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Colby and Codi Gines
150 Road 5N
Powell, WY 82435
(307) 272-5367
colby@cgwildernessadventures.com

Jerry Obritsch
Colby Gines Wilderness Adventures
Elk Hunt 2011
Mountain Creek, Wyoming
Copyright 2011

"Success - Where Preparation Meets Luck"
Ron Dube

Sunday, September 25, 2011
The long awaited day has arrived. Months of preparation are now in the books. This not only included getting equipment ready but getting me ready physically. Bicycling was a good way for me, in addition to toning and stretching. I hope it is enough.

My brother-in-law, Kevin, came over yesterday afternoon and I had all of my equipment/supplies laid out on the ping-pong table in the "man cave", i.e. the basement. Staring at us was "Calvin" (named by the kids), a nice bull I took out of Tenelle two years ago. A fine bull he was, bugled in by Colby, my guide, to an unbelievable 40 yards. That year I used a solitary cartridge of the two boxes Colby recommended. I wonder - will this hunt be better? Certainly, the camaraderie of elk camp will be as good and/or surpass two years ago. My brother-in-law, Kevin, and I once again went over Colby's supplies list. It looked good! We packed my two Red Head duffel bags and I was ready!

Dr. Bob from Mobridge pulled into my driveway at 0735 hours. We loaded our gear into my truck and then went in and had some breakfast prepared by my lovely wife, Nancy. We then looked at Calvin (Dr. Bob had not seen him on his pedestal mount) and then shoved off. We drove to Miles City, MT and stopped for fuel and ate at McDonalds (where else?). We got to talking about the Range Riders Museum in Miles City and after a few minutes, decided to stop in for a few hours. It is a wonderful museum to visit if one is ever in the area.

After Miles City, we head on to Billings, turning south at Laurel on Highway 72, driving passed Chief Joseph Highway (a spectacular scenic highway). We arrived in Cody around 5:30 pm MDT and checked into the historic Buffalo Bill Cody Irma Hotel. This hotel is filled with legend (and haunted western ghost stories from days gone by). We settled into our room (Colonel Cody's Suite) and then went to the Proud Cut Bar and Grill (Proud Cut - definition: a gelding who retains the sexual behavior of a stallion after castration) for supper. We had ribs - scrumptious! We returned to the Irma, visited awhile and then called it a night.


The Dining Room at the Irma Inn, Cody, WY


Monday, September 26, 2011
Hangin Around Cody
We slept well at the Colonel Cody's Suite, and arose at 7:00 am MDT. Both Bob and I arise early in general as physicians, so this was "sleeping in" for us. We had a hearty breakfast at Granny's, and then ran some various errands around town. I ended up buying a Woolrich wool vest (which was to come in handy later in camp in the mountains), some game bags and a silk scarf. We, of course, had to go to Wal-Mart where I bought two boxes of chocolate cake mix and two containers of fudge topping. I am hoping that the camp cook will bake a birthday cake for me on this coming Sunday, October 2nd if I ask him nicely. After Wal-Mart, we drive out to the Cody Rifle Range where I fired my .300 Win mag. It was still accurate at 300 yards with a nice cluster formed on the steel target to within three inches of each other.

Having satisfied my fears of my rifle not being properly sighted in, we headed back into town to the Irma for lunch. We then walked around town some more and went back to our room. I finished my final inspection of my duffel bags and backpack. At 5:00 pm we were to meet Ross outside the Irma in the parking lot. Ross and Wade met us in the parking lot pulling a goose neck trailer with an old dually truck. A horse was tied in the front section. We loaded our duffel bags and gear behind the horse and put our rifles in the back of the cab. It was time to eat. We had another fine meal at the Proud Cut across the street from the Irma. Bob had ribs again. I had tenderloin which was scrumptious. We returned to our rooms and lights out.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011
"The Ride"
We were up at 5:00 am, packed our belongings, and checked out at 5:30 am. We had breakfast and were on the road to the trail head, arriving at 7:00 am. Colby met us, shaking hands and welcoming us like old friends. In addition, an excellent friend and former owner of Wilderness Adventures, Ron Dube, came to say hello to Dr. Bob and wish us well on our upcoming hunt.



