Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hunting Sowagua Creek

Last weekend  opening of bow hunting, I parked my truck and took the ATV up the logging road.  A sign cautioned, “steep narrow road with active logging.”  The road was steep and narrow even for logging roads. This weekend I decided I’d take the truck to where I’d target practiced and broke my bow string ending my bow hunt.  This was the opening of rifle hunting season.
I'd had Ali at Vancouver Auto put a Warn 12000 lb winch on the front of my Ford F350 truck.  One more safety feature.
 It was a lovely sunny day.  I’d missed my break of dawn start as is increasingly usual with the attractiveness of my bed. Which is why I brought my tent along.  The road opened to a lot of spurs and clear cuts.  It really did look good except that it was an area of active logging. Deer tend to stay away from areas where there’s a lot of activity on the road.
I parked my  truck by a river. I like to have fresh water available when I camp. (Later at night unable to sleep I thought about how bear like to travel alongside streams, and cougar.  I was glad to have the 12 gauge shot gun beside, loaded with buck shot and slug. )
After I set up the tent I got out the ramp for the Yamaha 450 Zodiac ATV. I truly hate backing down off the truck.  I’m always glad to be alive with the ATV on the ground. We loaded up and were gone exploring.  Lovely weather. Sunshine and blue sky. Great views.  Pine and spruce forests.  Great mountains.  Red and purple wild flowers.  Dicky birds.  But no deer. We drove all over the area around us, Gilbert peering over my shoulder.
There were a half dozen others hunters out there too.  Most in trucks driving around while a couple had ATV’s.  Busy place. I only saw one rabbit.  I took a shot with the Ruger 30:06 aiming for the tip of the head, knowing that if I hit it full on I’d explode it and have no meat. As it was, I shot over it’s head.  Very fast rabbit. It will live a very long life never again thinking a truck or ATV can’t see it when it stops still. Now it will keep on running. I let Gilbert free and he ran everywhere in his great little circles but the rabbit was long gone.
Back at the truck in the dark I enjoyed running the truck engine and sitting in the warmth.  Gilbert ate his little Caesar and some of my roast beef sandwich.  I read Rohr’s Breathing Underwater kindle edition on my iPhone.  Gilbert licked my ears.  Soon I was tired enough to shut down the truck and  crawl into the tent.  I had a couple of thin (too thin) mountain air mattress. I had Gilbert’s little green bed.  I used my jean jacket for a pillow. The sleeping bag I had is rated for fall and spring.  I’d just not taken into account the 5000 feet altitude. When the sun went down it was really cold.  I was also thinking about bear and cougar.  You can start obsessing about something and it’s hard to get it out of your mind especially with the nights sounds  behind the water sounds.  I’d loaded the shot gun with a couple of buck shots but decided I should have a slug in the second over under barrel.  I must have checked the positioning of the flashlight and the shot gun and the knife a half dozen times before being satisfied.
I tried to lie on my back. There were rocks. I’d put the tent up beside the road.  Lots of gravel and rocks. Too thin mattress.  Sore back.  Turning over hurt.  Gilbert cuddling for warmth. I gave him the blanket.  I fell asleep for a minute and dreamed I was being attacked by a bear.  I’d had to grab my knife because I couldn’t bring the gun to bear. I fell back asleep, dreamed I was being tortured electrodes jabbed into my back by two terrorists.  It was really cold. I’d wake with a hand out of the bag and the hand was chilled.  Gilbert was shaking next to me so I covered him with the blanket.  I must have slept despite the dreams.  It was light when I awoke. 630 am
I’d slept in my clothes, just had to get the rifle, throw on the jacket.  I had my Iridium Satellite phone in my pocket and now had a Garmin Tactix GPS watch so I’d know my lat and long if I ever needed help.  Since flipping my ATV and getting trapped for a bit under it, thinking I’d not get free, I’ve been a bit more cautious hunting alone.  Gilbert and I then walked out of the camp and headed up to the ridge. It was a slow quiet walk with lots of scoping the ridge with the Bushnell glasses. No luck. We sat for a bit.  On the walk out Gilbert stays on the heel right behind me but on the way back I let him run. He’s a lark to watch, circles and circles.  Then he runs full speed back to me and then full speed ahead.  It’s fun to watch him.  My feet were sore by the time we got back to camp so it was good to have the Kodiack 450.  Off we went on that.  All morning I enjoyed watching the sunlight come over the mountain.  We drove about, explored, went to where the new logging was, had to pull off the road to let big equipment go by. Talked to a half dozen hunters.
Around 10:30  am I headed back to the tent, really tired.  Not enough sleep.  I packed up the tent and gear then loaded the ATV. I don’t mind driving it up onto the truck. It’s just backing it off that gets me.  The sun was up and it really was a hot lovely day. Hard to believe how cold it got in the night walking about now shirtless in just shorts and canoe shoes.
Nobody had seen any deer. However when a guy said he’d seen grouse I felt terribly guilty for not rushing the packing up. Gilbert, the great grouse hound, gave me a dirty look. I got the message.  Got in the truck and hoped to shoot a grouse on the way out.  No such luck.  More ATV’s and other trucks and people just in the woods for fun.  Busy place.
It was only a couple of hours home with traffic not backed up at all.  It was simply wonderful to climb in the hot tub then have a nap on the lawn chair.  Great weekend hunting. If I’d have shot a deer I’d have had the cleaning and hauling and getting it to the butcher.   I believe too you have to do the time to be there when the deer appears.  I don’t think I’ll be tenting any more.  It’s a whole lot more enjoyable hunting with my RV.  Maybe I'm getting older.
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