I have read many books that talked about longhunters living in rock houses but, I have never seen one. This weekend I saw enough of them for a lifetime. On Friday I arrived at 7pm due to some slight misdirection on my part. Just as a point of reference when you ask for directions avoid anyone that have less teeth then good since! This person that I will refer to as Bufford, was unaware there was a 10,000 acre Wildlife Management Area not 3 miles from his house.
When I got to camp it was getting dark so I rushed to roll out my blankets and get things ready. Mark Grigg was there already trying to light a fire. This is the first time I have ever seen char cloth and hemp twine not light. It was cool and damp. Bear sign near our camp kept us from cooking in camp so we just decided to turn in for the night.
I had a fitful cold night that seemed like my behind was always sticking out of the blankets when I woke up during the night. I guess I need to call Jenny Craig or buy bigger blankets. It didn’t help sleeping that the full moon was so bright you could read a book buy it.
When the sun came up I was slow to rise, but it is going to be a beautiful day. Soon Mark, Bryant and I were joined by Mike "Kiwi" Rowe and his Mountain Cur "Scout". To say that "Scout" was motivated to go hunting would be the understatement of the century! All you had to do is say squirrel and this dog goes nuts. Kiwi loaned me one of the Caywood Gun makers shop guns. It was a beautiful 12 gauge Fowler with a full jug chock. Just a plug for Caywood’s this gun was so light it was a pleasure to carry in the woods, up and down the steep hills we hunted.
We hunted for a while but we ended up visiting with friends more than we hunted. The squirrels must have been sleeping in the sun up on the tree tops because except for one. This one tried its best to force me to shoot Bryant. Ok let me set the stage. We were walking up the side of a hill looking for the dog where we thought she had treed a Squirrel. We stopped for a minute to listen and found that the dog had doubled back on us and was now at the bottom of the cut running full speed up toward us. I was leaning up against a tree trying to get my breath back when a small grey came running straight at me with a look of insane fear in his eye. He ran to my left between me and Bryant. At this point Kiwi starts yelling "shoot it, shoot it". I swing my fowler around and all I see is Bryant jumping for his life. The look in Byant’s eyes now makes the look the squirrel had in his look mild. I guess he thought I was going to shoot the squirrel while he was still down range of that full choke 12 gauge. I found it hard to concentrate on hunting because I was laughing from that look on Bryant’s face.
For lunch we took a short ride to a cave that Bryant and Mark found the weekend before. The temperature was up around 90 so we were ready for a little cool air. The cave had a small spring that came out a little lower on the hill and two small cave tunnels that blew cold air right in the rock house entrance. We ate lunch and lounged in the cool air for a couple hours. Scout took a well deserved rest too.
After our lunch we took my metal mule a couple miles away to the overlook you see in the pictures. It was about 150 feet over the cliff down to the Kings River valley. It was a great place to spend an hour and take the standard great "voyager" pictures (see photo of Kiwi and his spy glass. Classic!)
We returned to camp and cleaned our guns. We rolled out our bed rolls and discussed the events of the world before drifting off to the music of the night. The next morning we rolled up camp and parted ways. On the long way home I started to think about the fact that when someone asks me what I do on my weekends I have a hard time explaining in a way that they would understand. They always ask "so you just sleep on the ground with no tent?" When I say yes they always just look at me and say "Why?" Then they tell me that they sat on the couch and watched cars drive around in a circle for 5 hours, I just smile and say "Why?"
See you on the trail.
Marty "Poking Turtle"