Outdoor columns


I walked past my youngest son’s car the other day and did a double take. Glancing in through the side window I could see that the pile of “stuff” in the back had not only taken up all the available leg space, but had actually filled the space between the front and back seats. You couldn’t even see the rear bench seat for the clothes, college textbooks, cooler and fast food wrappers.

   I immediately implored him to make things right again, saying something like: “that’s some nasty in there.”

    He just gave me a look. The kind that says: “hey, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” So I decided, it being June, that it was probably time for my own semi-annual car cleaning.

    The auto du jour is a 2001 Toyota Corolla. Yeah, I know. I’ve really got to trade that sucker in on another pickup. I just find it difficult to do when gas prices are skyrocketing toward not being able to go anywhere.

    I’ve never been of the opinion that the car defines the man. My attitude is “as long as it gets me there.” Well, it actually doesn’t always get me exactly there, due to ground clearance issues, but some extra walking is supposed to be good for my blood pressure.

    Anyhow, I opened all the doors and raked it out as a start. Then I divided things into piles – stuff to put away; stuff to take to the dump; compost … Then I started the serious sorting, which involves considerable decision-making. You know … is it better to try and clean this up or should I just get another?

    Here’s some of what I found. Two insulated shirt-jackets, to start. Why two, I wondered? Closer examination provided the answer. One had a crow call in the breast pocket. That was obviously something I wore during the spring turkey season, since I don’t hunt crows and only use the crow call as a locater call during the daytime hours of the turkey season when an owl call would seem suspiciously out of place.

    The other shirt/jacket? It had some squashed and badly melted bite-size Snickers Bars in the pockets. That was obviously leftover Halloween candy, which told me I was wearing this one during the deer season last fall.

    Among the papers there was a rather extensive “to do” list of things that I quickly determined never got done, the exception being number 32 – “sight in the muzzleloader,” which dates the list back to October. I put the list in the recyclables pile. I feel it’s very important for outdoors people to be “green” about things like trash disposal and to recycle whenever possible.

    I was momentarily puzzled as to why I had a hammer and a coffee can full of nails in the car until I remembered nailing up those targets to sight in the muzzleloader.

    One of the stray audiocassettes was a “how to” one about moose calling with my new moose horn call. It features a lot of cow moose moaning-in-lust sounds. That one got some attention from other motorists at stoplights back last fall when the weather was still warm enough to have the windows open. Earned me some mighty strange looks. I think it’s safe to put this away since it took me ten years to win the moose lottery this last time.

    The empty soft side gun case, owl call, hardwood and acrylic “strikers” and the hen turkey decoy are pretty much self explanatory, since that season just ended. The camouflage gloves are a bit of mystery, though. There are two left hand gloves in different camouflage patterns and two rights, in the same pattern, but it doesn’t match either of the left patterns. This leads me to suspect there are some more stray gloves waiting to be found somewhere.

    Look at this, a number three Mepps escaped from my tackle box and took up residence on the rear seat. Good thing no one sat on that baby.

    There’s a pocket notebook with a bunch of notes in handwriting that no longer make any sense to me, with one exception: “add to ‘not to do’ list – do not repeatedly wipe nose with arctic polar ice fishing gloves.” I remember that day. I couldn’t even touch my nose with tissues for a couple days after that trip. Those fleece-lined sandpaper-textured gloves are nice and warm and they’re great for holding onto slippery fish, but they definitely shouldn’t be put on the hands of someone with the gloved-hand-drippy-nose-wiping-habit.

    And there’s my hunter orange knit hat, for gosh sakes. It’s amazing the things you find under the seats with all those candy bar wrappers, crushed Styrofoam coffee cups and half-eaten bagels. It’ll clean up ok. I’ll just drop it in the hamper.

    I wish someone could explain the film canister, since I’ve been shooting strictly digital pictures for more than a year now. And I think I know now where all the lead depth sounders were been disappearing to throughout the ice fishing season. Good thing the EPA isn’t in charge of car inspections.

