly as much as I do. I am happy to report that I did get the pack on my shoulders and I did get to my hands and knees; at which time I got flattened to the ground like a squashed tick. Of course, everyone else laughed a bit when my muffled voice underneath a camo elk hind mumbled something like "well that was stupid...a little help here, fellas? Uhhhh, fellas??". Lesson learned. I did get a front quarter on it, and off we went. It was now nearly midnight.

You all know the easiest way to pack out an elk is DOWN. Doesn't matter how or where, but DOWN is GOOD. So down we went, and it took us right past a camp at the trailhead. We tried to be quiet, but a dog gave us away. A guy came out a bit annoyed until he saw four tired folks packing elk meat, at which time he took the time to share in TwoTom's story. That made our whole night.

We had to make one more trip the next day. TwoTom's oldest son demanded to help out, and he did a fine job. We were one happy camp by midmorning.

With the heat, TwoToms was rightly concerned about the meat, so he and Turkrazy packed up. I stayed behind and met another tag holder who was on her first big game hunt-at age 56. I enjoyed visiting with her and her husband. The Clydes come from a homestead line and pioneering spirit and claimed that Clyde Creek is named after a grandfather. Sounded legit to me, and they were really nice folks.

After resting my tired legs, I decided it was time to check on those Washington boys. After all, I didn't have to go back to work yet, might as well spend it hunting with friends!

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08:38 AM (MST)
8. "RE: Dream Catching"

Salmon and Jim were already out hunting, so I thought I would slide over to another area and check things out, you know, just in case some big bruiser might have moved in.

Had to take the shotgun in case some rabid zombie grouse tried to attack me from the bushes.

NOT. Might be stupid chickens, but I swear they know when I'm lookin' for 'em!

Once again, postively awesome elk country.

Found my lucky arrowhead, too, right where I'd left it. Every time I see it, I have to sit a minute and wonder how many tries it took to make a perfect point. Did he just drop it here or did it break on a shoulder blade? Only the woods know. I rebury it and the questions and move on.

Found a couple good wallows, some great bedding areas, but nothing is bugling until after dark. As I walk out the in the dark, I hear a bell tinkling ahead. Kinda surprising, most of the sheep get moved out before the rifle hunts start. A short time later I am surprised by a growl and a white flash hurtling at me from beyond the headlamp. It's one of those darn sheepdogs, you know the REALLYBIGMEANONES!! Wellll, I might have a shotgun and a sidearm, but I really don't want to tangle with one of those dang dogs, so I bail off the hill.

Eventually I end up in some godforsaken blow-downie, rockslide piece of you-know-what. Geez, am I pissed! Stupid dog! I work my way the best way I can and eventually come to the main road (or so I thought). Soon I realize I've dropped into another drainage, but know that this road leads to the one I want.

You know how you are just so sure your truck is just around the bend? And then there is another bend? And another? Sooner or later you question both your sanity and your GPS. Just when I was about to cry uncle and my legs were screaming, I found the spur road to my truck. It was late and I was just done in. Apparently my personal physical limit is two days of elk-packing and some odd bush-whacking.

At least the moonrise was worth waiting for.

It was all I could do to spoon some soup in my mouth and hit the sack. There was no new message from Salmon, I hoped to catch up to him the next morning.

After the luxury of sleeping in, I decided that it was time for Predator to catch some of those fat rainbows. On the way, I checked Salmon's camp-nope, they were still at it, camp empty. I pulled into my spot and found an old codger sitting there with his equally old dog. Now anyone who knows Strawberry knows that old codgers equals retired fisherman, which is just another phrase for practically professional rainbow slayer. His dog liked me instantly, which was good for me.

"How's the fishing?" I asked.

After a pause, he replied, "Oh the fishing is fantastic! The catching is what sucks." Then he cackled like an escaped lunatic and invited me to take a seat. We got along great, it was neat to hear some of his stories and share his perspective on the 'Berry. He was right, though, the catching sucked.

I packed up my camp and checked the message board one last time before heading for home. I needed to do some things there, but figured I could catch up with Salmon and Jim in the morning.

When I finally had cell service, my phone lit up with messages. Salmon wasn't in camp because he was in Lehi, dropping off elk meat. His voice was excited and he explained that he had shot a nice bull that very morning and he had been told it would go about 320. I felt guilty about fishing when I should have been helping pack out quarters.

As I hit my driveway, he texted me a photo that caused me to nearly hit my fence.

Salmon had no idea what kind of bull he had........

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11:31 PM (MST)
9. "RE: Dream Catching"

I immediately called him back to congratulate him and got voicemail, so I left a message telling him that I had some stuff to do, but would try to be in his camp by 4 or so, because I really


wanted to score this bull for him.

I was so excited, I blazed through all of the errands and housework I could. Then I called my best friend, also an elk fanatic and told him the Washington boys had taken a great bull, would he want to come up with me to score it and then chase grouse?

DUH. Of course he would.

We pulled into Salmon's camp and what do we see lying on the ground?


"Holy Crap", was all Dave said. All I did was giggle and say _"Told you....he has no idea he has a Booner, let's go surprise him with that".

Salmon and Jim were sitting in camp chairs just a 'beamin' like proud parents who had just given birth to their first child. Now Salmon had threatened that should they take bulls, there would be a Hoochie Mama elk call dance. It was implied he might be naked at the time, so I asked him for the sake of the other campers and the bright sunlight that he hold off for a while. We wouldn't want to blind anyone.

Did I mention their nicknames are Frick and Frack? Yup, and they are. Well the Frickn' Frack Boys had been pretty disciplined since I last visited. They had been seeing bulls in a particular area and they stuck with that area. Those sea-level guys had been putting some serious miles on their shoes, and they'd had some chances, but it had not worked out until this morning.

It was one of those classic hunting tales that just makes you wonder if things were decided long before the hunter got there. They were sitting in an aspen grove eating a snack and this bull came right to them.

Yup, a literal drive-by shooting, as Frick put it. The bull went out into the adjacent sage flat and was DRT-Dead Right There. Now the two were faced with trying to take care of this bull in full sun exposure miles from camp. Just straight up dumb luck.

Remember when I told them to talk to folks they ran into? Well, fellow Utards, you didn't let me down. Frick and Frack had made the rounds of the other camps next to them and in doing so had met the Lehi camp. They had some big, strong YOUNG football players with them and told the Boys that if they knocked something down and need help, come ask for it.

We all know you never think you'll need help, but when you do and it involves an elk, boy oh boy are you thankful. Well Frick swallowed his pride and wandered back to Lehi camp and asked for that help while Frack worked on the bull. Lehi camp apparently got really excited, and before he knew it, Frick was leading a packtrain of football players to his bull, where he reports they loaded up quarters and off they went.

When they got everything back to their own camp, the rest of Lehi camp was waiting, and Salmon got to share the story with all of them. Then he begged to be excused as he had to get to Heber for dry ice to take care of the meat. Well, Lehi stepped up again-they had access to a bonafide meat locker. They drove Salmon, Jim and the bull all the way to Lehi and told him that he was free to leave it as long as he needed.

Doesn't that just make you proud of your fellow hunters? I know I sure was, proud and absolutely amazed the things that people will do for complete strangers while hunting.

Well, while Frick and Frack told the tale and the beer flowed, I was measuring that bull. I gave it credit for the broken 5th tine. Fair is fair, I wanted Salmon to know what his bull grew for him.

They all began to gather around me as I tallied it up. "Salmon, I hate to tell you. That bull is nowhere near 320". ( I admit, I set him up for this). His face fell a little, but he said he didn't care, he was still so tickled.

I held up my calculator so he could see it, and said, "Congratulations, you have a Booner". He looked at me slightly confused, then saw the number on the calculator, and his jaw just dropped. I mean, I could see his tonsils! He looked at the bull, looked back at me, confirmed it again and then started laughing.

I told him I was really proud of the way he and Frack were hunting, that a bull of this caliber in this part of the Wasatch was surely something. Salmon made me feel really really good when he told me that Frack had threatened to shoot the bull while he looked at it. "Lisa, I did exactly what you said-I looked at his fronts, they looked like they were down by his nose, then I saw those big 4's and that he was a 6, just like you told me. He was walking away from us, and Jim told me that if I didn't shoot it, he was gonna."

We had that conversation about field scoring on the Grand Tour, and I had just thrown it out as an easy way that I do it. I didn't know he would actually use it, but it made me grateful that he told me he did.

Salmon's bull would have grossed 363 if he kept that fifth tine. And fronts with G-3's like his are hard to come by in this area. A HUGE congrats to Salmon on a fine Wasatch bull.

We stayed on into late afternoon, and by the time we left none of the boys or my buddy Dave were in no condition to walk, let alone shoot grouse. I am sure once the sun went down, the Hoochie Mama celebration began in earnest.

I made a trip up the road to Lehi camp and thanked them from the bottom of my heart for helping out my friends. I wished them luck and we headed out to do a little evening scouting.

We would be back, it was Frack's turn for a bull, and I had a pretty good idea of where to find him one.

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09:35 AM (MST)
10. "RE: Dream Catching"

Here are a few more of Salmon and his bull. Thanks for sending the pics, Salmon, what great field shots!

Lehi Camp at work:

Frick and Frack. I'll let you decide who is whom!

Ah yes, nothing like a rack on the top o' your rig:

So I had planned to meet the guys in the morning and see if we could find Jim a bull, but my guts had a different idea, and I had to back out for the morning, but I promised to be up in the afternoon. I again convinced my best buddy to come with us, and we met Frick and Frack in camp. They were all set to go, and I told them I had some fresh information from a friend about a good bull.

Off we went. Now I have an odd coincidence to tell you about; on the way to Frick's camp, I had pointed out a couple of isolated stands of aspen right next to the road and told my buddy how if I had the tag, I might check those out after the first weekend, just because they look 'elky'. Anyway, on the way to the new hunting area, what did we see? Yup, hunters who had actually seen some elk in the exact grove I had pointed out. That was kinda wierd!

We arrived at the trailhead, donned our packs, put our noses into the wind and began a slow stalk through the sage and into the trees.

Just look at this Elk Heaven!

We started out talking a bit, until we hit the trees, then it was time to be slow and quiet. It wasn't long before we were hit in the face with the smell of elk. I froze, Frack froze, and Frick and Dave looked at us like we were wierd. Frack and I advanced, and ran into a bedding area. We continued on, slowly taking each step with care. I was softly cow calling as we went to cover some of the noise. Just as we were about to drop off the end of the hill, a bugle pealed out.


We couldn't see him, but he was definitely on the top of the adjacent hill. We dropped off the backside of ours and worked our way out of sight to the end of the hill. When I peeked around the trees, I saw a perfect little bowl. I told Frack that we should work our way to the edge of the treeline and see if that bull doesn't come out. As if on cue, he let out another bugle. He was within a thousand yards, and he sounded AWESOME.

I responded with a challenge of my own, and he immediately bugled back, and he sounded MAD AS HELL. I could literally picture him scanning the bowl below, spraying himself and drooling, looking for the intruder.

We worked our way down to the treeline, set up and sat down. I ranged the hillside the bull should come down for Frack, and issued another challenge. He bugled right back, and we started a little tete-a-tete for about a half hour. Then another bull on the other side of the hill joined in. It was that kind of freaky situation where your heart is just pounding while you frantically search the trees for just a glimpse of the owner of that bugle.

Well, after a few more minutes, it was clear that the bull must be with cows, because while he would bugle back immediately, he was not leaving that hilltop. And we could not move across to him without being seen, there was just open sagebrush. In hindsight, I should have taken the chance, but we sat still and Frick and Dave started different cow calls to make it sound like I was a bull with cows. Unfortunately, the bull bailed off the backside of the hill, still bugling. We had a discussion as to whether or not we had time to go after him, and we had to admit we did not.

We backed out just in time to see him in near darkness go right out in the middle of another meadow. Dang, he looked like a great bull, too. I was disappointed, but excited about the encounter, as was Frack. We waited for the moon to rise, then started back to the trailhead.

In our excitement, we had gone quite a bit further than I had intended. I did just fine until we sidehilled, and then my tendon let me know that it was not a happy camper. I was gimping pretty bad by the time we got back, and I was actually sore, so I felt bad because I had probably just about killed the guys.

They headed for camp, and just as we started the truck, Mr. Clyde drove up. His wife was still looking for a bull, so we told him that we had run into some, but that they were some distance in. He thanked us anyway. I wonder if his wife ended up getting a bull, they were hunting hard enough to deserve a good one.

I had to get caught up on my own life for a few days, but promised Salmon I would come up on the last day if they needed me to. Those guys hunted their guts out a few more days and then admitted they were done in. Salmon called me and told me they were heading out in the morning. They had put in a solid 3 weeks of hard work, I don't blame them for wanting a shower and a nap in their own bed.

I spent a few more days enjoying some great fall fishing at the 'Berry. It was pretty quiet, that in-between time from summer to fall. The leaves were starting to turn, as were the animals' coats.

The kokanee were finishing their run:

Everyone was enjoying the warmth before it became cold again:

The memories of the past few weeks were fantastic. Hard work with good friends fulfilling dreams and some much needed quiet time alone. What more could I want?

It was my turn to fulfill my own dreams. Only 4 days left to my own adventure!

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10:12 PM (MST)
11. "RE: Dream Catching"

We all have our dreams regarding hunting. For some it is that perfect archery shot, for others the exhausting, brutal climbing of a mountain goat hunt. Simple or complex pleasures are personal to all of us.

The new way to refer to dreams is the "Bucket List". I have had a large list since the beginning of my hunting career. I fully admit most of mine revolve around minimum scores or width of racks, with my ultimate goal being the taking all the North American species. That is one of my Bucket Lists-by specie.

