Search Me!

Think about it...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

HOM: Stahled Out

One snowy day, Vic & Gordon & I went hunting up at Stahl Peak northeast of Eureka. Stahl was a favorite of Vic's. The north side dropped down to a dead end road that ran from the North fork to Therriault Lakes and overlooked the Canadian border, the south side bordered one of the roads that ran through from Eureka to the North Fork. Stahl was home to moose, elk, mule deer and bears. We drove in to the bottom of the mountain and then split up to hunt upward. I was about half way up when I struck some elk tracks heading back downhill. Being both excited and lazy, I elected to follow them. They led all the way to the bottom of the ridge and to some beds in a little swale near where we had parked, then back up the ridge. Being too dumb to realize they had been bedded there when we drove up and slipped away while we were unloading, I followed them back up the ridge. Apparently they heard, saw, or smelled one of the other guys, because the tracks abruptly went back downhill at a slant and when I followed them I found myself paralleling the tracks I had just followed up, but just out of sight of them. I stuck with them all the way to the bottom of the ridge again, where the tracks cut across another edge of the flat we had parked on and headed uphill again. I was chugging along after them when I realized that I wasn't nearly as fast or strong as the elk and obviously not as as smart. At that point, I gave up and just started wandering. After a while I ran into Vic, who puzzled me by checking out my footprints and then giggling. When I pressed him for an explanation, he said he'd found the elk tracks with my tracks over them and decided to follow them for a ways. What struck him funny was that every hundred yards or so was a nice fresh spot of yellow snow and he'd been puzzling over who the high-strung coffee drinker had been. I wasn't the only one who'd ever furnished him a laugh up there -- his stepson, David, had been right at the crest of the ridge when he got caught in a snow squall. He'd headed downhill to get away from it, which would have been a smart move if he'd headed south instead of north. When David hit the road he turned right and started walking, thinking he was on the main road headed west and not realizing he was heading for the North Fork on the Therriault Lakes road. Luckily a hunter gave him a ride around to where the car was and saved him a thirty mile hike. Vic's son in law had an experience on Stahl that Vic (And I!) found funny. Jack and a friend were hunting up on the ridge when they saw a grizzly, and in those days a Griz was fair game. Jack's friend lined out on and was ready to shoot when a second bear joined the first. Jack said "I'll take that one." and raised his rifle. Then the third bear stepped out. Jack & his friend lowered their guns, crouched down and beat a very hasty retreat. Three to two were odds they didn't like. Not too long after that, there was a "Pierre" cartoon in Sports Afield magazine that I cut out & gave to Jack. It was a view from behind of an enormous bear, and between the bears front feet you could see a pair of boots -- shaking -- and the caption was "It's really just a cigarette lighter, honest!" Vic laughed at a lot of folk's folly, but I can't criticize him -- he laughed just as hard at his own mistakes and was just as free to share them. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)