By: Bears Butt

This year’s festival was wonderful!  The morning air was a brisk 9 degrees according to my truck thermometer and there was not a cloud in the sky.  You could see a bunch of elk off and up on the hillside above the ranch feeding area and the guys were moving bales of hay out as I arrived!  It was going to be a great day!  When it was all said and done and at the end of the day, I was told there were over 1,100 people who came to the event!  Us mountain men and women had a great time!  I was not able to get pictures of every group that came through for pictures but here are a few!  Feel free to download them for your own personal use!  Regrettably, some of the images did not turn out to be sharp.  I’m very sorry for that, especially if you were counting on my abilities.  Maybe next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave A Comment, Written on December 10th, 2017 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

This week, Sherry and I made a little trip up along the trail that Brigham Young sent a small group of LDS missionaries to look into settling the Salmon River area of what is now called Idaho.  Back then it was called the Oregon Territory.  Brigham Young was actually scouting out another escape route from the US Government, should they decide to come after the Mormons again.  Among the small group, some 25 to 30 young men of LDS faith, was my Great Grandfather, Abraham Zundel.  This trail is followed pretty closely by the current road systems through this same area and so, our trip was especially interesting to me.  The country side has not changed much at all since 1855.   Abraham was designated the mail carrier for the mission and so he made several trips from the mission at Limhi to Salt Lake City and back again.  All alone, on horseback, with only a pistol and a rifle as his company.  The area was home to the Shoshone tribes with the Blackfeet tribes just over the mountains to the East.  The missionaries were met by the Shoshone as they arrived at what is now called “Tendoy”, but they called their mission “Fort Limhi”.  There is a book written that explains all about it, “Fort Limhi”, by David L. Bigler.  You would enjoy reading it, trust me.

Now, back to why I’m writing this:  Along the path, is a stream named “Birch Creek” and in this desolate area any water found is an oasis and is where all the animals of the area come for food, drink etc.  The mountains to the East are vertical rocks with caves and washes carved out of them from millions of years of wind and rain erosion.  Very few trees and not much to look at except for the carved out caves.

Sorry about the picture being blurry, 

This area of Idaho, is called the Birch Creek Recreational area and there is a whole lot more to it than this small stream.   The red area is the camping areas alongside the stream while the blue areas on the map are other atv trails etc. in this area.  The camping is free, but they like to have people donate to the cause and there is a dropbox as you leave the campground.  We found a nice little spot about a third of the way up from the bottom of the red area on the map and made it our home for the night.  The stream flows pretty good considering the desert like area it flows through.

There are some trout in the stream as well and a lot of people fish it.  We chose not to get fishing licenses and so, I could only watch the fish swim in the water.  The water is very cold which makes swimming and/or wading uncomfortable, at least to old people like me.  But can you imagine riding your horse through a virtual desert and how welcoming this stream would have been?  I figure my Grandfather camped exactly in this spot and even peed against the same tree I peed against.  That’s my story anyway.

So, after a very quiet evening and a great nights sleep, I was up drinking a cup of coffee and decided to take MaPa’s out for his morning ritual and relief exercise.  He is a small dog, but can really put you to the test of holding him back while he is on his leash.   When he gets on the trail of a “critter” it is all you can do to hold him back, this walk was not exception.  We went down stream from our camp and when we were about 400 yards down, He had led us over to the stream edge and through another camp.

Looking down I saw some fresh tracks in the dust around a fire pit and held him back from his pulling long enough to study the prints left in the dirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I’m holding him back, he is trying is darndest to pull me over.  But I was studying these tracks and finally I decided it was a big coyote and so I stood back up and headed towards MaPas.  He was nose to the ground pulling like the dickens along the edge of the shadow in the above picture.  As he started to round the left edge of the bush, I pulled him very hard and said out loud, “Come on fella, let’s get back to camp”, reluctantly he turned to come my direction and as he did, a cougar ran out from the other side of the bush and went straight away from us.  MaPas just sat down on his butt and watched as the cat ran off.  I’m sure my mouth was wide open as I watched it too.  It didn’t take it long to get down stream and run into some bushes at the next camp.  My heart was racing like crazy as we quickly walked back to our camp and I kept looking over my shoulder at where the cat was last seen.  Back at the camp, I couldn’t wait to tell Sherry what we had just experienced and it took at least 15 minutes before my heart pounding subsided.  What would have happened had I let MaPa’s continue around the end of that bush?  Was the cat laying in wait for a little puppy on a string?  Had it already decided to get out of there before I pulled him away from his pursuit?  We will never know, but he is now nicknamed Cougar Bait.  I’m very glad that the cat decided to run away.  Why MaPa’s didn’t try to chase after it, I’ll never know, because he loves to chase cats back at home.  He just sat down on his butt and watched it run away.  Maybe because of it’s size it intimidated him, I don’t know.  This is my second encounter with a cougar this year (remember the one in the early morning darkness on my turkey hunt?).

