Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cariboo Lodge, Clinton and BC Hunting

We had so hoped to meet up with young Mewhort and his hunting wife. We’d all made plans last year but mandatory work arose and I missed them.  They shot a deer.  I shot a rabbit.  I usually shot a moose when I was with the young Mewhort’s father. Indeed it was nearly 30 years ago I shot my first moose at Circle H Ranch in Clinton.
This trip was a joy. A great drive north leaving the maddening city of Vancouver for God’s Country of British Columbia.  Friday afternoon. Laura and I had completed morning clinics and blind Gilbert was excited to be on a hunting trip.  The 2017 Ford F350 Lariat edition truck is a joy to drive.  The 450 km of driving, starting in light in the valley ending in dark on the plateau.  I love passing the tumble weeds.  I’ve travelled up and down the canyon for 4O years. I came first to Vancouver by that route as a child a decade before that with my father driving, my brother and I awed first by the Rockies then this great river passage.
I’d booked ahead with the Cariboo Lodge. Great people. Great accommodation.  I remember when I was young how much I loved the happy loud pub music and dancing. Older I just love the food and hospitality. This time we had rooms in main lodge, log cabin walls.  I was even able to order a Cariboo special pizza when I signed in.
While we’d missed the young Mewhort’s,  Derek and Naomi were there this weekend.  We’d been at their amazing wedding with the incredible ballroom dance routines that reminded me of my youth.   When I saw Derek I said, ‘You know we’re the losers. The other hunters and us are here because we’ve not got game earlier in the season.”  This was the last spike moose and 4 point mule deer weekend.  Princeton, where I might otherwise have hunted was already closed for moose.
Since we were both hunting Derek and I were up at 5 am and headed out at 6 am.  I almost immediately shot a white cotton tail with my Argentinian 20 gauge.  While Derek had shot bear he’d not shot a rabbit and I was delighted to show him how to clean one. Memories of my father and brother and all the rabbit we’d hunted growing up came back.  “I think of deer as just kind of big rabbits and the dressing isn’t all that much different.”  The weather couldn’t have been better. Brisk long john weather. Snow on the fields and in the mountains but sunshine and blue sky. Lots of tracks but no big animals interested in making an appearance  I encouraged Derek to take the Honda 500 down a side trail while I happily stayed in my truck enjoying the comfort watching an open field and marsh for the night hunt.
I learned from Laura that she and Naomi had a terrific day walking Gilbert about town, talking about pregnancy and babies. Laura thinks the world of Naomi.  I told her Derek was as easy to be with, knowledgeable and responsible.  Dinner in the pub was a great evening, the women chatting up a storm while each bite of wonderful food made me realize how full and tired I was . It really was good to get to bed feeling every muscle.  Again 5 am we were up again Derek was glad to take Charles my Honda 500 Side by Side down the side roads..  I really was enjoying the F350 Lariat.   I had new snow tires and the carpet of snow had taken out all the pot holes making the main country road ride as sweet as pavement.  I also liked the heat and comfort.  I  was glad that Derek enjoyed taking the ATV deep in the back woods. He had a Colorado.  The Honda Pioneer is made for the bad back roads.
Still no game.  Another spectacular day.  We came across a herd of wild horses and the cutest little colt. Then some cowboys passed us herding cattle down the road.
More great meals at Caribou Lodge. Derek and Naomi had to leave to get back for work and study the next day. . Laura and I walked Gilbert some more. I road hunted that evening. Echo Valley.  Lots of sign but no big animals.  I did raise some grouse.  I left the truck and hiked a whole lot too.  No luck  Apparently another hunter group got a deer and young Mewhort got his.
In the morning Laura and I packed up . Ugh  Gilbert, we drove off for the last morning hunt.  I saw a coyote crossing the road and actually got a picture from a far. The real delight was the grouse I saw and shot with the 20 gauge. Laura in the truck said Gilbert was ecstatic when the gun went off running circles on the front seat.  I called for her to let him out and the poor blind dog ran right into the ditch. Calling him I got him to find his way back to the road through the snow and plants and finally to the bird still flopping a bit on reflex.  Gilbert the great hunting dog pounced.  He grabbed the throat and killed it proudly. He has his smell and hearing and was obviously delighted to be part of the hunt.
Laura and I were so glad to see his excitement and watch him puff up with pride. He was so disheartened and dejected when he lost his sight but everyday he’s getting better and better.
The drive home was beautiful taking the Duffy Lake Road from Lillouette through Pemberton and down the magnificent Sea to Sky Highway.  I love the Marble rock in the sun light.  We left the snow and returned to the fall colours of trees and leaves..  It was raining as we came into the valley.  I loved passing Howe Sound where I sailed so many years.   I  unloaded all my gear and Charles then  stopped to  store guns and ammo in the gun storage locker before heading home.
I figured the hunting season was over till Spring. There is winter bow hunting but older I confess I’m more of a fair weather hunter than when I was younger.

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