Well, I am not rich, nor do I ever expect to be famous, so some of those species are so far out of reach that they have been pushed farther and farther down the list.

I have accomplished a few of my dreams, though, through a little patience, a lot of saving, and a whole bunch of good luck.

Monster Muley, yup, I was extrememly lucky on that one.

A mountain goat experience that I shall never forget!

The year of the moose and oryx. That was the year I met Blank, and we have been hunting buddies ever since!

Lots of antelope, but not quite breaking that magical 80" mark

The other Bucket List would have to be Experiences. Now you can make a list of those, but I prefer to to just let them happen, and if they are one of those "WOW" moments, I make them part of the list. Kindof like a list in reverse, really.

Some of them are just quiet moments to myself, but a lot of them revolve around being with friends during the realization of their own dreams. Being included in those adventures is a true privilege, and I relish every one.

While I have to admit I am a postive antelope addict, I also have to admit that elk hold a special place in my hunting heart. I freakin' LOVE to see elk, smell elk, hear elk, watch elk, and definitely chase elk. Who doesn't? What other animal makes such a ruckus in the fall?

Well, this year I had the opportunity to try to check off several items on both my Experience and Specie Bucket Lists.

1-go on a traditional, pack-train, wall-tent, wilderness elk hunt.

2-Whack a big ole' stinky

Now some of you may not understand the latter. But as a Utard, I have only been able to hunt spikes and cows and the occasional wandering around an Open Bull area during a general season trying to find elk sorta experience. Now I did draw a Fishlake LE tag a couple years ago, and had the type of experience that made it to my Experiences Bucket List.

To date, I have only killed TWO mature bulls, both of them in Wyoming. Both of them I am quite proud of, because I did both of them solo in wicked conditions. The first was super special and he holds a large place in my heart and on the wall.

Sorry about the blood, this was the day I learned how to quarter a bull-and I wasn't very good at it!!

Well, this year I decided that I wanted that wilderness experience, and the best place to do it was my favorite place to hunt big bulls-Wyoming. I had enough points to draw a tag, and the area would require an outfitter anyway, so what did I have to lose?

I worked my hind end off all spring and summer to pay for it, and when the day came to leave, I was as excited as my very first deer hunt. The 9-hour drive about killed me, though, anyone who knows what central Wyoming looks like knows what I mean. There wasn't even any speedgoats to look at, it was killing me!

But I made it to Meeteetse, checked into the motel and prepared to meet the folks I would be spending the next 5 days with in the wilderness.

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10:09 AM (MST)
12. "RE: Dream Catching"

Now you know you are going to a small town when even a Wyoming resident whom you ask for a distance to said town says "Where?? Is that in Wyoming?" LOL

Meeteetse is an original Western town, founded in the late 1800's and the site of one of the largest and still running cattle empires around, the Pitchfork Ranch. Meeteetse has a whole 300 some odd residents, and the main street is about 1 block long, but with boardwalks and frontier-style storefronts.

We were staying at the Oasis Motel, and let me tell you-you know you are appreciated as a hunter when the Motel in which you stay has a meat freezer and butchering area!!

I had booked with Bob Sundeen of Trails West Outfitters, who runs two camps in the Washakie Wilderness, hunting both 61 and 62. That evening, we all met for dinner and drinks at the Elkhorn Bar, which turns into the cafe in the morning. I met the other 3 hunters in my camp, a Dr. from Rapid City, a retired firefighter from Wisconsin and Mr. Sundeen's girl, Janice. She and I hit it off immediately.

The guides came by, and the one I shall refer to as Mr. Colorful immediately announced to the entire bar that I was a cop, which forced me to grab him by the kerchief around his neck and threaten to strangle him if he didn't shut his mouth. Not sure who told him that, but I was a little annoyed.

I told him that sometimes I just want to be a person, and since we were in a small town not too far removed from lynchings, unless he wished to be thrown in the Greybull by a little gal from Utah, he ought to just shush up.

He did. After I promised to give him a hug. Cowboys, go figure.

After agreeing on a leaving time, we all hit the sack. The following morning, after eating breakfast in the other half of the bar, we all drove ourselves to the trailhead, where some ordered chaos was going on. I was really surprised at the terrain, I guess I expected heavy timber, but it looked more like high desert. There was very little timber, and it looked like the area had burned extensively.

I have to admit, I cannot imagine what a logistical nightmare it is to pack in 8 hunters and enough food for people and feed for horses. We must have had 35 horses and mules. The wranglers and guides all jumped into the pile of gear and began sorting, weighing and loading things up. In fairly short order, we were set to go.

Now I learned something about horses and mules. I did not know some where leaders and some were followers, and I certainly have no idea how one tells a bay from another bay, or a brown from a blood, but these guys did. It seems a packtrain is a lot like a pack of sled dogs; you have to put the right ones in the right places or you might just have a hullaballoo!

Holy cow, we are going up there??

Now I was really curious about this place; 35,000 acres had burned in 2006, but it didn't appear that there was much timber in the first place. The further we went, the less I saw, what timber there had been was long gone. I wasn't the only one wondering if we were going to get to 'elk country'. It was beautiful in it's own sort of way, but I sure felt out of my element.

Where in the world do elk find cover here??

We pretty much rode right up the river drainage, and I was really regretting not packing a fishing rod. While the river isn't large (about like the size of the Upper Provo here), there were some deep holes behind HUGE boulders, and you could just see the fish stacked up like logs.

After several hours, our packtrains split up, with 5 hunters going up one way, and the rest of us continuing on. After another hour, we climbed up out of the river bottom and found our camp.

The view from the living room:

The view from the upper level:

Now where in the heck were elk going to be in all this grassy stuff? Wide open basins and big cliffs, more sheep country than the elk country I knew. We spent the afternoon sitting in camp chairs glassing the burnt timber. As the shadows grew long, we began picking out elk......and more elk.....and even more elk. I was able to spot one heck of a bull, it was like he was bedded in the one little spot of shade there was, and he did not move until that little shadow disappeared.

The sun began to set behind us, and across the canyon we heard a faint bugle. Then we heard one right behind camp!! We turned our attention there and watched a herd come down into the bowl above. The bull wasn't a bad bull, a nice 6-pt. Then another bugle pealed out, and another bull showed himself, this one a raghorn 5. Over the next hour, 5 more bulls came into that basin, all bugling.

Right before dark, a 320-class bull walked right by the "turd teepee". When we later discussed when to get up and what to do, I joked that I was going to sleep in, then creep into the Turd Teepee with my rifle and just wait.

Those dang bulls bugled all night long. I don't think any of us slept. The alarm at 3 am came all too quickly, but we were ready. We ate a hearty breakfast with bulls bugling not more than 500 yards away.

It was ridiculous! But what was about to happen was impossible to imagine, let alone believe.

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08:35 PM (MST)
13. "RE: Dream Catching"

Doug and guide Frank left right away, as they had a 3-hour ride to their ideal spot. Doc and Rod left shortly thereafter, leaving me and my guide Cam to our own devices.

We decided since we had bulls bugling right nearby, we would wait until just after dawn to saddle up and start hunting. So the great news was that I got to go back to sleep for a bit. Isn't that just terrible?

When he came looking for me in the grey light of sunrise, I was ready to go, in fact, I did a faux sneak out of my tent toward the Turd Teepee. He asked me WTH was I doing? "SHhhhhh....." I said. "Be vewy vewy quiet. I'm hunting wascawy wabbits". I thought he was going to choke on his tobacco, he laughed so hard. This was just the first day together, and we already were getting along just great.

We saddled up and made it exactly 1/2 mile before we were into elk. IN fact, we were practically pinned down by elk-everywhere. There was a bull on the ridge above us, one down in a gully below, and cows and calves working the opposite hillside. The bull sounded great, but it wasn't quite light enough to see him. He was working toward the top of a bowl, so we rode horses past the ridge where he couldn't see us and dismounted.

We crept up toward the ridge again, and caught the cows coming over the top. The bull was not bad at all, a solid 320-class 6x6. Unfortunately, all we could do was watch him, as we had dead timber between me and him and there was no shot opportunity. He kept right in the middle of his cows, just bugling and hazing them around.

In the meantime, there was clearly another mature bull bugling in a gully to our right. The only problem was that neither one of us knew how to hunt this completely open area. We jointly decided trying to work these elk like antelope, in using the terrain to our advantage. But we had no more terrain to use, so we just had to wait until the first bull headed into the trees. The second never showed himself and ended up going into the same timber. The third was a raghorn 5-point, not a shooter. His cows just milled around for what seemed like forever on an open bench, so we just sat still.

Finally we could see no more elk, and it looked like the trail turned right into the timber the elk had headed into, so we decided to mount up and still hunt after them, hoping to get a chance or at least a look at the other bulls.

Now poor Cam had not only never hunted or guided in this area, but he had never guided for Mr. Sundeen, so he was a little unfamiliar with the horses. We had hobbled the one, because he was warned to do so, but we left mine with reins trailing because me being the city-slicker I am, thought it was the same horse I had rode the previous day, and that one was pretty social with the other horses.

Well, when we turned to walk back to the horses we only saw one standing there. In unison we looked at each other and in a Monte Python sorta moment said to each other "Why is there only one horse??!!". In hindsight, it sounded similiar to the dejected tone of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean when he says "Why is the rum always gone?".

At least it felt the same, I am sure. So Cam began to search for my horse while I got to look at the trail ahead and just wonder what was over that hill.

In the meantime, the timber to my left sounded like a bugling contest. I was just dying as the sun hit the plateau, it was going to get warm really quick and those elk were going to shut up and that would be the end of that.

Boy, was I wrong!

Cam returned with my runaway horse, which of course had run right back to camp. The cook said he was a little confused when he shook the oat bucket and one of the horses came in already saddled. LOL Either way, after climbing aboard, we were off into the timber.

This patch had escaped the fire, and it had at least 5 bugling bulls in it, at least that is how many we could hear. That 320 bull was less than 100 yars away, but we could not even see him. It was pure torture. Then, at the top of the drainage we heard gunshots. Then some more. We pulled out of the timber and could see some hunters at the top of the bowl, so we decided to move on.

The bulls never stopped bugling for a minute. I could feel them taunting me as we rode away. We hit the ridgeline, and without a work, Cam jumped off his horse and hit the ground flat. I had no idea what had happened, so I did the same and crawled up to him.

"There is a bull coming right at us through the are going to have to make a quick decision on him, get ready". So I crawled past him with my rifle and sure enough there was an entire herd coming right at me. I looked at the bull, and he was a solid 300-plus bull. I had set my bar at a representative bull, and he fit the bill. I followed him with the scope, but he had a cow in front of him. He crossed the rigde in front of me at 92 yards, with a cow covering him the whole time. Cam bugled and the bull stopped-right behind a woodpile. The last look I got was a pissed off scream right back at us as he went over the side.

WOW. That was intense. We stood up and watched the herd walk away. That bull was just magnificent, all wallowed up, dark-tined and with the classic sword point 4ths.

I turned back toward the horses and looked down into the bowl the herd had come out of-and here came another bull over the opposite ridge. He stopped and bugled down into the bottom, which was split by an intervening low ridge. Out of the bottom came another bugle. The bull, another shooter 6x6, ran toward the bottom to take up the fight. Right after that, a second 6x6 came over the same ridge and began hazing his cows quickly up to the top of the bowl. Right behind him was a raghorn 6 following.

We were just dumbfounded. It was like we had run into the Regional Elk Playoffs. I have never in my lifetime seen anything like what was unfolding before our eyes, and for a moment we were frozen in time as the gully bugler came into sight-he was a dang monster of a bull!! There was nothing we could do as he was over 1200 yards away and moving out fast. I will never forget the look of him as he skylined himself against the cliffs and paused one last time before following his cows out of sight.

There was a lull as the other bulls worked up the same trail, still bugling, still intent on either beating each other up or sneaking off with each other's cows. Then two more bugles echoed up from the bottom of the canyon. It was incredible! We had more elk coming our way, what are we going to do, what CAN we do to make this work?

The middle ridge. "Cam, lets go to the middle ridge and just see what shows up, we are on an elk highway here". He agreed, and we bailed off our ridge, ran across the bottom and eased up onto the top of the middle one. And here came a bull. I looked him over, but he was looking straight on, and I wasn't sure. He was looking over the top of us, and above where we had just left was a bull with cows working into the bowl. He let out a scream and just stood there.

It was so quiet, all we heard was the grass rustling in the wind when out of the bottom of the gully in front of us came a low raspy groan. The only way I can describe it is that it reminded me of the world's largest bullfrog with the world's worst sore throat. "What was that?" I asked. We heard it again. "What the hell is that??!!" We looked at each other, then we looked back at that bull. He was now looking down into the gully.

The he laid his rack back and angrily screamed at the groaner.

It's a bull. He's coming.

Now I'm still watching the first bull in my scope, waiting for him to turn and see if he is what I'm hoping for when the Groaner lets loose again. The first bull turns slightly, and I see that he is a 6-point, but I can't tell his fronts or anything else at this angle.

So I'm mulling him over when Cam nudges me and says "You need to shoot that bull! Get ready to shoot that bull right now!" My response was "geez, Cam, I dunno, he doesn't look as good as the last ten bulls we just looked at.....", when he grabs my arm and literally yells in my ear.


What Cam had seen was a 6-point bull with huge fronts coming up through the trees. He was moving fast, pushing his cows ahead and away from the other bull. I got on him quickly and asked Cam for a range, which I thought I heard as 377. I put the 400 yard hash mark on him and waited for the cows to clear. When he paused, I shot.....and went right over his back.

