A Berry Good Bear Hunt

I go back to my half warm victory beer and wait for my heart rate to slow down again.




This ol’ chap decided to join me while I was filling my cap with wild raspberries one fine spring day in June. I follow him and another male, a brown, for a couple hours till they are uphill from where I know my truck is parked.. Since I have my 30-06 with me and a bear tag for the season I decide to flank them for a clear downhill shot.

Never before had I seen two males travel together. They are talking to each other from time to time as it began to drizzle rain. Neat noises, like moaning grunts. I always wonder what animals are saying to each other. Are these two boars chatting about the weather? Or maybe regaling stories of all the juicy apples they had eaten the fall before in the orchards just down the hill.

Noticing their steady direction of travel I move a long ways ahead of them, finding a comfortable spot to calm down after my hike. A ten minute or so breather they walk into view… 240 yards down hill and about 10% grade, not a bad spot. I take the black since the brown was skinny and a little rough looking, I want nice healthy meat. He goes down clean, with a grunt, taking a single 180 grain soft point to the heart.

It is raining hard now. I used every rope and chain I have to hook him up after dragging his mass the 200 yards or so downhill by myself to the trail leading to my parking spot. Over logs and around rocks I stumble as I continue to yard and shift his weight. I sure hope he doesn’t wake up! Using a heavy ratchet strap for a winch, it arrives at my truck. It’s all I can do to tug it aboard using my tail gate as a ramp!

Meanwhile the other male has been shadowing at 40 yards and I feel the need to keep my rifle loaded and ready every inch of my journey. He doesn’t sound happy. I yell and toss small stones nearby as I cannot keep an eye on him while I’m dressing the beast out. He finally leaves and I can finish loading my harvest without threat of retaliation from his buddy. It is sad to see their attachment broken but I need meat for the Summer and these guys had been tearing up the local orchards steady for a couple years.

 

I’m totally soaked now from sweat and rain. Stripping to only a t-shirt, I try to cool off in the June 15th shower. After a good cleaning and rest I leave the entrails for the scavengers. Nothing gets wasted in the bush! And wouldn’t you know?.. As I start into my packed lunch I hear a noise and look over my right shoulder, startling a female coyote coming over to claim her prize. Incredible how quickly they can move in on a fresh kill. Being the third day hunting alone in a row I’m too tired to make much noise. I go back to my half warm victory beer and wait for my heart rate to slow down again. ~Scott





Thunder Bolt & Lightning

I took it as an omen that I was truly meant to go home. It gave me goose bumps all over again.


One thing that many folks might need to get used to while living in the mountains is the storms. When we get a storm up here in these iron rich mountains you are really in it! You watch the dark, menacing clouds as they gather above the closest ridge and come billowing in. One moment there is light fluffy clouds and sun, the next you can see, smell and feel the cold moisture cascading down upon you.

Here we can see the rain falling on a nearby slope as it moves in. In winter we observe the snow whitewashing that slope a good while before it hits us. I’ve learned to start packing up my outdoor projects before I get clobbered by a heavy storm, this particular slope to my West happens to be a prevailing direction for most of our weather to move in from. We get to tell if merely a light rain is approaching or if we better get the tarps tied down fast.
All great info to keep an eye on and I find I am looking at the view often to know what’s coming.

I’ve had a few very close calls with lightning the last few years up here. I’ve been on many mountain lakes fishing as bad storms roll in, incredible to see but it will raise the hairs on your arms and neck. But aside from all that fishing in foul weather my closest calls both happened in my neck of the woods. I was up on a high, rocky lookout that faces North under the high tension wires B.C. Hydro put in this area. I get to look down a peaceful stretch of the Shuswap river as it curves through the little valley down there and was watching a storm roll in from the Enderby/Salmon Arm areas to the West. It was a good one, I could feel the energy in the air and the wind was fantastic. It really gets the ticker going!

After a few short minutes the lightning started. Up here it will be reaching the ground in spots making one feel like they are right in the middle of it all. Seeing the electricity arcing through the air at nearly eye level a half kilometer away is a sight to behold for sure. Until it gets to be right on top of you.. My boldness let me stay up there as it came right at me. I was in no hurry to go home and sit in the house, loving the storm, I just watched it come.

