to my blog. Yes, this means YOU, from me: Ken
My HOME page lives at http://www.sticksite.com/
Trip 14: Only 4 nights up there this time. Snow was 15" deep. We saw 11 road-kills on the way up; 4 deer and 7 moose. At the cabin we saw only two moose and 3 deer. We got stuck once, about 2 miles north on an "ice road" made by the oil industry to where they plan to drill for gas soon. Here are a couple of the pictures I kept: A "Pine Grosbeak" and Yours Truly, bringing some firewood:
Trip 13: Friday, Oct. 20: When we got to the cabin we saw a "bunch" of deer in my field. The road was very muddy and the van is dripping mud all over. I went to the beaver "workings" and cut some stumps for a customer.
we saw 25 deer on my field and later at least 2 more came out of the
He seemed to be surprised to see so many deer out there, with maybe a thousand buffalo just across the fence that he stood watching a very long time. I checked the mouse-traps set around the cabin and found another new record: four mice. And while I was resetting those, the fifth trap caught a mouse.
Ken Anderson had suggested using raisins for bait so that's what I've been doing this time. Seems to be perfect. John told me that Beno once had TWO mice caught in one trap! The 3x3 and the 4x4 Mulie bucks were very near the cabin and I took pics. I set up a 5-gallon pail to trap mice. First I put varsol in it but I think the smell chased mice away. Later I filled it with dead leaves.
were very unafraid of me, even when I approached them with camera on
tripod and called to them, asking them to pose for me. At that point I
counted 29 deer in the field.
Tuesday, Oct. 24: Early in the morning, the coyotes were yelling so close to the cabin that even I, with my less-than-adequate ears, could hear them well.
Wednesday: This evening I'm tired; after lunch I took a hike far north which must have been at least 4 miles. Saw several muskrats in the beaver pond up north. Downloaded my pictures to the laptop but all the muskrat pics were blurred. I had accidentally pushed the focus button from "automatic" to "manual."
Thursday: Looks like we will go home today. We did. Hours after I got home, Rick called to come and sign me up for the pipeline project which will go through my land.
Oct. 10 we went to the cabin and had some great weather for some long
hikes but then it turned wet and cool. After a week of temps to 42C in
Arizona, that was hard to take. We never saw so many deer in my field;
once I counted 33. There were 4 moose at one time also. Here are 4 of
my favorite pictures from this trip; the very dark one of the "3x3
buck" was taken too early in the morning, as that buck was only about
15 feet from the window. |
Sept. 12: I
came up (alone) to meet Bob Burns and Steve Pollard from Minnesota. Bob
is making his 3rd annual visit to collect my Reject sticks. A
little later 3 combines arrived and within a few hours my Canola crop
harvested. A big Muledeer buck with 2 does was in the field before they
were finished combining. A little later, just as it was starting to get
dark, 400 yards east of the cabin a BIG Muledeer buck came out to feed
in my field. By dark the crop was harvested and I went to bed.
Driving a bit further I saw a nice buck; possibly the same one as shown above, again and took this pic of him:
Then I drove to the east end of my land to view the ditching job. The ditch is not nearly as deep as I had expected nor is the berm as high as expected. There is no "carpet" in the ditch so only time will tell, next spring, if it will erode badly.
Saw only about 3 deer in that area. On the way back I saw 3 coyotes together just south of my granaries. There is still one small buck on the wrong side (south) of Orrin's fence, trying to get north across my field and into the bush. Maybe the 3 coyotes are going to try for him when he gets worn out. Today I started skinning the dead/dry sticks collected earlier this year. Of the 80+ I did about 15 and another 5 or so became Rejects. Tonight I could see two Muledeer bucks on my field and at the far end was a black bear with 3 cubs. It got very chilly this afternoon. We even had a very few drops of rain. A coyote was relatively close to the cabin:
Thursday: Up at 6 and the weather was still very nice. While waiting for Bob Burns and Steve Pollard to arrive from Minnesota, I wandered around a bit and cut a few more sticks for Bob. The small (2 little forks) Muledeer buck which was "stuck" in Orrin's pasture south of my west quarter was still there. He was in the corner by my granaries and stayed there, nervously, as I approached. Clearly, he was asking me to let him out. No way could I help him. Two hunters from Slave Lake came by and we chatted. Around 1:30 PM, Bob and Steve arrived. By about 6 PM, after making the trailer taller, they had their (almost 1000) sticks loaded and were on their way.
I had to make a quickie trip to the cabin to see about the erosion control work the week earlier and noted this house going down the highway:
Rolly Girard was hard at work on my new ditch:
August 17: First thing in the morning, I applied coat number 5 of
Varathane to the batch of 30 sticks I'm finishing now. Then a $285
dental appointment. It was a beautiful day. Hot. After we unloaded the
van I went looking
for sticks near the cabin for the special order I have from
who takes all my REJECT sticks. I got 20 sticks near the cabin. He
plans to come up in two weeks and would like 1200 but I have only 600.
drove the van north a mile and went into the slough area there. I came
back with 37 sticks. On the way up, a very nice buck crossed
of me and on the way back, a doe. Back at the cabin I noted a very nice
Muledeer buck in my crop and a doe Whitetail nearby. The temp was about
28C and it was too hot to work hard. There were buffalo in the field
south but none were in my crop. After supper I cut another 9 sticks for
Bob but left them out there to
retrieve later. When I came out on the field, the big buck was there as
were a Whitetail doe with twins. We had not put the shower bag out so
there was no hot water for a shower. There were 9 Ruffed Grouse hanging
around the cabin all the time.
