Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Voice From the Past: Part 2

Here is part two of the story. Enjoy


A Hunting trip in Northern Arizona: Part two

As darkness was about to envelop us the guide led us over the rim and down into the canyon as it would be almost impossible to get off the mesa in darkness. It was several hundred yards to the bottom and very steep. The horses would brace their feet skid down ten or fifteen feet then change their course slightly and slide some more. We reached the bottom without mishap, but unfortunately, it was a very rough and brushy canyon and this necessitated many detours up the steep sides to get around some of the obstacles. It was a slow journey feeling our way along in the darkness but eventually we reached the corral.

It does not seem possible that one day on a horse could completely ruin a person who is not accustom to riding, but that is just what it did to me. At one time I dismounted to tighten the ropes holding the doe on the horse I was leading and much to my surprise I could not get back in the saddle until I led the horse alongside of a log.

Upon reaching the corral we led the horse up and rolled the deer from the saddles onto the truck. We then helped the cowpuncher unsaddle, water, and feed the horses and then we beat it for the camp and arrived there at about 8:30pm.

Around the campfire that evening the other boys suggested that we stay over another day and go back to the hills for another try after the big bucks we had seen glimpses of. I agreed to the plan but at the time I couldn’t imagine how I’d be able to manage another day in the saddle. I had hectic time trying to eat my mulligan that night: was so lame and stiff that I could hardly stand, and as for sitting down, that was out of the question. The next morning we were on the way to the corral at 7:00am. And by sun up we’re saddled up and were on the trail.

My experience the day before had taught me several things, and among them was; my stirrups were too short which helped to cause my misery. Another big item was the fact that I had an army saddle the first day, but this morning Harold swapped a regular cow-puncher stock saddle for it. I was still very lame and stiff and while attempting to get on my horse I pulled him over on my foot and still have three very black toenails as souvenirs.

Soon after hitting the trail the aches calmed down and the sore places protested less and less about the saddle so in a short time I was hunting as enthusiastically as the others. As before, we left the trail and climbed up the point of another mesa. For a time we saw no game and then the cowboy spotted some horse track in a dusty spot and decided that another party was ahead of us. We then went down off the mesa, across the canyon,  and climbed to the top of the next ridge. This consumed at least an hour of valuable time but was better than trailing along behind other hunters. The first game we saw was a doe and two fawns, so Harold and Cecil got off and were scouting along when Harold saw the head and horns of big buck peeking at him from behind the trunk of a large pine tree.

Harold took a crack at its head and saw the buck whirl around and then it was out of sight into a small draw. I rode over and together we followed a continuous trail of blood for about seventy-five yards and then saw the buck staggering along ahead, and just as we saw him he dropped down with his legs doubled up under him. We stood watching him when Cecil and the guide rode up. The guide said “don’t shoot him again, he is all in”.  I thought the same thing and was about to say so when the guide beat me to it. The buck laid with his head erect, and after waiting a few minutes Harold started to walk up close to finish him. When about twenty yards away the buck scrambled to his feet and dashed away through the pines and brush and out of sight. Harold took a snap shot as he was disappearing and evidently missed and then set out on his trail.

In the meantime the guide, Cecil, and I had remained where we were watching the proceedings. Just as Harold disappeared on the trail I glanced up the side of a hill and much to my surprise I saw the head and horns of a fine buck about one hundred yards away peering down upon us with just his head and neck showing above the rim. I spoke to Cecil and at the same time was lining up the ivory bead on his neck. Just as I was about to pull he sprang forward into full view, turned to the left and in two jumps was out of sight, followed by at least two more bucks in quick succession. I snapped at one of them as they flashed in and out of sight and Cecil did likewise. We could hear them tearing through the brush and presently there came a loud crash. The guide shouted “There’s one down” and at the same time leaped on his horse and went tearing up the hill, over rocks, dodging trees and brush, in the direction of the big noise.

Cecil and I hurried along on foot as fast as we could and soon came upon the guide standing beside a large buck which had a bullet hole through the body just back of the shoulder. At this point a dead aspen, between three and four inches in diameter, leaned across the trail and the buck evidently tried to leap over it but his strength failed and he crashed headlong into it, breaking it completely in two.