Bob and Ron


Colby, Bob, and the author


Tuesday, October 4, 2011
"The Trail"
We met our fellow hunters/comrades for the next week, shook hands, and listened to Colby instruct us on the trail.

We were off at 8:30 am. I was astride Willey, an exuberant mule (we rode mules the whole week). I bought a Quirt for coaxing my mule along the next 25 miles, but it proved unnecessary. Willey made good time, keeping us behind the mule ahead of us, as I had to do minimal trotting (which is undesirable).

We ate our snack in the meadows, shortly before going through Eagle Pass. It was a beautiful fall day with temperatures in the afternoon in the mid 70's. It is not good weather for elk hunting (too warm) but gorgeous riding weather. The weather is what it is and you can't do anything about it, so I simply enjoyed the spectacular views and beautiful Indian summer weather!



Eating our sack lunch in second heaven



Making time on the trail

We arrived at Mountain Creek at 5:00 pm but not before we encountered two Park Rangers while riding through Yellowstone Park. They spoke to Colby about Coggins testing results and papers regarding his mules. He stated all testing was up to date and the papers had been sent. Apparently some outfitters had not done so and fines were to be issued.

We were shown the camp at Mountain Creek by Colby and then had hors d'oeuvres while waiting for the pack mules to show up with our duffel bags and rifles. We were assigned tents and Bob and I settled in to ours. Dinner was called by Randy, the camp cook and we settled into a feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Dessert was pie and whipped cream. Yum Yum! After supper we went to our tents and lights out!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Bushwhacked!
Robbie, the Camp Jack, lit our tent stove at 4:30 am. It warmed our tent nicely. Dr. Bob and I arose and got ready for our morning hunt. Today, my guide, Colby, was taking Tom, a sheep hunter, and myself to the Trident. It is one of the most difficult terrains to traverse. The ascent is beyond the tree line and a certain part of it, called the shoe, is especially difficult because it is rocky steep and the turns sharp. The mule is led while one makes their way up. Good boots are a must (think Kenetrek)! We made it up and I was huffing and puffing. I was concerned about altitude sickness which is brought on by rapid ascent in altitude and heavy exertion. It happened to me. I was nauseated with onset of headache when I finally made it to the top. After resting a few minutes, I was somewhat better. We rode on. We did not see any elk or sheep. We continued west, then hobbled our mules and then walked. We came across a large meadow with saddles coming off the meadows in all directions. We searched the saddles facing Mountain Creek, including Upper Tenell where Colby stated he had seen a monster bull days earlier. He was not there today.

The temperature was warm. We went west to the Yellowstone border. It was glorious! To the southwest was Mount Moran and the Grand Tetons. To the northwest was Yellowstone Lake.



The Grand Tetons to the Southwest



Yellowstone Lake to the Northwest



Hunting in the High Country

 


Glassing for Elk

It was a little after noon. We decided to eat lunch. We had just finished eating when we heard four shots ring out close by. Who on earth was up here and from where? We quickly walked to the coulee one half mile on the southeast of the meadow to find a guide and hunter from an outfitter camp to the south of us who had just shot a fine bull! Colby was upset. We had missed an opportunity to take a fine bull! Colby cursed and then he waited and cursed some more! It was a fair chase hunt, however. That being said, we moved on, heading back to where our mules were hobbled. After Colby finished his cursing things quieted down, we mounted our mules and headed back to camp in silence. I was exhausted.

We visited about the campfire after a fine supper and then turned in for the night. Lights out.


Thursday, September 29, 2011
Bugling!
Morning comes early in elk camp. Robbie, the camp jack, lit the tent stove, at 4:30 am and lit up the propane lantern. Bob and I arose and put on our hunting gear and went for breakfast at 5:00 am. Breakfast consisted of over easy eggs, hash browns, biscuits, strawberry jelly and margarine.

