Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bow Hunting Stone Creek, BC

Having driven all day Friday night and most of Saturday I pulled off Hwy 97 at the Stone Creek Forest Service Road. I have the BC Backwoods Atlas so saw some campsites in the wilderness to the south east of Prince George.  It was getting to evening and I was concerned not knowing the area (pulling 26 foot Rockwood Mini lite RV trailer it's impossible to turn without sufficiently large clearing) and just wanted to camp. I eventually found a clearing which had been used by hunters for target practice.  Targets on the hill and shells everywhere.  It was good enough.  I wanted to sight in my rifles next day anyway.
When I worried about shooting there scaring away game, I remembered hearing about the deer that walked across the rifle range when every one was target practicing.
That night I fried up some pork chops and boiled frozen peas to eat with chips.  It was a great meal finished off with cherry ice cream and blue berries and cream.  I could have had either dessert alone.  It wasn't like anyone but my waist was watching.
Gilbert was real glad to help me with the pork chops too.
The alarm went off at 5:30 but before that the batteries had died running the propane heater all night. I noted later there was a charging problem but that morning all I noted was the chill. It was all I could do to get myself out of bed, skip washing and  hot coffee, just have  a cold starbucks double shot and get on our way before I changed my mind.  Bed is so seductive.
I loved hiking off at a tai chi pace with the dog on heel and a bow over my shoulder.  The light was just coming up. All was still and quiet.  I was wearing leather canoe shoes to minimize sound.  Gilbert was hyped.  We kung fu'd a mile or so then sat watching the sun come over the trees. Dawn is beautiful especially hunting. No game though. Only a few fresh deer trails and one moose track.  Young bear tracks but no older bear.  Very little in deed.
Slowly but surely I walked to the outer reaches of where I could get along the off road logging road with a truck. If I shot something I had to haul it out so I  wasn't going to go miles cross country backwoods where if I shot something I'd have to haul it out on my back. I'd done that once with a moose and a few times with deer when I was younger but the other 6 moose and elk I'd shot within eye sight of a road. Hauling the 800 lbs of elk over rough terrain 2 years ago had taken all day.  Three of us carried a moose I shot a mile or so from the road and I once shot a deer a couple of miles from the road and had to carry that on my back through rivers.  Great experience when young and inexperienced.  My favourite moose I shot was running towards the road and collapsed literally beside a logging road so I only had to haul the quarters out of the ditch and lift them into the back of the Safari van I had at the time.
No, come to think of it , the very best moose I shot was with Luke and Tom. They hauled the moose  down the hill to the road while I gave them instructions on field dressing. I only had to help them lift it up into the truck.
I didn't see anything till I wandered back to the RV and truck around 10:30 am.  There was a big black bear standing outside the door like it had come to visit and found no one home. It looked at me. I had my bow. It seemed further away than it actually was.  Gilbert didn't bark but stayed right by my side. In retrospect I could have shot it with the bow but I didn't.  I thought it was too far away but it was in fact only about 60 yards. When I was siting in my rifles later I figured the distance but somehow I thought it was further and that I needed to be closer with the bow. The bear slowly ambled off the road while I tried to casually come forward like maybe I was just wanting a hug, you know a bear hug.  It wasn't having any of that and ran into the woods, amazingly fast for it's size.
Despite shooting three bears and enjoying eating bear meat I've never been overly anxious to shoot bear since I was charged by the bear I dropped with heart shot.  My dog, Shinto, ran to the bear and the bear jumped up and ran in the woods. Shinto ran after, I ran after Shinto only to have Shinto pass me as I ran through bush going in the other direction, the bear barrelling along behind him right at me. I began back pedalling frantically while unloading my rifle  into the back of the bear , the barrel nearly touching it.  Thankfully it  veered off after several shots through both lungs running straight up a tree.
I reloaded and  shot it several times more before I severed the spine bringing it crashing down from a height of two story building.
When I dissected the bear I found the first shot, by direction, had passed through both lungs and taken off the tip of the heart but hadn't punctured a ventricle.  Another three shots passed through the lungs from above. Then another couple of shots hit the back coming from below.  A couple more shots were in the muscle of the shoulder and rump.  At least four lethal shots were in the bear with a couple of wounding shots.  I'd shot at least 9 or ten shot and couldn't account for a couple which I may well have shot wide while running back wards. My bolt action stainless steel Ruger 30:06 held 5 shots with one up the barrel. I was using 180 nozzle partition bullets at the time.  I dropped several shells reloading after the charge, before shooting the next four shot while it was up the tree.  It all happened so fast. Literally everything was happening in nano seconds, the whole thing going down in minutes.
