Friday, November 13, 2009

Piney Creek Hunting Club - Chapter Four

Chapter 4

Tony was awakened by a loud voice on his clock radio. Normally the station it was tuned to played the local classic country station, but today the twangy country songs were replaced by a reporter who was reporting about a crash at the Salt Lake City Airport. He spoke quickly and sounded almost as though he was out of breath.

“For yet unknown reasons, Flight 298 which departed from Beijing, crashed into the northwest terminal here at Salt Lake International Airport. We have confirmed that the airport is on a total lock down after a large riot that apparently broke out following the crash.” the reporter said quickly as he pointed to the airport far in the distance. Dozens of flashing lights from the emergency vehicles that surrounded the airport made the huge building look like a bizarre red and white disco. As the camera zoomed in on the airport, it showed a very grainy picture of some obscure figures moving around in the flashing lights.

Tony sat up in bed and yawned widely. Another reporter on the radio started to talk about other instances of riots and similar things in other major cities around the world. The reporter also spoke about an ‘uncontrolled pandemic’ in China and how the Chinese government had just declared all of China was now under quarantine. The Chinese government had also shut down all media broadcasts, Internet access and any other way to get information. Tony turned off the radio and headed into the bathroom for his morning shower.

Later, as Tony climbed into his truck and started the engine, the radio in the truck – which was tuned to the same radio station as his clock radio – was still broadcasting a news report instead of music. Tony quickly tapped a button on the front of the radio, changing the tuner to pick up the satellite signal instead of the local FM station. He sped off towards his current job, a large house his company was building on the other side of the valley. As he drove, he listened to a commercial-free satellite station that only broadcast classic country songs. Traffic was very light and Tony was happy that the drive to the job site took almost half and hour less then it usually did.

As Tony pulled up on the job site, he noticed that his entire crew was gathered around one of the trucks in the parking lot. He climbed out of his truck and headed over to the group. His crew was gathered around, watching a small LCD television that was in the cab of the truck. The small screen displayed two news anchors sitting behind a large news desk. The two anchors were talking about how they expected the chief of police to give a statement about the recent incidents at the airport at any moment. One of the anchors announced that they were going to the news conference and picture suddenly switched to a view of a small, white podium that had been placed in front of a large brick building. A clean-cut, uniformed man stepped up to the podium and began to speak.

“At this time we are asking the public to stay away from the entire area surrounding the airport complex. We have also started an evacuation of the surrounding hotels and businesses.” the man stated almost blankly. It was apparent that he was trying his best to keep his composure.

“There is at this time, a large group of individuals that have taken control of the main airport concourse and surrounding buildings. They appear to be under the influence of a PCP-like drug. Those under the influence of the drug act very irrationally and should be avoided entirely.” the chief of police said at he stared directly into the camera. “We cannot emphasize how important it is for everyone to stay out of this area. We have the situation under control and have already taken a number of the suspects into custody.” he added.

“Okay guys, let’s get to work. We have to get that second floor done up this week so they can get that roof sheeted in and over our heads before the weekend.” Tony said as he turned to walk away.

“Alright, we just received word from our News on the Roam reporter, Carlos Santava.” the first news anchor said to the camera. “He is near the airport in an undisclosed location. We are going there now for a live report.”

Tony turned back to the group and continued watching the broadcast.

The picture faded into an image of a young, male news reporter standing near what appeared to be one of the many 'Park and Ride' lots that surrounded the airport. Behind the reporter there was a wide field and in the distance beyond that, the top of the control tower seen above a thick row of trees. The reporter started speaking about an uncontrolled riot at the airport. He stated that there several confirmed reports of injured officers and civilians and there were also some unconfirmed reports of fatalities.

“Damn!” someone in the group standing around the truck exclaimed.

Others in the group began to discuss the events that were unfolding on the small screen.

Tony looked up at the partial building they were supposed to be working on. Tony was hoping that his crew would get a lot of work done today. He wanted to have most of the second floor of the building done by the weekend. He wanted to get some time Saturday to try out a new custom predator call he had received a few days earlier. It didn't look like any real work was going to get done today.

Tony looked back at the small screen. The reporter had moved a short distance out into the field. He was gesturing at the control tower in the distance and speaking about the airliner that had crashed into the concourse only hours before. As the reporter was speaking, a figure stumbled out of the trees in the distance. You could clearly see the figure was wearing a police uniform. After the officer had walked a short distance into the field he stumbled and fell.

