By: Bears Butt


It is Sunday, November 10, when the alarm clock goes off at 3 a.m. sharp!  My feet hit the floor before I even have my eyes open all the way.  The fire is lit under the coffee pot and I know we are going to need a lot of it before we leave the camp.  My mind is on the big bull I missed last night and hope to find it in a heap this morning.

We have had about 5 hours of sleep and have a full two hour drive ahead of us to get to the area before first light.  Our decision last night was to drive both vehicles up to the beginning of Salt Creek Mesa and then all get into the pickup for the rest of the day.  By doing this, all will be in the warmth of a vehicle for the two hour drive…that’s a good thing…Some will be able to get some more sleep…a good thing as long as the driver doesn’t think he is one of them…We can travel a little faster because we don’t have to worry about the “frozen chosen” in the back of the truck.  All are good things.

There wasn’t a whole lot of talk as we prepared the vehicles to leave camp.  Everyone knew what had to be done and we did it without a lot of fan fare.  Out of camp around 4 a.m. and down the road we went.  Weasel driving the pickup and Wapiti driving his Yukon.

Try as I may I could not keep my eyes open the entire way, neither could Night Fisher as his head kept “bonking” against the side window.  Tracker, as well, did his best impression of “staying awake”, but caught a lot of shut eye.  About half way there I felt like telling Weasel I would drive, but then I found that suddenly we were at the gate.


(That is not snow in the picture…I had a dusty lens)

The crisp morning air seemed to get us all going again as we took a short break after going through the gate and then we continued on our journey to the beginning of the Salt Creek Mesa road.  Here the plan was to park the Yukon and all get into the truck for the remainder of the day.  I was secretly hoping the day was going to play out by finding the big bull down and cutting it up for the trip back to camp.


Our timing was perfect in our arrival at Salt Creek Mesa.

We got to the spot where I had taken the shot the evening before and found the herd of elk almost immediately.  They were out in a chained clearing about a half mile away feeding contently.  There were a few bugles but pretty quiet for the most part.  We could see approximately 60 cow elk and 5 nice bulls in the group, Whitey was the one in the middle of everything and he dwarfed the others.  It was obvious beyond obvious he was not injured. I was a little bit disappointed in one way, but very glad that he was not injured at the same time.

They were feeding in the general direction of where we had spotted them yesterday in the late morning.  A quick discussion as to a possible ambush on them was had among us all and a consensus made that Tracker, Night Fisher and I would go down and around a small depression in the terrain and try to work our way up toward the herd.  If the herd was to turn and feed down hill we would be in a perfect place to make a fairly close shot.  Night Fisher would carry my 7 mm, while I still maintained to kill the bull with my muzz.

We moved quickly and quietly and covered the almost mile distance to the base of a mesa and then began working slowly up hill toward the herd.  We kept seeing the tips of  Whitey’s antlers through the dense stand of cedars and oak, but instead of coming our direction they were going straight away from us.  There is a saddle between two mesas and it appeared that was where they were intending to go.  We tried our best to catch up with them, all the while being very quiet, but to no avail.  When we finally got to where we last saw Whitey, we were in hopes that we would find him bedded near by.  We only saw a couple of cows and felt it best to back out and hope to find them in the clear cut later in the day.

Our trek took us away from the rest of the gang for about 3 hours and when we got back they were in various stages of nervous, anxious and tired.  They had tried to entertain themselves while we were away and all the while kept hoping to hear a shot ring out.  That didn’t happen.

Upon our arrival we all decided a nice mid morning snack was in order and so out came the Kipper Snacks and Smoked Oysters, packs of Ritz and other crackers, candy bars and jerky.  We talked about our trek and the general direction we felt the herd had gone.  Perhaps we will encounter them up the road a piece.

As we enjoyed the snack, up the road came the DWR Conservation Officer presiding over that area…Mr. Dennis Shumway.  He was one of my contacts when I was doing my research of the area.  He was the one who told me that on any given morning I should be able to fill my tag by driving along Salt Creek Mesa.  I was honored and very pleased to be able to meet him in person and let him know about my “miss” the night before (I was not pleased to tell him I missed).  He had with him his boss (I can’t remember his name…sorry).  His boss was new to the area, as he had been transferred, I believe from Flaming Gorge, and was unfamiliar with the San Juan Unit.  Shumway was showing him the roads and sites.  We had a great visit with them and they are both great people.  I thanked him for sharing the information with me, especially about Salt Creek Mesa…I had my chance to fill my tag and if that is the only chance I have on this hunt, it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.  He asked that I send him a copy of the picture of my bull, should I get one and in exchange I asked him to check out!

When they left us, we cleaned up our mess and went on our way up the road.

About 4 or so miles up the road we came to a water hole just off the side of the road and decided it would be a great place to cook a hot dog, which we did.  We were all very tired, what with only a few hours sleep last night, a dusty ride up the road and now it is mid-day and the elk would for sure be napping themselves, we decided to save gas and leave ourselves parked right there until later in the afternoon.  We had not seen any elk sign higher up the road than we were parked.  We could get some sleep if we wanted and those not that tired could go wander around and look over the vistas.  And that is what we did.


This area of the San Juan Mountains holds its own beauty.  It is so very rugged and steep you have to wonder why on earth anyone would have ever decided to build a road into it.  But once you are on the ground, walking around and observing everything it has to offer, it becomes obvious that the first one who came into this land wanted to share what they had seen and so the trail gets wider and wider and the more people see, the more they want to see.  It’s truly an amazing place.  Millions of years worth of inhabitants have lived in these parts and left their traces behind as they traveled.  And the BLM, Forest Service and the Parks people are doing all they can to help maintain the traces that are there.  They can’t police all the visitors all the time but they have left reminders around for everyone to read.