Friday: We went out together, with the StickShaw to find some more sticks. We had a big load on by the time we got back. Then I went north with the van and got a load; then another hike and found some more. At one point as I was stumbling through the bush, my right foot slipped. I knew without looking what that was. When I dared look, my thought was confirmed. A big pile of slimy, sticky bear poop. YUK! No, I did not stick my finger in it to see if it was still warm. There is bear sign all over the place. The Whitetail doe and her two spotted fawns were in the park right behind the cabin. We took a big load of skinned, dry, "2005 harvest" sticks out of the shed to take home. In later evening we saw from the cabin: 5 antlerless Muldedeer including 2 fawns, 2 antlerless Whitetails and at the far end of my field, almost a mile east, eight antlerless elk.
Saturday, August 19: First thing in the morning there were 5 Muledeer at least a half mile east feeding in my lousy Canola crop. Two were does and one a VERY big buck. Too far to get pictures but I tried. We have noticed that the Muledeer are light brown in color now, and the Whitetails are a "reddish" brown. The temp at 7:30 was only about 8C before the sun hit the thermometer. Got more sticks today for Bob, so now I have collected 245 this trip plus Marie's 12 plus 5 for myself to keep. I now have 952 sticks to show Bob when he comes from Stillwater, Minnesota. I made several trips out for sticks today. In the evening there were 11 deer at the east end of my field, including a big buck, and 2 Whitetails south of the cabin. Coyotes howling tonight; Marie says there are several and they are close; I can hear very little of it. This afternoon I saw a cow moose on the edge of my field, about 400 yards east.
Sunday: Two deer in the field, a long way off, at 8 AM and 3 coyotes about 175 yards east; a family group it seems. Even though the lawn is nearly all mowed, no robins have come to feed on it as they did in previous visits. Finally a few bluejays showed up at the bird feeder. First thing this morning a small hawk or falcon was around the cabin and he made a half-hearted attack on a flicker. I could not get a decent picture but tried. We'll go back to the city today. (on the way home I saw 3 more coyotes; must be my day for coyotes.)
No pictures worth keeping this trip.
|Tuesday, July 11:
Marie and I arrived around 3 PM; the road was muddy and the sky
threatening rain; a few drops off & on. Stopped at John's place
dump off some parts from the tent trailer that I had demolished.
well is being erected on his land. I had not been feeling well for a
few days and my temperature was up so
I wondered about the sense of going up here now. The weather
forecast was good though, and I needed a bundle of Scout Sticks for a
customer in California. On the way out of town I had mailed out two
packages of sticks to Illinois and Indiana. We had made a one-day trip
up here to take the Argo into the
bush for two 16-foot diamond Willows that I wanted and marked with
ribbons on the previous trip. We got them out fine and tied them on top
of the van. At home I had them skinned (not the diamonds) in less than
an hour. |
Wednesday: I went to bed right after suppertime with my temperature clearly too high. I figured we might just have to leave in a hurry so we went out and loaded 100 sticks from the 2005 harvest into the van (second load; 300 to go) and then picked through the Scout Sticks for my special order. Then, surprisingly, the aspirins seemed to kick in and I felt much better. Marie baked another cake; this time we had a fire going in the wood stove so she used that rather than the outside firepit. It worked fine.
Thursday: Got up at 5 to take 2 more aspirin, hoping to stop the alternation between shivering and drowning in sweat. It worked. Makes me wonder if maybe there really is a "Male Menopause." (after all, they call it that and not "Womenopause.") I had assumed that that perceived or actual phenomenon manifest its existence by old geezers such as I, going out and buying red convertibles with racing stripes. Maybe not. (NOTE TO SELF: Google "Male Menopause; fact or fiction.") I hate to take too much aspirin after long ago, I had a man die at my feet from an aspirin overdose. John dropped in with a sample of the fish he caught at the coast. He has a fishing hole of his own on his own land but he never eats the ones he catches there. He catches the trout, kissed them on the nose and thanks them politely for being so kind as to let him catch them, and then gently puts them back.
Friday, July 13: very nice-looking day, finally. I had not slept all night, alternating between hot and cold and headaches. There was one or two buffalo in the field south of my land again/still. South of the cabin about 200 yards were 3 Whitetail bucks. At one point I noted them coming to the cabin but I had not even bothered to bring my camera in from the van so could not take pictures as they went right past the window. The largest one, a 4x4 but still growing passed within 20 yards of me. Later I noted that all 3 of them were in the park, laying down. This allowed me to sneak out of the door, tip-toe to the van and get the Panasonic. Then I slowly slid open the window on the north side and took several pictures of them.
After a couple more aspirins, I began to feel much better and wondered around outside a little. I figured if I'm going to get better, best I get some excercise. Before we got as far as I'd hoped to go, I could feel the strain so I told Marie, "If you have to drag me back, please drag me by the *shoulders* and not by the ankles." She told me she had already chose which of my various little appendiges she would be using to drag me back. That motivated me immediately to hike like I was in perfect condition. Lots of big game sign, including bear. In the cabin hangs this warning:
BEAR WARNINGVisitors are encouraged to wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren?t expecting them. It is also suggested that you carry pepper spray in case you encounter a bear. It is also a good idea to watch for fresh bear activity. You should recognize the difference between black bear poop and grizzly bear poop.
Black bear poop is smaller and contains a lot of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly poop has little bells in it and smells like pepper spray.
When we found a large pile of bear poop, we inspected it very carefully; we could not see any little bells in it nor did it smell like pepper-spray so we assumed that it had been left by a black bear, not a gizzly.
