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The Nitz Family in the Elk City – Red River Area - page 5 / 11





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Nitz Family

Wayne’s memories of the outfitting business

Don and Wayne were outfitters together from roughly 1964 until 1975. Their area extended from Elk Mountain west to Schwar Creek and north to Indian Park. They had a great time out in the woods. In all those years, only two of their customers were sour apples.

Over the years, their guides included Sonny Young, Vance Baker, John Hatke, Rudy Carter, and Bud Crocker. Their cooks were “Matt” and Zola Mattoon. Matt, who was in his 70s at the time, also knew the horses well, and always seemed to know where they had wandered while grazing.

Favorite camps were at the end of the road on Elk Mountain, down at Goat Creek and Schwar Creek, and up at Indian Park.

Some of the guides were unforgettable characters. One time Sonny Young hiked a hunter all over, up and down the ridges for ten miles, and had him all worn out. Finally they arrived on Schwar Creek, where Sonny discovered the decomposed remains of an elk. Sonny looked devastated. He turned his rueful face to the hunter and announced, “Oh my, oh my! Old Beauford has died! We might as well go home ….”

Another time, Sonny and his hunters came across some elk tracks. Sonny picked up some elk droppings and appeared to taste them. He announced, “Well, they TASTE pretty fresh ….” You should have seen the looks on the hunters’ faces!

Sonny was a great storyteller. He could tell stories for days. Once the whole party was held in camp all day by fog so dense they couldn’t see anything. The guide kept everyone entertained by telling stories all day. On the second day, the fog was just as thick, and the guide continued telling stories as they sat again – all day long – in the tent. On the third morning, the fog was again thick, and one of the exasperated hunters announced, “If he tells any of those stories again, we’re going hunting, fog or no fog!”

Rudy Carter, a Nez Perce tribe member, was a guide and a funny guy. One time on Martin Creek, Wayne and Rudy split their party of four hunters, with Wayne taking two hunters along a side hill and Rudy taking his two down the creek. The arrangement was that if anybody saw elk, Wayne or Rudy would bugle, and the other group would move toward the bugler. In the middle of the day, Wayne heard Rudy bugling a lot, so he and his hunters worked their way carefully down in that direction, with great expectations. Finally, they had hunted right up to Rudy, who was sitting on a rock and still bugling up a storm. Rudy just grinned at them and said, “I think it’s time to go home!”

One November, it looked like heavy snow was coming, so Don and Wayne decided to break camp at Goat Creek and bring out the gear, before winter could seal it up ‘till spring. They sent John Hatke and his hunters in ahead, to start breaking camp. After a while, Don and Wayne were riding in to help, but here came Hatke running back toward them without his shirt, even though it was beginning to snow. Hatke was yelling that one

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