August 4, 2017

Bears Butt

3 Comments, Written on August 4th, 2017 , Uncategorized, Vacation Time
By: Bears Butt

So, most of you know that I have a tough time following recipe directions.  Last night was not anything new.  I had to come up with some idea for supper and had to do it quickly as Sherry was due home within the hour.  We had some left over chicken from when I smoked a whole bird the other night (yummy, by the way), so whatever I was going to put together had to have chicken involved.

I went to the all knowledgable world wide web and queried, “chicken recipes”.  Up popped one called “Skillet, Chicken Cordon Bleu”.  Well, I quickly read down through the instructions and the list of ingredients needed.  Some were easy to decide if I had it in the house or not, while others were…well, What the Hell is that…!!!!  It sounded great and so that was what I was going to put together.

Here is what the list of ingredients are as per the internet:

 

The image isn’t really clear, so I’ll have to tell you what some of it says.  The first line is 1 lb. penne.  Well, for one thing I really have no clue as to what that is, but I think it’s like macaroni.  So, to the cupboard I went and found we had two partial bags of what looked like macaroni.  One was in the shape of bow ties, the other elbows.  I grabbed up both and dumped them into a pot of water and started it boiling.  Whatever Penne is will just have to wait for another day.  Butter, garlic, flour, salt and pepper, mustard powder, chicken, ham parmesan cheese…it’s all good.  I gathered it all up and set it near by for use when it was called for.

In a frying pan I poured in the chicken broth and then started adding the other stuff, like butter, salt and pepper etc.  As my macaroni boiled, I kept an eye on it while I mixed up the other stuff.  The recipe calls for Heavy cream.  Well, the heaviest cream in the fridge was Sour Cream, so that will have to do for now!  In went almost the entire tub we had.  The macaroni was almost done when I began chopping up the chicken and ham.  As those were chopped up I added them to the pan of melted butter and sour cream and seasonings.  It was actually smelling pretty good.  I turned off the macaroni and poured out the water then added the macaroni to the pan of other stuff.  Stirred it up really good and went back to the recipe to see what I had missed, if anything.  OH DEAR!!!  2 Cups of Gruyere!  What the hell is that?  Grabbing my iPhone I asked Serie what it was and she said “hard block of cheese”, or something like that!  Well, let’s look in the fridge…no blocks of cheese at all, but there was a partial bag of Mexican Blend shredded cheese, but certainly not 2 cups worth.  Well, whatever I had of it went into the pan and got stirred up with the rest.

Then the recipe called for putting it in the oven at 400 degrees after topping it off with parmesan cheese.  I liberally covered the top of the pan with parmesan and put the whole kit and caboodle into the oven.  Sherry came home and the first thing she said was:  “Parmesan”…yep, the house smelled real good of parmesan cheese at that moment.

Later on when we sat down to eat, I wasn’t real sure what the outcome was going to be, but it smelled good and unlike my failed attempt at “if it’s good by itself, it must be good mixed with other stuff that is good by itself…vienna kipper pie”, it actually tasted good.  Not exactly like Chicken Cordon Bleu, but it did have a hint of that flavor.  I’ll be making that again.  So, aside from not putting in the amounts the recipe called for and for not putting in exactly what the recipe called for I modified it to the Bears Butt version and I hope some day you too will try it.  When you do, keep in mind a cup of something is quite a bit and unless you like a ton of leftovers, you decide if you should really follow the recipe to a “T” or not.  Here is what I ended up with as MY recipe:  

Bears Butt

July 28, 2017

 

Leave A Comment, Written on July 28th, 2017 , Recipes
By: Bears Butt

After a couple of weeks drying our mentor told us we could take off the bark from our staves.  Weasel did his the other day and today I was able to take mine off.  We both used draw knives to accomplish this task.  It went quite quickly for me but took Weasel about 4 hours to do his.  I think his looks cleaner than mine, but I have my own reason for not taking the extra time getting the bark and secondary layer of pithy covering off mine.

I purchased this draw knife many years ago to peel the bark off our tipi poles and have had it laying around ever since.  We have also been loaned another draw knife from our friend Magpie to assist us in getting our bows done.  Thanks Magpie!!!

