is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada
called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain
ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full
of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity
to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without
Wilderness Adventures - Oct., Week Two/2009
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Check out the Picture
of the Day.
haven't even made it to the middle of the month yet and
we woke up to an inch of snow on the ground yesterday
morning. That was surprise enough, but then it peppered
down snow all day to a total of about three inches. Then
when I got up this morning and went out to feed dogs,
it looks like it dropped another half to an inch of snow
overnight. While it's a little unusual to get snow like
this in early October in the past decade, it's not rare
by any means and certainly not by comparison of two decades
I think I've mentioned in the past one snowfall
in the middle of October 1991 that caught everyone off
guard. It was right about this time of year because
it was during cow season (There was a short period of
only a few days in mid October when moose were in the
rut and you could shoot either a cow moose or bull.) When
we got a two foot dump overnight and it wasn't nice snow.
It was heavy and wet. My Mother was out visiting this
way because we had been hunting together when the owner
of a resort across the lake asked us to help out. He knew
I had just purchased a new 4X4 that sat quite high above
the ground, because I'd been caught flat footed the fall
before when it dropped four feet of snow in less
than 24 hours and I couldn't get home in the two wheel
drive I had at the time.
Supposedly, nine European hunters had been dropped off
at a remote lake for ten days by a guide outfitter with
pick-up not due for several more days. They weren't equipped
to deal with two feet of snow (much more up where they
were located) and couldn't get around. They were also
running out of food. I don't know who heard their call
for help but someone told this resort owner and he decided
to go in and fly them out. Not that it wasn't to his advantage.
He was still going to be charging them for lodging and
food for the remainder of their stay, and if he could
help them get a moose near the lodge, that's worth a quite
a lot as well. Which is why he called on me. He needed
my truck to take them around in the deep snow, and he
needed a lodge cook because his wife had already returned
to their winter home. So, Mom and I drove over there,
I handed him the keys to my new truck with dire
warnings of the consequences if he so much as scratched
it, and we set to work cooking.
I took a pair of the hunters out later in the day just
walking, (since obviously my truck couldn't fit that many
guys) and it was rugged going in the snow. I took them
in to a meadow not far from the lodge but it was still
rough wading through that heavy, wet, stuff and we gave
up fairly quickly. That snow never did melt before spring.
We've had other dumps like that in the past but we've
been spoiled by our long, warm falls the last couple of
years so that this comes as a bit of a surprise.
So, I just got an email from at friend over at Charlotte
Lake with a link to the BC Wildfire web site saying that
the Cariboo Fire Center finally took the open fire ban
off for the Chilcotin yesterday. Well, duh.
There was several inches of snow on the ground and it
was still snowing yesterday so I should definitely think
they would take the ban off. I guess we should be thankful
that they at least thought about doing so now instead
of waiting until Christmas or so before remembering to
There is no question that the woods have been very dry,
but we've had extremely cold temperatures that have led
to heavy, heavy frost in the mornings as well as a lot
of fog. That means everything has stayed pretty
damp throughout the day. As a result, to maintain
a camp fire ban in the face of those conditions for the
past couple of weeks has seemed ridiculous to say the
least. I can see not permitting open slash burning, but
camp fires? I would chalk it up to the Cariboo Fire Center
being overly concerned about our well being out here by
maintaining a camp fire ban this late into the fall, had
we not had to fight so hard to get our lookout manned
during one of the hottest, driest springs and early summers
ever. But we won't go into the childishness displayed
Needless to say, many have been ignoring the Fire Center's
edict for the last couple of weeks or so anyway when they've
deemed it safe to burn, and the powers to be haven't known
the difference. That's the beauty of living in the Chilcotin!
The air mass over us seems to be quite large and stable.
It dumped snow on a lot of places in the province yesterday
and is expected to do so today as well. But most
telling is that our temperature hasn't changed much.
It got up to -2C yesterday and then dropped to -4C or
25F yesterday evening and stayed there until I went to
bed. It was exactly the same this morning when I got up
and still hasn't changed. So warm air from the south must
be mixing with that Arctic cold we had and it's maintaining
the temperature right now. We are supposed to see a significant
warm up over the next few days which will probably melt
this snow. And that will probably make a mess since the
ground is frozen wherever there's been moisture, but so
be it. At least a warm up will make the wild fowl happy.
