All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.



Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!

10/13/2015

Bullwinkle Part 2, Where is Bullwinkle?

When I learned I drew a much coveted moose tag I immediately asked for every minute of time off I could get for hunting season.  I promised to return to work early if I shot my moose early as I didn't expect to use all of my vacation time to hunt.
The brown bushes in the middle of the picture are willows.  There should be moose here.  There weren't. 
Preseason scouting reveled lots of good moosey areas.  The first morning I spent scouting it took me less than 2 minutes to find my first moose.  The area was simply full of moose.  Mostly cow moose, but come rutting season, if you can find the girls, you can bet the boys won't be far behind.
The first day of hunting season I headed right to the area where I observed the highest concentration of moose earlier in the year.  There were tons of moose tracks and droppings as well as rubs.  What there was, was a rancher who was in the process of driving his cows off his forest service grazing lease.  He had started moving cows a day or so before and was still bunching and moving bovines 4 days into the hunting season.
The place where the above photo was taken had been full of moose just a day or so before season started.

So we relocated to a different spot and tried again.  The next day we did the same.  As we did the next day and the day after that.  Again and again I was encountering areas that had held moose all summer long but they had moved on.  My biggest fear was that the moose were bunched onto bottom land along the major river drainages.  These areas had a mixture of public and private land, none of which was marked.
I met the game warden, Allen at the gas station one night.  I wanted to ask him about some Access Yes land that I had seen that had a species restriction on it.  Access Yes land is private land that is enrolled in a state program that allows hunters to hunt or fish the land as long as they abide by some basic rules.  He recommended that I hunt the bottom lands mixed in with the private ranches.  I asked about access.  He told me I'd be ok with a good GPS.  I told him I was using maps and that I didn't want to trespass, even accidently. 
These are buffalo, while interesting, still aren't moose.

Day five.  My father, aka Dad, USMC 3rd Mar Div.; the man who told my mother that despite 2 failing kidneys (cause unknown) diabetes and a bad ticker, was in better shape than me, had to head back to the cabin in town after the morning hunt/hike.  Apparently the combination of altitude an occasional stroll in the mountains and bouncing around in a pickup is causing him problems with his blood pressure, his kidneys are hurting and he is experiencing headaches and light headedness.  He is considering having mom evac him to a lower elevation.

Disgusted I gas up the truck and head back up the mountain to locate an area that I've seen on the map but haven't set eyes on yet.  I had wanted to check this area the second day of the hunt, but my father thought the truck ride over would be too painful for him to endure. 
Heading out to check 9 ponds and a creek drainage.

As the afternoon wears on I park the truck at a USFS trail head that is closed to motorized traffic.  I get out and start up the trail.  A beaver dam is blocking up a small creek and flooding the old trailhead.  I decide not to get wet and follow the stream bed into a small meadow. 

The grass here is chest high.  There is no sign that cows have been pastured in the area this year.  I discover a freshly beaten down trail through the high grass.  Elk will do that sometimes when moving as a herd.  As the trail approaches the creek bed I notice elk droppings.  That would seem to confirm my theory.  Then I notice moose tracks in the mud.  They seem newer.  A little while on the moose tracks are on top of elk droppings. 

I had suspected that the elk trail was very recent, given the rain we had the last couple of days.  I thought the trail was less than a day old at best.  Having moose tracks over top of the elk scat was encouraging.  I did my best to imitate a cow moose call.  I stood still for several minutes.  Nothing.

The elk trail crossed the creek.  Despite the cold and wet I decided to wade over to the other side and work my way up the USFS trail.  I sense rather than see some movement in the willows to my left.  since I want to go up the trail anyway I head that direction.  When I get out of the brush I head to where I think the trail should be.  I start walking east towards the mountain.

On the trail there are moose tracks.  Fresh moose tracks with little clumps of dirt flung along the path.  These can't be more than a few hours old.  I follow with my head down, focused on the trail.  Is that a slight mist rising off the trail?  It could be, its been wet.  Maybe its the start of an evening fog.  That would be rare but not unheard of.  I see old wolf scat on the trail.  It's very old having turned white with age.  The hair of some long digested kill plainly visible.  Wolf sign and its well past 7:00 pm.  I should start thinking about calling it a day.  It will be past dark soon.

