After the draw results came out for the 2009 elk season I was a bit bummed out. I had drawn a 1st season cow tag and my Dad had not. My Dad is getting up there in age and even though he does not want to admit it his hunting years are getting fewer and fewer by the year. That is not to say he will still not go hunting he just may not be able to hunt the way we have for years. This year more than others I really wanted him to get a tag and to put some meat in the freezer, but after the draw that was not possible. So he decided to come along and be camp cook for him and me.
We decided to leave a day earlier than normal as to get there and get set up and have some relaxing time before the work began. We also decided to take a different route to the mountain. We were 5 miles from where we wanted to camp and we come to some forestry service road construction. They were replacing a culvert in the road and the road was not yet put back on top of the culvert pipe. After we talked to the forestry service ranger we decided that the 1.5 hours wait was better than the 3 hours to back and come in from the other direction. We were overjoyed after 45 minutes they came to us and said they had enough dirt on the culvert that we were welcome to "TRY" and get across the road. I was all for it, just hoping my 10 foot cargo trailer would make it with me. After a slow go we were across and on our way and within a couple hours camp was all set up.
Opening morning brought me heading out of camp alone as Dad decided to hang back and collect some more firewood as there was a storm approaching. I headed out into the dark alone and full of opening day excitement. As the sun started to come out I had found myself in what I thought to be a nice clearing with a great view and a nice funnel where the elk may want to travel. Not but 20 minutes later 3 guys walk right thru the clearing headed down the mountain....ARGGG!! So I decided to make a move to the north and make a move to the base of where two mountain meet and I have heard and seen alot of elk in there before. Along my walk I came across a lost hunter and it was only 8:30 in the morning and he was already lost. So I got him pointed in the right direction and on I went. About 1/4 mile layer I heard some crashing thru the trees and it sounded like a herd of cattle, but the thick forest kept me from seeing anything. Just as I was entering a real nice clearing to my surprise a nice 4x4 buck jumped up from the edge of the clearing...too bad it was not second season as 1st season is elk only and I have a buck tag for second season.
I finally reached my destination about 10am and found a nice spot to sit and watch a huge clearing...clearing so big that you could take a 1000 yard shot if not more. I had been there 10 minutes when I saw a cow running on the far side of the clearing...way too far for a shot. My dad has always given me a hard time as I do not think about where I am or where I am going when I am hunting, I just go where the animals are. So I started walking downhill again to put myself in even a better position for a shot no matter where they came from. I was moving along the middle of the clearing and coming not far from where I was sitting was about 5 cows coming down hill straight toward me. So I proceed to find a nice spot to get at where I could get a rest to make a good shot. Well they just kept coming closer and closer and then they started to angle toward me, so what started out to maybe be a 300 yard shot turned into a 150 yard chip shot. I stopped the lead cow and when they all stopped I let her have it. I always seem to shoot the lead cow as she is the biggest. She turned to run back up the hill with the rest but could not do it as she took two steps and expired right there. That is the Joy!!
Next is Pain and Suffering. I knew that I had been walking down hill and I knew where I was but what I did not take into account was the closest direction to the road would also be the steepest. I shot the cow at roughly 11:15am, got back to camp with first load of meat at 2:00pm. After a quick bit and finally convinced my Dad to give me a hand (he would of without any convincing, he was just being difficult) we headed back down for a second load out. Now call me crazy but I like to keep the meat on the bone until I am back at camp or home for that matter, seems to stay cleaner IMO. Got back to camp at around 7:30pm with another front quarter and all the extra cuts, backstraps and tenderloins.
The next morning came real quick for me as I did not sleep much and knowing I had one more trip ahead of me. We woke up to a snow storm and it was plenty cool so I was not worried about the meat spoiling, so we decided to wait a bit and have a nice breakfast. The haul out with the hindquarter was brutal. Footing was not that great even though we found a real nice trail, but the snow just made it slippery, and with 98 pounds (measured) on your back does not make it any easier. But by early afternoon all the meat was back at camp hanging and I was ready for a nap. But I would have done it all over again the next day to haul one out for my Dad. I am so glad he was there to help out I could not thank him enough.
It worked out that I traveled 15 miles hauling meat and that did not account for all the walking I did before I took the shot. Needless I was happy to stay at camp for the next few day and enjoy some peace and quiet. I can tell you that I am headed back to the same spot this year only with a bull tag in my pocket. So that would mean another trip to haul out the head rack......if I am lucky!!