Frank and I went close to km 47, traveled up a side hill and walked up the road with riffles ‘on the ready’. Frank tells me to walk like a moose. I needed to go pee but I worried that I could give away my scent, but when the wind was in my face and Frank was not watching ,I quickly answered my call of nature anyway. The wind had just turned in my favor! The art of hunting gives a person an interesting sense of focus. Your mind becomes a ‘pencil point’, sharply looking out for the one thing: The illustrious bull moose and not just that: He has to have three points on his rack and ideally posing for you to enable you to count the three points on his rack, than standing still to give you time to aim your riffle and than finally giving you the chance to fire away. And what a beauty: a freezer full of organically grown meat. I wished Mimi and children were here to enjoy this ‘timeless’ scenery. The water of the Sakunka River is crystal clear, reminding me of the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. The Sakunka River is full of trout fish. When we came back to our camp site from the morning hunt, Diana shared that she saw a cow elk, a mule deer, a buck, a doe and…fresh moose tracks. The three of us sleep in the Ford ‘cap’ camper. Frank and I sleep over a rear wheel each and Laird sleeps across parallel to the drivers cap. The entrance is a climb over the tail gate while holding up the window ‘flap’ above the tail gate.At three am I needed to pee, to get out would surely wake up every one, so I decided to hold it up but towards four am things were getting quite ‘dicey’. Luckily Frank started to really snore, a sound of sawing fir logs, so under this cover noise I decided to make a dash outside but just as I pushed open the window flap Frank stopped ‘sawing logs’ and asked me where are you going? (later I learned that his concern was well grounded since we were in Grizzly territory). When I came back the ‘sawing’ of ‘logs’ continued! You see even at night the hunters are on the alert!
Frank is preserving the bear hide by putting more salt on it. The ‘fine tuning’ consists out of cutting little sections of fat away and anything that might spoil the hide, such as cartilage, extra salt gets added to those areas. The meat gets hung up on a line tied between two trees. Nature covers the meat with a ‘preserving coating’ once the hide is removed. All you have to do is cover the meat with a cheese cloth and a tarp over that, to keep the rain and dew out. At the moment there is a fairly strong wind blowing. Tonight’s hunt proved the art of complete hunting: one and a half hours of totally standing still,being quiet’, listening, smelling and watching for the bull moose to arrive…..I had learned to totally standing still for such a long time in the Catholic church, standing in a choir through three night masses! The only difference was that we had to sing than while right now it is absolute silence!
The wood-stove in the tent works wonderful, just like at home, we burn chicken bones and all other debris for total clean up to not at-track Grizzly bears.Diana and Jon baked me a birthday cake fresh from the wood-stove. I had the cooking challenge Mimi often faces : everybody, but Diana, told me not to to cook porridge tomorrow morning, as they wanted to go on an early hunt. The next morning early on I felt I should cook porridge any way….by 5 am I had a steaming pot of porridge and everyone ‘dived’ for it. I barely had enough just like what Mimi faces: She’ll cook for us 4 and the oldest children ‘show up unannounced…there is always enough though. At around 7 I saw a white tail deer looking straight at me. Harvesting meat is a tricky job,one does never know what the harvest is gonna look like. I surely gained more respect for the meat we eat. Harvesting meat is much more complicated than harvesting carrots! Jon is making a delicious prawn dish with York steak, cream corn and mashed potatoes with pepper corn sauce. For 3 days the steaks were marinated in a wine garlic spice mix sauce.. So much for roughing it in the wild! Diana marked an elk fleece that poachers had left as we discovered later. The bear carcass was gone completely. September 29: Great care is needed to preserve the bear meat, there are big black flies that stick their depositories through the cheese cloth and they deposit little white eggs on the meat which if not removed develop into maggots. So we remove the little white eggs and put on an extra layer of cheese cloth around the meat. I got up at 5.15 am, started the wood stove and cooked porridge for every one. Around 7 am Frank and I parked the explorer on a side road and hiked up the mountain, I waded through the creek while Frank balanced himself to cross the same creek on a fallen log. We continued hiking up towards a valley where we would ‘park’ ourselves until 7 pm. from this vantage point we could oversee several sections where moose like to hang out. Our silent patience was rewarded: at around 10 o’clock we saw a cow moose up to 25 feet away. It displayed it’s healthy shiny fir and looked at me with it’s big brown eyes and walked on ever so silently. This encouraged us to wait for the bull moose to appear…We also saw a large white tail deer buck and I spotted a black bear who seemingly went for a walk. In the evening Laird told us why it is so hard to find moose: In winter their is a thick layer of snow reaching to the belly of the moose, so it has to ‘plough’ through the snow, leaving a large track, at the end of that track one would find a tired moose, a perfect prey for the enormous amounts of wolves that plague the area this year! Wolves are much lighter than moose and simply walk on top of the snow following the track and in the end find the tired moose.
