Sunday, April 17, 2011

On The Hunt

A tom in the yard that morning. 4.16.11
I knew it was going to be a great day when we woke up to find thirty or so turkeys in our yard. The tom's strutted up the street with their feather's displayed. Each trying to outdo the other. These were some of the largest birds any of us had ever seen. Three turkey's had beards that were so long, they stepped on them when they were eating. The tom's took their turns strutting and impressing us and after about an hour we still had them in the yard.

The same tom with two companions. 4.16.11
With our turkey's taunting them, Josh and our roomie, Nate, decided they wanted to go turkey hunting and invited me to tag along. I thought it'd be fun to  see the guys in action. We loaded up in the jeep and took off towards Nemo. Somewhere off of Nemo Road we cut into the National Forest on an old two-track. It lead us down into an area that was dense with new pine growth. Within 20 minutes the guys had spotted Elk on the port side. A bull and a cow stood fifty yards off and watched us for just a second and before I could get my camera out they were off. That was the closest any of us have been to elk yet. They're no moose but they're still pretty sweet.

After that road came to an end we wandered back and took a smaller side road. It was beautiful and it held a couple of surprises. It's a wonder how the forest divides to reveal a beautiful grassy meadow. We traveled that road until we couldn't go any further. At the end, we came across a house cat that never made it home. When we turned around and headed back out, we came across a cow that had died in childbirth. Both sights were gruesome. Where were we and what was going on here? The day was turning into an oddity. Turkeys, elk, dead cat, dead cow, what could be next?

Creepy Meadow. 4.16.11
It didn't long before we were on the road again and heading for the Experimental Forest Road. It's a favorite of ours and I think we've written about it before. Once you're on that road there's a variety of roads that lead out. Somewhere in there we came to a four-way and as we were crossing Nate saw something in the road. We stop and what Nate had seen was a pair of brand new Oakley's. Score! They didn't have a scratch on them. What was going to happen next?

At some point we turned off this road and headed into a long meadow. Josh and Nate saw some turkeys and when they got out to see if they could get one I hung out a the jeep. About 30 seconds after they disappeared out of my site the turkeys flew back my way, right over my head. I let out an audible laugh. If I'd had a shotgun of my own and I had been practicing skeet with the guys then I could have had two turkeys. Instead I shot some cool pictures.

Last attempt to call 4.16.11
We headed further into the meadow, went around a bend and just as we could see the entire meadow, Josh spotted a coyote. It blended perfectly with the meadow grasses and danced along the stream edge. We watched for a few moments and when we thought he had taken off we moved in. It wasn't until we were at a 90' with where the coyote had been that we realized that he hadn't gone anywhere- he had hunkered down. It was awesome. He sat just like a dog with his head held down watching us intently.

There had been a tom past the coyote deeper in the field, maybe that had been his intended dinner but with our arrival that tom was gone and soon the coyote had enough of watching us and took off, too. We meandered through the meadow and parked at the beginning of unused two-track. We hiked in over a couple smalls hills and the guys used their turkey calls to try to lore in either the coyote or a turkey. Neither were interested. We tried some more. Still no takers. So after tiptoeing around the hills for awhile we skirted the trees and headed back to the jeep. We tooled around for awhile more and tried calling again but didn't have any luck after that. It was starting to get later in the afternoon and we decided to call it a day.

Josh at White Rocks 4.16.11
Once we were back in Deadwood, Josh and I decided to pack up Wu and to hike up to White Rocks. It's a rocky peak that looks over town. There are dirt roads that go almost all the way up and we decided to explore those a bit. It turns out that you can drive the entire rim of hills around Deadwood. We parked at a radio tower and hiked about ten minutes to White Rocks. It was a fairly easy hike and Wu was anxious to lead the way.

Overlooking Burnham Hill from White Rocks 4.16.11
At the top we had a spectacular view of town. From up there our street, Burnham Hill, looked flat.  The view was 360' of beautiful. When we went to the actual top Wu had to stay behind and he did his best to keep his eyes on us. It's great to have a dog that wants in on every adventure.

We eventually headed back toward the Jeep, hopped in and kept exploring the roads along the rim. We took every turn we could and followed it to it's end. Unfortunately, the snow hadn't quite melted everywhere and there were still a few areas that we couldn't get to. That just gave us another reason to get back up there.

View of Lead, Homestake & Terry Peak 4.16.11
Then, from one viewpoint we were able to locate three old mines that had either been blocked off or were open but definitely abandoned. Suddenly we had a new goal. We are going to get to those mines.

Finally, we decided to to head home. We could only do so much and after the day's excitement we were completely exhausted. The day had started out with turkeys and ended with expansive views of the Black Hills. A perfect day. Let's do that again.