2002 Elk Hunt – Part 2

Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation. This is an eastern chipmunk. I'm not sure if this is the same species Andy made friends with but you get the idea.

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This is the continuing saga of a Colorado elk hunt I took 15 years ago with my grade school age son, Andy.

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10-10-2002    Thursday    Fourth day in camp

Well, I found out last night why I felt so bad yesterday.  I’ll spare you the gory details.  Suffice it to say, I spent a lot of time in the camp pit-toilet last night.

I did sleep better though and actually slept deeply enough to dream.  Still not a lot of energy today but Andy and I made it a few miles up the East Marvine Trail.  On our way back to camp, Andy shot a pine squirrel.  They are a lot smaller than our fox squirrels back home, even smaller than our gray squirrels.  We’ll take it home and let Annie cook it.  If anybody can make it taste good, she can.

Note: I actually ended up cooking it and it still tasted good.

We came back early so that we could run to a sporting goods store in Meeker to pick up a couple Mini Mag Lites (indispensable in the mountains and much better than the ones we brought with us), cow elk urine cover scent wafers, and a cute little stuffed elk for Patrick.  The guy that ran the sporting goods store had a shepherd’s tent set up outside and a pot of antelope chili simmering in it.  O-o-o-o-oh it smelled so good.  He told us to help ourselves, so we did.  M-m-m-m-m.  De-licious!

Jeff and Dwayne (Minnesota) came by again this evening with a nice mess of rainbows and brookies.  Dwayne told us about a friend of his that was going home from work one day and hit an ostrich!  I told him about the guy that hit the elk on I-55 last year up by Matthews.  Nice guys.  I hope they have good luck…and I hope we do too!

While we were talking a truck came by and the occupants asked what part of Missouri we were from.  They were from Joplin.  Small world.

New campers across from us.  A father and son from Nebraska.  The son has four daughters and a son, ages 24 to 11.

The people in the site we used last year are from Pennsylvania.

On the trail today we met three guys from Illinois leading three pack horses.  The men were dripping with sweat and looked like the climb was harder on them than on me–and they weren’t fat!

Going to Meeker today we saw a road-killed calf elk.  Andy said, “Wow, it’s huge!”  This from a kid who has a bull tag!

We also saw some sheepherders (they looked like Basques) at a staging place, with about 500 sheep.  On the way back to camp those same guys were moving all those sheep down the highway!  It took us 15-20 minutes to drive through the flock.  Different.

Andy has nicknamed one of our camp chipmunks, “Chippie.”  I hope he doesn’t get too attached in case Chippie gets into one of our mouse traps.  We’ve caught seven mice so far in the tent.

What will tomorrow bring?

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10-11-2002    Friday    Fifth day in camp

Well, last night was another with insufficient sleep.  Yesterday seemed to get warmer as the hours passed but, of course, cooled as the evening wore on.  I was afraid not to have a fire in the stove but ended up with the draft and the damper all the way closed.  I actually started out sleeping pretty well – until the wind started.  Not a steady wind but a gusty one that kept the tent popping and snapping so loudly that Andy and I both lay awake for a lo-o-o-o-ong time.

We tried to sleep in until about 8 am but I couldn’t sleep.  So, when Andy started to rouse we went ahead and got up.

After our typical pancake breakfast I donned my pack (with emergency gear, lunch, and water for both of us) and Andy grabbed the .22, and off we went to climb the mountain.  It seemed even harder than the day I was sick!  Once we got to the top, though, I felt much better.  I never did get tired of walking, although my toes KILL me when I walk downhill very fast at all.

Anyway, ever since we got here I have been wanting to hike down the Dry Creek Trail to the west.  Today, after we set up three blinds in likely spots, we headed down that trail.  I don’t know how it got its name because I have never seen it dry.

