The Middle Fork Chronicle 2006
We had a great time bear hunting this past spring. I started baiting
and scouting for bear sign in early May. Steve Thorsen came in from
New Jersey for a hound hunt, and boy did we hunt hounds.
The bears were just starting to move with the bigger bears still
coming down from the high country. The dogs started a bear up Duck
Creek on the second day of the hunt. They were going fast and were
out of hearing range quickly. We looked for the dogs all day. My
telemetry gave me a general direction, but in this canyon country
we get a lot of signal bounce.
I found Bo the next day in four feet of snow. The dogs had treed
the bear sometime during the night, but he had jumped tree and headed
into Forge Creek before dawn. Forge Creek is rough country and it
took us three days to round up the rest of the dogs. Steve is a
great hunter and he loves hound dogs. We had a great time chasing
Our second hunt started with Jay Nabors and Hunter Crute. They
came into hunt on the 13th of May. The next day Jay missed a bear,
but Hunter killed a nice one. Thats the right way to start
off a hunt.
Jay got another chance at a bear on the second day of the hunt.
He took another nice bear out of Camas Creek. In order to check
the bait and get his bear we had to cross Camas Creek by boat. The
weather had been warm and the creeks were rising fast. That was
the last day we were able to hunt off of that bait. Camas Creek
raised a foot and a half overnight. It was a week before we could
cross it again. Lyle and I had a great time with Hunter and Jay.
We shot ground squirrels during the day and hunted bears in the
afternoon and evening.
Our next trip was the Moses Lake Christian Academy High School.
This was the second year that they came out to the back country.
This is a group of kids that are interested in working in or just
experiencing the backcountry.
I showed them how we bait bears. We made bear lollipops
in five gallon metal buckets. We also got the chance to chase a
bear into the next county before we had to gather the dogs up. This
is always a unique trip because it gives us a chance to introduce
young men to the mountains and show them our special way of life.
After the Moses Lake boys left I headed back to Washington for
Kaitlins high school graduation. She was the Valedictorian
and gave a great speech. She is going to school at the University
of Montana Western in Dillon, Montana. She is going there for a
four year degree in English: Literature and Writing and to compete on the nationally
ranked rodeo team. She still doesnt know how to cook, but she
can ride anything with hair on it, including cows.
Our next hunt was with Doug and Kyle Grove, a father and son team.
By this time it was June and the bears were really moving. On the
9th they both killed bears. Kyle shot the biggest bear of the year,
a 400 lb, 6 bear. What a catch. Later that evening Doug got
a 5 sow bear, finishing off a great day of backcountry hunting.
Our last hunt was with the Utah boys: Jeff Bartholomew, Morgan
Jensen, and Brady Lynn. We packed into the Tappan Ranch for this
hunt. We had been baiting at the Tappan Ranch for three weeks and
the bears were hitting the baits hard. For medical reasons we had
to pack up and head back to the B-C for the remainder of the hunt.
Morgan killed a 5 sow on Silver Creek a few days after we
This hunt wrapped up our bear season. We had eight hunters and
we killed five bears. If we could have stayed at the Tappan Ranch
a little longer I am sure we could have killed a few more bears,
but you have to roll with the punches. Lyle, Bill, and I had a great
time bear hunting and I am looking forward to next spring already.
Spring is a great time to be in the mountains hunting bears.
The 2006 Elk season was one of the best we have ever had, both
in terms of harvest and in great hunting adventures. We also had
the best crew that we have had the pleasure of working with. Karla
and I want to thank Bill Bell, Shiner and Steph Herrington, Big
John Huffaker, Katy Eich, Josh Hedrick, Gretchen Roman, and Jim
Sugden for all of their efforts and hard work. Our season breaks
down like this.
We had thirty-six elk hunters; of those elk hunters 75% had the
opportunity to kill an elk. Sixteen elk hunters harvested bulls
(44%). Eight hunters missed bulls (22%), which is not good. Three
hunters turned down bulls (8%). We also had twenty-four deer hunters,
of which 80% had an opportunity to kill a deer. There were eleven
kills for deer (46%). Six hunters missed deer (25%). Two hunters
turned down deer (8%).
