Monthly Archives: March 2012
On the holiday weekend when all families try and gather together, I got the call that “BB” wanted to talk and he wanted to talk NOW! Armed with leftover turkey sandwiches and a drumstick that I had carefully hidden from the rest of my family, I made the trek up to the Big Lake Recreation Area. “BB” was not hard to find, as he had a gathering of some of the most impressive bulls I had ever seen. It kind of felt like an old time religion revival meeting as I watched “BB” parading in front of no less that 30 bulls. He seemed to be communicating to them in a fervor that I had seldom seen. Since I do speak elk, I tried to nuzzle read what he was saying. Even at a distance the message was pretty clear – “BB” was telling the other bulls that he wanted them all to drop their antlers at a specific location in the weeks of February and March. He then said that they were going to place the shed antlers on the heads of horses that had been sullying the neighborhoods along the Rim. His thoughts were that the humans would switch from shooting deer and elk and finally convert over to bagging horses. The bigger the racks on the horses, the higher the possibility that hunters would begin to view them as trophies, and that was the message for the day… outing the horses! At the end of his diatribe, the herd began to disburse and he started to trot over to me. From the short distance, I noted a distinct limp to his stride. Immediately I became concerned as to his welfare. I looked at his right rear leg and said ““BB”, what the heck happened to you. I thought that no hunter would ever get to you…are you okay?” “BB” looked up with a fiery look in those big brown eyes. “Hell boy, no hunter has ever come close to doing me in. Took a damn poacher to stick me with one of those puny sticks and even then, he barely caught me in the leg. I can tell now when the rains are coming but it seems to have healed up quite nicely. Can’t you guys do something about poachers?” I thought about the problem of poachers and how humans can do some pretty stupid things. “BB” had always been a great looking bull, so it should have come as no surprise that someone would want his prized antlers. “I am sorry “BB”, the Arizona Elk Society as well as the Arizona Game & Fish Department are really trying to discourage poaching. Every commission meeting, someone is brought before the commission and they lose their license for 5 years and then have to pay a hefty fine on top of that. Then they can’t hunt in all the western compact states, so they really lose more than it seems. But poachers and hunters should never be talked about in the same sentence. We are as different as night and day. Poaching and hunting have only one thing in common…an animal on the ground. We abide by the laws. Poachers have no laws, follow no rules and are flat out selfish”. “BB” mulled that statement over and nodded as if in agreement and then lit into me. Continue reading
The letter that arrived was covered in dirt and had obviously been through some kind of rain storm. The hoof print on the back told me that “BB” had chosen to write yet again, rather than tine dial on the phone. He was fairly cryptic in terms of where we would meet, saying only that I was to “show your ugly bearded face where the fences are no more and where the sun doesn’t shine in the afternoon.” I had to think about that since there are so many places now where the fences have been removed and certainly where the sun does not shine in the afternoon. I decided to try the Big Lake area and drove aimlessly around for the better part of two hours. As the shadows grew longer, I was still stumped as to where “BB” had been directing me to. I was just about ready to leave when I drove around a corner that had huge ponderosa trees. There in a small clearing was what looked like “BB”. The bull was beautiful, huge body, massive antlers and velvet that was just starting to be rubbed off. I watched from my truck as the bull just stared at me. Then he started barking and I knew that only “BB” would have the nerve to bark at me. I parked the truck in the shaded area and walked over to where he was still consuming grass at a shocking rate. Continue reading
The warm winds of spring took a temporary detour as I made my way up to the Big Lake area recently. Winter dies hard in that part of our state and the difference from Phoenix to Big Lake is marked by dropping temperatures. I had a message from “BB” that he was back in his element and feeling ready to talk again. I knew that my deadline for the quarterly interview was coming due so we arranged for a quiet meeting near the marina.
As I headed up the road, I was surprised to see patches of snow on the north face of many of the craggy peaks. When I parked my truck and got out, I felt that damp chill that most of us in the Valley forget about after January. Armed with layers of clothing and my backpack, I wandered over to the spot “BB” had described for us to meet. After maybe a 20-minute wait, I watched as several bulls made their way from the dense woods into a small clearing. They had all lost their antlers and looked like old bald men with little nubs in place and growing for the coming year. I could tell which one “BB” was by the way he immediately started to look for me. He grazed his way over, munching on the grasses in the meadow. Continue reading