By: Bears Butt

Tracker put together a condensed version of the San Juan Bull Elk dream hunt and now it is my pleasure to post it on here for you to see.  Keep in mind these are some of the highlights of the hunt and the full video he put together is a must see for those of you close enough to be able to attend a showing coming up in February of this year.

Thank you Tracker for doing this and allowing it to be shown on the world wide web.  Thank you too to Weasel for posting it up on

Bears Butt
January 16, 2014


Written on January 16th, 2014 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


I just got back from visiting with Mr. White Trapper: Friend and Taxidermist…You have read about “Swamp Man Taxidermy” right?


Well, here is another fine example of his work!  My San Juan Elk Antlers!


I’m glad I didn’t shoot a really big one as this is enough for the space I have!  He did an excellent job mounting this big boy!  I had a tough time finding enough hardware to keep it held to the wall, but I finally did find a big enough molly bolt!


That’s my elk trophy and I’m very proud of it!  Thank You Mr. White Trapper for finishing off my dream!  I love it!

Bears Butt

January 7, 2014

Written on January 7th, 2014 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


No story would be complete without the “complete” rest of the story!  Right?

So, the big boy is finally on the ground and safe to be around.  Well, as safe as the guys moving around it that is.  Think about the guy that almost died when he slipped and fell on his elk’s antlers earlier this season.  In our turn I think we each backed into this guys rack at least once.

With this guy down, we new we had to get him processed as quickly as we could in order to save the meat, after all that was why we were here.  We had discussed with Night Fisher how he and his dad and brothers processed their elk once they were down and he said that most often they would do it “the gutless method”.  That is, they would skin back the hide and take the meat off the bones without opening up the belly and removing the guts first.  So, that is how we were going to do this elk.

I had watched several videos over the last three months and saw exactly how it was done in them.  I was very confident to be able to do it for real right now.  I had also watched videos on how to cape a big bull while it was laying on the ground as well.  So, not only are we going to take off the hide, we are going to take all the meat too.  Including the tenderloins and the liver.


Here is the big animal.  How much does it weigh?  Heaven only knows, but I’m guessing 800 pounds.  That is a lot of hide, meat and bones right there.  What are we going to need to get all the meat off the bones?


I have brought four, very sharp knives for this project.  Tracker and Weasel both have knives as well.  Tracker has brought out a roll of paper towels and I have my hydration pack for drinks.  We also have several cloth bags in which we can put the meat for packing it out….or….in this case we can put the meat right into the cooler.  I mean, after all, how far do you usually shoot a big old bull elk from a road?


My first cut of the hide is from the mid point of his back, right behind the shoulder and down toward its belly.  And then from that same mid point on the back, down to its rear end.  Continuing that cut around his butt and down the inside of the up side rear leg.

Skinning the lower portion of the elk first will allow Weasel to begin taking off meat from the hind quarters, while I skin the cape.  My cape cuts will be from that same mid point on the back, up to the base of the skull and then an angle cut from a point at mid chest over to the back of the up side front leg and then down the backside of that leg to below the knee.


I was too busy cutting meat to take a picture of the front half of the animal skinned back, but you get the idea.  In the picture above, Weasel can begin taking big chunks of meat off the bones.  Our goal here is to take all the meat we can and leave very little for the crows and coyotes.


Weasel is doing a great job of removing the back straps from this animal.  Next would be a “careful” cut just behind the last rib and down toward the rear of the animal, being very careful not to puncture the insides.  And then reaching in and cutting out the tenderloins.  When this is all done and everyone is happy about the removal of all the meat from this side, the animal is flipped over and the whole process is repeated on the other side.

When we were done this is what it looked like after we re-constructed where the parts used to belong.


We ended up with a very large cooler full of meat and a smaller one full as well.


The little red lid bucket holds the liver.  In order to get to the liver, we actually ended up opening up the gut cavity and pulling the skeleton away from them.  We managed to cleanly cut away the tenderloins this way as well.  Why?  Well, because by the time we got all the meat off the bones, the animals stomach had swollen so big, it was almost scary to think about the possibility of puncturing them.  Actually, I tried to carefully do that and got a face full of ugly stinky stuff, nuff said.

It took two of us to handle each of the coolers, with the larger of the two being quite a task.




It took the three of us to get that cooler lifted and put into the back of the truck.  I figure about 200 pounds of meat in that cooler.

The other cooler was much smaller and weighed in the neighborhood of 100 pounds.

I have to commend the men and women who like to hunt 5 miles away from any road and insist on backpacking their elk meat back to camp or the vehicle.  20 yards was enough for us old guys.  Besides, the beer was very cold in the back of the truck.



On the way back to camp, Tracker had to make sure he had some special effects video’s and we did not mind at all.  We had the rest of the day to goof off and didn’t have to go to town for re-supplies….YAAAAAAA!!!!


But, Weasel and I were getting worried that maybe 42 beers would not be enough for this party that was going on!

Back at camp we unloaded all the meat and put it in the shade of a nice big cedar.  Opened up another drink and toasted “Bull Down”!!!!  And then I opened up the 30 pack of Keystone and what to my surprise…one of their special orange beer cans…the prize sought throughout the land!


