|Topaz the Great
Joined: 01 Jan 2007
|Posted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:05 PM Post subject: My Inner Mungus
|Well winter is here, Gary says it is not up to previous standards but he can't spell standards without four tries and spell check... I hope this gets you guys thru the long day in a pit... All my decoys were in the garage.
IMG_0161 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
Well last year my old pal Mungus… I mean Gary, started giving me grief about how he always ends up looking bad in my stories, said he didn’t want to look like “Mungus” every time. Now I did not even know what a “Mungus “ was, I thought he was just, as usual, slaughtering the English language, and thought I was making him out to be a fungus. I told him that so far I had never even mentioned what I had seen when he pulled off his boots, but he then informed me that a “Mungus” is a heel, a stooge, the butt of every joke and mis-adventure that occurs in our back country camp. He claimed that even some of the things I had been guilty of somehow attached themselves to his “Mungus” character. I thought about explaining the meaning of “poetic license” or “editorial discretion” but realized these concepts would be best explained over second cups of coffee rather than fourth cups of adult beverages…
I duly tried to clean up and glamorize his character last year and he was still not pleased with the outcome, for some inexplicable reason. He even brought up some very stupid thing that occurred years ago and attributed it to me, and try as I might I could not remember it occurring let alone being the perpetrator of this act, even now I cannot remember the act he mentioned only that he did indeed mention it and blamed me. When he assured me he had a large supply of laxatives and super glue ready for elk camp this year, I told him I would try to clean up his public persona again this year. It started with his having gotten no “free meat” for his freezer for about a decade or so, then last year finally finding a deaf/blind/cripple buck and reducing it to his possession. This windfall turned out to be not such a gift from above but a cruel hoax as it was so stinky with rut it was practically inedible. All year I had to hear how he was almost wasting away from starvation, eating nothing but grain fed beef.
This took a more serious turn when I got a big elk with my bow in WY in early September and then put a ton of tasty walleye in my freezer a week or so later, this was no way to make Mungus feel more self-worth. Indeed it would inspire Mungus jealousy. I had to take steps to help him out, so set about to brine and apple smoke a turkey. After brining I set up the smoker and prepared our feast for her highness and myself, checked it after three hours and went to pour some concrete in Steamboat. Four hours later I returned to fancy fire trucks in my yard and a huge gaping black hole where my garage had been. Inside that garage had been two 22 cubic foot freezers stuffed full of all that “free meat”, a total loss. This is the kind of personal loss and pain I am willing to put up with to help a friend have a better self-image. Tons of work and paper work ensued to clean up the mess and try to re-coup some of the loss. The un-insured Jeep and the throwing away of all that meat was the most painful, it is not nearly as “free” as I try to tell the Princess it is.
image by squirrel2012, on Flickr
The home nest had been saved by divine intervention with a favorable wind and the timely arrival of the firemen who got there as the shingles caught fire. The only damage sustained was two melted windows, blistered paint, and several burned shingles. Another 30 minutes and it would have been a “Mungus Event” of incredible proportions. Nothing died, however, but an awful lot of tools and toys went up in smoke.
The embers had hardly stopped smoldering when it was time to head off to keep Gary company for a week and make sure he doesn’t get afraid in the dark. This year I had specific royal instructions to go murder stuff as we had no “free meat” to get us through the long, cold, winter. I was informed that there would be new freezers available for filling by the time I came back. Usually my Princess takes the side of the four legged packages of meat, wishing me, if not bad luck, at least not an excess of good luck. Mungus and I headed up the hill under dry warm and dusty conditions. This was ideal, since all my stuff that usually resides in my truck bed for emergencies had been melted. I had no shovels, jack, tow chains, tire chains, nor tensioners, what could possibly go wrong? Oh and on the previous rental my trailer jack had broken leaving me with no way to disconnect up on the mountain.
Mungus, (or is he now Gary, with me wearing the Mungus label?) did not forget his rifle against the truck tire nor the eggs on the truck’s hood, he even had the same number of saddles as he had llamas; he is growing up so fast… But he did have extra chow to help feed me since I had lost all frozen stuff and could only bring a couple mason jars of canned venison, carefully packed inside of my rank-as -hell boots against breakage on the hike in on the llamas. Well glass and pack string travel don’t really go together, by the time we got seven miles in to camp my boots no longer were rank except with a distinct roast beef odor, and our menu was short one batch of stew or it was going to have some very unique flavoring. Wheatley and Cody didn’t mind the dead sock flavoring being poured over their chow, but they did go out and eat some green llama beans afterward to get the taste out of their mouths.