Today Colby and I were going to the Twin Peaks which is close to the entry/exit of Yellowstone Park. We saddled and mounted our mules and rode out in the darkness. Up, up we went, following a narrow path, passing under timber, crossing over fallen timber until we could go no more. We dismounted and tied our mules and started climbing. The hunt was intensifying! Bugling was occurring to the west and north of us everywhere. We kept climbing. I was huffing and puffing. Colby urged me on...to get up the top quickly. I did my best to do so...and finally did! At the top over on the other side, bugling continued to occur very frequently. Colby spotted some cows and then a bull. There was another herd of cows that spotted us and moved over the ridge. We had to act quickly! We moved to the northeast quietly and quickly. We knelt down and Colby found the bull again. He ranged it at 317 yards. I had already chambered a round. I found the bull in my scope and dialed it up to the 8x. Colby said "shoot him!" so I squeezed the trigger. Boom! The shot rang across the valley. Colby said "you hit him real hard". The bull staggered down the mountain slope 20 yards and to the west. Colby said "shoot him again!" I took aim and fired. This time he toppled. We walked down the ridge and up the 317 yards to the bull. A mature 5x6 bull! It appeared he was regressing, appearing to be past his prime. We took pictures and then began to remove his hide. I asked Colby to do so because I was planning to make a floor rug out of it.

 


The Author and his nice bull!

While we were quartering the bull, we heard bugling from across the next ridge. For kicks, Colby cow called back. Sure enough, the bugling intensified so Colby kept cow calling. Soon the bull appeared at the ridge and kept coming toward us. Amazing! The bull kept coming and Colby kept cow calling until the bull appeared 20-30 yards in front of us. A mounter - 350 for sure! I theorized he beat my bull out of his herd of cows and came back to make sure one of his cows had not gone with my bull. When he saw us, he returned over the ridge back into Yellowstone Park. We were only a few hundred yards from the Park. If my bull would have gone into the Park and died, he could not have been retrieved secondary to Federal Law. We finished quartering the bull and then we carried the quarters and hide (100 pounds) several hundred yards away from the carcass. Colby then assigned me to "bear patrol" on a peak away from the quarters and carcass. I sat down on a rock, chambered a round, unlocked my bear spray and waited 1½ hours. It was quite a glorious time! The weather was warm; the skies were blue and no wind. I listened to constant bugling coming out of the Park. This is where a man rejuvenates his soul!

Soon Colby and Troy, another guide, appeared with two pack mules. It is amazing how they loaded the quarters on the mule as well as the head and horns. They led the mules across and down the mountain while I followed. At the bottom of the mountain, we once again mounted our mules and rode to camp. I rode behind Colby watching my elk head and horns. It was a magnificent sight!

 


Colby packing my Elk quarters and horns on a pack mule

We arrived in camp in midafternoon. I was tired and stiff but had a great sense of "accomplishment and reward". Colby and I ate a late lunch and then we caped the head. Before we ate lunch, we placed the meat on the meat pole to prevent bears from accessing the meat and eating it.

After caping the head, I took a nice hot shower. It was invigorating! I then took a long nap, being awakened by Colby that the Hors d'oeuvres were ready. I arose and we ate some elk tenderloin I gave to Randy to prepare. And we did not forget about the testicles, deep fried, and rolled in bread! Scrumptious!

After supper, we sat by the fire and talked for a while. Everyone was wondering about Walter and Wade because they had not returned to camp yet. As it turned out, they only returned after midnight. Here is Walter's story:

Walter is from Massachusetts and is 70 years young. He lives in a small town and is remarkably fit for his age. He and my friend, Bob, were talking about bears earlier in the week and Walter commented how it was so nice to know there is a place where bears are free and where man is not on the top of the food chain. Walter comment how he thought bears attacking humans out here was a bit exaggerated. Bob commented he thought the bear stories had validity and not to write them off too quickly. Anyway, Wade, the Guide, and Walter went out on their evening hunt and came across elk. Wade cow called a smaller but nice Bull at 40 yards. They went back and forth whether or not to shoot it. Finally Walter decided to do so. While skinning and quartering it, it now became pitch black (dark phase of the moon). Wade was carrying the quarters to a safe distance when he encountered a bear (Grizzly) on the trail. He shouted at the bear and it left him alone. While riding in earlier in the evening, there was bear tracks and bear scat. After carrying the quarters to a safe distance they put pine bough on top and placed Walter's orange hunting vest on top for identifying and to know whether or not the quarters were disturbed when Wade planned to return the next morning to retrieve them. Then they set off for camp with Wade shouting and Walter reciting poetry to keep bears away. They took with them, however, the back strips and tenderloins as well as the head and horns. They rode back to camp with only Wade's head light on. Walter said it was pitch black.

