Monthly Archives: March 2012
I received the letter from “BB” asking that we meet outside of Show Low…As usual, it was right along the fence bordering the Reservation and Unit 3C. “BB” had specified that we meet at 1p.m. and that I bring maps. Unfortunately, I had no clue what kind of maps he was talking about. So, I gathered up any topographical maps that I had, as well as the Apache Sitgreaves map and headed up towards our meeting spot. I had to park a good distance away and hike in to the fence line spot that he had indicated. I saw “BB” from about 100 yards and he was surrounded by several other bulls. They were all looking at some papers laid out by a small stream and held in place with rocks. The other bulls shied away and took off as soon as they saw me coming. “BB” however looked up and motioned for me to come over.
“Greetings “BB””, I said. Then I started to chuckle as I noticed his bald head was once again shorn of his massive antlers. Velvet was covering the new buds that were already a few inches above his forehead. “BB” glared at me and said, “At least mine grow back smart mouth.” I was not ready to get into a discussion about my readily apparent lack of hair so I tried to be polite. “Okay “BB”, why did you want me to bring maps?” I tossed my bundle of maps on the ground and looked up at my old friend. “BB” pawed through the maps and grunted when he finally found the Apache Sitgreaves map. “Word has it that the Apache Sitgreaves is completing the travel management planning, so we are going to finish off our animal travel planning as well.” I was shocked at what he said, but also very curious. “What are you talking about “BB”? How can animals have a travel management plan?” “BB” gave me his best disgusted look and explained. “Every 20 years or so, we sit down and devise a travel management plan for all the forest animals. Since we are the largest and since the damn horses are not really legal, we get first dibs on where we want to travel. Cattle come and go on a seasonal basis, but we just push them into smaller blocks of grazing areas where their human owners can find them. Besides, those guys are so slow and dumb they accept whatever we say. So once we declare the areas that we want, we then compromise a little with the mule deer for some of the grazing and travel rights. Next comes the coues deer and then the black bears. It kind of works out as long as everyone is willing to compromise a little.” I thought that one over for a few seconds when I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. Low and behold a beautiful mule deer buck made his way over to where “BB” and I were standing. He made some noises to “BB” and then looked at me. “BB” muttered something under his breath and turned to me. “This is “MD”. You can’t understand him, but he’s the rep from the mule deer herd of the Apache Sitgreaves. I’ll interpret for you since you don’t speak deer yet.” Then I saw a couple of other animals approaching. Right in front of my eyes we had an enormous sow black bear, a turkey, and a little coues deer all strolling right up to our gathering. Last but not least, I heard a thundering of hooves and saw one of the feral horses come galloping up to our group. I was absolutely stunned to see so many critters all in one place and all at one time. “BB” I said, “what in the world is going on?” “BB” snickered and said, “Well boy, we heard all about the fact that the forest is closing down over 90% of the roads in the forest and we felt that it was time to divvy up what you humans won’t be using anymore. As a matter of fact, we heard that the Forest Service is planning on making this whole forest a wilderness area, and no one will be able to ride anywhere. We can split up all those areas that are too close to roads now and use them the way we want to. He really seemed to believe that the forest was going to come back to him and I hated to be the bearer of bad news, but I had to tell him the truth. Continue reading
There I was, sitting in the middle of the most serene area I had been able to find on my late season archery elk hunt. I had hiked up a steep hill, and then went another half mile through a small canyon on the other side. The noise from roads and vehicles was not able to permeate this idyllic wildlife area. Unit 23 can be more than a bit noisy, particularly when there are another 299 hunters trying to find the elk that had been scattered courtesy of the 1100 rifle deer tags traversing this same area for the previous two weeks. I had hiked through a small stream and up the hill in complete darkness. As the light slowly made its way through the trees I was able to hear turkeys in the distance as they began their day anew. A band of coyotes began sounding off, and I made a mental note to remember this area for some calling after the season for elk was over. My clothes were soaked from the journey of climbing up to this little spot of paradise but the effort had been more than worthwhile. The only thing missing was the other half of the equation…ELK. As the sun finally topped out over the horizon, I used my binoculars to peer up the opposite drainage. There was plenty of sign and the unmistakable odor that only elk carry…but no elk. I waited until just after 9:00 a.m. to start back towards the truck, but first a nature call had to be answered. I gently placed my bow along the downed tree that had acted as a blind. I moved to an area about 30 yards from where I had been sitting. Just then I could have sworn I heard a muffled laugh behind me. I whirled around and guess who I saw…my old friend and antagonist “BB”. Continue reading