Soda Camp ~ Sept. 14-21
Bill Bell, Shiner Herrington, and Gretchen Roman took Bruce and
Brett Drysdale, and John Syptek to Soda Camp. Shiner and John passed
up two bulls the first day, one of which was a 5x5 bull. Although
they saw 65 head of bulls they didnt find any more shooter
bulls. Bill took Bruce and Brett, a father son team. Together they
killed two bulls the same day, only 800 yards apart from each other.
Bruce got a 5x5 and Brett got a 315 pt 6x6. Brett also took a 4x4
buck that week. Bruce and Brett said that they would be back in
2008 for another hunt. Bill said they saw a 350 pt bull with 100
head of elk in one of our Hell Hole spots.
Grouse Camp ~ Sept. 14-21
Karla, Big John Huffaker, Josh Hedrick, and I headed up to grouse
camp with Richard Kenney, Robert Stauchler (a non-hunter), Jeff
Bast, and Murph Anderson. The trail we usually take was closed due
to a fire so we had to go the long way. After ten hours on the trail
everyone was glad to see camp.
Jeff Bast and I had two small bulls at forty yards the first day.
Jeff killed a 4x5 a few days later in some rough country. Jeff and
I along with Josh and Murph, spiked out of Martin Mt. this spike
camp is one of my favorite hunting spots, its also pretty rough
country. We set up our spike camp in the middle of a blizzard, but
after the fire was started and we had a couple shots of snake
bite medicine all was well on the mountain. All of us had
a great time hunting together. Jeff is a great hunter; I am looking
forward to him coming back.
Big John and Rich along with Rob, killed a 5x5x bull halfway through
the hunt. Josh and Murph hunted hard but they didnt get one.
Jeff and Murph are long time hunting buddies, and they said they
would be back.
Soda Camp ~ Sept. 23-30
Bill Bell, Shiner Herrington, and Jim Sudgen rode over to Soda
Camp with Jim Clemenson, Joe Tidwell, and Dick and Chuck Rowe. There
was a lot of shooting on this hunt and not much killing. Jim killed
a 4x5 at forty yards on the second day. Joe killed a 5xnub the last
day of the hunt and missed a 180 pt. buck. Chuck missed a buck then
killed a different one five minutes later.
Bill and Shiner saw six bucks in the 140-150 pt. range along with
the elusive 180 pt. buck. Everyone shot at bulls and bucks; from
the sound of it everyone had a great time and thought it was the
hunt of a lifetime.
Grouse Camp ~ Sept. 23-30
Karla, Big John Huffaker, Josh Hedrick, and I packed into Grouse
Camp with Phil Perumean, Steve Inlow, and George and Barbara Severson.
This was a tough hunt. Big John got George and Barbara into some
bulls but they didnt get a shot. Phil and Josh hunted hard
and had some late nights. Steve and I spiked out at Martin Mt.
We saw bulls, but nothing big until the last day. Steve and I saw
two big 6x6s but it was one of those you cant get them
from here deals. We also saw the big black bear that had been
destroying our cook tents the last few years. Steve didnt
want to shoot him. We should have taken him because he did some
interior decorating, bear style, on the cook tent later in the season.
Soda Camp ~ Oct 2-9
This week is normally just for setting up Buckhorn and Duck Pt.
Camps for our Unit 28 area. I got out of that job this year and
left camp set up in the capable hands of Shiner Herrington , Bill
Bell and John Huffaker. I got to hunt with my cousin Tony Duerkson
on his first elk hunt, and our friend Terry Horstman. Terry was
with me when I killed my first elk in Montana twenty years ago.
Karla had book work to do so Steph Herrington rode up to camp with
us to cook.
Tony had a shot at a 3x4 buck the first day, but I talked him out
of it knowing there are bigger bucks in the area. We saw four bigger
bucks but they gave us the slip. Tony killed a 3x4 bull halfway
through the hunt and Terry missed a 5x5 at pretty long range. This
was Tonys first bull and we had a hoot.
On the way back to camp we found a 6x6 bugling with a bunch of
cows, but it was too late in the day to go after him. We saw lots
of elk and deer and we had a great time. Tony and Terry booked a
2007 elk hunt and I am really looking forward to it.
Duck Pt. Camp ~ Oct 14-21
Bill Bell and Steph Herrington took Chuck Pugsley to Duck Pt..
Shiner packed them in and after dropping them off he headed back
down the trail. He saw seventy elk less than 100 yards from the
trail: three were 6x6s and two were 5x5s.