Since, neither Weasel nor I know anything about what we are doing, we are just going along step by step according to what our mentor, Lynn Hayes is telling us.  By the way, he leant us a moisture meter to check the moisture content of our staves.  After peeling the bark off mine, I measured it and it was 18% at the limbs and 35% in the handle area.  Weasel’s measured almost the same.  Our bows are beginning to take on some character shapes and what I consider flaws as well.  We will see what becomes of these flaws and maybe the entire process will yield to a nice fire outside, time will tell.

Bends and curves, humps and bumps and toss in a twist or two.  It’s all good!

Cracks might be another issue all together.  We will know the next time Lynn comes around.

But with 35% moisture still in the wood it needs more drying time before we can go to the next step.  Our drying tent consists of a heater with regulated heat and fan.  The fan blows the air down toward the foot of the tent and then it comes back up and out the same end it began blowing from.

The heater is set for something around 80 degrees and for a cold wet day like today, it feels really warm.

On another note, Weasel and I have been noticing our look at trees is taking on a new perspective.  I find myself looking at long straight branches coming out of the bushes and trees growing alongside the roads.  Especially the Osage Orange ones growing wildly in peoples fields.  Someday they will be cutting those trees down and won’t even know what they are cutting as they are just garbage trees with ugly thorns growing in the way of something else they want to do with their property.  All the while some bow making guy wishes he had that tree to work with.  And on an even crazier note, I have noticed I’m starting to pay more attention to the growth rings of even the food I’m preparing to eat.  Take this salmon steak for instance:

Is that crazy enough?????

March 27, 2017

Bears Butt

1 Comment, Written on March 27th, 2017 , Archery stuff, Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

Way back in American History, Thomas Jefferson made a great purchase from France, and obtained all the property within the Louisiana Purchase (I’m not a historian, but it was a big deal back then and much trouble came from the purchase),  After all, back then a dollar was a lot of money and he spent around 15 million to purchase ground that not too many people had traveled across.  It was uncharted territory and politically could have been the end of his career.

Anyway, we all know the end result, as he sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to map and charter the territory he had just purchased to open trade with the native Americans and to try and find a water way travel route to the Pacific Ocean from the Missouri River territory in the middle of America.  A feat nobody at that time had ever done.  The stakes were very high and nobody really knew if a small band of people could even cross this vast open land to do what the President wanted done.  They took many supplies, not only for their own companies well being, but also to trade with the native Americans.  To say the least, they had TONS of stuff.  Lewis was the chart maker, to draw maps and keep track of where they were, by using the stars at night and the instruments of the day to know where they were at all times and to record those moments and land marks as they went.  A lady native American went with them…do you know her name?  You see there were no such maps at that time…only the mountain men of old who mostly told exaggerated stories of hot springs and gysers and high snow capped mountains and the mountain passes over which they had to travel.  But mostly nothing written down in the form of a map for others to follow.  Lewis was to make those maps and bring them back to Jefferson.  Meanwhile, as they progressed slowly up the Missouri river and beyond, Jefferson sat back in his office in Washington and prayed they would make the trip safely and would come back with word that there was a travel route to the Pacific Ocean and that the Native Americans were friendly toward travelers along the route.

If you want more information about this please look it up on line and read for yourself…http://www.history.com/topics/lewis-and-clark  I have teased you with some of the facts…there are more…read about Lewis and Clark having a “BB gun” right here on BearsButt dot com….

Well, Sherry works at Smith and Edwards and the other day a lady came into the store looking for a powder horn, an 1820 vintage mountain man hat and assorted other “era” clothing and told her about her son who was to dress the part of William Clark and give his part in the school American History learning day…a 5th grade event involving all the students.  After much discussion, Sherry volunteered my services to keep this lady from spending all her monthly check on fo-for-ah and assorted other necessary things for her son to accomplish this task.

She called me that evening and we discussed her dilema, I thought that perhaps I could help bail her out a little.  Well, it isn’t “period” dress, but a lot closer than your typical Sunday go to meeting clothes, her son Kyler likes the look he will sport to the event.

This picture is Kyler and his Grandmother Diane Murdock.  Kyler is showing off his Beaver Skin shoulder shawl and fine rifle.

He had quite a few clothing items to choose from and he wanted to try them all, whether he uses them in the show or not, will remain to be seen, but he has quite an assortment to choose from.

 

 

Kyler is showing off the warmth of a wool capote with and without the hood up and tied.

 

And  a mountain man didn’t always wear his capote:  You are looking quite good there Mountain Man Kyler!