Now I was really confused. The bull spun around and walked back into the trees. "Tree....I have tree" I said. "Still have tree"....."still have tree". The cows turned and began running up the trail. The first bull bugled and began to move off the ridgeline, and right behind him is another bull coming in at a trot.

The Groaner saw his cows leaving and came out of the trees. "yardage" I demanded, as I had the 300 yard hashmark on his vitals. "I don't know...well over 350 now", Cam replied. "Stop him, Cam, you need to get him to stop".

Cam let out a bugle.

The Bull did a 360, stood perfectly still broadside and bugled back. The 300 WSM hit him right below the shoulder high, and knocked him right off his feet. I cycled the bolt and held on him. He kicked once and lay still.

I let out a breath and looked over at Cam. He looked at the bull, looked over at me, put his head down on the ground, panted a few times and looked back up with a smile on his face.

"WOW", was all he said, as he rolled over on his back and looked up into the sky. I looked at my watch and remarked that it was 0859 hours on opening day, and I just killed the biggest bull of my life.

"I'm not sure how big he is, his fronts looked huge, his backs looked good, that was all the time I had to look", he said.

"Cam, I'm telling you right now......THAT IS THE BIGGEST BULL OF MY LIFE."

Neither one of use knew how big he really was, but I took a video walking over. Looking at it now, it makes me laugh, because you'll see as we get closer, Cam will look up, then continue walking, then look up again and stop, saying "that's a good bull".

As we get closer, I degenerate into a hyperventilating idiot. He just got bigger and bigger. WARNING: I do say a swear a joke.

"Wowie-wowie"??? Seriously, I have no idea where that came from. Not even in my vocabulary.

That's what a big bull will do to you.

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01:15 PM (MST)
14. "RE: Dream Catching"

Sorry about the video link, it should be fixed now!

I sat down behind my bull and just looked back at where we were, and in doing so, realized I was seeing the last vista he ever viewed. I took a moment to thank the Lord for guiding my bullet, and then the bull for giving himself to me. He was beautiful, with a dark mane full of mud. I could smell the pine scent coming off his antlers, and could see charcoal where he'd banged them against the burned trees. He had just been in a fight that nearly took his left eye, and tore a laceration from his cheek to his ear. I wondered what the loser looked like.

Cam gave me my space and sat down on a rock. After a while, I got up and looked over at him. He looked at me and we agreed that we had never ever experienced anything like what just happened. I told him that I wasn't sure I could even begin to explain it.

I've done as well as I can here, but it truly was one of those 'had to be there' kindof deals, and in hindsight, I believe this bull and I were supposed to be here, on this day, at this time.

Think about that for a minute. From not leaving with everyone else. To being delayed by losing a horse. To having not one but multiple bulls that would not allow a shot.

It all added up to being in the right place at the right time for he and I to meet.

It gives one pause, to be sure. It had nothing to do with a guide, perhaps everything to do with an outfitter having a camp in a prime location, and absolutely positively everything to do with plain old luck.

I'll take that every day of the week. Here are some more pics of my bull:

We had no time to waste, the sun was coming on strong, and as you can see, there was no shade. Cam got to work on the bull. Now I know that the guide is expected to do all the work, but I just couldn't sit there, so I jumped in and began helping peel the hide. Cam was surprised, and had to admit he'd never had a 'girl hunter' help out. I held hinds while he cut and carried them over to place them on the few rocks large enough to keep them out of the dirt.

While he worked on freeing the skull, I dug into the chest cavity, because I love heart. LOVE IT, fried in butter with onions. So there I am, bloody up to my armpits, grunting and groaning because the dang thing is clear up into the neck, when Cam looks up, stops mid-cut and says "! Seriously, would you marry me??".

We finished the job, together, and a friendship was bonded. Cam called the camp on a radio and asked if the horses we had would saddle-pack, or could Rick bring us some packs. That was when we found out that Doc had also scored a nice bull not hours before, and the packhorses were out. That was also when this city-slicker found out that the horse I was calling Buster all morning, was really Babe, and Babe was a girl.

Yup, I'm a dork. Freely admitted. The good news was that both Babe and Buster saddle-pack just fine. Cam did a great job of hitching up the quarters and head with baling twine. In fact, he remarked that he would probably take crap from the other guides due to the amount of twine he used, but that the quarters were definitely not going to move if he had anything to do with it.

We began the slow walk back to camp.

When we came through the part of the trail that went through the green timber, what did we hear? Bugles. Here is the first bull I was unable to get a clean shot at; still herding cows and bugling at 2 in the afternoon. None of them even cared about the two humans and two horses less than 450 yards below.

We discussed the possible score of my bull. The mass really threw me off, I did not think the main beams were over 47 inches or so. We agreed that he was a solid 340-350 class bull, and that is what we told Rick over the radio.

When we got back to camp, Rod and Doug had just returned. They were so excited for me, and it didn't feel like a guide/client sort of thing, it felt like elk camp with friends. There was just one more thing I asked to do, and that was carry my own rack up to the meat pole.

It weighed a ton, but I was still in the clouds, and it carried like a feather.

We all gathered at the meat pole and hung my quarters and rack with Doug's. What a sight that was! Doug had killed a really nice bull himself, and we enjoyed sharing in each other's hunt.

We then retired to the cook tent, where Rick had set up some munchies. Cam broke out a bottle of scotch, and we mixed up some Tang to go with it, then celebrated our day with "Greybull Slammers".

We sat in the living room and watched for elk across the river. Sooner or later, we noticed some of our own horses, and spent the evening sharing in a hunt from afar, through spotting scopes. We even spotted some elk that we could tell the others about once they returned, which they did some hours later.

"I heard you got a bull", said Janice. I excitedly showed her the picture on my camera. "Bob! Get over here and look at this bull!" she yelled. Bob came over, and in typical cowboy style merely rubbed his chin as he stared at the screen. Janice wanted to hear all about it, and we babbled away while Bob still looked at the pictures.

"Hmmm" "We need to measure that tomorrow".

Then he walked away. He knew that bull was way bigger than we thought. As I said with Salmon-I had no idea what kind of bull I had.

He was planning on surprising me with that.

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03:47 PM (MST)
15. "RE: Dream Catching"

I didn't sleep a wink, re-living the day. You know how you just feel abuzz, even though you are exhausted? Feel the urge to get up and just go LOOK at the rack one more time, as if it might magically shrink in the dark? Then pinch yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming?

I know several of you are smiling right now, because you've done it too. Well, if I was anyplace else, I would have marched up to the meatpole several times during the night to gaze at the elk hanging in the moonlight.

But I did NOT want to run into the owner of the claws that did this:

So I stayed put in my tent and played the video instead.

The next morning, Doc and I got up with the rest for breakfast and to see them off, but something was missing. Big D was feeling very badly and acting disoriented. He went back to bed, and a pall of concern fell over the camp. We ate in quiet tones and the early morning was spent checking on Big D, who gradually improved but looked sick well into mid-day.

After tending to horses and doing some camp chores, Bob decreed that it was time to measure some racks. So Doc and I went up to the meatpole and retrieved ours. The guides excitedly grabbed both and went to work. Doc's was first-he had a gorgeous 310-inch bull. The G-1's nearly crossed in front, he had a lot of character.

I was sitting on a log chair and was surprised to hear that the main beams on my bull were well over 50 inches. The fronts were as big as they looked and his mass was decently carried throughout the main beam.

Now that Bob guy started to mess with me. First he said he was only getting 337, and Cam and I called him on it. He grinned and said, "Ohhhh...wait, I made a mistake. Let's do it again". So Rod and Frank measured again.

Bob hemmed and hawed and acted like he had to use all his fingers. He was purposely torturing all of us. Finally Janice chewed him out, and he said that he was coming up with 386.

Everyone looked at me with jaws agape. My knees turned to water, and all I could say was "uhhhh....I need to go sit down a minute". What they didn't see was my looking across the canyon as my eyes filled with tears.

Cross off the Big Ole' Stinky. What a feeling.

The picture taking began again in earnest.

Meanwhile, Big D was still in his bunk. We spent the afternoon hours checking on him and reading books in the sunshine. When the sun crossed into late afternoon, Big D was able to drag himself out of bed. He still looked pretty pale, but said he was ready to make a go of it.

Cam was enlisted to help Bob find Janice a good bull, and Rod went off with Frank to do the same. Doc, Rick and I were left in camp and we quickly set up some munchies and visited. Doc and I got restless after a while and began splitting a big ole pile of wood that needed doing. Rick was relieved to see those logs disappear, to be sure.

We took up our posts on the log chairs for the eve and watched as Big D's group made their way up to an area in which Cam and I had seen a large herd with a good bull the previous day. Janice headed waaaay up canyon, clear up into sheep country. We could actually see them right up until the time they tied up the horses, then all we could do was wait and hope for a radio message.

The sun set and just as the shadows rose, we faintly heard some gunshots in the area Big D had headed toward. A short time later we heard Frank on the radio. "BBD! BBD!" Doc and I high fived, we were so glad for Big D, and were curious to see what he had killed as he had passed on some good bulls already. Frank said he would be very late coming in, they had to cross a canyon to get to him.

We put together some more munchies and waited. Eventually we saw headlamps up the canyon and could tell Janice and company had gotten back to the horses safely and were on their way back. Then we saw headlamps appear at the saddle across the way, and watched Big D coming home. They all converged on camp at about the same time. Big D looked like crap, but he was happy. He had a massive bull pushing the 340 mark, a fighter with broken tips, scratched beams and one beat up face.

A much deserved steak dinner was served and we talked into the night in the kitchen tent. Greybull Slammers went the rounds, and we celebrated a very successful hunt. Word had come from the other camp that they had filled every tag. Bob said that this first hunt is not usually the best, but he was very pleased.

We would leave in the morning, as the days had been warm enough to create a real risk of losing the meat. We retired to a good night's rest and awoke fresh and after a quick breakfast, the packing and sorting began again.

Right in the middle of it, I was surprised to see a game warden ride into camp. Good to see someone take their job to that extent, I have never seen a warden in Utah in the backcountry. He spent some time checking things over, marked up my license and we were back to packing. The horses were loaded and we were down to the last one when Janice looked up and from 50 yards away said, "Bob, I don't like the look of Blue, get over here."

Now I'm looking at the same horse she is, which happens to be the horse my rack and meat is loaded on. He looks like a horse to me, so I ask her what she is seeing that I can't. She pointed out he was sweating and pawing at his belly. Sure enough, he was wet. Then he started breathing funny.

Evidently, colic will kill a horse damn quick. Blue was unloaded immediately and Bob pulled out a syringe and shot him full of all kinds of stuff. We then took turns walking him and watching him for about an hour. There was deep concern that he was not going to be able to walk out, and we could not leave him alone in camp, as he would likely lay down and then die. No one said much as we continued our work on him. Then he passed a pretty healthy pile of stinky stuff, and a sigh of relief was felt.

Blue was going to be OK, but he would not be packing anything. We moved the rack and meat over to another horse named Leonard, who is one of Bob's favorite and most trusted. Leonard looked wall-eyed at the load, so we let him sniff everything, and he settled down.

We were finally on the trail and headed home. I paused at the top of the hill, and Rod reined up beside me. "Isn't that neat?" he said, looking at the packtrain ahead.

"Understatement. It's more than neat, that is a sight I have waited my whole life to see", was my reply. He grinned wide and said that is was his pleasure to hear that. Gentleman, that Rod guy was.

The ride went slow and easy, with all eyes keeping a watch on Blue. We started to relax into the sway of the saddle.

Cam and Rod with the rear packtrain:

Oh yeah, love that view! That is Doc's bull ahead.

One last photo as we entered the dicey part of the trail.

Little did we know that disaster was about to happen.

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02:10 PM (MST)
16. "RE: Dream Catching"

So when I say 'dicey', it wasn't that the trail was particularly challenging, just that the trail was the only flat spot on a fairly steep slope, with rocks all the way down to the river.

As the packtrain went around a corner, there was a bit of a tight spot, and the rack of my elk scraped on the rock. It made a horrible noise, but everything looked fine and Bob joked it off by saying that the 4th had broken off, but 'its ok, your taxidermist will make it look brand new'. We all laughed.

What we didn't know is that while the rack did not break, that rock had shoved the 5th into the packhorse's hip. When it bumped on a tree about 1/4 later, it pushed in even farther. I dunno about you, but I wouldn't have lasted as long as Leonard did with a antler tip in my arse.

Ahead of us, Janice was leading. Leonard suddenly starts to run over the packhorse in front of him. Now Janice knows Leonard is about to have a complete blowup, though not why, and that this part of the trail is absolutely the last place to have it.

So she begins to trot. Leonard begins to run. Janice takes off at a gallop, and I hear Frank behind me say "What in the heck is she doing?". What she was doing was trying to get off that area before Leonard went nuts.

She didn't make it. Leonard ran right over the packhorse, then wrapped himself around a tree, bucking. Finally he quit and stood still, shaking. We still had no idea what was going on, and thankfully we had all dismounted to help out. I was holding the packtrain and my own horse while Frank and Bob went up the trail on foot to see what was up.

They got within about 10 feet when Leonard absolutely freaked out and ran right over the top of Frank. He disappeared into the rocks as Bob ran back towards us on the sidehill. We were all yelling at him to look out, because he could not see what we could, and that was Leonard coming after him.

Bob was 20 feet away when that horse went over him at a gallop. I watched as he smashed facefirst into a rock, then hyperextended his back over another and began a sickening ragdoll roll downhill.

"Oh my God", I thought. "I just watched my outfitter die".

Meanwhile Leonard was coming right at me. I began to run uphill dragging my horse and the first mule when Leonard slammed into my horse's backend, faceplanting me into the dirt.

