Drones and Elk:The Jackson Hole Wyoming National Elk Refuge provides winter quarters of elk escaping unlivable backcountry conditions and forage limitations. The elk are physiologically very stressed after a winter of browsing low nutrition winter food. They were living off declining summer-stored fat in the energy-consuming Montana cold an deep snow. The less stressed they remained, the better for their survival to spring and the birth of strong offspring/progeny.Enter this situation by David A. Smart, a misnomered naturalist of 45 from Washington DC. He flew a drone over the elk to photograph them. The1, 500 herd stampeded half a mile trough deep snow. Although realizing his mistake and being very apologetic, he was cited for disturbing wildlife and fined $280 (it could have been $5,000). Be sensitive to the survival needs of wildlife. (Elk Denver Post February 26, 2017)It is illegal in Colorado to use drones while hunting. It is also not a part of fair chase (play) hunting. A Prairie Duel: We are fortunate to use a remote cabin on a Wyoming ranch. The idleness there is wonderful. We are force to relax and in doing so have time to study nature during its daily cycles. The observations of how animals live makes us better hunters. The cabin has a windowed door and an opposing single window. These windows are spy stations, transports to what is happening outside. Linda scans the south, and I kick back in a chair to read and observe the north panorama.One spring (Early June) during brunch a doe antelope slowly plodded down a seismic truck road. It fill and then thrashed around on one side and then another. This tantrum repeated two more times. Our curiosity binoculars studied the doe as a new life plopped to earth. Motherly, the doe cleaned the fawn as it bobbed its head toward the new-found sunlight. Then the mother repeated the birth gyrations on the ground and another being entered our realm. Coyotes are predators of fawns, and in the spring, they are ever slinking through the sagebrush where they had seen doe antelope graze. While very young antelope can run, they cannot run far nor as fast as the mother. The does issue a verbal command and the fawns fall like a rock to nestle and freeze in a football sized, camouflaged mound. The mother tries to lead the coyote(s) away. Two doe antelope had a different plan one morning. One doe charged the approaching coyote and tried to trample it. The invader got half the idea and ran, and ran, and ran with the doe hot on his heels. The villain was then chased to a fence where he found no relief. The second doe stampeded the coyote in circles until it was tiring. She passed it under the fence to the now rested first doe. This fence pass-off lasted a good twenty nonstop minutes. That coyote was slowing, his tongue hanged out, and his ears were laid back. Canine creativity dawned. He ran along the fence line dodging posts like a slalom skier until the two sister escorts had run him out of their valley and over the hill. Motherly love or survival of the species instinct?Mentoring boys and The Friendly Spook:In my book I mention two boys I mentored for hunting and backcountry nature appreciation. I am tickled at the flood of chain-linked memories that creep out of my cerebellum and must indulge you with one more. Scott was a perfect scholar, getting a 100 %score on his SAT test. Needless to say, he was amazing to mentor. He closely, unobtrusively observed what I (we) were doing and quickly perceived the next steps of a new chore or wildlife experience. I got a taste of his long-range perceptions on the second elk hunt. We were sitting, resting on our backpacks at the trailhead. We had hunted deer three weekend days and Scott had to get back to school. He noticed the pickup truck lumbering down the hill toward us.Scott drawled, “That is either an ugly but well trained dog driving that pickup, or a cadaver.” The truck parked and I discretely glanced in the cab and agreed. The driver sat there looking straight ahead for a while. Then he struggled to open the door, and untangled himself from the steering wheel and seatbelt. Clawing the truck as a support, the apparition tottered to walk toward us. An obviously cherished, beaten-up conical hillbilly hat below which emerged ruffled white hair crowned this spook. The few remaining ill-kept teeth were tobacco brown. These visual condiments perfectly framed his wrinkled pallid face, on which his jowls flinched with each labored short step toward us. “Good Morning gentlemen!” he said in a friendly, warm, thick southern accent. He swabbed us out about the back country hunting area that we realized was not even a remote dream for him, becasue of his handicap. In later years I heard stories of the friendly cuss – stories that filled in his anatomical history and explained his world view conditions.