We examined the wound carefully, taking into consideration the size and angle of the bullet hole, and came to the conclusion that it was Cecil’s 30 caliber bullet that reached the mark.

Leaving the guide and Cecil to dress out the buck I rounded up my horse and then took up the trail of Harold’s wounded buck. After following the trail a quarter of a mile or so I came up to Harold and together we picked out the tracks step by step for some distance and then lost it entirely. From the time the buck jumped up and ran off, he shed only a few drops of blood, but the footprints were easy to follow as long as he continued to run, but when he slowed down to a walk there was no impression left on the hard ground. We could not figure out where this buck was hit, as all Harold could see was a Head and a very small part of the neck, the rest of the body being concealed behind a big Pine tree.

At first we thought it was a throat shot, judging by the great quantities of blood he lost, and this was partly confirmed when he became so weak that he dropped in his tracks after going about one hundred yards and allowed us to approach within a few feet of him. However this theory would not do when after a three minute rest he jumped to his feet and ran at least three hundred yards at top speed without losing any more blood. We still thought that he must be near by so we retraced our steps to the spot where the guide and Cecil were and found that they had just finished dressing out and loading Cecil’s buck.

Together we returned to the point where we lost the tracks then spread out about one hundred feet apart, (Cecil on foot and the rest of us mounted) and went up and down every little draw and canyon, searching the thickets, etc., in a radius of nearly one-half mile but found nothing.

By this time it was noon so we gave up the search and crossed to another mesa and turned our steps toward the corral, by midafternoon we had seen nothing more and it looked as if our chances of landing any more big bucks were very slim. A little later I saw a doe through an opening in the pines about 150 yards up a slight grade. At the time I was riding about fifty feet to the right of the guide and about one hundred feet ahead, while Cecil and fallen in back of the guide due to the contour of the rim. Harold was quite some distance away on my right and out of sight but further ahead than I thought at the time.

As stated above, I saw this doe standing alert so I slipped off the horse and stepped a few feet out in front dropped to one knee and lined up the sights on her shoulder. Just as I was squeezing the trigger she leaped out of the picture and almost instantly a big old buck had taken her place and the Ivory bead was resting on his chest, as he stood facing me. At the crack of the rifle he settled over backward and flopped down, and then there was a regular stampede of deer running in every direction.

The first thing to hold my attention was an immense old buck, with horns like a Christmas tree, just a tearing down the grade through a lane in the pines directly toward me. At about sixty yards I took a crack at him just as he side stepped small tree and missed. Not knowing where the shot came from he came on even faster, if that could be possible, but at a slight angle to me and I could get only a glimpse of him now and again through the trees.

On my left there was an opening through the brush about ten feet across which he would pass not over 50 feet from me, so I was ready when he appeared. I put a bead on the point of his shoulder and at the shot he flinched and staggered and then was out of sight, but not before I saw hair fly and a red spot appear and a stream of blood the size of one finger spurt out.

From the location of the wound I knew that he was done for, so I turned my attention to the one upon the hill. Upon walking up there I found him on the ground just as he dropped. While looking him over, Harold and Cecil came up, and Cecil asked if I knew that I had killed another one.

From where Cecil and the guide were, they had a clear view of the “Big Boy” from the time he intercepted my bullet until he went down for the last time. They stated that he went to his knees at least three times, then Cecil took a crack at him as he was going down for what was probably the last time.

Cecil had in mind our experience with Harold’s buck and also this one was getting close to the rim, and had he gone over he might have rolled and tumbled down a hundred yards, and then we would have had a heck of a time getting him back on top. We returned to the spot where the big boy was and looked him over.

My wildest dreams had never pictured a deer as large as this one. He had antlers like an elk and a neck like a bull. The guide estimated his weight at two hundred sixty pounds as he lay on the ground. Harold and Cecil went back to dress out the first one while the guide and I went to work on the big boy. When we opened him up I discovered that my two hundred grain express bullet entered just back of the shoulder, tore up all the works in the chest cavity and smashed out through a rib on the opposite side. The old boy was just rolling with fat and the guide gathered at least five pounds off the entrails and put it in his saddle bags for boot grease.