 

 

And of course the pictures don’t do much unless there is some action on the scene.  Kyler has the look and the passion, now let’s see the action:

THANK YOU KYLER and I really hope your show comes off without a hitch!  It has been a pleasure to meet you and your family.  YOU WILL GO FAR in this world!

March 15, 2017

Bears Butt

Leave A Comment, Written on March 15th, 2017 , Just more stories
By: Bears Butt

If we can talk about Bucket Lists for a minute, I can share a couple with you right now.  I have had a bucket list for awhile and time is starting to run out for me to get mine completed.  I accomplished one thing last year and that was to harvest a buck deer with a bow.  I managed that in late August of last year.  Now my bucket list has changed a little.  Now it reads, harvest a buck deer with a bow that I made.  Weasels list goes a bit farther.  He wants to harvest a buck deer with a bow he made, and use arrows he made that have fletchings (feathers) from turkeys he has killed.  He will be awhile on his.

With both of our lists containing the same one item, making our own bows, we got with our friend Lynn Hayes and gleaned a little information from him about wood selection and how to get started making our own bows.  He looked over some of the tree choices we have on the farm and decided for us that the black locust either wasn’t worm free, or live enough or whatever and that the Osage Orange trees were not the best of choices for a first bow.  We have Hawthorn and wild plum to choose from as well, but the branches in the Hawthorn weren’t too big.  After a short time looking into the wild plum bush(tree) he thought he could see a couple of branches that would work.  So, plum it will be.

Weasel and I took a ride down there yesterday while the weather was nice a favorable and after just a short look into the bush we could see the branches that Lynn saw a few days before.

There were two branches about the same diameter (3 to 4 inches) that have been growing pretty straight up through all that tangle of other branches and both of them looked like they were straight as straight could be.  I grabbed the chain saw and hacked them down.  Only then could you see they weren’t as straight as we had thought.  There is a lot hiding in that bush.

Back at the house we laid them out to see what our prizes were.

We figured we wanted bows that would be around 6 feet long.  Our goals are to end up with bows pulling around 50 pounds once they are finished.  So, step one is done…choosing our stick…what next?  Well, our what next answer is to call Lynn Hayes for advise!  The phone rang and Lynn was happy to hear we had began our adventure.  He came running from his home in Brigham to come and save us.

Lynn and Weasel measured the length of the bows and then marked the center of each.  It will be the center of the bow where the handles will be.

From the center point, Lynn measured 4 inches on each side of the center mark and drew circles completely around each of the limbs.  Then he marked down the center of the full length of the limbs.  Measuring was done using his instincts and I have to say he was pretty much right on line.

Then Lynn used his index and middle finger and said, two finger widths from each end of the handle will be the taper toward the ends of the limbs.  He made a mark and then drew a line about 45 degrees away from the circle he drew around the limb and down toward the end of the limbs on both sides.

When all the reference marks were made, Lynn was funny when he told us “now the real work begins”…we needed hatchets to chop away the wood from the end of the handles down to the tip of the branches, without cutting past the half way mark on either side of center (down the length) and without cutting past the heartwood in the center of the limbs.

Well, neither Weasel nor I owned a hatchet and so we made the quick trip down to Smith and Edwards and picked up two Eastwing hatchets that are extremely sharp.  We started chopping away at the wood beginning at the slanting line and continuing down toward the tip of the branches on either side of the handle marks.  This being very foreign to each of us, we were cautious in our chopping and very critical of the job we were doing.  At one point we stopped and decided we needed Lynn’s advise again.  We jumped in Weasels truck and went to Lynn’s house for that advise.  We thought we had chopped to the heartwood, but Lynn took one look at the job we had done and said we still had 1/2 inch more chopping to get to the heartwood.  Back home we chopped some more…to the point of sore arm muscles and blister on the hands.  But soon we were certain we both had heartwood showing in the centers of our limbs.

It isn’t a clean job, but one that has to be done.

As you can imagine, the wood is very green and springy and will have to dry before we can make our bows.  Whittling down the thickness of the bow limbs is just the beginning of the process.  But our guide told us we needed to clamp our bow staves onto something solid in order for them to dry without twisting.  This is the jig we made up and fastened them to.

It might not look like much to a real bowyer (one who makes bows), but to these two wood hackers it is an adventure worthy of tackling.  Not knowing how long the drying process is going to take from this point forward, we figure with these wood staves being only about 1 to 2 inches thick, it shouldn’t be more than a couple of weeks before  we can undo them from this anti-twist jig and take hold of the next phase of our bow build. I’m including a youtube video on what it is we are trying to do. Maybe it will help you see what we are up to.