“Carolyn and Tom, I think we have an injured officer here! He just came from the direction of the airport!” the news reporter exclaimed as he started to jog in the direction of the fallen officer. The camera man followed behind at a strong pace, causing the picture to bounce significantly. As the reported neared the fallen officer, the officer slowly climbed to his feet and started in the direction of the reporter.

“Are you ok? Do you need help?” the reporter said to the officer loudly.

The only response that the reporter received was a low, gurgling moan.

As the reporter and the cameraman drew closer to the officer, you could see the officer’s uniform was covered in large splotches of what looked like blood. He also appeared to be very stunned and had a large amount of blood on the side of his head. As the reporter approached the officer, the officer started grasping the air as though he was reaching for something he knew was there but could not see.

Just at the young reporter crossed the last few steps to the officer; the officer once again stumbled and fell. The reporter knelt down beside the officer to help him to his feet. The officer suddenly grabbed the reporter by the shirt collar and pulled the reporter down on top of him. As the camera drew closer it appeared that the officer was having great of difficulty getting to his feet. Both men finally struggled to their feet, the officer still holding onto the collar of the confused reporter. It was now very clear that the officer was gravely injured. A huge slash ran across his forehead and down the side of his face. A large flap of skin was hanging down, exposing the bloody skull of the officer.

The reporter asked someone standing behind the camera to call 911.

The reporter then turned to the injured officer, and started to speak. Before the reporter finished his first word, the officer grabbed him by the hair, and in a single move, bit down on the nose of the reporter. The reporter screamed out in pain and started flailing his arms against the officer. The officer shook his head violently, completely tearing the nose from the face of the reporter. As the reporter fell to the ground in agony, the officer followed him down, chewing and swallowing the nose. The picture began to shake and started to back away from the fallen reporter and police officer, who was now trying to dig the eyeballs from the skull of the screaming reporter. In the distance, other figures could be seen emerging from the tree line.

The picture suddenly went black and within a few seconds changed back to the two stunned news anchors sitting behind their desk. The female anchor announced they were having technical difficulties and that they had lost contact with the remote reporter.

The group of construction workers stood in stunned silence, not believing what they had just witnessed.

“What the hell was that!?” someone in the group exclaimed.

Tony carefully thought about the events that were unfolding. He was really trying hard to remain calm in front of his crew. He knew the airport was only a few miles to the east and he didn’t know for sure if there were more of these insane people out wandering around.

“This looks like it could get ugly.” Tony said. “Ok, Lets all just head home for now and see how this all plays out and if everything is ok we can just meet up here in the morning.” He added.

The other workers quickly agreed and started gathering their tools. After the last of his crew had left, Tony locked the metal gate that led to the half finished building and headed towards home.

As he drove, he turned on the radio. He switched the receiver from the satellite signal to the local FM band. On the radio a reporter was reading a warning to the general public in the downtown area of Salt Lake City. The reporter warned of a large mob that was quickly approaching the city from the direction of the airport. The group was reported to the attacking innocent bystanders and destroying property. The reporter continued and warned everyone who was listening to the broadcast to get indoors and lock all doors and windows. He also mentioned that the police were so swarmed with calls that the police were asking that people not call unless it was an emergency.

“We are just getting word from the CDC.” The reporter announced. “CDC Officials want anyone who has seen anyone who is acting in a strange or unusual manner to call 555-4323. Officials are warning the public to stay away from anyone who exhibits violent behavior or appears to be sick or injured. They warn that this apparent disease is very contagious and is being transmitted at a very high rate.”

“We are also getting word that due to the out of control riots and violent attacks on innocent civilians, marshal law has been implemented in the following cities; Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, Chicago and Boston.” The reporter added. “All people in these cities have been told to stay indoors; the public is not allowed to be on the streets, in these cities, at this time. We will be passing any new information we get onto you as we get it.”

Tony sped home much faster then he usually did. Traffic had already picked up quite a bit from what it had been just a couple hours earlier. Tony had already started to plan he course of action. He wondered if what he had seen on that small screen was really true, if it wasn’t some kind of a sick joke being played by someone. He also knew that something was very wrong and it might be a while before it got better.

Piney Creek Hunting Club - Chapter Three

Onto chapter three! I swear, the zombiedom will be starting soon! Just building up to it ;)

Chapter 3

A little over two weeks later, Brad Harris, the final member of the Piney Creek Hunting Club, looked out of his office window and across the lot of new and used cars he sold. He had taken over the family business after his father retired. He was known as a very honest and trustworthy car salesman. That was almost worth its weight in gold in a town as small as Peoa. A radio beside him was broadcasting news of some new strain of flu that was being reported in China. Brad turned down the broadcast and continued looking out the window. In a small field to the west of the car lot, a small red fox kit played in the thick grass. The family of foxes had moved in last year and the parents had returned to the same den in the center of the field this year as well.

