Terry Thomas

Elk Hunt 2010

Elk Hunt 2010


It all started two weeks prior to the opening of our Elk hunt. The wife and I had Turkey tags in the same area as our Elk tags. So we headed to the high country in search of Turkey and to observe as many elk as we could.


The Turkey hunt was unsuccessful we hunting several days only to find Turkey tracks and nothing else. While we were hunting we found several areas that showed signs of Elk and these areas also produced pictures of Elk from our hunting cameras. Based on what we had seen we took the time to build two blinds that were about 1 ½ miles apart. With dogs at our side we labored to build blinds out of down and dead wood. Once the blinds were built we raked out the inside of the blinds of old pine needles and dead leaves. This would allow us the move around during the hunt as quietly as possible.


Since we did such a fine job we decided to sit blind # 1 in the evening in hopes a Turkey might come by. We did and they did not. We had set up cameras several weeks before the hunt and the cameras told us there were Elk working the area so we had hopes we would at least see some Elk for the upcoming hunt.


Two days past and not only did we not see any Turkey; we also did not see any Elk. It was during the evening of the third day that we were commenting on how the cameras showed Elk in the area almost everyday and yet we had seen nothing.


It was about one hour before dark when Monica seen an Elk moving toward us at blind # 1. Within minutes we had thirteen Elk which consisted of one large bull and twelve cows. For over twenty minutes they grazed in front of us coming in as close as eight yards. They began to get a little nervous as I am sure that close they could smell us, they however could not pick us out by eye sight behind the blind. Still being Elk when they are not sure of what is going on they begin to move away at a rather steady pace and that is what they did.


It was for Monica at least a memory to last forever.


The Turkey hunt was over and we would return in two weeks to try and harvest an Elk. One thing was for certain, after studying the area it was to dense in timber to use a scoped rifle. The longest shot we could have from the blinds was less than a one hundred yards and even then you would need to pick your moment as they passed through the timber. So we decided on using open sights, Monica had a Remington pump 270 and I was using a vintage Remington 308 automatic. Ammunition was loaded by me.


After setting up camp the day before Elk season was to begin we visited both blinds and installed our chairs and to check for fresh sign if there was any. It had been raining and there was some sign of Elk but it was not a lot. We knew the Elk were hanging around blind # 1 so we were confident we would get our first Elk the evening of opening day. We were wrong.


Since we had both our German Shepherds with us to keep from burdening someone else to stay at the house or at least come by everyday and check on them we decided to figure out how to do this and care for them ourselves.


Now I set up the camp and the kitchen as I would be the cook. And we did eat well, Monica did the shopping and I did the cooking. We had Steak, baked potatoes and salad three nights. Hamburger and home made French fries the other two nights. Sausage and eggs, bacon, eggs and hash browns for breakfast, fried bologna and cheese and or grill cheese sandwiches for lunch, Yum Yum.


We had pre cut oak for firewood and left it in place during our Turkey hunt and it was still there. So every night we had a Jim Dandy fire although several nights the rain forced us to leave the fire and retire to the trailer. That didn’t seem to matter much because once your belly was full your eye lids began to weigh pounds and it wasn’t long before it was bed time.


Then every morning we were up several hours before daylight. We would load ourselves up with warm clothing let the dogs run outside with us and then it was back into the trailer for them and we headed out. We could only stay out a few hours in the morning because of the girls and then we would return to camp.


Each trip we would ride our quads to within a ¼ mile of our blinds, turn on our GPS and mark there location so we could find them again. Get out the flashlights and direct the GPS towards the blind. We would stumble through the dark and by the time we reached our blind in was just getting light enough to hunt. Not light enough to shoot, but light enough to hunt if you were using scopes which we were not.


The plan was to set blind # 2 in the mornings and blind # 1 in the evenings and for the first two days we did just that. Returning in the morning around 9:00 o’clock we would let the girls out and spend the mid part of the day with them. We would decide on what to have for breakfast and occasionally a few adult beverages. Discuss our plan of attack for the evening hunt and spend time with the girls. We would take them for a walk in woods to help break the monotony. Monica had sewn together florescence vests for them and we would put on the vest and take a stroll of about a ½ mile from camp and back again.


Two days we did the same routine and no sign of Elk. During the mid part of the second day I left camp to go find a place I had seen Elk at several weeks back. I found the spot, located it with my GPS so we could find our way in there in the dark and returned to camp. Since the first two days were now long gone we decide to try the area I had found the next morning.


Once again up before daylight, layered clothing, dogs out for about an hour and off we went. It was perfect to say the least. We found the spot with flash lights and GPS, it had been raining so the ground was soft and quite and the area showed signs of Elk. This was it; I knew we would at least get a shot today. I was wrong. The closest we came to Elk was the skull of and Elk that we found during our morning hunt. Monica wanted it for the front yard so we scavenged through the bones and finally decided on taking back just the skull.


So once again we returned to camp to let the girls out with disappointed hearts. I was so confident that we would be successful that morning, I mean everything was right and yet we seen nothing that resembled a live Elk.


Back at camp we stretched out in the lounge chairs and began to debate breakfast. We were both just tired. After four days if you count the day of travel we were tired and somewhat heart broke over how hard we had worked and we had nothing to show for it. The girls on the other hand were full of vim and vinegar as they wrestled about. As I watched them play Lucy’s ears perked and up and light a bullet she took off. I yelled and she stopped as Monica turned to see what had caught her eye.


I heard Monica say Elk, right there and I was up and moving. I ran to my quad, uncased my rifle, chambered a round and then ran around behind our trailer to get a look and there they were. Two cows and a calf. The one cow seen me moving as I knelt down to get into position and she turned back towards the direction she came from and the calf followed. The other cow dropped into a little ravine and stopped to look at the ridge above her. All I could see was part of her neck and her head.


Now I got to tell you Monica and I both had to carry several different pairs of eye glasses. Neither one of us was comfortable using iron sights. Either the sights were blurry during practice or the target was blurry there was no happy medium. Still we had made our decision based on the thick coverage we were going to hunt with iron sights and that was that. Problems that come with old age I guess.


One thing I did not count on was how when it came time to take the shot how perfect ones eye sight becomes. For me I never notice anything except clarity, all I seen was the front bead of the rifle site and the back of the Elks head. I fired and it was over. I saw her drop right where she stood and I rose up to watch the other cow and calf cross over the ridge behind our camp. The distance was 185 yards and my hunt was over.


Using the same routine as mentioned above we continue to work together to try and help Monica fill her tag. Early mornings, late nights, cold and wet. We were unsuccessful and ended our hunt Tuesday morning with the thought of a hot shower and our sleep number bed weighing heavily on our minds.


Hunting is not about having to be successful; hunting is about trying your best and having the memories to talk about time and time again.


For us it is Lucy the Elk Hunter. Without her alerting us to what was behind us we would have been 0 for 2. So once again I get to engrave into my flask the results of another Elk Hunt. I started doing that back in 1992. I am running out of room.


I have considered getting a larger flask; however that increases the risk of not being able to find my way back when its empty.


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