The temperatures have turned summer like and with the heat and tall grasses and weeds we’re not finding any birds. To be honest the dogs and I have been a little reluctant to hike very far due to the heat.
So Barb mentioned I might tell another hunting story. It’s not about chukars so those that aren’t interested, now’s a good time to log out. It might be long.
This elk hunt was back in the mid 70’s and I had drawn a great unit to find a big elk. My brother in law Jerry and I headed down a day before the opener to do a little scouting. We pitched our tent at the end of a long and winding old logging road. Nobody was going any further by vehicle. After getting camp set up, we took an evening hike hoping to spot some bulls for the opener tomorrow.
Just before dark, there were some shots down on the road we came in on. A few minutes later we heard a couple more shots. The vehicle would drive a little further down the road and once again a shot or two. At one time we even thought we heard the bleat of an animal. There was no hunt open that evening and the only thing to hunt tomorrow was bull elk and there were only 150 permits for this large unit.
Back at camp we talked about the strange shooting, but dismissed it and got ready for the next day. We were up early and on the hill before the sun came up. We split up and by noon I hadn’t seen anything and meandered down to the road. Walking the road, I crossed a camp with no one around and walked the 2 miles to our camp. It wasn’t long and I came across a dead doe off the road a ways. A little later, I watched a golden eagle fly from the fresh carcasses of two more deer. Two more times I found dead doe deer before I reached camp. It was obvious that the shots we heard were fired at the deer.
About an hour after I got to camp, Jerry returned with seeing the same thing. The only difference was, there were people at the camp when he came by. He stopped and visited with them for a while but hadn’t come across the dead deer yet. They had been out in their jeep and supposedly hadn’t seen nothing. Jerry informed me that the people seemed a little weird. We discussed the dead deer and decided to head to the reservoir where the fish and game had an officer manning the fish trap where the river came in.
We told the officer what we found and he said he would be up to investigate later that evening. We didn’t hunt that evening. At after dark a vehicle came down the road towards our camp. Jerry grabbed his rifle and once again mentioned how strange the guys were acting when he talked to them. As the truck approached camp the blue lights of the fish and game came on.
A F&G officer came over to our fire and told us that they had approached the people and confiscated their rifles and got some bullets from the animals. He said they had a scuffle and one of the men pulled a knife but they got it away without incident. He also told us that they had a pistol that they didn’t get and they knew who turned them in. So that officer went out to get reinforcements to arrest the family while this officer stayed to protect us. Wow!
He explained what the plan was and then asked us to load our rifles and get into the trees away from the fire. He believed the guys would come to our camp and said for us not to say a word while hidden, and that we were there to protect him. Not a fun feeling. I can’t tell you how many sounds I heard in the three hours sitting by a tree in the dark. I remember thinking how I didn’t want to shoot anyone.
Sure enough the jeep from the other campers came driving towards our camp. It stopped about 200 yards from the camp and turned the engine and lights off. The officer was sitting in his truck monitoring the radio. He very loudly told us not to come out and keep our rifles ready. His voice was very nervous and he made sure they knew we were out there.
About five minutes went by and the jeep started up and drove back down the road. Once again the officer loudly mentioned that there were two guys and one could still be there when the truck left. The next hour and a half lasted forever with the officer talking a lot keeping us informed but reminding us to keep quiet. We did.
Finally the officer said everything was okay. Ten other F&G officers and sheriffs had come in and arrested the group which was comprised of a father, mother and son. The son was evidently the deer shooter, but they also had a buck hanging in their camp. None of them had hunting licenses and there was no open season for deer at the time. Later on I found out that it was an annual thing for this family, but the first time anyone was camped there.
The next day we picked up camp and headed home. The event took the hunt out of us for a few days. When we got home, Barb had seen about the arrest on the news and somehow knew we were involved. Those were the days way before cell phones and we had no communications with our wives until we got home.
Unfortunately I’ve seen a few bad things over my career as a hunter but this one was far the worst.