A very different pace today – combination of rain and “3 in the tree” has us toiling at camp. We were becoming concerned that it was too warm to age the meat safelt and we called the butcher for an opnion. He is full but offered to take our harvest tomorrow.
We skinned, trimmed and quartered the moose today and they are hanging in our dry shed as I write this. Some of the hunters are taking afternoon watches in the afternoon. I’m going to get the sauna going before heading out for a late afternoon/ early evening ATV ride and hunt (something I have done every night so far). Dad is heading to a neighboring camp to visit and pass a message that he’s not going to join them in a visit to a further camp as previously planned. It’s about 5km away on the bike and reminds me of a time when tribes of natives or settlers sent messengers to deliver news to one another.
Last night brought another insight as to why we do this. I need to travel back in time to the afternoon to before last night’s escapades will make any sense.
Yesterday’s shooter made a very difficult shot to connect with the calf yesterday. It was enough to fatally wound the animal but it did not die instantly. He waited quietly in hopes that the animal would lie down to rest and pass quickly. If they feel pursued they often run further away and prolong the inevitable.
When the tracking begain it was easy to find sign. Two guys tracked the cow and calf to a thick swamp where they could hear the cow guarded her calf. The trackers were within 30 feet of the cow when I found them – we could not see her through the thick cover.
Plans change fast when you don’t have any – I left mid story to go on two hunts. I got back to camp around 4.30 (c-c-c-cold).
Back to the previous story…
We could hear the cow growl and threaten. Some of our party could hear her menace from 500 meters away. We were much closer and knew the danger. Two guys had sat in place for about 45 minutes with the intent of waiting her out. If I hadn’t received a radio message I woulc have accidentally walked in her path.
Two of us got the nerve to approach a little closer as a third watched us and a fourth flanked the swamp to try and get a better view.
It took me about 3 minutes to get 4 feet closer through the thick swamp. THis is scary business, knowing that she could charge through this terrain at full speed. I slipped and snapped a twig and she begain to move. The two of us ran back past where we started like some form of action stars. It took 6 of us about 45 minutes to scare her off so we could safely harvest the calf. Danger was present the entire time and we interacted with the cow the entire time. If you beleive that we are an equal part of nature (and not superior to her), it is a fascinating dance and a dramatic stage.
Although exciting (and I am certain that there is a measure of adrenalin involved), that’s not whay I’m writing about this here – it is simply the back story.
Another massive reason why we do what we do is the opportunity to learn first hand about the world around us. Last night featured a lot of discussion, sharing and teaching. Few of us have ever experienced anything close to this. We discussed and emulated the sounds we heard. debated what they meant and determined what we could isolate and learn from the experience.
Understand that some of our party have 50 years of experience in the woods and as hunters.
A moment of tension was broken when one of the guys snuck up behind 2 others and growled loudly. A panic worthy of Looney Toones followed.
One hunter lamented over last years hunt. It now seems that sounds he heard last year and thought were bear were more likely those of a cow calling her a seperated calf. If we knew then what we know now, the results of the hunt may have had different fortunes than they ended with.
When tracking the second Calf, I used a technique that had been taught to me last year after losing a trail. It is quite possible (and even probable), that without this knowlege, the trail may have been lost this year.
Regardless, 3 hours in the woods, rain and sleet has me cold and tired (even though I’ve been back for 90 minutes). Time for a nap before a big meal.
Steak night – always a highlight. They are cooked over a wood fire which is built inside a tire rim.
I missed seeing visitors tonight – 3 acquaintences of camp were driving 25 kilometers off road and returning to their homes.
It sounds like most guys are calling home to make arrangements to stay an extra day in case the bull is not captured tomorrow. We would all like to get home on Saturday – tomorrow is a big day.