Sunday, November 18, 2012

Elk Hunting

I am once again back in the woods quite literally in pursuit of a Cow Elk. I have been swamped with work in my shop which in my view is a positive experience, yet leaves me at times wishing I was chasing waterfowl a bit more often. Have not even dawned my chest high waders yet this year. As for my elk hunt, well lets just say I have way more experience and practice chasing elk than I do actually shooting elk. This time around the weather has been better. I began this hunt a few days ago with anywhere from zero to 4 or 5" of old wet snow that has gone through several freeze thaw cycles leaving it crunchy loud and then slushy as temps warm throughout each day. Now the rain has returned. Tracking is challenging as the tracks get washed out quickly and unless you happen to be right on'em it's a put in your time and hope you have a bit of luck on your side. I hope we actually get enough rain to melt most of the snow so that it will be a bit quieter while walking.

I did have an opportunity a few days ago but I rushed my shot and flat out missed. I was on several fresh tracks when the temps were a bit colder and it always happens so fast. I stalked on fresh tracks for maybe 10 minutes and before I knew it I saw a flash of brown through the woods. Instantly my adrenaline kicked in. I told myself to stay calm as I held my position so I could figure out where they were. The air was pungent with the smell of elk. I began to creep towards them and then I saw  a lone cow and another cow/calf pair. I dropped to one knee and took aim making sure this indeed was a cow and as I squeezed the trigger I must have raised my head and shot over her. The woods were fairly thick and dark with lots of Bitterbrush and blow downs. The shot startled them, in total a shy half dozen so elk and no bulls that I ever saw. They ran about 20 yards and then stopped looking for the danger and I looked through my bins to see if I hit the cow and I never saw any blood or sign there was an injured cow.  With that being said I was not able to keep a visual on the cow I shot at during their movement. So another shot was unethical until I knew for sure that I had a clean miss or an injured cow to start tracking. Albeit I had a much better second shot opportunity as they searched for me and it still pains me that I missed, but yet it was the right choice to not take another shot. Tis better to be sure than to have a wounded animal and or possibly a second animal shot and killed. That would have been an even bigger knot in my belly than the one I already had. I was losing daylight and I circled numerous times to be sure there was no blood or some blood. I went back the next morning as well and followed their tracks out of the areas and across the highway to the East and a bunch crossed the river to the West. Confirmation of a clean miss and hopefully a lesson learned. Though sometimes you don't have the luxery of a second shot, especially hunting in the pole thickets east of the Cascades.

This is what they call elk hunting and it is not for the faint of heart. Typically, easy is seldom if ever part of the equation while persistence and patience are your best friends. With that being said time for me to get geared up for the afternoon/evening hunt and try to find them again. With any luck I will be back with a story of the one that didn't get away. Not necessarily today, but by season's end.

Women's Hunting Journal         Integrity For The Hunt


spotted face said...

It's great to see that you'll still leave a note or two for us outdoor readers to browse through! It's too bad that you couldn't get your harvest done on this trip, but your ethics are exemplary. Hopefully you'll be repaid soon for them.

Sorry to hear about Jet, and the best of luck to you with Duce. Hard to go wrong with a lab. I just got another chocolate one myself.

Thanks for the read, and I hope you're able to post again soon. Take care -

Terry Scoville said...

Casey, thanks for your input and thoughts on jet's passing. As for the elk, I am once again back in the trees trying to find one in her tracks!. Big storm starting up this afternoon with heavy rains. I have one day left and that is all, I do hope you are right about being "repaid soon"! Soon it will have to be cause tomorrow, Friday is all I have left. Thanks again for your visit and congrats on your new Chocolate addition!

Unknown said...

That was a missed opportunity, but it still gave you experience on hunting them. I was also on the back end of a poor hunting execution before, and it cost me a chance to finally nail a black-tailed deer. The environment was damp because of the moisture in the air. I had a good shot, but I failed to anticipate that the ground was slippery. Just before I took the shot I slipped badly and shot upwards. That startled the deer, and I wasn’t able to track it again.

Kisha Kitchens

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