When I heard that longtime Rim Country resident Raymond Cline passed away, I started to reminisce of years gone by and deer hunts in a place called "the pocket."
Dry pocket is about 10 miles as the crow flies from Star Valley, but was an hour and a half by four-wheel drive truck on one of the worst kidney-rattling trails I have ever been on.
Today, the same route is a bit easier by ATV.
This was cattle ranching country, a way of life for Raymond and Pat Cline. Their ranch extended from Star Valley on the north to Tonto Creek, just a few miles above Gisela to the south. Needless to say, the pocket was good mule deer country and not many hunters were afforded the opportunity of going to the Cline's pocket cabin.
Another longtime Payson resident, Ted Pettet, invited me to go along on the opening weekend of deer season 30 years ago.
Being an avid rifle hunter then, I was very excited to go along. As the sun was starting to creep up on the horizon, we were greeted by Raymond and Pat Cline and teacher/cowboy, Chuck Hardt, who was helping them on a fall roundup. We were invited for breakfast and a little conversation before we started our hunt.
Soon, I would see the sun peeking over the eastern mountain and I was thinking I needed to be glassing on a nearby ridge. A short time later, we were finished with breakfast and Raymond volunteered that if we wanted to get a deer just follow the ridge below the cabin to the wash.
I might add, Raymond knew exactly where those deer were going to be at that time of morning. Before the day was out, our party had tagged three nice bucks and a real bonus of two black bears. It was an incredible day of hunting with Dave Bradley and I tagging a cinnamon black bear and Ted Pettet putting an even bigger trophy bear on his wall.
That evening and the next day, Raymond volunteered his time and pack horses for a day of bringing all the game back to our truck. One of his horses didn't like having a bear on his back and started bucking and took off down a steep canyon. The bear went one way and the horse went the other.
I thought I had just bought a horse, but he came back unscathed. The entire weekend with the Clines at their pocket cabin was like stepping back in history a hundred years and enjoying some genuine cowboy hospitality from Pat and Raymond.
Raymond is now gone, but the fond memories he helped create will stay with this avid hunter for a lifetime.
Share your outdoor experiences with a friend and enjoy God's creation.