That just added a little more party to the party!

Better clean off some of this dried blood.


Then we had to get some more special effects going on.  So we loaded the head and hide onto Trackers pack frame and I hauled it around the camp.




What a fun ending to a perfect hunt!  But wait it’s not over…the sun is still up!



And for supper…what better than to clean out the fridge and have whatever is in there, along with some good old fresh elk steaks!



Elk steaks, hash browns and garlic toast!  I have to say, “IT JUST DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT”!!!!

Good job guys!  And THANKS AGAIN!


Bears Butt

November 22, 2013


We came home Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, without incident.  Left camp at 7:30 a.m. and were home in Willard at 4 p.m.

The End of my Elk Dream Hunt!


Written on November 22nd, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


As has happened every morning for a full week, the alarm clock goes off directly as it is set to do.  The coffee is tasting good, as usual, and I for one am getting anxious for a good hot shower.  Today we have to go to town and restock on supplies and none of us are looking forward to that.  Maybe while we are in town we should look for a truck stop that offers showers…sounds good to me.

I am sitting there drinking my coffee and thinking about the hunt as it has played out so far and wishing I could go back to last Saturday and refine my aim.  But that isn’t going to happen.  My mind races to all the preparation for this hunt and what one of my mentors said to me:  It’s a tough hunt, both physically and mentally so prepare yourself for both of those things (Thanks Blanding Boy).

Physically I’m in pretty good shape.  I worked hard at that for over three months.  Mentally?  Well, I thought I had prepared well for that and my attitude has been pretty positive so far.  Even right now I feel pretty UP, but with a trip to town on the horizon, I’m not ready for that, but if we are going to stay any longer, we have to go in for some beer at least.  I have a 12 pack left and Weasel has a 30 pack.  I suppose we could make it a couple more days with 42 beers, but no food.  Beer is the all food drink, but some food would be good.  Besides Tracker needs some Whiskey too.  We have to go to town, there are no two ways about it.

I remember in one of my stories leading up to this trip that I could hardly wait to get up into the San Juan Mountains and look up at the stars…200 billion and six, or something like that, is what I said.  And right now would be a good time to go out and see if my camera can take a picture of the early morning night sky.


It’s pretty hard to see what with the dust specs and all, but you can see Orions belt and that means Taurus is in there somewhere too.  Taurus is the Bull (elk in my case) and looking around I think I could count 200 billion and six stars.  The sky is clear and bright and visibility is way past as far as you can see.  It’s going to be a beautiful day.  No wind at all.

So, what is the plan?  Well, I want to be up near where we saw the two bulls yesterday morning.  They might be out in the clearing and working their way toward where we saw them climbing the mountain.  If we can catch them near the road I might have a chance.  You never know.  Then Tracker reminded me that where we saw them yesterday was Not Hammer Camp, but rather Sleigh Camp.  It was one road down from Hammer Camp, closer to our camp.

I don’t know how he keeps all of this straight as I had it in my head that we had gone all the way to the end of the mesa and then up to the end of a side road and that it was Hammer camp, the place I found a miners hammer.  But he said no, we went up a side road that ended with a stump of a tree that looked like something Santa Claus would ride and had me sit on it and pretend to be whipping the crap out of Rudolph.  He is exactly right.

Well, there is where I want to be this morning at first light and that means we have to leave camp about a half hour before light.

That being said, we all put a bit of a hustle on to get ready.  We managed to leave right on time and bounced up the road in the dark of an early morning day.  The sky getting brighter every second.

As we approached the Sleigh road that branched off the main one, Weasel went past it.  I had him stop and back up and pull over to the side so others could get by if anyone came along.  We had not seen nor heard another vehicle for two days, but you never know.

We got out of the truck and carefully closed the doors without slamming them.  I put a shell in the chamber (as a good muzzleloader man would say, I put a suppository up the rear of the gun) and slung the rifle over my shoulder.  It was a beautiful morning unfolding before us and with the sun going to be at our backs any elk that might be up on the hill above would have the sun it its face.  Tracker was ready with his equipment and Weasel with his binoculars.  We already knew we had to go slow, quiet, and glass everywhere. We didn’t want to get busted like we did yesterday or the day before or whenever it was that that happened.  We hadn’t gone even 100 yards up the dirt road when Weasel excitedly whispered “DAD…ELK OVER HERE”!!!!  I looked to my right and quickly saw three elk on the hillside about 500 yards or so out.  My binoculars verified all three were bulls.  How big?  Who cares!  They are bulls and now is my chance to drop one!  But not at that range.  We have to get closer.

