Believing in the Fall Hunt
As the fall season was approaching I noticed our usually well stocked freezer was nearly empty. The cow elk tag I received in the mail gave me a renewed feeling that I would have a chance to fill it. I believe everyone, hunter or not - recognizes the value of protein. That meat can provide for oneself and for our loved ones. Harvesting an animal gives an immense feeling of gratitude. From the field to processing the meat and then consuming it or sharing with friends and families in need. This year it seemed even more needed due to circumstances related to COVID that has affected so many people.
September came around and Leo and I were looking forward to going out to scout in hopes of locating a herd of elk. This summer has been extremely hot and dry with temperatures in the 90’s with little to no rain. These conditions have lasted well into the fall. Leo and I went out four different days in September. We hiked and glassed without seeing any evidence of elk in the area where my tag was allotted. October was fast approaching and I kept “believing” the elk were going to show up due to my positive thoughts.
I was going out by myself every evening the first week of October in hopes of spotting some elk. The trees were turning such beautiful orange and yellow colors. I captured a few pictures of them while hiking out to a ridge. One evening my nephew Tucker wanted to join me. That evening we saw lots of deer and antelope. The wind started to blow terribly forcing us to head back to the pickup. I looked over across the ravine, immediately squatted down, and looked through my bino’s and saw a bull elk. We both got excited and just watched for another twenty minutes down the draw where the bull elk was located. Four cow elk appeared and started walking around the bull elk. We slowly backed away due to the winds not being in our favor and left them alone. I didn’t want to spook the herd and not see them again.
The next night I went out by myself in hopes the herd was still around. I snuck along the ridge and crawled towards some bushes that were halfway down the ravine. The grass was so dry it and it seemed like I was making too much noise. I kept moving slower and stopping every ten feet while looking around to see if the elk herd had heard me. I couldn’t see them. The winds were in my favor tonight, blowing behind where I had just come from. I stopped and was looking down with my binoculars towards the bottom of the ravine. I could make out a cow head and one ear just above some brush. Quietly I sat down and took my backpack off very slowly. I crawled a few feet so I could make her out with my bino’s. There were two cow elk that I located with the range finder at 900 yards. I was trying to figure out how to get closer to them for a stock that would not spook them. Just then I heard rustling in the trees below me about 150 yards away. I looked to my right and there was a small bull elk who spotted me. He started heading down the draw towards the cow elk. I didn’t move a muscle and just watched for the next thirty minutes as the elk headed down the ravine. There ended up being around fifteen head in the herd. I felt I had just blown my chance and was very disappointed in myself. I leaned on my faith, headed back to the pickup and just knew if I left them for a week the herd would come back.
A week later, late Tuesday afternoon, Leo and I headed back out to the area where I told him I saw the elk herd. We parked far away and started to hike in that direction. As we were getting close to the ravine, I said to Leo, “I can smell them”. We crouched down and could not see them. We were immediately in full stalking mode. We decided to sneak around the hill farther down the ridge in hopes of seeing the herd. It took around thirty to forty-five minutes to reach the area we felt the herd would be located. We had crawled 100 yards when Leo spotted them. We slowly crawled into a position where I could get a shot. I quietly set the rifle up while Leo sited them in with the range finder. He said they were 270 yards below us. I located them in my scope waited for the perfect broadside shot. One shot, the cow went immediately down. Leo said, “you got her”. I checked my rifle to make sure it was empty. We put on our backpacks on and made our way down the steep ravine where she laid.
Once we got to her Leo and I said a little prayer thanking God for the cow elk I just harvested.