Things you might learn from the next few posts on this site:  What is a Bowyer?  What is deflex?  What is reflex? What is firewood?  What is Tillering?   Have you heard the song, “Beer for the Tillerman”?

 

March 5, 2017, Bears Butt

4 Comments, Written on March 5th, 2017 , Archery stuff
By: Bears Butt

Leave A Comment, Written on February 5th, 2017 , Jokes I like!
By: Bears Butt

It was a rainy and cold morning heading up to the annual Hardware Ranch Elk Festival on Saturday, but all the brave ones made it safely.  The activities started at 10 a.m. and so that meant we had to be set up and ready for the crowd when it arrived.  The elk festival is held as the kick off to the sleigh rides out among the elk hurd that spends the winter at the ranch…free food….  We were told there were upwards of 500 elk in the meadow with more in the surrounding mountains that would come down after dark to enjoy the free lunch and then work their way back up before daylight to stay hidden from the people.  The ones that decided to spend their time down in the meadow don’t have anything to worry about as there is no hunting allowed and they are there just to be the objects of picture taking.  It’s fun!

The event itself is rather full of activities.  We have our setup with furs and mountain man memorabilia and of course the BS stories that go along with the mountain man era of the U.S.  When the guests arrive and come to our area they are greeted and are shown all the finery that we have available for them to see.  They can touch and feel all the furs we have like, skunks, raccoons, fox, bobcat, badger and more, we even have a sample of a opossum, something not found in Utah.  Folks are pleased to see they are rather fuzzy and not a course animal fur.  We also show them guns, how to load a muzzleloader, flint and steel stuff and a whole lot of things they either are interested in or not (we will bore them with it anyway).

Once they are filled with the knowledge of the mountain man era, they are invited to don capotes (wool blankets made into coats), hats from the era and they all get to hold a rifle, shotgun and/or pistol of their choice for a picture.  This is actually the highlight of some of their day!  And of course we tend to want to make it as fun as we can for them.  We will take pictures using their cameras, phone cameras or whatever they have.  If they don’t have one, then I use my phone camera (which by the way is not the best in the world as you are about to see), post my pictures on here and they can download them and use them however they wish.

Well, this sort of thing can not be pulled off by one or two people.  This year we had Tracker, Wapiti Dung, Weasel, Bones, Hot Spark, Short Cut, Ricochet, Squirrel, Flashpan and myself to get things done.  The kids seemed to be having a great time, especially when we weren’t too busy with guests!

Left to right:  Shortcut, Ricochet, Flashpan and standing is Squirrel!

One of our first guests came up to me and said she was teaching a class and reading them a story about a Santa from the past and the story told how this Santa was wearing a red hat and leather clothing.  In her mind I was that guy in the story and that she had to have a picture of herself and me so she could show her class next week.  I traded her that picture with me, for one of her wearing some mountain man clothing!  Please meet Emily!

In fact please meet Emily twice!

I don’t think that trade was a bad one for either of us!  Thank you Emily for coming up to the Hardware Ranch and enjoying the day!

Well, part of the fun we have is meeting people from all over the place.  We had visitors from the Burley Idaho area as well as the Mountain View area of Wyoming.  I’m sure there were some from further distances but those were the two I spoke to and where they were from.  The weather definitely played a big part in how many people came up to the elk festival, but there were close to 1,000 visitors before the day was done.  And another thing that comes with taking pictures of people are the little cuties that are there as well.  Here are some of them.  I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of all of them, but I’ll share the ones I did get pictures of:

And I promised a few folks that I would post up some of the pictures I took of their families so they can down load them and do whatever they wish with them.  I apologize ahead of time for the poor quality of my camera’s pictures:

During the picture taking we ask them to give us smiles and then at some point we ask them to give us “mean looks”, there are a whole lot of people who just can not make a mean looking face, especially when you tell them that all their furs have been stolen and they don’t have any money to buy whiskey…..

And don’t get me wrong when I say, “Not all people young or old, like to have their picture taken!  Mom, you did really well containing this young one!

Well, there you have what I took pictures of.  There are a whole lot of people to thank for pulling off this Elk Festival and I wish I had everyone’s name…I don’t!  But in general the entire State of Utah and especially the Division of Wildlife Resources and the Parks Department!  Good work folks!