Some ducks flew over the lake yesterday and it looked
like they couldn't quite make up their mind whether to
land or keep on going in the snow storm. They were probably
thinking, "Middle of October, What the Duck????!!!"
11:00 a.m. - Bugger, it's starting to snow again.....
gotten a little Arctic blast over the last couple of days
that brought our temperatures down to -13C or 8.6F by
this morning and they never did make it much higher than
a degree above freezing this afternoon before they started
dropping again. But at least we weren't as cold as Williams
Lake and Prince George which saw overnight temperatures
of -16C or 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
We woke up to clear blue skies this morning and a very
heavy fog on the lake. It took a long time for it to burn
off because it was just so chilly out. By this afternoon
high cloud started moving in and a little breeze rustled
up, which kind of knocked the stuffing out of my
idea of going out on the lake for some fish. I
didn't relish stiffening up like an old board out there
in that frigid air hanging over the water. By this evening
it has socked in completely and looks like it's snowing
off and on over the mountains. I fully expect to see snow
on the ground by morning.
My flowers have taken a pretty good kicking and they've
finally given up on the growing season. We were down at
the other end of the lake last night for Thanksgiving
dinner and I offered to bring some Swiss Chard from the
other greenhouse down to friends if it had made it through.
It hadn't. It survived -8 temps the other night
but two nights in a row of -12 and -13 was just too much
for it. It's toast.
I had hoped to get a bunch of plants in flower beds cut
and cleaned up before it snows, but I think I'll be too
late by morning and if it snows on them overnight, they'll
be too laid over for me to do much with them. I've also
been waiting for a little warmer weather to finish watering
in some plants for winter, but I may have to wait a couple
of more days for that. It is supposed to warm up, but
I don't know if it's going to warm up enough to thaw out
the ground, which is already frozen down a couple of inches
I've received some marvelous pictures from a neighbour
down the lake and Heidy over at Charlotte Lake of the
fantastic sunsets we've been enjoying for the last few
days, with the exception of tonight, that is. So I'll
be sure to show case the pictures both here and on Picture
of the Day.
Hunting a moose
people complained of their lack of success hunting this
year. As usual, I suspect that the extremely warm temperatures
in September was the reason there was so little sign of
moose around. Although the grizzly bear and wolf
pack depredation probably hasn't helped the moose population
much. I didn't get a draw this year and in view
of the weather, it was probably just as well. I got to
miss out on the frustration of looking and not seeing.
However, as I mentioned before, Mike Owen, a frequent
visitor to the area, finally scored at the end of his
Limited Entry Hunting season by the skin of his teeth.
He ended up getting a real beauty of a bull, but his story
of how he got it is more than interesting. Enjoy:
I first saw him I thought, because of the angle, trees,
distance etc. that he was a rancher's black cow. I had
started just east of a large meadow on the Morrison Meadow
side of Highway 20. I had done some walking this year
and had been nicknamed "Seismic Mike" several years ago,
for my going cross country so much. I followed this animal
for about two, maybe three kilometers, before I was able
to get a good look at him. Previously all I was seeing
was sign and his body stepping into the next forest or
brush. Lucky I had a strong wind in my favor the whole
He was never in a hurry.... just always ahead of me. Plus,
I never got too excited until the last 30 mins when I
thought he was gone forever. I watched him leave this
meadow about 1000 meters in front of me. Then while I
was standing by the NW corner of this meadow, in some
small brush to hide me, he reappeared about 1200 meters
away. I watched him walk with the wind, back towards me,
till he was about 1,000 meters away. He stopped and for
no apparent reason, just walked slowly back along the
edge of this meadow where he had come from. He stepped
back into the small trees and brush that he had exited
from some 10 mins earlier. It took me about 10 minutes
to reposition myself behind an "island" of small piles
of debris and trees and tall grasses. The wind was still
in my favor as I stood by the corner posts of a fence.