Next to the head his horns were smeared with green aspen bark where he had been goring a tree. Evidently he had been showing the young bucks what a tough “Hombre” he was. After getting him dressed out we caught up the horses and rode over to the other boys who had just finished with the other one.

Harold said that the bullet landed low in the center of the chest and severed the wind pipe and blew up the stomach, scattering hay and grass all through the front half of the body cavity. We talked the situation over and agreed that this buck should be given to Mr. S. when we reached the camp.

It was quite a task to load this fellow on Harold’s black mare as she didn’t like it at all. One of us had to hold her while the other two did the loading. In a few minutes we had him roped on and then went over to the big one and loaded him on my horse, fortunately this horse did not object, as it took the four of us to get him balanced on the saddle.

It was just 4:00pm when we set out for the corral, and what a picture we could have obtained had there been a camera in the outfit. The cowboy on his big blue roan, led the way and we three hunters followed along on foot in single file, each leading his horse which was loaded down with a fine large buck. We immediately left the mesa and went down into a canyon which luckily for us was wide and open thereby making our journey faster and easier.

Night came on when we were still some miles from the corral and a little later the moon peeped over a mountain and relieved the darkness somewhat, the guide’s voice floated back to us now and again as he sang “Strawberry Roan” and other cowboy songs. At one time I was limping along favoring the three smashed toes as much as possible, the guide said he wanted to walk a while and asked me to ride his horse. I gladly climbed aboard and rode a mile or so until the sharpest stings had left the toes, then tumbled off and trudged the rest of the way in. We arrived at the corral at 8:20pm. After four hours and twenty minutes of steady walking, which indicated that we had bagged our deer at least ten to twelve miles back in the mountains.

In due time we had the bucks transferred to the truck. The horses cared for and then set out for camp and arrived about 10:00pm very tired, and Very hungry and Very happy. After our exceptional bit of good luck we were somewhat concerned about the doings of the others (Mr. B. and Mr. S,) who intended to hunt on foot near the camp. Had they been successful in bagging two or three deer our total would have exceeded the ten deer allowed our party, and in that event a fast skirmishing around would have been in order, to dispose of our surplus. However, our fears were unfounded, for upon reaching the camp we learned that they had killed nothing, therefore our score was five bucks and four does.

There was another doe still running around in the brush that we intended to add to our collection before breaking camp the next morning.

When daylight came the sky was overcast and threatening but we hoped to get underway and over the mountain range before the storm broke. The two men took the truck out to bring in the three does that were hung up near the trail, while the boys went out to gather the doe. I remained in camp to get equipment together and also to doctor up my injured toes.

A short time after the other left, a storm (snow) started in earnest. Incidentally, they were the first snowflakes to fall on me for more than seven years. In a few minutes the ground was white but it kept melting underneath, therefore never getting over three inches deep.

About mid forenoon the boys came in without the doe, but very wet from contact with the snow laden brush, and a little latter the men and truck came in with the three does. It was decided to await the outcome of the storm as it was impossible to guess how deep the snow might be on the trail over the top of the mountains. We covered up our bedding as well as possible and erected a small shelter tent to cook under. A large fire in the open kept us fairly warm and dry. While waiting around, we had the warden checkup our licenses and put the seal on our game. Late in the afternoon the storm ceased for a time and three of us set out to knock down that last doe. Due to the storm the deer were either hidden out in dense thickets or had moved to other parts. At any rate we saw nothing and had to return to camp empty handed. The storm continued off and on and we spent a very cold disagreeable night.

The following mourning (Saturday) two of the boys went out again to get the last doe while the rest of us worked around camp getting things in shape to leave. By this time our bedding was thoroughly soaked, and while the sky showed no indication of clearing, it was decided to load up and pull out as soon as possible.

The boys returned without a doe, so after a big hot dinner of venison steaks coffee, etc., we went over to the office and had our rifles sealed, and then set to work loading the truck. The bed rolls were packed near the front, the nine deer occupied the middle while gas drums and miscellaneous equipment filled out to the tail gate. A wet snowy canvas was spread over the wet bedrolls and a few of the blankets containing the least moisture were kept for covers. An old auto cover was stretched over the entire load from cab to tail gate and tied down all around. A 4:00pm, though the storm continued, we were ready to start for home.