December 11, 2016

Bears Butt

1 Comment, Written on December 11th, 2016 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

Leave A Comment, Written on December 9th, 2016 , Jokes I like!
By: Bears Butt

I recently posted a story on my cow elk hunt in which the title says “…..be certain of your target”.  I’m sure a lot of you wondered about that title because the story didn’t have anything in it about that. Well, here is the rest of that story.  I couldn’t tell it at the time because of all the “on goings” surrounding the story you are about to read.

Tracker and I headed out early in the morning to try once again to fill my cow elk tag.  It was a very cold morning, cold enough to freeze the water in our hydration packs long before we got to where we thought the elk were.  I wanted to be in a certain spot when it got light enough to be able to shoot and with a nearly full moon the hike in would not necessitate the use of any artificial light source. It was a beautiful but cold hike.  About a mile up the trail we came to the spot I wanted to be and we started seeing deer as it got light enough to be able to shoot.  A small 2 point was well within shooting distance and it was soon joined by another that was much bigger…still a 2 point, but an older deer for sure.

As we stood glassing around the area, I soon spotted my cow!  High up on the hill next to an oak brush pocket.  I pulled my range finder out and tried to get a reading on it.  Either it was the cold that kept the rangefinder from working or the animal was farther than 500 yards away, either way it wouldn’t read the distance.  But after a quick discussion, Tracker and I decided we could get closer than the distance we were from it.  There was a lot of terrain and brush around to keep us hidden from the cow and so we made our move.

At just over 400 yards, the rangefinder did it’s thing.  Still too far for me on this cold morning to take that shot.  I put my binoculars on the animal and verified it was indeed a cow elk and all by itself on the hillside.  Looking around at the terrain, we decided we could close the distance by half, if we travelled up a shallow drainage to another stand of cedar trees farther up the hill.  We moved quickly, as I didn’t want the animal to run over the top and out of sight.  This was the first time all season I had a cow elk close enough for a shot and I didn’t want to blow it.

We arrived at the cedar tree and the cow was still standing exactly where it was when we last saw it.  Broadside to us, facing to our right.  I had to duck below the cedar tree limbs in order to get a ranged reading on it and the rangefinder said it was a bit over 200 yards away.  A perfect shot for my 7mm Mag.  Using a limb from the cedar tree, I settled the cross hairs on its back and slowly squeezed the trigger.  At the report I figured I would see the elk drop in its tracks.  It did nothing.  Just stood there.  I asked Tracker if he had seen where the bullet hit and he hadn’t.  He was taking his normal video of the hunt and had it focused in on the animal at full zoom…60 power if I’m not mistaken.

My rifle is a single shot and so I popped out the spent cartridge and pushed in a fresh round.  Again, I settled the cross hairs on the top of its shoulder and pressed the trigger….BOOM….nothing!  Tracker said he saw the bullet impact near the animals head and behind it on the hill.  That is when I realized my rifle is sighted in for 200 yards and by holding on top of the back it would be going over it!  What a dummie!  I again ejected the spent round and slid another in place.  This time the cross hairs were settled in the middle of the animals chest and again the report sounded through the clear and crisp morning air.  The cow dumped in its tracks and slid down the fairly steep hillside in the snow.  I chambered a follow up round just in case, but she  laid there dead as dead could be after that last shot.

Tracker had bumped his camera before that last shot and when I said, well, now the work starts!  She is down.  He questioned that to me by saying “Down?  Down?  It’s still standing up on that hill!”  No it’s not, she is down in a heap right where she was standing…was my reply.  Then again he said, well I can see it in my view finder and it’s standing right up there.  He pointed in the direction of the second animal.  I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough there stood a calf elk.  A bit higher on the hill than where my dead cow elk was laying.  Well, I guess I just shot its momma, was my reply to Tracker.  But then I said, let’s get up there and take care of her….and with a slight snicker, I added…I hope it isn’t a bull I just shot.

We hiked up the steep hill to where the elk lay dead.  It took us awhile to get to it because it was slippery in the fresh snow and the steepness of the hill and the yellow grass that was laid down with the snow.  When we got to the elk, my heart sank big time….there lay a small bull elk.  A spike with horns about as big around as a grade school pencil and maybe 18 inches long.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  My mind raced back to our first spotting it.  I was certain it was a cow I saw through my binoculars.  At the 400 yard area I was sure once again it was a cow.  Through the 12 power binos I did not see any sign of horns on top of its head.  But then at 200 yards, I didn’t put the binoculars on it.  I put the 6 power range finder on it, but only to get a distance reading.  I wasn’t looking for horns at that moment.  I already “KNEW” it was a cow.  Even through the scope, my concentration was on the cross hairs and the chest area of the animal, not it’s head…again I “KNEW” it was a cow elk.  And after it was down and Tracker saw the calf, I “KNEW” I had just shot a cow elk.