Again I had tall uncut grasses and some minor brush giving
me cover. I made one pathetic cow moose call. I am not
good at this, and with the wind I doubt he ever heard
me. I stood there for 15 mins. He reappeared and again
walked along this meadow, got to the almost same location
and stopped and again sauntered back upwind to the same
little clump of trees etc. where he had originally walked
to and from. He was almost like on a conveyor belt, Back
and forth. Again I stood for 7 to 8 mins. to see if he
My laser sight was inoperable, so I had no real idea of
distances. I had left it along with my heavy jacket on
a fence post about 75 meters away from where I was positioned.
I called once again. Still into the wind. After waiting
what seemed like an eternity, I decided it was getting
late, and Chef Joe would never believe me, as this was
the third time in as many years I have seen a nice bull
while alone, and no way to verify yet another sighting
to Joe. I decided to leave this meadow and seek Joe out
whom I had left a couple of hours earlier and see where
our Sammi was. These shooting distances for me, too great
for me to even consider. But I thought maybe if I found
Joe and repositioned Joe down near some large spruce trees,
Joe may have a chance.
Chef Joe is a good shot. If not, Joe could always make
me a nice lunch. The heat of the day was increasing but
still around 7 to 9C. I started to walk around the front
of another island of brush debris etc. from this meadow
and, when about 100 meters from my "stand" realized I'd
forgotten my heavy jacket and defunct binoculars. Back
I went to fetch them. Grabbed them, and went back the
way I had started, around the open end of the "island".
I was in the open in part of this meadow and there was
no cover. All the while I would be out in the open but
what did it matter. The moose was long gone and too far
for me to guess a shot. I looked up and he was stepping
out into a different part of the meadow about 600 or 700
meters away and broadside to me. Again the heavy wind
was in my favor. I froze. I was completely out in the
open, gun shouldered, jacket over my arm. Sore knee, I
was tired. Binoculars around my neck. He just kept walking
east almost parallel to me. I somehow managed to raise
my scope to my eye and see his lovely broadside profile
for the third time. I think the glint of my gun or my
motion made him stop walking. He looked directly at me.
We were a good 600 meters apart. Both in open meadow.
He turned his body 90 degrees, but with my normal eye
sight I could not tell if towards me or away. He stood
perfectly still. So did I. How to get my scope up to see
him? Is he towards me or away from me? I had on brown
pants, brown inner sweater, and a brown hat. My gun was
now covered by my brown jacket. I saw the animal take
a few steps but the distance was too great for me to see
whether towards or away. So I slowly, without really exposing
my white face in the sunlight, just "calmly" walked towards
the fence behind me. The fence might give me some minor
cover. The sun was directly into my face. I looked over
my right shoulder once and he was definitely coming towards
me. I stopped, he stopped! I guessed he was 500 to 600
meters away. But his antlers were glistening in the sunlight
and I could start to see with my own eyes their size.
I took a few more steps towards this fence. Now this fence
runs on an angle and as I got closer to it, I realized
it would, when I was standing beside it, give me some
cover. He would not see past the slight corner of the
fence line. I looked again at him and the fence. He was
500 meters away and I only 100 from the fence. Man this
jacket is heavy! I took a few more steps and while doing
so I realized this moose was now about 400 meters away
and trotting towards me! He was trotting! His body swaying
in the sunshine. My immediate thought was those antlers
were getting larger and larger. I can't kneel and take
a shot? My knee is too sore. Stand? Take a shot? A front
shot? At what distance 400, 300, 200, 100 meters? Those
antlers looked larger with every step he took.
I decided to move to the fence, put the fence between
him and me. With me walking quickly, but not running,
and by going some 30 to 40 meters, the fence line had
done just what I thought it would do, block him and I
from viewing each other. I now had to find a way to cross
this fence with sore knee and rest, to gather myself.
I went up along the fence line putting some distance between
me and the moose. I found another sort of corner place
on the fence where there was wooden cross posts to assist
me over the fence. I threw my heavy jacket on the ground
,dropped my binos too, and tried to kneel. Too sore. Too
painful. I realized I had no idea now as to the distance
to the moose. Was he even still coming? I decided to stoop
and walk along the fence to a place where I could sit
on my butt and gather my thoughts and still be able to
fire if he was within my range. I had not walked 20 meters
when I saw his antlers above the brush and fence line
walking towards me not 100 meters away. I realized for
the first time I might have my first moose since 1968.