The mandatory Mungus “resting day” was spent splitting wood and settling into camp life, it was exceedingly warm and good camping weather. I, of course, went the extra mile and climbed towering peaks to spot where to best go acquire the “free meat” the next morning. The next day all this non-Mungus-style hard work paid off and Cody and I were able to get our cow elk. This, in spite of there being people everywhere around us. Gary, of course, trying to make it sporting and maximize his fun saw nothing. The next day should have been “butchering day” but, as it was a raging blizzard, this got put off. Our comfortable camping turned into knee deep “what are our animals going to eat in this chit” camping. The next day the cow was brought back to camp and Gary’s worries of which of my body parts to eat first were rendered moot. Enough big bones were carried back to camp to make for gassy dogs for the remainder of the trip.
image by squirrel2012, on Flickr
Now nothing puts old Mungus into a state of depression like cold, wet, weather, and being surrounded by hordes of other hunters. The easy availability of firewood and alcohol just seem to get the best of his killer instincts. Along with his inherent misanthropic nature make him want to hide under his fancy negative 40 degree sleeping bag and pet Wheatley rather than scratch and scramble for a good spot to freeze to death on the mountain. The hunting was just getting good, with the animals being forced into the open and lower with the snowfall, deer, in particular, were a dime a dozen with some very nice older bucks coming out in the open to chase the girls. Mungus , of course, with his fears of wet feet and a cold ass was not out there to take advantage of all of this, but I kept him updated with motivational speeches about him being such a wuss.
The morning speech would go something like this: “Snowed a couple inches again last night, you going out?” “#&*@^ NO!” “You are a pathetic wuss of a hunter you know that?” No response from the huge lump… “Well now are you going out today?” “@#$% YOU!!” “you at least gonna get up and make me coffee?” @#$% You ^SSHOLE!! Mungus doesn’t do mornings really well even under the best of circumstances, but after a few of these highly motivational speeches failed to rouse him I would just go off hunting with Cody. The good news of him wimping out was there was always hot coffee and a warm stove when I needed to retreat to the shelter of the tent. I resolved to be picky in looking for a buck, as every day it seemed I saw one bigger than any previous. This was getting better by the day and all that was going to keep it from ending very well was a lack of time to watch and wait.
With only one day left to hunt without really making our departure difficult, I saw a tall beautiful buck out courting, and I couldn’t help but see him as two large boxes of chorizo sausage wrapped up in a brown leather gift wrap. We had to charge hundreds of yards through snow above my knees but we had the advantage of being above and ahead of him, which combined with my chiseled athletic body and superior mental state put Cody and I at just the right spot as he came up the mountain chasing his girls as if there was no tomorrow. Cody was quivering and wheezing and snuggling up to my leg for warmth so his trembling made an offhand shot difficult for even one so gifted as I. I plopped my firm dimpled buttocks down in the snow and put the hurt on the poor hapless buck from about 75… I mean 750 yards away. Cody was so proud of him you would have thought he had helped in some way, as if he actually had a skill.
471 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
487 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
I returned to my spotlessly clean, warm tent for coffee and a couple llamas, and since I smelled of fresh blood Mungus’ dog decided I was his newest best buddy, worthy of his companionship. (And his only potential for any sort of carnivorous diet.) I had lots of help skinning, caping and especially trimming the buck with both Wheatley and Cody insisting that it was ALL not fit for human consumption. I got him back to camp by late afternoon and we started packing for the truck the next morning, leaving camp set up for my return for a fourth season elk hunt.
The trip out was very steep and deep and took an hour longer than normal, I know it cannot be age or lack of conditioning, so it had to be that snow… I reminded myself to bring this suffering up when Princess accused me of “running off to play with Mungus”. I took lots of breaks to let my poorly conditioned animals wheeze while holding back my urges to just trot on ahead and trample out a better trail for they and Mungus to follow. I worried about Mungus, far behind, struggling, as he may not have the woodcraft to follow my three foot wide and eighteen inch deep snow trench of a trail.
When I got to the truck it was buried to the top of the wheels and the bed was snowed in level to the top of the bedsides. Mungus had parked very tight to my rear and as a result I could not back up at all. I tried to go forward onto the road and with a dead weight of trailer and seven llamas was instantly stuck and well on the way to jackknifed. A Good Samaritan, from California of all places, tried to help, but he yanked himself into the ditch tight to my front, I was pinned in tight. About this time Mungus found his way back to the trailhead, and I was pinned tight by two mungus’ and had the privilege of helping chain up both of them while having no chains for my own rig. I finally got my trailer disconnected using my truck’s jack and with the help of California Mungus was thus able to escape with truck only, and left my trailer full of llamas buried off to the side in two feet of snow with no food.