Oh boy was I in a state of deep depression.  Probably the smallest spike elk on the mountain was laying there dead as dead could be and all because of me.  All because of me not pulling up the binoculars at 200 yards and looking closely at its head for any sign of antlers.  All because of me being in a hurry to fill my cow elk tag.  All because of me NOT doing what I have ALWAYS done and that is verifying my target before taking the shot.  Oh well, I did it and now I have to pay the consequences of my actions.

Tracker and I tried to pull the animal around so I could clean it out and we could begin the task of taking the meat back to the truck.  In so doing, we saw some hunters on horseback coming up the trail.  I asked Tracker if he would mind going over and intercepting them to see if they had a spike elk tag and would they like to tag it.  He did so willingly and while he was gone I proceeded to gut it.  Even a small spike elk is a big animal but I managed to have it cleaned when Tracker came back with word that they did in fact have two spike elk tags and they would use one to tag the spike I had just killed.  I was somewhat relieved by that.  We moved the animal into the shade of the oak brush and marked it with Trackers blaze orange vest so they would be able to find the elk later in the day. I also zip tied one of my Bears Butt calling cards around an antler.  I did that because I thought, what if they don’t come and get it and then someone else comes along, sees the vest waiving in the breeze, investigates and finds a spoiled carcass of an elk…I am the responsible party here.  I will need to face the consequences of my actions.  It is my fault and if they don’t come and take the animal I am the one who caused it to lay there and spoil.  I’m not trying to hide anything.

Well, with the animal cleaned out, the cavity propped open with a stick, tucked away in a shady spot, Tracker and I headed back to the truck.  My cow elk hunt is over.

All the way back to the truck…up to Tracker and Bones cabin for some last minute winterizations… and the long drive home, my mind was racing and spinning about what had happened this day.  I mulled it over and over and wondered why on earth I had not taken one last look through my binoculars to try and put antlers on that elk.  I always make sure that what I’m shooting at is what I have a tag for…ALWAYS….but not this time.  My failure to follow through one last time…one last look.  At home, over a cold meat sandwich I made my mind up that I needed to call the poaching hotline and turn myself in.

Sure, I had made a mistake and didn’t identify the animal.  I shot a bull instead of a cow and then found someone who would tag it and take it home.  The animal will not go to waste.  I was done, no harm, no foul…..The DWR won’t know it even happened…everything will be alright.  BUT, in my mind, I would live with that decision the rest of my life.  That is not the right way to do things in this world.  Not the right way at all.  I had the number for the investigating officer in my phone and I made the call.  Matt, I have a confession to make.  This morning I mistakenly shot a bull elk while hunting for a cow.  No, the animal is being tagged by someone I don’t know who has a spike tag.  The animal will not be wasted.  I’m sure they have taken it off the mountain by now.  No, I don’t know who they are.  Yes, I’ll be home this evening, you can come and give me a ticket.

The conversation went something like that over the phone.  Later that evening he pulled up in his truck and came into the house.  He thanked me for being honest and then proceeded to tell me some of the laws of the State of Utah about what I had done.  His words hit me hard as I was unaware of some of what he said.  Shooting a big game animal that you do not have a tag for is a Felony in Utah.  Fines upwards of $10,000 can be enforced.  Loss of hunting privileges for up to 5 years.  Possible jail time and court fees.  Loss of equipment used in the taking of that animal.  AND besides all of that, the animal belongs to the State of Utah!  You can not go around shooting animals that belong to the people of the state and then give them away to someone else!  That animal did not belong to you to be able to give it away like you did!  The person who tagged it and took it off the mountain is also at fault for receiving property that did not belong to you!  That person committed a felony as well.

Oh my hell.  What have I done?  Not only am I in trouble, but I involved a complete stranger in my stupidity.

He didn’t give me a ticket at that visit but insisted we keep in touch and that he would issue a citation after talking to his supervisor and doing a bit more investigation.  He wanted to see any pictures that may have been taken and we went to Trackers house and looked at his video of the scene.  Tracker was more than helpful to give them a copy of the shooting, but in it, there was no hard and clear evidence that I had indeed killed a bull elk.  You could see the missed shot hitting the dirt behind the elk (my second shot) and you could clearly see it was a small spike elk, but Tracker had bumped his camera and by the time I shot the third shot, he was zoomed in on the calf elk, farther up the hill.  The next scene was me standing over a dead elk, but you could not see the head and antlers.  There was NO proof positive that I had shot a bull elk.

