After that great dinner and some mountain cocktails I made it back to my bivy. Kneeling down to unzip the body bag I notice the xtherm pad is soft. I thought it must be the cold and condensing of my warm air and blew it up again. Arranging all my stuff, I made sure I put items not worn in body bag with me, headlight under stuff sack pillow, gun near by, backpack as wind block, everything just right (supposedly). Layered down pants over my base layer, sitka core lightweight top with sitka heavy weight top over that, down booties, check. Then I proceed to wrestle, squirm, contort, pull, grunt, curse, in that order, to wedge my over layered body under the tightly secured quilt. Once sandwiched in the body bag I further my contortionist skills and manage to zip it closed.
Firmly in place and sweating from the effort I think back to a few years ago when my wife and I saw several bucks in this exact place. Even though the current afternoon and evening hunt did not yield any bucks I did see does and figured I would turn up at least one buck. I remembered how bad my back hurt packing a friend's deer out of this high country and thought, "whoa I can really feel that back pain again", how powerful the mind! I squirmed just a bit and realized it was a rock in back, actually several. Wtf is going on. Why is my arse cold? Pad is deflated, fully.
I have a quick flashback to pulling out the aqua-seal and tenacious tape from my pack while packing and explaining to my wife I hadn't needed it in three years.
I continue to lay there, frozen, literally and figuratively, with indecision. The condensation is building up pretty bad in the bivy. I run my hand along the top side of the quilt and it is already damp. I tell myself without a pad I should bail. I further bolster this idea with the exclamation that if I am getting out of this quilt,pad,bag trap I am doing so with the intent of not getting back into it tonight and will shove it into my pack and start the hike out. Then I start to think why not just tough it out. Lay here, not sleeping, miserable and then kill a buck at first light? That's how it works right? More pain, more suffering, the better the odds of success. All this back and forth has taken hours. I look at my watch and ask myself can I keep doing this for another 7 hours? I recall a quote from John B. of Sitka during some podcast where he was explaining that he would instruct soldiers to improve their situation. This seemed like a joke when I first heard it during my 3am work commute. Improve your situation? No shit! Well sometimes this is harder than it sounds. I lay there thinking how do I improve this? No wood for fire... Just then I realize I need to find the hole in the pad and if I'm lucky it might be near the lower half and I can isolate it and inflate the upper half.... But that requires me to get out of this body bag and try to get my hands working in the cold etc... At this point a friend and fellow slider' relays his story of staying on the mountain all night after harvesting a ram with no pad or bag and also gives me the idea for a turniquet on my pad. Well ... Here's the end result...
Sorry for delay. Ended up getting the flu. To be honest I was sick when I went up there. But it got much worse after a couple days of wet and cold. Season ended yesterday and I'm lying on the couch with a "man-cold", according to my wife.
I did spot some deer the next morning. 3 does and Im guessing a buck was close by. I made my way down into the valley and into the pocket of fir trees. Once down near the trees there was some crusty ice on top of the snow and you could here me for miles. I backed out, set up across the valley half way up the valley wall hoping to catch them once they got out of bed. Never did see them again
Didn't see anything well into evening and I was feeling quite ill. Halloween was the next day and last day of the season. A quick weather check showed another system rolling in. I decided to hike out and hit the low country early the next morning.
After a few hours sleep I was heading west on hwy 101 on my way to some old alder bottoms I enjoy hunting. It was raining, 40 degrees, cloudy foggy etc. Perfect weather for hunting river bottoms.
I was a few hours into my hunt and I came across a nice fresh rub line along an abandoned side channel. Fresh tracks everywhere. I figured I would work a big circle playing the wind and hope to bump him. If I didn't I would setup near the rub line and rattle. Just as I started I got a call from an old timer who showed me and continues to show me the ropes on the westend. He shot a buck. Without hesitation I started my way out to that truck to help him.
Not much of a photo. I was pretty sick at this point and photos were an after thought.
Not sure how many more hunts he has left and I cherish each opportunity I have to share a day afield with him. Helping him made my tag soup tolerable.
Made it home on time for Halloween with my favorite critters