|The horses are free ranging much of the year.|
Handing Brent his tape measure, he carefully makes measure of the horses hoof. With single sections of un-cut steel he cuts the exact length needed to construct the shoes for his horse; the same way that it has been done for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Heat rolling out of the propane forge ready to heat the cut down sections of steel for shaping.
Throwing all of your gear for the trip into a pile like an intricate puzzle, Brent DuBois our skillful outfitter and Fred Canning, his right hand man, carefully pieced everything together into perfectly weighed out packs that get loaded and balanced onto one of the good pack horses or mule.
Little Stinker hadn’t been rode in almost a year as Brent’s father Bill had grown tired of his mule-isms and traded him in to ride a horse. Without reservation, I outfitted Stinker with my personal “fancy” saddle complete with silver and gold inlays, saddle bag filled with my video camera, laptop computer, handheld camera, Swarovski binoculars, and rifle with Swarovski Z3 scope. Little Stinker became a $12,000 mule in a hurry.
|Heading up the trail, it looks as if you are riding into the sky.|
Seven hours later, we arrived at The “Big Cabin” that was built in 1993 by the DuBois family. Everyone contributed to the construction with Brent’s mother Georgina designing the cabin, Brent and his father Bill salvaging the logs from original 1948 cabin to build the guest bunk house and hand scribing the logs for the construction of the main cabin.
The cabin walls come to life with murals of dates and names of past guests along with short stories of their successes; a section of tree that was found nearby that was carved by a settler over 100 years ago, a broken panyard from a mule wreck and other miscellaneous items that all tell an intricate tale. The main cabin is complete with the modern delights of a refrigerator and propane lights, the guest house boasted the makings for a good hot shower.
Climbing up the slide our first morning there was a small herd of elk grazing just above the horses, once they caught sight of us, they took off into the timber. Coming down the steep mountain slide, the horses tied literally nose to tail, was an amazingly beautiful sight with Dutch Creek below as the thunder started rolling across the sky and the rain pouring down.
|Glassing in the rain.|
Making our way back to camp down the boggy trail, Brent spotted a black bear on the face of a slide across Dutch Creek. The bear played peek- a -boo within the heavy alder brush, giving us but only a single look at the bruin. Unfortunately, the frozen heavy water flowing in Dutch Creek was so swift that it is simply too dangerous to cross in most places making a stalk on the bruin impossible from our current location.
We spent the next hour glassing for the bruin with the attempt at getting a second look at him while devising a plan to make a stalk the following day. Our time was well spent as we found two nice Moose sheds on our way back to the horses, or in my case mule.
With a hump the size of a grizzly’s, even Little Stinker had caught a shiver from the long wet day. Brent was sure I was going to get an exciting ride back to the cabin when he caught glimpse of the hump in Stinker’s back, but he happily carried me down the trail and back to camp.
|Drying out our gear.|
I awoke the next day a year older; this was my second birthday in a row being out of the United States, far away from home secluded in the wilderness. The skies were dark and dreary with rain sprinkling down intermittently throughout the day. I took the opportunity to relax in camp, enjoying the simple pleasure of a nice hot shower and homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies thanks to our camp chef Aaron Cameron.
|The slide where I harvested my bear.|
With Dutch Creek separating us from the slide, Jim and Rocky were not going to be able to put a stalk on the bruin with their bows if he were to reappear. With rifle in hand, I was up as shooter and they were on the cameras.
|This yearling bull calf was less than 50 yards from us.|
All of the wildlife seemed to be enjoying the break from the rain as much as we were and were happily moving about the basin. As luck would have it, the bruin that we had originally seen earlier that night reemerged into the slide feeding right towards us. Armed with my binoculars, it was an easy determination that this was a shooter boar.
Less than 40 yards from where he stood in the grassy slide into the timbers edge he fell, all caught on camera. My birthday present had been delivered, a beautiful black bear boar taken in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The young Bull Moose never spooked from my single gunshot, instead, he forged Dutch Creek heading right towards us. I had been so focused on the bear that I didn’t even realize that a second larger bull moose was standing directly behind us at less than 40 yards, also unaffected by the sound of my gun shot.
With the light quickly fading, Brent our outfitter suggested that we wait to attempt our recovery until first light due to the freezing cold high waters of Dutch Creek. To cross in the dark would simply be too dangerous. With the sound of mud sloshing under my mule’s feet, I rode back to camp wishing that it were already morning and that we were on our way to recover my bear.
Surrounded by the warmth of a good fire and great friends Happy Birthday was sang to me by all, over the top of a homemade chocolate cream cheese cake. What a great birthday it had been.
The next morning, I traded in Little Stinker the mule for Whiskers the horse. Whiskers is a 1400 pound draft cross that is unbelievably big and strong, perfect for crossing the deep fast moving spring waters of Dutch Creek.
Once we reached the slide, retracing the bruin’s final steps was easy as we had seen his last steps the night before. The boar was old; his teeth were worn almost down to nothing, he had an infected bite mark on his hind quarter, most likely from another younger more aggressive boar. With a skull just over 16 inches and stretching over 5 ½ feet, the bruin had lived out his last day on the beautiful slides of the Purcell Mountains.
Often times, we all get busy and forget to take the time to slow down, get back to our roots and enjoy life at a slower pace. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoying a place un-touched by modern civilization on the back of a good mule surrounded by friends was the best gift for me on my birthday.
With Rockie and Jim both armed with black bear tags needing punched…the adventure continues.
|Me and Brent DuBois from A/Z Outfitters.|
A special thanks goes out to A/Z Outfitters and the DuBois Family, Fred Canning, The Cabins at Whitetail Lake, Under Armour, Swarovski Optik, Nosler, Eberlestock and Wilderness Athlete.
A/Z Outfitters offers hunt opportunities for Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Mountain Goat, Moose, Mule Deer & Elk. Visit A/Z Outfitters online at www.abarzoutfitters.com.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the A/Z Adventures Website, if you are interested in booking a summer pack trip into the Purcell Wilderness with me and A/Z Outfitters in 2011 or 2012.
Under Armour Clothing for Kristy
Base 2.0 Top
Camo Evo Cold Gear Pants
Camo Evo Cold Gear Hoody
Camo Full Zip Hoody
Quest Jacket & Pant
Women’s Camo Glove
Camo Active Beanie
Speed Freek Boots
Hitch Lite Cushion Boot Sock
Under Armour Clothing for Jim & Rockie
Ridge Reaper Jacket & Pant
Stealth Rain Jacket & Pant
Camo Big Logo Hoody
Camo Armourloft Vest
Z3 Rifle Scope
EL 42 Swarovision Binoculars
65mm HD Spotting Scope with 20-60x Eyepiece
8x30 Laser Guide
Eberlestock X1 Backpack
Wilderness Athlete Performance Bars, Energy Gel, Energy & Focus Drink Formula, Protein Plus
Nosler Custom Trophy Grade 180 Grain Accubond Ammunition