If you have ever been on an elk hunting trip, you know it requires a lot of preparation. I spent countless hours going over what I would need on my 9 days away from home. The biggest problem was I had never been to this location before and was unsure of what I needed to bring. Would I be out on my own in the mountains? Survival gear? Emergency food? So, I started with the basics.
One thing I knew I would need was my gun! I made several trips to my home-made gun range slinging magnum caliber bullets downrange until I was happy with the results. What you see in the picture holding the gun is known as a "Lead Sled". It is used when overzealous folks like myself begin slinging so many magnum caliber bullets downrange that their shoulder hurts! There should be a couple of bags of bird shot weighing it down. For some reason my brother-in-law took off with those, so I had to make do with anything heavy I could pile on there. To avoid any family tension, brother-in-law claims the bags of bird shot were his to start with.
Soon it was time to load all my gear into as small a space as possible and get on the road. Gear boxes and duffle bags were crammed with items as I checked them off the list. Toilet paper was second on the list and took up some space. Cell phone, dried and canned food, cooking pots, expensive flashlights, cot and pad, new lantern, and about everything I was used to at home was crammed onto my recently re-purposed 4 wheeler trailer. This, along with my 4 wheeler was loaded onto a flatbed trailer and I was off to meet some hunting buddies.
A short 4 hour drive later and I was at my buddies house. Everything was unloaded from my trailer and reloaded into his. It is a good thing we packed light, or we could never have crammed our gear into the 4 door long bed pickup and 24 foot cargo trailer! Once we had exceeded to trailer's weight limitation, we decided we had enough stuff and headed for Colorado. The 16 hour drive was long, but was interrupted every few hundred miles by stops to refuel the truck with diesel from a tank we carried in the bed. Determined to make good time, we vowed not to stop anymore than needed. The sun rose the next morning to find us busily sleeping in a parking lot 3 hours from our destination. We weren't tired when we stopped. We had calculated 2 hours of rest would give us the strength required to hold onto the "Oh Shit" handles in the truck as we pulled the trailer up and over the 11,000' Monarch Pass. Our calculations proved to be correct.
By mid-morning the second day we arrived at our chosen hunting spot. Everything was unloaded and reloaded onto 4 wheelers, UTVs, and trailers. We scratched and clawed our way 3 miles up the mountain to the cabin. The cabin was perched close to the top of the mountain and was fashioned from milled D-logs, imagination, and old car parts. Do not attempt to copy this plan unless you have a '64 Chevy station wagon from which to procure the upper windows. Two wood stoves kept the cabin somewhat comfortable. That is more than I can say for the outhouse. It was also crafted from milled lumber, but leaned back far enough that one was required to make full contact with the seat on 10 degree mornings. It made for short outhouse visits, but the view from the throne was amazing.
We met our fellow hunters. Two were from Las Vegas, a couple guys from Louisiana, some of us from Missouri, all guided by 2 Colorado rednecks (who knew?) in an old pickup that was used to shuttle us around the mountains. We set up our cots and got acquainted with our fellow hunters. I volunteered for the loft and was curious as to why the veterans of this group shunned the lofty sleeping quarters. Burt, a true Louisiana coon-ass, decided to move in with me due to a lack of downstairs space. He had no cot, so he arranged his sleeping bag and blankets on the floor. Someone stoked up the wood stoves and we were off to bed. As the heat from the stoves kicked in, I felt a bead of sweat forming on my forehead. "Oh Lawd it's hot!" complained Burt, as he stripped down to his skivvies in the dark. Despite the snoring, passing of gas, and giggling downstairs, I held confidence in our newly formed hunting group. I mean... What could go wrong? cont...