Roger Thompson: Horsin’ Around 10-10-11
Fort Collins, Colo.
In September I got a chance to go to a hunting camp as a cook. Now I wasn’t so sure that I was up to the point of being a good camp cook but I took the job with a little reservation. I have done a bunch of cowboy cooking but wasn’t sure I could cook well enough for a bunch of hunters.
These were Bow hunters looking for elk and I assumed they were good. I accepted the job and when the time came I headed to Walden, Colo., and then 4-miles north to county road eight to the ranch. I had a hard time finding the meeting. At last I met the owner of the ranch and visited with him. After several trips through a herd of cattle and driving back to the ranch he showed up and we had a good visit before he told me I had to go through a gate and around a hill to the meeting point.
By the time I got there Jarred Flores was there with the wagon and we loaded every thing on and headed for the camp. It was another hour or so trip to camp and I was blown away by the trip up through the sand hills and the sight of camp. I had never seen a hunting camp so elaborate as this one.
To start with, they have permission to come in August with trucks and set up a tent city with wood floors and barrel wood stoves. There are about five bunks around each tent cabin. Of course the fires that warm the cabins burn out about one o’clock and it gets cold, so hunters must get up and relight the fires when getting up in the morning. I can’t say it is really roughing it but it is some what roughing, but the main thing I missed was running water. You don’t really appreciate something until you don’t have it.
But I really liked a man from Louisiana who had a family back home and loved his kids. The problem was he didn’t ride horses, I told him I was a riding instructor and would give him some lessons but he refused. He owned about 12 horses he had taken as payment for some property and his girl friend was an avid horse woman. He told me that when he got home he would take some riding lessons from her.
The problem was that he made his guide walk up the mountain to hunt with him. All his hunting partners laughed at him for not riding and they had to leave camp long before daylight to make it to the top of the mountain where they said the elk had gone because of the hot weather. And they teased him about not going with them, all of which he took in good natured stride. But I was getting tired of them picking on him.
On the last day they all went out and when he and his guide came back. I naturally asked if they had seen anything. This was a question I ask all of them each day and listened intently because I am interested in hunting. It seems that I am unable to tramp the mountains anymore but I am interested in the stories. Bow hunting goes back to early times and the challenge is getting within 20 to 30 yards of them to make a good safe shot.
My friend said he had gotten within about 30 yards of a fat cow before shooting his bow, he said it was a good shot but he had misjudged his sights and the shot went high and the cow got away. At supper that night everyone was teasing him and talking about seeing elk but not getting a shot. Finally I had had enough, so I said “Well, my friend was the only one who had even shot at an elk.”
It got very quiet around the table. But I had to say it.
Prior to his retirement, Roger Thompson was a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.