Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wiley Wapiti

Last week my son-in-law Thane and I archery hunted the elusive elk. We found a small herd on Monday but immediately got hit by a severe thunder storm so we retreated to the truck for a while. Late in the day I heard two bulls bugle. We tried to find one of the bulls the next day so climbed a mountain that has some wallows. As we approached the first wallow, fresh bull tracks gave evidence that the bull heard us coming and ran off through the old timber. Thane and I checked out the other wallow but it had not been used recently. We circled the timbered basin only to find a few single elk tracks.

One day we went high and found a winter wonderland with snow that was frozen so walking around was too noisy. Two moose were the only creatures we could find. Most of the week was sunny warm days so not the best elk hunting but it was enjoyable to spend a week with Thane. God painted some glorious sunsets and we even got Thane a load of firewood.

I noticed most elk tracks we saw were single animals, sort of strange for a herd animal. Have the elk figured out that staying apart makes them harder for the wolves to hunt them? I heard wolves howling on Friday evening.

My season closed today and I thank God for the time I had in his great creation. I enjoyed every moment; even the hawk that thought my camouflage head was something to eat. It pulled out of the dive just inches away and I felt the air from its wings. We had a bear hit our camp twice mainly checking for left over food. That made us keep things cleaned up. My decoy, Henrietta, must think she is stuck with a guy that can’t find elk. There was a cow moose that really did not like Henrietta and roared at her but when the decoy did not move the cow yielded the territory.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dr. Bob

When one of us gets sick and should go to a doctor we say call Dr. Bob. Bob Stoll is our veterinarian and we wish there were more human doctors that were as compassionate and caring for their patients as Dr. Bob is. He has laughed with us and cried with us over our pets. Last week I called him out to look at Capoo, one of the llamas who was having difficulty breathing. Bob found the source of the problem immediately which was a large tumor in his neck that wasn’t visible under all the thick wool. Unfortunately Cappo had to be put down. As this was happening, Bob and I shared some personal things that are going on in our lives. Again his compassion rose to the surface and we did not look at each other as doctor and client but as friends. Bob has a great love for his family and God. He sees God’s hand in all the animals that he treats. Before Bob left he turned and gave me a big bear hug and helped make the day a little brighter.

As I was digging a burial place for Capoo, each of the other four llamas took their turns standing by their friend one last time. The compassion they showed for him was quite moving. After he was covered up they took turns lying by the grave the rest of the day.

I learned that it is important to look for peoples hurts and offer them comfort. Take time to listen to their story. I don’t always have a good answer but I know God Does so pray for them. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we showed more compassion to the people we meet everyday? Be a Dr. Bob this week to someone.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alpine Glow

It has been two years since I’ve been to my favorite elk hunting spot. It is a half hour climb from the truck following some game trails and relying on dead trees as my markers to a small bench where cold water gurgles from the mountainside. When I left the truck it was nearly 80 degrees so I only wore a tee shirt for a top. After I arrived and set up Henrietta, I took off the shirt and wiped myself down and put on a clean camo shirt. I set up a ground blind about fifteen yards from Henrietta and sprinkled some elk scent on spruce trees near her.

The smell of huckleberry and spruce filled my nostrils and I took several deep breaths of this wonderful scent God had made. The mountain was alive with color of yellow azalea, crimson red of huckleberry, and the dark green of spruce. Small patches of white pearly everlasting poked their heads among the berries. Many huckleberry bushes still have berries and it was hard to resist them but I stayed in the blind. It wasn’t long and I had to put another shirt on plus a fleece jacket. I have named this place the Icebox. I have seen temps go from 80 to 30 in a just a few hours.

Two ravens flew over the ridge catching the afternoon thermals and one rose high into the air. It folded its wings and dove straight down toward the trees, then leveled off and did some rolls. The other raven seemed to approve with some chuckles. These birds seem to enjoy life. Two chipmunks seemed to accept me and kept busy eating berries.

As the evening progressed I cow called frequently but did not get any answers. About 6:30 some brush broke up me but I never saw anything. My mind flashed back two years to the bear that came rushing in to eat an elk and I was too cold to pull the bow. I asked God to help and he did with a fatal shot that put the bear down. He definitely helped me pull the bow as it came to a full draw with no effort.