Saturday: another bad night. Awful headaches. The deer were out and I was waiting for them to come closer but dozed off and Marie went outside, scaring them away. Now to load up and head for the city again.
baked a cake (from a mix) on the outside fire; her third attempt and
this time she got it right; not easy. There are now 308 green/live
sticks peeled and drying. I'm reading "The Scandal of Scientology" by
Paulette Cooper. Looks like THAT is one organization to stay far away
I did see a pure yellow bird but it did not stick around to have its picture taken either.
The tiny wild strawbery tastes a million times better than any you can buy in a store but they are so tiny that it takes an awful lot of them to make a dozen.
Ants are a constant problem.
I hope these girls produce a lot of honey for the owner, Jim Hale this year; maybe I'll get a small sample.
A couple of squirrels;
one large and one small;
they are not a problem
so I'll leave them alone. Marie got into the strawberry coop and weeded
like nobody ever weeded before; not a single tiny weed left in there.
After lunch we went sticking. I forgot my Treasure Maps but we went to
the same place as the last few trips and we got a big load. At one
point I found a single "clump" which had 4 fantastic sticks on it. I
had to call Marie to come and admire it before I started cutting.
Absolutely incredible sticks there. I stumbled over an old rotten log
and noted that we had, apparently, scared a bear off his hunt for
insects; the log was ripped to smithereens. Now, this year, of the 308
sticks, I have about 5 absolutely incredible sticks. From the load we
brought in today, a few were "Bob Sticks" a.k.a. "Rejects" and some
were for my dead/dry pile (to be skinned in the fall) and about 30
"good"ones and one Rail. The sun had done a good job of heating the
water for our much needed showers.
at the cabin a snooze and cold drink and then while Marie made supper I
sorted out our catch. Some were "Bob Sticks" (a.k.a. Rejects) and some
were Scout Sticks and a few were for the "dead/dry" collection and the
rest were "real sticks." In the afternoon we noted two buffalo in the
field south of my west quarter. Then Marie and I started skinning the
big ones. The Diamond Willow; not the buffalo! We spent quite some time
on them. I got mine done. Next is to let them dry and hope
split. The count of skinned sticks now stands at 336.
I was reminded today of the old expression: "the good die young." Maybe that is how it is with Diamond Willow too. Sometimes I find a stick that is so loaded with diamonds that it is hard to believe. Then, I find it is completely rotten. Enough to make a stickmaker cry. Over the years I've saved a few of the really nice pieces and scraped the bark off them. Some are sanded too. Maybe I'll sand them all and varnish them, simply as "artwork by Mom Nature."
count of green/live sticks skinned so far this harvest now stands at
358. There are not a lot of ferns in the woods here but we saw one a
few years ago and every time we are nearby we think we might take one
home. Today we were going past that spot and Marie had some plastic
bags along so we stopped. Then we saw that there were at least 15 or
more so we filled the bags and when we left there were still at least a
dozen. We parked them in the shade behind the cabin and put a note on
the dash of the van reminding us to take them along when we go home.
Marie wants them in her garden and I'll put one in my front yard too.
Later we were sitting on the front step when 3 birds came by. They landed in the birch tree beside the cabin, let me take some pictures and then flew on. No idea what they are. Here is one: (I suspect it is a Cedar Waxwing)
tied a string between two trees, hung an old bedsheet over that and set
my lounge under it; plan is to sleep there, in the park tonight. The
stick count is 409.
We went in on various trails and on the way back went through the bush some of the way. We did find two of my ribbons unexpectedly and so brought home 3 stick; two of them dead/dry. One ant-hill in paricular had very recently been torn open by a bear; I guessed within the hour. It was super hot like yesterday (30C in the shade) but the wind made it bearable. I did some maintenance on the wood stove door and stripped a screw that helps hold the glass in place so now we have no stove; not that it is terribly important with these temperatures. On our walk we had gone past the big fungus I had found earlier and now, a day later, it was hardened a bit. I broke it off the tree and we left it on the trail, near the cabin. Later I walked back there to get it and noted some very pretty birds. I went back for the camera and as I was waiting for those birds to return, a Flicker came to see what was going on so I got his picture also. Here is that Flicker:
The other little bird there was this one (what is it?)
After supper we played a game of "Ring Toss" similar to horse-shoes. Marie beat me "hands down."
Note the diamond willow stick Marie is holding; it has a hook on the end for picking up the rings.Then clouds rolled in, a rainbow was visible and Marie heard thunder. The much needed rain did come but we got so little that it was not even measurable on the rain gauge. We checked the "Reject" sticks and found we are now up to 605. I skinned one more so the count of regular sticks is now 410.
Wednesday, June 28: The rain was better than expected; 3/10 of an inch. Today was warm, dry, windy. I dug up some more wild strawberry plants and put them into containers on the deck. Squirrels were a problem again; making a hole in the shed door and getting under the van where they could cause very bad problems. So, reluctantly, I did away with one of them. Dragged the buffalo skull closer to the cabin now that it is 90% cleaned off. This is from the one I shot last August. After lunch we drove the van to the end of the road to start a hike to see if that area is good for sticking. Immediately I spotted a large burl on a poplar tree. The tree had a diameter of about 5 inches but the burl was about 14 inches. So, we hiked back to the van, drove back to the cabin and went in there with the Argo instead. Then we cut it down. I collected a few sticks as well but the are was no good for that. There are, however, two very large ones I'd like to take out sometime. The bear tracks in the area were about 4 inches wide and the other evidence showed that the bear was active very recently. I made a Treasure Map to remember where they are. The stick count is now 413. Tomorrow we go back to town.