Overall I was shocked and impressed by how long the bear carried on with all that lead in it.  It gave me a real appreciation of stories of men carrying on all shot up.  Makes me appreciate the advantage of a head shot though the next bear I shot died with one heart shot at 100 yards.
I've not shot a bear with a bow and arrow yet.  I think it may be I have to get up the nerve.  Obviously my Excalibur bow with the razor blade tipped arrows is truly lethal. I shot deer with my less powerful Browning compound crossbow before getting the Excalibur.  I just think bear are more unpredictable.
With this bear gone I made a fine Starbucks expresso coffee and sat on the steps enjoying the fine  brew.  Starbucks coffee in the woods sure beats Starbucks coffee in the city.
After that I was sore and tired and feeling my age in my back with stalking all that distance with all the gear I carry.  In addition to my bow and arrows, I have Bushnell Binoculars around my neck, 2 knives, my cold steel hunting knife, a folding knife, knife sharpener and leatherman tool and satellite phone on my belt.  I appreciate the back complaints police have carrying the stuff they carry as part of their daily work uniform.
In addition I carry extra arrow heads and some special bird shot razor heads in my fanny pack, along with compass, tin of sardines, and bottle of juice, toilet paper and lighter.  When I have a rifle I carry about 25 rounds of ammo, I know 10 rounds is more than enough but I appreciate the soldiers having the weight of the 100 rounds minimum they usually carried on patrol. 30 rounds of 30:06 is weight enough, 10 rounds on my belt, 10 more in my fanny pack and five in my rifle.  I only have 6 arrows when I'm bow hunting. I used to have an extra quiver which allowed me to carry another 4 or 5 but it wore out with all the razor heads and I've not replaced it yet.  The limitation with the bow is that reloading takes time so I'm lucky if I would get more than 1 or 2 shots. I dud once get 5 shots off with the browning compound.  It was faster to load than the Excalibur.    I've lost several arrows shooting grouse, missing one before hitting the grouse with the reload.  Normally only grouse will wait around. One stunned deer seemed to wonder what were the irritating 'bugs' flying past it as it stood and let me miss repeatedly
That's all just a lead up to my guilt about  climbing in the truck.  I love my truck.  Ford 350 Harley Davidson edition 4x4.  It's got heated seats and a sun roof. I just feel guilty about 'road' hunting before noon.  But at 11 am I justified driving around as I didn't know the territory.  I didn't see any game but had a great adventure just driving all round the territory for the next few hours.  The sun was hot and I ate lunch up on a meadow. Gilbert loved every time I got out of the truck to look around certain there must be a grouse or at least a yellow tennis ball to be found somewhere. He's an eternal optimist!
In the after noon it was really hot.  Back at the RV I stripped to underwear and  set up targets.  As usual I hit a fairly tight pattern a couple of inches just off the bull's eye at a hundred yards.  That's good enough for me.  I could probably adjust my scope and practice more to get all bull's eyes but next time I picked up the rifle I would likely shoot a tight pattern an inch away from the centre. When I shot cans at 100 yards I hit them all dead center. I'm an okay shot with an animal too which for me is better than being exact with targets and off with game.
Unfortunately I found my Mossberg 30:30 misfired after three shots. I think it's the oil I put in the rifle. It had been left out in freezing weather last winter and I think the oil wasn't rated. I was just glad to find this out before going bear hunting with this rifle.  I take my rifles into Reliable Guns in Vancouver and their gunsmiths have been the best over the years.  I once had a rifle fail on a hunt far north but had had the forethought to buy a second in case of that given I'd taken 2 weeks off work and a dead rifle would have ruined the hunt. I don't have a back up bow but I've ever since had two big game rifles.
I had a Ruger 22/10, the finest of 22 rifles along as well.  By law you can't shoot big game with 22 but I did have my new Brazilian Boito 12 gauge with interchangeable 20 gauge over under barrels. Because of the chokes in the barrels I couldn't use slugs but had buck shot for both gauges.  Some of the guys I know have just one rifle but always take along their 12 gauge shot gun with buckshot as back up.  I'm usually overtooled but then hunting birds and big game takes 3 tools at least, a bit like golfing.
