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Reflections on Montanaotherala

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  • RockySquirrel_2
    replied
    Great story. Simply a great read.

    Leave a comment:


  • FirstBubba
    replied
    After reading all your posts, I searched hard for something deep, profound or pithy to say.
    All I can come up with is just, "WOW! Awesome!"

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post

    Hope I didn't convey the wrong message. I respect you and your decisions absolutely. I was not there and therefore in no position to pass judgement or be critical. Only giving my personal views of what I personally choose to do. My life in the woods alone may seem to be strange and living on the edge for most folks. I understand where they are coming from. It is harder I guess to understand where I come from. It was not always this way. I learned the tricks of hunting alone gradually. And I had no mentor. Lived to tell the tale in the end. Maybe that required something special ... or a lot of luck ... or both. I would NOT recommend it for everyone. Certainly not without gradual orientation and adaptation. It can be quite literally a shock to the system, especially after darkness settles in. Humans are social creatures who live in the light. It is quite natural that we should be apprehensive about being in situations where we are alone and can't see what's going on around us. Overcoming that apprehension requires modifying natural instincts for survival that have evolved over millions of years.

    Perhaps the biggest reason why I evolved into the solo hunter is quite frankly I'm hard on my friends. Dogs are more forgiving and tolerant. We can hunt till their feet bleed and they don't care. Never complain. Never want to stop. Strange how teaching and public relations was my business in the Park Service and I was very good at it but off the job I was always a different person. An enigma. I guess that's better than being a sheep in the herd.

    I am so glad you got to share your son's accomplishment. Dad would have loved to be with me when I made my marks. But his job didn't allow it and after retirement his health broke down. So he just lived vicariously through my stories and was happy enough with that. Wish my daughter could find the time and effort to join me for even the odd day of goose hunting. But she has her own family now and needs to concentrate on building memories with them (so put down the phone and do it, Jessie!). We had our time.
    Totally understood sir. There is no doubt that growing up in different environments allows people to develop different survival strategies and awareness to their surroundings. I’d take a month of what we just did over having to live and commute in a city for a week. Adjusting is key, and the older you are the harder to adapt. Our first day didn’t really push us, the second did right off the bat and the kid struggled early but overcame quickly pushing through his discomfort. I kinda rode it out in waves, mentally getting better but grinding down physically.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ontario Honker Hunter
    replied
    Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
    Random thoughts.

    I knew going in this wasn't going to be easy, but still wasn't quite prepared mentally. Having the boy along compounded this, parents worry about their kids more than themselves. As I mentioned earlier last year's accident loomed large as well. Kudos to my wife for her support. At home I don't use a headlamp, I know my way around well enough I don't generally need one. However after using one for a week I'll probably start as my eyes aren't what they used to be. My concern with coming out in the dark was that one of us was going to twist/break an ankle or leg, or get impaled somehow. Going in you know you'll have all day to deal with an issue but the stakes seem higher on the way out. It never occurred to me until Thursday that if something had happened to the boy or I the guide could have carried either of us out. Of course if he was injured we would have been stuck.

    That Wednesday morning I can't explain at all, other than to say if any of the circumstances from noon Tuesday until that morning had been different we wouldn't have been sitting over that knob with a properly sighted in rifle. I've always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason and this experience only reinforces it in stone.

    As parents we always want our kids to have better and be better than ourselves. If nothing else it appears I'm well on my way to being a successful dad. Credit also to my wife of course. No doubt this trip helped the boy to push through adversity to an end goal. I don't talk about my daughter near as much but be rest assured she follows in her brother's footsteps.

    Our guide and the guy from NY both assured me that no one else there were pushing as hard as us and him, even though I felt like I wasn't always giving it my all. The other guy was going pretty hard himself, but they lost the second day getting stuck, and did one horseback trip that was an adventure unto itself. Most of the others were staying low hoping to stumble onto younger animals. You read all the time how getting on mature critters means getting back in to where they are, where most people aren't willing. Our guide explained it a little more, saying these trophy animals live mostly solitary lives only allowing themselves to be vulnerable during breeding or when deep snow keeps them out in the open on feed. The boy killed the only animal there all week.

    The first couple days I couldn't get a read on the guide. He has an over the top personality that had me questioning if he was for real. Turned out not only is he the real deal, but much more dedicated, hard core and professional than I could have ever imagined anyone being. It was an absolute pleasure being paired with him, especially because he connected with my son so well. Of the two of us I'm sure he'd rather hunt with the boy and that's not a complaint in any way.

    So the big question. Would I do it all again?

    Maybe.

    Thing is having done it I now know what I'd be up against and would be much better prepared going in. Physically I can still do the climbs, coming down is the hard part. Muscles recover faster than my back and joints. I absolutely can't see me doing this as a DIY trip without several good partners or at least having packers lined up. Definately not solo. OHH has my deepest respect.

