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Thread: Spending the night

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default Spending the night

    I have read 3 stories this season about folks getting hurt or almost getting hurt coming off the mountain in the dark just to make it back to camp. A guide died doing so after falling to his death. They killed a goat and decided to come down for the night and go back in the morning. IMHO it is much safer to pack what is needed to stay the night and descend well rested and in the daylight.

    I have in the past done this too, but the last few years have chosen to stay and come down the next day. Be safe folks, I still believe goat hunting is the most dangerous hunting there is. Two have died this year that I'm aware of, gravity kills and it only takes a instant for things to go bad.

    Be safe my friends.

    Steve
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I have read 3 stories this season about folks getting hurt or almost getting hurt coming off the mountain in the dark just to make it back to camp. A guide died doing so after falling to his death. They killed a goat and decided to come down for the night and go back in the morning. IMHO it is much safer to pack what is needed to stay the night and descend well rested and in the daylight.

    I have in the past done this too, but the last few years have chosen to stay and come down the next day. Be safe folks, I still believe goat hunting is the most dangerous hunting there is. Two have died this year that I'm aware of, gravity kills and it only takes a instant for things to go bad.

    Be safe my friends.

    Steve
    When I'm out hunting for the day I have the necessary accouterments to spend the night out.
    It's all just part of being prepared. I may not be as comfortable as in camp but at least I'll be warm, dry, and fed. I spent the night on a ridge in Arizona this year because I ran out of light while glassing for deer. No big deal.

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    Heading to Kodiak in a week with the youngest daughter to get her goat. I have already planned on staying 2 nights on the mountain if need be. No sense in killing yourself (no pun) and trying to get up to the goats, kill and butcher and head down in the same day. Good luck and stay safe to all..

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    I think I told this story awhile back..... But I had drawn a permit for Kenai Mt. caribou. I fellow coworker at the time had drawn the same tag a few years back and had a good access point. It was to be a day hike for him to show me the area. I ended up killing a nice bull late, and by the time we had boned out the animal and headed down we ran out of daylight. We called home and told the wives that we might not make it home and not to worry. As we headed down the mountain fully loaded it became pretty apparent that it wasn't a good idea. Although we didn't have any gear (tent,sleeping bag) other than my buddy having a space blanket, we managed to find a semi flat area amongst the stunted hemlocks to lay down. I had a little extra clothes and was pretty warm from the pack out, so I fell asleep pretty quick. I woke up around 3 in the am getting a little chilled so I built a small fire and we both cuddled up around each side of it and went back to sleep for an hour or two more.

    The pic is from when we first got up from our overnight stay and I threw the pack on to head down again. Luckily we had good weather......

    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Member ninefoot's Avatar
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    whoops stid...didnt see this thread. i just posted a thread pertaining (with a different angle) to this same incident a couple minutes ago. my bad...proly woulda left it alone had i seen this one. the recent incident and death must of had us both thinking. i cant see how any guy thats spent serious time on serious mountains could not feel the hit of news like this "close to home" so to speak. if you spend considerable time on rough mnts, theres a good chance you've had more than one close call with serious injury. its just odds...we've all been; one bad decision, one step, one gear inadequacy, or one bit of knowledge/experience inadequacy away from being that statistic that didnt make it off the hill alive.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Yea Mr Zack, it did hit close to my heart, more so since it may have been prevented. I can think of 4 deaths off the top of my head. One guy out of Valdez last year. Marc Taylor's friend that was lost and fell near Homer and was missing a few days before they found him was the worst. A goat hunter died this year in Co, as well, another died near Old Harbor on Kodiak a few years ago too.

    We are never more alive than when we walk the razor's edge, but part of what makes it so exciting is also what makes it so dangerous.

    This one was tough.

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    I passed on my best chance ever for a Kenai mountains black bear because it was late and my wife was with me up high. Took a minute to decide until I thought about getting her hurt then it was easy to pass on.

    Know your personal limits is all I'm saying, you can try again tomorrow that way.

    Sorry to hear about this fella.


