2016 Deer Hunt

Aaron Griggs told me about seeing 3 bucks on the Antero Wildlife area near Antero Junction, CO.  I showed the area to Violet and asked her to watch for deer as she drove back and forth to work.  The week before opening day, she saw two bucks crossing the highway at least two different days.  October 22, 2016, I was at the SE corner of the property ½ hour before shooting time.


I left the truck about 6:45 and walked north about ¾ of a mile and took a stand near a fallen log that I could use as a backrest.  I hadn’t sat there for more than 10 minutes, when I saw a buck working his way along the old Midland railroad grade about 175 yards away.  When he disappeared into the trees, I got up and made my way across the small meadow to a large pine and took a seat beneath it.  When he came back into view he was less than 70 yards from me.  I lined up the sights of my old Winchester 1894 .32 Winchester Special behind his front shoulder and let fly with a 165 grain Hornady Flex-tip bullet.  He humped up when I hit him and turned toward me at a walk.  He came up the hill a few feet and turned away from me.  I was ready to put another shot into him but it wasn’t necessary.  He laid down and died under a small tree.


I field dressed him and made my way back to the truck.  I drove as close as I could to him and hiked back to him along the abandoned railroad grade.  I put my rope on his antlers and pulled him down the hill.  Violet came out and helped me load it in the truck.  When we got him home I washed him out and weighed him.  He dressed out at 137 lbs.  I skinned and boned the meat and put it on ice to cool.

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Lacing the Canoe

Recently, I purchased a Birch bark replica canoe from John Lindman of the Bark Canoe Store in Spokane, Washington.  He supplied me with the artificial Watap (Indian word for Spruce root)  and instructions on how to lace the gunnels.

The gunnel in the foreground is laced in a few spots to hold the canoe together for delivery.


This gunnel is completely laced including some bark accents.


The lacing is done by wrapping the Watap around the gunnel through holes drilled into the hull.  The gunnel cap is then attached to the gunnel on top of the lacing to protect it from abrasion.

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The finished wrap including the bark accents.


Next I painted the edge of the canoe and stenciled in some figures on the bow and stern.

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I will fill the wrapping holes with pine tar and she will be ready to go down the Green River!

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Aux Aliment du Pays – Off the Nourishment of the Land

Requirement #19 of the American Mountain Men states: Must spend three days and two nights totally alone under primitive conditions and aux aliments du pays [“off the nourishment of the land”].  Here is my story about completing this requirement:


Day 1 – I awoke early on November 27, 2015.  It was the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Because of other commitments, this would be my last chance this year for a three day weekend in the woods – aux aliment du pays.  After loading my gear in the wagon and making sure everything was done for Mrs. Hanratty, I headed down the trail to one of my favorite camps. The maps call it East Castle Rock gulch.  I did a solo camp and a hunting camp here in 2012.  Bill Gantic and his Labrador retriever, Molly had joined me for the hunting camp.  We had had some snow overnight and it was still snowing when I arrived at my campsite.  I cleared away 5″ of snow and set up my small wedge tent.  After setting camp, I went for an afternoon hunt.  As often happens when it is snowing the animals take shelter and there is little movement in the woods.  I saw a few rabbit and squirrel tracks under the spruce trees where the snow had not built up yet.  I spent an hour or two in the evening reading and writing the story of the six day trip I had just completed down the Green River in Utah.  I had a pretty cold night and it continued to snow.


Day 2 – I awoke to sunshine and a warmer morning than yesterday.



There was a new 3″ of snow on top of what was on the ground when I turned in. I grabbed my smoothbore and went out to find some breakfast.  I found some deer and coyote tracks in the fresh snow and a few cottontail tracks under another spruce.   I visited the campsite I had used twice in 2012.  The wind was blowing mildly and there was small snow clumps falling from the trees.  I wasn’t able to scare up anything to eat.  I could find no new rabbit or squirrel tracks this morning.  Water, however was not a problem.  Some of the shady areas had over a foot of good clean snow.  The springs I had dug out in 2012 were frozen over and the marshy areas had ice flows frozen across them but the little spring near camp must be somewhat warmer because it had a good strong flow.

