In my last story I had described how I called in a rag 4X4 and my hunting partner, Deb, dropped her first elk and a bull elk at 35 yards out with one shot. In that same story I had mentioned Hunter XYZ had joined us for this elk hunt. I am about to describe in detail a hunt completed by a novice big game hunter who I thought had some big game hunting background… only to find out he did not. The escapade… I mean the hunt is about to unfold.
After Deb had shot her bull elk and we were done snapping pictures and relishing in the moment, Hunter XYZ decided he was going to put up his $24 blind behind a very large fallen Cottonwood tree about 50 yards away and continue cow calling to see if he could fill his tag as we still had 6 hours left of legal hunting time. Since I still had a cow tag to fill I was also interested in getting some elk in front of us as well. So I told him heck yes and let me know if he saw anything.
Before we go further into the story let’s step back into time about 7 hours. Hunter XYZ showed up at the hotel about 12:30am and woke us up to let us know he had arrived. We left a hotel card key in the truck and clearly told him of it so he could enter quietly and just be ready to get up at 5:15am with us but instead he just wanted to let us know it was him and not a burglar. That was clue #1. It was now 5:15am and we were all getting some quick easy breakfast while dressing for the hunt. Hunter XYZ was shaving his mustache hairs as they “are too long and bother his nose and upper lip - Clue #2. I tell Hunter XYZ the elk don’t give a *#&$^% what his face looks like and to get moving. Hunter XYZ is getting dressed and we have to wait while he puts on his camouflage gators. I tell Hunter XYZ that there is no snow on the ground, we are not crossing the river, we haven’t had any major rain, and the brush is ankle high so absolutely no reason for gators. We still wait another extra five minutes as we get the gators on correctly before we leave – Clue #3. We all hop into Deb’s truck and make our way the 14+ miles to our private property hunting area. We all get out of the truck and Hunter XYZ it getting all of his gear together. He asks me to assist in getting his pack on his back. I almost re-injure my hernia trying to lift his pack onto his back (we were only hunting on 200 acres). Hunter XYZ has everything a survivalist would need in his pack if they were out in the wilderness for a month – Clue #4.
Okay so we make it to the honey spot in the southwest corner of the property. Hunter XYZ is blowing his reed cow call. He sounds like a wounded seal more than a cow elk. Obviously he has not practiced nor listened to videos to teach him on the calls. We watch the Hawks and other birds flee the area. No elk are heard.
Okay – fast forward. Deb and I am field dressing her bull. Hunter XYZ is about 50 yards to our far right on the edge of the woods and a field. There is a funnel of a trail crossover just 20 yards in front of him. Hunter XYZ put away the hurt seal call and was using his Hoochie Mamma call. It was about 45 minutes after the kill of Deb’s bull and the pictures that we hear Hunter XYZ yell, “Here they come”! There was a herd of 30 elk quickly working their way through the funnel no more than 20 yards in front of Hunter XYZ. The herd consisted of 25 cows, 5 satellite bulls all 4X4’s and 5X5’s or better, plus a grand 6X6 bull. Hunter XYZ in the excitement failed to dial his scope power down so after he yelled “here they come” he tried to place his crosshairs on the largest lead cow only to see a massive light fur blur in his reticle. He fired without having a definite target in his sights – clue #5.
The entire herd moved through the field at the far end and then stopped looking back at the chaos that was behind them. Deb and I hearing the shot ducked behind her bull (blood and entrails facing us and me with surgical gloves grasping at my 30-06) watching to see if I could get a shot and fill my cow tag.
Hunter XYZ grazed a cow very low in the abdomen and hit an elk calf behind it. The calf’s rear leg was broke and he (yes a young male) was limping around in the field meowing for its mother. Hunter XYZ knowing he had a wounded calf in the middle of the field put a second shot on the calf to put it out of its misery. Problem was he only grazed the calf’s back. I proceeded to walk out of the woods and point out to Hunter XYZ where the animal had laid down and that he needed to put the calf out of its misery - period… clue #6. Hunter XYZ walked up and was pointing his barrel towards the animal but with a farm house in the far background. I explained to Hunter XYZ that he needed to move to a 3:00pm mark to ensure his shot was in a safety zone and shoot the animal dead – clue #7. Hunter XYZ then moved to an appropriate shooting zone and then delivered at a very close range a kill shot – in the middle of the chest cavity of the animal versus a head/brain shot – clue #8.
Upon examining the wood line I had found a wounded cow. Once getting close to the wounded animal she jumped up and ran about 300 yards and well into a neighbor’s property we had no permission to enter. I had no shot as well to end this. We ended up calling a DOW officer as Hunter XYZ had technically “shot-through” the cow and hit the calf. The DOW officer directed Hunter XYZ to tag and harvest the calf as it was dead, legally harvested, on legal property, and since without antlers a legal animal. The DOW officer looked for the wounded cow but it had traveled too far within the private property, could not be found, and the owner was not able to be contacted.
Lesson learned. I will ask more questions of those “hunters” that will hunt with me so I am convinced that they are of an experience level and have a safety focus that I may enjoy the hunt and we have no issues with animals that are harvested.
Update – Hunter XYZ had his elk calf butchered and for about 35 pounds of meat he paid $135.00 to skin and process it. When I asked about his scope being sighted in Hunter XYZ stated that it was sighted in over a year ago and he felt there was no need to re-sight it in. When asked about elk fever or some excitement, he said he was in control the whole time. He is holding somebody elses antlers on top of his calf.
My newby hunting partner has done great so far this year. So much that I can allow her more freedom in her hunting without my direct oversight. I am taking Hunter XYZ under my wing for the remainder of the 2011 and 2012 hunting season to provide him the guidance needed to ensure he can succeed in clean harvests while being safe and secure in his hunting techniques. A follow up story on his success will be published in the future.