Elk Hunting Part 3

Happy Ending to the morning

I am a real hunter! I am within 75 yards of three elk and they don’t know I am here! I can picture the freezer full of unadulterated meat, no antibiotics, no hormones, high omega-3 content, high protein, low fat and yummy! We make our own sausage, too and can have it as lean and spicy as we want and avoid the preservatives I am deathly allergic to.

Did I mention that I was vegetarian when I met my husband 25 years ago? I had to learn about the health benefits of eating game as well as about the amazing work the Colorado Division of Wildlife does. The DOW keeps track of elk, deer, antelope and other animal herds and issues specific numbers of licenses to kill animals based on numbers in specific areas. This means that only appropriate numbers of female elk, deer and antelope (cows or does) and males (bulls and bucks) will be harvested in certain areas. After a hard winter when many animals die of starvation or disease, fewer licenses may be issued. Conversely, when mild winters and good health prevail and females have more young (deer twins and occasionally triplets, rarely more than one elk calf), the DOW may issue more licenses. If hunters do not kill enough animals, there may be a special late season hunt, helping prevent overpopulation that can lead to unhealthy animals. In addition, special licenses are issued to ranchers and farmers whose crops are being damaged by wild animals. These licenses are only for the specific ranch that is being overrun by elk, deer or antelope.

All of this is running through my mind, as I am supine, on the ground, feeling neck fatigue and just a bit cold. Just then the wind shifts. I look up and see that the lead cow is looking up also, exactly in my direction. She sniffs the air, looks at me again and slowly turns toward the other elk. About this time, the cow on the hill snorts. She has winded me also, but cannot see me. There is still significant forest between the elk and me; still no way to get a shot.  A bullet hitting a twig can go off course; a bullet just barely grazing a branch will go significantly off course. I refuse to shoot unless I have a good chance of a clean kill. I don’t want a wounded animal! Long ago when I took the Hunter Education course, the instructor asked the class from what distance we would/should shoot an animal. Not ever seeing that question in the course material, I made up a response, “from any distance I can be sure to get a good shot.” That is the correct answer! In the trees, 75 yards is too far. In the open, I have killed an elk at 275 yards and antelope at over 300 yards. 

The cows are not overly alarmed, but they now smell me and are slowly turning away and retreating deeper into the woods. I watch them go and begin my own slow retreat home.  An awesome hunt!! Success does not always have to mean filling the freezer; today it means having a fabulous experience in the woods. In fact, Erik says, “Why ruin a good hunt by killing something?” He likes to get his elk on the last day of the season, enjoying the entire week. I plan to hunt again each day this week, until I get mine!

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