We didn’t see any of the rock art, except for that at Newspaper Rock, but had we, we would have followed these rules.  It’s hard to imagine people who would destroy this art.

Well, we spent the next few hours around this spot and had a great time.  At least those who didn’t take a nap.  Soon it was time to get back down the road and hopefully run into Whitey and his herd again.

As darkness overtook us, we were unable to locate the herd and pretty soon it was too dark to see my sights….time to head back to camp…2 hours of drive time ahead of us.

Part of our conversation in the pickup truck with Tracker and Weasel, I asked them what their thoughts were about moving our camp up to the Salt Creek Mesa area.  We all agreed that we were seeing a crap load of elk and sign in that area and that the 4 hours per day drive time was killing us, not only with lack of sleep, but in gas costs as well.  Each night upon arrival at camp, the rig had to go into town and refuel.  It only makes sense to move camp.

Who will ultimately make the final decision?


I don’t think this picture was asking that, but it seems appropriate to put it in right here.  Most likely they are pointing at the Weasel because he had just done something only appropriate in a camp like ours!

We were all sleep deprived at this late hour and we still had our Pork Chop meal to prepare and eat.


WapitiAndSoftballEnjoyPorkChopsWhere’s Tracker?

During the meal we discussed the moving of the camp the next day and also our plan to go down and hunt on Uncle Bob’s in the morning.  Night Fisher had the option to stay and hunt with us, but had to be back to work on Thursday.  Should we not fill the tag by Tuesday night, we would be forced to break camp and go home early on Wednesday.  He made his decision to go home with Wapiti, Softball and Edjukateer in the morning rather than interfere with the hunt through the following Sunday (the last day of the season).  I thanked him for that decision, as I was planning on staying the duration if need be.

Well, at least we get to sleep an extra two hours tonight.  Weasel was in bed by 9 p.m. this night and the rest of us were one beer behind him.

Alarm set for 5:15 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 20, 1013

Written on November 20th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt

BearWithAntlersModifiedThe alarm clock went off almost the same time as my head hit the pillow.  The nights sleep was interrupted many times with my own nervousness.  Thoughts of elk running here and there, but my most vivid dream was one in which I was viewing the mountain through the eyes of an elk. Weird huh?

I was moving slowly along a grassy area, my view to the front was that of one of my companion bulls.  He was perhaps 20 yards in front of me as we wandered slowly along munching on the sweet grass.  At one point I recall looking away from my path and seeing my own shadow with long antler growth showing over my back.  The dream was very real.

I shared that story with the guys in my camp trailer and of course got some heckling!  Was I a queer bull?  Where were the ladies?  Nuff said!

So, here it is opening morning and my muzzleloader is not loaded yet.  A simple matter of going outside, popping a cap and loading up….usually…but this time I had some issues.

Back home I had really spent a lot of time cleaning the rifle and making sure everything was just right.  Now the cap will pop, but no hollow sound coming from the barrel.  I pulled the nipple and it is clear.  I poked my nipple pick into the hole in the side of the barrel, it seems to be clear.  I put a bit of powder down the barrel, put the nipple back on and try again….pop….boom….hang fire!

I’m not happy.

I pour more powder down the barrel and try again.  POP!  I use the nipple pick and try another cap…POP!  I pull the nipple off again and put a bit of powder down the hole in the side of the barrel and then put the nipple back on.  The next cap sent the whole bunch of powder off, but with a bit of a hang fire.

I can’t go off hunting elk with a rifle I can’t trust to go off when I want it to go off.

Weasel suggested I clean the rifle with Windex patches and try again.  I have used this before and with good results and so I gather up my stuff to accomplish this task.  MANY, MANY, MANY dirty patches later I feel like it just might be clean enough to try again.  A little powder down the barrel and then a cap….BOOM!  Good deal!

I load my 90 grains of powder down the now ready barrel and push a 425 grain Hornady Great Plains Hollow Base, Hollow Point lead bullet down the barrel.  With a smack on the top of my short starter I realize this bullet is NOT going to go down without a fight!  Boy am I frustrated at this point!

What usually takes two minutes to get done, has now cost me over 30 minutes and it’s getting light.  I know I have to get that bullet seated on the powder and shoot it out and then clean the gun again if I want to use it.  Frustration is not the word and under my breath I am cussing to beat the band.  The guys are well aware of my thoughts and know that we should be long gone looking for elk in the early morning light, but they say nothing.  Thanks guys.

With help, using a hammer, we pound the bullet down onto the powder charge  and I know it is deformed beyond any kind of accuracy and so I shoot at a can set out about 30 yards…BOOM!  Right over it!

So I set to clean the rifle again and use a ton of patches before I feel good about trying to load it a second time.  This time I only use a cap to dry the barrel and the sweet hollow sound gave me comfort that it was ready to load.  Softball suggested that I rub all the wax off the outside of the bullet and replace it with liquid vegetable oil.  I did this and it loaded very easily.  I’ll remember this in the future.  Now I’m finally ready to get on the road toward “Elk Heaven”.  The sun is now shining brightly upon us and we are clearly an hour late in leaving camp…(put frownie face here).

As I was in my frustration mode, the others were busy packing up the truck for the days activities.  We needed to take everything we thought we would need and then some and of course we had no idea as to how long it was going to take us to get there, nor exactly where we were going.



Are we ready yet?  Are we there yet?


With such a late start I decided to make the most of the day and plan on most of the hunting activity to take place in the evening.  So the bulk of the day will be sight seeing and getting to know the country side a little.  I had to let some positive thoughts gather in my head somehow and this was the only thing I could think of.

As we traveled along I had Weasel (who was driving) stop many times for us to look over the country for elk and of course the scenery.