Loosening the front corner of the cover, three of us crawled in and flopped down on the wet canvas and blankets. One of the men on the outside re-tied the corner of the cover and then we were on our way. The cover sagged down over our heads and collected a pool of water which seeped through and dropped on us.

A brief halt was made at Jacob’s lake and we all crawled out to stretch ourselves. There was snow on the ground at this place and a beastly cold wind penetrated our wet clothing. In a very few minutes we were ready to crawl back under the cover among the damp blankets to avoid the wind.

Darkness was coming on as we pulled out, and we dosed off now and then. About midway down the mountain we had a flat tire and everybody scrambled out into the cold wind. Fumbling around in the darkness we gathered some wet weeds and brush and with the aid of some gasoline soon had a bonfire going. Some of us fed the fire while the others changed the tire and in a short time we were on the way again. Sometime near midnight the driver pulled up near an old log out in the center of Mouse Rock Valley. On the way in, five days previous, we ate our lunch around this log and at the time wondered just how it came to be there as there was not timber within fifteen miles of the place.

When the truck stopped we all piled out and soon had a good fire going from slabs split off the log. While getting warmed up we boiled a pot of coffee, warmed some pork and beans, opened a jar of honey and had a regular feed.

Upon getting warmed up both inside and out, re resumed our places on the truck and were under way again. The motion of the truck made me sleepy and I soon fell asleep only to dream that I was in a refrigerator slowly freezing to death. I awoke with a start and found that the latter portion of the dream was at least partly true. Between 2:00am and 3:00am Cecil, who was driving at the time called out “Grand Canyon Bridge”, and then we dozed some and froze some more. We reached Cameron just after Sunrise and stopped for patching material for emergency use in case of another flat. Here is where that Los Angles movie outfit had the serious accident a day or two before as they were blasting down the canyon wall while making that film “The Painted Dessert”

A short distance of Cameron we stopped and prepared breakfast on the gasoline stove, there being no wood anywhere in the vicinity. While the air was very cold, a hearty breakfast and the bright sun pepped us up considerably.

When about to continue our journey we turned the cover back and crouched down back of the cab and let the sunshine upon us. Though I believe the warmth received was more imaginary than real. A brief halt was made at Flagstaff and then just after noon we stopped between Williams and Ash fork and cooked the final meal of the trip. At Prescott the sun had disappeared back of the mountains and the air was extremely cold so we pulled the cover over our heads again and tied it down. The next hour or two was spent in just sticking it out and eventually we rolled down Yarnelle Hill and into an entirely different climate.

On the way down we agreed that it would be a long time before any of us complained of the heat in the Salt River Valley. We reached home at 9:00pm, Sunday twenty nine hours on the road, including four stops that averaged an hour each, the speedometer registered nine hundred and seventy miles for the round trip.

The truck left loaded that night and the following morning some pictures were taken and then the deer were hung in the local ice plan. They were soon frozen solid and so reminded until we took them out five weeks later. After thawing them out in the sun for a few hours we managed to get them skinned out.
I had “Big Boy’s” Head mounted and the two hides made into buck-skin. So ended the most pleasant and successful trip I ever expect to take part in. Our only regret was that Harold lost his big buck.

This is a restored 1929 Chevy 1.5 ton truck, I am only assuming the truck spoken of in the story was a "29" because this was the first year Chevy came out with the 1.5 ton. The 1930 looks very close with no visible change.

Here is "Big Boy. This head hung in my grandmothers house for as long as I can remember. Every time I think of our many visits to grandmothers house this trophy comes to mind. I never knew the story behind this beautiful head until I found this manuscript. I actually shed a tear as I read my grandfathers account of how he took "Big Boy".

This is the other part of the mystery that was solved. Here is a picture of a Remington 35. We had a rifle very close to this in our house. All the mansfield boys took it hunting at one time or another. I did not know it was my grandfathers favorite gun. this will make all of my brothers grimace as they think of this gun, because shortly after my father passed away, all of his guns were stolen out of our house on fifth street in Blythe, including the old 35 of my grandfather.

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