Sunday, May 4, 2014

Skagit Valley - Quadding and Bear Hunting with Gilbert, the Cockapoo

It wasn’t a break of dawn start.  I got out of bed, said prayers, and brought the truck around.  Gilbert was ecstatic with all the loading. Guns, ammo, gear, gps, satellite phone, warm and dry clothes. Forgot Gilbert’s yellow rain coat. Had to go back. Forgot the keys to the ATV, had to go back. Sat in truck doing mental checklist.  (When I finally arrived I had the wrong rifle for back up, that’s why I like having a back up rife.) It was raining hard.
In Abbotsford I stopped at the Hub for more 300 short win mag ammo.  Then it was Macdonalds for Egg McMuffins.  Gilbert shares. Normally he gets his own sausage paddy but today I gave him half my second egg McMuffin. Hunting trips are a dogs life.
Skagit Valley isn’t much for hunting usually. More a fisherman’s paradise.  The park limits the options.  I’d been here years before but in fall hunting season the place in a human zoo. No room for animals.  Spring seemed a better idea especially since I wasn’t sure if I just wanted to make a day outing.  I think I'm coming down with a spring cold.
I saw deer crossing the road on the way in. Always a good sign.
The rain let up and sunshine came out of the clouds. I unloaded the Yamaha 450 Kodiac without killing myself.  Moved the gear from the backseat of the Ford F350 to the quad's compartments.  Gilbert had a spa hair cut this week so I had to put him in a hoodie with a yellow rain jacket over him, then a harness to attach him to the  seat.  With my new Winchester Model 70 300 short win mag stainless steel coyote light rifle, I was ready for bear.
At least we did a lot of 4x4ing. Great views of snow capped mountains. Snow in the high reaches blocked me a couple of times.  Great trails.  One is part of the transcanada route and wove through miles of forest.  I liked best the logging road I found that ran along a lot of clearcut.  The rivers are all rushing with spring off run. All the water rushing full of life after a winter lying about as snow.  Road along a river bed which had overflowed onto the trail.
On the main road I actually saw a big black bear.  Unfortunately he saw me.  He was coming up from the river and he took off in the bushes up the side of the mountain. I revved the engine and sped to where I’d last seen him, jumped off the ATV, forgot the keys in, ran into the woods, Gilbert whining behind me, looked up the mountain and there he was a hundred yards above me, looking down. I’m still feeding shells from my pocket into the chamber, slamming the bolt home,  lifting the gun to my shoulder. But even as I was bringing the sight to bear I saw him disappear behind a big rock.
Wow!  Was that exciting.  No bear to take home but so close. A moment more and I'd have had a shot.  What a gift.
After that we just enjoyed 4x4 ing. No more bear sighting.  Talked to a couple of other hunters and they thought it was still too early.  They’d seen some scat but no bear.  We talked about the weather. Great that the rain let up.  Occasional drizzle.
I had a thermos of coffee and cheese.  Down by the overflowing rushing river I had a cup of java and shared the cheese with  Gilbert.  Whenever I stopped I let him run about and sniff everything.
When dusk came on around 8 pm I got back to the truck and loaded up.  Again I didn’t kill myself driving the ATV onto the truck bed.  By the time we got to the highway it was dark.
I drove home, got back and unloaded by 10:30 pm. Will have to get to the gun locker tomorrow, unload the ammo and guns there.  So many locked storage places makes me miss my suburban childhood when there weren't so many thieves.
What a busy active day, though.  Amazing to me.  So many moving bits. A whole day of activity and back home at night.  Loved this.  Thank you, God.
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