The pair of raven that circled overhead did nothing to quiet my drumming heart. What a time to have just finished reading Jack London’s WHITE FANG!
There I sat holding the horses, while by son hiked the neighboring slope. The elk called from ridge to ridge. We waited, the horses and I. No longer hunting, but perhaps being hunted.
The mind processes extreme thought as one waits and watches alone in the wilderness, the minutes pass slowly along. The snow dripped and dropped in the surrounding forest keeping the horses alert.
Therefore, initially I reasoned that I could close my eye for a moment and grab hold of those missing moments of slumber. The horses will stay alert!?
Truth be known, I was NOT prepared for this resent adventure into the backcountry. I did not realize that we would be heading up the mountain. I do have a bear gun, a .44 mag. Smith & Wesson. (You should see the look on the sale man’s face when I buy shells, but that demands its own post.)
Shells-that is where my unpreparedness begins-one shell remained and it rested alone beside the coffeepot; justifying my ditching my .44 back in the truck.
Bear spray; sure it’s nestled in my saddle bag. Like a lot of good that’s gonna do me! Here bears, come a little closer. I’m gonna spray you!
The crashing through the trees brought me to my feet (wet feet). Then I heard the shot nearby. Nearby on the mountain isn’t nearby by any stretch of the imagination. Nearby, close to the tree line on the Shoshone National forest is more like an hour-and-a-half of bushwhacking hell, straight up on your hands and knees through the snow, mud and rocks while avoiding the flailing hooves of your lunging horse behind you.
Now the work began. We had him quartered and ready to load. Here is where the true colors of one’s saddle horse comes shining through. I was prepared for rodeos. Those two buggers where amazing. They never even jumped. I was going to say hesitated, but that isn’t true. They were scared as hell. My ‘Bay’ would turn and get a good sniff of fresh flesh every chance he could, turn and point his nose to the sky. He’d of howled if he could have. His load slipped off once, not twenty yards from the kill site. He stood waiting to be reloaded. I have never imagined they would be so good. I hadn’t planned on bagging an elk and packing it out that day. But as the sun was fading from the afternoon sky, my boy and I both agreed we’d best fill our quota, cause we weren’t coming back!