Later, Matt confessed that his supervisor told him to drop the case, as there was no evidence.  But it was my insistence that I had indeed shot a bull and that I needed to pay the consequences of my actions.  I would have been fine with it all because I did turn myself in, had he not cited me, but he did.  On the ticket, he stated there was a $0 value to the animal that was taken.  That meant to me that he was very grateful for my action to turn myself in and that more hunters should take responsibility of illegal actions in the field.

I had to wait until yesterday, November 28, for my court appearance.  I met with the State prosecuting attorney and told him my story.  He called Matt and the two of them discussed what should be done in my case.  We made a plea agreement and the judge ultimately concurred….I will pay a $200 fine to the Poaching fund and tell my story to a Hunter Education class in either Box Elder or Weber Counties.  (If someone has a class going on and wants me to come and tell my story, leave me a message on here).  After sentencing, the judge too commended and thanked me for my actions and taking responsibility for what I had done.  He too wished more hunters would be responsible Sportsmen.

Talking to the attorney, he said that minimum charges for a case like this is $500 for the court fees, $1500 for the animal taken and $1500 for giving away state property.  And that my punishment was extremely small, but because of all the circumstances and for me turning myself in, when I could have just walked away, was the reason I was given what I was given.  Let’s not punish the ones trying to do the honest thing.

Well, there is the story.

Lessons learned:  ALWAYS MAKE CERTAIN, BEYOND ANY DOUBT, THAT THE TARGET YOU ARE SHOOTING AT IS WHAT YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO BE TAKING

ALL ANIMALS IN UTAH BELONG TO THE STATE OF UTAH.  UNLESS YOU HAVE A LICENSE TO POSSESS THE ANIMAL YOU HAVE JUST TAKEN, YOU DO NOT OWN IT                                     AND CAN NOT GIVE IT AWAY, OR CAUSE IT TO BE WASTED. (Side note:  You can NOT give your dead deer or any animal away while in the field.  You can only give that animal                                    away at the recipients residence, a butcher shop or at your own residence.)

YOU CAN NOT TAKE POSSESSION OF AN ANIMAL THAT HAS BEEN ILLEGALLY TAKEN BY ANOTHER.  WHETHER IN THE FIELD OR ANYWHERE ELSE.

Those are the lessons I will be sharing with a class taking hunter education.  You see, there is more to hunter education than being safe while hunting.  There are laws that govern ethics.  I feel a whole lot better now that you all know the story.  It’s been a long, long month of trying to keep this a secret.  But I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag before I knew the outcome of the entire process.  THERE…I can sleep better now.

November 29, 2016

Bears Butt

Update:

Tracker started feeling like he was part of my issue and asked me to do him a BIG favor.  Of course I will do him a BIG favor.  He handed me $100 to pay half of the fine to the Poaching Hotline.  I didn’t want to take the money and I tried to give it back, but he insisted, so I took it.  He feels like because of him going and talking to the other hunters who eventually took the animal that he should be involved with the fine as well.  At any rate, his conscience is clear.

Last night I went to a hunter education class in Roy and told my story to the 40 some students in the class.  As I spoke to them a couple of them were cringing in their seats (I’m not sure why) and there was one lady in her 30’s with tears before I was done.  There was nothing to be so emotional about, at least in my mind, but she was taking it pretty hard.  Some of the really young kids didn’t seem to be understanding what I was trying to tell them, but the bottom line I repeated at least 3 times were the “lessons learned” in my story above.

When I was done, I fielded a few questions from the audience and then the instructor asked me a question or two.  I thanked him and the class and then came home.

I had a very good feeling as I told my story and after I was heading home, I even felt better about it all.

I will GUARANTEE you that I will NOT take a shot at an animal that I can not ABSOLUTELY identify as one that is legal to take with the license I have in my possession.  If I do make this type of mistake again, I will quit hunting all together.

Bears Butt

It’s March 2017,  I made my way up to Logan to the 1st District court with my papers in hand…one showing where I did in fact pay $200 into the Help Stop Poaching fund with the DWR and the other a signed paper showing I presented my story to a hunter education class in Roy.  They took copies there and then sent me across the street to the county building.  There, I went to the county attorney’s office and again copies were made of my papers.  Now, except for the six months probation, I have completed my obligation to the court system.  I expect to receive some sort of release papers from the county attorney once my probation time is up, sometime late in April of this year (next month).

Bears Butt

8 Comments, Written on November 29th, 2016 , Hunting Stories

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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.