Monthly Archives: October 2010

An Elk Hunt to Remember

This is a great story sent to me by my friend Jeff Hammond about his elk hunt. Jeff says to disregard any spelling and grammatical errors. He didn’t know I was going to post this…though he later gave me permission.

Hey Mike, just got back from Colorado this afternoon. What a time. Good to be back home though. I’m so sore i feel like i’m almost your age!
This was my second trip to Colorado in three seasons. Two years ago I went out there with a friend and shot a 4×4 on the first hour of the first day. This year was quite different.
We set up camp at the end of the forest road. The next morning was opening day of the early firearm season. Not being familiar with the area, my friend agreed to spend the first two days with me. Its big country in the rockies. The first morning was cold. We started off watching some hill sides, then began walking old trails looking for sign. Little was seen. It was somewhat concerning since two years earlier there were elk all over.
We left the trails and went vertical. The next two days were spent dark to dark, climbing up one mountain just to go back down the other. Nothing. The disease that is killing off the majority of trees in Colorado is causing the mountain scene to resemble gigantic game of pickup sticks. Deadfalls everywhere make walking a nightmare. The Rockies dont need any help being difficult. The air is thin at that altitude. A Michigander gets to enjoy the chest pounding that comes from climbing mountains at 10,000 feet.
After two days of nothing but burning calories, my buddy had to leave. I was left to spend the remainder of the season on my own.
The next morning, I left the camp an a couple hours before daylight. No motorized vehicles allowed, so with GPS in one hand, rifle in the other, and pack on my back, I hit the trails. After covering several miles, I came to a spot i had seen before. It was a steep cliff that came to a point between two aspen groves. I decided to sit for a bit and hope a bull would accidently wander into my view.
Daylight came. I sat for about an hour hearing and seeing nothing. Day three of climbing and sliding tends to cause one to believe there are no elk in the mountains. Perhaps a Muley would show up. At least i would have something to look at besides trees and rocks. I hit the cow call a few times for good measure.
Trying to accept the fact that a new elk hunter could very well be going home with an un-filled tag, I tried to enjoy the view. It was unbelievable. From where I sat, I could see for what appeared to be a hundred miles. I admired the yellow groves that winded through the mountains. The snow covered peaks surrounded me like an American version of the great wall of China. My friend had mentioned that the songwriter who wrote “America the Beautiful” did so while looking at the Rocky Mountains. Whether this was true or not, I could easily believe it. I was drawn into the largest painting my eyes had ever seen when my eyes somehow detected a motion far to my left. It was almost behind me. I turned and almost died of shock to see that great mass of tan and dark chocolate brown about 80 yards away. The antlers glistened in the sun as they shook back and forth. My heart instantly began the pounding it had done for the past three days, but this was not caused by altitude.
The big bull stepped out onto the edge of the cliff, looking for the source of the cow call. Naturally, it stodd with its front shoulder behind the one large free in the edge of the cliff. I swung around and put the crosshairs rightbehind the tree. If he didnt move, i had about three inches to put a bullet through. Knowing time was limited, I quickly snapped off the safety and squeezed the trigger. An archery hunter gets an undescribable feeling when the arrow released slams dead into a tree. That same feeling comes over a rifle hunter when a trigger is pulled and the huge bang is replaced with a “click”. That feeling is what I felt at that moment. Confused, i looked down and checked my rifle. I quickly slapped the bolt back and forth and put it back on target. The bull hadn’t moved. Hoping against hope that I hadnt somehow lost my firing pin, I once again squeezed the trigger. The joy was unspeakable when the report echoed back from peak to peak. The elk, however, was not impressed. He didnt budge. He just stood there and looked around.
As fast as I could, I again worked the action and threw another Nossler Trophy grade Accubond down range. Hoping to now see obvious signs of a solid hit, I rather shockingly watched this treasure calmly take a a few steps forward. Again I threw the bolt back and forth and nervously (and somewhat angrily) threw another punch at the beast. Same result.
With one round lying on the ground and three empy casings still spinning by my pack, I was down to one last shot. Thoughts of an airline employee dropping my rifle 20 feet off a cart crossed my mind. Could i have missed it three times? The last round was worked into the chamber. My one last chance was about to be spent as the bull walked away from me. A sick feeling was in my gut as I threw the rifle back up and prepared to launch my last hope. Just as I was about to sqeeze the trigger, I saw the large rack tilt forward and down. Through my scope I saw the front shoulder stammer. A few careless unplanned steps were made by The bugler as he began to lose control of his actions. Pulling to the right, he suddenly launched himself forward and came crashing to the ground. Glee filled my entire being. The elk was mine!
As the shakes quickly took over, I screamed inside. I was successful! My first day elk hunting alone in the mountains and I killed a bull! The beast was down! Yes, and it was still doing so. The elk had managed to plunge itself over the cliff and proceeded to rolled down hill. Every roll meant fuerther that i had to haul it back up. My inner cheering quickly gave way to a chant. “Stop! Please stop!” Nope, as it would end, the dead elk rolled about one hundren yards down the steepest bank in the rockies until it crashed into the one tree available.
I jumoped up and began working my way horizontally accross the slope. About five minutes and I was able to cross over to where the elk had come to rest. A closer looked revealed a beautifl 5×5. For a new elk hunter on his first day alone, it couldnt have been any better.
As I attempted to take a few pictures without myself ending up at the bottom of the slope, the rains began to fall. The steep drop soon became a mucky slide. The camera went back in the pack and I began the caping and quartering. The rains did stop, but only to turn to snow. Anyone who has found themself in this situation needs no further explination.
By afternnon, the meet was all removed and in meat sacks. It was reeady to be transported back to camp…miles away…by me. Two days later, the last pack load reached the camp. I was convinced I lost four inches of height and gained two “E’s” in my shoe width. With whatever energy i could gather up, I tore down camp and drove acrross the state to my buddies house, where the next day was spent cutting, grinding and packaging the finest red meat on the planet. Now, I am home. I ache from head to toe. I have an elk cape for the taxidermist and a pile of meat in the freezer. Much more, however, I have a memory that is branded into my mind that will be drawn back and relived many times throughout the rest of my life. My elk hunt, 2010.
I also forgot to say that I had hit it all three times right behind the shoulder. All three bullets were recovered on the opposite side right under the skin. Those elk are tough!