June 5: Arrived
at cabin with Marie about 5:15 PM and mowed the yard in 2 1/2 hours. I
left a small patch of wild strawberries on the yard and the patch of
Birdsfoot Trefoil because Marie loves the beautiful little yellow
blooms. Crop finally showing in rows now. Yesterday John and I got back
from a little fishing in the Northwest Territories, almost 1,000 km
We got a screen ready to screen the topsoil for the strawberries. Then we took the Argo north and west to a favorite slough and came back with a few sticks; I got 16 live ones and skinned them. I also found 2 more fungi on willows and brought them back. A native told me last fall that the fungus off willows can be dried and then burned to give a nice smell in the house.
Two others people have confirmed that since. They all tell me that it is only the ones from willows; the ones from birch and poplar/aspen are no good. So now I have 5 or 6 hanging in a mesh bag from the ceiling, drying. Then we cleaned the Argo rather thoroughly; Marie was not afraid to dig into the greasy guts of that machine to scoop out leaves, twigs etc.
was spraying my field today. The sun did a good job of heating the
water for our very necessary showers.
took the screen onto the field and screened some soil right there. We
now have one 45-gallon barrel full and two half-barrels full, and
covered up with the side panels off an old washer or dryer, rocks on
top. Now Marie wants to put down a layer of buffalo chips for
fertilizer. In fall, after all the runners on in our current strawberry
coop are well-rooted, we'll move all the strawberry plants to the "new,
improved" coop. I also took two dead trees out of the park; a spruce
killed by bison and a poplar which I killed years ago by removing a 6"
strip of bark; it was only inches from a nice spruce tree. I skidded it
out with the truck and winch. The sun had heated the shower water very
well today also; we had to let it cool for an hour before using it.
Just before lunch we took the Argo north and west again; about a mile, and then down a narrow cutline. The mist/fog had lifted but the relative humpty-diddly must have still been at 99.9%. When I went into the bush, I left Marie at the Argo and told here, "If you hear a scream, coming a-runnin' with the axe. If it is a BloodCurdling scream, just get out of here as fast as you can and forget me." We gathered a small load of sticks and went back. On the way back, at a large swamp, Marie drove the Argo as I stood ahead of her taking pictures.
Mosquitos were getting bad so we set up the screen tent in which to skin the sticks. One was a very, very nice long "Rail" or "Huge One" of 16' 10" but I could not get it into the shed without trimming it to 14 foot. I skinned it but left the diamonds. Marie meanwhile, cleaned the cabin. In the evening we went to see the beavers which have a nice dam and lodge about 100 yards from the cabin. There was one small beaver out but he must have been a lodge member because that is where he went. On the way back, we were on the yard, going past my little spruce forest and we saw the largest, most beautiful moth we had ever seen "in the wild."
Thanks to Don P, I learned that this is a "Glover's Silk Moth" ("Hyalophora Columbia Gloveri")
are now 152 sticks skinned. Later in the evening John came over; he and
"Jim" had just shot 3 big buffalo bulls and butchered them. Shortrly
after he left we watched a Whitetail doe which spent some time on the
lawn, not 30 feet from the window.
We keep a large tub in the Argo as a sort of "jockey box" and it has a piece of plywood bolted underneath so that we can set it on top of a load of sticks and the tub holds the sticks in the Argo. We had taken it out on a cutline in order to load more sticks. I went back into the trees and Marie brought up the Argo. When I came back out, I found that she had left the tub sitting on the trail! On the way back I patted her on top of the head and she wondered why. I told her "Just making sure you did not forget it back in the bush." I did find one very large Diamond Willow that was just too good to leave out there; it is 14' long and half way it forks.
that there are some elk about 1 1/2 miles
east of the cabin on Jerry Richard's place. We noted that swallows seem
to be nesting in one of the birdhouses.
Small sparrow-like birds have 2 babies in the little spruce on the front lawn and robins cannot be far away; they are on the lawn, hunting meat constantly. I'm reading "The Philadelphia Experiment" now; a very strange mystery.
Tuesday: By noon I had finished skinning all the sticks so after lunch we took a run north, without taking my treasure maps. We checked out one of the new trails and soon had a decent load. In the evening we took a run north with the truck but it died 1 1/2 miles away so I had to walk back to the cabin, get gas and come back with the van. I was almost back when I met a bull elk on the road; it was in a dip in the road so I could not get a decent picture. The truck still did not go so we went back for supper. Later we went and tried again but it still won't start so there it sits.
Wednesday, June 14: a hot day. At one point the thermometer read 28C. I skinned sticks all morning and after lunch, rather than worry about the truck still parked (keys in the ignition; doors unlocked) on the road, we took the Argo to the same area and continued Sticking there. We left the long stick full length and came back in short order with a big load. Again, we ran through that wide, deep slough without any problem. This turned out to be a particularly good area. I was surprised to see that I had been in there x years ago, evidenced by sticks sawn off. I even cut one about 4 foot high, which I had cut years ago, leaving the bottom 4 feet. I guess at that time, I was harvesting thinner sticks, not realizing people want big sticks. Sometimes they want sticks so big that jokingly, I ask them if they are building a log cabin or a fence. Seems to me that by carrying such a huge stick, you'd waste a lot of your hiking energy. Late in the day it got very windy so I took down the tent and skinned sticks on the lawn. Beno dropped in after supper. He showed us pictures (using his camera) taken by his wild life camera; it attaches to a tree and is set off by motion. He came back a little later (after the hockey game) and we towed my old pickup back to the cabin. We saw 3 deer on the way. Beno offered to come back later and we'll tow it to Olson's for repair. Seems to be a fuel pump problem. Beno tells us that a large grizzly bear has been spotted about 18 miles west of here; knowing they range a large territory, that does not make me feel any better. Next trip I must make sure to remember to bring the 30-30.