We quickly backtracked and then angled their way and got in the cover of a finger of cedar and pinion trees that would afford us plenty of cover to close the distance by at least half.  We moved quickly and quietly.  My heart was pounding like it has never pounded in all my life.  I could feel the rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins and my breath became weak.  I had to stop once inside the trees and stand upright and take a deep breath.  I looked at the other two and the grins on their faces told me they were feeling the same way I was.  We moved closer to the end of the finger of trees.  The opening the bulls were in extended from the end of this line of trees up to the edge of the mesa.  Back from the end of the cedar line we were sneaking through about 50 yards or maybe even more, I could see an elk standing high up on the ridge, maybe 300 yards distance.  I stopped and glassed it.  I could not see all of its antlers but I could see it was a nice big mature bull for sure.  I bent down and picked up some dirt to check the wind.  There was little to no breeze but what there was went from our right to our left.  This is a good direction for it to be going as the elk are feeding from our right to our left.

As we continued to move slowly forward I kept thinking about all the things that go into a well placed shot using a scope.  The scope has to be level and not canted to one side or another.  The rifle has to be placed into the shoulder in such a way as to give the shooter a full field of view through the scope, no amount of “black” ring around the outside edges of the scope.  With my short arms, I know I have to really pull the rifle in and lean slightly forward in order to have a full field of view with this rifle and scope set up.  I’m thinking about breath control and squeezing my whole hand rather than just my trigger finger while holding the cross hairs on the exact spot I want the bullet to hit.

My heart is pounding uncontrollably and we are nearing the end of the finger of trees.  I see movement in front of and  slightly to our right through the tree branches and I know this is the end of the line for us.  I have to get set up and set up fast and now!  Right here and no closer to the open hillside.

I sit down and quarter myself so my rifle will be almost at a ninety degree angle to my body and pointing toward the opening between two cedar trees that are about 30 yards in front of us and are about 20 yards apart.  I hold the rifle up and go through all the same thought process’ about level scope, pull the rifle in, breath control etc. etc. etc. and then I realize my heart is pumping so hard the scope is jumping almost a full inch with each pump.  I look around and see a single cedar stick laying on the ground.  I whisper to Weasel to hand it to me, which he does.  I poke the small end into the ground hard without making any noise and then rest the gun barrel on top of the stick and the clinched fist of my left hand.  I consciously wrap my index finger up and over the barrel to make sure it’s going to stay in place.  Looking through the scope my heart is still causing the view through the scope to jump, but only a fraction of what it was without the stick.  It will have to do.

I look up from the scope and take another deep breath.  It’s almost show time and I want to be ready, but I sure could use a nap right now to get the nerves calmed down some.  Another deep breath and then I see movement through the cedar tree on the right.  From that cedar tree to the next one going left I have about a 70 yard opening in which to shoot.  If the bull is not running I might have a chance.  If it’s running I’ll have a “hope I can do it” shot.  My heart is pounding harder than ever now, and the bull is about to come into full view.

I settle down on the rifle stock and pull it in for a full field of view.  I’m holding my breath as the big animal comes into full view…feeding along without a care in the world.  I count the points…1,2,3,4,5…A nice 5X5 and it’s mine if I want it.  Without putting my finger on the trigger, I put the cross hairs on its shoulder and followed it through the entire 70 yard lane and watch it disappear behind the cedar on the left side of my lane.

I’m thinking to myself, “Wynn, What did you just do?!  You let a giant bull elk walk right in front of you and now it’s down wind!  What if it smells you and busts and takes the rest of the herd with it?!!!  You dummy”!!!

Just then I caught another animal’s movement behind the right side cedar.  I settle into the scope once more and the bull steps out feeding just like the first one.  Another 5X5, maybe slightly larger than the first.  My cross hairs are on the shoulder as it continues its trek across the opening between the cedars and then it’s gone just like the first one!  My thoughts return to the wind and the very real possibility of those two elk smelling us…two bulls crossed within shooting distance and I didn’t shoot.

Then more movement behind the cedar and out steps a smallish 4X4 bull.  It too takes the same path as its brothers before and I in turn follow with the scope and practice some control of shooting without actually shooting.  I’m getting pretty good at this.  But what about the breeze…now there are three of them down wind!

I came up off the scope and took a deep breath.  I looked towards Weasel who is now looking through his binoculars with them turned up on their side, his head cocked accordingly.  He is trying to view the animal between cedar trees as it fed calmly along.  I can see the animal coming and I can see part of its antlers.  I whisper to him, “Is this my bull”?  He does not respond.  I whisper a bit louder, “Is this my bull”?  No response again.  And then I can see the bull is about to come into view.  I’m back on the scope with all the thoughts as before, I want to hear Weasel tell me this is the “big one”, but he doesn’t and even though the bull has just about to come into full view I whisper once again… “Brandon!  Is this my bull”?  I have the scope on his shoulder when I hear Weasel whisper back, “I don’t know if it’s the biggest, but it is a nice bull and if you want to take it you better”!

With that, I took a short quick breath and concentrated on the cross hair placement and pulled the trigger!  BOOOOMMM!  And through the scope I saw it drop like a ton of bricks and didn’t kick a leg or try and get up or nothing.  It just fell and stayed down.

Weasel yelled “He’s down!  He’s Down!  Great job dad”!!!!