He then went through the packtrain like a bowling ball. There were people and mules going everywhere. The he was turned by Rod and came galloping back. He slammed into the packtrain I was holding onto and got momentarily stopped. Everyone was yelling at me to get the hell out of there, so I dropped the reins and ran uphill again.

The last I saw of Leonard was when he fell off the trail and barrell-rolled all the way to the river with the rack and packs still attached. The sound it made was sickening.

I quickly grabbed the bridle of the mule, who was doing his damndest to hang onto the trail with one hoof. We looked at each other eye to eye, and I begged him to hang on. Once again, the intelligence of a good mule impressed me as he gently pulled his foot over a log and got all four feet set, then lunged forward with me pulling until we were all back on the trail.

We were all yelling for Bob and Frank. There was no answer, then Frank's head popped up between some rocks and he said he was OK. We could hear some groaning and shortly thereafter found Bob. How he did not have a broken back is beyond me. He was banged up good, and I still believe he had broken ribs but would not admit it. All I could think of is that somewhere in this mess was a satellite phone and we might need it.

Then we saw Leonard standing in the river with the rack under his belly and blood in the river. I was a mess. First two people hurt, and now we might have to shoot a horse. Over what? A FRIGGIN' ELK RACK.

We tied up horses and mules up the trail a ways and began taking stock in the damage. Doc evaluated Bob and Frank, who both said they could get out. Bob began limping down toward the horse with Frank. I stayed behind and held reins. They eased up slow. Leonard was shaking violently. They cut off the rack and packsaddle, and Big D caught my wrath when he with his bum knee started carrying the rack uphill.

"For God's sake, D, it doesn't even matter right now!!" I yelled. I was extremely upset and sat down on a rock with tears beginning to flow. I felt so guilty, and prayed that everyone was going to be OK. My stupid elk may have lasting effects on these people, and I felt responsible for it.

After a lookover, Bob found that to everyone's amazement, Leonard was not gutted by the rack. He did have a large laceration and puncture wound to his hip and his legs were cut up badly. Bob pulled out his syringe and gave him some pain killer and we waited. After some time, Leonard stopped shaking and tried to walk uphill on his own. Thank God.

A mule was loaded with the rack and someone ended up walking most of the way back out. I ended up leading the whole affair, which went slowly with constant evaluation of Bob, Frank and Leonard. The 4-hour ride turned into 8, but we safely made it back to the trailhead. The time spent talking with Janice on the way out was amazing, she and I really bonded in those few hours not just as hunters, but as outdoorswomen. My respect for her knows no bounds.

Everyone was physically and emotionally spent. The unloading was made quietly. Leonard was looking good enough that we left him overnight. Bob was looking worse by the minute, but ever stayed the cowboy by saying he was Ok when I asked.

I told him he needed to work on his ability to lie, because he sucks at it.

Cam and I had some quiet moments alone, as he was heading right home instead of staying for dinner. Gonna miss that feller, but we exchanged phone numbers to stay in touch.

We gratefully piled into the trucks and headed back to town. One last meal together on me was the plan, with some sad goodbyes to follow.

Couldn't have been further from the truth!

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08:42 PM (MST)
17. "RE: Dream Catching"

The first trip-up was that Doc's truck would not start. Dunno about you, but after this experience, you can count me out as far as buying a diesel. Apparently if a diesel is parked at a particular angle, it won't start. (something about the fuel pump draining or some crap). Anyway, we tried to jump-start the thing, and it was toast.

So he was stuck with us.

My first focus upon reaching Meeteetse again was to get the meat on ice; it had been 60 degrees for several days, and I was worried about spoilage. Well, of course that required that I remove the rack from my truck to get the quarters into an ice chest. Since the town has only one place to buy ice and everything else, well, let's just say I was delayed by a few onlookers. They were great people, and I enjoyed re-telling the tale.

Sooner or later I managed to get to the Elkhorn Grill, where the rest of the party was hungrily waiting. I found myself seated at a place of honor at the head of the table and no sooner sat down when a pink camo hat with an embroidered elk was plunked down in front of me with an accompanying drink by a nice lady.

Looking up, my smart-alecky self came out with "I'm sorry, you have me at a disadvantage???". She said that she had 'heard' I had killed a big bull. I responded that indeed I had, to what do I owe this gift?

Now the Elkhorn is the typical Western establishment, complete with iconic framed pictures, sayings and of course, dead heads. She pointed at a combination elk/muley european mount that we all had noticed the first night and told me the story of how she had killed both animals on the same day in 2006.

"We appreciate women hunters here", she said. Then she yelled to the bar that drinks were on the house. I then found myself in the position of having to try to maintain a semblance of sobriety while accepting the many drinks placed before me.

In the meantime, the group enjoyed one last dinner together. I looked around the trappings of civilization and my mind wandered back to a sight forever burned in my mind.

That wall-tent experience to match no other.

I enjoyed the laughs and rememberings, while keeping an eye on Bob, who looked to be hurting. "Bob, you OK?", I asked more than once. "Awww...I'll be allright" was his response. I told him that if he insisted on lying to a cop, he ought to at least try to maintain eye contact and voice tone, because he sucked at it. I was worried about him, nonetheless.

Eventually, I begged out of the establishment and went outside. Now Meeteetse may only be 100 yards long, but it was still too long for me to attempt driving. I walked to the motel and exhausted, fell into a dreamless sleep.

The next morning, I wandered over to the cafe for breakfast, and walking in, found myself being looked over head to toe by some suspicious looking cowboys.

And I toe.

I seriously checked my zipper, because the looks were that intense. Now, I have been in a few small towns, and you just never know what kind of folks you might meet. The place we hunt in Nebraska for turkeys is aptly named "Lynch", because the first time we tried to buy a gallon of milk there, we were given the impression that the townfolk had no problem stringing us up.

Well, anyway, I was seated by the waitress and ordered while the three Amigos looked me over. Finally one of them pulled the toothpick from his handlbar-moustached mouth and said, "Hey. Are you that gal we heard what killed a big bull up Jack's Creek?" When I responded that I probably was, they looked at each other with knowing glances and the Spokesman drew in a deep breath.

"We'd like to see your bull."

"Be happy to show him to you...right after breakfast", I replied, somewhat relieved that my zipper or shirt was properly done up and not the cause of their interest.

"In fact, we'd be honored to buy your breakfast", said the second of the three. "Right honored, girly", said the third.

Now maybe it was that pink camo hat that snookered the fellas, but who was I to refuse?? So after a hearty fare, I was followed by the three to the motel, where I retrieved my bull and they spent some time admiring him.

After the guys had left, spurs jangling along the sidewalk, I found Big D and he and I began the task of boning our bulls. Larry came out with his tape measure and began taping the bull, while Bob and Janice visited. He told me he had the bull at 363 or so. The wreck had taken a few inches, but he was mostly intact, nonetheless.

I was still elated.

I was not prepared for the onslaught of people that began shortly thereafter, it seemed like the whole town had heard the news, and they were all coming by to see the bull, talk to me, and take their own pictures.

I met people like Murphy and his dad, who were on their own antelope adventure. We shared some emotions of the hunt and what it means to us personally and how important it is to see it passed on through generations. I enjoyed telling them of the important lessons my own father taught me that culminated in this hunt particularly.

I met the girlfriend of a man who so wanted her to understand why he loves the passion of the chase and encouraged her to go with him once just to see his eyes light up when an elk bugles.

I met many an elk lover who was more than complimentary with their touching accolades.

In short, I was pretty overwhelmed by the interest and support of fellow hunters.

I had become the Elk Goddess!

In the middle of it all, Doc had found the same generosity, as a local mechanic told him a way to start his truck, and if that didn't work, that he'd arrange for a tow where Triple A didn't have to know the road was not paved. Dang if that mechanic wasn't spot on-a few primes later, Doc was on his way home with his memories and bull.

Truly amazing stuff.

By afternoon, the elk was put away and the group slowly faded back to their own lives. The parting with Janice was hard, like I said, I really felt a connection with her. We promised to keep in touch, and she promised to keep an eye on Bob.

The day was heating up, and I realized that I needed more than regular ice. Since I had a couple days to spare, I headed west to Cody to see what other adventures I could find!

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09:48 AM (MST)
18. "RE: Dream Catching"

The first order of business was dry ice, as it was pushing 80 degrees in Cody. I found come at the local Wal-Mart, and once again, had to unload everything to get to the ice chest. So I took up two parking spaces, placed the rack in one next to the truck. While I start layering meat and ice and dry ice, I look up to see a guy in a small car staring at the rack.

I realize he has no idea the minivan in front of him has stopped, so I start pointing at it. He points at the rack, I point at the van, he waves, I point harder, he waves even more enthusiastically just as he runs into the back of the van.

Man, I felt bad for that guy. He was a good dude, though, and pretty much laughed it off. The lady he bumped into thought it was funny that an elk rack caused a wreck, too.

After tucking everything back in place, I decided to go back into town because I had noticed an interesting museum dedicated to Buffalo Bill. Now I had heard about this place, so I thought I would check it out.

I should have had a clue when the cashier told me my entrance fee was good for 2 days. "2 days???" I was thinking. Whatever.

I quickly discovered why. There are 5 separate museums within the building. I began with the Firearms, and let me tell you what-IT BLEW MY MIND. There were all kinds of guns, to include every Winchester model ever made.

It was also designed around telling the history and development of the firearm, from the first blunderbuss to the modern automatic rifle. Now I thought that firearms had developed around the premise that distance and accuracy were the driving force. I was surprised to learn that it was actually a reliable ingnition of powder that caused the evolution of firearms more than anything else.

As I wandered through, it struck me that from the beginning, many of those firearms were just beautiful and amazing works of art, and that art had an obvious focus-hunting. I mean, there were examples everwhere, from inlays to stock carvings.

From the flintlock:

To the wheellocks:

To the modern rifle and shotgun:

The craftsmanship was just awesome.

Look at the beautiful hardwood of these Kentucky rifles. I would pay a salary to have one like this!

Left-handed? No problem! Innovation after innovation just amazed me! I mean, how did they do this???

Then I found the Boone and Crockett display. WOWW.

World-Record Desert Bighorn:

If any of you are not familiar with the story behind the Chadwick Ram, I encourage you to read up on it, because it is simply amazing. A tale of the courage of men and the lure of the hunt, to be sure.

How about a Monster Muley? Yup, they have that! How is this for a total gagger??!!

As I exited the display, I was struck with the realization that not only have firearms evolved, but so has hunting. Those first few beatifully inlaid rifles were made for royalty, as they were the only ones in Europe allowed to hunt. The rifles weren't for defense, they were for status.

Then the American rifle was developed, and by golly, it was developed for survival. Defense and putting food on the table, as it were. So we can thank our early firearms pioneers for not only the outstanding Winchester, Remingtons and Colts, but for the North American Conservation Model that exists today.

How inspiring!

The next museuam was Western Art, and I was in heaven. I love bronzes, and wish to someday own one.

The various media not only portrayed the beautiful colors of the West, but the harshness of the landscape. The loneliness of the range rider. The indominitable spirit of the pioneer. And oh yes, the wildlife.

It was fascinating.

Up next was a Plains Indian exhibit. Now I got a little excited about this one, because I found that part of it was on loan from the University of Utah. I had seen that exhibit, and it was outstanding.

Again I was made thoughtful by the artisty and utility of everything the Native Americans made, and I found it ironic that the elk was so revered and so important to some of these societies, alongwith the buffalo.

The firearm at once helped and doomed these people.

What I was left with in the end was once again that connection to hunting, because it was clear that although warriors were revered and respected for their protection of the tribe, it was the hunters that were relied upon in times of hardship.

I spent 9 hours and only got through half of the building. I spent another night in Cody, because I could not wait to see the rest. I also planned out my trip in Yellowstone. I had never been through the East Entrance, and I picked a few trails to check out while looking forward to some great photography opportunities.

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02:44 PM (MST)
19. "RE: Dream Catching"

The following day I returned the Buffalo Bill Center and finished the Native American exhibit, then took on the exhibit featuring Buffalo Bill Cody himself. It was equally fascinating! There were the various posters and announcements for his shows, lots and lots of his stuff and the stuff belonging to some of the more famous people like Annie Oakley, that had come to be part of the Wild Bill Show.

There was also a saddle exhibition, and I learned why certain styles are utility-specific to the rider, the type of riding done, and often cultural as well. I really have to respect anyone who makes a saddle as an artist.

The work that goes into something like this one is just mind-boggling! Sorry about the blurry, I must have moved or something.

But beneath all the glamour and fanciness of this display was the true story of Bill Cody as a person. I have to admit that his shows and his character held a fascination for the rest of the 'civilized' part of the nation. He apparently tried to accurately portray the Native peoples, and treated them very well. What really surprised me was that he also loved children, and was a large figure in another country in that he supported a children's foundation there. He was also a Mason, and it appears to me that he lived the code of that society to a T.

I was again left with the solid impression that his reputation for being a huge figure in the West was not exaggeration, and I wondered how much impact he had on bringing more people to this part of the country, and shaping its way of life. Pretty amazing for one person.

The last exhibit was on the geology, ecology and biology of the Greater Yellowstone Biospere. It was designed to be interactive and in fact, they teach a number of classes there for school-aged kids. This is a unique opportunity, because the GYB is one of THE most studied, more intact biospheres we have in this country. While I didn't learn a whole lot I wasn't already familiar with, I have to say it was well put together.

Sheesh! It was mid-day, I needed to hit the road. I wanted to spend some time in the Park, so I loaded up and off I went.