Thursday: Looks like it is about time to go back to Grande Prairie for a day or two; we're running out of stuff and my wrists badly need a rest, however brief. The count of live/green sticks skinned so far: 287 (not including Rails, Rejects, canes nor dead/dry ones) I skinned the last of the sticks brought in yesterday but have not counted them yet. The Reject Sticks now total 179 for this year's collection alone, never mind the ones I had before this year. I see that the baby robins are now flying as are the little sparrow-like birds. We'll go back to town now and get back here with supplies as soon as possible.
May 21, 2006: Marie and I got out of town about noon and arrived at the
cabin a couple of hours later. One deer was 250 yards from the cabin
before we were done unloading the van. We hiked into the bush
got a few sticks. In the bush I jumped two Whitetail deer. Back at the
cabin I skinned one very nice Rail. Then we had supper and then went
north with the van to get some Rails. We had barely exited my driveway
when I saw something big and black on the road. With binocs I confirmed
that it was a black bear. Just beyond it a little was a pickup truck
and quad. I backed to the cabin and got my 30-30 and camera. Then we
went back up the road. The bear crossed into Bertram's field. At the
pickup we met the fellow who introduced himself as "Jason" who works
for Shawn Pinkett, the Guide. He was working on the baits and had seen
the bear. He figured that it was a 300 pound boar. He also thinks that
within 3 miles of my cabin there are at least 20 - 25 bears. Every
night on the baits, the hunters see an average of 8 bears. Last year
they took one of which the skull measured 20 5/8 inches. (My record is
20 2/16") Marie and I went into the bush not far from where the bear
had gone in and we found 4 of the 5 Rails which my treasure map showed.
It was a beautiful but windy day. In the evening there were 2 deer in
my field even though there was not even a hint of green from my crop
coming up. There was almost zero rain after my previous trip. Just
before 10:00 PM Beno dropped in on his brand new quad. |
Monday: I was up before 7 and after a cup of tea, bowl of Kenola and cup of instant coffee started skinning sticks. The mosquitos are not bad yet. After Marie got up and was ready, we took the Argo about 2 miles north to check out one of my treasure maps. We got a few sticks. On the way in we had to cross a little beaver canal and the front of the Argo went down to the point where we got stuck. We had to winch out of that hole. On the way back we filled the hole partly with logs and sticks and made it through no problem but there was a problem starting the Argo. I'd almost given up when it went again. Back at the cabin I trimmed and skinned and Marie cleaned the cabin very thoroughly and made supper. We dug up 3 wild strawberries, screened some soil and planted them in ice cream pails, fertilizing one with buffalo poop and two with moose poop. Maybe we'll get some Poopie Strawberries. After I quit skinning, I went into the cabin, looked out the kitchen window and saw two muledeer which had obviously watched me going in the door. I went back out with the camera and walked toward them. I came within about 10 meters of them and took pictures even though they look shabby at this time of year.
The solar heated shower was a blessing; it was fairly hot day. No bear hunters today. They don't use every bait every night. Marie baked a cake (from a mix) on the fire-pit in the lawn.
Tuesday: overnight it started to rain. And all day it rained. A slow, drizzling, soaking, million-dollar rain. Puddles can be seen on the field. A few short periods when it was possible to go out for a few minutes and then more rain. By suppertime there was about 1 1/2 inches. I soaked the ends of the sticks and now the count (NOT including Rails, Rejects nor dead/dry ones) is 57. We kept a fire going all day. Around noon a white truck went up the road; presumably bear hunters. They can't be having a very good time with all this rain; they came a long way (USA) and spent a lot of money to shoot two bears each. And they have to spend most of their time in a wet tent in the rain in a muddy area and travel miles from there on very muddy roads to where they actually hunt. My cabin would be just about as close to perfect as you could get for bear (or other big game) hunting as you could get. You can get from the cabin to their tree stands without even going onto the muddy road at all, using my private bush trails. I feel very blessed.
Wednesday: No rain overnight; we had almost 1 1/2" yesterday. It was very wet; the relative humpty-diddly must be close to 100 cement. I emptied out the stove and started fresh; it was a chilly morning but there was finally a bit of sky in the clouds. There was a small Whitetail buck in the park. Marie worked on her jigsaw puzzle and I read my book: "Ruffles on my Longjohns" by Isabel Edwards, 1980. (ISBN 0-8839-102-1) A good true story of homesteading in the early 1900's near Bella Coola, B.C. Then I took a hike about a mile north on the road, then into the bush on a new, narrow, winding cutline made this winter. It was VERY wet. I did carry the 30-30; this was in the general area where we saw the bear on Sunday. I got about 18 pieces cut and left them to bring out later. I saw some very nice Rails but did not touch them, (save one that I did cut) and 3 deer (which I did not touch either) Back at the cabin we had lunch and then I skinned the sticks from before the rain. After supper I mowed the yard. It was a long, tedious job and when I was finally done, my hands tingled so much I told Marie, "It feels like there are a thousand giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches doing pushups on my palms." In my book, I was reading how Isabel and Earle managed to drag a dead moose out of a lake: they used a "Spanish Windlass." Marie and I read and re-read that part and then cut a piece of string and two little sticks, used the scissors to represent the moose and my binocs to represent a stump on the shore. We figured out how this very smart contraption worked.