I immediately noticed that the trail, at the start, was so faint that you could hardly tell there was even a trail there.  As we hiked it we only saw one other person’s tracks, but we saw lots of elk and deer sign.  Andy couldn’t resist shooting the .22 once and an elk took off running up the mountain!  We couldn’t see it but it definitely was too big to be a deer.  We found elk calf bones at a well-used crossing that would make a good blind but kept on hiking.  Where another creek runs into Dry Creek we stayed to the southwest.  The sign was THICK!  We found a calf elk skeleton and a deer skeleton intermixed.  Strange.  We also found some nice size black bear tracks.  I hope it doesn’t steal our elk after we shoot them and start packing them out.  Anyway, that’s where we’ll be tomorrow.

We hurried down the mountain so we could get to Buford Store in time to call home and talk to my sweetie and check on my boys.  We needed to get some bread and ice anyway.  On the way we ran into a cowgirl herding a bunch of cattle down the road.  The sheepherders the other day at least had people in front and back to warn the traffic.  Today I just rounded a curve and there they were.  I’m just glad I can’t say, “and ‘BANG’ there they were!”

We got to Buford in time.  Annie told me the boys are fine and Scott got Offensive Player of the Week in the Delta News.  He passed for 156 yards.  No interceptions.  He’s on track to pass for 1,000 yards this year!  Good job, Scott!

Andy and I celebrated by buying elk burgers and French fries at the Chuck Wagon behind the store.  The burgers were big, thick, and good!  I also got baked beans.  They were tasty but COLD!  I thought the idea behind baked beans was to serve them hot.  Maybe they do things different here.  I got water and Andy got lemonade.  He didn’t like it so I traded with him.  Pink lemonade…I liked it.

While we were eating, a couple about my age and an older man came up to eat too.  They were from Minnesota.  The old guy said he will be 81 on December 29th.  That’s right, he’s 80 years old!  This is his 30th year hunting elk!

While we were talking a couple guys came up with their guide.  They were from Minnesota, too – from the next town over from the other people!  Small world!

Strange, most of the people who come out here seem to be from Minnesota or Missouri!  In our campground alone, there are people from St. Charles and Joplin.  Oh, and let’s not forget Malden.

When we got back to the tent Andy and I took a bath (we took turns) in the big plastic tub we brought our sleeping bags out here in.  It worked well for him although he complained about being, “cold, kind of.”  It was a little cool when I got in but getting clean was worth it.  The tub was a little small for me though.

Something has bitten me on top of my left foot. So far there are three red spots about as big as a pencil eraser.  Three of them have little pus blisters.  They don’t hurt bad, just feel like a bad scrape.

The weather man is calling for snow tomorrow, opening day!  I can handle the snow but it sprinkled a little today.  I don’t particularly want to hunt in the rain although rain, like snow, brings the elk out in the daytime.

By-the-way, the neighbor from Pennsylvania says if two bulls are traveling together and you shoot one, the other one will eventually come back looking for his buddy.

Gotta get to bed so we can get an early start.

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Back to today: I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my narrative written so long ago.  I’ll continue it when I post the next installment in a day or so.  In that part, we share some season-opening excitement…and embarrassment.  Andy gets a lesson in patience, and listening to the voice of experience.

 

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(above) This looks like a place at St. Elmo, Colorado that Annie and I visited a few years ago, but the smaller ones are the same kind of chippies that Andy made friends with on the elk hunt in 2002.

 

(above) This is a pine squirrel like the one Andy shot.  Compare it to the chipmunk that comes out to see how small they are.  It still tasted good though.

 

(above) A video some guys made on the Marvine Creek Trail.  The trail leading up the mountain was just as rough, and a LOT steeper!

 

(above) A rainbow trout like the guys from Minnesota caught.

4 Comments on "2002 Elk Hunt – Part 2"

  1. Read part 3 tomorrow . Enjoying the adventures!

  2. Did you notice a difference in the way the pine squirrel tasted and “our” squirrls? Or was it basically the same?

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