Sunday, September 30, 2012

Abbie's Elk

Abbie is 12 this year and so can hunt big game with dad and the older brothers.  As far as girls hunting in my family, only my sister Aria ever hunted, a few of my dad's sisters and my niece Mori.   I wasn't sure how excited Abbie would be about shooting something and I didn't want to kill her off the first year with hunts miles from the truck, so I put her in for a few muzzleloader hunts offered in our area.  I put in for the same tags so I could legally help her.  As it turned out I didn't draw a tag and she got both, an antlerless elk tag and a white-tailed deer tag (any deer).

Abbie and I hunted a local herd of elk without much luck on September 7th and 8th.  The elk were in the area but staying on the private ground adjacent to the patch of timber we could hunt.  The tag is a depredation tag for the valley and elk, specifically antlerless, can only be shot within one mile (straight line) from plowed ground.

A few day prior to us trying our luck a friend of my dad's killed a large bear in the area we were hunting in one of the abandoned orchards that dot the flanks of the valley.  I think his gun shot probably put the elk off the public ground because the days prior to him killing the bear, the elk were heavily using the public parcel.

We weren't too discouraged but I was feeling some pressure because we had less than a month to hunt, the weather has been dry, fire hazards are extreme, and my weekends are filled up leaving very little mornings to hunt.  The elk bed up off the valley floor during they day and make their way into the fields at night; a morning hunt is best as they move back to their bedding area.

Monday I was in a meeting at work, it was 3:30 PM and with the amount of work still to do I wasn't getting out of there any time soon.  Kim called me during my meeting but I ignored the call, she immediately sent me a text so I knew something must be up.  I excused myself from the meeting and called her back.  My cousin called to say a rancher had some elk in his fields and needed one shot.  I wasn't immediately available but he said he'd take Abbie is we were okay with it.  I told Kim where to find the tag, muzzleloader and needed supplies and then I arranged to leave ASAP so I could maybe make the hunt.

As it turned out I didn't, making it there just before she shot her cow.  But Darren had his camera and got most all of it on film (see above).  A mutual cousin-in-law of ours just landed a job harassing elk for the rancher and that night elk got inside his high fences wiping out a good chunk of hay.  He has lost a lot of crop this year and is in the process of blocking his fields using high fences.  They are not completely up and so the elk have found their way in.  The cow Abbie was hunting was inside and moving deeper into the private ground.  When she was found a few calls were made and a the hunt was organized.

Tyler and Dan Hansen (the new cousin-in-law; he married into the Denny Waite Family) circled the cow pushing her back towards Abbie and Darren and Darren called her in using his cow call.  It worked pretty slick and Abbie severed the spine of the cow with a shot from the .50 caliber muzzleloader; she dropped in her tracks.  Darren had to help support the heavy gun so the shot wasn't recorded but the aftermath is there.  Tyler got a few pictures with his cell phone and we will upload those when we get them off the camera.