It was a campsite that was back in the woods, away from the logging road that ran through the Howard county Wildlife Management Area. The old stocktrailer had been backed carefully in beside Snake Creek. Large pin oaks provided some shelter from wind and rain. It was not a “in the lap of luxury” camp, yet it was sufficent. It was during the last modern gun deer season of the year. They had been there for two days. A cold rain had taken away their tracks that they had made when they pulled in off of the main logging road. The only tracks that they had been leaving were not on log roads, but instead, within the “blue lines” of large hardwoods that followed streams. They had not seen another person since they had been there. The hunter, and the mule were comfortable with the solitude of the camp. It had been a overcast “drizzly” two days of cold hunting, with the hunter wearing a long “slicker” coat.The evening campfire had been blowing sparks so badly that before going to bed for the night he had put a couple of extra sticks of wood on it, then carefully “banked it” up with dirt. Banking it up would likely insure that even with a heavy rain there would be good “coals” to start a fire quickly in the morning. Finishing up other chores before turning in for the night, the last thing he checked on was the fire. Covered with a layer of rich creek bottom dirt, the coals were hot enough that they had forced a few small air holes in the dirt layer. Smoke was gently curling from those holes. He thought “good, it will make the night”.It was a somewhat “spartain” deer camp, that consisted of a old, green, battered, 3/4 ton pickup, pulling a old two compartment stock trailer. There was a camp chair by the fire, and a mule tied to the leeward side of the stock trailer. The windward side of the trailer had a tarp stretched along it to break the force of the wind. The inside of the trailer had the “halfway” gate closed, leaving the front half for the hunters day pack, extra clothing, and an old olive drab colored G.I. cot. The back half of the trailer was for the mule, just in case the weather took an unpredictable turn. The mule’s saddle and several bales of hay were there, in the front half, as well as other small items, such as grain for the mule.Carrying the camp chair inside and closing the trailer side door, he turned the weather radio on. As he pulled his boots off, the nights forecast was announced. “A fast moving front will pass through the western part of the state early this evening, followed by a period of relative calm winds that preceed a Alberta clipper that will drop temperatures down into the teens.” “Wow”, he thought. That’s when he decided to wear his long johns as he slid into the sleeping bag. Normaly his habit was to sit in the chair for a few minutes to “unwind” from the days activities”. It was just too cold for that tonight.Taking one last look around before turning out the flashlight, he made sure that his rifle and scabbard were conveniently near the stocktrailer door. Placing the flashlight where it would be immediately available, he turned it off. Continuing to monitor the weather radio he noted that tomorrows high would struggle up into the low thirtys. As he turned the weather radio off he thought, ” today might just have been the easiest day of this hunting trip”. Reviewing the day’s activities to insure that important details weren’t left out, he thought, ” deer hide spread on the stocktrailer roof, deer cleaned and carefully hung from a tree limb where nothing can bother it. Winter “coat” over the mule, saddle and blanket inside the trailer to dry, fire banked up .. .. ..” yep”, he thought, “i’m ready as I can get for what ever tomorrow brings”. Then sleep overcame him.As the wind increased, when the clipper came through, he took note of it and shrugged deeper into his sleeping bag. The tarp on the trailer side made flapping sounds that caused the mule to stomp nervously until he said in a voice heavy with sleep, ” ok, boy, it’s ok”. Time passed, then.. .. ..The stock trailer jarred suddenly as the mule lunged back against the lead rope clipped to his halter. Snorting wildly the mule pawed the trailer loudly.Not only did it wake him up, it nearly threw him off of the cot. Sleeping heavily after the long day in the saddle, and skinning the deer until after sunset, it took him a bit to get his bearings in the dark. He said, “it’s ok, buddy, i’m coming”. Stepping out into the dark, he knew that the weather forecast hadn’t realised the full potential of the Alberta clipper. Clad only in boots, long johns, and his favorite old black Resistol hat, the extremely cold night air bit deeply into his lungs. His long johns felt absolutely transparent. The intense cold felt like he had nothing on. Though he could