What is the source of the little wisps of vapor ahead?  I move forward and drop to my knee.  Moose droppings on top of the moose tracks.  Steaming moose droppings!  Fresh tracks!  These tracks aren't hours old, they're minutes old! 

I stand up and start scanning the willows and creek bottom.  Nothing.  Not. A. Darned. Thing.  I give a lonely cow moose call.  I hear it.  The first response to my calls all week.  It's just a short, Yhaawp but its a response to my call.  I can't be sure but it seems to be coming from the far side of the creek bottom along the far side near the timber going up the mountain.

I quit.  There is still enough light to make it back to the creek bed.  I find a shallow place to cross below the beaver dam.  I can't be sure the call was a moose so I drive the road looking for other hunters.  I see no other trucks or ATV's.  There is no one hunting between me and Utah, or along this entire road for at least 8 miles.

It has been six days.  Although I have not seen it, I have located my first moose.

17 comments:

  1. WaterBoy7:49 AM

    Entertaining story, keep it going....

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    1. WaterBoy7:50 AM

      I mean, don't pull a Nate.

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    2. I am ashamed to admit that was my first thought too. Only briefly though. Res wouldn't leave us hanging unless he had an excellent reason to.

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  2. Pull a Nate?

    You mean disappear for a month or more at a time?

    I've got to get a BJW post together for tomorrow. I should finish up the moose story this week. I'm not sure how you'll perceive the ending. In one way its anti climatic, I get the moose. In another way it's a supernatural experience.

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    1. WaterBoy12:47 PM

      "You mean disappear for a month or more at a time?"

      Not really. You (or Nate, ftm) don't owe anybody anything when it comes down to it. Life happens, and if there's months-long gaps between posts, so be it.

      No, what I meant was to post Part I of a story...then post Part II...then totally blow off Part III, with the rest of the tale untold.

      Though I agree with Susan that you're unlikely to do that. It was just a bit ironic -- almost deja vu -- the way it was unfolding in parts.

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    2. Well Res, it is getting close to Halloween you know.

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  3. Res, the comment your dad made about being a better man despite his health reasons is correct. Even with serious physical issues, if he is still breathing he is indeed a better man than you or any man in the neighborhood. At least that is the impression I have gathered over the years from all my acquaintance with Marines.

    I am sure you realize that mindset from growing up with him. I mean this as a compliment and no disrespect to your dad when I say this, but he sounds like an extremely tough old buzzard and if he was considering evac at one point, he must have been in extreme discomfort, even for a Marine.

    This also explains a lot to me why he "invited" himself along on the hunt. Some dads just don't know how to ask, they just "do" and then let the chips fall where they may.

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    1. Yeah, or he could have been trying to ease my mothers mind about him going on a fool hardy trip into the mountains with me.

      My hunting trips are done on the cheap and involve me camping out in a tent in the cold, not having a cabin with a Jacuzzi tub and satellite tv. I relented on the cabin despite the cost to allow him to do the trip. There is no way that he would have lasted two days if we were camped out on the mountain. Mom knew that too, which I'm sure ment her doing a bit of pre-trip nagging.

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    2. Wow, that cabin sounds nice. I bet that Jacuzzi was nice after a day of trudging. You could have already been planning on a cabin Res, and your mom would have still fretted about your dad going on this trip.
      We wives and moms are like that you know.(grin) Especially when our cubs aren't feeling well, no matter their age.

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  4. The thought also comes to mind here, that maybe he was wanting one last chance to challenge himself also and your moose hunt provided that opportunity.
    Sorry if I am getting ahead of your story, but that comes from a lifetime of being a fan of Perry Mason, and Agatha Christie. Not to mention just picking movie plots apart while watching and then seeing if I am right. I mostly am. Not a brag, just saying.

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    1. I don't know what his motives were. We didn't talk about it. He told me some unrelated things from years ago that I found interesting.

