Dang, the days are getting away from me again. We did a whirlwind trip to Portland, then came back to Enterprise for a whirlwind of prepping for hunting season and hunting camp. Our friend S. brought his wall tent that has a small portable woodstove in it and we did all the food prep. It’s been nearly thirty years since we last did this type of camping–nearly glamping in some respects–so there were some real questions about if it would work. Especially since last time we did it S and his late wife L lived here and did most of the prep. This time we were the ones prepping.
Camp turned out beyond our wildest dreams in many ways, except for one thing. The long hot, dry summer and warm fall meant that there were a lot of yellow jackets out and about. As long as there was daylight a low, persistent hum throbbed around the campsite. The yellow jackets weren’t attacking but they were persistent. I ended up eating some daytime meals in one of our pickup trucks to be safe since I’m allergic. But we ate well, slept well, and had a lot of fun for five days out in the woods. Granted, we ended up making a daily trip into town either for meetings, checking on the horse, or bringing a deer into the meat locker because the yellow jackets were just too aggressive. Still, that’s also one advantage to camping out near the house–being able to run into town during the day to take a shower and pick up other things we need.
In any case, we explored a couple of areas within our hunting unit. Another objective was scouting out locations for firewood cutting. We found some stunning views, some rough roads, and one opportunity to master some nuances of four wheel drive. Let’s just say I’m much better at shifting the pickup into four low now. Climbing a short steep hillside where I can’t look over the top of the hood helps, because you sure don’t want to run out of steam when attempting something like that.
This year we’ve seen more deer in our hunting unit than ever before, to the point where we’re recognizing family groupings of does, fawns, and yearlings. The bucks, of course, are more reclusive and have been that way all along. Until today, when we took a different route, we’d average seeing about twenty does and fawns. The buck spottings have been less frequent, but we’ve seen six of them…and killed two. At least out here where we’re hunting, it’s more of a challenge to find the bucks. And then when you find them, you have to hit them. Of the shots taken, only two made contact–the others were too long, or through brush which deflects a bullet, or a quick shot made while the buck was fleeing. Sometimes you don’t even get a shot, like what happened to my husband this morning. A forked horn hopped across the road, in a dense stand of young lodgepole pine. He jumped out and stalked it but was unable to get a clear shot (stand hunting is not as common when hunting mule deer; walking hunts or road hunts are the usual).
Still, we’re happy to even see the bucks, as we haven’t seen this many deer in years. Part of that is due to the reality that this year we spent a lot of time in our unit scouting for deer while cutting wood and looking at potential campsites. Being able to spend that time over several months as opposed to coming in for three days makes a huge difference. The mild winter is a factor in the deer presence for certain. The two bucks we got were yearlings, in good flesh. One of them might not have survived a harsh winter as though he was a sizable fellow, his horns were still in velvet.
Camp went from Sunday to Thursday. I had a reading on Friday night, so we didn’t go out that day. The last three days, though, we’ve gotten up at oh-dark-thirty and headed out for a morning of woodcutting and hunting. We got to see a dusting of snow on the mountains Saturday morning, thanks to evening rain. Some of it still lingers, but otherwise it’s been a warm hunting season. We’ve brought in a cord and a half of wood for a total of five and a half cords, and plan to cut at least another cord and a half if not two cords (we have permits which allow us to harvest up to eight cords). Our woodcutting has been going on around our campsite, because there’s a lot of dead lodgepole pine there which is the best burning firewood available in this area.
And…I’ve gotten some worldbuilding stuff done with a Weird West novel. Given the positive reception to a Weird West short story excerpt at the reading on Friday, I decided that maybe I should just get to work on that now.
So things are going along fine…just busy. Winter is coming, and we’re hustling to prepare for it. Deer meat is going to be in the freezer, which is good, and we’ll have a full compliment of wood for supplemental heat when things get really cold here.
There will be a picture post. I promise. Just…brain dead and tired. But that will be coming.