    The other problem is simply means, I'm not in a position to pull this off financially on a regular basis. At least not and staying married😎. Considering that there are other experiences I'd like to try there really isn't much point in doing this again just to prove something to myself. However that could easily change. The other possibility is going back but doing it the easier way. That's the least likely scenario as there are other places to do that.

    Bottom line, the kid killed what could be the buck of his life and I was there. Given that that deer or me killing a raghorn elk he wins hands down everytime. I'll get to enjoy looking at it hanging on my wall somewhere for the next several years while he'll have his entire lifetime to look at it, always remembering what we did together.
    Hope I didn't convey the wrong message. I respect you and your decisions absolutely. I was not there and therefore in no position to pass judgement or be critical. Only giving my personal views of what I personally choose to do. My life in the woods alone may seem to be strange and living on the edge for most folks. I understand where they are coming from. It is harder I guess to understand where I come from. It was not always this way. I learned the tricks of hunting alone gradually. And I had no mentor. Lived to tell the tale in the end. Maybe that required something special ... or a lot of luck ... or both. I would NOT recommend it for everyone. Certainly not without gradual orientation and adaptation. It can be quite literally a shock to the system, especially after darkness settles in. Humans are social creatures who live in the light. It is quite natural that we should be apprehensive about being in situations where we are alone and can't see what's going on around us. Overcoming that apprehension requires modifying natural instincts for survival that have evolved over millions of years.

    Perhaps the biggest reason why I evolved into the solo hunter is quite frankly I'm hard on my friends. Dogs are more forgiving and tolerant. We can hunt till their feet bleed and they don't care. Never complain. Never want to stop. Strange how teaching and public relations was my business in the Park Service and I was very good at it but off the job I was always a different person. An enigma. I guess that's better than being a sheep in the herd.

    I am so glad you got to share your son's accomplishment. Dad would have loved to be with me when I made my marks. But his job didn't allow it and after retirement his health broke down. So he just lived vicariously through my stories and was happy enough with that. Wish my daughter could find the time and effort to join me for even the odd day of goose hunting. But she has her own family now and needs to concentrate on building memories with them (so put down the phone and do it, Jessie!). We had our time.

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Random thoughts.

    I knew going in this wasn't going to be easy, but still wasn't quite prepared mentally. Having the boy along compounded this, parents worry about their kids more than themselves. As I mentioned earlier last year's accident loomed large as well. Kudos to my wife for her support. At home I don't use a headlamp, I know my way around well enough I don't generally need one. However after using one for a week I'll probably start as my eyes aren't what they used to be. My concern with coming out in the dark was that one of us was going to twist/break an ankle or leg, or get impaled somehow. Going in you know you'll have all day to deal with an issue but the stakes seem higher on the way out. It never occurred to me until Thursday that if something had happened to the boy or I the guide could have carried either of us out. Of course if he was injured we would have been stuck.

    That Wednesday morning I can't explain at all, other than to say if any of the circumstances from noon Tuesday until that morning had been different we wouldn't have been sitting over that knob with a properly sighted in rifle. I've always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason and this experience only reinforces it in stone.

    As parents we always want our kids to have better and be better than ourselves. If nothing else it appears I'm well on my way to being a successful dad. Credit also to my wife of course. No doubt this trip helped the boy to push through adversity to an end goal. I don't talk about my daughter near as much but be rest assured she follows in her brother's footsteps.

    Our guide and the guy from NY both assured me that no one else there were pushing as hard as us and him, even though I felt like I wasn't always giving it my all. The other guy was going pretty hard himself, but they lost the second day getting stuck, and did one horseback trip that was an adventure unto itself. Most of the others were staying low hoping to stumble onto younger animals. You read all the time how getting on mature critters means getting back in to where they are, where most people aren't willing. Our guide explained it a little more, saying these trophy animals live mostly solitary lives only allowing themselves to be vulnerable during breeding or when deep snow keeps them out in the open on feed. The boy killed the only animal there all week.

    The first couple days I couldn't get a read on the guide. He has an over the top personality that had me questioning if he was for real. Turned out not only is he the real deal, but much more dedicated, hard core and professional than I could have ever imagined anyone being. It was an absolute pleasure being paired with him, especially because he connected with my son so well. Of the two of us I'm sure he'd rather hunt with the boy and that's not a complaint in any way.

    So the big question. Would I do it all again?

    Maybe.

    Thing is having done it I now know what I'd be up against and would be much better prepared going in. Physically I can still do the climbs, coming down is the hard part. Muscles recover faster than my back and joints. I absolutely can't see me doing this as a DIY trip without several good partners or at least having packers lined up. Definately not solo. OHH has my deepest respect.