In fact a 12 gauge can with different loads cover all bases. If a person could only have one gun that would be it because it can be used for everything. For big game it's lethality is maximal at a 100 yards compared to the 300 to 400 yards shots I've had with my Ruger 30:06.
I only shot off a dozen rounds of 30:06 before I was satisfied but I did shoot off another 50 or so 22 rounds getting excellent groupings on targets at 50 yards and making cans dance like they're supposed to in cowboy movies.  I' ve never tired to shoot coins out of the air. I've shot deer and grouse and rabbits on the run so I'm not that bad with moving targets but I'm still not very good at skeet.
Skeet shooting,  to my mind,  is excellent training in shooting and something I really should do more of, if only for the fun and camaraderie.  I most enjoyed this when I worked in Comox Hospital and shot with other doctors at the Cumberland Club.  I remember going out on occasion with my father who was a far better duck hunter than me but not that much better at skeet shooting.  It's all in knowing where the target will be.  Skeet shooting is the most  comraderie of target practicing.
While driving about I came across a lovely clearing with a meat rack built by other hunters in previous years.  When I returned to the RV I battened down the insides and hitched it up to the truck to pull it around to the new site.  There was a likelier looking hunting spot within walking distance up the road too.
In the evening I went out with my 30:06 on my back  loaded , 10 rounds on my belt, and my Excalibur cross bow over my shoulder cocked and loaded.  Gilbert was an amazing dog staying right on heel beside me though he really wanted to range ahead.  I was ready with the bow for deer and the rifle for bear.
Again I tai chi kung fu stalked my way up the side logging road to the top of the hill. I stopped and glassed everything every few feet. I stood stock still for long periods too. Finally I saw a movement a few hundred yards ahead of me. I couldn't tell what sort of animal it was in my binoculars. It actually looked like a goat at first.  Standing right there on the side of the logging road. Using the 10 power scope on the rifle, I thought it must be a coyote.  As I got closer that's what it turned out to be.  We stared at each other about a hundred yards apart.
I figured it could be a young female enamoured by Gilbert but I'd heard how a coyote will call a dog out in the woods playing one on one before the pack comes in to kill and eat it as a group.  I don't shoot dogs or coyotes or wolves since I wouldn't care to eat them though would if hungry enough.  Cougar sure was tasty and I'd not normally consider eating cat.  Just a thing with the dog family though. Gilbert stayed close to me and though he seemed aware of the other dog. This worried me because if it was just another dog he might as easily have bolted to join it but now he stayed with me as if this was his 'pack'. He was with the lead dog and wasn't going to let this 'competitor' get between me and him.   Which was good because if the coyote came closer or Gilbert had gone towards it and not responded to my calls I would have dropped the bow, gone for my gun and dropped it to protect Gilbert.
Personally I had no fear because of the bow and arrow cocked and ready but it was a bit eerie to be followed by this wild animal for the next half hour or so as I stalked across the hillside for a mile or two.   I got a picture with my iPhone but had I had my Canon Powershot camera along I'd have got a really great shot with the 20x zoom.  I love the iPhone though because it's so compact and always with me.
The coyote left us when we came down to walk along the river trail.  I thought it made us more vulnerable for a surprise attack by anything but trust Gilbert's ears and my bow. I was a little spooked by the coyote and prefer the feeling of predator versus prey out hunting. Hunting alone has certainly raised my appreciation for the courage and training of the military who every patrol have to worry about an 'ambush'.
I've been stalked in the woods by cougar and had encounters with packs of wolves. They're predators like the opportunistic coyotes but they're not equally armed with the ability to reach out and touch someone at 500 yards or more.  Whenever I think of war I feel the terror that men must feel with all the traps and snares and possibilities of dying that fill every hour of their times overseas.  I figure it's more than enough to just go hunting and harvest food without having to do it in the days of the natives when one tribal group was competing for food with another and ready to kill any stranger with bow and arrow from ambush.
I 'm just thankful today I can hunt with only the greatest danger being tripping and breaking a limb climbing about on the rocky terrains.  I got off the road a hundred yards or more at times if only to eat handfuls of the incredible blue berries which were everywhere this year.