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    I always travel and hunt prepared to stay the night. Thats where a good book comes in, hopefully before its fire starter or Toilet paper in an extended stay.....a paper back of some interesting sort can be worth its weight in passing time safely.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Let's see. I have spent an icy night on a steep side hill rolled up against a tree root. Covered in sheep blood, alone and a brownie woofing in the dark. (when he got the cape, I don't know, I could swear I never fell asleep)
    Spending the night in a tree on a moose hunt when a wolf pack started hunting the same bunch in the dark. They were attacking a moose and raising heII.
    Spent the night alone in an alder choked draw with no food or shelter. I wasn't lost, yet.
    There have been a couple of others less dramatic.

    I made it home unscathed on all 3 hunts. Odds are that I would have been hurt if I continued. Hunting solo means you go as far as you feel like going. If it gets dicey. wait for daylight.

    The book I had on the sheep hunt was "Death in the tall grass". Not the best choice for a relaxing evening. }:>
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  10. #10

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    On this years goat hunt we decided to leave the hide, head and 1/2 the meat on top of the mt. and came down a knife ridge 2mi in the dark and the fog. I had GPS points, yet I should have taken more on the way up. It was one of the smartest moves we could have made. with the fog shining off the head lamps, vis was only about 15ft. Slow and steady got us back to camp and even though the hike back up in the morning sucked it was well worth not having to come down in the dark with a heavy load. If i didn't have some GPS points to referance I never would have even tried getting back to camp that night.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mallardman View Post
    On this years goat hunt we decided to leave the hide, head and 1/2 the meat on top of the mt. and came down a knife ridge 2mi in the dark and the fog. I had GPS points, yet I should have taken more on the way up. It was one of the smartest moves we could have made. with the fog shining off the head lamps, vis was only about 15ft. Slow and steady got us back to camp and even though the hike back up in the morning sucked it was well worth not having to come down in the dark with a heavy load. If i didn't have some GPS points to referance I never would hnave even tried getting back to camp that night.
    +1 on cutting the load in half and opting for 2 safe trips vs's a single sketchy one.

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    Nothing like a good old fashioned siwash on the mountain. Anyone have any good siwash stories?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Nothing like a good old fashioned siwash on the mountain. Anyone have any good siwash stories?
    Best I got for this year, on a coues deer hunt in Arizona, is dope smugglers in the canyon below me, a DHS helicopter flying in the black, and Border Patrol Agents chasing the dopers in the dark.

    Instead of grizzlies it was people that shoot back. At least every group of smugglers had two armed with fully automatic weapons.



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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Nothing like a good old fashioned siwash on the mountain. Anyone have any good siwash stories?
    Here's a favorite from one of my favorite books: "Look to the Wilderness" by W. Douglas Burden. He writes the following account following his 1919 adventure with Henry Lucas, then guiding for Andy Simons on the Kenai Peninsula near Skilak Lake. The story is dated, but the experience is the same as many of us have done in similar circumstances. It will bring back memories. And a kind of sadness, really. Because for each of us, our days are running out. Our hunting companions are gone (or soon will be), and we are rich with the memories we shared, but they are only memories.

    "'Siwash' is an Alaskan term meaning Indian and 'siwashing' is to camp the way the Indians do-- with nothing but rifle, fry pan, tea pail, salt, tea, and a little sourdough. Siwashing releases you from the necessity of returning to any fixed campsite. You are free to go where you please-- to move as the spirit moves you. You need only drop far enough from the summits to find wood for a campfire. Then in the morning you climb again and spend the day on top of the world. And of course, you have to live off the country.

    But every night the contest begins anew, for the tougher you are the less fire you need. And as the protecting warmth dwindles with the dying embers and the chill enters your bones, you lie there pretending to be asleep and hoping the other man will rouse up to put on more wood.

    Henry told me that when he was siwashing with the great guide Andy Simons, he became tired of keeping fire for him. So finally one night he got up very quietly and walked off over the dark mountainside for a quarter of a mile and built himself a new fire. He was just getting himself cozily fixed before a fine bright flame when Andy moved in and lay down without saying a word. After that, Henry admitted defeat just as I already had.

    There was a wild roaring that filled the air. It came down to us from the summits. The wind struck in blasts and scattered the embers from the fire. It was cold, for the wind came directly off the great Kenai snow fields that stretched for a vast area along the divide.

    Smoke and ashes whirled into our eyes. Henry cooked a bannock in the fry pan, a mess of sourdough with grease, water, and salt added to taste. He could not see what he was doing and it came out thoroughly charred-- but we ate it anyway, with our eyes closed against the smoke.

