There is an old Rodger Miller tune that states, “You can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd”, that may be true but I found out that you can crap your pants in one.
So there I was……. In the Congo….errr……. I mean the Kiabab. In the moonlight we could see the herd of 170 Bison laying in a meadow twenty yards off the highway. Fellow hunters had also seen them and were nervously congregating on the roadside pullout no more than 400 yds from the Grand Canyon Park entrance. Daylight was half an hour away and everyone was jockeying and jacking their jaws about what was to happen next. Jacob and I drove straight by them and headed to the boundary road that would take us to the trails that we knew they would use to escape. We knew this because our good friend Richard Clark had showed us the area on a scouting trip the week before and more importantly because the day before Jacob had nearly been stampeded to death in that very spot. Jacob’s rendition of the experience was gut busting funny but in my mind I could only imagine the fear and adrenaline he must have felt standing in front of a tree as animals weighing a ton and running 30 mph peeled off at 5 feet in front of him. A bow seemed so miniscule and worthless. Now it was my turn and my stomach began to knot up as we bounced down the dirt road. Jacob was unable to get a good shot the day before and I thought that he was either brave or stupid to do it again because I hadn’t even experienced it yet and was already shaking like a dog shittin peach pits. We pulled over, jumped out and ran to get to our spots along the trail.
If it was done right everyone that had a buffalo tag would line up along the border fence like we were doing and wait for them to slowly wander out of the meadow. Once one is shot and falls, the others will mill about, wondering what happened to their fallen comrade and other hunters could come in and pick them off one by one. We knew this would not be the case because restraint like that would be impossible for a few of the impatient, selfish bastards at the highway. They would bum rush them, sending them on their way, screwing it up for everyone else.
It sounded like distant thunder. A low rumble. My heart pounded so hard I thought that it would bust out of my ribs. My mouth was as dry as lizard testicles. Suddenly the moment was broken by Cox’s Army ripping in from both directions on the road. Like a military operation the trucks came in at full speed slinging gravel and launching over bar ditches. Two white Fords came to a sliding stop behind me and 5 guys jumped out onto the road. In an effort to let them know where I was and in hopes of having them move along, I leaned out of my hiding spot and told them that the herd was coming and then dug back in. I had selected a nice little stand of spruce that I felt would require the buffalo to go around rather than running me over. The rumble was growing louder by the second. They were still 500 yds away but they sounded like they were right in front of me. And still the 5 men him hawed directly behind me. I leaned out again and said “I’m sitting here!” in a stern voice hoping they would disperse to their own piece of the forest. The rumble grew louder. They would be coming into view soon. I fidgeted, trying to play out every possible scenario that might present itself. The suspense was so thick I could have cut it with a knife. AND STILL the men stood within spitting distance of me. This time I let ‘er rip and barked angrily “You guys need to fan out and get out from behind me!”. With that, 4 scattered but one walked in front of me and began to sit down on a log twenty yards away. “Hey Dude, you are right in my lane! If I shoot and miss I’ll shoot you!” It was all the power I had not to finish with “you stupid son of a bitch”. It is amazing how inconsiderate, unethical, and self serving or just plain ignorant some people can be. He walked out of my lane and went right back to the road where he had been standing before. I was going to turn and yell at him again but the proximity of the pounding hooves readjusted my focus.