The country side is rather unique in that we are on one mesa and between mesas constantly.  First we are on top of a flat area and then driving down a very steep road and then suddenly on another flat area.  Each one of the flat areas is about 200 feet different in elevation…mesa…slope…mesa….slope…mesa etc. either going up or going down.

AViewFromAbove MoreCanyonLandsView

Breathtaking views!  What a wonderful place to be on this November 9th morning.

As we continued on our journey, we hit a cross road that went toward Newspaper Rock.  A very narrow canyon area of Indian Creek where the Native Americans of the past chipped away at this one big old rock and made symbols that meant something to them about their own journey.  Had I been able to chip away a symbol for my journey so far it would have been a picture of me holding my muzzleloading rifle by the barrel and chucking it over a cliff and into a deep river below……however…..One must not deface the rocks of days gone by and destroy the story “They” left behind.

The road into Newspaper Rock was great.  Lots of wildlife and very few other people…we were lucky.


Softball and Night Fisher are very glad to get a break from the cold road to Newspaper Rock.  Let’s go look at what this place is all about.


The fence is to keep the honest folks back and not to mark up or touch the wall itself.  What a remarkable story this rock tells.  I’m sure your own interpreted story would be different than mine and that is ok, because everyone has there own.


Study that picture for awhile.

Or how about this one?
NewspaperRockguyBeingTossedByBuffCheck out the guy being tossed in the air by the buffalo!  OUCH!  Did he survive?

If you ever get the chance to go visit this National Treasure please do.  It’s worth it and it does not cost a dime to go see it, except for time and gas of course.  Some day it will cost you, but not right now.  Get down there and see it!

About 4 miles farther down the road we came to our turn off…Beef Basin Road.  According to the map, this road allows you to go toward Canyonlands National Park to the NW, as well as South and eventually all the way out to Natural Bridges and/or Blanding.  Trust me when I say it will take you more than all day to drive that far.  The road is rough, but not impassible (at least when dry), but you had best have plenty of time and extra gas with you, even if you are driving an ATV.  Also, I have AT&T cell phone service and up on top of the mountain area I had spotty service if any at all.  So, don’t trust that your cell phone will get you help if you get into trouble.  I suppose what I’m trying to tell you is to take everything you think you might need to pull yourself out of a tight spot.  There aren’t a lot of people traveling on this road either, at least not in early November.

On this day, we took the turn and headed in the direction of Salt Creek Mesa.  The road skirts the base of Bridger Jack Mesa, which is a destination for rock climbers who like to climb without the aid of ropes and other climbing equipment.  They just dig their hands and feet into the crevasse and climb.

In the background of this picture you can see part of some of the cliffs.


On our way up the road, we must have met at least 10 vehicles with modern day Hippie looking folks coming down.  They must have had a revival or something the night before.  Most of them were driving old vans like the VW variety, all the males were bearded and had head bands while the women were  skinny and without cleavage…..we notice things like that.

About two thirds of the way along this road is a gate across the road.  The sign reads, “Please close the gate”, and it was closed when we got to it.  A sure sign that people going up and down this road really care (give a sh…t).  We went through and on our way once the gate was closed.  We also noticed a lot of domestic cattle as we drove in.  My thoughts were about elk and how the cattle  influence their habits, or not.  I don’t know elk at all and it was going to be interesting to see if the two intermingle at all.

As Weasel continued to drive, I kept looking at the Forest Service map I had purchased the day before.  I was able to figure out just about where we were as we went, which is a very good thing when you are in an area you have never been before and are relying on a map to possibly help get you back out.  Pretty soon we could see a land mark called “Cathedral Butte”, the beginning of the Salt Creek Mesa area.

One of my contact people told me this: “On any given morning, you should be able to take a bull (elk) driving along Salt Creek Mesa”.  That is one of the reasons I wanted to go in this direction on this day.  And even though it wasn’t “morning” anymore right now, at least we were in the right place to check it out.  Almost immediately we began to see sign of elk.  Tracks crossing the dirt road, trees shredded by the antlers of the big boys and it was all really fresh looking.

We stopped at one point for a stretch break and I asked Night Fisher, our elk expert and support crew member, about what we were seeing.  He quickly analyzed the situation and said, “These are elk tracks!  They are here!”  At the sound of that my heart began to race!  We were in the “Zone”!

Seeing a side road that lead away from the main road we were traveling on we decided to drive out on it a bit and glass around.  From where we parked the truck we could only see a short distance and so we hiked over the distant hill to look into the next little valley.  I’m carrying my muzz and am fully prepared to take a bull elk if it presents itself (if I can hit it).  That hike lead us to another and then another.  Up and down through little rolling ravines.  What was most amazing to me was the amount of elk sign!  Tracks were everywhere and those torn up trees we saw next to the main road were almost everywhere you looked.  Branches broken and laying on the ground or broken and hanging from the tree itself.  In some places the dirt was scraped as if a fight had ensued between two big bulls and they tore it up big time!

One more jaunt to look over the last rise.  We began to glass when Night Fisher said, “There’s one”!!!  Everyone began to look in the direction he was looking and sure enough a cow was standing in a small clearing a half a mile away and up on the side of the tailings of a butte.


It didn’t take long to find more and more of the animals scattered about on that same hill side.  Very rocky, very steep and covered with oak brush and a mix of cedar and pinion pine.  Several of them were spike elk as well and I was glad we had come this way from camp.

Night Fisher has some extremely good optics to view through and they were proving to be much better than the cheap-o binocs the rest of us have.  But once he had spotted the animals and guided us to where they were, then we could start to make them out in ours.  Suddenly one “cow” turned its head and it was plain to see it had a large mass of antler growth hooked to its head!  YES!  A branch antlered bull!  And then another and another.  What a great day this is turning out to be!  Opening day and we are seeing just what we came to see.  Far away, yes, but there none the less.  We discussed a plan to get closer and decided we should back out and let them be.  We will come back later this afternoon and check the area again for sign of them.  Perhaps they will be out in the open and closer.