    Now the rain came down in sheets. We had no blankets and no extra clothing. Henry said, 'Maybe fire go out.' He reached out to collect all the wood we had gathered and set it around on top of us under the canvas. It did not do much good because the canvas was so old it leaked.

    Henry said, 'Siwashing no good tonight.'
    I replied, 'No, no good.'
    'Too bad,' he said, 'we lose bear.'
    'Yes,' I said, 'I've been thinking about him. Do you think he will recover?'
    'I don't know,' replied Henry, 'Bear plenty tough-- him headed straight down for glacier. Maybe try to cross.'

    The canvas snapped in the gusts. Henry put more wood on the fire. Occasionally it flared up in spite of the rain and I could see Henry's lean, dark, sensitive face with quick-moving eyes looking into it. No matter what happened, Henry never complained. A good man, I thought.

    By lying feet to head, there was just room for both of us under the canvas. For a long time I lay there, trying not to roll downhill. Then I took a stick of wood and wedged it in against me on the low side. For a while I slept. Then the storm lashed us with still greater fury. Our canvas strip formed an eddy that sucked the smoke in on top of us. Feeling suddenly choked, I jumped up and ran out into the rain to get some fresh air in my lungs. Henry came out too, even he could not stand it. Then, with hunting knife in hand, I dove back under the canvas and slit a hole in it near the bottom and stuck my head out into the rain. No, I thought, 'Siwashing no good tonight.'

    Toward dawn the wind abated and I pulled my head in. Water had been trickling down my neck all night and I was soaked and cold, tired and stiff. I looked at Henry. He was curled up in a ball and there, tucked under one ear for a pillow, was our dingy little sack of salt. He was sleeping."
    It amazes me that though this hunt took place nearly a hundred years ago, many of our experiences are the same today. We share the same mountains, we feel the same wind on our face, and we hunker near the same fires at night, as the cold seeks to steal our warmth away.

    -Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 11-13-2014 at 21:43.
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Nothing like a good old fashioned siwash on the mountain. Anyone have any good siwash stories?
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    Thanks stid and Mike for your comments. I really appreciated both of your perspectives, as well as Mike's exerpt from past hunters. We truly share our moments in the mountains with many that have come before us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    It amazes me that though this hunt took place nearly a hundred years ago, many of our experiences are the same today. We share the same mountains, we feel the same wind on our face, and we hunker near the same fires at night, as the cold seeks to steal our warmth away.
    I had almost forgot, but this story reminded me of a time I did pretty much the same while sheep hunting.....

    My buddy Ric, God rest his soul, had killed a ram our first late morning of the hunt. Unfortunately the poor animal had taken a bad tumble pretty much all the way to the bottom.....man was it steep! We walked down a ways trying to see it but it was too far away and gone. We decided to take a break, eat a little something, and decide what we were gonna do. As we sat there snacking and talking I glanced up above us and saw sheep peeling over a pass not far away. I hurriedly got out the spotter and at the last second thought I spotted what looked to be a full curl horn. Ric said, "Well Dave I've got my work cut out for me so why don't you just go and get after that ram. We'll meet back right here later on. Off I went.

    I ended up finding 12 rams and after a stare down I drilled the one I had seen. By the time I had finished doing up my prize and had it on my back it was nearly dark. As I sidehilled it got darker and darker. Finally I could barely see anymore, so with the last remaining light I looked behind me at one of the tallous fans that I should be able to remember what it looked like, and decided to leave the meat there at the bottom. I dropped it and started to beat feet hopefully to where I thought was "our spot". By the time I had reached the "supposed" area it was pitch black and I almost couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I figured I was on the ridge we had left each other so I started shouting for Ric. Unfortunately the wind had picked up and it had started to drizzle. "Ric!!" I yelled again......nothing. I tried to figure out if I was above or below where we where. I took a shot at it and decided to climb. As I climbed I'd yell for Ric a few times. Still I heard nothing and couldn't see a thing. Finally I had climbed a little more and I was all but ready to give up and hunker down, but gave one more shout out "RIC...!!!" and immediately heard "WHAT...what, what???!!! Ended up I was da*n near standing on top of him, and had startled him out of his sleep. I said...."Jeeze Ric, thanks for being so concerned."