It was when a bolt shot down, lighting up the sky right above me in a bright white and blue burst, hitting the wires and following them from directly above me down to the next set of insulators. I am just guessing that it was a small discharge being that it didn’t harm the wire or continue down to light me up. I can tell you though that I was in the cab of my truck spinning tires and down the road before the instantaneous boom of thunder stopped. Haha. I had seen this happen again on my way down the hill heading home and that time it looked less of a strike and more like a gathering of energy from around the wires. From my second perspective I got a much better profile look at the phenomenon. Did’t slow me down any, I was out of there!

On my way home a patch of Sun was shining through and a huge double rainbow stretched out along the valley. It was brilliant and the one end looked to me to be right at the lookout I was enjoying and the other seemed to complete the arc right at my homestead. I took it as an omen that I was truly meant to go home. It gave me goose bumps all over again.

The second close one was just a bit Northwest of my place, about 3.5 km away. I was working in a 21 metric ton excavator doing silver culture work for a local mill. We were getting a cut block cleared of excess slash and seeding it with conifer seeds. My partner Mike was working a ways off nearby about 600 meters away. We try to keep an eye on each other in case of emergency, you never know when a fire might start or a guy tips over a machine, he might need help.

A lightning storm moved in fast, since this happens often I just kept working. The light show was pretty close this day and I saw a couple real close flashes, one in particular looked to go out from above and away from me.

Well a couple minutes go by and Mike comes up grinning and asked if I want to get off the mountain. “Did you see that bolt that almost hit you”? I figured why bother, the worst of the storm has already passed. He tells me that last bolt he saw came right down at me and turned away about 50 meters above my machine. Pretty damn close, I had seen the flash but I couldn’t tell just how close it came and how it turned away. So after some coaxing I agreed that it might be safest to come back when the storm was over to finish up. We would have been fine I am sure but why risk it? Our boss wouldn’t be terribly impressed if we let ourselves get hurt.

You never really know which way a storm will go and where the worst of it will strike so we get caught in it from time to time. Such is life, so we enjoy the good times when we can and laugh off the rough ones after conquer them. ~Scott




Here Kitty, Kitty

Now it’s a good thing the cat wasn’t a man eating variety or I would have been an easy meal that day





A fond memory of ours was a drive we took in my little red racing jeep (my pet name for my first jeep yj). Ally and I headed back behind Brenda mine and South of hwy 97C early one year at least 12 years ago. It was cold but sunny, socked in with fog in the valley, but up there it was gorgeous.

Many km out of Peachland B.C. we were enjoying the day when we came upon this mature Lynx. Such awesome creatures, this cat just crouched beneath a pine and watched us. We took some pics but I felt I needed a better angle so I took off over the snow. Off trail… and I sunk up to my waist. Haha.

Now it’s a good thing the cat wasn’t a man eating variety or I would have been an easy meal that day! But after what I’m sure was a laugh from ol’ Lynx there, and this picture taken by me, it left.

Being that we were on a day outing and had some time to burn we decided to take note of where the wildcat went into the tree line. After my spooking him such as I did he went away then up ahead. Basically it went out a few hundred yards ahead of us, crossed our path and headed into the woods. You’d think that was it, awesome sighting at 40 or so feet away, but over.

Well I knew that area a little from my days up at Pennask Lake working at the hunting/fishing resort about 30 km to the North. So we back tracked a half km then headed South as well. After oh.. a half dozen km we came to a natural gas right of way, we followed up it a ways and we waited. After nearly an hour of near silence, maybe more, at last we see our friend. And it wasn’t alone! There was at least seven of the beautiful cats travelling as a group. Some bigger, some small, it was a sight of a lifetime. So rare to see them in a large group like that, we were wonderfully thrilled to witness it. A blessing for sure.

Of all the big cats I have run into in the bush that was the most spectacular and a cherished memory of my life. Thinking of this always reminds me of a moose hunting trip my late friend Riley and I took up North.