And so we went back toward the pickup.  Weasel had actually moved the truck closer to our position earlier and so our walk back wasn’t so far and of course the truck carried with it our provisions for a good old hot dog and cold drink!


Blaze Orange clashes with my eyes, don’t you think?

After the lunch, we went on back to the main road and on our way.  We continued to see elk tracks and sign all the way to the base of the next mountain…and of course off the other end of Salt Creek Mesa.  We drove up that mountain side for a couple of miles and came to a wide spot where we could turn around.  We did not see any elk sign once the road began to climb in elevation.  I was convinced the elk “were down there” behind us, from where we just came!

We looked around in this wide spot for a few minutes and everyone took their turns at relieving themselves and then we headed the truck back down the mountain and back onto Salt Creek Mesa.  Driving slowly with everyone looking as hard as they could for any sign of an elk, Edjukateer suddenly spoke up that he could see elk!  The truck came to a halt!  Three cow elk could be seen and someone in the back of the truck said they thought they heard a bugle!  Weasel turned off the truck.

I got out with my binoculars and walked to the back of the truck.  I could hear the bugling very faintly, but then my hearing is terrible.  Suddenly I heard one very much more distinct and closer.  The low toned guttural sounds of a mature bull, screaming out a warning to the other bulls that they will get their butts kicked big time if they mess with his ladies, while at the same time telling the ladies to stick around him close or he will kick their butts too.

I pointed my binocs in the direction of the low toned bugling and saw the animal that was making the sounds.  A very large 6X6 bull with huge nearly all white antlers!   I announced I was going to get that bull and went for the door of the truck, behind which lay my muzz!

I gathered up everything I thought I would need, especially for a follow up shot.  As I was doing this, Tracker was quickly gathering his video equipment to follow me and Edjukateer quickly volunteered to carry my 7 mm rifle for me just in case.  We all felt an urgency to get down the road a hundred yards or so to put ourselves in a position that appeared to be where the big bull was heading.  We moved quickly and quietly keeping an eye out for the sign of any elk that may be looking our direction.  My heart was pounding hard.  Is this my time?  Is this the moments leading up to my first ever bull elk kill?

I could hear that bull screaming in the not so distant trees and occasionally I would catch a glimpse of him moving.  And then I saw a half dozen cows meander into view.  The three of us froze in our tracks and slowly got down on our knees so that the only thing sticking up and over the berm of the road were our eyes and the tops of our hats.  My hat was of course that stupid  blaze orange beanie thing that had worked its way up to look like a spire on top of my real hat.  Then it happened!  The closest cow raised its head and began a stare  at me from about 40 yards out.  She did not move so much as an eye brow…just stared!  5 minutes went by and I could not believe she didn’t go back to eating like the rest of them.  She just stared!

“Whitey” in the meantime, continued to bugle his guts out and walk in circles, Edjukateer was very close to me, had his range finder up to his eye and kept whispering the distance the bull was from our position….”130 yards….119 yards….109 yards….103 yards…under a hundred….he’s yours”!

But I could not move, not with that cow continuing to stare at me.  Now what in the world could ever make a stupid rabbit do what it did is beyond me, but one ran between me and that cow elk and that is all it took for her to let out a very loud and distinct “BARK”!  And then turned and ran as quickly as she could to our right and out of sight.  But that was not all, I could hear the thunder of a thousand hooves as the entire herd of animals were running away from us as quickly as they all could.  The sound was very loud and even though I didn’t have time to look at them, I envisioned something that looked like a buffalo stampede in the movie “Dances With Wolves”….I had my own business to take care of.

With her out of the way, “Whitey”, let out a scream and started moving toward the stampeding herd.  He stopped again and screamed at them to stop and come back (I guess that is what he was saying), at any rate I was able to move to the edge of the road, lay down on the berm, cock the hammer and level down on him.  He was maybe 80 yards out, standing broadside and I placed the sight on the middle of his chest and pulled the trigger….BOOOOMMMM!  And he took off like a rocket toward the stampeding herd.

I lay there continuing to look down my sights at the spot where he stood when I shot.  I did not want to take my eyes off that spot until we had a man there to check for blood.  I did not hear the usual sound of that big bullet striking an animal, but my mind said I had to have hit it.  As big a target as that was, how could I have possibly missed?  Edjukateer was quick to get to that spot and I was able to go to where he was as well.  Soon all of us were on the spot looking for blood, hair or anything to indicate a hit…..nothing.

Weasel had made a point of checking all the bulls as they stampeded away and even Whitey, and none of them were favoring any part of their bodies.  No signs of blood running down any sides, they all looked perfectly healthy.

I missed!  (put frownie face here)

Driving back to camp for those two full hours had me thinking over and over again about my sight picture and the placement of that on his body.  As I write this I can still see the sights settled correctly on his shoulder, mid body height.  If I had pulled the shot there was ample room for error to the right, high and low.  The bull should have gone down.  I was very disappointed as we rode along.  Would that be my only chance at a bull elk on this hunt?  Did I not bury the front sight like it is sighted in to be done?  Now that is a deer and an elk I have missed this year.  Should I spend some time tomorrow shooting at targets to make sure it’s still sighted in?  A few deep breaths and then I take my mind off the whole scene and join in with the others in the revelry of the hunt and the days activities.

It’s way past dark now and as we pass the cliffs of Bridger Jack Mesa, we can see the lights of the climbers as they come off the side of that big rock…crazy people…crazy…is all I can say about them.

We arrive back at camp about 8 p.m. and I go right to cooking the spuds.  Tonights meal calls for a breakfast…bacon, eggs and hashbrowns!  MMMMM!  YUMMY!


