Saturday, April 30, 2016

Elk Hunt Bear Wrangler

I was talking to a friend, I ride out at his ranch, and he started telling stories about being a guide on elk hunts in the Rockies.

They'd go in on horseback, set up camp in the mountains and then hunt for elk. My friend's job was to make sure the horses were all online. He liked it well enough because he loved horses and the wilderness, but sometimes they didn't just get elk, they got bears.

Millionaire Socialist Taken by a Bear

A bear would attack out of the forest and have to be shot, either you or the bear. When that happened, they'd clean the bear and put the skin on a pack horse. No easy thing, because the horses didn't like having a bearskin on them. The trick of it, apparently, was to get them used to the smell of the bear. And so they rode out, bear, elk and whatever else, through the mountains.

"I didn't know you were a bear wrangler, old chap," I remarked over a beaker of vintage port at the club. "Well I was," said my friend, sipping an ice tea because of his Baptist nature, "Yes indeed. Some of these boys that'd come out to shoot elk were from Dallas and not too fit. In fact they were pretty fat, which comes from sitting behind a desk all day and no exercise. And they'd get up there and have a heart attack. Honest to God, every year it's a deal, elk hunters getting a heart attack."

Chastened by reference to lack of exercise, I arranged for a ride next week and, to be honest, I'd like little better than a week or so's go at it in the Rockies. Bear and all.

Your Old Buddy,



LL said...

Horses don't like hauling dead deer or elk any better than bear. You sometimes need to blindfold them while loading and it's always a good idea to rub their noses in the blood of the dead animal.

As much as being fat, there is the altitude. When you push it at 10,000 ft., it's different than pushing it at sea level. A man has to know his limitations, or have the budget to arrive two or three weeks early and ease into the altitude. The air is very dry and you must drink A LOT of water and gatorade or you get dehydration sickness and it's a horrible thing - truly painful. It comes on you, weakens you and you can end up in the hospital with an IV. I've seen it many times. It can be cured by water but people don't think to drink enough.

Sometimes you get the bear (with your back-up .460V) or sometimes the bear gets you. But the horses will bolt, leaving you afoot long before the bear gets you. Horses REALLY don't like live bears.

LSP said...

My friend talked about the blood/nose thing and I have to say, I'd want to train up for a bit before an expedition like that. Big adventure though, at least for me.

The .460V makes a lot of sense, too, even though there's no bears where I live. But maybe they'll start migrating south from the Red River border and get as far as Austin, and stay there. Good result.

LL said...

When I grew up, we had as many as 10 horses at the same time but we only used two Morgans to haul deer or elk. Any of them could, but the Morgans did a better job. A large bull elk is too big for a horse, which is why they quarter them in the photos. Deer are not much of a problem for a horse, except that the horse doesn't like it. I've done that a number of times but never encountered a bear or a predator. Elk season comes before deer season in that part of the world (Deer 3rd/4th week in October) and they are mule deer, not little white tail. A bull elk is as big or bigger than a quarter horse. Our Morgans were larger than a quarter horse but we only used them to carry quartered elk in bags on a pack frame.

I haven't done that for quite some time now since I spent most of my life hunting people. But I started out with deer and elk, which don't shoot back. I migrated from high powered smokeless powder weapons to primitive black powder weapons simply because it make the hunt much more interesting.

Mattexian said...

Dehydration can hit at sea level too, or the ER techs just like sticking me for an IV of saline. (Helps pad the bill, ya know?)

My uncle kept his NuMex deer hunting license after retiring from the Army, and he'd pack along two rucks, ferrying them one at a time over a mile, then back for the other. Lots more hiking than I'd want for a hunt.

Fredd said...

Back in my early 30's, and just out of the military and in arguably the best shape of my life, I was enlisted to help one of my buddie's haul an elk he had just shot out of an Oregon ravine. It's a law that you have to shoot elk in the most inaccessible and God awful terrain possible.

I humped elk shanks and other huge hunks of meat up a 200ft cliff, and by the time it was all over, me and three other guys had got all the meat up from this ravine, we were looking at the hide. All 200 pounds of it or so. My buddy said whoever wanted it could haul it up.

We were all so gassed, we just left it there. Elks are big animals. Or as The Donald would say, 'yooge.' I think about that elk hide often over the years, and if I had had just a bit more gumption at the time, how it would have looked on the floor of my den.

LSP said...

To be honest, LL, I'd simply welcome the opportunity to get out in the mountains with horses, though the hunt would be quite a thing too -- of course I'd have to watch out for the heart attack... get in shape, LSP...

LSP said...

Interesting you should say that, Mattexian. One of our church people was just struck down by dehydration in College Station (he was doing an 18 miler with the Aggie Cadets). It's never happened to me, fortunately.

LSP said...

Too bad you missed the hide, Fredd! Come to think of it, a bear skin would be good too. Hot seeming in Texas though.