Sunday, April 14, 2013

Old Hedley BC and Spring Bear Hunting

I drove my Ford F350 HD edition truck towing the Rockwood Mini lite trailer from Vancouver.  There's no snow in the Frazer Valley but the woods were full of snow in Manning Park.  By the time I got to Princeton I saw dozens and dozens of mule deer. There were no antlered deer because this is the time of the year the deer shed their antlers.
I stayed in a lovely RV park, Riverhaven, just beside the Gold Mountain Road, as the #3 crosses the Similkameen River. The RV camp is a km beyond there where the Stemwinder road to the mountains turns off.  It's a lovely forested site right on the Similkameen River with very friendly helpful owners.
I set out from there with my truck or Honda CRF 250 motorcycle.  I had Gilbert my cockapoo with me and he road either in the passenger seat of the truck or in his dog box on the back of the bike.  I had my Ruger bolt action stainless steel 30:06 in the truck but carried the Mossberg 30:30 lever action while out hiking on in a scabbard on the motorcycle.  I had some fun target practicing.  The bear might have avoided me but I killed some pop cans dead at 100 yards.
We had a great time back country.  A little exciting 4x4 ing in the truck when I had to go up a mountain on John's Creek road, got into snow and ice with no place to turn around. It's times like this I miss my quad.  The motorcycle wouldn't have been any better with the iced road, though when I was riding it the next day and got into a bad stretch of rock slide it was easy as pie to turn around. That's the limitation of the big truck on the logging roads, no turning radius.  When I had the Broncho II it was almost like having a quad because I could turn around anywhere. The same was true with the Ranger truck compared to this monster with the crew cab.  Even in the worst of the high mountain snow and ice I was thankful to have the bike in the back. Barring sliding over the side and plummeting a half mile or so, I figured at least if I got stuck, I might be able to ride out on the motorcycle and get help.
The first day out I forgot my iridium phone. Since getting hurt in the woods a couple of years back I've felt better for the ability to call for help. I'm finding I'm not as confident running over logs and down hillsides, having this nagging worry that I could quite easily break an ankle or such.  Silly thoughts for an old codger but still the phone gives me a measure of comfort.  God's with me wherever.
Gilbert and I had a great hike in the woods for a few hours off Stirling Creek logging road.  He was ecstatic when we scared up a grouse. They're out of season. I watched one big boy doing the cock walk by his female, feathers all fluffed out.  Didn't point him out to Gilbert who upwind didn't know he was there though if we'd stayed he would have heard them with his keen ears.
All manner of deer in the woods. I came across a couple of herds of a dozen or more riding along the Similkameen River trails.  They were out in the meadows and ran back up the mountain when I appeared. Quite the sight each time.  4 actually ran across my path at a cars length away bounding across the meadow to the safety of the woods.  Some even came into the campground only to turn around and find their way out by the way they'd come in. They'd walked up from the river.
I stopped at the town of Old Hedley. There's a museum there celebrating the Gold Mine that was once there.  I liked the little town with people making it pretty and welcoming for tourists.  I took pictures of Magpies on a roof there.
We never saw any sign of bear so figure they're still in hibernation.  Another week or two and this area will likely be crawling with them. I've seen many in the fall when I've been up around Princeton hunting mulies.
I can't say I've been a dedicated bear hunting either. No early morning departures.  I've really enjoyed hanging out at the RV park, one day driving into Princeton on the motorcycle without Gilbert and the other days only hunting a few hours, mostly just driving about in the back woods or out hiking.  Country folk do just this for entertainment.  I have a rifle, binoculars, a knife and hatchet but otherwise I could be going out for a Sunday drive.  Gilbert sure is excited when I get the rifle out.  I think he always thinks we're hunting partridge, his favourite, and doesn't have a clue why I pass up going where he thinks the most likelihood of finding birds is.  The last time I had him on a bear hunt, we came around the corner and there was the big black bear. This startled Gilbert and he began to bark ferociously nervously scaring the bear away looking back at me to make sure I was backing 'big dog' up.  I've got  him trained not to bark at animals in the woods, I think, but it's a learning process.  It's not the same hunting without him though. He's sheer entertainment with all his enthusiasm and interest , sniffing and pissing, running circles and generally so much happiness. Alone I'm just on task.  He's probably not contributing to the hunt but the hunt isn't all about getting a bear. It's mostly about being out in the woods and enjoying nature.  Getting off the grid for an hour or two too.  It's so peaceful and quiet in the backwoods.  This time of year I didn't even encounter loggers or other folks out in the wilderness.
This RV site is so peaceful too. Right now I'm looking down at the river.  Later today I'll head back to Vancouver.  Gilbert's had a great time with a variety of country dogs playing and showing them his city dog moves.
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1 comment:

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