Chuck missed a 300 pt. 6x6x the first day and killed a 280pt. 6x6
the fourth day. Chuck had two opportunities at 160-170 pt. bucks
but missed. Bill said that they saw game every day and that they
had a great hunt.
Buckhorn Camp ~ Oct 14-21
Karla, Big John, Shiner, and I took Harry and Zig Rizzuto, X-2
Scaggliozzi, and Jim Mayes up to Buckhorn Camp. I have hunted with
Harry and X-2 since 2000 and Zig since 2001. This was Jims
fourth year with us, so it was old home week.
John and Jim killed a 290 pt. 6x6 at 35 yards on the first day.
The next day Zig and I put the stalk on a 6x6. He grazed him at
seventy yards, Zig was pretty mad at himself because he is a great
shot. The next day we got lucky and found the same bull. Zig made
a good shot and we had our bull. Shiner and Harry had a big bull
they were working when a smaller bull snuck in, big mistake. Harry
had a 4x4 bull. Zig ended up with a 4x4 buck. We saw lots of elk
and deer and we had a great hunt. These guys are booked through
2008 and we look forward to hunting with them every year.
Duck Pt. Camp ~ Oct 23-30
Dave, Dwayne, and Derek Dollarhide went to Duck pt. for a drop
camp hunt. They didnt have any luck, but they said they had
a great time together.
Buckhorn. Camp ~ Oct 23-30
Steph, shiner, Bill, Big John, and I took Craig and Judy Price
to Buckhorn Camp. Craig and I had hunted Mountain Lions before so
I knew that he could go deep and stay late. We also took Ken Morgan,
a return client, and Russell and Jay Victor. Big John and Ken killed
a 290 pt. 6x6 the first day and a 4x4 buck a few days later. Shiner
with Jay and Russell missed one bull and the wounded another at
less than 100 yards.
Bill and Craig along with Judy and I had lots of opportunities
on both bulls and bucks. Craig and Bill got into a bunch with fourteen
bulls and Craig missed a nice one. An hour later he killed a 315
6x6 bull. We saw three Mountain Goats and six Bighorn Sheep, one
of the rams would have scored 180 pts. Judy got a nice buck the
last day of the hunt on the ride out. Craig is applying for a Mountain
Goat tag next year, maybe he will get lucky.
Soda Camp ~ Nov. 2-9
Steph and Shiner took Leonard Chavez and Brian Caughny to Soda
Camp. They saw elk every day and some real nice bucks. Leonard killed
a 4x4 bull the second day of the hunt. Brian got a 3x3 buck the
third day and Leonard shot a 175 pt. buck the fifth day. Brian is
already booked for 2007 with his son and Leonard wants to bring
his dad out.
Buckhorn Camp ~ Nov. 2-9
Karla, Bill, and I took Berend Friehe Don Bodeuman, Jim Redmond,
and John Courtwright. All of them but Jim have hunted with us before.
Berend and Don have hunted with us for the past five years. So it
was another old home week at camp. These guys are all great in camp,
they have been there and done that and it is a pleasure to spend
a week hunting with them.
We saw a lot of elk and deer. To bad deer closed that week in Unit
28. Jim killed a nice 5x5 bull and John missed a bull the last day.
We had a great hunt and they are booked for the next year already.
Tappan Ranch ~ Nov. 12-19
Steph, Shiner, Bill, Big John, and I took Jerry and Jason Walls,
George Watkins, and Mike Bolton to the Tappan Ranch for the last
hunt of the season. Jerry and Jason hunted with us two years ago
and they killed two nice bucks. The first day out Jerry and Jason
got two nice bucks. Jasons buck scored 165 pts.. Mike and
Big John killed a 160 pt. the first day. George killed a 3x4 buck
that was standing next to a 190 pt. 4x4. He was given the appropriate
Lion season was open the last hunt in the backcountry and Jerry
wanted a lion. Bill found a lion track and away we went. Four days
later I finally gathered up my dogs. They had lost the lion in some
cliffs and had treed a Bobcat for three days in some of the roughest
country I have been in. Jerry, Jason, and George are booked for
2008 at Buckhorn and they are a great bunch of hunters.
Karla, the crew of Middle Fork Outfitters, and I want to thank all of our hunters. We appreciate you hunting with Middle Fork Outfitters and we look forward to seeing you on the trail in the future!