Tales and Trails Column
By Bruce Auchly, Region 4 Information Officer
A couple of weeks ago, I went hunting and found a cow elk call.
This was not a cheap piece of plastic. It’s a hand-held call adjustable to imitate a basic mew, a lost cow and a cow in estrus, or heat.
Most people who spend enough time outdoors find stuff. We also lose stuff. If personal experience is any indication, we lose way more than we find.
But sometimes what we gain in our loss is worth more.
The elk call I found, depending on the store, runs about $25.
Over the years, I’ve also found a pocket knife, probably worth $20, a wedding ring, and a revolver. And a pocket full of fishing lures.
The wedding ring still sits in my desk drawer. In 2001, while hiking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, I looked down at my feet (always a good choice to keep from tripping) and saw something gleam.
An ad in the paper, a phone call to the Forest Service and an email to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation failed to turn up a claim. It’s worth? A few dollars at a pawn shop. It’s probably priceless to the owner. Or maybe worthless, depending if the ring was lost or tossed.
The revolver was eventually returned to its owner, so no reason to calculate its worth. Still, I probably banked some good karma.
And the fishing lures? Less than $20, maybe less than $10.
People who fish seem to lose and find more stuff than hunters. Maybe it’s because as anglers we expect to lose things. Everyone has caught and broke lines on brush; snagged hooks, flies and lures on rocks; left equipment and clothing on some distant shore. I once lost a watch and a pair of eyeglasses on a short float trip. Whew.
Warm weather typically associated with fishing seems to minimize the loss; a big difference from the winter weather of hunting season.
Lose a spare jacket on a summer day? No problema.
Lose a jacket while hunting in subzero weather? Problema grande.
As for the debit side of the ledger of things I’ve lost while hunting: A nice folding knife, a folding saw, a jacket, a headlamp.
The folding knife was a good one, worth about $40, but I don’t miss it. I’ve since become a proponent of fixed blade, drop-point knives for field dressing game. A lesson learned at a reasonable cost.
Loss of the folding saw, used for cutting open a rib cage, was fine by me. It’s resting on a hillside under a spike elk’s rib cage. Good trade.
The jacket, apparently snatched by a branch because I didn’t have it secured to my pack, was a terrible loss. Made of some space age material, it held up to the claim of windproof and waterproof. Replacement value: maybe $100.
Still, I spent a wonderful day with a good friend.
The headlamp cost about $20. I also shot a cow elk that day. Another trade I’d take any day.
The point is if you don’t go out, you won’t lose anything. There's still waterfowl and upland game birds to hunt this season. And you will lose stuff.
But you’ll never gain the memories, which are invaluable.