My body collapsed and I fell backwards onto my back with the rifle laying across my chest.  My head was reeling from the adrenaline rush and I had to lay there a second to catch my breath.  I took a very deep breath and thought to myself….It’s over…Thank God it’s over…What a RUSH!  And as I sat back up I could see more elk running through the opening farther out and could see they too were bulls.  Eight total in my count.  I was slow to stand and Tracker made me sit back down and re-enact the shot and falling backwards.  I think he does that sort of thing to make sure the hunter has all his faculties and at that moment I’m not sure I had all of mine.  Standing back up the second time, I looked out across the open sage and grass flat and could see the bull had not moved so much as an eye brow since I pulled the trigger.  Wherever that bullet hit was the perfect place to kill a big bull elk instantly and I’m certain it had nothing to do with how I was aiming.  I’ve never shot a bull elk before and where I was aiming was just plain and simply the biggest part of its chest.  My heart was pounding so hard at that time the bullet could have gone almost anywhere.  I’m just very happy it put him down for the count and he didn’t run off and down in some God forsaken deep hell hole where we would have had to try and get on him for a follow up shot and then have to pack him out.  THANK YOU GOD!

And so, with the big bull on the ground we started our slow walk up toward him.  I had chambered another round in the Ruger Number One that I was carrying, put the rifle on safe and was moving toward what was the biggest animal I have ever shot in all my 64 years of life.  As I got closer, it got bigger and bigger and bigger.  Ground shrinkage is something that just didn’t happen with this animal and when I put my foot against its rump and pushed and there was no push back, I knew then and there he was mine and that I could relax and say, “Cross that one off your bucket list Bears Butt!  He’s yours”!

My life long dream of shooting such a magnificent animal was over.  Sure, it’s not the biggest and baddest animal on the planet, nor was it the biggest in this bachelor group, but it is the one I shot and it’s the biggest and baddest one I will ever shoot.  I’m so very happy my grin goes from one side of my face to the other and then it wraps around a couple of times.  Everything that went into the preparation, planning, travel, extra work and effort paid off in spades.

A hearty THANK YOU TO WINEMAKER!  When I decided to accept the offer to take this tag, she said she would take on extra hours at work to help pay for it and she did thanks in part to her boss and the Smith and Edwards Company.

And a hearty THANK YOU TO TRACKER AND WEASEL for sticking it out with me and not giving up!  To go as long as we did and then plan on extending until the sun goes down on the last day is a very big commitment.

Not to forget the wives and loved ones of those few who actually got to go on this hunt.  The ones that stayed home to keep the home fires burning and tending to their jobs and families.  The support I had on this dream hunt has been phenomenal and I want you all to know I have not forgotten and will never forget the sacrifices that were made.  THANK YOU!

I wish EVERYONE; Winemaker,  Wapiti, Softball, Edjukateer, Night Fisher, Dennis and Uncle Bob could have been here at this finale!  I hope this story helps to bring you into it and to know just what it was to have been there.

I have enjoyed many a goose and duck hunt, where proper decoy placement and calling had them coming in with their wings cupped and their feet down.  I’ve shot several amazing deer.  But there will NEVER be a hunt with the drama that this one ended with.  Thanks again!



BullDownFor the record folks, I was wearing my blaze orange hat and vest during this hunt.

BullDown4And for the PETA folks, Only one animal was harmed in the taking of this fine bull elk.

Bears Butt

November 20, 2013

Written on November 22nd, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt



Well, not quite, but we did discuss some of what occurred over there last night while sitting around the camp fire.  It’s Wednesday morning and the coffee is tasting very good again today.  What is the plan?  Well, to kill an elk is always the plan, but we only heard elk yesterday and the direction they were running makes you wonder if maybe they didn’t go back into the area where I got my shot the first evening of the hunt.  Maybe we should go over and look in their again today.  But then Weasel did stomp through there last night right after dark and he did say he heard something running.  I don’t know for sure what to do right now.

We know there are elk still around us and with the moon being almost full, we could have had more move in while we were sleeping.  Let’s go up the road and this time sneak in to look at that clearing where we spooked them yesterday morning.  Maybe we will see them this time.  If not, we will continue up the road to the last road branching off (Hammer camp), take a look in there and then work back down and go for a walk to the watering hole that Weasel saw last night while up on the side of the butte.  We have not seen that water hole up close yet.  Is today the day?

Our spirits are pretty high still and we have lots of days left to hunt.  The sign is still in the area and it’s pretty much all fresh.  We have even seen elk hoof prints in some of our own boot tracks.  This is good stuff.  There is no sense leaving camp until we can see our sights as the elk could be right around the corner.  After all we are camped next to a big watering hole but the only animals visiting it are domestic cows.  We have even dusted off the trails leading to it and only seeing domestic cow tracks when we check them.  Are these cattle keeping the “real animals” away?  We don’t know for sure, but we do know there are lots of watering holes around here and the elk don’t seem to mind the cattle.

