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The Nitz Family in the Elk City – Red River Area - page 6 / 11

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Nitz Family

of his hunters had died.

It seemed that Hatke and this hunter had gotten into a herd of elk, and each had shot one. Hatke took off his shirt and started to clean his elk while the hunter ran off to where his elk had fallen. When Hatke had gutted his animal, he went over to find the other one, only to discover the hunter dead next it. The hunter, who was an overweight guy in his 50s from a flatland state in the Midwest, had keeled over from a heart attack.

When Wayne and Don arrived, they and Hatke got the hunter loaded onto a packhorse. It wasn’t easy, because the body had started to stiffen up. About 10 a.m., they started back to the truck on Elk Mountain. By the time they got there, the snow was deep enough to make driving difficult, but they finally made it to Elk City by ten o’clock that night.  They phoned the sheriff’s office and were told to bring the body in to Grangeville. This wasn’t easy, either, because the upper end of the South Fork Road was under construction at the time and closed at night. But they finally made it, delivered the body, and returned to Elk City by morning. They couldn’t rest even then: they still had to break camp at Goat Creek and bring out their gear before it was completely snowed in. This they proceeded to do. Finally, they got everything back to Elk City, but by then they had been up for three days with little sleep!

One time, Wayne rode in ahead of his party to check on a drop camp in Goat Creek. He found that a bear had dragged everything out of the cook tent and torn it up. The tent was okay, though, so Wayne cleaned up, put the gear back in the tent, and went out to get his hunters. When he brought them back in the next day, they found that the bear had returned, torn up the camp again, and this time ripped the cook tent open.

Wayne and Don replaced the cook tent, cleaned up the camp, and got everything squared away. That night, he and Don slept with their ears open and with flashlights and guns ready. Sure enough, the bear came back and started tearing up the cook tent. Wayne lit up the bear with a flashlight, and as the bear took off, Don shot at it and thought he hit it. They didn’t try following it in the dark, though. Instead, they rescued the cook, who had been hiding under his covers in the cook tent the whole time.

One time Wayne had a bunch of hunters working out of the Goat Creek Camp. He took them up to a little basin and turned them loose to hunt. At the end of the day, one hunter hadn’t come back to camp. Wayne rode up to the basin and looked around. He fired shots. Eventually, he saw in the distance where the guy was starting a fire.

Wayne rode back to camp and got Don and a spare horse. It was getting dark when they got near where he had seen the fire. It was raining and snowing. They reached a place where the horses couldn’t go, so Wayne got off and started to walk the rest of the way. In the dark, he fell in the creek. By now Wayne was REALLY cold. However, while in the creek, Wayne realized the water was flowing the wrong way. In the dark, he had become completely turned around in his mind. The creek experience got him oriented, and so he and Don were able to get to the hunter and bring him back to camp.

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