By: Bears Butt
(Pay close attention to the far left side of the hill behind this picture of camp, you will hear something special about it later on)
It’s the 2015 bow hunt in Utah and I’ve been invited to go with Weasel and Conner on their hunt. Actually, Squirrel and I were invited in order to be the cooks and chief bottle washers for the two hunters. Weasel also purchased an over the counter elk tag, which allows him to shoot either a spike bull or cow of his choice. So, since we were going to be in pretty good elk country, he might as well do that.
Weasel and Conner took our camp trailer up the week before the hunt to secure a spot. Now, before you go off telling me that was as illegal as all heck, I have to say this…I know it! The forest rules for camping are pretty strict in Utah, but since there is nobody enforcing those rules, they become a mute point. Nearly everyone does it who wishes to secure the same spot each year. If they ever started to enforce those rules they would have one heck of a confiscated equipment auction some time in the future. Nuff said.
Our little camp spot is right along side a main road and there was a lot of room for others should they like to camp there too. We stayed to one side to allow lots of room for bigger rigs, but nobody wanted to join us….well, except for the domestic cows and bulls being grazed in the area. We had to do a lot of “camp patrol” to scoop up the big dump piles they so dearly love to leave right where you least expect it.
The grass was green and tall (which made for finding the piles of cow poop harder). In fact the grass all over the mountain was that way. Not dry and crackly like down lower on the mountain. It actually made for a wonderful little camp spot.
(Wow I feel like an eagle with this picture).
Well, we arrived in camp about noon the day before the opener, got things unpacked, packed, organized, disorganized, setup and ready for the next 6 days of camping and hunting. We didn’t pick out what we commonly called a “Ying-Yang” tree in which to hang our bagged game, instead knew up front we would be boning out any animals we might have the good fortune to harvest. But we did manage to cut up 6 nights worth of dry firewood from the nearby forest. The work of cutting up the wood was done by the two boys and myself, while Weasel went off down the trail to recover his trail camera pictures at a near by spring. By the time he had travelled up the road to the trail head and then took the 4 mile round trip in and back, we had the wood secured and enjoying the afternoon shade!
One of the big things we have started to do the past couple of hunts is to eat our supper meal about 4 p.m. That time of day usually finds us back at camp waiting for the evening hunt and it’s a good time to take the time to cook up the meal and relax while eating it. We accomplished our meal of hamburgers and chips and were ready to take a drive around to see who else was camping near us and to see if we could find any deer or elk.
Our real goal is to find some “nice” bucks, but this little guy just might be in trouble in the morning. If we don’t get a chance to see him again, at least he gave us quite a show tonight. He had a big brother with him, but big brother left him to the savages and took off before I could get the camera on him. This little guy has a lot to learn.
On the other hand, we did see a pretty nice one up on the skyline before the evening ended.
Whenever we are on a hunt like this one, we always like to have a little fun with the other hunters. This night was no different. We had decided, as a group, to put up a fake “harvested deer” in a bag and place it where people could see it from the road. Just to make them think we are the mighty hunters we think we are. We grabbed up a nice game bag and stuffed it with sticks in the shape of a deer. We called it our “Sticks By Sticks” buck and hung it close to the road.
To the casual driver and passengers, it would look to be a nice little buck hanging in that bag. Of course having it hanging the night before the opening day should have raised a few eye brows. We had fun with it, as we listened to people passing by on 4 wheelers and in trucks pointing and saying “Hey, they got one”! We just chuckled. But then when the game warden came into camp on Sunday to see our big buck, he got a kick out of it being a “Sticks By”! I think it made his day as well.
As with all our hunts the days get all mixed up and you lose track of which pictures come from what day, but still the stories the pictures tell are great no matter what the order.
Opening day had us all excited. Weasel was going to still hunt into the area he has had his trail camera all summer long, while Conner will be sitting in a strategic spot overlooking a well used trail. The three of us will sit until about 8 and then still hunt our way into a trail leading up to where Weasel will be. Radio communication will put us together with him and then we will go in search of a second water source we heard about in the area.