At first light we are in the truck and putting up the road at a snails pace, hoping and wishing a big bull elk would show itself.  We make it all the way up to Hammer Camp road and don’t see anything except more tracks.  Tracker wants to video us coming out of there and so Weasel and I sit in the truck and wait for his signal.  Then too our right and up on the side of a butte, I see movement.  I bail out of the truck and put the glasses on it…a bull elk!  And there is another behind it!  Wholly crap, look at the size of that thing!  It almost dwarfed the first one.  Both of them are traversing the side of a very steep butte and going around the end of a finger of the hill and out of sight.  Dang nice bulls right there!  Well at least we saw some today!  No way for a shot as they were 6 or 700 yards out and up, but we saw them!

We radio Tracker who comes back to the truck hoping to get some footage of the beasts, but they were long gone by then.  So, down the road we went, stopping once to try and get another view of them from the other side of that finger…no luck.  From their angle they could be anywhere over on that side and a mile from our position.  Just like Night Fisher said, they like to find the deepest and nastiest stuff to hold up in during the day and those two brutes were headed right into the thick of it!  Not something for the faint of heart I assure you…did I tell you I was feeling faint?

Well, we slowly drove down to the place we spooked them yesterday and made a slow and quiet walk out to where we could glass the opening.  We used the trees for cover and did not just walk down the road like we did yesterday.  Nothing.  So, now is the time to walk down to the second water hole, the one Weasel saw while high on the side of the bluff last night.

Our hike didn’t take too long and we saw a ton of elk tracks along the way.  In the water laid a wheeled devise used to help a hunter get a critter out of the back country.  Apparently it developed a flat tire and the hunter decided he had had enough of it and pushed it into the pond.


Most of the tracks we saw around this pond were domestic cattle, in fact as we cautiously approached the pond a group of them got up quickly and stampeded off…Tracker said, “Hell we can’t even sneak up on tame cows”!  I think they smelled us…heck we haven’t had a bath since last Thursday!

Continuing to explorer the area around this pond, we went to the edge of the mesa and the view was spectacular, like always.



You know beyond all doubt the elk are down in there.  We glass a while but my heart wasn’t into going down into there to look around, what if we nailed one down in that hole?  Would it really be worth it?  I know that Night Fisher would go down in there in a heart beat!  We decided to look somewhere else and turned around and went toward the backside of Cathedral Butte.

The saddle that connects Cathedral Butte and the next one on the South (I’m going to call that one Night Fisher Butte, just because he was the one who spotted the first elk of the hunt on the side of it), was where we thought Whitey had taken his herd over last Sunday.  Now we are on the back side of it and I wanted to go and see just by chance if that herd of elk might be coming in this direction again.  It’s very possible if they were out in the clearing all night, they might be coming our way.

So we decided to take a little hike and see if we could find their trail.  It didn’t take us long at all to find the trail…four feet wide and tore all to heck with elk tracks.  Sure enough, Whitey had lead his entire herd up and over this saddle just like we thought he had.  We continued to follow the trail and all the while I was hoping we would see that big cuss coming our direction.  It didn’t happen.

We found a way cool wash that was quiet to walk down and that was a big part of the trail the elk had used.



We stayed on their trail, all the while keeping a close watch for movement and being as quiet as we possibly could.  At times we had to take off layers as the sun was getting up in the air and it was a pretty warm day.


We are standing in the trail right here and with all the trees around us, we would have had to of been right on top of an elk to see it.  I’d call this “Thick”!

Well, our short jaunt to see the pond ended up with us hiking all the way around Cathedral Butte, past camp and eventually back to where we parked the pickup….6 miles.  None of us felt the worst for wear, but it did devour the day.  We went back into camp to cook up our hot dogs and decide what to do for the evening.

While at camp getting the hot dogs ready we talked about “tomorrow”.  Tomorrow is Thursday and we had planned our stay through today, Wednesday.  Our evening meal of burgers tonight will exhaust our provisions.  We needed to take an inventory of our supplies and plan a trip to town tomorrow to stock up.  Weasel got out his inventory computer and began to input our grocery list.  We made up a menu to include more steak, burgers, hot dogs, bread, whiskey and beer.  We had some left over chicken from the Rabbit Chicken night that would do us as a noon meal tomorrow on our way into town.  If we made it part of the plan to be on the road off Salt Creek Mesa by 10 a.m., we could make the 2 hour trip to Monticello, spend an hour shopping and the 2 hour trip back and be back for an evening hunt by 3 pm.  That’s the plan for tomorrow.  What about this evening?

The plan was made to go back up as far as Hammer Camp and then slowly come back down past camp and down to the lower road we had seen and been on briefly a couple of day ago.  This will take us past the clearing where I had gotten my shot last Saturday as well and in fact would completely cover the road through Salt Creek Mesa from end to end.  How could an evening drive be any better?

We went up to Hammer camp and turned around and started our slow drive back down the road.  Suddenly Tracker calls out ” STOP THE TRUCK”!!!!!!  He bails out and picks up a really nice drop horn!  Right off the side of the road!


How much better does it get?!!!  Good eye Tracker!  A fine drop horn if ever I have seen one!  A fine thing to find as the day is coming to a close.  You would expect to find something like that on a six mile hike, but never right next to a main dirt road.