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Radio for weekend of 10/23-10/24

Another busy show this week on Outdoor Magazine radio.

First, Bob Gwizdz of the Michigan DNR joins me to follow up on that bear attack in northern Michigan last week. He says the Department policy is to put down animals determined to be dangerous to humans. As a result, they’ve put a trap out for that sow, but so far no luck.

Then, Terry Harmston of Hunting Made Easy Products in Minnesota joins me to talk about his line of products. Terry makes some great gear for ground blind and tree stand hunters.

The second hour features outdoor writer and veteran hunter Tom Lounsbury. Tom and I discuss deer hunting in Michigan, as well as the status of pheasant hunting in the Great Lakes State today. As always, Tom has some great advice.

In the third hour John Eberhart is my guest. John is an expert bowhunter with many Michigan whitetails in the record book. John talks about hunting pressured deer, and how to change tactics during the rut.

The show wraps up with Chef Dixie Dave Minar. This week the chef has a tasty pheasant recipe.

Another busy show…I hope you enjoy it.

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Radio this weekend (10/15-16)

An interesting show this week on Outdoor Magazine Radio.

First, I talk with Chad Fortune of Walloon Lake, Michigan. Chad is the guy attacked by a black bear while bowhunting for whitetails in Emmet County. It’s a very detailed an unnerving account of the incident.

Then, Tim Hart of the Q1 Buckpole contest joins me to talk about their big buck contest and the prizes available. Some big southern Michigan animals are already registered.

We wrap up the hour with Tom Campbell of Woods-n-Waternews. Tom talks about the fall hunting season so far, and the November edition of the magazine.

In the second hour Tim Roller of the Ultimate Outfitters guide service and Tim Roller’s Wild Addiction television show joins me. We talk about fall fishing and how water temperature affects the action this time of year. Whitetails are also part of the discussion as Tim shares some advice on how to match wits with a big buck.

The hour wraps up with Tony Hansen of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. Tony talks about hunter recruitment numbers, as well as several other hunting related topics.

The final hour of this week’s program features veteran outdoor writer and photographer Richard P. Smith. Richard tells me the intense story of a U. P. forester who found himself in the middle of a wolf pack, and how he escaped from those animals.

The show wraps up with Chef Dixie Dave Minar. This week Dave has another tasty recipe.

A fast moving and informative show this week on Outdoor Magazine.

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Outdoor Magazine Radio This Weekend (10/2-3)

The fall hunting season is in full swing now and on this week’s radio show we talk about several hunting related issues and topics.

First, DNR biologist Tom Cooley joins me to discuss the latest outbreak of disease in Michigan’s whitetail herd. Fortunately, this latest outbreak is not as dangerous as TB or CWD.

Then, Tim Hart of the Q1 Buck Pole contest brings me up to speed on that event.

We wrap up the hour with Randy Jorgenson of Woods-n-Waternews. Randy has some interesting thoughts this week on hunter ethics.

The second hour kicks off with a friend of mine Dan Donarski of Michigan’s U.P. Dan is a veteran outdoor respected for his thoughts and insight.

Tony Hansen of Michigan United Conservation Clubs wraps up the hour with his weekly report on wildlife and resource related issues in Lansing.

In the final hour I visit with Mike Andrews of Scent Lok. Mike tells me the theory behind the product, how hunters can use that technology and how to maintain Scent Lok clothing.

The show wraps up with Chef Dixie Dave Minar. This week Dave has another tasty recipe.

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