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During the midday, I enjoyed the warm sunshine and continued to work on my Green river story. The wind continued to blow and the clumps of snow continued to fall from the trees.  There is still a lot of snow in the trees yet to come down.  As the sun started to tilt to the west, I went out for the afternoon hunt.  I still could not find any rabbits or squirrels to make a meal from.  Although I hadn’t eaten anything since early Friday, I wasn’t hungry.  I had consumed a lot of water during my time in the woods and that seemed to quell my hunger very well.  I was having a problem with my CPAP equipment the night before and my dog Cole was hurting pretty badly and I could tell he wasn’t looking forward to another cold night in the tent. I decided to pack it in and head home. In the late afternoon sun, I broke camp and headed home to hang my canvas, catch up on my notes and plan my next venture.


Aux Aliment du Pays Take Two:


On Saturday January 16, 2016, I left home first thing in the morning headed for an area known as the Apishapa Wildlife Management Area.  On the way in, I saw a roadrunner and some prairie dogs.  The weather was clear and the temperature had climbed to 42 degrees under the winter sun.  When I arrived, I scouted several trails and found myself a place to camp on the south side of a large gully among the western red cedars and Ponderosa pines.  There is water in the Apishapa River down in the gully. There is a lot of ice but the water is still accessible.  I am east of the Spanish Peaks and Walsenburg, south-east of Greenhorn Mountain and to the north I can see a snow covered peak which is Pike’s Peak.  I set up my lean-to and gathered some rocks to make a Blanchard fire pit.  I gathered up enough firewood to last the night and laid out my bedroll.

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As the afternoon wore on, I took my shotgun and dogs for a hunt.  We got into an area of brush & cedars where we started to see cottontail rabbits.  At one point the rabbits seemed to be everywhere at once.  Between me & the three dogs we had those bunnies steppin’ & fetchin’ like their heads were on fire and their asses were catchin’.  I shot at one running but didn’t get my cheek down on the stock and so I shot too high and missed.  A little later, I jumped another one and he ran under a cedar which was choked with brush around the trunk.  As I circled the tree, I saw it sitting near the trunk in the brush.  I put the bead of my shotgun just off of the end of his nose and pulled the trigger.  He went down in a heap.  I pulled him out of the brush and let the dogs admire it while I reloaded.  We didn’t see any more game on our way back to camp.  When we arrived at camp, I cleaned my prize and set it out to cool until tomorrow when I will cook it.  There is more to eat here than just animals. The Cane cholla fruit and the prickly pear cactus. Wikipedia says of the Cholla fruit: “The fruits are yellowish, tubercular like the stems, and shaped something like the frustum of a cone, with a hollow at the wide end where the flower fell off; they are often mistaken for flowers. The plant retains them all winter. They are dry and not tasty, though the  of Arizona and New Mexico are said to have eaten them.”   The prickly pear can be singed of its needles and cooked or eaten raw (I have eaten prickly pear at Bent’s Old Fort).  I had plenty of bunnies and so did not need to resort to eating these plants. I spent a quiet evening in camp before I turned in just before 9:00 PM.  The temperature at bedtime was 30 degrees with a stiff wind from the SSW which made it feel much colder.  I rigged an extra bit of canvas over the end of my lean-to in hopes it would block the wind enough so I could sleep.

Day 2 – I awoke at sunrise rolled over and went back to sleep.  It sure is a good feeling knowing you have meat in the larder.  I woke up again at 9:00 AM, it was 28 degrees.  I got up and grabbed my shotgun and headed out in search of more meat.  Just east of camp the dogs jumped a rabbit and as it circled back I took a shot at it and didn’t lead it enough and so I missed again.  I reloaded and we saw another bunny but I didn’t get a shot.  A little farther along, I saw one that the dogs didn’t see.  I circle the trees where I saw it disappear and pushed it out.  It did not get away.  Back in camp, I cleaned and cooked both rabbits on my meat hook from the tripod I made.


The sun came out as the clouds moved off and the temperature warmed into the upper 30’s.   For this hunt I am using my sawed-off double barreled 20 gauge percussion shotgun.  I have fired the right barrel 4 times and the left barrel is still in reserve.  The country here is supposed to hold quail as well as rabbits, deer, antelope, Big Horn sheep and coyotes.  I haven’t seen any birds or sign of them as yet.  The prairie is grass covered with many cholla plants and prickly pear cactus.  The edges and gullies are sparsely covered with cedar trees and the occasional Ponderosa pine.