We continue to travel down the road and take the last side road that took us out and across a flat and very close to the base of Bridger Jack Mesa, East of our camp.  There we decided the day was over.  The sunset behind Cathedral Butte was a show to be seen.



And as the sun continued to set it just got prettier!


What a nice place to be on such a beautiful day!  Thank you God for sharing this with us.

And just like all the nights before, it got dark quickly and we found our way back at camp once more.  Tracker put his fine find under the beaver sharns and we went back to camp living!



Tonight’s meal is a simple one and basically the last of our food…burgers on buns, with a slice of onion and lots of chips and beer.  YUMMY!

And by the looks of this picture the troops were very hungry!


After that 6 mile hike we  were all very much ready for bed by nine and so it was lights out!

Alarm set for 5:15 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 20, 2013

Written on November 21st, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


The alarm clock went off right on time and my first thought, after turning it off, was, what a very nice nights sleep I had had.  The best of the trip so far.  My mind then settled into the fact that we had just spent our first night up on the Salt Creek Mesa and even though there had been a bit of a breeze during the night it wasn’t a howling wind like it could have been being that high up on the ridge.

I remembered looking out the window from my bed sometime during the night, I’d guess 2 a.m.’ish and noticing how bright it was outside.  The moon was in its 3/4 ths full point and it was almost as bright as if it was full.  What would that do for the elk?  Would they feed all night and go to bed early, or would they feed for awhile, bed, and then get up during the day to feed and go to water?  I don’t know elk and their habits, but I’m convinced the moon is going to be playing a big role.

For some reason the coffee tasted extremely good this morning and I had three full cups while waiting for it to get light enough for our trip out of camp.  I told Weasel and Tracker that I was putting the muzzleloader away and going to resort to the 7mm (Pork gun) from this point on.  I felt I needed the extra range that the Pork gun would offer and that I wanted to kill a bull elk as soon as it presented itself.  Spike, branch antler, whatever, it didn’t matter.  They were ok with that decision.

We pulled out of camp when it was light enough to see my sights and headed up the road.  There is a narrow place in the road between Cathedral Butte and the edge of the mesa we are on and in that narrowing of the ground were several fresh elk tracks in the dusty road.  There were also a couple of nice buck deer that ran toward the butte.  Up the road about a half mile the mesa widened and there was a side road that led into another chained and partially cleared area.  We stopped to go take a look and see if we could see some elk out in there.

We must have had our heads up our behinds, because we were not very quiet as we walked down that dirt road, because as we neared the clearing you could hear the thunder of a thousands hoofs pounding the ground out in front and slightly to our left.  Soon the sounds were all coming from our left side and you could begin to see the dust rising above the brush as the stampede got farther and farther away from us…we saw nothing but the dust, but clearly it was a very large group of elk that had either seen us or smelled us coming their way.  DANG!  We learned something then.  No matter what…when you leave the vehicle and go off on a “lookeesee”, go slowly, go quietly, keep looking in every direction, keep your ears and eyes constantly on alert.  We were busted on that attempt, but maybe, if we don’t down an elk before, that they will be back in this chained area this evening.

We had made sort of a plan to go up and check out another area the Mr. Shumway had told us about, North Long Point.  He told us about some springs up in their and that perhaps it would be a good thing to go and check that area out.  So, today our plan is to go in that direction and take in all the sights we can find along the route.

That route took us past the point at which we had turned around on the first day of the season.  And from there on it was new country to us, and beautiful country it was.  Just like before, we were not seeing any sign of elk along the road and it seemed the higher we went we climbed up and away from the Cedar and Pinion Pine and into Yellow Pine and Quakies.  Very beautiful and I’m sure that earlier in the year the elk would be abound in this area.

We came to a branch in the road, one that if we took it would take us down into Beef Basin.


The sign says, from top to bottom, Gooseberry GS (Guard Station) 5, Kigalia GS 19, Beef Basin 12.

The view of what is called Horse Mountain from right here looks like this:


I’d have to be eating peyote buttons for a while in order to make a horse out of that, but if that is what they want to call it, then that is what it is.  Continuing down (up) the road we passed Colt Mountain and again toss me some more of them buttons, but the view got prettier and prettier as we went.  More tall pines and loads of quakie pockets.


You would be hard pressed to find a prettier place.  Still, no elk sign.

And then here we came to our junction, the one down and out North Long Point.


Hold on just a second here!  What does that sign say?  Let’s look closer!

Gooseberry GS 5 Miles

Do you see anything odd about this sign?  The last sign said Gooseberry GS 5 miles!  We just traveled 5 miles to this sign and still have 5 miles to go?  What gives?  Better than that, the sign before said Kigalia GS was 19 miles and now it’s 25 miles away!  If I was walking I would be mad as heck right now!  Hey Mr. Forest Guy, how about fixing one or both of these signs so we know which is right!

Well, that made for a good laugh, and we made the turn down North Long Point in search of some big old bull elk.  Or maybe just a place we could eat another long awaited hot dog.  We are beginning to look like hot dogs!