Walter had also promised his rifle (Ruger International Carbine Ringer Model 77 Mannlicher Carbine .308 with scope) to Wade if he shot the largest bull in camp. I was the only hunter who had shot a bull up to that time. Anyway, when Walter was deciding whether or not to shoot the bull in front of him, he asked Wade if it was the largest than the bull in camp. Wade responded "no, it is not", whereupon Walter promptly shot the bull. He responded to Wade, "sorry about your rifle Wade."

The next morning Wade saddled his mule and headed back to retrieve the quarters. Alas! Walter's orange vest was across the way and the pine boughs scattered. Clearly the bears had got to Walter's quarters! Wade quickly left the site and Walter had donated his quarters to the bears! Walter later told my friend, Bob, "I take that back about what I said about grizzly bears!"


Friday, September 30, 2011
Robbie and Fred
Robbie, the camp jack, entered our tent at 4:30 am, lit our lantern and tent stove. We arose and enjoyed a good breakfast of over-easy eggs, fried potatoes and thick hamburger patties.

Last night Bob and his guide, Troy, were looking up at Glacier Pass and saw two mature wolves frolicking in the snow whereupon a bald eagle rapidly descended upon them and started to claw at them. Then he flew up and down several times doing the same thing. The wolves snapped at him, getting up on their haunches and then finally disbanding. What a neat sight! Another Colby Gines Wilderness Adventure!

The hunters went on to do the early morning hunts. I was really looking forward to a nice relaxing day in camp. I also looked forward to writing in my Elk journal.

 


The Author writing in his Elk journal in Camp

At noon some hunters returned for lunch and to rest until the evening hunt. Some hunters stayed out all day including Tom, the sheep hunter, who had yet to fill his tag.

In the afternoon, I went with Robbie, the Camp Jack, to the spring to collect water. We used Fred, a 22 year old pack mule, wise in many ways. He sensed Robbie had given too much lead rope and soon they were doing circles with Robbie ultimately giving Fred more and more lead rope. Finally, Fred had his way with Robbie, breaking free and running with the empty water jugs in the meadow. We finally caught him in the timber with Robbie cussing him out. We then made our way to the spring with crystal clear mountain water flowing. We filled our six gallon jugs and headed back to camp. This time Robbie was on to Fred's shenanigans and held the lead rope tightly. He started out in a bad way again, however. Fred, being older than Robbie, sensing his superiority, started to circle once again. Once again, poor Robbie committed a bad mistake by inadvertently slowly allowing more lead rope out. And once again, Fred had his way with Robbie, breaking free, running in the meadow, kicking out his heels with water splashing out of both jugs. Robbie ran after him, cussing the day of his birth! Fred was oblivious to it all, enjoying his newfound freedom as he ran back to camp! Later Colby was purported to say, "It was self-inflicted", a statement attesting to Robbie's mishandling of wise, old Fred. As the saying goes, youth has its beauty, but old age has its wisdom!

In late afternoon, the hunters saddled up and headed out for their evening hunt. Monte filled his tag with a nice 6x7 bull who was herding over 51 cows! Secondary to darkness, they were only able to cape and quarter the bull, moving the meat away from the carcass. They rode back to camp in darkness. This was the first bull Monte killed after spending time in over seven different elk camps in as many years. The moon was in the dark phase. Would his meat be safe in the morning or would it happen like it happened to Walter's elk meat?

Back in camp, Bob and Troy stated that it appeared they were going to be jumped by a sow and her two-year-old cub. However, they went by so fast that later, Troy figured it out. They (the sow and her cub) heard Monte's rifle shots and made quick haste to the carcass kill.

Bob and Troy also heard two large grizzlies fighting over my bull's carcass. Their growls could be heard echoing across the valley.

We ate supper and then lights out!


Saturday, October 1, 2011
"Trouble on the hunt"
We arose at 4:30 am and had breakfast at 5:00 am with the hunters leaving for their morning hunt shortly thereafter.