Day 3 – January 18, 2016.  It warmed up overnight and the wind picked up a little.  When I got up I started packing up my camp stuff and rolled up my blankets.  We went out for a three mile scout.  We ate our second rabbit before we left and decided not to shoot anymore along the way.  I had heard there were quail out here and so I decided to focus on getting a few birds. I did not see any quail while we were out today.  We headed home late in the afternoon when the temperature had reached 55°.  It was hard to leave with the weather this nice!




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To beard or not to beard

Here is an interesting article from a fellow Word Press blogger.


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2015 Fur Trade Symposium at Bent’s Old Fort


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Trail Signs

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AMM Video

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An Expedition on the Green River



On November 19, 2015, Aaron Griggs and I left Buena Vista, Co and traveled to Moab, UT. It takes 6 hours to drive from my house to Moab via US Hwy 24 and I-70.  We stayed at the Motel 6 in Moab.  Friday, Nov 20th, we met our driver, Doug at Tag-a-long tours.  After paying our fee and filling out a BLM permit, we followed Doug out to Mineral Bottom.  We parked Aaron’s truck and loaded our canoe and gear onto Doug’s vehicle and trailer.  Doug took us to the town of Green River, UT where we launched our canoe at midday.  The State park has a nice boat dock for launching.  The launch is at river mile 120.


During our paddle we saw many ducks, some geese, three swans and several hawks.  A forked horn Mule deer buck was lying on the west bank as we came through the riffles just downstream of the railroad bridge on the south side of town.  We saw a Mule deer doe and another forked horn buck in the agricultural area at mile 113.


The wind picked up and we had a headwind and a tailwind depending on our direction down this winding river.  We made 16 miles and camped on the east bank of the Green River, mile 104, at dusk.  We made a campsite for ourselves in the sagebrush under some cottonwoods.  I built our fire with flint & steel and cooked some ground venison with noodles for supper.


Aaron is very interested in trapping and the old ways of living.  I bought a hunting license and he bought a trapping license.  We modified a dozen traps with a 3/16″ gap between the jaws so they would be Utah legal.  Aaron registered with the State and was issued a trapper’s number to put on the tags he made for our traps.


For my hunting forays, I brought a .45 caliber “Kentucky” style rifle.  Being a little worried about losing my rifle in the river, I opted to bring my least expensive weapon.  It just so happens this was the first rifle I ever purchased for myself in 1976; I was just 16 years old.  It was made in Spain and imported and marketed by Connecticut Valley Arms.


Upon reflection, I should have brought my fowler with non-toxic shot and purchased the required waterfowl stamps.  There was more waterfowl along the river than any other small game.  16 total miles today.


Day 2, Saturday Nov 21, we broke camp this morning planning on travelling 7 miles to the San Raphael River.  We were mesmerized by the scenery and the flocks of Canada geese and we floated right on past the mouth of the San Raphael without seeing it.


We were about 1 mile past it when we realized our mistake.  We turned around and paddled 1/2 mile back upstream but the current was so strong around a large sand bar island that we couldn’t make any headway and finally turned around and continued down to Dead Cow wash were we set up camp.  Mile 94.5.  This camp was absolutely gorgeous with the sheer rock wall to the north of the wash and the huge old Cottonwood to camp under.


Missing the San Raphael may have been the best mistake we made on the entire trip!  After setting up camp, I took my rifle and hiked up the wash for a scout.  In the bottom of the wash, I found a beautiful piece of amber flint.  I saw tracks of lion, coyote, fox, deer and other small critters.  I learned later some of the small tracks that I was unfamiliar with were that of Ringtail.  Ringtail is a cat-like relative to the raccoon.  It is almost completely nocturnal and lives in these desert canyons.  We canoed 9 1/2 river miles today and another mile trying to backtrack and another mile scout.  For supper, we fire roasted a squash and cooked more ground deer on a fire I struck with my new found flint.  11 1/2 total miles today.


Day 3, Sunday Nov 22, we warmed up the left-over meat and made coffee for breakfast.  After breaking camp and loading the canoe we paddled only 4 1/2 miles down the river to the entrance to Labyrinth Canyon.  We landed at a place called Three Canyon.  Mile 90.  We hiked a short way up the path to a great camp under a sheer wall that overhangs the site.