Many metaphors could be used to describe the sound, a locomotive, Lava Falls in Grand Canyon, a massive Monsoon storm but none come close to what it was like sitting there in the silver of daybreak, listening to the crashing crescendo. The suspense was suffocating. Any second they would come into view, then seconds would go by and the sound would only get louder….. How loud can it get? Jesus these beasts are powerful I thought and I, on my own free will, am waiting for them to run headlong into me. It felt like I was treading into a tidal wave. Just when I thought I would keel over from an aneurism, the thudding hooves veered to my left and gradually disappeared over the hill. The stampede was no more than 75 yards away but the spruce and fir jungle I was surrounded by, hid them. I didn’t know whether to shout for joy and relief or throw my hat down in disgust. “If I find the ass clown who jumped them out of the meadow I’m going cut his balls off!!! What a selfish cockknocking chicken f*!@er!!!” Jacob screamed into the forest. A few other hunters up the road shouted in agreement. I half expected a lynch mob to gather and storm out into the meadow looking for blood. Chuckling, I walked out of my blind and headed back to the truck. Although I was disappointed I didn’t get to actually see them, it was still an incredible experience. I was just getting into talking distance of Jacob when the rolling thunder began again. Unbeknownst to us only half the herd had passed. The other half was on its way. I spun and sprinted down the hill to get into my blind before the dill holes in the two white fords could swipe my spot. Luckily I swooped in an instant before they could snake me and believe me, they tried. It was a sequel. The same sound, the same adrenaline. This time I could tell they were headed more in my direction. Through the dim light I finally got my first glimpse of them and froze. Trees the size of my thigh, pine cones and critters were being tossed in the air as if they were whirling in a cuisanart. The stomping hooves sent vibrations through the ground and I remember thinking that it felt like I was standing next to railroad tracks as a train passed. I could smell the pungent musk they emitted. The bile from nearly tossing my cookies coated my tongue. Every sensory organ in my body was red lining. But again they flanked me and passed 40 yards to my left. They slowed to a walk for a moment and I thought I may be able to make a move to cut them off but no sooner had the thought crossed my mind, they broke back into a run. This time I jumped out of my blind to watch them pass out of range. At probably 25 miles an hour the herd broke out into the clearing of the road and split around the two ford trucks missing them by no more than two feet. The five men behind me had already moved down the road. They waved their fully drawn bows like they were doing the “sprinkler” dance at the passing Tatanka. I hoped that they wouldn’t be foolish enough to take such a risky shot. And then all at once they were gone. This time there was no doubt, I was pissed. I wanted to kick the living crap out of those cheese dicks that had parked behind me and I thank god for my quality upbringing because a lesser man would have. But suddenly through the steam coming out of my ears I heard some more coming. This time it was not as loud and I could tell it was some stragglers. Without a thought I headed into the thick timber hell bent on cutting them off. I paced directly toward the sound.
I have been an adrenaline junkie my whole life. I have climbed 1400 foot backcountry cliffs that have taken days to ascend, I have run some of the biggest whitewater in North America and rappelled blindly into deep chasms but I can honestly say that when that Buffalo came barreling around the tree in front of me, I have never been so scared. It was at 10 yards and coming in hot. I drew my bow but in the two seconds it took me to do it the buffalo had cut the distance in half. Obviously I beat a hasty retreat backward, stumbling over my heels, still at full draw. I could have shot but I wasn’t sure if it was a cow or bull (my tag was for cows and yearlings) but more importantly, all I had to shoot at was her thick skull. The only thing that kept me from being pulverized was a log laying about 3 feet high across the trail. She looked up momentarily to jump the log and our eyes met. She snorted a very loud grunt and exited stage right even. Trailing her was a yearling. I was still at full draw and he made the fatal mistake of pausing. I drilled him in the bread basket. The sound of that arrow hitting home was the sound of heaven. He ran a little ways into the woods and stopped. A few finishing shots and I had my once in a lifetime Tatanka. He was tiny. I didn’t care.
It was weird though. Normally when you kill you are in the woods all by yourself. When I kill, the excitement causes me to scream a mighty war whoop of thanks to the hunting gods and I do some Tiger Woods fist pumps. This time however it was like time square with peeps crawling everywhere and I felt it would be inappropriate to celebrate. I walked up the hill and met Jacob and in the calmest voice I could muster said, “I just killed a Buffalo, Holy shit I just killed a Buffalo with my bow. That was the coolest thing I have ever done in my life.” He gave me a big hug and we walked down to admire him. Even more weird than the throngs of people was when Jacob grabbed a customary kill beer and threw it to me. Normally having a beer at 5:30 am after a kill would have been child’s play (hell, I’ll have a beer at 5:30am even when I don’t kill sometimes) but the adrenaline coursing through my veins caused me to dry heave and I had to put the barley pop down. It took two days for me to come down from the high. As I sit here writing this I try to think of ways I might be able to catch that high again. I can never kill a buffalo in AZ again so maybe I’ll put on my roller skates and prove ol’ Rodger Miller wrong.
