April 19, 1999 - Monday
Checking Camera Sites
Trapper Steve came over early - 6 AM here to my house. Took my truck. Chilly with a high overcast. Low fog over part of the Clackamas River basin.
Roads: 224 - 46 - 63 to almost its south end, a long ways.
Not a lot of talk. Normally we have a good conversation. Steve thinks they are seasonal rovers. He had shown me the maps on his wall last Thursday. Had some of the pins off just a little. I read topo maps better than most people I've met that Bigfoot, probably because of my military training.
Light rain up on top. Used the heavy sweat shirt and needed it. Last time up, I just used the hiking boots. Did the same today, except I got my feet wet and cold. We were just up for a short day though, so getting wet wasn't a big deal. For some reason, I was really short on breath today. Don't know if it was the warmer weather or what doing it. Need to get in shape. Too damn fat. The climb to Steve Site 1 made me tired, not exhausted or chest pain or anything, just tired.
No disturbance at the site. The scent was still strong and noticeable from about 20' away. Batteries in the cameras OK. Reloaded film. Camera showed 3 pictures, so probably just set-up shots, plus one of us walking away. Didn't refresh scent, didn't need to.
Hiked around area. Found old camo shirt. Many less tracks. It was clear the game had moved.
Snow on surrounding mountains showed lots of melt-off. Collawash River was up, but Roaring River and the Clackamas were about normal and were even looking a little low on flow for this time of the year.
Fought our way along the river bank to the lower bait site, Steve #2. We didn't remember all the brush, must have had a bunch of energy last week. Will be a real mess when the leaves and new growth comes out. Had to look for the site, didn't just walk to it. Found it by seeing Cliff's CD hanger. It caught the light very well.
The place stunk from the scent and the fish oil. The batteries on the camera were ok. We changed the film. It showed seven pictures, so maybe (!!) something. Nothing had bothered the cut apples on the ground or the stuff in the bucket. Had robbed the frige of the old lettuce and cabbage. I had bought some cheap apples the day before. Used a can of Spam to freshen up the stuff in the bucket and put in some of the lettuce. Cut the cabbage and put out on the ground. Kept the apples.
Flashers were still working fine. I think they are good attractors. Up by my cd hanger, there was some heavy disturbance and fresh bare ground showing where the moss had been pushed back. No boot tracks or hoof marks at all in area. We couldn't figure what made the disturbances. They were big, about 1' x 3-4' like where something had been standing there looking down at the baiting site and had just shuffled around a little. There were no hoof marks in the area at all.
I put out the jack mackerel that I had bought to refresh the baiting. This is the worst stuff I have ever seen for human consumption! It make Spam look like filet migyon. There was a brownish, gray oil on the top of the can that looked like liquid turds. It stunk like bad fish. The stuff in the can was a bunch of long grainy fish meat that had a black and gray oily look and was full of fish bones. I had a plastic glove on and dug into the can. The stuff mushed in my fingers. Steve says the raccoons really go for the stuff. Something up there liked it. The stuff from last week was all gone, including what was splatted on the trees.
Steve took some and wadded it up and "SPLAT" it went against the tree bark. Bits of the rotten smelling stuff flew all around and I managed to dodge it. I don't think Steve was so lucky from the way he smelled later in the truck. When I tried it, I hadn't made a tight enough ball of the mackerel and it just blew apart when I threw it, going all over the ground.
The knot that had tied off the bucket had slipped so it had dropped quite a ways toward the ground. This had happened on some of the other things we had hung in the trees at the other sites. Must be more careful of the knots we use.
We drove high up the Collawash to almost the end of the road. The snow had really melted. Tried the bucket call several times and got good echoes, but no responses. Trapper Steve is very high on doing calls as a "bring'em in" method. He says a variety of calls are available from trapping and outdoor catalogs. I've never noticed them, but must look for them now. A slide had closed the road about a mile from where it ends. We walked beyond the slide a ways, but didn't see anything too interesting. We were way down south and the country looked all different from that perspective.
This was high Cascade country. There was bare ground under the trees, lots of rock exposed and big rhododendron fields. They were a long time to blooming. Still lots of snow above us, but most of it had melted out down by the road. It must have been real warm up here last week, as even today, the snow showed a fast melt.
Steve had to be back before 1, so we started the long drive back. I took the photos down to the one hour place with some hope, but all they showed were set-up shots. The cameras are economical, but they take good pictures. There were some good, good shots of Cliff and Steve.
We met the next day and talked a little about the trip. Unfortunately, we are both starting to consider this next week as the end of our formal 1999 Bigfoot season. That proved not to be the case. The weather is getting good and the traffic up the hill has increased. There is more disturbance to the wildlife and they are moving up. There is more risk of losing the cameras. The ground is getting harder and tracks are more difficult to see.
We decided to do more trips, but probably on a more specific need basis and we will probably only set the cameras at some remote location. We need an end to this season and to set a better search plan for next year. We must take a break and change search tactics. Spring is really here in the mountains.
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