We traveled down North Long Ridge for several miles and during our drive we saw a very amazing little squirrel…I guess it’s a squirrel.  It never let us get a picture of it, but I’ll describe it as best as I can.  It stood about 10 inches tall, was quite bushy, its ears were pointed and tall for a squirrel and its tail was not only bushy but rather white or light grey in color.  You tell me what it’s called.  Post the name in comments below and I’ll make sure it becomes part of this story.

We continued down this road until we were supposed to come to a Big Spring.  We never saw any Spring, but we did see a big grove of quakies down off a cliff in the general area and figured it was here that the spring was….close enough…let’s eat!



I’m not sure I would ever get tired of having hot dogs, chips and beer for lunch while out in the woods.  There is just something very special about it!

Right where we chose to eat our lunch was a way cool old tree that has probably been growing since Shep was a pup and maybe longer than that.  The sad part was that people had pounded in some big old nails and spikes into it.  If anyone ever goes to cut it up, they will be in for a very rude awakening.  But until then it’s a cool tree.


So, after this lunch, we decided we had just enough time to work our way back past camp and maybe even have some time to explorer a bit more down the road from camp. On our way back to the main road we saw several deer.

SmallBuckSneakingOffThere are actually two small two points in this picture sneaking away from us.

3DeerOne of these does has a collar on it.

Going back we got another great view of the surrounding countryside.  This was a higher view of the Canyon Lands area with Boundary Butte in the picture as well.


The Salt Creek Mesa is the flat looking area just to the left and bottom of Boundary Butte and with a very close look you would be able to see the road.  Take my word for it.

Once we were off this mountain and back on the Salt Creek Mesa flat, we took a couple of side roads to see where they went and what the views looked like.  At the end of one, we saw a cool cedar tree that had been either hit by lightning a long time before or else the wind and snow had broken it, either way it looked pretty neat and at the base of it a little flower.



A beautiful natural setting for a beautiful little flower, one has to love what God does.

Speaking of God, as we came down the road off the steeper portion of the mountain road, I saw where someone had almost gone off the edge.  Of course this happened when the road was very slippery and muddy.  The picture I took of the scene doesn’t show how crazy everything had to have been, but I’ll bet the driver of that vehicle had to wipe his behind when it was over.


You could see where their left front tire actually went off the road and where they placed a line of rocks along between the edge of the road and their other tires to help hold the vehicle from going any farther in that direction.  I’m glad they didn’t go over, because it was at least 100 feet to the bottom with very little brush to keep them from going all the way down.

Before dark, Tracker and I carefully and quietly worked our way out to the edge of the clear cut where we had heard the elk run off this morning.  We took up a position where we could see pretty good in at least three directions and we waited until dark, hoping the elk would come out into the open and offer me a shot.  All we had that was exciting was a coyote howling about 20 yards behind us in the cedars.  That was pretty exciting.  Oh ya, and I found a bull whip some cowboy had lost years before.

While we were sneaking our way to our waiting position, Weasel drove the truck down to a little side road and took a hike up on the side of Cathedral Butte in order to glass up the clear cut in our direction.  We were in hopes that from his vantage point he would be able to see the elk and could radio to us where they were.  No elk were spotted.  And as Weasel continued to climb up the side of the butte, he got himself into such a precarious spot he had to continue to go all the way around the backside of the butte.  After dark, Tracker and I made our way down to the truck and drove around the other side to wait for him to come around, flashlight in hand!

Back at camp, Tracker felt it was his turn to cook up the steaks and they certainly were good eatin!  I must say, we eat well on our hunts, but if you are into vegetables, you are in the wrong camp.  Steak, hash browns and garlic bread!  It doesn’t get any better than that!


After supper we enjoyed another evening of the Apparatus and an Ora Boriallis fire.  Drank a few drinks and headed off to sleepy land in preparation for another day of hunting.

Alarm set for 5:15 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 20, 2013

Written on November 21st, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
By: Bears Butt


Monday morning, November 11, 2013…Happy Veterans Day to all Veterans out there!  In our camp we had a toast with hot coffee and a small sugar frosted roll.  And then as light became apparent, we said our goodbys to Wapiti, Softball, Edjukateer and Night Fisher and the three of us headed down the road to Uncle Bob’s place.

We got to the bottom of Uncle Bob’s at a perfect time to catch any game coming up out of the fields below.  We saw literally hundreds of deer!  Most of which were not too afraid of us and just walked or hopped out of sight when we got too close.  No sign of elk which was disappointing.  Our minds were made up quickly to get back and break camp.  With so many elk having been spotted up in the Salt Creek Mesa area, we just had to make the move.  So, we headed that way, gassing up in Monticello before proceeding up to camp.

We got to camp to find that the others had already pulled out for their drive home.  It was a bitter sweet moment for us to see them gone.  But things have to happen and that was one of them.  It was about 8 a.m.


We had plenty to do in order to get packed up and over to Salt Creek Mesa and re-set up the camp.  We wanted to have an evening hunt over there as well and so the pressure was on to get things done.  We also talked about how we were going to pack up.  I suggested we just make sure something won’t fall and break while in transit, but that we would not be going really fast and so things didn’t have to be put back into its proper place nor stored as if it would be a year until it comes back out to be used again.  By 9 am camp looked like this:


Let’s go guys!