I spent much of the evening praising God for the beauty of this place. I feel He made it just for me as I have never seen another hunter there. I have taken Ardella up there a few times and she likes it as much as I do. Being alone on a mountain with God does a soul good and I left feeling revived.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From The Tree Stand

Friday afternoon I arrived by my tree stand at 4:30 and checked the trails for fresh tracks. Only a few elk had used the trails all week but I thought it only takes one. I set up Henrietta. Oh, you haven’t met Henrietta! She is the prettiest cow elk decoy you have ever seen. I’m sure a bull would fall instantly in love with her. I climbed into the stand to be greeted by bald faced hornets which were very aggressive. My hat became a hornet swatter.

At 4:57 a bull elk bugled in the distance but I couldn’t pinpoint his location. Soon after, a pine squirrel spotted me and told me I was intruding on its territory. The little guy was busy cutting pine cones from trees and gathering them for winter. He ran out through the brush and jumped up on a log by Henrietta seeming very surprised to see an elk. Henrietta even startles me once in a while when I look up and see a cow elk and then realize I’ve been fooled by my own decoy.

The growl of an ATV on a closed road system at 5:15 raised my blood pressure a few points. I can understand folks with physical challenges using them but everyone else can walk. If they want to ride something; take up golf. Closed roads provide elk and other wildlife with security to move around without vehicles bothering them. Some people don’t get it or don’t care.

Between hornet swatting my mind wanders to other matters. I think about God and how to serve Him better. Tree stand time is a good time to communicate with the Father and listen for his reply. We all need to have this kind of time with God. I should put one up in my back yard.

Next I consider the importance of the November election outcome. Yes, I too am concerned about rising prices for food, energy, and healthcare, but only one issue decides how I vote. Abortion! Abortion is a plague on our nation which leads us down a spiral of moral decay and self destruction. No country can survive that kills its own people. If we can kill unborn babies than we can find reason to terminate life of old people. What if our government decided that anyone over 87 should report to the closet hospital for a lethal injection? It would be the same hideous mindset as abortion. Scripture says God knows us in our mother’s womb and Jesus warned about harming little children. I guess some of our judges have never read those verses.

Finally around 6:45 the hornets slow down as the shadows lengthen but I haven’t heard the bull again. The next hour is spent in silence, just me and Henrietta. As darkness descends, I climb out of the stand and gather up Henrietta and head for camp. Coyotes howl to the south announcing their hunting plans for the evening.

I arrive in camp and Ardella tells me an elk barked three times very loudly just above camp. That’s why they call it hunting.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Redneck Hornet Tennis

Our family spent the last weekend in the woods as three of us pursued the elusive elk. We enjoyed some great cooking; one day was spaghetti, then black bean and lentil soup, followed by jambalaya. The granddaughters love to camp out and find the natural world a source of endless wonder.

I find archery elk hunting the most challenging animal I have ever pursued. Friday I hunted from the ground blind and the elk were at the tree stand on a forested hill, so Saturday I hunted the tree stand. The elk were about one hundred and fifty yards below me walking up and down an old road. Sunday I set up in some big cedars along the road but the elk were elsewhere. Are you sensing any frustration here? God made elk quite intelligent with a nose that can smell humans hundreds of yards away, big brown eyes that detect the slightest movements, and ears that can hear a pine cone drop from a tree two drainages over. How am I supposed to get one within thirty yards?

One thing about camping with our family is that we are always open to a new ways to entertain ourselves. Jolene and Vance brought up a bee killer that looked like a small tennis racket except this one can be electrified. The handle is filled with D batteries to deliver 1500 watts of shock to a hornet. We soon went crazy swatting these pesky critters as they got zapped, snapped, and sometimes just went up in smoke. Many hornets and yellow jackets never returned to their nest. I think this sport could qualify for the summer Olympic Games and Ardella and I would be a mean pair’s team. We are looking for other couples that would like to compete in Redneck Hornet Tennis. The champion hornet killer was our dog Sadie. A hornet stung her on the hip and she declared war on them for the rest of the weekend. Sadie wasn’t content to just snap at one that buzzed her; she would look around for one and run it down.

As our granddaughter Lizzie says. “We were making memories.”