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  • Hunting Practices

    Posted by [paleolution]
    Game Drive & Hunting Blind at 12,000 ft

    I was hunting elk and deer with my brother when we discovered this site in 2003, not knowing what it was? After a few years of wondering, I heard a presentation at a conference about these high mountain communal game drives. Yesterday, I took a couple buddies up with me to see the site again, now that I know what I am looking for. Sure enough, it's an undisputable game drive system, that was very difficult to access. This site has been untouched by archaeologists, and it's undocumented. We did our initial survey yesterday, and we have so many more to come. I just thought I would share some photos of this ancient game drive system. Just imagine the magnitude of effort they exerted to build this drive system, remember it's at over 12,000 feet elevation, so moving stones is no easy task. We found one flake tool, but didn't have much time before the storms came to get back up and over the divide. It was an 8 mile round trip, and above timberline (lightning strikes are the biggest fear up there). Enjoy!

    Click image for larger version

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    The first photo is an overview of the system. The second and third photos are 2 of the 6 hunting blinds we found along with the drive lines.

    Posted by [CliffJ]
    I understand the blinds, but how did the row of rocks guide the animals? Looks like they'd just step over them? Neat place!

    Posted by [Paleolution]
    Good question Cliff. The stones were not intended to contain the animals. They were more like guidelines for places that they would place an upright pole and hang tassels off it. I used to wonder the same thing, but they didn't make a solid fence or corral like some drives, but they would simulate motion to keep the animals in the direction they wanted to guide them. If you notice the saddle ridge, the animals would naturally move over it, the blinds and rock walls were placed in areas they could funnel them into shooting distance of the blinds.

    We do only have a couple of months to explore, and we even had to cross a snow drift (but it wasn't bad). But, the cool part is so did they, they only had time to be there during the months we can too, which provides good information about how they hunted it. We also found out that the only we're going back with survey equipment is to spend a few days there. Dan, that is our next step in the process, is to identify the camping / butchering area. They most likely camped near tree line (around 800 feet below drive lines), or in a spring we found not far from it, but with only tundra juniper, so not much cover. They most likely had several camp areas along the ridge, as it runs 4,000 feet in elevation from the valley floor. This complex is so large, that we spent all day identifying blinds and drive lines, and we didn't make it to a big part of the complex that I know is just down hill from there. There are some good books out there about the drives north of here and around Wyoming. Look up the authors, George Frison, James Benedict, and Byron Olson. They have studied these drives since the 70's, and this may be one of the few that is still undocumented.

    I forgot to show you photos from the hike up.

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    Posted by [huntsman]
    Very, very interesting. The one blind spot looks like any fauna would be steered AWAY from since there are tons of rocks/debris directly in front of it. Perhaps it was an obsevation point. IDK? Thanks and please keep us posted.

    Posted by [Hoss]
    Thanks for sharing this. Just a safety tip on lightning if you are up there and you feel like your skin is tingling and your hair starts to stand on end get down on the balls of your feet put your hands on your knees and tuck your head down. Don't lay down flat and don't kneel or touch the ground. If your walking sticks are metal get fiberglass. Please stay Safe and keep us posted!

    Posted by [Paleolution]
    Thanks all, it is a truly magical place. Huntsman, I think that blind is an observation point, we could see the entire complex from it, and it could fit 2-3 people comfortably. I have hunted above the drive, and those animals aren't bothered by stones, it was for hiding the hunters out of plain view. It is quite a site to see, but it was a tough hike, probably one of the roughest I have been on in a long time. The bottom two shots were from when we first got up to the divide, and if you haven't been on the Continental Divide I highly suggest you go just to see the size of these mountains. Hoss, about the lightning, I have been caught in a couple storms there. They pop up out of no where, so you pretty much have to be ready to book it to tree line at any time. There are a few over hangs and rock ledges along the trail, so there are a few places to hide. I will keep everyone updated, but it could be the end of August before we get our permits and crew together for the next survey. Thanks for looking!
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.
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