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  • Robyn Gamble

Buster The Trail Duster (Miracles still Exist)

Let me tell you a story about a pack goat miracle. It was the start of the 2021 elk hunt with a family and some pack goats. My husband and I love to bow hunt elk along with one of my daughters and her family. We went up on the opening weekend of Thursday night and planned to stay until Sunday. Were we hunt is not to far from our base camp so we decided not to use our goats while we were out hunting. We have Buster a 4 yr old and Stu and Frostbite who are both 9 months old. Really, the younger goats came along for training and we planned on using Buster to help us pack out the elk we harvested.

The hunt started out great, my son-in-law got a nice little 4 point on the first morning we hunted. It was pretty warm so after we got his elk packed out he decided to take it and his kids home. That left myself, my husband, and my daughter to finish out the weekend. I usually hike to a tree stand and then stay there for a couple nights. Maybe not the best hunting strategy, but works for me because it is a long steep, brushy hike and my age makes it a little harder every year. So, my daughter and I left that night for the tree stands.

While we were gone my husband decided to take the two younger goats for a little training hike. He left without his backpack because he was only going to be gone for a short trip. (Famous last words). He left Buster tied to the trailer thinking he was fine because he wouldn't be gone long. Well, he walked farther than he thought so it got dark before he got back to camp and got disoriented in the pines without his compass. He had no matches or coat and was only dressed in a light camo shirt and pants. It was below freezing that night. Ron, my husband knew he was in trouble. He knew he was close to camp, but just could not get his bearings. As he sat down to size up his situation because he was freezing, tired and concerned about getting hypothermia, Frostbite came over and laid down by him. Ron realized how warm Frostbite was and so he had Stu come and lay on the other side of him. The two goats and Ron spent the night snuggled together until morning. It was a long night, but bearable because to the two little heaters. When morning came Ron was able to see that he was only about a quarter of a mile from the meadow that our camp was in.

Ron thought things were looking up until he got back into camp and found a broken rope tied to the trailer with no Buster. He looked all over for Buster. He went to all the surrounding camps he could find to see if they had seen Buster. He gave them our number so they could call us if they found him. Ron texted my daughter to let us know what had happened, but we did not have service until later in the day. When we got the message we hiked out to help look for him. Buster was nowhere to be found. I was really worried because he was dragging a small length of rope which I was afraid would get caught in the brush and he would not be able to get free. Also there are a lot of bear where we hunt along with other predator's. This was on Sept. 4th. We had to go back home, but hoped that he would wander into someone that would call us to tell us he had been found.

After the 4th day of no calls about Buster I was losing hope. My little granddaughters told me not to be sad because they had been praying that we would find him. My littles have such faith. I was pretty sure I would never see him again. Buster was out of my favorite doe Jessie. He was trained to pull a cart and was such a great pack goat and companion.

On the 13th after a long day I laid down to go to bed and decided to scroll through Facebook for a little while. As I was scrolling through the posts up popped a picture of Buster. I couldn't believe it! I contacted the person and sure enough it was Buster. Crystal Zimmerman was driving to Alpine Wyo. when she almost hit him on the road. She didn't want to leave him loose and she couldn't take him with her so she tied him up along side the road so if someone was looking for him he would be safe an visible. That was on Friday the 10th. When she came back the same way headed home Buster was still tied there by the side of the road. Someone had stop and given him a bucket of water, but not let him loose. She figured he was someone's pack goat so she took him home and posted the pics. She only had until Sunday the 17th to find the owner because she could not have goats where she lived. She said if she couldn't find the owner she was going to give Buster to her dad who happens to be Clay Zimmerman owner of High Uinta Pack Goats. Crystal is and Angel and doesn't even know it.

Buster had travel approximately 14-15 miles to get from our camp to the road he was found on. He still had on his collar which broke as soon as Crystal took him home. When Crystal found him he did not have a piece of rope attached to his collar and he had a number of wounds on his neck, shoulder, and hip, but other than being sore and scared he was all in one piece.

Some of you may read this and pass judgement, but some of you will read this and realize that miracles have happened. I don't believe in luck or coincidence. Animals teach us many things. They love us unconditionally even when we make poor choices. I owe the safety of my husband to two small goats and Buster has taught me about determination, power of pray, and to have faith like a little child.


And we thought we just had some pack goats.



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