This photo holds a few memories. Yup, that's me with my brother Ron, 1968. I was an 8th grader at CdA Jr. High. It was Ron's near annual visit to go hunting and he talked me into skipping school to go with him one day.
We drove up the St. Joe headed for Slate Creek. We parked and right off Ron has me walk through knee deep water. I'm wearing crappy cowboy boots that filled with water, thanks for not suggesting I bring a dry pair of socks. Then he tells me we're going straight up a steep mountain, in those oh so comfy wet boots. Halfway up, I'm dragging ass. We take a break and he gives me a couple cookies and a cup of black coffee, my first taste of that bitter brew. I mash my cookies into the coffee, trying to make it palletable. The caffine didn't get me up that mountain any faster and I remember being blamed for the lack of coffee at lunch later in the day.
Up high on the ridge we're hiking along when we see a huge bull elk. Ron drops him with one shot. We approach the beast with head bobbing in his dying throes. Ron pumps 3-4 more shots into his head to finally put him down and we started to field dress the carcass. Up to my elbows in elk intestines made me realize that I was not cut from the same outdoor hunting cloth as my father.
Dad was an outdoorsman's outdoorsman. He had countless hunting and fishing tales and artifacts to back up even the most incredible. He, as a freelance writer and photographer, submitted numerous stories to sporting magazines and for some years was the Idaho State Editor for the now long gone Western Outdoors publication. I enjoyed going fishing and pheasant hunting with him and his oldtimer pals.
But as a clumsy gomer I never liked humping the how brush (how the hell do you get through it?) when out for deer and elk. One year I kept skirting the thickets which would have led me back to the ranch, I ended up way off track. I had an idea of where I was but no clue exactly where to go (and still avoid the brush). I found a road, walked to a 4-finger saddle and sat down against a tree. It eventually got dark and I dozed off. Then I heard a shot and knew it was for me. I shot my old 30.06 and waited. Lloyd Jones, who's ranch we hunted from, knew exactly where I was and they pulled the truck right up where I was. I believe that was also my first taste of Elderberry wine that night.
Back at Slate Creek we finally got the elk dressed out and started the walk back. No way could we carry the elk and that night Dad called Lloyd who they met with his horses and packed out the elk and the amazing rack you see above. I was back at school and was shocked to discover that even in North Idaho, skipping school to go hunting was considered an unexcused absense. "But we got a big elk!" didn't sway the Principal.
Even though I didn't pull the trigger, I was proud to have my photo taken with that big rack. The picture even made the CdA Press.
One last note about the Willy's Jeep we're sitting on. Dad bought that from my Uncle Ray. It was the first car I ever drove, somewhere on the backroads coming home from a fly fishing trip. Dad told me I better know how to drive in case something ever happened to him in the back country. He told me I was a hell of a good driver for my first time, I hit every pothole in the road.