Walter decided to leave early with Wade who was packing out meat and other camp essentials. He stated his innards feeling like a caged up lion after he filled his tag and found it difficult to stay around in camp any longer. So I helped Wade, Robbie, and troy and Randy load the three string pack mule. Randy secured the loads and Walter's rifle with mannies as needed. It looked very secure and they set off. However shortly after leaving camp, prior to settling into a string, the third mule took another path tying up the string. This caused a near wreck which we quickly sorted out.

Yesterday, I helped Robbie and Joe cut firewood with the two man saw and also helped to gather squaw wood, which are the branches off the fallen trees. It is used to burn garbage, etc. in the fire pit.

Late in the morning, Ross radioed that Dave had trouble with his horse, Sherpa. Sherpa is the gentlest, kindest horse in camp so this was surprising. Dave had fallen from Sherpa and hurt his hand and back. Troy and Dr. Bob was sent to the scene to assess the matter. Dave was given some pain medication on site and brought down on a mule, led by Troy. We brought Dave into the camp kitchen and assessed him on the table. He had significant pain in his left hand and low back pain. It appeared his left ring finger was dislocated and a low L4-L5 injury had possibly occurred. Without imaging studies, it was difficult to be conclusive. After Bob and I consulted, we talked to Colby by radio. Tom had just felled his sheep and they were packing it to camp. Upon his arrival, we consulted and Colby talked to Dave who had some pain going down his left posterior leg while walking. How could he safely ride out the 25 miles to the trail head then drive one hour to Cody? He really couldn't stay in camp. In the end, we decided to use the satellite phone and airlift him by helicopter to Idaho Falls, ID. The helicopter arrived in late afternoon, landing in the meadows. After starting an IV and administering some IV Fentanyl for pain, we secured him on a gurney and had the hunters carry him over to the helicopter. We wished Dave quick return to health and off they went. A rare occurrence in camp, it nonetheless reveals the dangers of high country hunters and the importance of safety. Colby did a fine job of assessing the situation, listening to us physicians, and then doing the right thing.

After evacuating Dave, things settled down in camp once again. We enjoyed Tom's ram's testicles for Hors d'oeuvres after the evening hunt was completed. They were rolled in flour, deep fried, and everyone helped themselves until they rapidly disappeared.

No one filled their tag today. For supper we had enjoyed barbeque ribs (definitely rivaling the Proud Cut), mashed potatoes, peas, and for dessert, peach cobbler with whipped cream.

After supper, lights out!


Sunday, October 2nd
"Birthday Boy!"
Today is my birthday! I can think of no better place to spend my birthday than Mountain Creek! Randy is going to bake my favorite birthday cake, a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I am looking forward to it! For doing so, I secretly did the lunch dishes while he took a nap.

Colby gave me a birthday gift. He had me fell two old timbers with the two-man saw. So I did it with Cody, one of the guides, and down they went. I have never had such a birthday gift before and probably will never have another one again (that's okay with me quite frankly).



Sharing my "unique birthday gift" with Cody, the Guide

This afternoon, we have been having bouts of rain. I have never heard rolling thunder across the mountains. It reminded me of that great gospel song "How Great Thou Art". It echoed magnificently across the valleys!

We gathered by the evening fire. The three remaining hunters all saw elk but at too great a distance. Charles was becoming frustrated and discouraged. I stated "the hunt can change in a minute!" After a "fireside chat", he seemed better. Snip, the camp dog, came and muzzled up to me. I petted him, a black and white collie. Ross's dog, Bandit, was not as friendly and just hung out with Snip.

One of the hunters offered Colby some Scotch. He politely declined, stating he does not drink in camp, nor does he allow any of his guides. He stated by setting an example, he had hoped his guides would follow and they do. Another important point to know about an Outfitter!

Supper consisted of meatloaf, cucumber/onion salad, pasta, and of course, my birthday cake. All of the hunters, guides and camp folk wished me well. I thanked them and told them this was one of the finest birthdays I experienced!

After supper, we relaxed by the fire (especially Dr. Bob) and then crawled into our bags.

Lights out!



Monday, October 3, 2011
"Relaxin in Camp"
We arose at 4:30 am with the usual wake-up from Robbie, the camp jack, lighting our lantern and camp stove. We had a good breakfast of burritos and sausage, downing it with cowboy coffee. I find myself diluting the coffee with hot water; otherwise, it is too hard on my innards!

