If you read my post on my bull elk hunt last year (here), you’d know that me and elk have a love/hate relationship; as in I love to hunt them and they hate to let me shoot one. This year, my dad and I both got cow elk depredation tags. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a tag handed out to control the elk population more than what a normal hunting season does.
I was stoked to get this tag. My 4th elk tag in 9 years and I was going to finally be successful! I’ll just tell you right now, that it wasn’t the case. Elk: 4 – Me: 0.This hunt opened August 1st and it was HOT. High 90’s during the day, low 50’s at night. And nothing is more miserable than hiking around at 9AM and it already being 75-80 degrees. And the animals agreed. They were impossible to find. We tried camping in a new area, close to where I shot at a spike elk last year, but there just wasn’t anything.
We’d go back to camp after our morning hike and sit around, sweating, being miserable. My dad and boyfriend spent their time playing in the well, trying to stay wet and cool.
We ended up hunting in the area that we usually hunt. We spotted a herd of about 20 elk opening morning and decided to put a stalk on them. We finally got down to park and started walking around the point, hoping to catch them on the other side. Not an animal to be seen. So we kept walking, swinging back around to where we first spotted them. We walked around the back side of the mountain only to come up on a cow elk standing between two trees. I laid down to shoot. Pow! Missed. Pow! Missed again. She just stood there, but then 4 more stood up. My dad let me have the first chance, but he wasn’t going to risk losing his. I told him to shoot. He got one! We spent about 2 hours quartering her out and taking the meat to the UTV. Back to camp for us to get it on ice immediately.
That evening we went out to see if we could get me one. No elk, but some gorgeous antelope were roaming around.
The next morning we went backing to our spotting location on top of a mountain. We spotted some a few peaks over and decided to try the same spot where my dad got his. We walked around that entire hill without seeing a thing. We sat down to take a break and Matt spotted a herd across the draw, heading up to the ridge of the mountain, only getting further away. I made the decision that it wasn’t worth it to chase them down to possibly get a shot. They had the advantage in every way. So we went back to the UTV and looked elsewhere.
Once back at camp, I was just over the heat. I think all of us were. And as much as I would have loved to get an elk, I wasn’t going to risk ruining my dad’s elk meat just so I could maybe get one. I told him let’s just pack up and head home. And that’s what we did.
In the end, it’s never about getting an animal. It’s about the experience and memories that come along with each and every hunt.