The over protected wolves have caused a Hugh imbalance at the cost of the recently still healthy amounts of moose in this area. During the day, the clouds kept on rolling in and when we were all in the tent tonight the rain started to come down. Frank checked the bear meet and rearranged the tarp above it just in time! My task was mostly to hold up the light, chop kindling and start up the wood stove. Jon is making biscuits for all of us in the ingenious stove bought at a Mennonite sale for $2.-. Today I found half a moose rack with 2 points laying besides the stump I was standing on, contemplating what a complete rack exactly would look like. Our tent looks like a picture of early Canadian living, (except for the 8 freezer boxes) with Frank as the clan elder stirring in the cook pot.
To be able to attract a bull moose we must behave like a moos, think like a moose and move like a moose. Seen in the light a fore mentioned it seemed perfectly normal to walk behind Frank , stooped down and at Frank’s suggestion putting my hand on his shoulder. In this way we walked through the bush carefully avoiding Frank’s heels. After a while I improved on ‘the works’ by laying a ‘stick connection ‘ on Frank’s shoulders so avoiding Frank’s heels all together! We now looked like a ‘long extended moose! Here follows a list of the most important hunting remarks: Is it fresh? Does it move?( some times one is looking at a black burned stump, thinking it’s a black bear) Does it have three sticks on it’s rack? Which km? My chamber is full, is yours? I’ll put my clip on.The safety is on, ready to go. Some of my personal terms: Silent presence; marking my territory and I can smell ‘m. Poop in all it’s shapes plays a major role here.
A tricky thing for hunters is caused by logging clean ups. During the winter months, just before the planting of the new forest, all stumps and left over branches are burned. It leaves the hunter with a puzzle:Is this a black stump or is it a black bear, sniffing the air? (see under: Does it move?). I often saw one through my binoculars and told Frank twice: “I see a black bear”, until I didn’t dare to mention a questionable bear sighting for fear it would be seen as another “cry wolf” type thing when I really see a bear!
Also the rack of a moose looks like a sun bleached upside down stump. It takes a discerning eye to figure out reel from unreal. The beauty of government planning unfolded in front of us today!
We stopped to talk to two BC park rangers we met here with their pickup truck and a large trailer loaded with two quads. I asked them: “where is the park?” On the hood of their truck they unfolded a map which showed there was no access to this park. Highway 97 runs along a steep rock cliff where no entrance to the park is possible. Some bureaucrat ‘plunked’ a park in the middle of nowhere! Remember how Frank snores while sleeping? Last night Laird found out what to do to solve the snoring bit: Simply move the feet around a bit and you will have a peaceful sleep! In tonight’s hunt we went to the foothills of km 20. As I was looking through my binoculars I heard something, so I looked behind me and there was a bull moose. He was just as startled to see me as I was startled to see him. He slowly walked across the hill side and disappeared in the fir clusters. My first thought was ‘Frank’. So I quietly walked up to him but we humans are noisy. The moose was quiet, almost as if an invisible hand had put him there.
Beavers had built a large dam here which resulted in the appearance of a large lake here..
Last night we had a tremendous thunder storm accompanied with strong winds. The truck was shaking and it felt like it was going to lift. The tent was open and looked like a balloon. The kitchen stove and tent became soaking wet and the stove pipes were undone…. After the storm the resulting silence was incredible! I was grateful to be up at 5 am to see a fay-nominal sight in the sky. Words cannot describe it ; There I saw the unfolding of a green ‘curtain’ ‘sweeping’ through the sky, making more light than a full moon. I had heard about this but had never seen it until now.They slowly started fading and I managed to get a fire going after I put the stove together just in time to cook a large pot of porridge. Finally everyone came ‘around’. They had missed the Northern lights!
The area is full of blue spruce and looks like it’s landscaped. I found wild Erigeron, blooming in purple splendor. These hills and mountains are filled with birds & beasts like: elk, moose, whitetail deer,black bear, grizzly bear,mule deer,porcupine, chickadees, bush robins, coyotes, lynx, squirrels, mink, wolverines, caribou, mice, grouse, pine martin, chipmunks, rabbits, ducks, wolves, ravens, eagles, magpie, Canada and stellar jay and many more..The rivers are filled with trout and other fish.
This morning’s hunt found us on guard for the bull moose in partly rain mixed with snow at km 49. At 11 am we cleaned up and ‘packed up’ camp with strong winds coming at us. We’re planning to sleep in the truck in Prince George. Like Gypsies we’re rolling into the outskirts of town… I’m writing this as we drive home along a gorgeous highway from Chetwynd along Mc Leods lake.