Deer camp continues to be an excellent experience

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Rudy Lopez begins to serve the cedar-plank salmon just cooked outside The Hut on a gas barbecue. The salmon is resting in a cast iron skillet for serving purposes.

This is the last of a two-part series about the 2015 deer camp.

The third day of deer camp found me alone at The Hut, our deer hunting cabin, located north of Odessa. A few deer were in the winter wheat, 600 yards to the east, including a legal buck.

They were on private land we were not allowed to hunt, but it is always fun to watch their antics. The bucks will joust a bit from time to time, butting heads, but this seemed to be more in fun, than to chase one or the other away to establish dominance over the herd.

I needed to visit with Hut 1, Lani Schorzman, at his shop, so jumped in the Ram. The key was inserted and turned. The Ram engine tried to start, but would not. Usually the truck would roar to life at the slightest turn of the key, without touching the gas pedal.

Next, I stepped on the gas pedal as I turned the key. The engine fired, but died right away. The engine was started again and remained turning when more gas than was usually required was applied.

Lani was called as I headed for Moses Lake, with the worry of having a disabled vehicle needing to be fixed. Kyle Childress, at C & V Auto was called.

“Kyle, I’m hunting deer this week, but I’m having vehicle problems.”

“Bring it in,” he said.

When I arrived, Kyle drove the Ram into the repair area and said they would put Juan Pruneda on the problem. Juan hooked up the computer, indicated it was a sensor problem and ordered one.

He lifted the hood and said, “Oh, there it is, you have a mouse problem.”

“No, Juan,” I said. “I have a pack rat problem.”

Indeed several wires were chewed bare with one severed. Juan looked over the situation and attached two adapters to a small length of wire. After stripping the wires in the engine area, the wire was set in place.

He turned the key and the Dodge fired without any additional gas. I left C & V 30 minutes after arriving and after paying a $37 bill. What a lucky break to have Juan’s expertise to solve the problem and Kyle’s understanding of the urgency of my situation.

This was the beginning of “The Packie War,” but it wasn’t my first pack rat encounter. Two years ago I accidentally backed over one at The Hut. I’m sure a pack rat relative was seeking revenge, which will be explained in a future column.

I returned to The Hut looking for a legal buck, one with at least three points on one antler. All four of The Hut Crew attending the 2015 season, Lani, Thomas Steffens, Rudy Lopez and me, had drawn a second-deer tag, which needed to be antlerless, plus we could shoot a legal buck.

Rudy and I notched our second-deer tags on the second day of the season and were now looking for a buck. Lani shot a 4-by4-point buck on the opening morning, so he was now looking for a doe.

The rest of Monday and all of Tuesday were uneventful with lots of does, spikes and 2-points spotted, but no legal bucks. A bunch of huntable land is visible from inside The Hut. One of my favorite activities during deer season is to write my columns and other stories while inside this building. Time at The Hut is special, inspirational and motivating. It is a magical place to me.

There are times to stretch my legs and venture outside, checking the corner, the flat and the south edge of this square-mile property. The sagebrush can easily hide a bedded deer, but the tall brush will hide a standing critter.

Thomas arrived on Wednesday afternoon and we walked the property without finding a shootable deer. Thomas hit pay dirt the next day and notched his antlerless tag with a 100-yard shot.

Rudy came back on Friday evening and we enticed him to make another batch of fish tacos, with walleye being the main ingredient. We hunted hard on Saturday and Sunday, three of us after bucks and Lani looking for a doe.

Saturday evening Rudy was scheduled to make cedar plank salmon. The chinook fillet was cut in half to fit on two planks and topped with a mixture of brown and white sugar, plus salt.

These water-soaked planks were then placed on the gas fired barbecue. The result was, as is all of Rudy’s cooking, delicious.

The 2015 deer-hunting season was a success, as we notched five out of eight deer tags, enjoyed topnotch camaraderie and great food.

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