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The Adams County Record
Council, Idaho
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December 20, 2012     The Adams County Record
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.Jllb Page 18 Wednesday, December 19, 2012 The AdamsCountyRecord My most memorable hunting trip It was 1973, I had just gotten married to my first wife, Nancy, the week before, and this deer hunt- ing trip was, in some ways, the second half of our hon- eymoon. Nancy and I had spent a few days sight-see- ing in Washington State after the wedding in her hometown of Pullman. After returning to Council, we loaded a truck with food, camping and hunt- ing gear, 3 horses and a burro, and headed for the hills. (his was the same big stock truck, borrowed from the Gould Ranch, that we had borrowed the year before. Clarence Gould, an inventive genius who had designed and built a number of amazing machines, had built a ramp that doubled as half of the BY DALE FISK I&apos;m beginning another hunting story. This adven- ture happened the next year after the first Horse Heaven hunt I wrote about recently. Hopefully a sec- tion of it will appear week- ly in the paper over the next few weeks, but once in a while it may have to wait a week if we run out of room. A brilliant, full, October moon made the snow sparkle as several hundred square miles of remote country along the Snake River loomed up before me in an eerie but breath- taking view. I rode one horse and led three more as I'galloped across a 7,500 foot high divide in the Seven Devils Mountains and I unloaded our horses where the narrow, twisting, rock ledge that passes for a road ends at Black Lake, and made camp for the night. The next morning, I loaded the gear on our pack animal - a little burro named Jenny that I had borrowed from Jim Canaday (Claud's dad). I had been working all. sum- mer with Jim on the Boise Cascade brush crew. We were headed for Horse Heaven again, as we had the year before. But this time, instead of the 12 miles in from Heaven's Gate; it was only 8 miles from Black Lake. Riding two of the horses, leading another plus the pack burro, we started up the steep trail Me with my steep-country three-point buck. on the western edge of Idaho. It was about mid- night, and this day, which had already been one of the most eventful of my life, was far from over. back end of the stock rack. It folded down so horses could be walked up the ramp into the truck.) At the end of a three and a half hour drive, Nancy toward Purgatory Saddle. As the trail neared the old Summit Mine tunnel, my horse threw his ears for- ward and snorted, About 100 yards in front of us, On the way to Horse Heaven from Black Lake. Looking south into the head of Granite Creek. Emerald Lake is at the f end Of this basin. On the left is John CounCilman and Jenny the burro: I'm on Danny, Nancy is on the infa- mous Dusty, and Tony is on the far right. Dan Brown took the picture. In Adams, Valley, and Washington Counties $40 per year of local counties $45 per year Out of state $50 per year a huge cinnamon-colored black bear was bounding across the mountainside. I grabbed my .270 from the saddle scabbard and jumped off my horse to shoot, but by the. time I was ready, the bear was nowhere to be seen. It was probably just as well. This vertical rock garden was no place to find out wheth- er Nancy, who was an inexperienced rider, could control all four horses if my rifle had shattered the air right in front of them. When we reached Purgatory Saddle we had traveled less than a half- mile, but had climbed a couple thousand feet closer to heaven. North of the saddle, we descended the solid rock, switchback trail to Emerald Lake. This glacial lake, surrounded by stunted sub-alpine fir trees, sits in a huge three- sided bowl of stone at the head of Granite Creek. We made an early camp beside the lake where two friends were to meet us. Just after darl<, Dan Brown-- my hunting buddy since we were kids--came hik- ing down the trail and into camp. With him was his college friend, John Councilman. The next morning, we headed north on the trail along the east side of the magnificent,, rocky expanse of the Granite Creek basin. A mile or two into our hike, Dan sud- denly grabbed my arm and said, "Deer!" He was look- ing up the trail in front of us, bqt I couldn't see or hear anything to confirm his statement. Handing the lead rope of my horse to Nancy, I took off with Dan at a dead run up the trail in the direction he had seen the deer. About the time we had run far enough to be pretty well winded, we looked up the hill to our right. Did I say hill? There are no "hills" in the Seven Devils. This was a genu- ine mountainside. When shopping for mountains, you will not find steeper ones in Idaho. I'm not'sure how they determined this, but even the Sawtooths come in below the Devils on the steepness scale. As I crooked my neck to look to the mountain, I saw a few deer, includ- ing a nice three-point buck standing about 200 yards up a nearly perpendicular swale. I raised my rifle to the absurdly vertical angle that was necessary to get the buck in my scope. (At that angle, I almost started to be cbncerned that the bullet might fall right back down on me if I missed!) Only his head, neck and part of the buck's chest were visible, t was breath- ing so hard that the cross hairs were wobbling back and forth across the deer, plus the 40 acres on either side of him. I gritted my teeth and took a giant gulp of air into my oxy- gen-starved lungs, stead- ied the cross hairs on the buck the best I could, and I squeezed the trigger. After I recovered from the recoil, the buck was nowhere to be seen. Had I hit him? Probably not, but there was only one way to find out, and my lungs winced at the prospect Of more abuse. After considerable time and effort, I managed to scale the mountainside. At the spot where the buck had been standing, a size- able amount of blood had been thrown against the mountainside. But the deer was gone. Quickly, I looked for more blood in the direction that the rest of the deer had gone. Not only was there no blood, but there were no tracks or any sign of the buck at all. After several minutes of circling and head scratch- ing, I decided to start over at the place where he had stood when I had shot. As I came back to that point, I glanced down the hill. There he was, about -wenty feet below me, stone dead. He had slid down the steep incline, stopping under a deadfall. We had several miles of rough trail to cover, and there was no use pack: ing the buck farther away from home. We brought the deer down to the trail, filled his body cavity with fir boughs to let air in and keep the flies out, then buried him in more branches and boughs. The weather had been cold, and he would keep as well here as well as any .cooler until we got back.