While we eat, the talk is again about what we are doing tomorrow, Sunday,  for the hunt.  I want to be at the spot where I shot before it’s light enough to see my sights.  In order to do that we have to leave camp at or before 4 a.m.!  That means we need to eat quickly and get to bed if we want any sleep at all.  It’s 10 p.m. before the last of the gang is in bed.

Alarm set for 3 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 19, 2013


Written on November 19th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


Awakening at 5:15 a.m. on Friday, November 8, 2013, the boys in the Butt’s camping trailer are full of excitement.  Dennis told us last night he would be at our camp early to take us around and show us the properties of Uncle Bob’s and some of the surrounding areas as well.


We do not know what “early” means and so we want to make sure we are ready when he arrives.  We are now officially in the San Juan Mountains and the air is clear and very crisp.  A scattering of hardened snow from the last snowfall in the area is holding fast in the shaded areas around the mountain.

From our camp, which is about 6 miles up the road from Monticello, we have a pretty good view of the old Blue Mountain Ski Resort that was put in many years past and failed because of lack of deep snow on a regular yearly basis.  We spent some time glassing for elk or sign of elk.  We also did some local hiking and found ubiquitous (seeming everywhere at the same time) wild turkey sign.  Softball did see a small flock in his travels and Tracker and I heard the distant gobbling of another group.

While we waited, we decided to gather up enough firewood to last us at least until Monday night.  There was plenty around us and all of it oak.



It was about 8 a.m. when I decided to call Dennis to find out where he was.  We were very anxious to get going.  He said he had to talk to his Dad and that took some time and now he was stuck in road construction, but he was on his way.  Little did I realize he was still somewhere between his Colorado home and Monticello…….

At 10 a.m. the boys asked me to call him again…he apologized and said he was nearing Monticello and would be at camp soon.  He arrived about 10:30!  (It’s my guess he had that little black VW over 100 mph driving in).


After a bit, we loaded up the truck and headed down toward Uncle Bob’s place.


Uncle Bob owns well over 2,000 acres in various parts of the Monticello area and a lot of it is for sale at this time.  Wanna buy a lot of land for cheap?  Now is the time!


Dennis took us up near “the pavilion” area where a California college organization built a pavilion and some showers and bathroom facilities.  Uncle Bob had sold them the property for X amount, which they gladly paid up front and the remainder of Y amount would be made some time later.  Well the Y amount could not be gathered in time and so they relinquished the cash they had paid and turned the property back over to Uncle Bob….You could probably pick this property up for nearly a song if you wanted.  It’s a very nice chunk of ground, covered with oak and cedar and a very nice pond.  Sign of game is everywhere, rabbit, deer, elk, coyote and it’s right on the edge of town.

We took a walk around and when we got back to the truck, Edjukateer had found a broken off elk antler from a few years back:


Next, Dennis wanted to take us to another of Uncle Bob’s properties and while we are going in that direction he gets a call from his wife, Laura, she is almost to Moab from her trip back to Colorado from their home in Toquerville, Utah, near Saint George.

We get up to the other property of Uncle Bob’s and look it over.  Dennis explains all the history of this piece and we walk it over looking for sign of elk.  Most of the sign we see is from deer, and while driving in and walking around we do see over 100 deer.  They seemed to be everywhere.  At one point Dennis said not to walk down “over there” as the place is full of little round cactus plants that like to crawl up your legs…we found them!


They have very long spikie spines and once they attach to your pant leg, every step you take has them actually crawling up your leg.  It takes a stick or something to get them off of your clothing and to reach down with your gloved hand only has them poke through the glove and get your hand.  Dennis told us a story of himself falling into a batch of them…he had them in his face, chest, back and all over him.  At the time he had a broken leg and slipped while hunting, causing him to fall into a batch of them…OUCH!!!!

By the time we finished looking over this piece of Uncle Bob’s property Laura was waiting at Uncle Bob’s house.  It took us a bit to get off the property and into town, where Dennis had to show us the BLM office, we needed a map of the roads where we might be hunting.

We went into the BLM office and the man behind the counter admitted their maps had a lot to be desired and that we should probably go see what the Forest Service office had.  We picked up one of the BLM maps and thanked him.

Driving over to the Forest Service office a few blocks away we stopped to see a refurbished “bean harvesting” tractor.  It has metal wheels that stand over 6 feet tall.


At the Forest Service office we bought a map of the entire mountain and headed back to Uncle Bob’s house where Laura was patiently waiting.


Laura had been traveling all day and was hungry, so while Dennis and she went on their way, we headed off to see some more of the local country side and look for elk sign.

Traveling up a road that took us past Floyd Lake we too decided it was time for a lunch break.  We pulled down a small side road and cooked up a hot dog.


On an outing like this there just isn’t much better to eat than a roasted hot dog or sausage, a hand full of chips and a cold drink!

When our hunger was satisfied, Softball thought it appropriate to take a picture of the guys in our group who sport a beard.


Step aside Duck Dynasty, your replacements have arrived! (place smiley face here)

On up the road we went, not knowing just exactly what was ahead.  The road was a very good and well maintained one, but very little elk sign could be seen.  We turned around at a rock slide area, where a good test of our camo clothing could be measured against the elements.  If we were very still and hunkered down it would be very hard to see us in these rocks.  The blue jeans really stand out.


We learned early on, that when the sun decided it was going to go down, you didn’t have much time left until it would be dark.  In the above picture the shadows were beginning to grow rapidly.  We decided it was time to head back to camp for the evening.

Going back, we stopped often and glassed the deep landscape for elk but saw none.

So, our day of scouting for elk sign came to a close and tomorrow would begin the hunt; my dream hunt for elk.