      My dad isn't an outdoors guy, he's a TV and ball game guy. I don't know why he came. I don't think he enjoyed himself. I cooked marinated moose medallions when we got back home. He ate them but he doesn't like venison. I offered him a share of the moose since he hunted with me. Mom took maybe 4 lbs of meat home with them. She'll make stew and steaks a couple of times and that's it.

      I'm not disappointed he came, it was unexpected and highly unusual that's all.

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    2. WaterBoy1:05 PM

      "I don't know what his motives were. We didn't talk about it. He told me some unrelated things from years ago that I found interesting... I don't know why he came. I don't think he enjoyed himself."

      Not to sound morbid, but it seems to me like maybe he was sewing up loose ends, and a one-on-one, father-son trip is the kind of opportunity to do so.

      I saw a similar thing with my father-in-law, who ended up bedridden at the end. But before that, he wanted to make one last hunting trip, so I checked into what special accommodations I could make to allow him to hunt from atop an ATV (normally not allowed). He never got to hunting season before being bedridden permanently, and he ended up passing his guns out to other family members. He also spoke of other things he normally didn't. I wouldn't call it "confession", exactly; more like "getting some things off his chest".

      Could be I'm so far off base, here, that I'm in a completely different stadium. But you mentioned some health issues, and maybe advancing age plays a part in it, too, knowing that one is much closer to the end of the timeline than the beginning.

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    3. You are probably right. I remember when dad turned 55 he got pretty depressed. His father died at 55 or 56. Now him and mom are both retired. I think he's afraid that he'll have to go on dialysis before he can do a cruise to Hawaii for their 50th wedding anniversary.

      WB, I really liked you FIL. He was a good man. The world is a worse place for him not being in it.

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    4. Your dad sounds like one of those awesome fellows who don't normally open up about what is in their heart, so when they do, it is a momentous occasion, and something to really pay attention to. Which you did very nicely in this story.

      We truly aren't trying to weird you out here, but for your normally not the outdoorsy dad to suddenly change his behavior, that means something and is very special.

      I am truly happy for you that you had that time with your dad. I can't tell you how amazing this was just to read. I love reading stuff like this about fathers and sons doing things like this. You are truly blessed Res.

      I don't know how far away that anniversary is, but maybe he should consider moving the special cruise up. That way they can have the great memories to relive on that anniversary when they are doing something else. I would hate for him to be regretful about delaying it and missing out entirely.

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    5. "I can't tell you how amazing this was just to read.I love reading stuff like this about fathers and sons doing things like this."

      Ditto. I have worked really hard in recent years to really encourage the men of my congregation to really reach out and honor their fathers no matter how strained some of their relationships may be or may have been while growing up. Some of the results of those efforts have been nothing short of miraculous to say the least.

      Our relationships with our fathers are such a key, it's no wonder the Adversary works so hard to undermine it at every possible turn and in every possible way.

      I have always found it interesting that the return of the Messiah is going to be signaled by the hearts of the fathers being turned towards their sons and the hearts of the sons being turned towards their fathers (cf. Malachi).

      I am with Susan, thanks Res for your willingness to share and for giving us a personal glimpse. Don't keep us hanging too long on the Part III, or we might have to come down there and do something about it. :)

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  5. Well, we may only speculate on his motives. Regardless, I think in a lot of ways it was a sacrifice on his end to be with you Res.

    Considering his health issues, physical limitations, and non-interest in all things hunting and outdoors. Of course I don't know your Dad or the nature of your relationship, but perhaps spending time with his son on a trip that he knew meant something to you was worth all the effort he put out. It's interesting too all the pictures he took. Making memories?

    I remember my grandfather visiting us from Montana while we were living in Texas when I was around 13 or 14 telling us when we took him to the airport to fly back to MT that this would be the last time we would see him. Six months later he was dead of a heart-attack. He was 79. Strange.

    Whatever the reasons or motives, I believe your Dad fought to go along for a reason or reasons that may be revealed later. Either way, I still think it's great and all the more that your hunt was successful.

    Thanks again for making the time and effort to share.

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    1. Rabbi B, I should have known you were a Texas man, just from some of the comments you do over at Vox's blog.

      Dads of that particular era don't change their behavior like Res's dad did for no reason. I think this was just a great gift from a loving father to his son.

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