Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Great Hunting Road Trip Update

Greetings from beautiful Wolf, Wyoming, where the temperature last night was a balmy 24 degrees. Sorry for skipping a day, but between getting here, getting settled, and getting the first day of hunting in I've been a little busy. Plus Internet access here is sketchy at best. They use a satellite service provider, and the signal gets blocked whenever it's cloudy. Even when it works speeds are pretty slow. So don't expect much over the next few days. Now on with the update!

Day Three

I was a Boy Scout. I have taken their "Be Prepared" motto to heart. Before I left on The Great Hunting Road Trip I had my truck checked out and serviced. I packed for every eventuality. In case of a breakdown I have tools, flares, flashlights and lanterns, a tow strap, two cans of Fix-A-Flat, my cell phone, and a car recharger for it. In case a blizzard traps me on the road I have emergency rations, plenty of bottled water, warm clothes, and a sleeping bag. I have clothes for all types of weather; shorts and tee shirts for warm weather, all sorts of cold weather clothing, even rain gear. I have heavy leather hiking boots, lightweight synthetic hiking boots, cowboys boots, tennis shoes, and flip-flops. I have books, CDs, MP3 music files, videos, a laptop, a tablet, and a smart phone. I was convinced I was prepared for anything.

Except this.

<imagine picture of snow and ice covered truck here. I can't get Blogger to cooperate.>

This is what my truck looked like the morning I left Cheyenne Wyoming. Under all that pretty fluffy snow is about 1/2" of sheet ice. That damn stuff is about as hard to scape off as concrete.

That's assuming you have an ice scraper.

Which I didn't.

Hey, I live in south-central Texas. The only ice we see down there is in our drinks. Fortunately, the hotel had an ice scraper that they keep on hand for people like me. After I got the windshield cleared off my first stop was at a truck stop where I got one of my own.

When I get home I'll be the only kid on the block with my very own official ice scraper.

Day Four

I finally got to go hunting today. We started before daybreak with a hearty breakfast of bacon and, well, more bacon, since there were no eggs. They ran out yesterday and won't get into town until tomorrow. Oh well, at least there was plenty of coffee - and bacon!

After chowing down we headed out. Today I focused on antelope. We saw our first herd early - about 8:30. After glassing them and determining that there was a shooter or two present, we headed off on foot to stalk them. They were on the side of a ridge about 500 yards away from us, wandering slowly towards a fence line separating us from the neighboring ranch, about half a mile away. We dropped behind a parallel ridge and humped it, trying to beat them to the fence line.

We lost the race.

We came up over our ridge just in time to watch them slip under the fence and trot unconcernedly away. So we trudged back to the truck. That little stroll took about an hour. It would turn out to be the highlight of the day.

About 30 minutes later we caught sight of another herd. Again with the glassing. Again with the stalking. This time there was no convenient ridge to drop behind close at hand, so being intelligent men we decided to outsmart the dumb beasts. We reasoned that they were used to seeing people in vehicles and in trucks, but not on foot. Plus if we didn't walk directly at them, we wouldn't be perceived as a threat. So we decided to walk at a tangent away from them to a distant ridge, then slip behind it, circle around, and come at them from above. Success would be ours! So off we went.

Did I mention that it had snowed the day before, but that today was sunny and warmer (temperature was near 50). So the snow was turning into slush, making the ground muddy. The same ground that was pockmarked with horse and cattle hoofprints - six inch craters hidden in the muck that twisted ankles and wrenched knees. Plus the mud tenaciously clung to our boots. Pretty soon it was like walking with 5 pound weights strapped to your ankles.

Oh yeah - it was uphill all the way.

After one hour of pure hell, we finally topped the ridge. I eased down behind a boulder, certain that the antelope of my dreams would be an easy rifle shot away. When I raised my head up over the boulder I had a perfect view ... of their furry little white rumps as they strolled merrily over the next ridge.

Undeterred, we set off at our best pace for that ridge. It turns out that the antelopes' casual strolling pace is far superior to our best pace. We crossed the next ridge and saw them halfway up the next damn ridge.

I took a quick distance reading with my range finder - 385 yards. To far for a shot under good conditions. No chance with my heart pounding, my chest heaving, and no steady rest available.

So it was back to the truck - again. Funny thing - it turned out to be uphill all the way back to the truck. Strange how that worked out.

We got back to the truck two hours after we left it. At that point we both agreed it was time for lunch.

After a good meal (BLT sandwiches) and a brief rest, we headed out again in the afternoon. This time we didn't see anything. We drove (thank goodness) to several spots, then got out and glassed for a while. Saw a few animals, but nothing worth stalking. At sunset we headed back to the cabins for dinner drinks, and bed - which is where I'm headed now.

More later, when time, events, and the shaky Internet connection permit.


Old NFO said...

Oh yeah, ICE... PITA that it is... Even as a Southern boy, I now have a scraper in the truck! And at least you SAW Antelope...

InsomniacSeeker said...

I have at least 3 ice scrapers, and probably even more than that if I could locate them all. I generally buy a new one every year before the "ice storm of the century" hits.

If you were still teaching, you could take it for show and tell.

Toejam said...

I'm back on the air again after a long, prolonged move into the North Carolina Smokie Mountains.

Hell, this is a great place. They even sell Shiner beer here.

It was a tough last 6 weeks. At 71 I'm done moving. Next trip I'll be in a horizontal position.

Missed Ya'll.

CenTexTim said...

NFO - PITA is right. And I'll never be caught without one again.

IS - You're right - most of my (former) students have never seen one.

Toejam - Welcome home! And if they have Shiner there you truly are in Heaven ahead of schedule.