The terrain transitioned from the grassy desert to the more familiar high country:

I was excited as I approached the east entrance. This was all new ground, and I wanted to see it, smell it, and oh yeah...FISH IT 'TIL I DROPPED.

Now I had been warned that I should probably declare my elk at the entrance. I could see that driving around with a big ole stinky in the back of a truck, even with a shell, could generate some, er, well....upset tourists.

I stopped at the gate. The ranger greeted me warmly and we had a pleasant conversation right up until the point I told him that I needed a transport permit for an elk.

His attitude completely changed. Now I try not to judge people on first blush, but by golly, this guy clearly was not happy that I had an elk in the back of my truck. He pulled out a triplicate form and began the interrogation. I kid you not, this form even had a place for the GPS coordinates of the kill, and if you didn't have that, the nearest drainage.

Then he said he needed to inspect my elk. I showed him my license, where it had already been checked by a game warden, but nope, he insisted. So I opened the back, he looked in and sneered at me. "Where's the meat?", completely ignoring the frekain' gigantic coffin cooler. "In the cooler", I responded. He made a side remark that I must not have all of it, because it wasn't big enough. I responded back that it was boned out, but he was free to crawl up into the bed and look.

He declined, and I got back into my truck. I paid him the fee, and then he looked at his watch, wrote the time on the form, ripped off my copy and completely floored me.

"You have three hours to get to the South Entrance. You cannot stop for any reason, unless it is an emergency. If you don't make it within three hours, the rangers will start searching for you."

I started out with "Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!". Look, mister, I came here to hike and fish and do all those things you come to a National Park for; what do you mean I can't stop??

"Like I said, you can't stop for any reason"

"Why??? And why did I pay you 25 bucks to drive a road? Seriously ??"

Then it hit me. "Is this because of the BEARS?"

"yes, you are a driving meat locker"

"Sir, with all due respect. The meat is in a cooler, in a truck, in a locked shell. Are you telling me that the BEARS in this park are so aggressive that they determine what the humans do?"

I was met with a silent stare. "You should get going", was his only reply. I again asked for a refund of the fee, since all I was doing was driving through. He declined.

Man oh man, was I steamed. I muttered under my breath something like 'sounds to me like we need to kill a few bears' and drove away. I really regret that remark, very un-ambassador-like of me, really.

I was still so wrapped up in the negativity that I nearly failed to notice I was going over the famous Sylvan Pass. I just want to note here......I never stopped completely.

Too bad I couldn't glass, bet there were sheep in those rocks.

A short time later, I had to stop due to a construction crew. After about 20 minutes, I started to get nervous. I mean, what if the grizz really are that aggressive? There were two motorcycles behind me, what if a friggin' bear decides to rip through them to get to my truck?

So I march my permit up to the head of the line, show it to the guy and tell him that I was told that under no circumstances am I to stop my vehicle. Now my fear is confirmed when he looks up at me, says 'you have meat in your truck right now?' and when I tell him I do, he looks completely panicked. Next thing I know, I am waved through.

Sounds like they have a serious bear problem in Yellowstone to me. I wonder what happened that management now includes letting the bears run the park?

Pretty soon I descend into the caldera. It pains me deeply to see the lake I had planned to throw a spinner into in the hopes of catching a beautiful, monstrous Yellowstone Cutthroat. The lake was glass, the park was empty of the chaos of tourist season, and all I could do was drive through. It really really hurt.

Another short mile and I am again stopped by construction. I asked up front and was told it would only be a few minutes, so I held tight. I heard fluttering wings out the window and looked over to my left, finding myself being inspected by a big black bird.

It was kinda unnerving. "what do you want" I asked. He just stared back. He looked me over, I looked closer. "Wow, I didn't know you guys had such a big beak...that's kinda cool". I took advantage of him, I don't know when I'll ever be this close to a raven (crow, maybe?) again.

"Hey...Bird....why don't you go up there and tell that guy I need to leave".

Cold stare back.

"Seriously, what do you want from me. I don't speak bird telepathy, I'm just a simple human."

Cold stare back.

"Geez", I thought, "you've lost it. Your talking to a bird in Yellowstone.....dummy". But I did laugh at myself, and my mood lifted. Off I went.

Not long later, I was forced to stop again. But I didn't mind, because I know better than to mess with Mama Buffalo and her kin, and made sure the road was visible in case I was 'late' in getting to the South Entrance.

The whole herd crossed, and traffic stopped. It looked like the Good Lord was making it possible for me to enjoy a little bit of this place while staying within the rules, so I took what I was given!

Defintely wasn't going to challenge this guy!! I think he probably weighs as much as my truck. And he has a fauxhawk, to boot. Probably the hippest buff in the group, I tell ya.

One last look, and I was on my way again.

Never did see an elk. Bummer. I drove up to the South Entrance and was by then in a less irritated mood. The ranger there was very nice, and I handed her my permit, she signed it and I asked if I was good to go.

"I have to inspect your elk before you leave", she said.

Now imagine if you will that Yellowstone Caldera is a smoldering, simmering pool of lava just waiting to push out through the cracks of the lake and make the biggest steam explosion you have ever seen. Because that is what I felt like, but I couldn't act like it because I knew she was just doing her job.

"Why??? I have been checked by TWO game wardens, and your other ranger....why am I being treated like a criminal here?"

I got the look-down, shuffle feet response. ""


It suddenly hit me. "Oh, wait I get it. I'm a big bad hunter and all we do is kill things, so I suppose you have to see how many bison, elk, moose, sheep and small innocent creatures I KILLED and put in my truck, huh"


"Ma'am, with all due respect, I am trying very hard not to become very angry with this....have you EVER in your time here seen that happen?"


"Fine, check my bull. I just want to get the HELL out of this crazy place you have."

TR is rolling in his grave right now, I just knew it.

She checked things, told me I had to check in with Fish and Game in Jackson (I just held my tongue on that one) and I was on my way once again. The day was more than over for me.

I just wanted to go home.

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07:56 PM (MST)
20. "RE: Dream Catching"

I finally stopped for a restroom break, and found this amongst the stuff I was given at the entrance station. I guess I did get something for my 25 smackers, annnnd

I bust a gut when I saw it......people have to be TOLD this???

I was laughing so hard I cried because of the irony of the whole situation. Good thing I hadn't seen that at the ranger station, I'm sure I would have made another not-so-appropriate wisecrack!

Next thing I knew I was going through Grand Teton. Now this is my favorite winter elk stompin' grounds! Boy, it sure looked different without the white stuff.

I really need to come back when I'm not a moving 'meat locker'. Everything up here closes around Oct. 1, the tourists leave and you can nearly have the place to yourself.

You can hear the lake whispering secrets this time of year, and the mountains reflect in their stony silence.

Only the wind can be heard, and you can't quite make out what it is saying.

My kinda quietude.

Found this guy just lurking for a duck over Two Ocean Lake.

Then beyond him, I just caught a glimpse of tawny elk hide, and managed to just barely get a shot of a Teton bull, skylined. That was awesome, couldn't think of a better way to end this trip. It was if he was reminding me that there are always more adventures just over the next ridge.

There is one particular area in which I always, without fail, see moose. I looked earnestly as I went, and was nearly disappointed until the very last corner.

Voila! Moose Meadow strikes again.

I never ever tire of this view. It reminds me of Southern Utah in that depending on the season and the time of day, it looks so dramatically different.

Here it is a month later, one year earlier

I was losing the best light, and I realized that I had to bust to Jackson in order to have the Game and Fish, for the third time, check my bull. Once I arrived, I was met with a very nice lady. I asked her if I could turn in my teeth packet and save the trouble of postage on their part, and she was happy to comply. Then I explained to her that I understood it was late in the day, but I have an elk that needs to be checked by a warden before I left the state.

I got moon-eyes. "Who told you that???", she asked.

"NPS", I replied.

"Is it not tagged or something?", she says.

"Oh no, it is tagged, bagged, boned and iced in a cooler. It has already passed muster by two of your wardens and two park rangers....I am just complying with instructions".

She said something that I swear sounded like 'friggin idiots', and told me my tag was the transport permit from state to state.

I got back into my truck and sighed deeply. What a strange day it had been. The long drive home seemed like it took forever, but it went without further complications.

It was nice to be home for a bit, but I was already thinking ahead for the next hunt.

I'm addicted, you know. All I could think of was my next fix.

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04:48 PM (MST)
21. "RE: Dream Catching"

I only had to work about a week until the next trip, and this one would be special. Because of the proposed (probable) changes to Utah hunting seasons, this would be the last year we could hunt elk with a smokepole in November.

Which means it would be the last year spent with friends PleaseDear and Mrs. PleaseDear at Red Canyon lodge while doing so-it is such a special place to us all!

Now last year's hunt started out with a wicked winter storm, in fact, I got stranded in Wyoming because the roads were closed around me. We couldn't even access our normal area, but we still managed to have a great time in the white stuff.

What a difference a year makes! This year, there was no snow at all on the ground, the elk were still high and we knew we had our work cut out for us. I met PleaseDear and company at the cabin and enjoyed telling them first hand the Elk Goddess Adventure.

Home sweet home for one last fall.

While I unpacked and told stories, the sun sank low. We all paused on the porch and remarked at what a beautiful day it had been. Nothing like starting a new adventure with old friends.

We hit the sack with the plan to wake up at some ungodly hour, because by golly-we had elk to chase, and they were not right off the porch like last year. After driving an hour, we were at the trailhead.

Packs shouldered, rifles checked, headlamps on and we were off into the frosty darkness. We pushed hard for an hour, rested a few minutes and then pushed on. The plan was to split up and work a burn where we had seen elk consistently in year's past.

Mrs. PleaseDear and I would go one way, the boys the other. We started into the wind and slowly edged up to a meadow complex, where we waited as the eastern sky began to glow.

I don't know what it is about that first dawn on the first day of a hunt, when the stillness is deafening, and seeing your own breath in the headlamp just makes your body hum with adrenaline.

I love it!

You know me-love those moonrises as much as sunrises. Not often am I awake early enough to see both.

Now I have been asked before why we wear orange hats when we are not required to do so, and it is fairly simple. We hunt doghair timber, and it is just easier to keep track of each other with a bit o' pumpkin. Also, it lets other people see us too. On this morning, it worked perfectly as we watched a hunter work in below us. He probably would not have seen us without the hats, but he did.

Whoever you were, thanks for leaving us that little bit of meadow to watch alone! Right sportsmanlike, he was. Pretty soon, some mulies began to show.

Then, very faintly in the distance-a bugle. Yup, the meadows never fail. Now we knew that those elk would work from the meadows to the timber, so off we went, creeping from rock to rock through the burn, eyes forward, ears open.

Step by step we made our way to the next meadow complex and set up an ambush.

Not long after, we heard the sound of Machete Mike's rifle. KA-WHOOM!! He was just above us somewhere, and obviously he was into elk. We stayed put, and a short time later, I could hear elk mewing as they fled on our left. Never saw a one!

We got back into the wind and began our march again, oh so slowly we crept through the moonscape. There were tracks and sign everywhere, it looked like we had just missed the herd.

We continued on. One step forward, look and listen. Wait a minute, next step forward. It was thigh-burning agonizingly slow work. Step down off a rock, pause and listen. Look ahead one last time before you step over that next downed tree. Check the wind. Start all over again, every sense alive with every second.

A scheduled radio-check with PleaseDear, they were on schedule, and we were nowhere near where we had planned to be. We had somehow missed the rally point, so we told them to go on ahead and planned the next check-in time. We took a break on a rocky lookout and started to glass while munching some mid-day snacks.

Then we saw them. Elk. Coming down into the head of the drainage we were in. Mrs. PleaseDear had a cow tag, and these two fit the bill. They were lazily feeding along, and we had the wind, soooo off we went! We ended up 75 yards below them, and they had no idea we were there.

The only problem was finding a space between the trees that would give us that window; and we had trouble finding one. Finally one cow stepped into a clear lane, and I let out a soft mew. She stopped broadside, I ranged her and Mrs. PleaseDear touched off.

We have no idea where that round went, but it didn't touch that cow. They ran off, then amazingly began feeding again. We tried to work back into range, but they managed to keep trees in the way and eventually crossed the creek and disappeared.

It was noontime, we figured the elk are bedding and we had time to eat a proper lunch. Just as we sat down on a little hill, I saw movement in the trees across from us. ELLLK!! I watched through the binoculars as a huge herd of more than 50 animals lined out through the trees. Cow, cow, cow, calf, spike! cow cow ...ooooo, nice bull...cow, spike, calf, cow, raghorn.

Now I got excited, because I had a bull tag. Anything with horns within range was in big trouble, but these guys were safe today.

Not a minute later, a small herd broke off from the big one and bailed straight down the opposite hill toward us! Mrs. PleaseDear and I got small on the ground and waited as they beelined through the trees. Once they hit the trail, they paused only a moment and then busted off through the right. No shot, same problem with the trees.

We watched and waited. When nothing moved for about an hour, we picked up our packs. I took one last look and ELK! Another small herd was coming down the same trail. We moved down into the trees and set up. This herd had spikes and cows. I took aim at a spike and he stopped- right with a tree across the front half.

Then I felt it. Wind. At the nape of my neck. With an explosion of dust and tree branches and the sounds of hooves on rocks, bam! They were gone.

Sigh. We played that game for a few more hours, but it never quite worked out. But it was more elk than we had been into in several years, and we came back to the trailhead happily exhausted.

Back to the cabin for a nice dinner and good books by the fire.

I looked forward to timber-ghosting again the next day.

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10:21 AM (MST)
22. "RE: Dream Catching"

The next couple of days were much like the first, we were up in the dark, and up the trail by daylight. Each time we had some opportunities, but those elk weren't in the thick stuff by accident!