see fairly well in the dark, the sudden scurrying sounds made him turn his flashlight on towards the nearest woods. The color of the eyes and their movement told him that they were coyotes. They must have approached the camp from downwind and the mule wasn’t alerted until they were actually in the campsite. The scent of the deer carcass hanging in the tree must have brought them out after the storm had passed.The mules violent alert and his sudden appearance sent the coyotes on their way.The thermometer on the pickup truck side glass said eighteen degrees. Ice was heavy on the tree limbs and they sagged down causing the camp to look erie in the flashlight. The stars shone brightly and their was a light breeze out of the North West. His feet and fingers were beginning to feel the effects of the cold as he retreated to the interior of the stocktrailer. Getting dressed and taking time to put on his socks this time, he included an extra layer. He was wearing nearly all of the clothing that he had with him.First things first, he put the mule in the back compartment of the stocktrailer, making sure that his haybag was full. The water bucket was full, but frozen solid. One good thump and a heavy block of ice fell from the bucket. Stepping out onto a ice covered rock in the edge of the creek was a ” shaky” kind of thing as he dipped up a bucket of water. The first bucket went on the smouldering campfire, the second to the mule.It was time to “bug out”. Nearing the end of his supplies and with one day remaining in the last season of the year, it was over. Returning to the trailer with a second bucket of water, he slipped a “nosebag” with grain over the mules nose and ears. The mule began to crunch the grain contentedly.Walking out to the log road, he assessed his chances of being able to drive out of the WMA, with the ice causing the tree limbs to sway so low to the ground.The chainsaw was cold and stiff feeling as he pulled the rope. Ten, twenty, thirty pulls on the cord, nothing. The saw wouldn’t even “promise” to start. Pulling the air filter and cover off of the chainsaw, he placed a “activated” hand warmer from his day pack directly on to the carburetor. After a few minutes he squirted a little “raw gasoline” into the carburetor. Replacing the air filter and cover, he pulled the starter cord and the engine crackled to life. Nursing the chainsaw carefully with the throttle, he warmed the saw up untill it would idle by it’s self.Cutting tree limbs for most of an hour, he realised that dawn was coming over the frozen landscape. The first rays of sunlight sparkled from the ice covering everything. It was a thing of beauty, and danger, for if the truck couldn’t drive out, he would have to ride the mule for most of a day to get to the nearest house.Walking back to the truck and dragging tree limbs out of the way, he worried about the old pickup truck. It had been “balky” about starting in cold weather before.Taking no chances he raised the hood and placed the hot chainsaw beside the carburator of the old truck.Next he checked on the mule. He had finished the grain and most of the water. There wasn’t much of the camp left to “round up” the deer was already in a game bag and ready for transport to home.The old pickup supprised him as it roared to life on the first try. As it idled he walked around it, removing the saw, kicking the tires, making sure all was ready to move on out. Removing the wind break tarp, he patted the mule on the neck and said, “let’s go home boy”.Locking the hubs and puting the transfer case in four wheel drive high range, he began the arduous journey out of the WMA. Stopping twice to chainsaw fallen timber out of the road so he could pass through, his journey seemed to drag on, and on. Later as he pulled out on to the highway, finally clear of the “iced in” WMA, he said out loud, “boy, i’m glad that’s over !”.It was readily apparent after he reached the highway, that the road crews had been out working and the road was clear.Before he got home later that day, he noted that power was out and he was supprised when his wife met him in the driveway. Grinning she said ” I was wondering if you would den up like a squirrel, or try to make your way out. Glad you are home, I have the generator running.”The gate to the barn lot was open and when he removed the mule’s halter, he immediately jogged off to the barn. He was glad to be home also.She helped him hang the deer up to work it up later, and as they entered the house she said, ” the telephone is still working, can you believe it ?”“Here is a cup of hot chocolate to help warm you up”, she said. It fell upon deaf ears. He had sat down in the recliner and his dog had jumped up in his lap. In the short length time it took to pour the hot chocolate he was fast asleep.