    Well Ric had recovered his ram......what was left of it after he scared off the little brownie that had gotten to it before he did. And I had left my ram on the side of the mountain quite a ways away. The one thing we had going for us is that we had an old military poncho that I had decided to bring. It was pitch dark and we couldn't see anything, much less find camp far, far away. So we decide to weather it out on the ridge of the mountain. We found a little flat area that wasn't filled with rocks and lay down. No wood for a fire to be found anywhere up there. The poncho could barely cover us as the rain came down and the wind would try to take it from us. It was a long night as we both played tug of war to try to get a little bit more poncho to cover us. Drifting in and out of slumber I thought about the brownie that had got to Ric's ram and wondered if he would come try to reclaim it. Was the wind right? Luckily it didn't downpour on us that night, but was just scattered drizzle and buffeting wind all night long. By the time daylight came somehow my ass was getting pretty wet though, and Ric was cold so we were both ready to get up and going.

    Thankfully I was able to find where I had left my ram and it was still there....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  18. #18

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    Good stories Mike, Stid, and 4merguide. I can think of several siwash stories from when I was in my twenties and guiding. I don't do it anymore though. Admittedly I have gotten soft. One of the best stories I can remember though was not when I was guiding but when I was a packer for the guide I used to work for. We were actually out in the Alaska Range on a spring bear hunt. The time was late April/early May (breakup). Nights were bitterly cold and days were cool. We were about 3-5 miles from camp one evening when we spotted a fairly nice size grizzly munching on a moose calf. The calf's mother was standing about 200 yards away with her hair all bristled up and clearly aggravated. We proceeded to try to sneak up above and downwind from feeding bear without alerted the bear or the cow moose. We finally got into position but could not get a good shot because the alders and willows were too tall from our vantage point. My boss (the guide) told me to chamber a round and get ready to back up the hunter if necessary. Adrenaline was flowing. I'm not really sure what happened, whether it was a swirl of wind or a snapped branch, but something alerted the bear of our presence. Right then the bear stood up. The guide told the hunter to take the shot. The bear took off in the thick alders. The guide shouted for everyone to shoot. Bang, bang, bullets flying everywhere like the OK corral. After a few minutes, we all calmed down and the proceeded to head over to the direction of where the bear was standing. We searched and searched. But nothing came up. No sign of blood at all. It started getting dark. We began to discuss our options. It's dark, we are not sure if we wounded this bear or not, we are all out of food except for maybe a candy bar or two. Oh wait, we have a half eaten calf moose carcass laying here that has only been dead for about an hour. "I got an idea" says the guide. "Let's cut a leg off of this moose and cook it over a campfire". "Well boys, it looks like we are spending the night out here in our rain coats" says the guide. And that was the best leg of veal I have ever eaten.

  19. #19
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Years ago I was up in the headwaters of Haley Creek, hunting Dall sheep with a friend. We were far from camp and decided to weather it out overnight on the mountain, in order to save time hiking back in the morning. That gave us the full evening and the entire next day to remain on our lofty perch. As the shadows lengthened, Dave and I found a slight depression in the rocks, which we built up with more rocks to form a windbreak. We chinked it with handfuls of lichen and moss as further protection from the wind, and then spread a military poncho I had, over the top as a roof. We fired up a little mountaineering stove to heat up our freeze-dried meals, then heated some more water, which we drank to help keep our core temperatures up (a feat we repeated a couple of times in the night). The wind blew across the mountain that night, and despite our best efforts at creating a tight shelter, the breezes flowed unimpeded through our wall. It felt like the longest night I had ever spent on the mountain, and no golden sunrise was ever more welcome than the one we greeted the next morning.

    I've slept out like that on solo hunts too, and none of them were any more fun than the first time. A fire would have been most welcome, but in all but one case I was well above treeline. Your mind plays tricks on you when you are alone in the dark, in the middle of vast wilderness. You think you hear things when nothing is really there, your thoughts wander afar and you get little rest until daylight comes, the air warms up a bit and you can finally sleep.

    My hat is off to those who have done this for days on end, sometimes even for entire hunts, as the guys did in the story I posted earlier. I'd like to think such experiences make us tougher men, but I, like the others, vastly prefer the snug shelter of a tent and the warmth of a good sleeping bag.

    -Mike
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  20. #20
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    With today's modern light weight gear, no reason not to take enough to be at least half way warm. I keep a shelter, light weigh bivy and either a down bag or quilt.

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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