By the third afternoon, I think we were all tired. We weren't seeing a bull big enough to justify the pack out.

And that dang sign still lied like a rug. That last mile was just so hard, and I still can't figure out why.

But Mrs. PleaseDear and I were still enjoying every minute.

Now the boys don't get this, bless their hearts. But the Mrs and I enjoy a photo safari as much as we do the actual shooting safari. So one afternoon, we took off while the guys napped and took our own Grand Tour of the area.

Wouldn't you know it? Of course, the little bugger just knew my shotgun was at the cabin. All I could do was point my camera at him and say "bang"!

Always have to hit the lookout. So quiet this time of the year, I think it is the only time the lake is like glass.

Some of the area reminds me of the Kaibab Plateau

We decided to go around the lake to a closed campground where we without fail, always see antelope. On the way out, we ran into a pleasant surprise, as it is not often you get to see sheep this close and so calm.

I don't think he realizes he's fair game!

We named this kid "Chocolate"

Pretty soon we were at the campground, and sure enough, the goats were there like they always are.

Am I seeing double???

I wonder what might be over there? Of course, I wonder that every time and have yet to check it out. Gotta do that some day......

We decided to hit a different area for the afternoon. Only this time, the trees still had needles, so it made it just as challenging as before.

We found ourselves a meadow to watch and enjoyed the evening. Nothing came in, but we really didn't care!

That night, I was slammed with a wicked migraine and discovered to my dismay that I did not have my medication. All I could do was ride it out. I was so sick by morning that I couldn't hunt. I was feeling a little bit better by noon, which is when Mike showed up with bloody hands and grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

He'd managed to shoot himself a nice fat cow and needed help getting her out. Off I went a little light headed, but happy for him. She was HUGE. We took up the cart, plopped the quarters into bags and wheeled her out.

That afternoon, Mrs. PleaseDear and I returned to the area Mike had shot his cow. Unfortunately our plan was cut short by some other hunters who felt the closed gate did not apply to their ATV's. We saw nothing, not surprisingly.

By the time we got back to the cabin, a surprise was waiting for us. That feller otherwise known as B-Bop had driven up and was sitting on the porch! Now B-Bop and I have talked to each other for years, but never met, so it was good to sit down with the man finally. The evening went on with us swapping stories and ideas. B-Bop had to go back home that evening, and we were sorry he couldn't hunt with us the next day.

Sometime during the night, I went outside to see the stars. I had forgotten that we are just a tiny piece of the whole universe, and it never ceases to amaze me when I get a chance to be away from the city and see the heavens.

Then I saw the dock. It looked like it was just floating in the darkness; I knew there was a lake, but it was so dark up there, that it just looked so surreal. I played around with exposure times and finally got one right:

The following morning would be our last. I was sad that we might never hunt this time of year again. I hoped we might end it on a proverbial bang.

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08:17 AM (MST)
23. "RE: Dream Catching"

Sorry Fan Club! I was, well, I was continuing this adventure in Arizona!! But I'm back to catch you up. If you recall, I left you all hangin' on the Utah muzzy hunt:

We went back to a crossing area where we had been seeing some elk. The morning dawned just absolutely clear and quiet. The sun came up and began filtering through the trees. We split up, and I began another slow creep into the wind.

I was soon lost in the sounds of the forest, in tune with the tiny crunching noises of the pine needles under my feet and the slow thump of my heart.

Had another close call with a doe deer. I don't think she ever saw me, and I sat down on a log and enjoyed watching her go about her morning; snipping some leftover leaves still green off the oak, rooting at the base of trees and then being startled just as abruptly as I was when a woodpecker let out a staccato in the dead tree between us.

Scared the crap out of me!

Mrs. PleaseDear and I took our usual group photo:

All too soon it was time to head back to the trailhead. At least this one had no signs that made one think they were only 1 mile from it!

I am going to miss hunting here this time of year, it really is so different.

Everyone packed up and went separate ways. I took my time driving around a little longer, wishing I had just a few more days to enjoy the great weather in a place I hold close to my heart.

Driving up a side canyon, I was given another treat-another herd of sheep that were more than willing to cooperate for some photos. I have not been this close EVER to bighorn sheep, I was just fascinated watching them.

Then I saw the ram. Now Mrs. PleaseDear had taken a full-curl ram in this very area not too long ago. He had a wide flaring set of horns that was pretty unusual up here.

I think this may be one of that ram's progeny, because he has that same wide look. At least it made me happy to think so. Maybe I'll get to chase his sons some day.

Sooner or later, I had to force myself to the realization that I could stay no longer.

I had to go back to work for a few weeks and attempt to remain focused long enough to accomplish something. In between hunts I had applied for a new position and was accepted. A totally new focus awaited me.

But I was already thinking about Arizona.

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11:24 AM (MST)
24. "RE: Dream Catching"

Here is where I'm going to make my shameless plug for MonsterMuleys and Founder Brian. Actually it is not shameless at all.


Let me say that again- I would not enjoy the many friends and hunting partners I now have without this website. One of those friends is Blank. I met Blank on the Moose forum many years ago. He convinced me to put in for moose in Idaho when it opened for non-residents, and I was lucky enough to draw on the first application. But his involvement did not end there. Blank not only sent me maps and gave me general advice, he spent some time personally showing me the unit and in the end, helped me spot, stalk and take my moose. I met GateGopher on the same trip, and we have done some fishing trips and convention walks occasionally since.

But we haven't really had the chance to hunt together again. That all changed this year when we all found ourselves with tags for the same unit. The really great thing about it was that it was completely by accident. Looking back, I'm not sure why we had never considered applying together before in Arizona, but we didn't. Somehow we all drew independently.

Blank immediately invited me to join the Idaho boys for some late season bull chasin'. Of course I accepted! Blank planned everything out, from scouting out motels, to bribing his sons to come along as official packers. Even GateGopher found himself a buddy to join him.

In the middle of a major snowstorm, Blank and crew drove to SLC and we left the next morning. It was one very long drive, with a chunk of it in 4-wheel drive through central Utah. But we made it to our motel in time to unload, check in and grab some grub. I met David, Logan and Dan, who had named themselves Team Sherpa.

We began scouting the next day. I believe in signs, and I really really like these ones:

Sure hoped it was true!

We looked over a whole lot of country. The unit is huge, so we spent the day putting in some truck miles to refamiliarize Blank, who had hunted here once before.

Like many of the good elk units, this one had everything.

Pine forest:

To PJ:

Pretty soon, we were seeing signs of our quarry. The bad thing was is where we were seeing it. There are some OMG NASTY country in the unit, and elk were all over in it. We drove to look into one of the bigger, nastier canyons.

We named this one Phuket Gorge, because even if we saw a bruiser in it, there was no way in HELL we would be able to get him out!

Of course that idea changed once we found tracks like this:

Man oh man, did I want to see the beast that left that track. We named this one Rimwalker, because we followed him for miles as he walked the rim of the canyon. Never did see him, but it was enough to make one just glow with excitement.

We looked high and low, and even saw some elk.

Can you find the bull in this pic?

Here it is a bit closer:

Now this is where we had THE discussion. Do we want a bull that would score over 350 if he was intact? Or an intact bull, regardless of score? Blank said he wanted an intact bull over 350. I just wanted a birthday bull, and I knew that I would know him when I saw him.

We named the broken bull Hell NO! Because this is where he was living:

He never moved more than 50 yards the entire hunt.

That night, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast at a local buffet and got to know each other a bit better. Dangit David is a professional fishing guide and driftboat builder. Longlegged Logan is a wildland firefighter. Doesn't say much, but when he does, it will make you laugh your arse off.

Then there was Dan. Dangerous Dan. I didn't know it then, but found out over the next few days that I had the privilege of hunting with a world-reknowned guide and caller. Not to mention the guy is freakin' hilarious. I have never EVER laughed so hard in my entire life.

We made plans for opening morning. There was snow on the ground, the forecast was for cold temps and some more weather. It was looking to be a good combination.

All we needed was for the bulls to cooperate.

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06:32 AM (MST)
25. "RE: Dream Catching"

2 degrees??? I'm in Arizona, it is not supposed to be fwicken fweezin!! Our eyes were glued to the thermometer as we drove toward the trailhead. I don't think any of us wanted to leave the warmth of the truck, but we were so excited to begin the adventure we just threw on our packs and took off.

We split up in pairs, one Sherpa for each hunter. Too bad we weren't Coue's hunting, what a great spotter team we had put together! Slowly we made our way to a canyon rim, where each team crept into the rocks and settled in overlooking what we knew from scouting was a great bottom of mixed brush.

Why is it that just before the dawn breaks, the temp seems to drop so low that you think you shall never be warm again? I was so glad I wore my pacs, and boy did those first rays feel good on the toes.

David set up his tripod and we put our plan into action. He would look out far with the big eyes, and I would limit myself to those areas within immediate range.

The first thing we noticed is that we were far from alone. Now I was at first dismayed but also excited, because when you see guys with tripods and no rifles spaced 50 feet apart on a rim, it means 'outfitter'. And 'outfitter' usually means big bulls. We glassed even harder, and it wasn't long before we saw what we were looking for.

Big bull. He was just standing in the morning light on the rim, and the light just made him glow. A guick look revealed that he was a great 6 point bull- on one side. The other main beam was gone above the third point. He was huge, with a body the size of which a Clydesdale would envy.

He stood there looking into the bowl below as if enjoying the view; for nearly 30 minutes he never moved anything but his eyes and the occasional ear. It was awesome! Then he just slowly fed his way into the trees.

WOW, what a way to start your morning!!

We continued our vigil. A few hours later, someone on the other side of the hill began taking a crack at something with the oddest sounding rifle I have ever heard. It sounded like it was suppressed or something.

Not a ka-pow, more like a ka-thud. And whoever he was, he wasn't hitting a dang thing! 10 shots later, we heard the whump, and the firing quit. The spotter city never moved, so I don't know what, if anything, the shooter actually hit.

We stayed into early afternoon, but decided to go have some lunch and re-evaluate things, and we moved toward Phuket Gorge.

Hell-No had moved about 50 yards and was sound asleep in a bush. He was still tempting at 420 yards, but the 1500 vertical feet convinced me to keep looking.

We found another place to watch into the canyon where the bottom was shootable, and no cliffs to scale. The high degree slope did make me wonder, but the Sherpas assured me that they would handle it just fine.

We named it Nuts Wash. I think we were fer thinkin' of packing a bull out of it!

The afternoon wore on, and the only thing we saw were some DANG NICE COUE'S!!! Seriously, we saw some bruisers, it was so cool. Just before dark, we could hear one below us blowing. It sounded so close, but you know how the Little Grey Ghosts are.....we never did glass it up.

Sneaky buggers.

We were cold, tired and ready for some warm food. Post-dinner festivities consisted of more map-readin' and speculatin'.

We were going in several miles tomorrow. Into some rugged nastiness that surely held Mr. Big.

We were going to hike into Good Heavens Hole.

Waking up at 0300 is never pleasant. Seeing that it was still single digits was even less so, but we bundled up and into the trucks. Breakfast consisted of granola bars and whatever else you had, because we had some driving to get to the Hole.

The camo-clad Sherpa train moved into the darkness and up the trail. We were a little behind in time, so the boys were moving quick. I quickly discovered that my tendon was still a bit shortened, and I could not take a full stride, so imagine if you will the guys walking at what I am sure seemed to them quick march, while I put it into high gear with short steps.

It worked pretty good! We hit our split point, and the pairs moved off to various spotting perches. David and I slowly worked down a finger as the sun rose, the only sounds our boots in the snow. The crunching noise sounded deafening in the morning stillness to us.

That same feeling came over me. Light coming up. Rifle moved from shoulder to left cradle.

Crunch crunch. Eyes ahead, then left. Crunch crunch crunch. Eyes right, then a check behind. Pause.

Start over again. Crunch crunch crunch. Eyes left.

ELK. I slowly knelt in the snow and looked at the big ole' elk butt in the trees. "I think it's a bull", whispers David. I look through the scope, but I can't put horns on it, and slowly it moves into the trees.

Hooves on rock. Oh yeah, there is more than one elk there!! We push up our rice-crispie walk, and suddenly a herd busts out across the finger in front of us. I take a knee again and look through the scope.

Cow, calf calf cow. Cow, calf. Cow, cow cow. More sounds to our left. We hustle down to the point and hear more busting through the brush below the rim.

We never saw a one. We were discussing that it was probably a herd of cows when we heard the unmistakeable 'thock' of antler hitting tree trunks.

Plunk! Up came the glasses and into the pines below we looked. Nada. Every once in a while a thunk or a thock would echo up, but he was gone into the bottom of the canyon.

My body hummed with the excitement of wondering just what he might have been. David and I split up on either side of the point and settled into the glassing rhythm.

There's a bull over there!

But he didn't make my heart pound, so I just enjoyed watching him doze in the shadows that receded to the bottom as the sun rose.


With nothing to catch our eye, we converged on the trailhead and after a nap again decided to hit another area for the afternoon.

First we checked on a 'guzzler'. I have never seen one quite like this. Ours are pretty simple, this one had a capacity for years, it appeared. Pretty impressive.

But the troughs were already frozen. There were some tracks, though, so we headed over to another canyon rim. David and I had named ourselves Sherpa Team 1 by this time. Dan and Paul were Team 2, and Logan and Joel Team 3.

We looked over the rim and saw some of the most rugged country I think I have ever contemplated.

Oh yeah. Big bull stuff for sure. It was huge, nasty, steep stuff that made you feel insignificant.

I got shivers just looking at the potential. It's a sickness, I know.

