August 27, 2007

Part One

I have just finished reading most of two Off The Shelf issues, found in the Pacific GeoTech System’s (OTS advertiser) lunch room.  So much for working hard this morning!  You can hardly blame me for indulging in this pleasant distraction because it is only four more sleeps before I head off to join the Turner Family Elk Hunt 2007 in the Koot!

I have rifle hunted about 40 years now and have just taken up bow hunting this year. I bought a (cough) compound bow (cough) in Jan and have been practicing every few days in my backyard.  I had the pleasure of joining Kirk, Dennis, and Gord on spring bear hunt and was successful in killing a nice blackie at 13 yards with a complete pass through!  Hooked!!!  There is more to that story but let’s just say I learned a great deal about the lethality of archery gear, about the potential post-shot behaviour of bears, and that I am glad elk don’t climb trees!!

I hunted up the Bull River area about ten years ago so I have an idea of the terrain and inkling about what to expect. This is a hunt I have been dreaming about for many years so needless to say I am feeling very fortunate to have been given the invite and more so that the boys have also extended the invite to Frank my regular hunting partner.

The bulk of my gear has been shipped to Cranbrook and I fly out on Aug 31.  Frank is driving out a few days later in the truck, trailer in tow with the rest of the camp.  So the last couple weeks we have been busy collecting all the gear, buying a new wall tent, practicing setting up the tree stand, tuning the bow and my shooting skills, setting up the wall tent to ensure it was all good, watching hunting videos, and gagging on the darned Primos diaphragm calls!

I am also feeling a little apprehensive.  I absolutely hate making mistakes and as a newbie I am sure to make a few along the way.  I do take instruction well and am expecting to learn lots along the way.  I’ll write a follow up article on my return from the trip, hopefully with pictures of an elk on the ground as a bonus to what promises to be the trip of a lifetime.

Oct 18, 2007

Part Two

The follow-up…  First I want to say a huge thanks to the Turners for hosting Frank and I on the hunt.  We had a great time and as expected learned a thing or two along the way.  George can tell you that I did indeed have a lot to learn too!

Although the A/C flight was late, Jim was there to pick me up at as planned and we headed out to camp after a couple quick stops in Cranbrook for last minute supplies. That afternoon I got my little tent set up and met the rest of the Turner clan, and Ernie’s crew who were camped nearby and participating in the stories, fine meals and good times!  We were all pretty pumped up about opening day so after making final plans and hanging another couple stands it was early dinner and off to bed.

We were up in the wee hours and into the first hike/climb.  One of the first things I learned was that the cool climbing sticks that I bought for my tree stand, are darn heavy for mountain hikes and six months in the gym doesn’t equate to being in mountain shape!!

We saw lots of deer on the way in but the elk were pretty elusive… until the afternoon that is.  I could say more but let it suffice that the story of the traditional bow pass through is not mine to tell.  The next morning we were back to the spot and quickly recovered the elk, and got busy with the carry down the mountain… five guys taking turns with a couple 120 – 140 lb packs made for a long and arduous morning’s workout… especially for the young bucks who did more than their share!

The next few days went past in a bit of a blur keeping the schedule of two hunts per day broken by a meal and a quick sleep in the afternoon.  After about four days my body finally got into a rhythm and I was able to better manage the climbs, second winds arriving faster and lasting longer!  We hunted different areas each day and saw some great scenery and got close but not close enough to three beautiful elk brothers just out of range and on us like hawks.

One afternoon we skipped the nap and went to visit the Liar’s Den to get the truth and tilt a couple cool ones. It was great meeting Monty and crew whom we met up with for another round of truth telling over dinner later in the hunt.

Frank arrived as planned late one afternoon and we got the wall tent set up. I must say I was really looking forward to sleeping on the cot instead of that skinny Thermarest on the ground!!  Frank and I headed to a local pub for a steak dinner and a frosty that evening.