    All in all, it wasn’t such a bad task, cleaning the car. One thing that speeds up the process is that I don’t bother vacuuming – just scrape together and toss out a few double handfuls of road sand and grit. There’s definitely a limit to how fussy I want to be about things like cleaning out the car.

    Now I wonder if maybe I should take a peek in the glove box … or just call it a day. 


Seventy five years ago my great-uncle Lee Sherman Chadwick, my paternal grandmother’s brother, went on his third sheep hunt. The Stone Ram he brought back from British Columbia after a hunt that took two months set a record that has never been surpassed. It is the only North American sheep ever taken with horns that both measured more than 50 inches. It’s a world record that has endured for three-quarters of a century. It is very unlikely that record will ever be beaten. The kind of unexplored wilderness in which Chadwick hunted has since felt the frequent footfalls of human encroachment.

    L.S. Chadwick kept journals detailing all of his big game hunts. He was 62 on August 28, 1936 when he shot the ram on what was primarily a meat hunt. This is the story of that hunt, in Chadwick’s own words, taken from the journal he titled: “Peace River Hunt.” It’s a story of hardship, risk, and triumph that was punctuated by the charge of a wounded grizzly, a freak blizzard that left this hunting party marooned in unexplored mountains, and flood conditions that impeded their return to civilization.

    Two days prior to his historic hunt Chadwick, his guide Roy Hargreaves, and wranglers Frank Golata and Curley Cochrane were totally disheartened. They had travelled 18 days on horseback to reach the end of the trail. There, on the edge of British Columbia’s “known wilderness” they figured they had the best chance of taking a trophy ram. Four days previously their bacon had officially “gone by.” Their only meat was trout they caught along the way.

    The four men went scouting in different directions. They were scouting for sheep sign and they were hunting for fresh meat. At the end of the day they all had the same thing to report: lots of wolf sign and no game to be found.

    The situation looked dismal. They had gone beyond the hunters’ trails. Now they were at the outside edge of the trappers’ trails, up against a wilderness with no known trails.

    After a night spent listening to wolf songs Chadwick made his decision. He hadn’t become a successful inventor and industrialist by being a quitter. He hadn’t come this far just to turn back and hunt with everyone else. They would just make their own trails. And so they pushed their horses two days further and made camp on Lapp Creek, just below a natural pass into the Musqua River Basin. That camp was on the Continental Divide at the 58 degree parallel.

    On the morning of the 28th Chadwick and Hargreaves set out to shoot some fresh meat for the camp. Chadwick carried his big game rifle, a custom made Hoffman .404. It weighed nine pounds, four ounces and held five rounds, four in the magazine and one in the chamber. 300-grain bullets left the barrel of that rifle with a muzzle velocity of 2,700 feet per second.

     Here’s the story of that “meat hunt” in Chadwick’s own words

    “Just at the top of the divide, we sighted three rams on the very top of a high mountain of the next range. They were about one and a half miles away, and we had to go down into the valley, cross the south fork of the Musqua; then make a hard climb to the mountain.”

    “Roy and I took our guns, camera and packboards. We had to go down over a glacial bridge and crawl along the side rocks of a sharp ravine, hacking footholds in either ice or shale rock. The sweat poured off me like rain. Once we got halfway down there was no turning back!”

    “We had seen through the 20-power scope that there was one fine head among the three, so we determined to make it or bust, and going down was only half the battle. The other side was higher and had a bad rock slide at the top.”

    “I went up pretty fast for a man of sixty-two. When my hatband, which was tight, banked up a pool of perspiration, I would remove the hat, wipe away the sweat, take a short rest, then plod on toward the top with my mouth dry as dust and my boots filling with perspiration.”

    “When we reached the top, the sheep were gone. We soon sighted them, though, down in the Musqua Valley, two thousand feet or more below. Down we went, over the rock slide, my feet were throbbing and my knees trembling. Finally we were within two hundred yards and could go no further. I took movies of the three rams and then took aim at the largest with my .404.”

    “My first shot was low, but through his brisket. He took off at a terrible speed and both Roy and I shot several times, one of those hitting him in the hip.”