Sherpa Team 1 slowly made its way down a finger and found a great glassing spot. David made his way out on a rock formation that made my guts turn inside out.

Does this give you an idea of how BIG this country is??

Then we saw him. The Coue's bull. I only call him this, because one minute the hillside was bare, and the next minute this big ole' bull was standing there. I think he was beamed there by God just for me to enjoy looking at.

Now I got a little excited when I saw how big in body he was; and I admit my heart thumped a bit faster looking at him in the scope.

What a beautiful bull. He had the coolest ghost rings around his eyes.

He was 420 yards away, too. He stood broadside just like that opening day bull, the only things moving were his eyes and his ears.

Cagey. I wondered if he even knew we were there, and if he did, if he'd even seen a person before. We looked at each other through the spotting scope for a half-hour. David and I came to the same conclusion.

He was a great last day bull. His G1's were short, and his sixth's small. Not quite there yet, but impressive nonetheless.

We seemed to be seeing a pattern. 4-5 year old unbroken bulls, and broken bruiser bulls. Might have to redefine our goals in the next few days.

We backed out of the canyon and met the other teams at the trucks. Morale was a little low, but we realized that we were actually doing pretty good, we had not been skunked yet in any area. Just needed to keep putting in the time behind the glass, that's all.

The evening ended with the promise of gold. Arizona gold.

Day 3. There is always something about Day 3.

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01:09 PM (MST)
26. "RE: Dream Catching"

Anyone who has hunted Arizona knows that it is not easy country. It is rock, rock and more rock. This unit was volcanic in nature, so it was all kinds of different sizes of rock, and every single one tends to roll. After 4 days of leather stretching in this stuff, my tendon was a little sore as I headed for bed. I had been religiously icing every day, but this time I fell asleep. I knew I had a made a mistake once I woke up and found it grossly swollen. I couldn't take even half a step.

Decision time. Do I still go out and hold everyone else back on the chance to take a bruiser bull? Or do I step up and admit that I shouldn't be doing anything but chill out for the day?

Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and do what's right. I went to the boys and told them that I couldn't hike today; I was asking to cause permanent damage if I tried. They took one look at my ankle and agreed.

The boys left without me, but I knew they would be back by noon because David had a boat to deliver today. I began an icing and stretching regimen through the morning, but was really kicking myself because the weather was just atrocious. Blowing snow, cold temps. Great stalking weather.

Eventually I decided to talk a small walk, because keeping the tendon stretched seems to help. Since the vehicles were gone, I headed into town for breakfast. The weather was miserable, and I was beginning to worry about the guys. The road to Good Heavens Hole was not the greatest, and it looked to be really snowing hard on top of the mountain.

Breakfast found me visiting with some locals, and wouldn't you know it, both were retired officers; in fact, one was the former Chief. We had a wonderful conversation over coffee well into mid-morning, and I learned a lot of local history about the area, the problems Arizona is having with illegal aliens, and just 'stuff'. I also gleaned some good information on where the elk might go after this storm.

I returned to the motel and found that the boys were still not back. Now I was starting to really worry. I hoped they were late coming in because someone got a big ole' stinky, and not because they were stuck. Sooner or later, I heard the trucks pull up.

Looking out the window, I saw TINES. Woo!! Somebody scored, yeah!! I gimped my way out to the truck and saw a really nice bull in the back.

"What do you think?" I heard from behind me. Turning around, I see Paul and start laughing. "Beautful bull!" said I, then pointed out that some scope bit him on the face.

He was still bleeding. We all laughed, because apparently this is not the first time he had fought with his scope and come away the loser!

I was just tickled for him. He and David shared the story with me while we worked on caping the head.

David had gone back to the same point as yesterday morning and as the sun came up, spotted the bull in it's bed. He said it was really cool the way the sun lit him up, and he spent a while just watching him be a bull. Then he grabbed Paul and they put together a cross-canyon shot of some pretty good distance. The bull ended up sliding down into a horrible spot, but once the Sherpa Team descended upon it, the work and packout went well.

Paul's bull:

The best part, according to Dan? "We get the afternoon off!!" Yup, it was time to celebrate. One down, two to go. It was time for PIE.

We talked over the hunt so far, and I shared the information I was given over breakfast. It was decided that everyone should just rest up. (That really meant me, I know they were just being good guys). Dan mentioned that on the ranch upon which he guides in Colorado, the average is one bull for every 2.5 days of hunting.

Looked like we were on track. Now all I needed to do was get this tendon in shape for some more rock crawlin', so I continued my icing/stretching/walking regimen into the evening. It was looking much better and I was confident that I could be back at it for Day 4, which began early...and cold!

Groan. With wind, too that made the chill factor below zero.
We were headed back to Bull Pocket for the morning. On the way in, David suddenly stopped. To our left, we could hear hoof on rock. We knew it was elk, there were no range cows in this area. It seemed to be walking parallel to us, so we angled off slowly as the sky lightened. David finally got a look at it, and could see horn, but not how big.

Soon we settled back into our rimrock perch and the game began. I was so glad to be wearing my wool today, that wind was just brutal. My boogers froze, I kept icing up my bino's, and I absolutely dreaded the moment I might have to water the bushes.

See, you guys don't have it so bad.

I had to get up and move around, and the minute I walked away I heard David hissing at me to get back, because Team 2 had a bull spotted we needed to look at. We hustled over to them, and I took a look through the scope.

MASS. My heart pounded. "That's him, boys, that's my bull". I have always let my heart decide my animal, and mine was beating out of my chest. He was one canyon away, but if we could get to the next rim, he would be within 400 yards. Team 2 would stand by in preparation for retrieving pack frames from the truck.

Bailing off the rim, Team 1 quickly found ourselves battling our favorite friends, Holly and Laurel. Those girls had been beating the snot out of us for days, and we decided at this moment that we hated them. HATED THEM!!! It took some doing, but we finally got into the bottom.

Then we heard it. A CHUFF! chuff chuff chuff. CRAP!! BEAR!! We were nearly at a run, and all we saw of him was a big black butt running down the canyon, thank heavens.

David was rock-hopping and I was running like mad to keep up. Tendon be damned, I'm going to get my bull!! We neared the next rim, and paused below to catch our breath. Slowly we crawled over the top:

Gone. As in, nowhere to be seen, zip, zilch, nada. What the ??
The wind was being squirrely, maybe he winded us. David went left and I went right, both looking directly into the bottom. Dangit!! Where was this bull??

Never thought a Coue's buck would help find a elk bull, but he did. David saw the buck staring hard to his right, followed the direction of the stare and saw the bull standing in the trees. I crawled over to him and laid down underneath a juniper. The sun was coming up, I had only moments before it would be right into my scope.

"Range?" I asked him. It was so cold that the rangefinder would only range to about 450, and the bull was a bit further. But he was moving, too, there was no way I was going to shoot at a moving bull at that range.

Finally he stopped. I held the 450 hashmark upon his chest and squeezed the trigger. We heard the bullet hit home, but the bull had no reaction. I was not happy with my position, and tried adjusting. Unfortunately I also violated Rule #2 of firearms safety. The second shot was pure accident, but since I was only moving my body and not my gun, I'll be danged if that second round didn't go right through his shoulder.

The bull spun and began to come downhill. I knew he was hit hard, but he was headed for the Hole. I hit him again and he stopped. The final round I put in his spine, and he dropped. We later ranged back to the shooting tree. 470 yards! I was so totally stoked, that is the longest shot I've ever made on an animal, love this new scope!

David and I exchanged high-fives, I think he was as excited as I!! Faintly from the first rim I could hear the boys cheering.

"Sherpa 1 to Sherpa Team", David said into the radio.

"B...B...D, request Sherpa Team assistance". He actually giggled while saying that. Logan busted for packframes, while the rest of the team met up and headed our way.

We climbed across the bottom and to the bull. The mass was incredible, and he has some neat little bumps on his fronts. In fact, he had a split g-2 on one side that had broken off. Light colored, he was clearly a resident PJ bull.

My first PJ bull ever! I was so dang excited!! Remember the 'wowie-wowie moment'? This was another, only more deliberate:

Picture time!

Team Sherpa:

It was time to go to work. Now, let me tell you what-I have not had a Sherpa Team before, and certainly not one with a taxidermist and professional guide. They made very short work of this bull, and before I could snap my fingers, quarters were on packframes and we were ready to start the march out.

I had to beg just to carry out the antlers. I know the guys were taking good care of me, but I felt like I was getting a free ride, so I strapped 'em on the Badlands and took my time, as we had some challenging terrain ahead.

There is NO WAY I could have done this with my bunged up ankle. Talk about dedicated Sherpas.

Thanks, fellas!

One last look back, and me, my shadow and my bull left this now special place and slowly walked the final mile to the truck.

Now, I do have to admit that I was party to a pretty funny, albeit somewhat mean practical joke. Paul was packing out my cape and some meat. He had trouble folding up the cape to get it to fit in his pack, so the guys wrapped it up good-


He packed that rock all the way back to the truck. So when I got back, I asked him if I could see the cape so I could see exactly where that second shot had hit. In the meantime, I stood far enough away to avoid the violence sure to come.

The look on a friend's face when he realizes he packed a rock for miles: PRICELESS!!

After a well-deserved lunch and moving elk parts back to storage, we decided to take the afternoon off and do some more truck scouting in a totally different area. Guess what we found? Yup, elk.

We also something interesting out on a fin.

What do you think it is? I think lookout, the guys think it has some ceremonial significance. The crazy part about it is that we could not figure out how the builders even got out there, let alone carried the rocks to make it. More secrets never to be known.

We headed back to town, where I was taking Team Sherpa to a fine steak dinner.

Dan said we really screwed up his statistical analysis by taking 2 bulls in 2 days. I don't think a guy with a shirt like this should even say such things.

I think Dan is good luck, and I hoped we blew his stats out of the water by taking a third bull in the morning, because we had elk spotted and plans made.

It was Blank's turn, and we were going to do everything we could to make his hunt a screaming success.

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11:45 AM (MST)
27. "RE: Dream Catching"

We were now into a routine. Up early, trucks started on time, breakfast on the way. Our timing was perfect, as we were in glassing position right as the sun hit the side of the hill. Sure enough, the elk were up and beginning to move around.

Off we go!

The wind was right, the sun was right. Everything was perfect as we slowly worked our way up the knoll. I was enjoying taking my time, the pressure was off and I could pay a little more attention to the little things.

Like a tree that had been struck by lightning and burned up from the inside out.......wonder what that looked like when it happened?

Eventually we ended up one ridge west of the bowl where the elk were feeding.

Looks to be cows. We continued up, and confirmed that what we had was a pretty large herd of cows and raghorn bulls. Not what Blank was looking for, but it was neat to watch them feed unaware that we were even there.

Then we headed back down the hill. I had just remarked to Blank about how good this area looked for turkeys, and guess what I found?

Love those birds!

While I was distracted by the track, Dan was planning on a little joke of his own. As I was passing by the same burnt out tree, I heard a muffled voice say "Help me, I can't breathe".

Seriously, he is like having a little kid along. His enthusiasm for the outdoors is a joy to be around, and his appreciation of the little things just amazing. I got the chance to visit with him on the way back to the truck and asked him when he decided to become a guide. He told me that he had always wanted to guide, because it was the only way he could get paid to do what he loves-be outside and one on one with big game.

What annoys him most about clients? "Those that don't respect the animal", was his response.

You just have to admire that.

Once again, a truckside conference was held and we decided to check another area we were curious about; but first we needed to fuel up and I needed to calm down the tendon. Like Blank said-you take what Nature provides.

Man, was that cold though!! I could only stand it for 10 minutes, but it was enough to make my foot numb, so mission accomplished.

Paul made fun of my bitsy feet. I told him that small feet are why I fall down all the time, I don't have a proper platform! He continued to tease me until I reminded him that I didn't have to fight with my rifle scope, nor did I carry a rock several miles.

He quit.

After a short drive, we settled into an afternoon of glassing a new area.


Looks like our instincts were spot on again. Dan decided to do a walkabout and took off through the canyon. David and I found a rocky point and began to pick apart the PJ. Saw some nice mulies working a bottom, but no bucks.

"oh boy, BULL" said David. Just about the same time, a truck drove across the hill (we had no idea there was a road over there). The bull was only 50 yards uphill as they parked. We figured they had seen said bull and although disappointed, were kindof excited to watch someone else be successful.

That bull just took two steps into the trees and did the Arizona stand.

Like I said. Cagey. Clever. Amazingly patient, these animals are. The hunters, to our surprise, walked down canyon. They didn't see the bull!! Game on!!

The problem was that we could only see part of the antlers, but what I could make out looked pretty impressive. He was at least a 6-point bull, and the main beams looked looooong.

Blank came to us, and everyone put up the glasses in an attempt to see just what that bull might be. Finally, he came out of the PJ.

Man what a bull!! He looked to be a mainframe 370 plus-on one side.

Yup, busted up again. Blank was starting to waver, especially after we all agreed that if that bull had both horns, he'd be on the way to good and dead. The problem was that there was not enough light to get us to him.

Tomorrow, however, was another day.

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07:50 PM (MST)
28. "RE: Dream Catching"

On a side note, I had my Wyoming bull officially scored. 369 gross, 364 net!! Now I know that some here think scoring anything is overrated, but let me try to put into perspective how big that bull is to me.

He is has 60 more inches in antler than my next biggest bull.

In other words, 5 FEET!!!! He has nearly as much antler as I am, er, short???!! Anyway, pretty cool in my book!

Oh but wait, you all are waiting to continue my adventure in Arizona...........

