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Hey guys,

Thought I'd come do a check in since I have been off for quite awhile again.

Hope to find everyone well. 

It has been another rough year but I am doin ok so far.  Few medical issues but nothing I havent been able to handle or get thru.

This year has been hell with the local fires and I know most of you know I live in an area that is becoming known as the fire belt of Northern cali.  I did have the chance to get out and archery hunt in august and placed a pile of cams out as usual. Season ended Sept 6th and I was basically forced to leave that sunday because of fire within 3 miles of my hunt area.   I had replaced all mem cards and batteries in all my cams that day so most of the day was spent doing that. I had thought about pulling the cams but decided to leave them because rifle season opened sept 26th and I figured I'd just pick them up at that time.

Well, unfortunately the season didnt open in this particular area because they shut down the forest because of the fire (what is referred to as the North Complex fire) so I have been chompin at the bit to get up there to recover my cams, not knowing exactly what burned and what didnt based on the Plumas national forest fire maps and updates. All I knew was my hunt area was right in the middle of there black boundry line of closed area. They have been patrolling the area to keep people out because of the dangers and have closure signs at all major entrances,

We finally got a break and the fire was close to containment around mid to late october although weather still had not changed much, meaning it was still 90 plus degrees up there mid day.  I did drive up to the point where I head in to my area but was turned back, that was october 28th.

This past week we had a bit of rain and snow in the mountains so I thought I'd try to get up there and headed up on saturday morning (November 7th). I figured since there was an extreme weather warning for heavy snow, crews would more than likely not be working up there and I was right.

I drove right on in and never saw a soul all the way to my hunt area, Technically I guess I was entering illegally even though the PNF website says the primary road I was on is open.

To try to tell you and convey what it looked like will be impossible but I can say I knew things were not looking good for my cam recovery based on what I was witnessing.

I reached my destination of where I usually camp, my heart was heavy as I had just drove 40 miles through what looks like another planet so now being in my main spot I knew things werent going to work out the way I had hoped for.  I drove over to where I normally hike in and the primary ridge I hunt and where all 8 of my cams were. Looking up the ridge I felt a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, not because of smoke but because this was the area I have spent he last 18 years making trails, learning the ridges, making special little hideouts for stump stands, getting to know and talk to all the little forest creatures that would visit me as I sat in these woods. It was/is a devastating feeling to know that most if not all of these little guys didnt make it out. It was a sad day and I am still reeling in my thoughts and emotions over the whole thing.

I took a few pics and short videos, they are not great but that's mostly because I was trying to hurry as I did not want to get caught thinking I could either get in trouble or ticketed for being in there. My ridge or area is about 3000 acres and was loaded with chip monks, squirrels, birds, bobcats, deer, bear and lions but now, there is nothing.

My total round trip hike in and out is right around 3 miles, there are no roads in there and I have always had the area to myself so it has always been a quiet and peaceful place to hunt with out interruption of other hunters or vehicles.

This day was like a scene out of a movie, there was literally no life whatsoever,  no spiders, no bugs, no bees, no animals, no birds, no flys, no nothing, absolute silence in nature. Usually you will cross snake tracks in the dust, bees are always swarming around you, beetles and carpenter ants are usually making the forest floor look like its moving. There was nothing, not a single track, not a single noise, just pure silence.

I made my way to the first spot where I always hang a camera, I could barely tell what was what and only knew the spot based on what was left of an old tree fall from years ago and a stump that I always set my backpack on as I check the cam. Well, the tree it had been on was charred and then I finally spotted what was left of the cam laying in the ash covered ground. At that point and being able to see straight through the woods without anything blocking my view, I knew the same fate would apply to all the rest and I was right.  I searched for number 2 but was unable to even figure out where it was because there was nothing left of my trail or my usual landmarks. I knew cam #3 was at a corner spot in a finger of timber and an old cut so headed to it. I found it pretty easily as it laid on top of the ash. This camera had taken some nice videos and pictures of the buck I have been after for 2 years, Its hard to believe that he may not have survived along with all the other deer and animals that were trapped in this firery hell.

So I trekked up the ridge to no avail, I was not able to find or recover any of the other cams. in most instances it looked as though a lot of these trees literally burned to cinders, the stump, roots and all leaving large holes in the ground everywhere. Its weird because I cannot remember if they were young trees or old, if they were tall or short because there is absolutely nothing left to look at other than black charred trees and a smooth brown ash covered forest floor, no limbs, no leaves, no pine needles, not anything. In some spots I walked through the forest floor was a foot deep of powdery dirt and ash, it literally burned 60 to a hundred years worth of forest floor seeding..

Well, the shock of seeing what I was watching on the tv for 2 months is now in full effect.  I cant say for sure but I believe this area will look like this for many years since the forest floor bedding is completely incinerated. 

I didnt come in here today to drag a long story out, but as I was sitting here thinking of checking and what I was going to say, I realized this is where my love of trail cams came from and the feelings of all of it just spilled on to this page.

Later I will try to upload some of my short videos, I need to probably edit them because I know I more than likely used some expletives during my feeling the loss and witnessing of the devastation.

 

George

 

 

Hunt 1.jpg

Hunt 2.jpg

Hunt 3.jpg

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Am glad you are ok, it's been too long buddy.  I hate it what you guys went thru, it's Terrible...

your post was great and almost like I was with you as you walked too, you should send that to a magazine

thanx for coming here  and be safe

 

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Just now, Tinhorn said:

Am glad you are ok, it's been too long buddy.  I hate it what you guys went thru, it's Terrible...

your post was great and almost like I was with you as you walked too, you should send that to a magazine

thanx for coming here  and be safe

 

Thank you Tin, 

I actually had cut it out when editing and forgot to put it back in,  but when I left that sunday (sept 6th)  within 24 hours my camp spot was gone. If I had not left that day around 5 pm, I would have been trapped.

Although I camp right next to a big frog pond, it would not have saved me because when I went by it saturday it was just dirt so when the fire rolled through there it must have just boiled it off.  I didnt want to leave that day, I had planned to stay a few extra days after season to reset some cams and move a ground stand but was afraid of how bad the smoke was that if when I climbed in my tent that night I feared I'd suffocate from the smoke inhalation, the smoke was so thick you couldnt see 100 yards that is the only reason I left. I am thankful that I chose to leave.

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Great to hear from you George, l wondered about you a few times when l visited this forum over the past year. Great that you are ok and sad after reading your story. I look forward to your videos. 

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Glad to hear you are ok George. Sorry for all the loss . I can't imagine what it is like to witness something like that.

 

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