Quite late in the evening John came over to tell us Gordon Neilson from Devonian Botanic Gardens had called to say the Gold Panning Workshop was canceled. What a relief for me! Now my plan is to quit doing them altogether.
Thursday: Bedroom chatter: ken: "Please tell me it is not raining." marie: "It's POURING." ken: "I asked you not to tell me that." And it is. So, I'm very glad I mowed the yard and skinned the sticks yesterday. Only wish I had here, at the cabin, the 18 pieces left in the bush yesterday. So, today we start building an Ark. It drizzled all day so Marie worked on her puzzles and I read my book. As for her jigsaw puzzles, I keep telling her, "Put the whole pile of the 1200 pieces into a bag and mail it back to the company and tell them, 'YOU cut it all up, YOU put it back together' but she won't. I did take a hike into my bush between downpours and later went to the nearest beaverdam to watch the two beavers for awhile. I tried to encourage one to nibble the end off a poplar branch as I held it, as I did some years ago, but it did not work this time. The bear hunters are at their posts today. I soaked the sticks I skinned yesterday and the count now is 69 sticks. Late in the afternoon we enjoyed watching a Whitetail doe on the lawn. Marie bemoaned the fact that I cannot hear the birds anymore so she tried to whistle like one. I told her, "That sounds more like a Rocky Mountain Double Breasted Nitwit."
Friday: A bit of rain overnight and in the early morning there was a lot of blue sky. I cut (and Marie piled) the firewood we had brought back a few days ago. After lunch we were going out to cut sticks. No sooner were we leaving than the rain started again, very lightly. We waited a few minutes until it stopped and then I told Marie I'd go alone rather than see her get soaked. I walked a long way and cut about 12 pieces and left them out there so now there are about 30 pieces out there. We had 2/3 inch of rain this time. In the afternoon we enjoyed watching a small Whitetail buck close to the cabin. In the bush today I noted (again) some willows growing up (as they should) from main stems which had, some years earlier, been knocked down so that they were more or less horizontal. Such pieces might make very nice natural canes. I told Marie and suggested, after supper, that we could take a look within 250 yards of the cabin, for some pieces like that. We were just about to go out when I saw out of the corner of my eye, a dark flash going by the window and then the collision of a bird with our window. I rushed out and found a stunned robin. We held it and chatted with it, and encouraged it and it finally flew away.
Then we went and found seven of those "natural canes." There had been enough sun so that the water was warm enough for a very necessary shower.
Saturday, May 27: Generally a nice day; at 7 A.M. it was 8C. All morning I read and Marie did her puzzles. After lunch I started a long hike north and west. Found some good sticks and now have close to 50 set up out there. Also brought back two fungi off willows. Plan is to let them dry (they are hanging from the ceiling in a net bag from oranges) and then burn them for the pleasant odor it allegedly produces. I was gone 3 hours; saw only one deer. Marie had walked the the beaverdam north and watched two deer. I found some morell mushrooms too and saw what appeared to be an eagle.
Then Marie and I took a short hike in my own bush and I brought back 6 long sticks, tying them into two bundles with willow bark. We saw one Whitetail and one Muledeer. After supper we saw two deer about a half mile east along my field and they came to within 50 feet of the cabin; two Whitetail bucks.
There was a vehicle on the road this evening and it actually raised dust. Yet the ruts on the road north of the cabin are still full of water.
Sunday: The day started breezy and cool and stayed that way. I skinned the last couple of sticks and after lunch we went north to collect all the sticks I had piled up in various places out there. The Argo started fine but I was a bit concerned about the problem with the solenoid. All went well though; we went through some very bad areas and swamps and soon had a big load of sticks on. Finally we came out on the "road" straight north of the cabin about 1.5 miles. Then we had to go in on a new line to pick up the last 16 pieces. There was a very bad swamp near the road and I tried to walk in, around that, to carry the sticks back out to the Argo. That was incredibly tough going with deadfall, water and junk all over the place. We decided to drive the argo in, but backwards making it easier to get back out. First, we unloaded all the sticks. Halfway through the slough we got stuck. The Argo was basically floating and high-centered. I could not step out because the swamp was over my boots. Instead, I managed to climb onto some willows and pick my way to a tree. Marie threw me a long tie-down after tying the winch cable to it. I fastened that to a tree and Marie dug out the control knob for the winch (it had fallen off a few years ago) and she ran the winch with one hand while holding the knob with the other, a good stretch for her. Then she drove the Argo while winching, back out of the swamp as I watched. At one point the tie-down snapped and hit me in the leg. Then we used cables and chains to get the rest of the way out of the water. Then the Argo would not start. The solonoid problem had come back to haunt us. I should have had it fixed. We carried the sticks back to the road by hand after all. We used various cables and chains with the "powerpull" or "comealong" to pull the Argo to the "road." This took a long time, inch by inch. Then, with the Argo back on the "road" we turned it in the correct direction, again with the powerpull, inch by inch. There were two bad mudholes between us and the graded part of the road but we decided to go get the van. (The truck is not running yet) This meant a hike of about a mile. Back at the cabin we got whatever chains we could and drove the van back to the Argo. I raced through the two mudholes and did fine. Then we loaded all the sticks into the Argo and pulled the Argo back to the cabin with Marie riding in it to keep it from veering off into the bush. We lastly used the powerpull to winch the Argo into the JOG (John's Old Granary) which is the Argo shed. The number of pieces of wood brought back was 62 and some are fifteen feet long or so. Three quads were on the road going north and Jason with a female came back out. We noticed that a pair of junkoes have a nest on the front (south) wall of the cabin, on top of a small, old, useless bat nest I put there 20 years ago.