Up and at 'em!! We returned to the same area as the night before in the hopes of getting a better look at that big bull and maybe convincing Blank that half a big ole stinky is better than none a'tall. The really nice thing about this particular morning was that we switched up teams.

Which means I got to hunt with Blank. We haven't done that for many many years, and it just made my whole trip. He and I crept up to the rim and the other teams placed themselves in other vantage points. We had the area pretty well covered.

All we had to do was wait for the sun to come up and show us the way. Once again, I was sure glad to feel that sun at my back. While not single digits this morning, it was still in the teens and sitting still was difficult.

Right before sunrise a coyote let us know he'd found David. Then he let us know he at least knew where we were; Blank tried calling him in with a squeaky call, but he just shut up and moved on.

Let the glassing begin!

We picked apart that entire basin until mid-morning. We were sure that bull was still there, but was obviously not in a place for us to see him. We retreated to the truck for lunch.

I don't think there is one among us that cannot appreciate those moments during a hunt where the sun just feels so good you have to curl up like a dog and enjoy every minute of it; and I don't know if it was having an easy morning with a full lunch that did it, but it was not long before we all wrapped ourselves in that sunny warmth and fell into a nice deep nap.

Man, that felt good after all the cold days we had thus far!

Blank had snuck off for a walkabout and came back all excited because he had seen a mountain lion. He was so funny as he described how he couldn't figure out what was moving around in the rocks for a minute. When he realized it was a lion, he made those same squeaky calls and it sat down on the rim 100 yards away and just stared at him. He was kicking himself about not having his camera when he recalled his cell phone, and seeing him demonstrate the battle he had with his coat zipper while the cat sat still was hilarious. He managed to get one shot as the young lion walked away. We got a good laugh out of it.

He and I went to another canyon for some early afternoon hoping. On the way in, I noticed just how big some of the trees were; I mean, some of them were probably a hundred years old.

I wondered to what sights this one must have been a witness:

We sat on another nice canyon for an hour or so. Very quiet, but neat to glass nonetheless. I was really enjoying exploring this country.

Another conference with Team Sherpa and Blank decided that he wanted to keep giving some of the bigger canyons a try in the hopes we could find an intact bull. An hour's drive later, and we were above another canyon the likes of which made your knees just ache thinking about the pack out.

But that is exactly what we were there for; we split up into our teams again and Blank and I got to enjoy some more time together. We had a really great spot at the beginning of a pour-off where the forest transitioned from Doug fir to scrub oak. It wasn't long before we began spotting elk, he a raghorn 5x5 and I some cows and a raghorn 4. The other teams saw a freaky spike that had one horn coming straight forward. They called him the UniSpike and watched him until dark.

Day 6 came to a close without us finding Blank his bull. Although we were a little frustrated, we took comfort in the fact that we were indeed finding bulls. It was just a matter of time, and we hoped we could pull it together for him tomorrow.

We were going back to Good Heavens Hole!

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08:06 PM (MST)
29. "RE: Dream Catching"

Day 7. Good Heavens Hole. We arrived early and began the long walk in. We had learned a lot about this area, and had devised a plan. We would split up and glass the heck out of it.

At the trailhead we ran into some guys that had scored on a couple bulls opening day. They had drawn the ire of some of our party when they came in to retrieve using an ORV, as the area is wilderness access. This morning, they were back.

I thought it a little odd that they still were packing around the head of one of the bulls, and thought it even odder that they would come in at dawn to retrieve an animal. The guy said AZ had a transport law requiring the head to remain with the meat, but there was only like one quarter in the bed. We couldn't remember that part of the law at all. It just left us scratching our heads.

We hit the trail energized and excited to find Blank a big ole' stinky, and hopes were high as the dawn approached.

David and Joel went down to a low point in a splitting canyon, and I began the slow walk across a mesa to an adjoining gulley. Dan pushed out far across the mesa and began working back, and Paul put himself in a prime location as our head spotter.

Things were just too dang quiet, until we heard gunfire further down the canyon. Someone was into something, but nothing seemed to be moving our way. Dan decided it was time to shake the pockets out of this pair of jeans, and began to bushwhack his way back toward Joel's stand.

On the way, he let us know that he had found a shed, and he was so excited! Now of course, we all thought he'd found a monster bull shed, but nooo.

It was a monstrous Coue's shed! I would LOVE to see this guy on the hoof with both sides, can you imagine?

Yup, I am gonna chase grey ghosts here someday!

The morning wore on, and one thing was clear-it was much warmer than it had been all week. We retreated to the trucks for our mid-day munch and were surprised to see another ORV coming in. Turns out the gunshots we heard had connected, and this guy was coming in to help retrieve. We were left wondering why 2 ORV's were going into a wilderness area to retrieve one bull. Now Arizona will allow you to use ORV's to retrieve, but you cannot use one to transport a hunter on a closed road. A couple other hunters walked out and looked pissed off. We said hello and got a curt response, it was really strange.

We were left wondering what the heck was going on here. Joel decided that we should go back to the big timber and see if the bulls were hiding from the bright orb, so we loaded up and left the Hole for good.

About one mile down the road, a AZFG truck comes barrelling around a corner, I mean this guy was hauling. We pulled to the side to give him room to pass, and he pulled alongside to say hello.

The first words out of his mouth were 'those guys with the Rangers still up there?". We told him that they were, but had left to retrieve a bull.

Hmmm. Odd way to start a conversation. I was thinking perhaps those gunshots meant bad things for the ORV crew, but who knows for sure.

The officer checked Joel's paperwork and even looked at Dan's shed, then took the time to tell us the plans for this unit and his ideas. I guess the Arizona wardens have some input into stuff, at least this guy seemed involved and really knew his area. We had a pleasant visit with him and then were on our way.

We knew we had only hours to make this happen. We almost convinced Joel to shoot an obviously suicidal spike bull that was running around at the trailhead. It was comical, really, but he rightly turned us down because we 'weren't gonna get off that easy'. Sigh. The life of a Sherpa is never easy. LOL

We were going after the Coue's bull, dangit. He was the only other unbroken bull we had seen, and we wanted Joel to have him.

We figured on a warm day like today, he might just be in the same place, a north-facing slope with snow. What big ole' bull wouldn't want to find himself a nice quiet patch of sweet coolness on such a beautiful day?

We dropped down into the canyon and crept to Lookout Ledge while Dan took to the trees-literally. I had never considered glassing like this, but if you are on a flat mesa with PJ, it makes sense!

We were in place for about 30 minutes when we spotted a bull, not Coue's, but an unbroken 5 point. He was fast asleep leaning against a tree. We watched him wake up, stand and stretch and then spin a circle in his bed like a dog before lying back down. We got a laugh out of watching him, it was just so neat to have a personal glimpse into the life of a beat-down, dog-tired post-rut bull. We hoped he had a chance to pass on his potential and wished him luck through the winter.

We kept tabs on him and kept scanning the ledges and brush below. About an hour before dark, another bull stood up in front of the first. Coue's. We looked at him as long and hard as we did the first time.

Then we tried in vain to find a way to get to him, and had to come to the conclusion that he was not in a spot where two-legged predators could realistically hope to go without some serious trouble.

Our hopes sank with the sun.

Dang, we just felt like we had let Blank down, honestly. The hike out was as quiet as the bottom of the deep canyon below. We couldn't help but feel down, but Blank let us know he was happy with the way things went, he really was looking for a bruiser and it just didn't happen.

"That's hunting, I've had a great time."

He was so right. We really had it good, by golly. 2 for 3 on great bulls, a lifetime of little moments and you can't measure or put a price on doing your favorite thing with friends who are as passionate as you!

We had one more celebratory dinner with a toast to friendship and the chase.

Then we made evil plans for the drive home.

Like putting bulls into a driftboat just to see the reaction we might get. That might be fun....

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10:11 AM (MST)
30. "RE: Dream Catching"

We spent our final morning together over a breakfast feast that was well-earned over the past week. Biscuits and gravy never tasted so good!

We then began the task of loading up. Our idea of putting the elk into the drift boat went the way of the wind when we realized that the total weight of the two bulls was well above the trailer rating. So we put our stuff in Paul's truck and the bulls in Blank's truck.

But the guys just couldn't NOT show off our good luck. A few tie downs later, and we were ready to head home.

Almost immediately, we started getting some thumbs up from other drivers. When we hit Flagstaff for gas, we really turned some heads coming off the freeway! I'm sure many a person wondered where in the heck we needed a drift boat to shoot an elk??

Anyway, we were a hit at the gas station, and Paul and I enjoyed telling those inquiring about the hunt. But we had a long way to go, and at least this time we had good weather and daylight. Soon we settled into enjoying seeing the desert during a really quiet time of year.

I really need to get back down to Lake Powell when it is this deserted; I wonder what kind of adventures I can find?

Now we had planned a special Team Sherpa photo, and kept our eyes peeled for that perfect backdrop. Taking a different way back, we pulled into Lee's Ferry and decided that this was definitely a great spot for a photo. While driving through the Navajo Reservation, we had a conversation about this ancient place with its equally ancient culture. I have participated in a program called Adopt-an-Elder, where we deliver basic necessities to those Old Ones who never leave the reservation, and in the winter are often cut off completely from the modern world.

I have learned a bunch from the Old Ones over the years; humility and gratitude with what I have in this world, and to quiet my mind and listen to Mother Nature, or to 'go in beauty', as the Navajo say.

Well at Lee's Ferry was an elderly Navajo lady selling her wares. As we gathered together and starting carrying the antlers over to our photo shoot, she remarked that 'those are very big deer!".

She had never seen an elk in her life, and was fascinated hearing about them. We showed her how different the pinon bulls look from ones that live in the timber, and let her feel how heavy the antlers are that the bulls carry around most of the year. She was very excited about the whole process, and told me that her granddaughter once brought her a deer roast, and she found it very good.

We took our photos and were loading everything back up. I got into the truck and looked out the windshield to see this Old One still beaming and waving goodbye.

"Hold on, fellas, there is something I have to do", I said and got back out of the truck. I was recalling the role of the hunter in all our history. I knew this lady had very little, or she wouldn't be out here freezing to sell some small trinkets in which she put a lot of work.

I cut off the top roast from a hindquarter and wrapped it in a grocery sack. Walking back over to the woman, I called her Grandmother and asked if she would do me the honor of taking the strength from my bull and passing it on to the young ones. Her eyes filled with tears as she said something to me in Navajo, then she pulled me close into a long hug and thanked me.

"You are a good hunter", she said. "How do I cook it?" I told her to cook it the same way she does mutton, in fact, it would make a very good stew.

She wiped away a tear, thanked me again and we parted ways.

I got back into the truck. The guys remained silent as we pulled back onto the highway.

"That was cool, Lisa", was all that was said, and it was enough. I don't really know what made me do that, but it felt really really good. I was 'in beauty', with beauty all around, with good friends and a good life to go back to.

I could not have done it at all without Team Sherpa!

We enjoyed the rest of the drive home, and it was really funny to transition from country to city. We got nothing but honks, waves, thumbs up, cell phone pictures being taken, etc right up until central Utah.

Then we started getting some unhappy faces. We just smiled and waved, and kept on drivin', because these two trucks were full of happy hunters!

The Idaho boys didn't enjoy their trip in rush hour at all, in fact Logan at one point declared he was 'done...I'm pulling over, someone else has to drive'. Nothing like a new perspective on something I deal with every day without a thought.

We hit my place and the unloading began. After a while, I realized I was alone, or at least the only one not in the basement, which is where I found the boys admiring the Wyoming bull.

"See?" I said, "Where in the heck is he going to fit??". They played around with it, and we all came to the conclusion that a floor pedestal was the only way to do it.

Heckuva problem to have, don't you think?

I had two weeks to think about my year; and I think giving credit where credit is due is just the beginning of the ending of this Hunt Adventure.

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05:34 AM (MST)
31. "RE: Dream Catching"

It would be so easy to say that this season was such a success because of the animals harvested, but that would only be such a small fraction of the story. It is like trying to explain to a non-hunter how the killing of an animal has but a tiny little bit of the reason we hunt.

Honestly, this year was such a delight because of the people with which I spent the days afield. I have primarily hunted solo most of my life, so this year in particular was unusual from the beginning. The animals taken were literally the icing on the cake!

From spending numerous hours on the phone and computer with people I have never met and enjoying every second spent reliving my hunts of the past and hearing the excitement as they planned theirs. I thank WapitiBob, BL and two unnamed fellas for including me in their limited entry adventures. Receiving thank you notes from them was awesome.

To reconnecting with Salmon and making a new friend in Frack while sharing some of my favorite places and relishing in their success knowing that for once, I made a difference.

To savoring every moment spent with the TwoTom's and TurKrazy clans in the pursuit of Wasatch bulls, and particularly for being included in the passing down of traditions from father to son. Not often do you get to see that.

Meeting new friends and seeing new country in Wyoming. Being grounded by the humbleness and sense of community within fellow hunters left such a lasting impression. That hunt will always remain a little bit unbelievable, and I have no doubt a return to the Greybull is in my future.

Spending time with old friends and realizing that once a year is really not enough and that I have no excuse to not see them more often. Realizing how rare it is to have a female hunting pal whose pace is the same, whose attitude is refreshingly insightful and whose husband is a darn sneaky joker-type that makes me laugh constantly.

Lastly, a truly amazing week with Team Sherpa who not only made sure Predator didn't break herself up good in the cliffs of Arizona but made me feel like part of the family. They treated me like I was the most special gal in the world.

I don't know about special, but I sure am blessed.

Thanks to everyone who helped me out this year. Thanks be to you, MM members, for sharing my tale. May the New Year be a blessing upon you all.

I'd say 'the end', but heck, application periods start in a week! Let the obsession begin.......

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