The phone ringing broke his concentration.

“Harris Motors,” Brad said as he answered the phone.

“Hey bud, you stopping by tonight?” asked the man on the phone.

“Hell yeah I am!” Brad exclaimed. “I’m heading to the range this weekend and that stuff is going to come in handy.” he added. The two men continued their conversation for a few more minutes. After hanging up the phone, Brad’s attention returned to the small fox in the field. Business at the lot had slowed down quite a bit recently.

Brad finished up his workday, locked up the office and lot, and headed a few blocks down the highway. Pulling up in front of a small, square building that had a huge, brightly painted teepee standing on its roof, he noted the rough-cut wooden sign that read, “Buck’s” hanging over the false-entrance flap of the teepee. The building had once been the main office for a large roadside motel, but after the motel had went out of business, it was purchased by an enterprising young man from the city, and was filled with a wide assortment of sporting goods. As he shut off his Ford Blazer, Brad listened to the news anchor on the radio talk about medical supplies and doctors that were in route to China. The report continued, the reporter stating that they were going there to help contain an outbreak of a strong, new variant of influenza that had killed hundreds of people within the first few days of its discovery.

“That crap is gonna kill us all someday.” he said to himself as he walked up to the store. The sign in the door read, “Gone fishin’ Will return at 8:00am.” Brad grinned as he pushed the door open and walked in. He knew that Dave wasn’t much of a fisherman, but tailored the look of the shop to fit the clientele of the season. Dave was sitting in a comfortable-looking, canvas-covered chair and watching a small television that usually played hunting video demos during normal business hours. A Chinese reporter on the television was standing in front of a huge hospital and was quickly speaking in Chinese. The English subtitles at the bottom of the screen talked about the hundreds of people that had been injured in a strange riot in a large city in northern China. The report continued that the size of the angry mob was growing at an alarming rate and nobody seemed to know the exact reason for the riot.

Dave cracked open a beer and handed it to Brad. “That’s some crazy shit that’s goin’ on over there.” he said as he went to lock the front door of the shop.

“Yeah, I bet it’s over that new flu thing that they have going on over there. They were saying this morning the death toll was climbing like crazy.” Andrew answered.

“Are you coming up to the range with us tomorrow?” Andrew asked as he took a long drink of the cold beer.

“Nope, I can’t get away until at least Thursday.” Dave said as he turned the key in the lock. “I’ve got a couple of BATFE guys that are supposed to show up on Wednesday for some kind of inspection and I want to make sure that every thing is in order for those suits.” he added as he walked back towards Brad and grabbed his already opened beer from beside the television.

They talked for a while about a new upper receiver group that Dave had received. It was one of the very first production runs of a new belt-fed upper for the AR style of rifles. Although Dave had waited over three years to get the upper and had spent countless hours linking together thousands of rounds of 5.56mm ammunition for it, he figured that he wouldn’t be able to shoot it until after the visit from the federal inspectors.

The men finished their beer and started loading ten heavy cardboard boxes into the back of Brad’s Blazer. The men agreed to get together that weekend to give the new upper a proper break-in. As Brad pulled away and started down the road, he grinned widely at the thought of the new upper in action. Dave climbed into his truck and sped off down the highway in the opposite direction of his friend.

Piney Creek Hunting Club - Chapter Two

Here is chapter two of The Piney Creek Hunting Club. The next couple of chapters should be up fairly quickly as well. Hope you enjoy it...

Chapter 2

The Piney Creek Hunting Club, or as its members called it, the PCHC, was a small group of dedicated hunters and amateur survivalists that, after spending quite a few years hunting as a group anyway, decided to make it official and form a hunting ‘club’. In the end though, they were all just great friends who enjoyed nothing more then spending the day high on a mountain side, searching the rocky crags above them for a trophy Rocky Mountain goat, sitting out on the open prairie under a candy-striped umbrella shooting at distant prairie dogs with highly accurate rifles or sitting silently at dawn, waiting for a huge Mulie buck to appear within shooting range. They all got along fairly well, and except for a few post-hunting, alcohol-heated arguments about caliber or bullet selection, everyone got along great.

