Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hunting--Day 1--Afternoon

The afternoon session of my first hunting experience was eventful, but not for the reasons that we'd have hoped. I was out with another Jeff who is staying at the lodge this week. He was here last year, and we were hiking up to a water hole that Sid had sent him to last year.

It was a spot that we can basically see from the landing where we have a bunch of our cookouts, but seeing it from a distance and trying to navigate to it while walking through thick brush amongst Pine and Aspen trees is another story.

We set out early so that we could slowly climb the hill to avoid sweating as much as possible, since you don't want a lot of scent in the air while hunting, as well as try to get there a bit earlier than normal since it was hot, and we knew the elk and deer would need to get to water at some point.

On our way up we saw a grouse, and since I had an arrow with a "judo point" with me (a head used for practice and small game, and not the traditional broad head arrow for larger game) I decided I'd try to shoot.

Well, I learned a couple of good lessons from this first shot at a live creature. First, don't pull back 1/2 way and quick shoot. Better to get yourself fully set, and if need be, wait a second for the animal to be still if they're not fully spooked. The second is patience, which is really the same as the first lesson, just fewer words, and it was worth reiterating.

Either way, I shot about 2 inches low and bounced the arrow up between the grouse's legs, effectively neutering the grouse if it were male, and sending it on it's way. Either way, though, I had good "towards," so all wasn't lost for a first effort.

By the way, for those who are curious, I'm hunting with a beautiful stick bow, long bow style, that Craig left with me, which was given to him by a dear friend of his. It's a Kim Sha Mattawoman II. A beautifully handcrafted bow. I think the arrows are also handcrafted from Cedar with Steel broad head tips which we hand sharpen with a file. I've been practicing and can shoot fairly accurately from 15-18 yards, and am still working on my accuracy from about 18-25 yards, if that gives you any idea how close we need to get to the animals. I'm not sure that I'd ever want to hunt with a compound bow or rifle, but that can be another ramble for another time.

Anyhow, we continued up the mountain and reached it's peak, at which point, we were at a loss for where the water was supposed to be. We saw a couple of dry spots where there may have been water, but it has since dried out. Sid tried to direct us via walkie-talkie, but no luck.

At that point, Sid was off scouting other areas, and time was passing before we'd totally ruin the afternoon. We couldn't get Sid back on the radio, and no water hole, so Jeff and I evaluated the wind and adopted a Plan B to head where we knew there was water, and thought we wouldn't bugger ourselves too badly.

As we headed down, Sid contacted us, I told him our plan, and he was in agreement. Little did I know that would be the last I'd see of the GPS Radio I was carrying. About 15 minutes later, a few steps ahead, I hear Jeff yelp "Ouch."

"What happened, a tree stick you?"

"No," he responded, "a bee."

"Ow, ah, shit," was my response, as I felt myself starting to get stung. Jeff started running and I followed until it seemed we were clear. I don't know what he stepped on, or what got them agitated, but those bees weren't happy to see us. When the dust cleared, I'd been stung twice on my right hand, and once each on my left elbow, side, and stomach. (Most of them are still irritating the crap out of me two days later) Jeff somehow only ended up getting stung twice, which I guess is an endorsement for having someone slower and beefier following you in the woods at all times.

After that little jog was when I realized that the radio was gone. I went back up 30-50 yds to look for it, but after our long hike up and down, and the threat of seeing the bees again, I decided I'd grab one of the other GPS radios the next day and see if I could track it back.

We made it down to our Plan B spot, and after all of that......well, nothing. About 15 minutes before it was dark, Jeff said "that was the funnest miserable hunt I've ever had." I asked him if that was a compliment, and he said it was. I'm sure I said some pretty funny shit over the course of that adventure, and I remember getting him laughing pretty good a few times, but for the life of me I don't remember what I said. Well, except when Jeff then followed up with, "And heck, you're not supposed to kill anything the first day anyway. It's bad luck."

"Shit, if I'd have know that, I'd have just sat my bow next to me by the car with some beer and a lawn chair and skipped that hike."

Sure is beautiful country, though, and boy the beer tasted good when we finally did make it back to the lodge.


bonefish78 said...

Those grouse will jinx a day like nothing else.
Glad you're enjoying the adventure.
Hey to Jeff for me.

cloudninegreg said...

Most excellent hunt?!? I am glad that the adventure continues for you. I look forward to getting you in the middle of a ball of sailfish. G.