We were a couple hours North West from Quesnel, up in Nazko country. We seen many moose but up to the point of this story we hadn’t harvested ours. We were in a group of four hunters and two designated drinkers, a Father/son team. The elder pitch drinker did end up getting himself a mule deer (during a sober mission up a mountian to cell service) and after we dragged it to his truck he brought out about half his wives’ kitchen knives and asked which would do best. God did I laugh, and handed him my knife…

Any ways back to me and Rye. We were clipping down the road in total Rye style, about 70kph, travelling between chains of lakes when I yell at Rye “Hey there was a Lynx sleeping back there”! He slams on the brakes a moment later and we skidded at least thirty feet. Winds it up in reverse and after a bit I go “Whoa”. There it was laying there under a tree, sleeping soundly twenty feet off the road.

I need a picture. So with this crap disposable camera (pics never turned out)I quietly creep out of the truck and walked right up to the Lynx and snapped it’s picture. Turns out my junker of a camera is pretty loud at ten feet away and the Wildcat woke up. I’ll never forget the look in it’s eyes when it looked up, relaxed a bit, then it’s eyes focused in and it tensed right up. Eyes went wide. Then up and off in a shot it ran 80 or so feet into the open pines and turned to watch us some more.

As I turned around I see Rye with my rifle (I owned both the 30-06 we took on that trip) leveled at his hip pointed right at me. The bugger said he had me covered…. safest cat in the bush that day I tell ya!

I miss Riley dearly, one heck of a mind, one heck of a worker, but after that day I always let him walk in front while hunting. ~Scott

 




Jake’s “mouse”

I still wish I kept that squirrel and trained it to collect Fir tree cones for me. I can sell those by the pail full for good money. Live and learn.





So this one cool fall night, October 24 2016, our youngest son Jake comes sheepishly into our bedroom doorway to tell us about a little critter that has made it’s way into his room. Being that it was past their bed times and the fact that the two of us were snuggled up in bed as well, not wanting to be disturbed, we weren’t really excited about this development.

“What is it Jake, why are you out of bed?” I ask.

“There’s a mouse on my bed.” Jake whispers in his own mouse like voice.

“well just flick it off the bed and one of your cats will deal with it.” I said, wanting to get back to our snuggle.

Now to this Jake just looks at me with wide eyed horror. But he does leave us alone for a short time only to return a few minutes later. This time he informs us that it is still there but now on his window sill as he stands there in his pj’s quietly. I think to my self ‘how does a little mouse get up on a window sill?’

So I figure I better get up and settle this problem for him so I can get him back to sleep. Upon entering into his room we look at his window sill and see nothing. Quickly though I hear Ally belt out “Holy S#!t, that’s not a mouse!!”

It was a big grey flying squirrel hanging from the top of the window. And it is freaked right out! Hahaha. So me being me I grab it hoping it won’t bite. It bit, I felt his teeth go right to the bone. I’ve handled many smaller rodents, bats, squirrels and snakes that the cats bring home but never anything this big. Usually a little bite is no big deal here. So I drop it and go for my skidoo mitts.

After donning the necessary safety gear, a mitt, I take our newest visitor into the kitchen for it’s mug shots before releasing it on the terms it is never to come back inside our home. He bid us farewell with the flick of his tail and made off into the night.

I still wish I kept that squirrel and trained it to collect Fir tree cones for me. I can sell those by the pail full for good money. Live and learn.

~Scott




Day one with the blog

Our hopes are to be able to share and learn some of the much needed tips, tricks and techniques of living the “land rich, live poor” lifestyle.

So today is day one of our first blog at the homestead. Five years in now on the land in central British Columbia, Canada we have gathered a good many funny and even some useful stories about life in the sticks and starting from bare land.

As we continue to share our experiences and adventures I will try to add in a few stories from my grand parents and their set ups in the day on the Canadian prairie. Our hopes are to be able to share and learn some of the much needed tips, tricks and techniques of living the “land rich, live poor” lifestyle. haha. Along the way we will be having links to videos about how things have been done, what we do to get along today and small hobbies that add to the richness of our lives.

Feel free to look around and give feed back or comments on what you think and maybe how we can improve the experiences we have together here. I also have started a YouTube channel dedicated to our lifestyle if that may of interest. Please feel free to check it out.

Enjoy!   ~Scott