Softball got the fire going using what we ended up calling, “The Apparatus”…Here he is explaining it to Tracker earlier in the day:



Softball created this little devise as an aid in keeping firewood in an upright position in the fire pit to allow air to continue to get underneath and keep it burning.  In our opinion he is on to something here and we highly recommend you contacting him and purchasing your own.  It works extremely well and allows the wood to completely burn and becoming nothing but ashes.  Good invention Softball!  The Apparatus!


With the employment of the apparatus, Softball gets a good fire going under the dining fly and I went to cooking up our hashbrown spuds for the evening meal.


What’s on the menu for tonight fellas?  Steak, spuds and garlic toast!  MMMMMM!  How can it get any better?

We retired to the inside of Wapiti’s trailer so we could all be in a comfortable environment while we ate, and so we could talk about a strategy for the hunt in the morning.




Where is Softball?  Is he like Colby Maughn…images of him can not be taken after dark…?

The discussion around the empty plates was centered around Uncle Bob’s place and all the ground that Dennis had shown us.  The guys told me that it was my hunt and that where ever I thought we should go, we should go.  My mind raced for an idea, as it was getting late and we needed to get to bed.

I mentally poured over all the advise I had been given during the last three months of preparation.  I considered the fact that we had seen fresh elk sign on Uncle Bob’s, some but not a lot.  I considered the fact that all of us had come down to this area having never been here before and that more than half of the group had to leave early Monday to go home.  Perhaps Saturday should be a day to see more of the country surrounding us.  One of the places suggested to look for elk is called Salt Creek Mesa and a place called “Newspaper Rock” was on the way to that area.  I decided we would head in that direction in the morning.

With that decision made, we all finished up our meals, cleaned up and headed for bed.

Alarm clock set for 5:15 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 19, 2013


Written on November 18th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt

We are rapidly approaching the time to apply for the Utah Big Game tags for 2014…don’t let Utah’s drawing system get to the point of Wyomings…or should we?

Written on November 18th, 2013 , Jokes I like!
By: Bears Butt


With the vision of a dream hunt for elk on the horizon, Bears Butt and the gang are ready to head out on the great adventure.  It’s Thursday, November 7th, 2013 (No Grimace’s Birthday).  Tracker arrives about 6:30 a.m. and the plan is to pull out at 7.


He backed up to the trailer and hooked up.  He is as excited as old Bears Butt himself and has been anticipating this hunt just as much.  His emphasis is on the video opportunities that will be provided on this hunt.  The animals, the country side, the red rock country in general.

One of the first things we realize are the poles for the dining fly are too long to be able to ride in the back of the truck while pulling the trailer and so we made room inside the trailer for them.  To say the least, the trailer is full and if we discover we didn’t bring everything we need for this hunt, we missed a good chance.


Where is the beer?

It’s a good thing this is a 1970’s vintage camp trailer as I don’t think the axle strength of a modern one would have handled the weight we put in this one for this trip!

Packed and ready, I gave MaPa’s one last scratch and Winemaker a big old kiss and we were outa there!

With a 7 a.m. start there wasn’t any time for breakfast and so I had prepared a breakfast burrito for each of the eight of us to eat on the way.


That should keep us going until we stop somewhere for lunch.  Well, that and a handful of home made venison jerky and a Halloween type Snickers bars.

After leaving Willard, we had to make one stop to pick up Edjukateer and as we arrived at his place in Layton, the stack of things he was bringing made it look as if Sara had kicked him out of the house!


It is becoming quite obvious to me at this point that everyone is excited and probably packed more than they really needed.  But like someone said, it’s better to pack it and not need it, than to leave it home and need it.  I agree!  But please leave the TV home!


Let me introduce you to the hunting gang (from left to right)!

Jay “Softball” Zundel (Support), Clyde “Tracker” Westley (Videographer), Brennen “Night Fisher” Gerhart (Elk Expert and Support), John “Wapiti Dung” Zundel (Support), Tracy “Edjukateer” Zundel (Support), Brandon “Weasel” Zundel (Support).

It’s sort of a tradition on our special hunts to make sure everyone is given a special gift of some sort and this hunt was no different.  Sometimes the special gift is just a special saying or even a prayer.  I had already given everyone and their spouses a set of wire elk antlers that can be hung from their beaver sharns or rear view mirrors and now it is Softballs turn.


Softball is always thinking about our comfort and so he gave each of us a set of ear plugs to assist us in getting good nights sleep!  AND he gave us each a good pair of work gloves to combat the thorny plants found only in the San Juan area!  Thank you Softball, they both came in handy!

Once on the freeway heading South, my thoughts turned to the fact that we were about to drive through the Salt Lake and Utah valleys during rush hour traffic on a Thursday morning…YUK!  I hate driving through that traffic anyway, yet alone pulling a trailer.  Well, like all things that have to be done, you just grit your teeth and try to stay out of the trouble that others have gotten themselves into.  We made it!

Turning off and heading up toward Spanish Fork Canyon we met up with Cousin Dennis.  He had seen us traveling through the Salt Lake area and got ahead of us.  We didn’t know what he was driving and when we made the turn he was quick to get on the phone and have us meet up before heading up the canyon.

Dennis drives a Volkswagon Golf with a diesel engine and when he puts the pedal to the metal, he is GONE!  He said he would meet us in Green River as he had to visit with a cousin in that area and then we would have lunch.

Well, as Dennis traveled at near 100 mph, we were pushing it to go 50 mph up the canyon and down the other side.  We gassed up in the little town of Wellington, just South of Price.  Dennis was on the phone about then asking us where we were.  He had already made it to Green River.  We still had an hours drive ahead of us to get to where he was!  Lunch would be late for him!

When we finally got to Green River we went to the only eating place in town, “Rays Tavern”!


