Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
AUGUSTA, Mont. - I grew up in elk country.
We saw herds from time to time as we drove around southern Oregon, and ran across signs during our summertime backpacking trips.
But I never hunted the majestic animals.
Elk season conflicted with school and fall sports, and elk hunting isn't really a weekend endeavor, even in elk country.
I'm finally getting the chance.
Saturday morning my friend Kraig Cesar, his dad Bob Halverson, and I will climb aboard pack horses at the Benchmark trailhead on the border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
We'll reach base camp 24 miles and many hours later.
Then we get to finish the trek the next morning, with 7 more miles to our final camp.
I'm a do-it-yourself hunter, but this isn't that kind of trip.
We're going with Mills Wilderness Adventures, an outfitter that came recommended by friends on the staff at Bugle, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's magazine.
I helped Kraig set up the trip, and he generously invited me along. Yes, it's good to have good friends.
Thursday afternoon when we rolled into Augusta, a town of about 300 just outside the Bob Marshall, we ran into a group of hunters who'd been in the Mills' camps this past week.
Their take was three bulls, with a few more close opportunities.
The hunting was just OK, we were told, in part because the weather was unseasonably hot during the first few days of the hunt.
The bulls are rutting, but weren't bugling much.
Conditions are changing. The wind was howling Thursday, and rain is expected starting about noon today.
Higher elevations are forecast to get snow.
The hunting might not go completely off the charts, but snow and cooler weather certainly won't hurt.
Our biggest concern is whether or not we packed the right gear.
We'll find out soon enough.
I did chicken out and bought a pair of hunting boots.
My old boots are toast after 15 years, which I why I didn't bother bringing them. The light hiking boots I planned to wear just weren't going to cut it in snow.
Our boots will get quite a workout over the next eight days.
I hope at least some of the ground mine cover will be the excited steps to a fallen bull elk.
Air gun show this weekend
The Montana hunting trip forces me to miss Virginia's annual youth deer hunt, which is Saturday, as well as the early archery season opener on Oct. 5.
So be it. There's lots of home state deer hunting to come.
More painful for this air gun geek is that I'll be out of town for the 23rd annual International Airgun & Toy Gun Exposition.
This is the show that, for years, was the work of Roanoke air gun aficionado and collector Fred Liady, who died in 2010.
The show will be held at the Roanoke Moose Lodge #284, at 3233 Catawba Valley Drive in Salem.
Hours are noon to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
General admission is a $5 donation.
The show attracts some of the country's foremost airgun enthusiasts, some of them collectors with hundreds of guns.
Large retailer Pyramid Air has made an appearance at the show in the past, but there won't be any big retailers this year.
Instead it will be private collectors looking to buy, sell and trade.
Airguns available will range from antiques to modern high-powered hunting rifles.
For those simply interested in learning about air guns, which continue to gain mainstream popularity, the show can be a great place to learn.
The point of contact for the show is Davis Schwesinger, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his mobile phone at 607-734-7340.
Weather JournalSo ... WHERE is this storm?