Rick and I went for the elk opener, but we were rained out. Here we are at 9,500 feet the night before Opening Day. Rick saw a black bear the size of a child. We saw several elk, four Texans, enough grouse to alarm me, and several skinny deer that Rick called "emancipated." Camping was great and we were having a wonderful time. There was sign everywhere. I just knew we'd get an elk sooner or later. But then we woke to rain and had to hustle just to get out of there before hypothermia set in. In better news, I had two checks in the mailbox for essays I sold this year. It's great to get paid once in a while. If you find yourself in a Barnes and Nobles, pick up Gray's Sporting Journal. I have a piece in the November issue which comes out this month.
Fade In: A dusty road in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains. A Dodge Dakota truck labors into a camping spot. The truck is loaded with an ATV, three coolers, camp chairs, BBQ grill, water jugs. Jason Eggemyer, 40-ish, dedicated smoker, gourmand, emerges from the truck and lights one. Jason: This is where we saw a guy come out with an elk that one time. Dave Zoby, fit, 40-ish, brutally handsome, is already disgusted with this outing. Dave: When was that? Jason: Eight years ago. We were just getting out to hunt and this guy was coming back with one. Dave: What time of day? Jason: It was around noon. We drank a bunch that night and I wasn't feeling good. But I swear, this place is full of elk. EXT. Woods in Wyoming. The men are clothed, head to toe, in mismatching camo. In the near distance you can hear the hum of ATVs. Jason: I think I just saw a deer or something. Dave: (irritated) Where? Jason: Forty yards up the trail. It was an elk. Dave: Bullshit. If an elk ran by I'd hear it. Jason: It was two elk, a calf and a cow. Or maybe a deer running with an elk. Do they do that? EXT. Nightfall, campsite. Jason is on his fifth beer. Dave is ready to go home. Quiet. Jason: Well at least I saw something. Otherwise this hunt was a waste of time. But I saw them, I'm pretty sure. Dave says nothing. Jason: Hey we ought to buy a wall tent for next year when we come back. Jason lights a cigarette and stumbles to the cooler for another beer. Somewhere nearby a hunter scolds his dog. Fade out.
Hunter Schroeder of Concordia, KS shot this early season buck on Monday. His father, not a stranger to this site, does things legal-ish, so we can only assume this buck was shot legally. I'm not sure how I feel about early "youth" seasons. This is Hunter's 17th deer and he's only 11. He's shot trophies too. Should kids be trophy hunting, I often ask. Hunter is back-up quarterback for his football team. He wrestles 68 pound class, and he paints watercolors. His younger brother, Kale (pictured), was not traumatized too much when the high-powered rifle erupted and the deer ran bleeding into the public marsh. This family eats all of their wild game, unlike so many other deer and duck hunters I know. Way to go Schroeders.
At davezoby.com, we are trying to drop a few pounds for elk season, so today's restaurant review is of a meal I had at Jason Eggemyer's house. Jason served braised chicken breasts in an ancho chili sauce. There were bananas or plantains involved. The veggies were squash and red chard from Patrick Amelotte's family garden. (Obviously, I've lost my usual model for my restaurant reviews. I thank Jason for standing in until this is resolved.) Elk season means steep hikes into the back country (see below). It means long weekends in a tent with various men. If the snoring isn't too much, you can often hear the elk bugling outside. The rut is on. I'll post photos from the field next week. In other news, Hunter Schroeder, 11, of Concordia, KS shot a huge, velvet whitetail last week. I'll post that later too, but honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about these early youth seasons, eleven-year-olds dropping deer in the summer. How do we know, for example, whether or not the elder Schroeder, a known game hog and pink salmon abuser, took the rifle from the boy and shot the deer himself? We will never know.