I rested my barrel on the barbed wire and sat and waited.
He did not come out for what seemed an eternity. In reality
maybe 2 to 3 minutes? But when he did, I had had lots
of time to gather my breath, adjust my scope to 3, check
my safety, and wait. He stepped out of the fence line
not more than 80 meters from me and about 75 meters from
the fence line. He too had paused, I presumed when he
lost sight of me. The wind was still in my favor and now
I had the tall grasses and fence line brush to partly
hide me. I fired one time and he fell like a stone. He
never moved from that spot. I said a small thank you.
My second thought was of my son, whom I had put on a plane
to Vancouver two weeks earlier. That he could not be here
this morning. Tim had had an exciting morning on his first
day here in the Chilcotin, and hopefully there will be
many more exciting times for us together, in the Chilcotin.
Hoo! Now isn't that a good hunt! As I told Mike, because
he was dressed in brown and had called into the wind and
the call a faint one, I suspect the bull moose thought
that he was a cow. Since Mike kept moving away from him
and was often obscured by bushes and grass, and moose
are known for their notoriously poor eye sight, that bull
probably figured he was on the trail of the female variety.
That's some good hunting!!
This morning has dawned clear and beautiful, not
to mention cold. It never made it any higher than
four degrees above freezing yesterday and by dawn this
morning it had dropped to -8C or 17F as was forecast.
I have to go check greenhouses today. I don't expect anything
made it through the night after those kind of temperatures.
Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there. Enjoy
The Fishing Adventure
I didn't realize how long it had been since I had written
until I looked at the date of the last post. Time has
kind of run away on me this fall.
We managed to sneak out Monday of this week after supper
for an hour or so for some fishing. I had a big batch
of chow cooking on the stove for an event on Tuesday,
but the fish were plopping all over the lake and I just
couldn't take it any more. I shut off the heat from under
the pans of food and grabbed fishing rods while Andy got
a battery into the boat.
It was really nice and warm at first and we were really
enjoying just being out on the water even without much
in the way of action. Then we started getting a
lot of good, strong strikes, but we were losing fish.
That doesn't normally happen that much, but their mouths
must be really soft right now. I got a small fish out
in front of our place, but it wasn't until we went into
the back bay that we really started catching and keeping
fish. When we cleaned them, you could tell a real difference
in the color of the flesh between the dark salmon colored
fish I caught at first, and the next three that we caught
where the lake starts to exit into the Dean River. The
flesh of those fish was much paler. Still, they
all look good as fillets in my freezer and they'll look
even better on a plate in the dead of winter. Now if we
could just get back out there....
Mike Owen, the fellow that emailed me the sow grizzly
story also related his experience fishing Nimpo Lake this
was fishing one day two weeks ago on Nimpo and had a real
run in with a very large fish.
It's the first time I have experienced that size of trout
on Nimpo. Joe and I had just left our dock, my fly was
in the water and Joe was busy with his wedding band Ford
fender system. I always tease him about using that heavy
equipment on Nimpo Lake. All of a sudden, bang! His reel
screamed and then nothing. "Ha, Ha!" I laughed,
"You hit or snagged bottom. Told you not to put out
yet." "No way," he said, but all he had
was a line. No gear, nothing. All gone. "Told you
to use flies here." He was busying himself, muttering
about making another such hook up, and the cost of fishing,
when bang! My reel sounded. This was the first time this
fall that I had a trout on. I was surprised at how rapidly
the trout swan with my fly.
I troll a fly, on a sinking tip, sinking line. This was
a good sized fish. Almost to my backing when wham, the
fish got a whole lot more powerful. My backing quickly
departed my reel and it was all I could do to stop this
fish from separating my line from my reel. Something had
to give. Man, he/she was running left and right about
50 feet behind my boat. Still had not broken the surface.
What a monster I thought. "This is like a 10 pound
salmon." I said to Joe. "Are we ever going to
have a nice smoker here!" Joe's face was not a happy
one. All of a sudden the line went slack. My heart dropped.