We set up our lean-to and I headed off up canyon to hunt and Aaron set out to lay some traps.   I hiked/hunted my way up the main branch of Three Canyon and back to camp in the afternoon.  With the side trips I made, I covered at least 4 miles on foot.  I saw some tracks but never got a shot at anything.  Three Canyon is composed of slot canyons.  Slot canyons may be only 50 feet wide across and hundreds of feet high in places.  These may be the only canyons of this type remaining since the inundation of Glen Canyon by Lake Powell.


Aaron made 6 sets. We met up at his last set on my way back.  As we walked back, I found another beautiful piece of purple tinted amber flint.  I instructed Aaron in how to make a fire with flint and steel which he did with this piece of flint.  For supper, I reconstituted some jerky and cooked some noodles with it to make a soup.    I found it difficult to walk up these canyons very fast.  The trails are rocky and difficult at best and the view is so spectacular a man has to take his time to watch his footing while watching for game and taking in the fantastic scenery.


When we rolled out our beds I scooped out of the sand a hole for my hips and one for my shoulders.  I had read about this in the past but I don’t do it very often.  What a great difference this made in sleeping on the ground.  I will have to make a habit of it when preparing my bed.  8 1/2 total miles for today.  Day 4, Monday Nov 23, we got up with the sun so Aaron could check and pull our traps while I made coffee and broke camp.  Aaron came back with a Ringtail and to quote my good friend, Darrell Nichols “with a smile so big you could barely see your face”!!



He skinned his prize and we packed up and hit the river.  We travelled 11 miles through the magnificent Labyrinth Canyon to Keg Spring Canyon.  Mile 79.  We carried our gear 1/4 mile up the canyon to a bench under some cottonwoods.  Another beautiful camp site.


We set out on our hunt immediately.  I went at least two miles up the canyon (there was no defined trail here at all) and made a call for predators.  Aaron set seven traps for various critters.  We saw several sets of lion tracks, deer tracks, fox and ringtail tracks.  I found another piece of flint here and as usual struck the fire off of the piece of flint I had found in that place.  There are a lot of petrified trees here.


For dinner, I cooked the ringtail and some ship’s biscuit.  It was the best Ringtail either of us had ever had!  16 1/2 total miles today.


Day 5, Tuesday Nov 24, Aaron pulled our traps while I made coffee and started packing.  He had two sprung traps but nothing caught.  I made a trip to the river with my bedroll and other gear and met Aaron with his bedroll on my return.


We made 3 trips to haul our stuff to camp and back to the river.  Each trip being 1/2 mile around equals 1 1/2 miles to pack into camp and 1 1/2 miles back to the river this morning.  We headed downstream and saw the river registry while watching some coots.  We travelled 17 1/2 river miles today.  We paddled around Bow Knot bend and saw a Grey fox along the bank.  Aaron took a shot at it with his pistol before I could bring my rifle into play.  The fox ran away and when we checked the riverbank there was no blood or hair so we figured he missed.  We made camp on a bench above the river.


Mile 61.5.  Aaron set 5 traps while I made camp and started the fire.  This camp was the worst for firewood but we managed.  I cooked dried fruit for supper supplemented with piňon nuts, jerky and hot chocolate.


We passed through the picturesque heart of Labyrinth canyon today.  My neck got sore from looking up at all of the high walls.  19 total miles today.

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Day 6, Wednesday Nov 25, Aaron pulled our traps – nothing.  I cooked coffee and broke camp.  We hit the river and paddled 9 1/2 miles to Mineral Bottom.  Mile 52.25.  After we passed Hell Roaring Canyon we had a ferocious head wind for the last 3 miles.   81 total miles afoot & afloat.


We arrived at Mineral Bottom at 1 PM, drove into Moab for some food then drove the river road up the Colorado to I-70 and home to Colorado.  As can be seen from the pictures we had clear skies and warm fall weather during the day.  Daily temps were in the 50’s & 60’s with night time lows in the 20’s & 30’s.  The moon was waxing from 1st quarter to full, so our evenings were bright with moonlight.



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The Most Interesting Man In the World

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The Horse

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