A very quaint looking place that was packed with people eating and having a beer or two.  The burgers we each had were very large and an over the top portion of freshly fried French Fries with the spud skins still on them.  For under $9 it was a very worthwhile meal!  I recommend that place as a stopping place if you are ever in the Green River, Utah area and have a minute.  You can’t miss the place, it’s just off the main street about the center of town.  OH YA!  And if you sit near the middle of the dining area, watch out that you don’t accidentally get the chair leg stuck in the hole in the floor!


Well, it was now time to leave Green River and head toward Monticello via the town of Moab.  Moab is a destination town for millions of visitors each year and right now (November) is a great time of year to visit this great place.  The air is cool and crisp and the bugs, snakes, lizards and assorted other hot climate critters are tucked away waiting for the heat of summer.  And so this is what we saw in Moab.  Lots of bike riders (pedal type), cars, vans etc. filled with joyful folks wishing to see all the sights.  But our goal was to get through town and off down the road to Monticello.

Not far South, there is a place called “Hole In The Rock”, a smallish tourist attraction which was actually established by our cousin Dennis’ relatives on his fathers side.  We met with Dennis there and I turned the driving of Trackers truck and my trailer over to Weasel and I climbed in with Dennis to get ahead enough to pick a camping spot somewhere high in the Abajo Mountains.  We felt this was necessary to speed up our camping  process as it was getting late in the day. Dennis thought a good starting point would be Foy Lake.

So, off we went at about 8o mph!  On the way to Foy Lake, we had to go past a large rock that sits along side the mountain.  Dennis bought the rock and property around it and is in the process of cutting holes in it to make a motel.  A very unique idea.  The rock is called “George Rock” and is situated across the highway from another large rock called “Church Rock”.


We hung around George Rock (Dennis Rock) and waited until the convoy of two caught up with us just to make sure they didn’t miss the turn off from the main highway.  When we saw them coming we went on our way with radio contact for awhile.  Our last contact with them was to tell them about the turn off toward Foy Lake.

Dennis likes to drive sort of fast and so up over hill and dale we went and suddenly we were standing next to Foy Lake.  A wonderful little out of the way lake high up on the highway leading from and to Monticello and Newspaper Rock road.

I assessed the situation and the camp spots.  There were several, but for this trip I wanted to make sure it was “the camp spot of all camp spots”….this hunt is special and I want it to be special for everyone.

By the way, we saw several large flocks of wild turkeys strutting around alongside this highway.  I didn’t get any pictures as while I was sitting in Dennis’ car, I wasn’t fast enough to get my camera on the turkeys before we blew past them.

Well it took about a half hour for the convoy of two to make it to Foy Lake.  Dennis and I left them to look over the camp sites there while we went on down the road toward Monticello to look at the other potential sites.

I have to admit the view of the valley we had just driven up was spectacular and a vista worth stopping to see.


Again, there were several nice camp sites to choose from but I finally chose one quite a distance from Foy Lake and off the side of the road enough that people driving by would not even see our camp.

With that done we had to go back to Foy Lake and let the others know.  And then the drive to the camp spot I picked out.

By this time it was after 4 p.m. and it gets dark around 5:30.  We had to do some humping to get camp set up before it got dark.  We hustled and just like a good team will do, we had things set up and orderly soon.





Dennis hung around awhile and then had to leave.  He lives across the valley from Monticello and into Colorado a ways, he says about an hour away.  I suppose as fast as he drives it is an hour, but I also suspect that if I was driving it would be more like an hour and a half…just guessing.  As he was leaving he said to us…”I’ll be here early in the morning and will take you around to see Uncle Bob’s property”!  We said our goodbys and off he went.

After a few comforting drinks and some good laughs we set into making our supper meal…Stew and Hard Rolls…does it get any better than that?  I think not!

Well it was a long day of driving and looking and we certainly are not disappointed in any of it.  But tomorrow, Friday, is our day to look around and maybe even spot some elk.  The hunt actually begins Saturday and I would love to tag an elk that day.  Remember Dennis said he would be here early in the morning and so we decided we had had enough fun for one day.  It was time to retire.



Alarm clock set for 5:30 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 18, 2013

Written on November 18th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


Well folks it’s been a really long time since I posted up anything on here.  But you have to consider I’ve been away from the computer and from most of civilization for the last 9 days!  When was the last time you stayed away from a hot shower for 9 days?  Top that time line with a little breeze and some of the finest red clay dirt in the world and a quick wipe with a wet towel has you thinking maybe you are turning into a red man.

The last you heard from me was the fact that we had everything packed and ready to head off for the hunt, that was a week ago last Thursday, Nov. 7.  Since then a lot has happened and I’ve got a wonderful story to relate to you.  I’d like to tell you about that story in a day by day unfolding.  Everyday of the hunt has some wonderful memories and pictures and just for the record, I’d like to take you with me on this adventure.

For those of you with little to no attention span or patience or time to spend reading this nonsense, I will let you know I did end up with an animal in the caliber that I was looking for…a mature 6X6 bull elk around the 300 point mark.  Now I’m not saying I would not have taken a spike if given the chance, I would have…that’s just me and if the opportunity came about where I had a 400 yard shot at a 6X6 or a 20 yard shot at a spike, I would have taken the closer animal.

As the Gods of fate, Luck of the Draw, Crossing of the lines of the circles or call it what you will, in my case “Butt Luck”, we did spot a small bachelor herd of bulls feeding in a chained area near our camp and we managed to sneak within gunning range (150 yards) and God put a very nice bull in my sights and let everything else play out perfectly (film at 11).

As for right now, I’ll have to just let you drool over that much of the story.  For the next several days you will get to re-live my 9 day adventure of a lifetime, one day at a time.  It’s better to savor the meal before you than to stuff it all in your mouth at one time and choke it down.