I couldn't understand no grouse but figure the earlier years dryness and the coyotes might have reduced their population which really cycles against their predators.
On the way back I let Gilbert run free so he could do his cocker spaniel bouncing through the grass with all his circles along the road to flush out game. If there'd been anything there he'd have conjured it. He sure likes his work.
Back at the RV I gave him a' little caesar" wet dog food which he coyoted down before begging my montreal smoked meat which I made sandwiches with, eating while reading Harbingers the Christian thriller I 'd begun.  I didn't last long before sleep took over.
An even better sleep but early waking with cold as the propane heater stopped working again as the batteries were drained.  I remember I'd used the generator  more when I was out in the woods a couple of years back.  I wasn't so gung ho about going out bow hunting that morning so got out the generator to charge the batteries while I made some coffee.  I decided that since I'd made all this noise and that I really had a long trip ahead I should get ready. I had a shower and moseyed about some.  Finally after a couple of hours I was in the truck with Gilbert with the RV packed up.
I decided I didn't have time to hunt more because if I did shoot something I might not have time after cleaning and dressing and hauling to get back to Vancouver .  I had 650 km to drive and wanted to find an RV storage place along the way to store the RV.
I saw one rabbit on the way out.  Indeed before the weekend was over I'd see 4 all together.  No grouse but 4 rabbits. Usually I don't see so many rabbits.  They're quick though.
On the way up north I'd had "A Sensitive New Age Spy" audio book. It had certainly made the trip seem a lot shorter.  On the way back though I only had the radio.
I often criticize the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC for their radical left wing news and all their catering to political correctness and special interest groups. That said I think it's got some of the greatest programs in radio.
Well, this trip south I was thoroughly blessed by CBC and so thankful to be able to listen to some of the most incredible radio available. I'd just ridden through 5 US states on my motorcycle thankful for Steve Bell and Third Day and Steppenwolf CD's because US radio really overall sucked.  Some good music but only once or twice did I get good talk radio.
This trip south CBC was a world of joy.  I so enjoyed the book reviews and discussions on Next Chapter. Brilliant coverage and great interviews.  I found myself so wanting to go out and buy each of the books .  Next I heard a really sensitive interview of singer songwriter John Mayer with cuts from his new Paradise album.  As well, Arthur Shaeffer was interviewed discussing the new Museum of Civil Rights opening in Winnipeg.  Philosopher Grayling and Germaine Greer are coming to their speaker series and will be covered on the CBC Ideas.  There was a superb program with call in s discussing the difficulties with student unemployment, some 15% of graduates compared to the 7% for the country while in spain 50% of young people are unemployed.  I really enjoyed a series of interviews about farming and people renting farm land to do farming for market gardens.  One Pakistan fellow had developed five acres for asian niche market farming the crops that had previously taken days to get to Canada.  I liked learning that our universities were teaching too much academics. In Europe a 'practical' hands on 'farm university' had been developed farm farmers to teach real farming rather than all the erudite material about academic ecology.  Another progressive Canadian program coupled farm 'internships' with their academic programs . This had resulted in 5 students joining together to develop a farm run by these 5 families.
All the while the news was about Syrian chemical warfare and Obama wanting to get the americans to do a limited strike or trying to get opinion on side to show himself politically to be an understanding guy unlike his predecessor who was seen to have 'pushed' a war on the americans. I'm suspicious about politics since it's principal goal is to get votes and stay in power regardless.  The Russians are saying the chemical weapon wasn't set off by Syrians so the conspiracy theorists see it as an American ploy.  Surprisingly CBC news for once just 'reported' and didn't skew the subject far to the left by selecting propagandists to interview. It really wasn't so puke producingly stupid as the marijuana influenced News seems regularly.  Maybe because it's such a big event there wasn't room for the news folk to dwell on the paroguing of parliament ad infinitum or not comment appropriately on Troudeau and Ford going on about their dope smoking.  One can't help but think that if the Conservative Prime Minister said he'd done anything off colour or even flagrantly illegal like Troudeau, CBC would be all over it like flies to shit.  Oddly Mulcair the NDP leader didn't even get coverage that day.  What's that about?
