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The Nitz Family in the Elk City – Red River Area - page 7 / 11

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Nitz Family

Other memories

Back in the depression when the family was living on Red River, Wayne went into the kitchen one winter evening, and spied out the window about 300 elk feeding in the moonlit snow around the family’s haystack. He called his father to see this, and Con told him to get his rifle. They went out and shot two elk, which were badly needed for food in those lean years.

One time Wayne and another hunter were out in the snow, tracking a cougar in Dutch Oven Creek with two of Wayne’s hounds. The dogs treed the cat, and Wayne came up close to the tree on his snowshoes, with his 30-30. One of the dogs, still barking, jumped on the back of Wayne’s snowshoes. Just then, the other hunter fired at the cat with a .22, grazing its cheek. The angry cat jumped out of the tree at the dog on Wayne’s snowshoes, and Wayne shot it in the air. The cat missed Wayne, but splashed blood all over him as it sailed past. It managed to slit the dog’s paw, then took two bounds and piled up in the snow. A close call! Wayne had spun around on his snowshoes while this was happening, without tripping or falling down.

Another time, in February, Wayne was on snowshoes, tracking cougar with his two dogs and his friends, Bob McHargue and Gene Mott. They made it over Anderson Butte and down to the Meadow Creek Guard Station, but somewhere down in there, Wayne punched a hole in his knee on a tree branch. He figured that his knee hurt too much to make it back over Anderson Butte, so the friends started down Meadow Creek, thinking they could phone Betty from Selway Falls to come around the long way and pick them up. Fortunately, the snow petered out along the 15-mile journey downstream, and they were able to traverse the high part of the trail without snowshoes. At one point, they found themselves above a herd of elk, which proceeded to graze uphill past them – a beautiful sight!

Finally, they made it to the old Selway Ranger Station, near the Falls, only to find that the phone line was out. So they hiked another 20 miles down the Selway to Fenn, where Wayne was finally able to phone Betty. That little walk took four days ….

In 1954, Wayne and Betty, along with Bob and Norma LeProwse,  were members of a 13-person group who bought a 33-foot rubber raft. They mounted sweepers on the front and back. Then they took it down to Corn Creek, below Shoup, and launched it into the Salmon River on August 13. Don and Carol Nitz went halfway with the group and then were met by Con Nitz and Steve LeProwse, who took them out.  With Tex Mott and Monroe Hancock on the sweeps, the rest of the group ran the river all the way to Vinegar Creek. Along the way, they got fresh eggs at Lantz Bar, got all their sleeping bags wet as they ran Salmon Falls, camped out every night, and had a great time. 13 people started 13 August and were out 13 days. What’s more, the whole thing – boat, food, and supplies – cost each couple only $25.

The same rubber raft was used in 1956 by Don Nitz and Tex Mott to float bridge materials to Campbell’s Ferry. There’s a picture of this on page 161 of Johnny Carey and Cort Conley’s book, River of No Return (Backeddy Books, 1978).

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