After I saw Dr. Bob and his guide, Troy, off, wishing them well, I returned to the tent and bag and slept another hour. The camp was quiet.

Randy, the camp cook, is an interesting man. He has guided numerous hunts in the past himself and now cooks during elk season. Following elk season cooking camp, he runs a trap line the rest of the winter. In 1996, he published a book entitled, "Your Guided Hunt and What You Should Know", which is available by writing to Randy Blackburn, 84 Southfork Road, Cody, Wyoming, 82414. This book has invaluable information and knowledge in planning a hunt. It comes highly recommended.

Ross, one of the guides, went to unhook the electric fence after all of the other hunters had left for the morning hunt. Typically, after breakfast and once all the remaining hunters are out, camp quiets down as everyone remaining in camp takes a nap. So the electric fence is once again activated. Plans for today include pulling, cutting, splitting, and stacking timber. Everyone arose and Ross grabbed the electric fence wire, which was hot, with both of his bare hands to open the fence. The jolt nearly set him down on his behind! He was alright though, appearing to be none the worse for the wear. Would he ever be able to father a child though??

We worked on the lumber through the morning (this is purely optional for the hunters). It was good physical activity for me and I enjoyed it!

Midmorning we heard a boom! It caught everyone's attention and came from the area of Tenell. Shortly after, there was another boom echoing across the valley. Word came from the radio that Bob had filled his tag! Everyone appeared pleased. Colby helped Ty saddle up two pack mules and head out to Tenell. It was late in the afternoon when Bob, Troy, and Ty returned with Bob's bull. It was a small, but nice young bull. Bob was pleased that on the last day of the hunt he was able to fill his tag and that he was going to be having good eating!

In the evening, Randy made us steaks over the open fire pit. Scrumptious! After supper, we talked by the fire pit and then hit the sack enjoying a laugh or two before sleep once again overtook us.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011
"Trails End"
It is said "all good things must come to an end". And so it was this morning. It was time to pack up, saddle the mules and leave Mountain Creek. We arose in the dark, one more time to Robbie lighting our camp stove. We packed our gear and carried it over to the panniers for packing on the pack mules. We then went for sausage and egg biscuits for breakfast and washed it down with cowboy coffee. We moved out at a little after 8:00 am and ate our lunch in the saddle.

We made great time! The ride was glorious!

 


Riding through God's Country

Except for Eagle Pass where we encountered a shift of wind, cold temperatures and a few snowflakes. Winter was coming to Mountain Creek!

We arrived at the corrals at Trail head at 2:30 pm. We unloaded our mules, removed our saddles and loaded them into the truck. Our ride from Mountain Creek to the trail head had been glorious and rather uneventful except when I tried to change into my rain gear while riding Willey. He suddenly bolted and I quickly reined him in before something worse happened. Colby had me dismount and change into my rain gear on the ground. He stated Willey never was good at allowing a change of clothing on his back.

We drove to Cody and checked in to the Irma. We put our belongings in our room and went downstairs while we waited for our duffel bags from the mule train. We saw JB who invited us to join him. We sat, talked, and reflected on our hunt. Two hours later, we realized that our duffel bags would be some time in coming, so we decided to order supper. We started off with Rocky Mountain oysters for Hors d'oeuvres (what else at the Irma?). We completed our meals with sirloin strips.

Our bags arrived at 8:30 pm by Zach. We gathered our bags and horns and called it a night after an invigorating and much appreciated shower.

 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
"Headin Home"
We arose at 5:00 am and ate at Granny's at 5:30 am breakfast. We drove to Byron, Wyoming, and loaded our meat into our coolers at the butcher shop. It had been taken there by Wade while we were in still in Elk Camp, processed, and frozen solid. Another fine reason to go with an Outfitter for a successful hunt! We arrived in Bismarck at 2:30 pm. We divided our belongings and Bob headed home with his meat and horns.

So ends another fabulous hunt with Colby Gines Wilderness Adventures! The weather was beautiful (although a bit warm) and the company was outstanding! One learns a lot about himself, and life on these trips to God's Country where the wilderness awaits to challenge you in many ways you don't think of.