Sunday, September 9, 2012

Merritt, BC - Autumn in God's Country

We drove up to Merritt in 3 1/2 hours from Vancouver on the Coquahalla, leaving after work and making it here at 9:30 pm.

Moonshadow RV on Nielsen Road is our favourite place this year, a true find with terrific hostess and host, Elizabeth and Wayne. When I didn't have an equalizer for the water pressure going into the RV they lent me one they had. They're that kind of friendly and neighbourly.

The site is on the Coldwater River just south of Merritt, 5 minutes from the town centre.

We had the RV set up in minutes, Laura becoming a real pro at getting the inside in shape while I take care of the truck and outside RV matters. Gilbert frollicks inside and outside looking for mischief and serving his role as ever available ball fetcher.

I was supposed to be out before dawn hunting with my bow but bed and country fresh air was simply too overpowering. Gilbert got me up at the usual time of 7 am with his wet lick alarm clock. I took him out for a quick pee walk and then came back in to get morning coffee for myself.

I began reading a Vince Flynn "Kill Shot" thriller so drinking coffee, after checking out Facebook to see what friends and family were doing I thought I 'd just have a peak at what Rapp was up to in the novel and whether Kennedy had found him yet. After my second cup of coffee I made toast and cheese sandwhiches and read some more. Gilbert was happy to have a few cheese slices too.

Laura got up and had a bath while I continued to give the deer a handicap reading more Vince Flynn instead.

Now that she was up I figured we'd go to the Merrit Ponderosa game and fish store to get straps put on my Mossberg 30:30 and my Excalibur Cross Bow. The Mossberg stock had been broken when I flipped the ATV last December hunting elk. Reliable Guns in Vancouver had their gunsmith replace the stock so it looked better than new. I'd had a lot of fun last weekend sighting in the 223 and cross bow and now was looking forward to sighting in the Mossberg. Shooting targets and cans is half the fun of hunting.

Laura loved the country as much as I did. She'd lived in Yarrow when her children were small and worked in Chilliwack so has a bit of country in her. She loved the pink cowboy earrings I got her from the store next to the gun store across from the Merrit Hotel with all the bikers hogs in front. She'd been admiring them in the window and now they looked fun on her.

Out at a gravel pit, tt took me a couple of boxes of Remington 170 grain 30:30 shells till I was satisfied I was hitting bullseye standing, kneeling and at 25 and 50 yards. I really enjoyed dancing a coke can for a bit. My Mossberg 30:30 is lever action, the classic Rifleman cowboy rifle. 30:30 was the rifle shot used primarily in WWI. 30:06 was used more in WWII then with the Vietnam war the military moved back to the smaller 223 rifle shot. I target practice with the 22 or 223 mostly because frankly the shells are whole lot cheaper. A box of 30:30 shells starts at $15 while the 30:06 shells I use are $40 for 20.X

After I'd target practiced a while, using ear plugs for sure, we just drove around the country. Having hunted the Islands, Pemberton, Princeton, the Canyon, Clinton and Prince George areas extensively I've only hunted around Merritt a few times. Mostly it's been a place I was passing through to points north. Now I'm just loving this incredible cattle country with gnotty pines, thickets, open plains, and little lakes. It's really ponderosa country. No wonder the horsey set love this area. I keep expecting Hoss Cartwright to come riding around a corner accompanied by Little Joe.

We drove around in the Ford F350 truck just exploring and enjoying the scenery. Naturally I hoped a suicidal deer or bear would be stupid enough to be out in the open but mostly these drives are for the sheer fun of seeing such great country with eagles circling and the occasional cow moseying across a field.

I'd trusted a person with picking up my ATV after it was rolled and repaired only now he's 6 months into promises to return it so I'm this week reporting it as stolen because he's sounding more and more like a relapsed drug addict and it's as likely he's pawned it as any of the many lies he's told me to date. Seeing this incredible off road riding country and thinking how limitted doctors holiday time is, how short hunting season is, and how it's an annual sacred time, I'm primed for self pity and resentment but must pray for the child instead, regretting yet again that I didn't respond three months ago when first I knew I was being lied to. Tolerance must be tempered with discernment and sadly sociopaths consider generosity and kindness invitations to abuse. They are either born with something miswired or if they're fortunate enough their lack of conscience is a temporary product of their addictions and with recovery they can hope to regain their lost humanity.

That said I'm thankful for driving my truck as last year one of my hunting buddies had lost his license and was dependent on friends to get him out hunting. I talked to another doctor this week whose injuries have left him unable to drive too so he'll be missing this hunting season. So many things can go wrong that it's a miracle that we're here enjoying this wonderful autumn.

I talked to Dad this week, and that's a miracle. He's 94 and when I was telling him about shooting a rabbit he exclaimed, "Rabbit is such good meat. I love rabbit stew." So here I am still young enough to get out and enjoy the rarities of life. Dad's mostly confined to a walker or a wheelchair these days. Thanks to my brother Ron and my sister in law Adell, he gets home cooked meals and weekly outings with Ron on his neighbourhood photographic journeys. Now that I'm older I'm more aware and appreciative of simply still being mobile and independent.

When we got back from the 'country drive' having not seen deer or bear or rabbits I took the veggies we'd picked up at the store and began to make a rabbit stew. I'd shot the rabbit last weekend so just had to thaw it in the microwave and then debone it for the stew. Garlic and onion sizzling in olive oil in the pot preceded the rabbit then the mushrooms, celery,tomato, avocado, butter and honey, spiced just right made a dillectable stew. I'd boiled little potatoes in a separate pot and added these. Delicious.

I ate too much and then lay around reading till I missed the evening hunt at dusk. I even had ice cream and watched an episode of Farside on the computer. Now this is definitely lazy hunting. The best part though is that I don't have to clean and carry game but part of the reason I so enjoy this time of hunting season is that it's not so 'serious'. If I'm lucky to get something like the rabbit early it's great but if its the end of the season and I've not shot something there's an element of desperation that tries to sneak in regardless of my best intentions.

Dad always taught us hunting was all about the time out in the woods and getting game was just extra. I know that but I really do like to have a freezer full of meat for the winter and last year so enjoyed the elk and mule deer we are still eating. The roasts were superb and Laura's elk hash was just wonderful comfort food on a Friday evening.

Besides my desk jockey body is taking it's time to harden up and at the end of the day I'm exhausted and every muscle seems to hurt from hiking and bouncing about off road driving. The amount I hike about surprises me in retrospect. But exercise and country air make sleep a luxury, money can't buy.

In the past too I'd have tried to hunt the morning we were going home but it's a long drive and I am enjoying a second cup of coffee today. I should be in church giving the deer a handicap that way but I've not even got to the shaving part of the morning. So the deer have had time for mass and for getting far back in the safety of the high country. Besides, Laura has made grilled cheese sandwiches to die for. Gilbert and I had a great walk along the river that runs beside Moonshadow RV Park this morning. It's sunny and dry.

On Facebook I learned my Scottish Canadian friend Anne is dealing with the mice problem the packed mud floor in her Transylvania getaway cottage caused her. Our Island friend Marion is planning retirement and flying out to visit Budapest and Anne in Eastern Europe this year. My nephew Graeme is back at movie making, my other student nephew Allan has solved the noisy neighbour problem while geologist nephew Andrew is lucky to be with Gilbert's friend, Tanya. I feel blessed to be alive.

Thank you Jesus.

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