Monday, December 04, 2006
The Bull Donk: or A Few Less Fisherman On Rock Creek This Fall
We arrive in camp at Bitterroot Flats. Ken and Karl had already set up in campsite #13. I tried to set up in #12 but Ken insisted that there was plenty of room near his tent.
High point of the day: Sven and I break all tent racing records and raise our tents in six minutes, twelve and two tents seconds.
Ken and Karl fish our new camp water. Ken did real well with an orange stimmy. Karl must have fished into the night, he didn't come back for dinner.
Food was ate, beers drunk, brownsauce consumed, logs burnt and so on.
Being the last one to turn in I doused the fire. I amble over to a tree next to Ken's tent and take my last piss for the day. I heard an awful snorting noise and mistake the sound for Ken's snoring.
Ken brews up some coffee and slings his soon to be famous breakfast hash. Everyone gets ready for our first full day on Rock Creek. Everyone except for Karl that is, seemingly he hit the stream early. Logical move given the size of our group and the finite amount of fishable water on Rock Creek, 50+ miles.
We mount up and spread out. Chet and I fish together. He slays 'em on the orange stimmy. For some ungoddly reason I don't have any orange stimmulators. A body just doesn't have time to tie all the flies he needs and I didn't know that I was coming to Rock Creek until only a year ago.
The braids and side channels were full of brown trout that could not resist the red brassie I was fishing.
At one point Ken caught up with us. He was doing well with a "Hey Ant". I asked Ken if he's heard how Sven was doing. Ken didn't know, apparently Sven had wandered out of range of the small radios we were using.
"Oh well, I'm sure he's doing well, he'll probably meet you back at the truck."
I thought that I had heard Karl and Sven come into camp late last night. However there was no sign of them in their tents and there was the same number of beers in the cooler as last night.
"It's not like those guys not to drink beers, I'm worried." I told Ken.
"Awww shucks they probly have their own stash and don't want to share it, that's why they're leaving so early and gettin in so late." Ken replied.
Chet and Ray nodded in agreement. If it passes muster with those two than its a good enough explanation for me.
More hash for breakfast, more dry fly fishing. Cutts, browns and 'bows. No bull trout to the net but its hard to complain about the fishing.
Back in camp at the end of the day there's still no sign of Karl and Sven. After too long there is no sign of Ken and Ray either. Chet and I start to worry. We skip dinner. Instead we concentrate all our efforts on building an inordinately large bonfire. The flames are big and bright enough to illuminate at least an acre of woods all around us.
After many beers and the lots of the greensauce Chet had an epiphany. "Didn't Ray have to be back in Seattle today to sell his house?"
"Yeah he did!" I answered. "But what about Ken?
"Maybe he had to go back to sell his house too."
"Of course he did, so did Karl and Sven, everyone left to sell there house. It all makes sense now." Thanks to the brain enhancing powers of Jaegermeister and the subsequent revelations I was able to sleep peacefully knowing that my friends were safe at home selling their houses.
No longer under the protective veil of the green demon I began worry about Karl, Sven, Ken and Ray. For one thing it seemed highly unlikely that they would all sell their homes at the same time. Another glaring inconsistency was the fact that except for Ray they left all their equipment in camp; tents, chairs,cots, sleeping bags, etc. We were able to surmise that Ray really did drive home to sell his house but could not account for the whereabouts of the rest of 'em.
But...we came to Montana to fish, couldn't spend all our time worrying about strange disappearances and what not.
That day started out as the best day ever. We began fishing with October caddis imitations. I was able to pilfer a half dozen orange stimmulators out of Ken's gear back in camp. The trouts were everywhere you'd expect them to be, not a single one of them let our flies drift past them.
At about noon the BWO's started hatching. The fish responded, rising to naturals all around us. Chet and I each tied on a #20 Olive Polly and proceeded to slay. My arm was sore from catching so many fish. Big fish too. I broke off quite few large fish and ran out of flies after a while. I had to tie on a bare hook. The fish hit that too taking the bare hook as soon as it hit the water. Life was good. Upstream it appeared that Chet was doing just as well, he was jumping up and down and singing out loud as he landed one trout after another. This would be one of those days that we would never forget.
After the baetis hatch died down I tied on a big streamer. Chet rested on the bank and watched me land one giant bull trout after another. I must of got into a pod of them cuz I couldn't help but catch one on just about every cast. After awhile my arm really was sore. Chet had rested up some so he took my rod and caught himself some giant bulls too. The biggest he caught was 32 inches, my biggest was 30 inches, neither of us caught one smaller than 26 inches. What a day!
October 8, no longer the best day ever.
On our way back to camp I pulled into the Microburst so Chet could look out the window and read about that strange weather event that flattened all the trees on this part of Rock Creek. He was reading the sign when I saw something in the bushes. It looked like Karl's fly vest. "Chchchet look at that." I stammered. As Chet turned to look Karl's vest seemed to turn too. And what we saw next was the most horrible sight I have ever seen. "Isn't that the most horrible sight you have ever seen?" I asked Chet.
"In all my years of saving lives and fighting fire that is without a doubt the most horrible sight I have ever seen." He answered.
Hanging there in the bushes, near Karl's vest, was Sven's severed head. Just then Karl's vest and Sven's head started to rise into the sky. That's when the enormity of the situation became apparent, when the awful thing before me truly came into focus. Rising to it's feet, fifty feet in front of the truck was a ginormous moose with Karl's vest and Sven's severed head hanging from his antlers 18 fucking feet above the ground.
Chet and I turned to each other, faces ashen with fear, eyes wide like saucers, we screamed, "B-b-bull Donk!"
The monster stamped it's fore hooves and scraped the ground wit its rear hooves. Steam billowed from it's nostrils as it snorted. Red eyes narrowed to slits. The beast charged.
I froze up. It wasn't until Chet punched me in the side of the head and yelled, "Get us up out of here!" that I came to my senses. Twenty feet and closing fast the Bull Donk was nearly on us. There was no time to turn around, I slammed the shifter into reverse. The motor screaming at 7,000 rpms as I drove backwards at 30 miles an hour. The Bull Donk nearly on top of us all the while. At one point I noticed one of Ken's wading boots stuck between the monster's two front teeth. "Poor Ken." I thought out loud.
The beast stayed on us all the way to the hairpin turn above the Microbust. It was there that I backed the truck right onto a big log on the outside corner of that turn. The log prevented us from backing over the edge of a 100 foot cliff, good thing. The trailer hitch was high centered on top to the log, bad thing. The enormous ungulate lowered his head as he made his final charge. A normal swamp donk could put a big dent in the side of my rig but a broad side hit from the Bull Donk would send us flying over the top of that cliff. Chet screamed like a girl, I shifted the transfer case into four low. The front tires got traction, pulling the trailer hitch off the log just in time.
But Bull Donk was committed to his charge, his red eyes rolled back in his head as his hooves skidded across the road behind us. Bull Donk bellowed as it tumbled over the precipice, "Ooooowwwwwwhhhuiiiiiiiirrrrghhhhhh!" his final call echoed across the valley as he tumbled to the jagged rocks below.
Chet and I got out of the truck to asses the carnage below. One hundred feet down, strewn across boulders and logs were the remains of the Bull Donk. Down there amongst the piles of guts and shredded pieces of hide only the brute's antlers remained in one piece. Hanging there below the top left tine of the Donk's twelve foot rack were Karl's fly vest and Sven's severed head. There was no sign of Ken's wading boot.