I’d been knocking the tips out of the park. My lowest gratuity for the summer had been $75 for a four hour fishing trip, all the rest had been a Benjamin or better. So when Randy handed me a wad of cash after I had guided him and his wife on a 50+ fish day, I confidently shoved it in my front pocket knowing that I had, once again, hit a tater.
Randy was richer than God Allmuddy. He had fished all over the world, hired the best guides and stayed at the finest resorts. I became aware of just how loaded he was after I showed him a picture of the 6.5 foot sturgeon I had caught earlier in the summer.
“Where did you catch that?”He asked in his English accent
“The Snake River in Idaho.”
He quickly typed it into his phone and then turned to his wife.
“Let’s go to the Snake River on the Friday after we get back from Sailfishing in Thailand, I have got to catch one of those buggers.”
So anyway, I thanked him and he walked down the dock with his chauffer, leaving me standing there with a pocket full of greenbacks and a bladder ready to explode. You see, you don’t just hang a leak off the back of the boat when you have hoity toity clients like these so I’d been pinching it off for so long that urine was leaking out of my ears. Dancing around my boat like a preschooler in a long bathroom line I surveyed my options for extrication. On the hill directly above me was the glass walled Rainbow Room restaurant, to my right was the tour boat dock full of tourons ready to embark on their adventure to Antelope Canyon and to my left was the bustling launch ramp. Holding it any longer was futile. Desperately I picked the only available cover my vicinity provided, my Mercury Optimax motor. I knelt down, pretended I was looking at something on my motor cowling and stealthily whipped it out of the leg of my shorts.
At this point I must backtrack to the wonderful batch of three alarm salsa I had made the night before. Hotter than the hammers of hell, I ate enough to choke a Mexican. Throughout the day I had felt the seismic activity rumbling throughout my gut.
My tackle had the PSI of a tractor tire as I opened the flood gates and let ‘er flow like a race horse. Pressure release from the bladder is connected to the release of pressure in the hinter regions of the digestive tract, you cannot control one independently from the other and as my stream arced toward the water I was given a lesson in this scientific fact. My mind shot back to my adolescence and some wise advice my uncle Mick had once given me.
He said, “Kyran, as you get older there are three things you need to know.
First, Naps are as important as food and air.
Second, never waste a boner, it may be your last.
And third, Never ever trust a fart.”
I had a better chance of holding back the mighty Mississip with popsicle sticks than I did with cutting off mid stream and as a spattering noise emanated from the backside of my breeches, I knew that I had been ambushed. The warm lumpy liquid running down my leg and onto the stern of my boat confirmed that I had indeed shart myself. All I could do at that point was finish peeing and cuss. As luck would have it, I was on a boat that just so happened to be floating on water. Sweet! No harm no foul. I took my phone, wallet, and keys out of my pockets and jumped in the cleansing waters of Lake Powell. I swished and scrubbed myself and shorts clean as I thought of how crappy it would have been to shart myself in the cold of winter. Properly uncontaminated I jumped back into the boat and headed to the launch ramp.
“Let’s count the spoils.” I thought as I dug into my front pocket.
Dig……..digging……..dig………more digging ………..DRAT……..pockets inside out…… no freekin way…..AHHHHHHHH!!!!!
I angrily flipped a bitch and pissed and moaned my way back to the scene of the sharting.
“Does money float?” “
“Oh please God let money float!”
I crisscrossed, I did concentric circles, I grid searched and no money.
“I was going to buy new shoes for the babies with that money,” I cried
I did an experiment with a few dollar bills. Money it turns out is neutrally buoyant which meant that my wad ‘o Benjamins that I so temporarily possessed was floating suspended under an arms length of lake.
