Six Man Hunt
We packed these fellows in for a first season rifle hunt in 1997. There were six---Dale, Mike, Gene, Steve, Ron and Gary. The ride was bit rough on some because they were like me, a little stiff in the joints, but game for anything when it comes to hunting. Their camp was ready for a 5 day hunt.
The setting is in a deep canyon, steep terrain, both sides covered in aspen, oak, service brush, and the north slope was pine covered along with a few buck brush park sprinkled throughout. The canyon runs north 1.5 miles and is good terrain for elk and deer.
We left base camp and headed up the mountain --- a long steep haul for most riders. There were six riders, 4 pack animals, one packer, and myself. No one complained when we got to camp, some might have, but didn't dare for they were so grateful just to be there.
After showing the area to them, the packer (Duane) and myself, headed back to the base camp ponying the 10 horses. We left the hunters to hike out of camp the next morning for opening day. We climbed out of the canyon above camp and rode a short distance on fairly flat terrain then started our descent to the creek below. Duane was leading 6 horses and I was leading to keep the string from being to long in case we encountered other hunters coming up. Near the bottom where the trail winds down through aspen and across creeks, the trail is quite narrow and the slope to the creek bottom is a steep 85-90 degree slope, in some places 150 feet to the creek. No place for a string of horses to get tangled up, for sure.
I had said something to Duane and he didn't hear me, so he stopped the string of horses and was looking back to hear what I had said. In doing so, the horses bunched up together on the trail. It's kind of like stopping a noodle bring a string of horses to a stop. Unfortunately, one horse put his head down to eat or whatever, and the one in front backed up, stepping over his lead rope. Needless to say, the bucking and kicking was on. The horse with the rope under his leg would squat down, jump forward and kick while the other pulled back to keep from being kicked. With each jerk it accentuated the situation.
Being experienced with horses, Duane did the right thing and held the string. If he had not, they really would have left for parts unknown. Fortunately, the kicking and jumping quieted a bit, allowing time for me to try to unhook the lead rope or cut it, which ever could be accomplished without getting ran over, or putting the whole string over the bank. After a couple of attempts, the rope was unleashed and all quieted down. They did put me under a tree a couple of times before the task was completed, however. No other nerve racking event happened the rest of the way home. Outfitter life is not easy and can be rather dangerous sometimes. The morale of the story is don't talk to packer/guide when in a precarious place.
Duane and I checked Dale's camp the second day, and they had 4 bulls down, which we were very happy about. Two days later, we were to pack the men and gear back to the base camp. When we got to camp there was plenty of excitement among the hunters because Ron had killed a nice 6x6 elk about 40 yards behind the tent. His story was one all hunters would like to have happen. He stated "knees were giving out" and he was tired of hiking and climbing the hills near by and decided to stay close to camp. Parking himself behind the tent some 50-60 yards in some pine and aspen, he waited. I don't recall how long he said he waited, but he heard something, and there came the 6x6 between him and the tent. Downing this bull made the camp fill 5 out of 6 tags. Best news to outfitters for sure.
These hunters have not been back to hunt with us. The mountainous terrain, the ride in, curtails what we can do. As time moves on, we eventually are limited as to what we can do comfortably.
We are extremely grateful for having them hunt with us, and find it very rewarding just to have made life long friends. They come by every year for a short visit, and we correspond occasionally during the year adding to the rewards life gives us.