Sunday, October 28, 2012

Clinton, BC - Hunting with Tom and Gilbert

Bill Mewhort from Campbell River first introduced me to hunting in Clinton back in the late 80's. We came up and stayed at the Circle H lodge which I see this week is now up for sale. It was a great place. I fell in love with Clinton. Bill had friends here and special permission to cross private property so we ended up in some pretty special hunting places. That time I shot my first moose.
I've been back to Clinton with Bill and many times since on my own. I don't hunt in Bill's special place even though he and his friends say I can. It's a place Bill's son will always be able to hunt. I've just enjoyed the rest of the area around Clinton which has the widest variety of high range, mountain timber and lowland lake areas. I can't remember how many grouse I've shot here either. None this year, though.
Tom and Gilbert are with me this time. Another time Tom was along I shot a black bear in the high country. My scotty Stuart was with us. He barked ferociously at the dead bear and kept kicking dirt and trying to bury the bear's head while we were trying to gut and clean the body.
Last year I shot a three point mule deer with Gilbert along. He ran ahead of me jumped spread eagle on the deer's head. I thought the poor deer's last shameful thought before entering deer heaven must have been, "Oh my God I've been killed by a cockapoo."
So far we've seen only one buck but the region right now is open for mule and white tail bucks and spike fork moose.
Last year Laura, Gilbert and I stayed in my Rockwood RV at the very fine Gold RV Park. This year Tom and I are staying in the Cariboo Lodge. I stayed here a few years back when I came up with my Honda CRF 230 and new Mossberg 30:30.
Caribou Lodge is a great place. Reasonable rates, terrific rooms, satellite television, wi fi and really friendly helpful people. The main log built lodge has the offices, a bar and resturant. The breakfast eggs pancakes and sausage here the first morning were spectacular. The dinner steak with shrimp cream sauce with baked potato was equally good. Tom loved his meals as well. The kitchen made Gilbert sausages which he wolfed down in the room. There was Halloween dance in the bar with everyone in costume for a very merry time but we had to get up at 5 for hunting so didn't stay.
The first day we drove all the way over the back woods trails to the Ferry Crossing and also all the way over to the Canoe Creek Indian Reserve. This territory is all part of ranching era steeped in history that gave rise to the Chisholm Trail and made the not that far away Gang Ranch famous. The village of Clinton for years hosted the Clinton Rodeo. The Clinton area now is home to several of the finest dude ranches in the province.
We are also certain that the Big Horn Sheep got a memo saying that the hunting season for them ended last week. A whole herd of them were down in the valley by the side of the road sticking their tongues out at us as we drove by.
Since Dad's death I've been a bit raw so I really enjoyed encountering a covey of a dozen quail. Dad and I had a heck of day trying to shoot these birds he called 'little bullets' over on Vancouver Island. I did no better following their scurrying little bodies down the road till they suddenly flushed at rocket speed. Naturally I didn't lead them enough and missed with both barrels despite being at point blank range. I smiled thinking of Dad. We went off to the skeet range for a day after our repeated inability to shoot a single quail despite encountering maybe a hundred or more.
I've new staff starting at work. This time off this weekend will slow things down a bit so we can get up to pace again. I'm tired from grief I guess and glad just to be out here with the dog and guys enjoying doing what Dad and I so much enjoyed together. Dad loved Gilbert but when we hunted together years ago in Manitoba we'd borrow my brother's big Irish Setter, Tartan.
I tried riding the Honda Big Ruckus today but it has summer tires so it made a slippery go of it in the snow and slush covered roads. Tom and I got the truck stuck in the snow trying to turn around when we encountered a fallen log blocking the road. Thankfully I had chains along and we got ourselves out. Given that experience, we didn't try for the high country with the big Ford F350 truck. We saw a buck at dusk but couldn't be sure about horns in the low light until just before it disappeared back into the forest.
I still hiked all over God's creation despite my injured foot. Tom followed in the truck at half hour intervals when I was walking down logging roads with or without Gilbert. When he was waiting with Gilbert he spentthe time throwing Gilbert the tennis ball. Gilbert thinks this is all dog heaven even if we haven't seen any grouse. He did encounter his first pigs though and was duly impressed!
There have been moose tracks but tracks make thin soup. Another morning before heading back so we are hopeful. Early to bed and up at 5:30 am for a 7:15 dawn. The Petro Canada fuel station, with it's great coffee, opened at 6 am this morning.
All the people here have been super friendly. It's always like that in Clinton. I love the countryside. Camping here in the summer and hunting in the fall is so enjoyable if only for the scenery and incredible air. I forgot my SLR high tech cameras this trip so have had to rely on the Iphone camera. The pictures are still pretty good, if I say so myself.

addendum - the next day we shot one grouse.  A covey of grouse flew away. A large winter hare ran like the wind but one ruffed grouse didn't escape. No deer or moose were seen.  Nonetheless a terrific trip.

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