We hunted hard the next morning and got ourselves in to Master Bull’s bedroom and could smell the monster but try as we might we couldn’t convince him to come out to our best horny-momma calls.

After harvesting his elk, Jim took Greg, Doug’s son out for a rifle hunt one morning and he filled his first tag on a nice whitetail buck!!  Both the young guys are super people to be in camp with and it was great watching them bird dog Doug like a couple of crows on an amused eagle!   Reminded me of my days at deer camp as a kid with my dad and uncle – good times!

We went out one afternoon and did some spotting and found a real nice bull with about nine cows up high across the adjacent mountain.  So the next morning Jim and I climbed up through the most disgusting tangled steep piece of hillside he could find and made our way across the flank to meet up with Frank and Doug who had skirted around the side and up the easy trail to the top.  I am writing six weeks later and I still have the scabs and bleeding scratches on my legs… not that I’m whining but let’s just say Jim can be a mean son of a gun!!  Ha!   I did get a good laugh watching with some perverse satisfaction as “Mountain Goat Turner” fell off a log three feet into the brambles face first!  I didn’t get to enjoy that too long because I followed in his mis-steps moments later!  The view was pretty darn nice!

Once we got to the top and met up with Frank and Doug we were relaxing for a bit (they were all snoring) when I saw a beauty 5×5 heading down the adjacent hill and angling right towards us!  At my first whisper, “there’s a bull” Jim was not only up but flying full tilt boogie across the bog like some maniac ninja from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” to try and intersect him. Again, we did our best calling and stocking but to no avail.  Later when walking across the bog I sunk in up to my armpits… how the hell he ran across that thing without going under I’ll never know!

On the last morning of the archery season I did manage to spot a two-point whitetail off the side of the road.  A short stock and he presented a nice broadside opportunity at about 25 yards.  I was surprised that during the arrow’s flight that buck managed to turn toward me and although my arrow found its mark and passed clean through it ended up being a quartering shot and a very messy cleaning job. He is a good tasting little guy to be sure!

Frank and I stuck around for another few days during rifle season and tried to find that elusive 6×6 but without luck. The drive home was a great time to reflect and start to plan for next year’s hunt!

February 28, 2008

Part Three

It is cold and raining here in Victoria today. I am in my office and trying to concentrate on yet another darn proposal!   Unfortunately I have this image in my mind and for some reason I just can’t stay focused.  Time to take a wee break…

Part of the problem is that I am having a hard time waiting for my new bow to arrive. I ordered a Chek-Mate Takedown Hunter from WindFeather and Monty tells me it will be about three months! It feels like 90 Christmas Eve’s waiting for Santa to bring my presents, loosing sleep, cranky, all the while trying to be good. I am an impatient bastard!  I have borrowed a 28# recurve from the local club to practice with and plan to lean on Dennis and Kirk a few times for some coaching at the spring bear hunt up at Conuma. I will be proficient in time for elk camp!

I think my mom was right… I tend to be easily influenced by others!  Not only has the good natured peer pressure to give up the compound for the lighter more esthetically pleasing traditional bow worked, but I now find myself standing as the VP for Archery in the 1400 member Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association and have agreed to help Jim with some work for the UBBC.

I was also inspired, without undue pressure I might add, to arrange for Ted Kennedy of the BC Archery Association to deliver an IBEP course in Victoria at the VFGPA. We had about ten bowhunters out to take the course, including a couple guys with those wicked cross-bows (pun intended).  We all learned a bunch and had a great time doing so.  Gord Eason came along as the Assistant Instructor and I believe is also now certified to teach the program. We need more instructors in BC and I am planning to be an assistant for the next course and gaining my own instructor certification. Even an old dog like me can learn a new trick or two. You should take that as a strong recommendation to sign up and participate!

GAK and here I’ve even written a bowhunting article to share with the fellowship!  So much for truth in nic names…

Bill (The Hermit) Tozer