The hardest part of the whole ordeal is that I will never know how much money I lost. It could have been $20 (He was European after all) or it could have been $400. I will never know. As a coping mechanism I have decided to believe in my heart of hearts that a mentally challenged, poor orphan with leprosy and chronic halitosis found it on the shore and spent it on lap dances at the booby bar.
For guided Lake Powell fishing trips and in depth fishing reports visit www.fishingpowell.com
I was dreaming about a one legged rodeo clown named Toots when a large crashing noise jolted me awake. In my sleep induced intoxication and desperately wanting to find out how the mono ped clown was going to handle the raging bull Bodacious , I disregarded the thunderous clatter and went back to sleep. Minutes later Kristin ran into the room and frantically pulled me from Toots and the Taurus.
“There’s been a crash outside; I think they hit your boat!”
“Ahhhh shucks” I replied.
Oh wait, actually on second thought I think I said “You’ve got to be F#@king kidding me!”
Clad in nothing more than sleepin shorts, I sprinted outside, not one bit worried about my pup tent leading the way. On my lawn sat a bleeding old man with a really bad toupee, in the street a crumpled maroon Buick that wafted the odor of cat pee and scattered all over the road, the port side of my boat.
I named my boat “Joan J” after she got me through 35 miles of seven foot wave chop and 80 mph winds without taking on so much as a gallon of water. You don’t name your boat after a dude. Boat names need to be female. I thought long and hard about it. My boat was beautiful, sleek and had nice curves but she was also a bad ass b*%ch who could slap you upside the head if need be. Joan Jet and the Blackhearts – Bad to the bone and HOT as hell, in a tattoo/leather sort of way……. Done!
A doublewide trailer mortgage and a boat payment is way, way, way to high class for a teacher salary. I practically starved to death paying off Joan J. We have been through thick and thin together. She is my baby and there she was, shattered. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run over and kiss her gel coat and tell her that all would be ok but bad toupee man was hemorrhaging blood on my grass. I went into first aid mode and tried push my busted beauty into the back of my mind but no matter how hard I tried, it kept popping back front and center.
My mouth said, “Are you OK? Do you have any pain?” My mind screamed, “Oh Jesus my precious!!!!”
My mouth, “What happened?” My mind, “Is that my taillight lying on the center line?”
My mouth, “Is the ambulance coming, has 911 been called?” My mind, “Holy crap that’s a really bad toupee! How did it stay buttoned to your scalp?” “Why was it not violently thrown into the windshield upon impact?”
Turns out the toupee and the old man under it were fine. He had a bad nose and lip bleed and I’m sure his bell had been rung pretty good but all was well when the paramedics carted him away on a backboard out of precaution.
And there I was standing on the starboard side of the port side train wreck, thinking of all the bass I had stroked upon her bow and how I would never again feel her rocking under my feet. It must have been a very busy day for the EMS crew in Page because the only people around were the 37 Page police officers, 15 paramedics and 7 fire trucks (there may have been a few social workers as well but I didn’t pay attention). I hesitated to walk around, fearing the worst. We had a fully booked week of guiding trips scheduled worth thousands of dollars. We would have to cancel all the trips. Was the boat totaled? How long would it take to get a new boat? How much would the insurance say the boat was worth? Does he have insurance? Did I remember to pay for my insurance? Why would anybody think that that toupee was better than being bald?
I slowly walked to the port side. From the pix you can see that he hit about a foot and a half of the hull, he curled the previously flat trim tab into a trim pipe. He glanced left and careened down the step side of the trailer. It was like someone took a giant can opener and cut the wheel wells away from the bunks of the trailer. You couldn’t have done a better job with a cutting torch. Miraculously not a scratch was put into the port side of the boat. The tires and wheels were fine. The only damage other than the trailer was a silver dollar sized chunk of gel coat chipped off of the corner of the hull. I couldn’t believe it. We hooked up to the trailer and drove Joan J to the lake and dropped her in and took the trailer to Brian’s paint and body. No trips were canceled. The biggest problem I have now is that I will never be able to see a one legged rodeo clown without thinking of really bad toupees. Horrible!
To book a trip on Joan J or read the latest lake powell fishing report visit www.fishingpowell.com