I listened to CBC and had one of the most enjoyable rides with some of the finest listening I have had. I love Bachman's music shows and Vinyl Cafe stories.  I remember growing up glued to CBC and loving Barbara From especially. I didn't like the idea of the music being changed to that show. I loved through all my medical training years listening to CBC.
I don't think I've grown that much more conservative with aging but I know CBC news and some of it's program swung way out there into irrelevance and anti government in a really bizarre way.  It sounded so childish and adolescent at times.
This day it was the greatest of radio stations and something Canadians could be proud of.   I listened to hours of programming and was thoroughly impressed and truly grateful for the ride.  Gilbert was happy to eat milk bones leaving me the bag of fresh vegetable chunks.  Even an interview of Suzuki was interesting though he's such a modern day doomsayer that one can't help but liken him to Tammy Baker for his evangelical 'pitch' and showmanship. He's news and the CBC let him say his piece. I've gagged at their refusal to ask their hero any really tough questions in past interviews but this time they just let him speak and other than his nihilism I didn't even change the channel.  I had CD's and could have listened to music all the way home but CBC really captured me like it did in the old days when it wasn't so left wing city elitist.  It seemed to have found it's broad national base again and be truly a publicly responsible publicly funded federal radio.  I can only hope so.
Last year the programming was so minority focused playing to weird far left slice of whining Canadians that I thought the whole CBC should be scrapped rather than just funding cut. Funding cuts seems to have addressed some of the thoroughly arrogant and hippy dippy dead weight if this trips listening was representative of a new trend. CBC seemed  actually to be trying to speak to all of Canada their Toronto and Montreal audience.
I've always liked the BBC and only wish that CBC could find the depth and breadth of centrist thinking that makes their news coverage so broad.  As for individual programming despite a low budget because too much goes to the weak theoried news CBC programs have been far better than anything Britiain or the States has to offer.  "As it happens" when it came out was the best in the world. Now I've heard interviews of that caliber once again. Next Chapter's book reviews were better than New York times.  Great CBC. Go figure!
I loved the beauty of the country side, hay fields, pine forests. lakes.  British Columbia is spectacular. The towns are each and every one a true joy.  I can't help but think of Margot Bates ' Don't tell your mother' as I drive through them.  I just wished I 'd time to stop in Lac La Heche, have coffee in 100 mile house, enjoy William's Lake more.  There's so much community and culture and uniqueness to interior and northern bc.
I took the Lillouet route back and passed down through Pemberton and Whistler on the Sea to Sky Coastal highway.  More beautiful views. I've travelled this road so many times but really loved the views this time.  Finally I was back home in Vancouver a little after 10. By the time I got things in storage having left my RV up north it was late.  Past midnight before I was wound down enough to sleep.
 Gilbert and I had a great long weekend.  We both enjoyed the MacDonalds Hamburgers we got in Squamish.  Gilbert almost climbed in the window to help the chef prepare his paddy. He actually is 'triggered'  by the golden arches.  The humour is his 'disappointment' with parking lot attendants he sometimes confuses with fast food drive through windows.
I didn't shoot the burger with an arrow and enjoyed it all the same.
A silly city girl once wrote into the newspapers that "hunters should stop killing animals and get their meat from the grocery store where no animals are harmed."  While Gilbert and I would have gladly brought back game, despite the lack of, this was one of my best hunts if only for the wonderful weather, scenery and great time in the wilderness.
I had stripped and dipped in a mountain stream when I was driving around the backwoods but had a lovely swim in Marble Canyon near Lillouet on the way home.  The weather the whole weekend was fabulous.  I've so enjoyed this summer with all the sun shine and blue sky.
I never did get out on the motorcycle. I thought about carrying the bow and Gilbert  and didn't find the time to do that. We've done okay with a rifle and Gilbert, so next hunt we'll do some more off road motorcycling as well.  This time I really enjoyed the quiet stalking even though it was tiring and hard on muscles too used to a sitting at a desk.
A great long weekend.  Dad never worried too much when he came home from hunting or fishing empty handed.  The best hunts are sometimes like that.

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Arnold Brame said...

It is such an entertaining thing to go out on a long drive and get off in the mountain to see creatures you usually don't encounter. I really loved this blog post, reminded of my old days of hunting.

Arnold Brame
Health And Safety Training Peterborough

Anonymous said...

after that bear story I hope you always keep a rifle near by
even when you go bow hunting