“Oscar” came with a large party from Arkansas. In his early elk hunting years he spent a lot of time in camp conjuring the hunt. Camp was where the booze was, and perhaps not too gradually it took its toll. He became relegated to mule and horse handler. His other duty was to make provision, hay and stock runs to town fifty miles away. Must of the trip was on rubbly dirt, wash-boarded curvy mountain roads. He was relieved of this duty when he exited the dirt road on a curve, taking the tuck and a trailer of horses over the brink.I met one of “Oscar’s” hunting companions many years later and he filled me in on their hunting club time journey. It seems the club organized around an abandoned, empty, creek side Arkansas oil tank. A door torch-cut into the tank and some obvious cleaning created the perfect man cave. Old furniture complimented the petroleum perfume. There was one ceiling light bulb. To use too many volts may have alerted the farmer, because their illegal line tap may have been noticed. It was in this luxurious wonder that the group languished after deer and rabbit hunts, probably perspired, more probably got snockered at day’s end, and got used to steel wall echoes. Now to “Oscar’s” ambulatory handicaps and the partial reason for the truck wreck.It seems “Oscar” liked good ol’boy cooperative rabbit hunting. Years ago he and a friend saw a prime hare scurry into a field irrigation pipe. An execution plan was instantly hatched without much (any) necessary planning. Oscar declared he would stand the pipe on end and shake out the rabbit. His partner was to be vigilant and shoot the beast. Oscar picked up the twenty-foot aluminum pipe, braced his knees against it, and tipped it skyward. Before the victim fell out, but Oscar’s ankles were fried with 7,000 volts from the farmer’s overhead electric wire. He never walked correctly again, but he was always invited to elk camp where he could to hobble around and do chores. He was cherished by all his buddies of the oil tank hunting club. (The loss of brake foot control was a partial reason for the truck wreck. You can guess the rest.)Getting Nowhere Going to Camp: I had eaten dinner and was resting in my tent. I listened to a mounted hunter plod by. Then another five minutes later he passed by in another slow, faltering ride. And then another! What was going on? I extinguished my lantern and peered out the tent door. There was a fellow having some horse difficulty, stumbling around and around in a 110 yard circle. I slipped on my boots and intercepted the rider on another lap. He was looking for the trailhead which was over a quarter of a mile away. And at that trailhead there was no large pond like the one he was circling. I asked him to raise his headlight above the eyelashes of the horse (so the horse was not walking in a light fog), and then led him to a tree line that should unfailingly get him to the trail head. Story motto? Always know the way home if you hunt until dark.Note: The photo of the horse rider was captured by a trail cam. The bright lights are of two of our passive lures being illuminated by the rider’s headlamp.Perfecting a Two Minute Bath: It was only a small, still-water wilderness pond. We used it for a water source our first two years of elk hunting. Our children were interested in the red sediment in their Vienna Sausage aluminum can cups that magically occurred when we boil-treated the water. The micro-shrimp’s color mesmerized the children, who wondered if the shrimp would grow to good eating size. We later found a spring water source, at which we sometimes had to demand access from a claimant outfitter. A backpack of gallon jugs and two more in each hand was a 64 pound haul, but the effort provided several days of clear water.The cold tent pond then became a Roman bath for sweaty, stout-hearted snow-bound hunters. A strip down, preliminary cold-water bottle soap bath away from the water, a “plunge” into the foot deep water, a race to the tent portal with juged water, final foot cleansing of muck and snow, a tee-shirt dry, and leap into bed could be accomplished in two minutes by the focused expert. Initial learning of the two minute ordeal was painful. Then it became a most relaxing end to fine days. We changed to bathing with unscented biodegradable baby “butt wipes” (eg., Coleman) in later years when the ponds dried with climate change. But I have to admit the pond sprints were infinitely more memorial amid the hushed cheering.