Oct 132017

By Patty Wilber


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Well!  I am finally a “real” hunter!  I brought home two spruce grouse and I did it with two shots of Jim’s 20 ga shot gun.  I am a fan of the 20 ga shot gun.  It is light (under 5 pounds), thus easy to tote around the wilderness. Since I was shooting shot, which has a spray, I hit every time. I have not a clue about the “choke” on the gun and it is late already, so I am not going to try to figure it out, but the pictures below give an idea of the pattern the pellets make.

I got one from about 15 yards (on the ground) and on from about 25 yards (in a tree) and did not have a “shot” at an on-the-wing bird, for the trifecta. We had green chile grouse enchiladas Thursday pm and they were delicious. (Thanks Kay Coen for that cooking idea!)

Me and my first grouse!

This hunting trip was driven by elk permits (even though no one filled their tags), and we were stationed at Camp Kingsbury, at about 9000 feet, in the Cruces Basin Wilderness Area which was designated as a Wilderness in 1980 and has over 18,000 acres. It lacks a formal trail system, but fortunately, there are good topographical features, lots of elk trials and Camp Kingsbury comes with a seasoned guide (Richard) who knows the area even in the dark. (Plus, Jim and I knew our way around some of the area and after this trip, we can even get places in the dark!)

Jim and Richard packed the camp to the site which is three miles and a  one hour ride from the trail head; and they, plus camp manager and livestock feeder extraordinaire, Cheryl Nigg, packed out. Amber, Abby and I came in a day late and left a day early due to school constraints.

Abby at the camp!

Cheryl helping get us early-leaving females ready to hit the trail.

William and the Mule Team (ok and and one Very Important Mare, Belle) on their highline at camp.

Penny and Cometa on their highline at camp.

 Jim wanted to ride Cometa, so Penny got to pack.

Penny can pack guns,

or personal gear, like gloves and coats and a super nice new thick and comfy Thermarest,

or 40 pounds of tent poles for the wall tent (that also had a wood stove that we packed in for heating.) And next weekend she is going to a show!

Richard kept the stove stoked every night, so we “let” him have coffee in bed in the mornings (at 4:30 am). The stove was a luxury, as a couple nights were down in the teens!

Amber, and Jim and me were out before dawn, under a bright moon.  When the sun came up, the scenes were stunning!

We saw elk and also came across some old wooden pack panniers at an old camp near a spring.

And Jim and Richard got to track bugling bulls in the snow after us short-termers had vamoosed. The bulls really did get a lot more active when the temperature dropped.

I am putting in for an elk tag again next year, and if I don’t get one, I am happy to hunt grouse!