I went back to my house to get chains and tensioners, as there was no way I was going to get the trailer off the mountain without tire chains. I had to chip the chains out of their melted plastic bucket and burn them enough to let the links move freely enough to function. My darling princess had bought me some chain tensioners, by request, so back up the wintery mountain I went to rescue my llamas and get them down to some hay. Unlike some people, when I was chaining up in the dark on the icy road there was nobody to help place chains or direct my movements, it was only decades of self-sacrifice helping others in need that prepared me for triumphing at this ornery task. At least Cody let me warm my frozen fingers in his armpits when I got back in the truck. The humming of my faithful llamas let me know they appreciated my sacrifice on their behalf as I got the trailer hooked up and limped down the mountain to where a big stack of hay awaited their arrival. Cody and I got in the warm house at 10 pm and had to immediately start packing for departure on another hunting trip the following morning… it occurred to me that if I was being paid to do this chit I would demand a raise.
IMG_0242 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
IMG_0238 - Copy by squirrel2012, on Flickr
Up at dawn the next day for a trip for whitetails to the “dowry ranch” where things went a bit better with three kids hitting 12 years old and wanting me to get them their first buck. Two out of three did just that and the other missed her chance. They don’t really want to eat deer so I was very happy to butcher them up and add to my growing pile of “free meat”. A last evening buck for me and it was back home as fast as I could drive, trying not to lose a day off of my already short fourth season tag. It didn’t work out very well and we did not pull in to home until after midnight. My manly stamina was waning a bit and packing and catching llamas by flashlight was extremely unattractive compared to a warm bed.
I told myself that only poor nimrods go out on the first day when the animals aren’t expecting you, real hunters let them get educated and make it sporting. I missed the opener but got everything packed and llamas all captured and haltered instead, opting for a better prepared departure rather than a more timely one. Cody got to stay home for this trip and I took Cashew on her first venture of this sort. Cashew and I got to the tent in the late pm and I really just wanted to sit by the fire in typical Mungus fashion. If the real Mungus had been there as a bad influence I may have done exactly that, but instead hiked several more miles up a long ridge to sit in gale force winds with Cashew snuggling tight to my leg for warmth.
image by squirrel2012, on Flickr
With an hour of daylight left I saw a nice bull step out and feed maybe a mile up from our perch. I put her at heel, as much as you can heel a puppy, and stalked to 50 yards of him. One shot and he went down in 18” of snow for perfect butchering conditions. Cashew bristled and circled downwind at her approach to the first dead elk of her career. I gutted him, packed him with snow as best I could in the failing light of a bitter cold windy night and trudged down the mountain in the pitch dark, fearless of wolves, lions and bears, and besides, I had left my flashlight at the camp… I really missed old Mungus when I got to the dirty, cold, dark Mungusless tent for an exhausted night’s sleep. Cashew was still a bit intimidated as it was her first look at a dead elk and the whole thing was fascinating/terrifying for her. She is very much a girl dog, very different from what I am used to. At every rustle of wind hitting the tent she would growl and fuss as if the bull’s ghost was coming to get us, but it wasn’t half as bad as Gary’s snoring and yelling in his sleep.
The next morning with her and three llamas I went back up the mountain and about 500 yards from the bull I noticed that a huge bear track had walked uphill in my downhill tracks from the night before. It’s a good thing for him we didn’t meet up in the dark the night before or things may have gone very poorly for him as Cashew and I would most likely have crapped ourselves and thrown some of it in his face before we passed out. His tracks peeled off and went elsewhere about a hundred yards before he got to the dead elk, which made Cashew and I very happy, as the rifle was back at camp… Cashew did not like the smell of Mr. Bear at all. I kept a watchful eye on the even more watchful llamas while I butchered what was the first bull I ever got, that I believe was so old as to actually be going downhill. He had almost no molars left at all and was positively huge in the front quarters, more of that tasty “free burger meat”! He was what I’ve come to call a “three llama elk” -as in- he was too big for putting on just two llamas, he later weighed in at 240# of boneless meat.
My techno-phone was calling for a storm and I really should have headed out that day but was just too tired to break camp and head up through all that snow. The predicted blizzard never showed up and we broke camp the following morning and still had a broken trail to follow all the way up, making it much easier than the previous death march when I got to break trail for Mungus’ trip out. While that was surely true I was still a very happy hiker when I reached the truck with all of camp, meat and gear. Successful back country hunting can strongly resemble work, and I was more than ready for a few days off before the next adventure, KS whitetails. But that, as they say, is a story for another day…
While not my best (according to Mungus) it is however worth every penny you paid for it, good hunting to you all.
IMG_0212 by squirrel2012, on Flickr
If dogs don't go to heaven, I want to go where they went.