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Author Topic: Chucks on the Rocks - by Charlie Lamb  (Read 409 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Chucks on the Rocks - by Charlie Lamb
« on: May 02, 2003, 06:08:00 AM »
Chucks on the Rocks

by Charlie Lamb                                              

  The trail ran straight away and level the first couple of hundred yards, then started gaining elevation with a lurch. It climbed up out of lakeside pine forest into sage brush and granite boulder fields splashed with golden expanses  of mountain flowers.
  Each step I took impacted the mountain harder than the last. I was experiencing early season rubber leg. It’s a common malady of mountain hunters after a long winter on deep snow pack. Contact with dirt, rock and sagebrush dragged down my steps, pulling at the soles of my boots as if gravity had increased. I tipped my hat back to allow a cool breeze to dry my sweat soaked forehead and kept mushing on and up. Always up.

  At the top of a boulder and  aspen covered knob I took a breather at a granite outcrop I’ve known for years. Aspen saplings surround it, shade it, make it a hiding place as well as a resting spot. My bow is leaned comfortably within reach. It has it’s own place against a slate gray aspen snag that was dead years before I first huffed and puffed up the mountain and discovered it. I parked my backside on the familiar granite seat and pulled my travel worn binoculars from their resting place in my sweat shirt. I can see my quarry plainly without them but appraise the situation with the glasses to note specifics.
  Before me stretches a wide basin dotted with house size boulders. On almost every  dwelling size rock or group of rocks sits my game. Rock chucks!

  I’m looking over a half mile of country and have nearly thirty of the fuzzy orange  and brown critters in sight. A few hundred yards down the slope a cow moose feeds peacefully on sweet spring willow buds. Down by the lake a pair of Ospreys make their yearly additions to a nest which seems too big for the tree they and their predecessors have used for generations.

, fingers on the string. I slipped quietly through the last of the aspens which barricaded the back side of his castle and came on him standing erect, surveying all of his domain. It seemed a little unfair........shooting him when he wasn’t looking.

  The shot, the moment of truth, whatever you want to call it always surprises me a little. Leaves me wondering a little about who said to let it go. This time wasn’t any different. The broadhead tipped shaft snapped across the fifteen yards separating us. In that instant I saw him react to the shot and thought I must have missed. The arrow was sailing  into the wild blue beyond.

  It was only a fleeting moment of doubt, though, as the chuck crumpled on the bare rock. Faintly the sound of my arrow crunching into rocky soil wafted up on the morning thermals and then the mountain went silent.

   I stood for a while listening and watching. The other chucks on the mountain were undisturbed and after a bit I decided to go for a pair out in the wide open.

  My only chance would be to spook them down and wait till they came back out. My felt hat was snugged down on my head, the belt of my waist pack was hitched up a notch and all my arrows firmly seated in the bowquiver. Casually walking from the cover of the boulder I started boldly into the open toward the now alerted chucks. At about sixty yards they let out a couple of shrill whistles and ducked from sight.

  Breaking into a run I closed the distance to fifteen yards and positioned myself down wind of the spot I’d last seen them. They’d be back up shortly. I knew that and made ready. A small black nose would come poking up over the granite, working overtime sifting out the scent of danger. Then the eyes would appear. Dark, beady little eyes, searching for anything out of the ordinary. Chucks are totally wired in a situation like this and taking in every little sight, sound, or smell. If you are ready to shoot as soon as they come in sight, you have a chance. It will only be a brief one, but a chance none the less.                                                  

  As the first black nose showed over the rock I started my draw. The next second or two went by in freeze frame slow motion. The biggest chuck flowed into full view. I hit a quick but sure anchor, the chuck looked in my direction and started to turn. The release, the rock chuck dropping from sight and my broadhead arrow smashing into solid granite were burned into my minds eye. I was sure of two things. I had missed and I would not need to look for that arrow.

  At the sound of the disintegrating arrow there was a scurrying in the brush at the base of the boulder pile.

  A large chuck scampered up the shear boulder face only to hesitate at his den entrance and look me in the eye. It is bad luck for him. He was looking down the length of my full drawn arrow. It was the last thing he would see.

  Gathering up my prize I glance up the mountain. Heavy gray clouds were spilling over the pine crested ridge and the wind suddenly had a frigid edge. I headed up hill toward a huge old lodge pole pine. Under the spreading limbs of this mountain patriarch I nestled in. I soon had a small fire crackling merrily away and lunch taken from my pack.

  After a bit the wind lay and fist size snowflakes were falling. They soon covered the gray rock and spring greenery with thick white fluff. The next half hour saw four inches of the stuff fall. I sat snug in my retreat and enjoyed the silence and beauty of the spot. The little fire removed the chill which had come with the storm.

  It seemed a little too soon but the storm ended as quickly as it came. Moving across the mountain and down the lake, the storm dragged the hems of it’s white skirt into the distance. The sun came out and the temperature started to rise. The snow would be gone in a half an hour.

  Extinguishing the fire and putting my gear in place, I got going. I could hear chucks whistling. It seemed like they were calling me. How could I let them down.

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