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Grueling Quest for a Mountain Trophy

By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
July 4, 2003
Half way up the vertical wall of snow and ice, Bill Wille saw that there was no place to get a toe hold for another punishing step upward toward the top of the mountain which his guide had promised was somewhere above the cloud that engulfed them.
The distance down to their starting point would have shaken Bill had he been able to see through the damp, misty cloud.
But his imagination took over and converted the unseen into shear terror.
The guide, now stationed above, dropped a single rope and motioned Bill to grab hold and pull himself up.
Following serious protests that fell on ears that only understood the native language, Bill turned loose of the mountain and swung out into space with a death grip on the rope.
Squeezed between his thoughts of what the rope might be anchored to, if anything but the frail body of his guide, Bill wondered what on earth had possessed him to put himself in this particular spot.
Asking for Trouble
Like all those who pursue spirited activities with passion, hunters sometimes get themselves into interesting if not dangerous situations.
Bill Wille, my taxidermist friend who lives in Meeker, Colorado, is not immune to such failings and indeed his pursuit of a trophy ibex in Turkey had brought him fear, pain, and misgivings, and was now endangering his life.
His fear, that would ultimately be justified, actually began in a foreign airport. He met an old friend from hunting days in Africa, he too on his way to a hunt somewhere.
During their chat, Bill was asked where he was headed. "Im going for an ibex in Turkey," he said cheerily. His friend's face immediately turned pale, his eyes looked away and his voice lowered. "I will pray for you," was the only comment he made about Bill's hunt plans.
Bill knew his friend had hunted ibex in many places, and wondered at his strange reaction. He would soon understand.
Improbable Camp
Donna, Bill's wife, was traveling on this hunt with him. He was apprehensive about leaving her behind on his first morning out. Their accommodations consisted of a cold, damp bunker-type enclosure staffed by a suspicious looking and weird acting man who was overly attentive to Donna.
Were his actions honorable servitude or simply ill conceived advances? The lady is one who can take care of herself and she assured Bill she could handle any situation.
This concern on his mind, Bill took off up a frozen valley on a snowmobile with a young Turk who could speak some English.
The guide followed close behind on another snowmobile, the trio appearing as dark dots on a landscape of white with gleaming mountains arising on either side of the valley trail.
Soon Bill spotted an ibex and then another. "Stop!" he yelled at the young driver. "Stop, ibex!" he screamed again.
The driver slowed and shouted back, "Too small. We get you big one." "But these are big enough," Bill argued loudly.
The drivers kept going. Presently Bill saw more ibex close by and shouted again for the men to stop so he could shoot one and get back to a somewhat warmer place. "Bigger ones on mountain," was the reply.
This exchange was repeated several times as Bill spotted fine animals that would have satisfied him. But his hosts ignored his pleadings and motored on in the cold, white world far from Bill's Colorado home.
(to be continued next week.)

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