Yesterday, we carefully sneaked out of the house to head down to the canyon with just Peat, leaving Angus behind. The old warrior Angus has been running lots of miles hunting the past couple of weeks and against his will we forced him to take the day off. We knew getting ready to go wouldn’t be easy without him catching on so we put both Peat and Angus inside the car in the garage while we dressed and loaded up our hunting gear into pickup outside. Once ready, we let them back into the house and corralled Peat outside into the pickup and drove off and looked back as Angus was watching in disappointment from the fenced yard.
The higher mountain elevations were blanketed with a fresh layer of snow overnight so we decided to hunt in a spot down in Hells Canyon, a place we hadn’t walked around this season and where there wasn’t as much snow. Our starting point was an easy spot to access right off the highway. Bob decided not to hunt so Peat could have a chance to hunt for me for a change. In the past so far, and we’re not sure why, but whenever Bob hunts, Peat prefers to only stay with him. As with all hunts down in the canyon, the terrain dictates that the only way is up so we headed up a small game trail in a thick draw lined with brush and trees hoping to find some grouse on the way up. Within five minutes, Peat busted through the brush and stopped above us, barking his head off. His bark was different this time, not his usual high pitched barking he makes when he flushes a grouse up into a tree. His bark was deeper and had the sound of fear in it. We quickly made our way up to him and found the source of his agitation. A big beautiful bobcat with haunting golden eyes was caught in a trapper’s snare underneath some bushes. I was angry. How could a trapper get away with putting a trap in an area close to a popular bird hunting area where hunting dogs could also get accidentally caught? Trapping bobcat in Idaho is totally legal from Dec 14-Feb 16 in this area so there was nothing we could do but walk away. We normally carry heavy duty wire cutters in case the dogs ever got into a snare but they were at home in Bob’s hunting pack. I would never mess with any trappers traps unless one of the dogs got caught in one and I would never tamper with or free wildlife from traps because it’s actually illegal to do so.
Trying to put the whole affair behind us and forget about it, we continued our climb up about 1,500 feet with Oregon at our back and up into the snow that we were trying to get away from in the first place before finally getting into some birds.
Once at the top of the steep climb, Peat found and pointed a covey of Huns and I managed to knock down one as they busted and flew downhill over the ridge. Peat, not used to hunting with just me, was confused on whether to bring the bird to me or to Bob.
The bluebird sky, amazing views, and Peat brilliantly hunting just for me made up for our terrible start. Yesterday’s hunt will be forever remembered as “Bobcat Gulch.” Now knowing that traps are in the area we will probably never hunt there again and especially not during trapping season.