    “When the rams started up the mountain the big one was obviously hurt and falling behind the others. Roy took off on a run and his younger legs got him there first for the finishing shot. The ram fell down a sharp ravine and into a little brook. I was about all in and still trying to keep up with Roy. It was a very bad place to get to, but we both got down to the sheep without a fall. When we got there we saw he was well worth the hard work.”

    “He has the most magnificent head I have ever seen, with two almost perfect horns. The right horn is slightly broken on the end and measures 50 and one-half inches. The left horn is pointed clear to the end and measures 52 and one eighth inches. They are both over 15 and three eighths inches at the base and the spread is 31 and a quarter inches. If he is not a [world] record head, he is close to it.”

    For another week they moved about and hunted in a wilderness they had all to themselves. Although most of Chadwick’s hunting was done with the camera, he did take a second sheep. This ram took a fall down a rock slide and broke six inches or more from the ends of its horns. Even so, those horns still measured almost 40 inches. Roy Hargreaves shot two sheep, as well, and the larger measured over 42 inches.

    On Labor Day Chadwick took sick with headache, fever, and “terrible bowel and liver problems.” Adding to his discomfort he weather turned bad.

    For five days and five nights an unexpected early blizzard raged. The men had to fight to keep their tent from being blown away in gale force winds and when the snow stopped the accumulation was higher than their horses’ bellies. The trail they had blazed to leave the mountains by was a treacherous one even without the snow. They had to wait for a thaw.

    It turned out to be a four day wait for a thaw to begin. Meanwhile below-zero nighttime temperatures froze their canned goods and chilled their morale. Chadwick’s illness had lasted as long as the storm. The men were beginning to develop a sense of their own vulnerability. Even so, on Sept. 16th Lee, Roy and Frank went out to hunt grizzly.

    “At about 3 p.m. the three of us started out on foot to hunt the big basin south of camp in the hope of seeing a good-sized bear,” Chadwick wrote in his journal. “At the top of the climb and about 250 yards away, we sighted a grizzly. It looked to be fat and well-furred, so with the six inch lens I took a lot of film as he climbed, unconscious of our presence.”

    Satisfied with the footage he had taken, Chadwick put down the camera and lifted his rifle. The first shot knocked the bear down, but up it came again. The second shot broke its hip and that sent the bear charging straight at them. That’s when things began falling apart.

    “When she was coming fast and getting a bit too close for comfort Roy attempted to load my No. 54 Winchester with a cartridge from the magazine and pulled the bolt out of the gun into his hand. At the same time, the floor, or rather the follower plate in the magazine of my Hoffman, in some manner, jumped up in front of the bolt and I couldn’t close the bolt until I pulled the plate up through the opening, and then had to hold the magazine spring down with my thumb, while I loaded a single cartridge, by hand, into the chamber.”

    “A wounded, snarling and charging bear with two malfunctioning guns with the bear coming fast and not over a hundred feet away – this simply shows that even the best of firearms can make a man hustle in a pinch. I was forced to finish the bear by using my rifle as a single-loader and shot several times that way. Roy never tried to shoot, as he thought his gun was broken. Frank ran the film and claims that he took over 30 feet of film as the bear came charging toward us.”

    The next day, Sept. 17, they began the long trek back to civilization in a cold rain.

    “It was a cold, hard trip up to the summit, through heavy snows. At times it was well above the horses’ bellies and on the steep portion of the pass it is about all a horse can do to climb up, even when the ground is bare. The heavy snow made it exceptionally hard for them and near the top, the wind blew a gale against which a man could hardly stand upright.”

    The return to civilization was a 22-day trip marked by a bout of near snow-blindness. They traversed snow-choked mountain passes, forded flooded raging rivers, and encountered horse trapping quagmires. And they brought back the biggest big horn sheep ever shot – the world record Stone Ram forever known as the Chadwick Ram.

    The Chadwick Ram is regarded by many as the Greatest North American Trophy. The head and shoulder mount of the ram and Chadwick’s rifle reside on display in the Cody Museum in Wyoming.