Several years ago, the group--a grand total of four in number--had all pitched in an equal share and purchased a sizable piece of land high in the remote mountains of northwestern Wyoming. They then spent almost the entire next year hauling the materials necessary to build a small but comfortable cabin on their land. The cabin stood next to a small creek which was almost entirely hidden by the huge pine trees that blanketed the slopes, hence the name “Piney Creek Hunting Club.” The cabin itself was a simple design, with a large bunk room, a kitchen, a well-lit area for hunting and reloading gear, a large great room with a large comfortable couch and fireplace and a deep cellar. The cabin was built as solid as a rock. Tony, the third member of the club, was a general contractor when he wasn’t out hunting, and he had made sure that everything--from the thick wooden doors that when closed, completely covered the windows to the sheet-metal roof--could easily withstand the extreme weather that the cabin would see during the winter months.

It was almost 2:30 in the morning before Dave made the final turn and started up the quarter-mile long gravel driveway that led to the front of the cabin. Andrew had fallen asleep a couple hours before, and slept quietly against the passenger side window. As they pulled up in front of the dark cabin, Dave nudged Andrew and told him that they were there. They would spend the last night of the hunt in the cabin and then start out in the morning on the eleven-hour drive back to their homes in northern Utah. Andrew awoke and sleepily climbed out of the truck. Dave already had the front door of the cabin opened and had turned on the porch light to provide enough light to move the rifles and gear from the SUV and into the cabin. The two men quickly unloaded the gear and retired for the night.

It was almost 11:00am before either of the two men awoke. Andrew was the first to wake up and as he made his way to the kitchen to fire up the coffeepot, he noticed a small red LED on the cabin’s power supply display that was blinking. “Damn! The batteries didn’t charge yesterday. Junk-ass relay must be going out again.” he thought to himself as he turned around and headed towards the back door of the cabin to fire up the small generator that would provide enough power for a nice hot cup of coffee. Andrew, who was an electrical engineer by trade, had designed a power system for the cabin. Almost every available square inch of space on the roof was covered with solar panels that provided power and also charged a large bank of batteries in the cellar. The batteries provided power to the cabin during the night and on cloudy days. When the batteries were fully charged, they provided enough power for almost two days of normal use and at least twice that long if power was conserved.

Dave awoke to the sound of the small generator engine turning over as Andrew tried to start it. He climbed out of his cot and made his way to the kitchen. He almost instinctively pushed the power button on the coffee maker and didn’t even notice that the power light on the coffeepot did not light up. He hadn’t slept that well, and he knew that there was another long drive ahead and wasn’t looking forward to it. He figured on a good breakfast and then they would have the cabin locked up and be on the road by 1:00pm. As the generator belched to life outside, he stood up and grabbed a clean coffee cup from the rack. As he stood by the coffeepot, he realized why Andrew was outside messing with the generator and shuffled back to his seat.

“It’s going to be a bit longer on the Joe, bud.” Andrew said, as he walked into the kitchen. “I think that damn relay is going out on that inverter. I’ll order one this week and the next time we’re up here I’ll throw it in.” Andrew added, as he double-checked that the coffeepot was now on its way to brewing. “Hey are you going to be getting more of that SS109 in any time soon?” he asked as he grabbed a coffee cup and stood by the coffeepot, waiting for that first cup.

“Yeah, I should have it in by mid-month. They finally shipped my backorder last week.” Dave said through a yawn. “Those guys sure took their own sweet time getting it out the door too.” he added. Almost a year earlier, Dave had found a really great deal on a large quantity of the 5.56mm NATO ammunition, and had ordered it sight unseen. He knew that it would be easy to sell and he and other members of the PCHC needed some as well. Dave Tanner owned a small sporting goods shop on the old interstate that ran through the center of Peoa, a small town about 50 miles outside of Salt Lake City. He mainly carried fishing tackle and bicycles, but he also carried a good selection of ammunition, hunting and reloading gear and even had a good selection of both rifles and pistols for a shop his size.

The two men quickly made and even more quickly ate a typical hunting camp breakfast of fried spam and eggs on toast. After breakfast, the two men started loading their rifles and other gear into the back of the SUV. As Andrew finished loading the final pieces of gear and closed the rear doors of the truck, he remembered that he wanted to disconnect the battery charging system until he could get the new relay in place. There wasn’t any use in having it malfunction and burn something else out. He climbed down into the cellar and flipped a small toggle switch that disconnected the entire solar charging unit from the series of batteries. He locked up the cabin, climbed into the truck, and the two men were on their way.

Bringing Piney Creek back....

Thinking that I want to bring back a story that I worked on a while back on the utahvarminters site. It's been on hold for a long time, but I think it's time to fire up the old thing and give it life, or unlife.... whichever the case may be.