We did managed to see “an animal” of some sort running off around a bend in the road as we made our way toward Weasel’s position, but did not get to see it good enough to know what it was. There were elk tracks in the road where we saw it, but there were also deer, coyote and domestic cow tracks as well. All of them fresh. When we got to our meeting spot we had a candy bar and talked about our hunt so far. None had seen any deer or elk that could be positively identified. So, we made our way to see if we could find the water. It was very easy to find but very few tracks of anything coming into it. So we scratched if off our “we need to be here tomorrow” list.
As it turned out, we spent the first two mornings sitting on well defined trails hoping something would come through and that strategy just caused frustration, especially to Conner. Young people are either antsy or sleepy and sitting for long stretches of time just doesn’t cut it. They would rather be up walking around or driving in the truck. We did find a new water guzzler with a ton of deer tracks on it and Conner decided he would like to spend an evening sitting near that.
But to no avail. This would be the last “stand” for Conner as he is convinced sitting in one spot does not mean you are going to get a shot. We saw nothing that evening.
The next few mornings found us looking at beautiful sunrises! Little did we know that the fires in the Western States around us were causing all the smoke that we were seeing in the distance, but it sure made for some nice views.
And our days continued to begin and end quickly. It’s very funny how time leading up to an opening day go soooo slowly and then when the big day arrives the whole hunt is over like a flash. Mornings began for us at 4:30 a.m. and ended before 10 p.m. All of us exhausted. As for me, I got a big kick out of watching Squirrel as the day progressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid that liked to sleep as much as he did. I took a picture of him on one of the morning stands. It reminds me of “Can you find the Critter” pictures.
He was cammoed up pretty good.
But on the other hand I have to give it to him, he stuck with the plan that he and I were to be the number one and two cooks for the camp.
On this day, he cooked everything and left me the job of grilling the garlic toast. The spuds were crispy as we all like them and the meat was perfectly done! I think I burnt the garlic toast a bit.
And when we took our road day trips and found ourselves a bit too far away from camp to catch lunch, we popped open a can of Kipper Snacks and munched away. Cody wasn’t sure he would like them, but found out quickly just how good they are.
It’s times like these that makes a Grandpa real proud. His son showing how fun the out of doors is to his two sons. Everyone pitching in to get the job done and everyone having a time of their lives. I think the best picture I took of the entire hunt was this one, where Weasel and Connor are trying to outsmart a nice buck just off the trail.
Of course Mr. Buck was too smart to be taken out by these two guys.
And on the last day of our time there, we encountered this little lady coming at us down the road.
Not a care in the world.
During this hunt we saw eagles, hawks, a moose, a coyote, tons of squirrels and chipmunks, a cow elk, a few antelope and hundreds of deer. We saw some amazing things, like that fawn walking down the road and going past us. We watched as the timber guys cut down an entire hillside of the tall pines that grew there. Stripped them of their branches and cut them to length and laid them next to the road.
On a sad note we saw lifeflight take some poor guy off the mountain who had been injured in an atv accident. We also talked to another group of hunters who witnessed another atv rider drive off the edge of the road and roll his rig, possibly breaking his arm. But that one could have been much worse. We also watched one camp with three hunters in it continue to sleep in morning after morning when we were counting 50 to 60 deer mornings. They always say, the deer are where you find them and when you find them. Well, we never actually saw any in their camp, but we did find some not too far away. And speaking of away, we met a couple of hunters coming down the road who had just past our camp and they said there was a small 2 point just outside camp on the hillside….A perfect scene for Muskrat. He always said he would rather sleep in and then shoot one out of camp as he sat there with a cup of coffee.
There is more to this story, but you will have to catch the four of us around a camp fire to hear the rest of it.
Bears Butt, Conner, Squirrel and Weasel!
August 21, 2015