    The other problem is simply means, I'm not in a position to pull this off financially on a regular basis. At least not and staying married😎. Considering that there are other experiences I'd like to try there really isn't much point in doing this again just to prove something to myself. However that could easily change. The other possibility is going back but doing it the easier way. That's the least likely scenario as there are other places to do that.

    Bottom line, the kid killed what could be the buck of his life and I was there. Given that deer or me killing a raghorn elk he wins hands down everytime. I'll get to enjoy looking at it hanging on my wall somewhere for the next several years while he'll have his entire lifetime to look at it, always remembering what we did together.
    Last edited by fitch270; 11-09-2019, 02:50 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 6

    Last day. We knew we weren't going to push as hard as we needed to take care of some things in preparation for leaving. Had breakfast with everyone else at 5:00, then headed out to the same spot we hunted the first morning. It was Saturday and the place had easy access but it was all ours. We got over the ridge to the edge of the timber and waited on daylight for the last time. As soon as you could see the ground we snuck down to the lookout. It was a little overcast with a light wind blowing up the hill at us. About a half hour in the guide says "There's one".

    In a little sliver of trees stretching out of the main timber up top are 3 cows and a blond raghorn about 850 yards out. They are slowly feeding our way. He gets the spotting scope set up and we get a look at our first bull, a 4x4 or possibly a 4x5. I'm excited but not nervous. It's looking good but going to be a long wait. About 700 yards out they turn and scoot uphill. We realize one of the cows had been out of sight for a bit, she probably led them up. We wait on them to make sure they don't pop back out, then make a move towards them. There's an opening in the trees that we can get to 350 yards from, we'rehoping to catch them there. It doesn't happen. We cut back up to the ridge top which is very flat. The guide has me walk it until I hit the next rise, then I drop down left to the road.

    When I meet them at the truck they've found where the group crossed the road not 50 yards away. We drive down to the bottom and look back up at where they'd gone. The guide wants me to follow them down the clearcut into the timber where he thinks they'll bed down. A ways below that is a closed road I can hit and follow out to the road we're on. He and the boy will head back down an d glass. We drive back up and i get out. He hands me a radio and says when I see the truck to call him and they'll head down to the pickup spot.

    I start in and before I make the timber I fall hard again, twisting my right hip. I get up and walk it off. Once I start in the timber the tracks cut 90* and start sidehilling. I push on through more thick stuff for several hundred yards, then the tracks cut back uphill. I realize they are pulling a trick like a whitetail. The wind is coming over the top in the same direction it had all morning and they are making a hook where they can catch the wind and still watch their back trail and below them. I don't think I can fool 4 sets of eyes and ears. I call on the radio and tell them what's going on and that I'm headed down. It takes me an hour and a half to walk it out.

    It's lunch time and I'm beat, but they aren't ready to quit. A text to my wife and she questions me on giving up as well. Ok then.
    We need to pick up the meat and still have yet to cape out the skull and prep the horns. Turns out the meat isn't quite ready, an elk came in, but it will be by dinner time. We head back to the lodge and take care of the cape, pile up some stuff then turn right back around to where we were earlier.

    The plan is a push like back home. The boy and I will drop in off the road to a spot we can watch an old cut above the timber where the elk headed. The guide takes the truck down a ways, then starts following my tracks from earlier. I know he's trying but I'm certain he wants to see what went down earlier, plus get an idea of the elk movements for future reference. The boy and I get down to a good spot and sit. We're there about a half hour and the radio breaks. "It's over, they went down". I call back "Ok, meet you at the truck". He's twice as far from the truck as us and I tell the boy he'll beat us back. Sure enough we're halfway there and we can see him standing by the door.

    At the truck he smiles and tells me he could see what I did. He says he doesn't blame me a bit but if I'd pushed through another 80 yards the timber opened way up. I'm good with it. He didn't see the elk, but he was close enough to hear them crashing down through below him. If they'd been higher up it's possible they may have pushed up to us. At least we'd finished it out.

    Pick up the meat on our way back, eat dinner then get packed. As expected my FIL wants the truck loaded and ready to go in case he can't sleep that night, which is exactly what happens. He's up at 2:30. I get up to see him off, he's on the road at 2:45am and drives straight through to his in laws in Minnesota, arriving at 11:30pm.

    Next morning we have breakfast at 6:30 and are headed to the airport at 7:00. Same flights as our new friend from NY so we hang together until the last boarding. He's way in back and has baggage to claim so he tells me not to make my wife wait, so we say goodbye then. We arrive a bit early then I drive home, nobody sleeping. Get home safe at around 2:45 am Monday morning.
    Last edited by fitch270; 11-09-2019, 02:45 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • FirstBubba
    replied
    What a wonderful story!
    Bonnier could (and has!) do worse than publish something like this!