Chapter 1

“The Leica is reading 822 yards to the bottom of left mound.” Andrew said as he carefully adjusted the short tripod the laser range finder was attached to. He moved from the range finder to another tripod that had a large spotting scope mounted to it. Andrew looked through the scope and focused his attention on a small mound of dirt in the distance.

A small creature appeared on the mound and stood erect. “Alright, I’ve got one on the mound. Let her rip any time that you’re ready.” Andrew said to the man sitting next to him at the table.

Dave slowly moved the large shooting vice that his rifle rested in, adjusting it to bring the muzzle of his rifle in line with the tiny mound of dirt in the distance. He quickly consulted a small piece of paper, looking up the correct number of clicks of elevation he needed to adjust his scope to bring his point of impact up high enough to reach the small creature standing on the mound. He slowly turned the elevation knob and carefully counted the appropriate number of clicks. He then dropped behind the scope and brought the crosshairs to rest just below the top of the tiny outline of the small creature on the distant mound. He slowly applied pressure to the trigger of the rifle. The sear released and the rifle sent a 55-grain bullet speeding from the muzzle at over 3700 feet per second. In just over a second, the fragile bullet had crossed the meadow and caught the unsuspecting prairie dog just under the ribcage, sending a crimson spray of blood and tissue into the air. What was left of the prairie dog tumbled back into the hole it had come out of only moments before.

“Score! Well, it looks like you held out until the last minute, but you finally earned that 800 yard patch you’re been wanting.” Andrew said loudly as he slapped Dave on the back.

“Yup, it sure does.” Dave said as he came up from the rifle and flicked the bolt open, ejecting the spent casing onto the table.

Dave glanced into the sky and gazed at the dark gray clouds in the distance. “We better get a move on before this storm blows in. You know how bad the muck gets out here once this all gets wet and in the dark it ain’t gonna be fun.” David said with a grimace. He was at the end of his annual spring prairie dog hunting trip and the two weeks went by much too fast. The two men had spent the last two weeks camping and living out in some of the more remote parts of Wyoming, searching out and hunting some of the best prairie dog towns in the west. The areas that the men hunted were so remote that their only contact with the outside world was one AM radio station, but it was a talk radio station run by the state college and the two men didn’t quite agree with the extremely left-wing, liberal topics and opinions of the talk show hosts and their so called ‘educated’ guests.

The two men quickly walked out to the small mound and took a few photographs to record the new personal record that Dave had set. They then walked back to the tables and other equipment they had setup earlier in the day and started packing it all into Dave’s large SUV. After they packed all of the gear, they climbed into the front seats and started off on the long, dusty journey back to the cabin and then back to civilization. It almost felt good to be heading back to a nice warm shower, a soft bed and some relaxing time spent in front of the television watching a game--almost!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pre-Winter Blahs and Wahoos

Well, it's finally getting close to winter. In some ways, I'm getting pretty bummed about it. Although I do enjoy some winter activites, such as coyote hunting, coyote hunting and coyote hunting, It feels like I am not looking forward to this winter. It means MUCH less time on the bike. Motorcycle riding is something that I took up again this summer and found out that I really, really enjoy. I put nearly 10,000 miles on the bike this summer and loved every minute of it. I think I have a couple more good days of riding before it gets too cold to really enjoy it.

So now I have to try and shift my attention away from the open road and into the open West Desert of Utah. Hopefully this year shapes up well, I've noticed that fur prices are on the rise overall and if the winter is good to me I just might make enough to nearly pay for the gas to go out there. I still find it amazing that during the late 80s a nice western prime pelt would get you about $60 and now, if you get $25 for the same pelt you're doing really, really well.

One thing I have noticed over the past few years though, the number Varmint/Predator hunters has gone absolutely insane! It almost seems like everyone has figured out that stalking the predators is one of the absolute best ways to keep the hunting skills sharp in the 'off-season'. In some ways it's nice because the influx of new blood, the huge assortment of new equipment and a more open-minded view on predator hunting is great. In others it is not, newbie hunters educating the prey until they will not even come it at all or are so wary that they hold up really far out and never give you the chance at even getting a shot off. A lot of my favorite hunting places from years past have been completely cleaned out, which is both a good and a bad thing. It forces me to explore new areas and try new tactics to succeed. Sadly, I think as the sport grows it will eventually gain the attention of the .gov. There has already been talk in the DWR about regulating predator hunting and the possible ban of electronic calling devices.

Guess we will have to just watch and see what goes on and wait for the next varminting season..... Spring Rockchuck hunting!