And off we went.  I guessed it would take us a full 3 hours to reach the Salt Creek Mesa area and find a camp site worth the move.  Just after turning off on the Beef Basin road there is an abandoned mine which we have passed every time we went over to the Salt Creek area.  This time we stopped to look at what it was all about.



It’s my guess that this is where they stored their powder and other supplies, but what do I know about mining?  Nothing!


There were a lot of evidence of critters big and small that live in there and I’m very glad we didn’t have to sleep in there tonight.  The packrats just might have taken the family jewels…so to speak.

The mine entrance has been blocked off by a large steel gate and with all the sign around it, there have been plenty of lookers visit the place and I’m certain many of them would have ventured down into the mine and may have been killed down in there.  So to have it blocked made perfect sense to me.


We also discussed the fact that in the evening we bet the bats coming out of there would have been quite the site to see…let’s go before they start coming out!  I don’t want any of them getting tangled in my curly locks!

It’s funny how the sun angle on the rocks makes things stand out or change during the day.  We have been past these rock cliffs several times and only this time did we see this:


Can you see it?  The face.  Not the face of the cliff, but rather the face IN the cliff.


The “Alien”!  It reminded me of one of the women in a van we saw on Saturday morning, just saying.

Well the road in was just as bumpy as it has always been, and even more so with the trailer.  A few spots where I wasn’t sure the black water holding tank was going to survive, but we did clear them and I made a couple of mental notes of areas I’d have to watch closely as we came out.  The drive in was slow to say the least.  At a point very close to our destination the road gets very narrow and only one vehicle can travel through there at a time.  Tracker decided it would be way cool to get a picture of the top of the rig as we went along….oh my.  I let him out and about 5 minutes later he radioed that he was ready.  What caught me by surprise was that he was standing on a piece of rock ledge that looked very UNSTABLE!



I’m sure the footage will be worth it when the editor gets through with it, but I can tell you at this moment my feet were hurting really bad (to tell you the truth, they hurt right now just looking at the picture)!

Our adventure was about to come to an end with this camp move and I was looking forward to a good old cold brew.  No brews until camp is set up boys! It was almost exactly noon when we arrived at this spot!  3 hour drive.

In the shadow of Cathedral Butte, we found a nice big watering hole and a very nice camp spot.  We looked it over really good and made the decision to plant ourselves right there!  Camp was set up and ready to go at 1:30!


With Cathedral Butte in the background we all felt like this was a new beginning for this hunt.  And it was. There are lots of signs that tell you when things are where they need to be and I believe this was one of them.  Please do not touch the rock wall:



Camped in a great spot, surrounded by fresh elk sign and the rest of the afternoon to goof off…where is that cold drink?

Exploring around the camp and doing a bit of sprucing up we discovered quite a few things of interest.  A couple of old bleached out elk shoulder blades, a small buck drop horn and this:


A mylar balloon from someones graduation.  A sure sign that Edjukateer had wished this camp would be ours to enjoy!  Thank you Edjukateer!  Close by there were other camp occupants even though we didn’t see them.


A very big packrat home.  Keep track of your jewels guys!

And once we had explored around the camp and picked up what trash there was (and there wasn’t that much), we kicked back and enjoyed ourselves.  During our kick back time, Tracker wanted to show off the surrounding scenery for his video.  And that took a little bit of time, but what the heck!  We have plenty of time.  We are minutes away from the place where I shot at the big bull on Saturday and our total drive time from one end of the Salt Creek Mesa to the other is less than a half hour.  We have it made in the shade baby!  Made in the shade!

We made another command decision (we make lots of those), and that was to eat our supper before heading out for the evening hunt.  And what would that supper be?  None other than Wapiti’s own…”Rabbit Chicken”!

I pulled out the dutch oven and browned all the pieces really good.  Took the chicken out, turned down the heat, put in a trivet to keep the chicken off the bottom of the pan, put the chicken pieces back in and added a can of the best cooking beer in the world…Olympia!  Then back on went the lid and we let it simmer for about an hour on low heat!

Here we are in a new environment wishing the rest of the guys could be there with us and of course we made a toast to their safe trip home.  If I recall correctly, we made toasts to a lot of things that afternoon.

As the afternoon started to turn to evening we decided we should make a run down the Salt Creek Mesa road and try and find a bull elk.  We made the run, but didn’t see any elk.  The scenery was great though!




And just like days gone by, when the sun decides to go down, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by darkness…and back to camp we went.

With supper already behind us, we had all night to talk about what was in our pasts and what was being held in our futures.  We employed the “apparatus”,


and built us a really nice “Ora Boriallis” flame!


A perfect ending to an almost perfect day!  Maybe tomorrow the Elk Gods will smile on us.

Alarm set for 5:15 a.m.?  Check!

Bears Butt

Nov. 20, 2013


Written on November 20th, 2013 , DREAM HUNTS
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 | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.