Monday: First thing in the morning Marie noticed a deer (no antlers) resting in the park, 50 yards from the cabin. As I moved around making a cuppa tea, the deer could see me but she did not get up. John came over and asked if I wanted to go fishing at Fort Province, North West Territories. Sounded like a plan to me. He said I could use his truck/trailer to haul the Argo to Olson's for repair. Marie and I drove the van, in awful ruts, pushing hard boulders of dried mud, to see Andrew Olson and he said he could look at it. Back at John's we loaded the trailer behind the pickup and went to the cabin and loaded the Argo. Then back to Olson's and back to John's. By then the morning was shot. After lunch I debarked all the sticks. There are now 74 with diamonds scraped out and ends soaked in Pentacryl, 2 more same but not soaked, and another 46 skinned with diamonds not scraped yet. So that makes 122. Fitting in a fishing trip will slow things down but I gained 3 or 4 days by not having to do the Gold Panning Workshop. (the 122 does not include the 30-40 Rejects, prox. 25 Rails and prox 15 "dead/dry" ones). I walked to the beaverdam but they were not interested in being seen. On the way back a Whitetail doe preceded me into the driveway. She went right by the cabin but Marie, sitting at the window with her puzzle did not see her. Later in the evening I noticed several animals a half mile from the cabin, along the edge of my field, along the bush. With binocs (Nikon 10-22x50) I could see that there were at least 5 coyotes in a pack, headed our way. We watched them as they finally went back into the bush about 150 yards from the cabin. I'm reading another book now; just finished "Tracker" and now on "Three Against the Wilderness" by Eric Collier.
Tuesday: Rain overnight. If John and I are going fishing, it is time to go back to town and get ready for that.
On the way back we saw a van which had just hit a deer. What a mess!!
|Monday, May 15: By 7:20
AM I was fuelled up and on my way out of town. I have a lot of "stick
treasure maps" to go through. One road-killed moose only 5 miles north
of the city. Stopped at John's for a moment and was at the cabin by
about 9 AM. Clearly, my land has been seeded; to what I do not know.
Beautiful day; all the rain barrels were full. I planted the 17
strawberry plants and then went looking for sticks. I cut 3 by the
cabin and they skinned well, so I took the Argo north a bit and brought
out a load of 31 pieces. There were good-sized fresh beartracks on the
trail. Back at the cabin I skinned a few of them; some did not skin
very well. Bear hunters went by. After a bit of supper, John came for a
visit to show me, on his laptop, pictures of the very fancy deer-blinds
he had made this week with Kelly and Beno. After John left it was
starting to get dark and quite cool; I started a fire in the stove.
John had an interesting event this week too. Gilles Plantinga had
contracted with Agricore that they would apply an unusually-high rate
of fertilizer to one of Gilles' fields. C$50 per acre on his Timothy,
hoping for a good crop of seed. turns out Agricore went to the wrong
field; one of John's hay fields and applied it there. They still have
not even called John to tell him or apologize. It won't hurt John and
could be helpful to him. I brought up a couple of mosquito repellers
but mine does nothing. I gave John one too and he tells me he can hear
his but not mine; maybe the battery that came with mine is dead. I
bought a set of 3. I wanted to meet the new bear hunting guide, Shawn
Pinkett, who bought out Mike Ukrainetz so I drove the Argo north a mile
to where they had parked the pickup. They had gone into the bush and I
had no way to leave a note so I cut a few inches off a rope and stuck
that in the windshield wiper, thinking he would come and ask me what
that was all about. But he didn't. Here is my first load fore 2006:
Tuesday: On radio CFGP, Grande Prairie, Gordon Sharp (one of my former tax clients) tells us that it is going up to 28C today. It was cool in here at 5:30 so I cranked up the fire again. Noticed a coyote trotting through my park. Skinned the sticks I'd brought in and then took a long walk up north looking for a few more; carried the 30-30 this time and got a few sticks; left them by the road; too tired to carry them home. After a nap went back with the Argo & got them. Set the first 27 in Pentacryl for an hour and a half and then turned them over. One of the new sticks is very incredible. No sign of any bear hunters today. Very hot.
Wednesday: Another fantastic day. Got up at 5:30 and was on the Argo on my way into the bush at 7:30. Took a few sticks and then started skinning them. Having just sold over 100 "Rails" I am concentrating on them now too. Took home a few fantastic ones. A truck went by so soon after I went north with the van. I saw them heading NE on a quad but they did not see me. This time I left a note. Later, Shawn and his wife Jennifer came in. We had a good visit. Then I went out with the Argo again and got a few more sticks, rails, and some firewood we had piled up in the bush last fall when we had to straighten out some of my trails. I jumped 3 muledeer and one was unusually unafraid; even when I shut off the motor, she did not run. Nor did she take off when I walked closer, to get the firewood pile.
By the end of the day, I now have 41 sticks skinned (all diamonds scraped out) and the ends soaked 1.5 hours (more or less) in Pentacryl. Also about 10 Rails, 6 dead/dry ones and a few Rejects. I am keeping most of the rails long and am planning to change the price on them from C$16 per Rail, to US$4.50 per lineal foot. I'm skinning the Rails but not scraping the diamonds. After all that I fell asleep in my chair and did not wake up until John pounded on the door.
Thursday: a beautiful day again but rain is still forecast for Friday evening so today is the day to go home.
