Page 24 - Sam Glode: Travels of a Micmac
ISSUE : Issue 35
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/12/1
Mackenzie Divide; the Mackenzie River ba? sin is on the other side. We left the boat and canoe and carried our tent and stuff inland six miles, and made a hunting camp in the foothills of the South Fork Moun? tains. (Note: Probably the Selwyn Range-- THR.) A small brook ran past our camp and it was nice water to drink, clear and cold, right off the ice in the mountains. We camped among small Douglas firs. We were getting near the timber line there. Up a- bove was bald mountains, with little wil? lows growing in the ravines. We climbed up to a plateau by a way that Thomas knew. There were ptarmigans in hun? dreds up there and we had fine shooting. All you had to do was point a shotgun in the direction of a flock of them flying off the ground, and you could get all you wanted. That was about September 1st, with snow flying sometimes, and the ptarmigan were beginning to change colour. There was one big mountain peak that stood up out of the plateau. It was 11,000 feet high, and made a fine mark. You couldn't get lost. It was covered with ice and snow. Next day Fales and I went back on the pla? teau. Mr. French was an old man and couldn't stand the climb; he stayed in camp with Thomas and Ritchie. When we got on top we saw a flock of mountain sheep. I took the rifle and sneaked up a ravine. They were females and I got a good shot at one. It dropped, and the rest ran away and disappeared. I went over and skinned the sheep. A little while after that we came on a bunch of caribou in a ravine among the scrub willows. We shot four. Two of them had big horns and we saved the heads. We cut off some meat, and I cut away from one of them the long slab of fat that lies along the back. When that back fat is cold, you can eat it like bread. A snowstorm came on, and we got caught up on the plateau. Couldn't see the mountain peak or anything. We sheltered in the wil? lows the best way we could. I got a little fire going and kept heaping the dwarf fir and willow twigs on it. It was a poor fire and I had to tend it all the time, but it was better than nothing. All night we chewed the caribou fat, we were so hungry. In the morning we got down to the camp all right. Later I went back with Thomas and got the sheep carcass. It was fine eating • the best wild meat I ever ate. Next day I went up the plateau to get the caribou heads. Every day Fales and I would go up on the plateau and watch through his field glasses for mountain sheep. He wanted to get a good head of horns. Those glasses are deceiving things; they make things look close and you start, and you travel and travel to get a sure shot, and it is all day when you get there, and probably the sheep have gone. But one day we man? aged to sneak up a ravine among the wil? lows and scrub firs, and got right up close to a bunch of rams. I had French's rifle, and Fales had his own, and we had some fine shooting there for a few min? utes. My shoulder was sore from the recoil. I don't know how many we shot but it must have been a dozen or more. Dr. Fales picked out one head, and the rest we left. Another day we crept up on a fine big bull moose. He looked to have an enormous set of horns, so Fales shot him. But when we got a close look at the horns, they were big all right, but nearly all "palms." The points were only about an inch long. So we left it there and went back to camp. The best sheep we got, we saw one day right from our camp. It was a big ram away up on the edge of the plateau. Fales fired, and the ram came sliding and falling down the cliff, with a lot of loose stones, and hit the ground almost at our feet. One of his horns got broke on the way down, so it was no good. That was a pity. Then one day on the plateau we saw through the glasses a big bull moose. We crept up on him, and we both fired and hit him. That moose was mad, I tell you. His eyes were just green fire. Finally I got a close shot that finished him. I skinned the head and scraped away the brains and meat. I took the skull and horns on my back, and it was as heaA'y a load as I ever lugged. Fales took the head skin. We used to bring the heads down to our camp, and from there the packer, Ritchie, would car? ry them down to the boat at the river. One day we were going back to the tent because Fales had forgot his camera, and a big ram sheep came running right towards us. Fales made a good shot, and it was a fine pair of horns. We took that head down to the camp. It was the best head we got. By this time it was getting on for the last of Sep? tember and the weather was getting bad, snowing a little every day on the plateau and raining in the valleys. Well, we started for home. That hunting place was 285 miles from Dawson and it had taken us 46 days to get there, mostly work? ing upstream. We went down in 5 days and nights. It was fast, going with the stream, and because it was now very cold we used to row the boat as well, just to keep warm. We would pull our sheepskin-lined sleeping bags up around our waists and sit on the thwarts and row. We camped ashore. The days were getting very short, so we didn't stop for darkness, and we did a lot of the boat voyage in the dark. We stopped at Selkirk, a little goldmining town above Dawson. At Selkirk we caught the last steamer down the Yiakon River for that season. The steamer took us to White- horse. Thomas and Ritchie were paid off there, and Mr. French and Dr. Fales went by train to Skagway to catch the boat for Seattle. I stayed in Whitehorse ten days, to crate the heads and skins and ship them off. Mr. French had paid me $500 to cover my wages and my travelling expenses home. He told me to go by CPR from Vancouver, and (24)
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