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 5

    Looked like it was going to be or best shot for an elk. Up again at 3:30 and on the road by 4:00, back to the trailhead from day 2. This time the parking area was empty. The previous trip there was a truck there from another outfitters guide. He hunted a couple ridges over from where we had been on Tuesday. Today was moving day for that outfit so we had it all to ourselves.

    Backing up a bit, as we tracked the bull on Tuesday we hoped he'd head right off the ridge. To the left was the thick stuff we'd have a hard time catching him in, and the other group was the second ridge over. If he went over the top there was more nasty stuff in a big area as well. If he went right it was much more open woods, plus an easier walk out on that ridge. Problem was it was private land at the bottom we'd need permission to cross. We had cell service so our guide texted the outfitter who owned it. He gave permission but also told us one of his guides was up there somewhere. My guess is this is part of the reason we quit tracking the bull. It wasn't looking like we'd catch up and we risked pushing him to someone else. Best to leave him there for later.

    So this time we started up the same Forest Service trail, except we stayed on it all the way. We made the look out spot before daylight again and glasse over to the ridge we'd been on Tuesday. The boy stayed in one spot, the guide down below him moving up and back constantly glassing. I'd hang with the boy a bit then check back across the trail to an opening that had fresh mulie tracks in it. We did this all day and saw nothing but about 50 ravens plus a golden and bald eagle.

    About 15 minutes before the end of shooting light the guide had me start back down the trail ahead of them, more or less still hunting until dark. The boy told me later that the guide was pretty bummed about the day, we'd done everything we needed to and were skunked. Following the trail down it was nice not tripping and falling, but by the end my hips and lower back were taking a pounding. Also I was getting a hot spot on my left foot. My boot/sock combo had been awesome all week but because it was going to be a little warmer that day I'd gone with a lighter sock and had some slippage going on. Fortunately it didn't blister.

    We got back to the truck at 7:45. It was the kind of day that discourages me from all day sits, but it still felt like a win.

    Leave a comment:


  • fitch270
    replied
    Day 4

    Took the day off on a high note. We got up for breakfast with everyone else, including the guide. He had no luck finding a packer but didn't want us going in with him for the meat. It took him about 5 hours round trip, he made a couple stops after getting back out then joined us about 2:00. He and the boy decided we should celebrate with cheeseburgers in town. We went in for lunch, hit up the local souvenir store then went back to the lodge for close-up shots of the cape and rack. After that we dropped off the meat at a processor. Afterwards it was dinner time at the lodge. Spent the rest of the evening catching up with everyone else.

    Leave a comment:


  • Ontario Honker Hunter
    replied
    Only a couple of times has an inner voice told me to hang it up. Once riding in to my hunting camp I got caught in a snow storm. I spent a rather comfortable night next to a fire sleeping on saddle blankets under a big spruce tree. When the storm lifted in the morning, for some strange reason I became extremely homesick and packed it in ... only to discover on returning home my first wife was messing around while I was gone. Second time I was hunting elk in minus twenties temps. Made it about a third the way up the mountain before throwing in the towel. "This just doesn't feel right."

    To each his own but personally I think it is best to listen to the guide's inner voice. They have been at it a long time and intimately familiar with the country. Also, they are usually fairly astute at judging their clients' potential ... because they have encountered many different clients with different characteristics. Case in point is my PH in Africa not telling me how far away the kudu was when I shot it. He knew I could make that long shot ... even though I didn't know it. He said shoot and I didn't question him. Bang... kerponk ... "You got him!"

    Being in the woods after dark requires some acclimation. But no one ever gets acclimated unless they force themselves to do it. A bit more effort is needed if you hunt alone. Eventually I got to the point where I almost never started down the mountain or back to the truck until after dark. Snow on the ground makes it easier but many times I came out by flashlight with no snow.

    Leave a comment:


  • FirstBubba
    replied
    I'm not sure guys, but I think there is at least one more post coming.

    Leave a comment:


  • PigHunter
    replied
    Great story! Thanks for taking the time to post.

    Agreed, sometimes you just need to heed that little warning in the background of your mind. I have ignored such to my detriment and am trying not to do so again.

    Leave a comment:


  • Happy Myles
    replied
    Have really enjoyed reading of your adventure. Somehow I missed the age of your son. Your story reminds me of trips with my son when he was a teenager. Hard to believe he is now in his fifties. Good times. Thank you again

    Leave a comment:


  • RockySquirrel_2
    replied
    Originally posted by Pmacc60 View Post
    Great stuff Fitch , I hope the people at F&S read this and do a article on your trip. A lot of honest writing here, well worth the read.
    Thats a great idea. I hope F&S is monitoring. The constant sales pitch for new gimmicks and gadgets is getting awful stale. Maybe a professional interviewer to assemble and post interesting stories. Great way to get new material.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pmacc60
    replied
    Great stuff Fitch , I hope the people at F&S read this and do a article on your trip. A lot of honest writing here, well worth the read.

    Leave a comment:

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