May 3, 2006: (Wednesday) We left town at 11:00 AM. We stopped at John's to announce our arrival. At the cabin we unloaded and then photographed all the remaining "Rails" and found there were only 89 left after two large orders. Then we raced down the field with the Argo, trailer behind, and loaded up the remains of the buffalo that died along the south side of my field last fall. We threw all that into the bush on the north side of the field so there is no danger of coyotes dragging bones into the field where they might wind up in a combine. Then we got enough dirt from the field to fill the "coop" we made for the strawberry plants which we hope to find someplace. I took the dead/dry sticks from the white shed and went to work skinning them; these were a few picked up late last fall. One of them turned out to be an absolutely incredible stick. One of the very best I've ever seen if not the best. I took a short hike through my park to the creek and jumped a deer.
To think this stick nearly wound up in my "Rejects.....!"
Thursday: First thing, I took all the "Reject" sticks out of the lean-to and bundled them in 10 bundles of 20, set them plus all remaining "garbage" sticks up and photographed them. Marie told me that while I was doing that, she saw a moose about 100 yards from me but I didn't see it. Then I went back to skinning the few dead/dry sticks on the deck. Some Canada Geese flew over so low that the wind from their wings almost blew my hat off. Then John came over and we visited awhile. Before he left, Gilles arrived also, and still before John got away, two fellows from the seismograph company came to see what work was left for them to do in terms of cleaning up any mess left by their crew this past winter. I told them what to do. Gilles stayed for a couple of hours. He wanted me to be sure to photograph the erosion mess at my east end so Marie and I drove there and took pictures. I noted that the van had a flat tire so figured out how to change that. Then we drove north and east to get some sticks to for the garden back in town; we bent them around a 45-gallon barrel and tied them there to dry in the curved form. I finished the dead dry sticks; there were 7 and one was still green, one became firewood, one became a "Reject" and 5 became very nice sticks; one of them absolutely magnificent. An absolutely gorgeous, hot day. No wind. Gilles plans to get onto my field tomorrow. At 8 PM we drove to John's. He and Kelly Kent are building two magnificent hunting blinds on steel posts. SUPER nice. We saw 3 deer on the way to his place. On the way back we stopped at Beno's to admire his 52 inch CRT TV set. After supper we walked a half mile east along the field, then up a line through the bush to the M1 line at the north edge of my land, then back west and then south coming out at the park behind the cabin.
Friday May 5: I got up at 6:25 and saw the moose in the same place where Marie had seen her yesterday.
Here is one pic I took from the cabin window showing the roof of the van and my 3 steel granaries at the SW corner of my land.
At this time of year, they are very shabby. Soon there was a squirrel on the lawn, a deer 200 yards east and a moose 130 yards south. We left around 9 AM.
people who enjoy the OUTDOORS, NATURE,
WILLOW sticks have indicated that they would like to follow a "day by
day" diary of my stick-hunting activities in 2006, so here goes. |
Here is my cabin in wintertime:
At my cabin, there are no "facilities" of any kind so I take my laptop computer along and keep a diary and when the battery dies, I hope that my new powerpack will recharge it. Here is that powerpack:
The cabin is in northwestern Canada and happens to be in the middle of the best Diamond Willow country I've ever seen and I've looked for it as far away as Alaska.
This bird feeder is a good example of how a nice piece of Diamond Willow can be used. It is at my cabin and took a surprisingly little amount of time to sand and finish.
In summertime, things look very different and we do have summer too; albeit short ones:
Parked in front of the cabin is my 8x8 Argo, amphibious All Terrain Vehicle which I use to bring my sticks out of the bush.
So, this blog will be a sort of diary of our experiences up here in the summer of 2006. If all goes well, I'll live to tell the tale. There are, of course, significant risks of an unhappy encounter with a bear or other dangerous wild animal. More about that on other pages of my website.
The Diamond Willow sticks I hope to harvest by the end of July 2006 (when the sap stops running) will dry in the shed from August 1, 2006 to January 1, 2008 when they will be for sale on my website.
We left at 10 minutes before 7:00 AM on Wednesday, April 19 and arrived at the cabin at 8:30; there was a dead squirrel in the stove. Over the years we've had two dead birds in there but never a squirrel; hard to imagine how he made it up to the metal chimney on the metal roof. We had a wonderful trip; we saw 2 moose, one coyote and about 10 deer on the way. The weather was perfect; we did not want it any warmer; about 19C. We loaded up the 100+ "Rails" for two customers, in WA and MN. Then we took a walk to inspect the beaver dam but there was no sign of life there. We put some soil in the strawberry coop but I had forgotten the ignition key for the Argo so we could not use it and decided to bring in more dirt next trip. Then we took a walk up the road and picked up some of the garbage left by seismograph crews. The little beaverdam along the road, just a wee bit north of my driveway seems to be holding back a fair bit of water so I suspect I have beavers again. Hope so. We cut a few sticks and wrapped them around a barrel to make hoops for the garden back in town. We saw only one mosquito all day. It is very dry for this time of year so we hope there won't be a big crop of them. We had pizza for supper and then went home.
We (Marie and I) were at the cabin in February for a short visit; we had not brought snowshoes and snow around the yard was 14 to 18" deep so it was tough to get around. We left the van on the road and used a special toboggan to haul our stuff to the cabin. A lot of seismograph work had been done so a lot of new trails were left in the bush; perfect for "Stick-ing."
Plan now is to go up on Wednesday, April 19 for a short visit. I have to haul back a big load of "Rails" ( http://www.sticksite.com/rails.htm ) for customers in WA state and in Maine.