GONE! "What the heck?" I said. Joe said, "Might
be the same fish that was on my line moments earlier.
I heard they were hungry this time of the year."
I was about to respond to him when I realized that this
fish was still there and must be running towards the boat,
as my line again tightened and reel sang once more. By
now I had the motor off and was drifting with the slight
wind. Well this went on for three times when finally I
got the fish, still under the water, closer to the boat.
There was a Loon holding onto the tail of my TROUT! He
was not the least bit concerned about the net or our yelling
at him. He had his fish at one end, and I had my fish
at the other end. This fish turned out to be a 19" Rainbow
Trout and we each had a hold of either end. The loon ran
again with his powerful wings and feet and again the drag
on my reel could not stop him. Using my index finger to
provide drag on my reel was the only way. My backing was
almost depleted. Again I brought him and the fish closer
to the boat. Two more times he ran with my fish! Then
as he swam under the boat with the fish in his mouth,
he either let it go or lost his grip. Quick draw Joe,
with the net, netted my fish.
Other than some good heavy marks on his tail the fish
was fine. Except he was in my trout basket. That Loon
followed us for 45 mins trying to take every fish we hooked
that day. Oars banging on the water, yelling, banging
on the side of the boat never fazed him. He was within
3 to 6 feet of us each time we had a fish on. With one
fish, the loon almost swam into the net. Boy, that could
have been trouble, but at the last instance the Loon turned
away and only his wing brushed the net. We caught our
limit that day despite his best efforts to eat a few himself.
Just another day on Nimpo.
(Mike also has a hunting story that I will print here
in the next day or so.)
I have never had this experience with loons on this lake,
nor have I heard of anyone else having a problem, but
I have heard of it happening on many lakes
in the Okanagan and it can be a real problem. I can only
hope that this was a migrating loon that was just passing
through and that he will take his bad habit with him.
The last thing we need is for our local loons to
learn this behavior.
We had some pretty decent weather this week considering
the time of year. Most of the aspen and many of the willows
still have their leaves, and in sheltered spots, those
leaves are still green, which is amazing.
There was quite a bit of snow that was dropped on the
mountains in the past week or so, but surprisingly, a
lot of it melted, probably because it got warm enough
during the day, even at higher elevations. Our temperatures
at night have dropped below freezing for the most part
this week, and they're expected to drop even more in the
next few days. There's a cold front moving down
from the north carried by a jet stream that has swung
clear up to the Alaska Panhandle and nearly straight back
down again. The weather forecasters were predicting
that temperatures would be seven degrees warmer in the
morning in the Cariboo yesterday than they would be in
the afternoon and that it would drop to -10C overnight.
While it got a little raw here yesterday and tried to
spit rain, it only dropped to a couple of degrees below
freezing last night, probably because we have heavy cloud
cover. We fully expected to see snow on the ground this
morning, and there is, but it's just a skiff.
Because temperatures were expected to plummet, I cleared
pretty much everything out of the greenhouse here except
for some zucchini that's still trying to mature. I
pulled the heater out so it's do or die for that plant
now. Andy added a support post in the middle of
the greenhouse in case we get a good snow load this winter
so now all that's left to do is figure out what I'm going
to spray that dirt with to control mold next year. Any
ideas would be welcome.
I still have to finish clearing the Swiss Chard out of
the other greenhouse so kindly loaned to me by the neighbours
for the summer. I've already put quite a bit if chard
down in the freezer but there's still a whole whack of
it over there that I need to get to. Other than that,
I think we're pretty much ready for winter. There's quite
a bit of firewood in the yard and Andy will work at getting
more through the winter, but I think we're set!
It looks like everyone else is thinking winter as
well. The docks are starting to build up over
in the back bay. Stewart's Lodge moored their docks over
there a couple of days ago and Duncan has all his planes
put to bed. Probably with good reason. I just looked outside
to see snow flakes sifting down. Before you know it, it'll
be time to pull out the sleds .
You'll find last week's articles, including Mike's story
about the grizzly sow and wolf, at October
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!