For the impatient ones…send a friend request to Brandon Zundel on Facebook and see the pictures he posted up…for you with a knack to savor things of this type, chapter one will be coming soon.  Check back often…and by the way…click on some of the ads you see on this page and maybe even buy something.  It helps with the costs of operating this site…just saying.

I have meat to put into the freezer right now and must get going on that task.  I have never seen such a big animal before me laying there in all its dead glory.  I Thank You, God, for making my dream come true.

Bears Butt

Nov. 16, 2013

Written on November 16th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


You can all guess by this picture what is on my mind…yes a 6X6 bull elk…whether that happens or not will depend on a lot of good luck falling my way.  No matter what, we are leaving today, November 7, 2013, and coming back sometime before or after November 17.  Everyone is hoping and wishing sooner than the 17th, including me.  BUT….

When you get a chance like this, you really have to plan on the extent of the time allotted.  It does not make sense to drive 400 miles, hunt a few days and call it over, at least not in my mind it doesn’t.

I sent an email to the local conservation officer down there and he replied today with a very good note, basically it said: The weather has been good and it looks like you will have the entire mountain to play on!

I suppose in years past that has not been the case, thus 60 – 70% success on less than quality animals.  This is my year!  Total access to the mountain and animals begging to be taken to Willard and put in a freezer!  Sounds good to me!

Mr. Shumway also said some other things I can not divulge here right now…someone might be skulking around looking for information.

And with what he said, I did a very thorough look at the very imagery I have poured over for the last 3 months…To tell you the truth, I’m sort of sick of looking at the Abajo Mountains from straight above them!  I need to see this ground I’ve been pounding from right on top of it!  With my feet firmly planted in the red clay or whatever dirt it is made of!

I have peered over the edges of some of the deepest canyons in the world!  I have hiked up trails not even a mountain goat could climb!  I have soared like an eagle over and down and around some incredible looking country and have I seen so much as a ground squirrel or a deer?….NO!….It’s past time for me to be down there looking across, or up instead of  straight down!  (Today I did see some cows in the imagery, red ones and black ones ;-)).

Yes folks!  Today is the day we are heading off toward the Moab/Monticello/Blanding area.  I’ve been to Moab, I’ve been South of Moab to where my mother was raised, Big Indian Valley…But I’ve never been further South than that!  A first for me in that regard and a first for me to be able to hunt a wiley bull elk!  Firsts around!  I’ll drink to that!

My camera battery is fully charged and you can bet I’ll be taking a ton of pictures!  Hopefully one or two will contain a bull elk with me holding up the antlers!  We will see!

Until next time!  Take care…wish me luck…and get busy thinking of Christmas gifts….Not for me, but for others!  I’m blessed with this tag!  Santa could not have been more thoughtful!

DeadElkOnTopOfCarNo more days, we are GONE!

Bears Butt

November 7, 2013

Written on November 7th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


Monticello weather:

Sunny!  High 41, Low 23!  Winds WNW 5 to 10 (like always)….Again, looking down the road the weather appears like it will pretty much remain like this through all of next week.  I like it!

The roads should all be dry and with that cold of nights the elk should cool down really quickly.  The flys and other flying critters should be all holed up and of course the clear sky’s will lend picture taking to an absolute maximum!  I can hardly wait to see what the night sky looks like as well!  With there not being many city lights down that way there should be 20 billion and six stars shining above.

We might even see Taurus…The bull…as in Elk!  And life will be good as long as we don’t see uranus (hahaha!)!

Today is the final packing day and even my food supplies are going into the camp trailer.  One last trip to town to get the stuff that could have spoiled since last weeks shopping trip. And then the long wait!

I’ve burned myself out looking at earth views via satellite of the hunting grounds.  I’ve pretty much got everything memorized, except the names of the drainage’s and mountain tops.  Most of my emphasis has been on the lay of the land, roads and water sources.  In my dealing with those things I have discovered other things that I can’t reveal on here until after the hunt.  If I was to say what I think I have discovered and then it doesn’t pan out to be what I believe it to be, my credibility would go from the low it is now, to below low.  So I’ll keep it to myself and share it with the gang when we get down there.

Tomorrow is the day!

BearWithAntlersModifiedWhat am I thinking about?

Bears Butt

Nov. 6, 2013

Written on November 6th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt

I’m hoping I either get to see this done, or get to do it myself:

Written on November 5th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


Monticello weather:  Partly cloudy skies.  COLD!  High near 35 F.!!!!  BRRRRRRRR, with winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.  That is what is expected today and with a low tonight of 19 F,  there will be frost on the pumpkin!

Right now it is 25 F, with 54% humidity and a 12 mph wind, so it feels like it is 15 F.!!!!

I’m for sure taking my capote on this hunt!

Yesterday, like many days before, I was scouring the digital images of the hunting area  looking for water holes and I found quite a few around where I think Dennis is going to want us to camp.  One in particular is a water hole I saw in a You Tube video of a guy that frequents (or used to) a forum I like to look at…the Utah Wildlife Net…His name is Elk22 something and in his video he shows a water hole that he was watching and then the bull elk he finally put down.  I noticed some features about that water hole and when I found what I did yesterday, I had this feeling come over me that it was the same one I saw in his video!  Game on as far as I’m concerned.  But whether the elk are visiting that hole or not at this time of year is another thing.  He was bow hunting and it was August or September when they were all over that water hole.

There might be a time during the hunt that I’ll take a hike into that hole and see for myself if there are any fresh tracks around it.

Speaking of tracks, I will have my plaster of paris stuff with me to make casts of any good bear tracks we may come across!  I got a good one of a cougar track on a past hunt up near Kamas once, so since there are supposed to be so many bears down in this neck of the woods there is bound to be an old track left in a hardened mud place to be found.  Time will tell and speaking of time……………

2 days!

Don’t forget to vote today!

Bears Butt

Nov. 5, 2013


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