"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Wyoming Journals, Ch. 16: A Few Tid Bits

Before Chris and I leave the hunting camp in the Snowy Mountains of southeastern Wyoming, I want to share a few bits and pieces with you.


Turns out the best place to see wildlife is while sitting in the motorhome in camp.  Moose wander through or skirt the camp, and frequently stop to stare.

I quit counting at 17.   There were several more.


Before the altitude got to me and confined me to camp, I went back to the White Rocks and climbed to the top.   

I was going to see how close I could get to the notch.

I won't bother to point out the location of our camp because only a tiny piece of white is visible, right of center behind the trees.

This dead tree trunk made a great spot to catch my breath, enjoy the scenery, and try to get a focus on one of the dozens of migrating butterflies.

Some detail on that tree's roots.

One of the pillars across the valley.   This is from a blog about hiking this valley, "
To add to the interest, cowboys and adventurers have carved names and initials, dates and places, and the delicate profile of a woman’s face. Finding and deciphering the 'glyphs can make a day hike into a treasure hunt. The earliest I’ve found was left by C.M.E. back in 1878."

Closer.   At least I'm on the same level.
Getting closer.   There's a sheer crop-off in front of me, so I have to go to the right.

The two sandstone pillars across the valley.   Note the sheer drop-off below me.   It's the same on the other side.

I didn't get all the way to the notch because there was a deep crevasse that I could not cross without some serious rock-climbing skills, ropes, ladders, and pitons, none of which I had in my pockets.

This being a dead calm day by Wyoming standards, I was very careful about my footing, all in a desire to not get blown into the next county.   In fact, I set my camera down in a safe spot before I crossed the last crack that I could.   Maybe someone could use it should I tumble down the sheer sides of this sandstone edifice.

The best part of this solo journey into space is that while I was sitting on top admiring the view, a half dozen ravens flew over and circled directly above me, no doubt waiting to see if I'd be fresh lunch soon.   They soon gave up and soared away.

Here's a bird ID tip:   Hold your hand out in front of you with the fingers spread.   The fan shape is like a crow's tail feathers in flight.

Now close the fingers.   The wedge shape is like a raven's in flight, because the crow's feathers are of equal length, whereas the raven's center tail feathers are longer than the others.


It's autumn in these parts, but I found a vestige of summer.

 This old fence, one day and another.

 Rock Creek, one day and another:

Mule deer


Bud and I stayed at White Rocks while Chris and Bob hiked across the valley floor to the pillar.    I was photographing birds.

When we left, we came across a young fellow and stopped to chat a moment.  He told us this tale:

He had shot an elk.   When he approached it, it appeared to be dead so he and his dad took turns taking photos.

Suddenly the elk kicked out, knocking the dad backwards and laying a darned good bruise on the man's shin.   Junior tracked the elk "for five miles", seeing tracks of wolves and mountain lions also following the wounded animal.

Now, he was off again the track the elk.

Off goes the brave hunter, facing wolves and mountain lions.

We stopped at their tent, which they were in the process of equipping.   It was a huge tent, with an added vestibule in the back for a cook tent.

Twenty people could set up cots in this tent.

The cooking vestibule.

Dad showed us his injured shin and verified the story, not that we were skeptical, you understand.   But, this WAS a hunting camp and my understanding is that hunting ethics dictate a hunter always believes another hunter's story before trying to out-do it.   Much like fishing ethics.

Dad's "humongous" injury from the elk.

And there we are.    Just wanted to get these things revealed to the world before Chris and I visit Laramie.

Oh, wait.   How could I forget?

One of the gray jays (aka Canada jay, whiskey jack, camp robber) that came to our picnic.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Enough of the Lion; Let's See the Lamb!

March, March, March!    You are such a trickster.  

You arrive with bone-chilling cold and yesterday you dump a couple feet of snow on us.

My living room windows plastered with snow.

We've seen enough of your Lion.   Let's see some of your Lamb.

Snowed-in bird feeder

All the trees are laden with new snow.

Grosbeaks on a swinging bird feeder while the storm tried to gain momentum.

 And then there's today.   When your driveway really, really needs to get cleaned out, you call in the big plow.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Wyoming Journals, Ch. 15: Harvesting Elk with a Chain Saw

The cast changed at the elk hunting camp in the Snowy mountains of Wyoming during the weekend that cousins Bud and Chris and I were off in Casper visiting at Bud’s house.   Cousin Bob headed north for home, and Brad’s son Charles flew south to his home.
Sunday, Dave appeared to fill out the cast for this week.   Bud had already filled his elk permit, so that left Brad and Dave as eligible hunters.   The rest of us were the supporting cast.

So, it was as the supporting cast that we took off into the logging trails to find Brad and Dave one mid-morning, after we received word that Dave had downed an elk.

No, the photo isn't crooked.

Of all things, a chain saw became the most appreciated piece of gear for retrieving the animal.  Now, I’ve seen chain saws used in hunting camps before, but they were assigned to firewood detail.   This chain saw served an entirely different purpose, and it didn’t even have a bar and chain on it!

On a steep mountainside, of course.

They had to tie off the elk to a tree to prevent it from sliding downhill. L-R: Dave, Brad, Bud.

Dave completes his hunting form.

See that last tooth?   It's ivory.  Once long tusks used in fighting and in rut, these teeth have evolved to mere nubs.

Brad packs the abdominal cavity with snow to aid in cooling the carcass.

The elk is rigged for towing up the hill.

Once the animal was field dressed and ready to be taken off the steep hillside, Bud got the chain out.  As I said earlier, the saw didn’t have a chain on it.   Instead it was equipped with a winch that made dragging the animal up a steep slope and through a thick forest pretty easy, all things considered.

Bud, uphill, with the chain saw, sans chain.

Chris keeps the antlers from digging into the ground.

Almost time to move the chain saw winch to another location.

The saw was positioned strategically a few times and the elk pulled through the trees in straight lines.  

Chris operating the winch.

Dave guides the elk through the last few yards.

Dave and his elk.

Bud and Brad.

At the vehicles, it was winched onto the back of Brad’s truck and transported to camp.

Note the use of a snow shovel to guide the cable.

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Then, it was transferred to Dave's pickup and off he went to deliver the carcass to the processor in Medicine Bow.

That afternoon, I have to face a reality I never wanted to encounter again.   I had noticed earlier that my voice had a somewhat raspy tone to it and that I felt kind of sluggish.   While resting after lunch, I realized my nemesis was back:  high altitude sickness, but to a mild degree thus far.   I knew some pulmonary edema was accumulating.

I had a few pills left from the prescription, and I started taking them again and they helped me feel better but not entirely well.   For the next few days, I stayed in the motor home, happily writing and reading and taking naps while the others helped Brad in his hunt for a cow elk.
I am not sure I ever convinced Bud that I was as happy as could be.

And that ended my days on the support team, but the adventure wasn’t over yet.

Chris and I left camp the next weekend, headed for her home in Colorado, near to Denver where I would fly out of to return home.

Along the way, we would have a couple adventures that I’ll tell you about next.