McBruce's Elk Hunt
Bruce had been patiently waiting for 4th rifle season to come and now here it was. The heck with work, it was time to head for the hills. The air was crisp and with a fesh layer of snow on the ground he was confident that THIS was the year. He parked the truck and was heading in to his chosen area pre-dawn when the public land parade of 4-wheelers started roaring by one after the other despite signs everywhere that no motorized vehicles are allowed. So he changed his plan and dropped down into an area where the infernal lazy man's horses can't physically go and bingo, there was a group of about a dozen cows in front of him at 75 yards and it was only 10 minutes into legal light. So he brings the rifle up, puts the cross hairs where they need to be and squeezes off a shot. She drops her head, humps her back and he thinks, "A hit!"
She sort of wobbled forward as the herd bolted in all directions and then she trotted off down into a bowl. As he sits there waiting for her to expire, another group of elk came up out of the bowl his cow had dropped into and ran right up to him and stopped. They're all standing there broadside in front of him at archery shooting range but he's thinking, "Nope. I killed my cow." Eventually they all head off uphill and he goes to find his cow. He walks to where she was standing and there's no blood. It's fresh snow so it should show up. Bruce has shot many a deer and a couple of bear; he is an experienced hunter and knows what an animal does when hit well. He is positive he hit his target. So he spends the next 2 1/2 hours covering every inch of that patch of ground to no avail. Talk about heart break! After all the years of chasing them around he was 100% sure he had finally dropped his first elk but now he was getting a sick feeling in his stomach. As he walked back to where he had taken the shot and then followed the bullet path back to where the cow had been standing, he discovers a small patch of willow brush in the line. Could it be possible that a .300 Win Mag at that point blank range could have been deflected by a teeny little twig? Please say it ain't so! But that appears to be just what happened and the awful possibility begins to sink in. Well, there was no point in standing around moping and hoping so off he went after her.
He began to follow her tracks down into the bowl and then on up the side of the mountain all the way to the top. She is heading in the same general direction as the others had gone so he figured she was looking to join up with the herd and maybe he can catch them in their beds. By mid-afternoon he had reached the top of the mountain. Still no blood and she was not slowing down. By this time Bruce is exhausted, breathing like a steam locomotive, frustrated, sore of foot, bruised and banged up from numerous stumbles on the steep, slippery, snow covered rocks and thick forest growth. Stinking elk are like mountain goats, they go straight up and down and don't even think twice about it. He is also picturing in his mind's eye the perfect broadside shots he COULD have taken and didn't. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick! So at the top, her tracks cut right and drop down what looked like a sheer cliff instead of heading left to where the cover was and where Bruce figured the herd had gone. He looks over the edge, considers his physical condition and the dropping sun (dark comes at 5:30 this time of year) and decides to drop down to the left and hunt the bedding area on his way back to the truck. As he's working his way down the scree and boulders he stops to glass a shelf of rock up ahead of him. Nothing. He puts the scope down (he was using his scope as his optics on this hunt) and swears the rock in front of him has hair on it. He brings the scope back up - nope, just a rock shelf. Scope down, look again - that stinking rock has hair on it!!!! Scope back up - nope, just rock. He figures maybe he is dehydrated and seeing things. Scope back down, one last look - THAT STINKING ROCK HAS HAIR ON IT!!!!!!!!!! Scope back up - nothing. What the??????? Alright, enough of this. It's time to go check this out.
So Bruce makes his way down to the rock shelf and just as he gets there a brown head pops up from the edge and looks right at him. Son of a....... he's been playing peek-a-boo with an alert cow!!!!!!!!!! The timing was just right so that when he had his scope up, her head was down. When he was looking with the naked eye, she was peeking over the top of the shelf. Thus, the hairy rock. Of all the low down, dirty, sneaky, mean spirited tricks these stinking old elk have played on Bruce over the years, this was the lowest of the low!!! By this time he is wishing he had a grenade to toss over the edge. He thinks briefly about stripping down to his pink, Coloruffian loin cloth and putting his knife in his teeth and just free-base jumping over the edge and going mano-a-mano hand to hand with one of them like Tarzan on a lion. Fortunatly common sense prevailed and he resisted the urge. Naturally, by the time he collected his wits and got over to the edge, the whole herd is up out of thier beds and beating feet back down the mountain. ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Well, the light is fading and it's still a long way to the truck so Bruce sets his jaw, shoulders his rifle and starts making his way down. Next time you stinking old elk, next time!
Bruce hunted the rest of the season without so much as a fresh track. And thus his story becomes a perfect example of elk hunting public land in the Colorado Rockies. It's nothing what-so-ever like they show on TV. It's hard physical work, perserverence, heartbreak, towering highs of adrenaline and Death Valley lows of frustration. It's quiet, still, breath stealing sunrises and magnificent, awe inspiring sunsets and mountain vistas that you'll not find anywhere else. It's spending hour after hour after day after day in God's personal garden and marveling at His handiwork. It's blisters, cuts, scrapes, aching lungs and a sore back. And yet we keep coming back year after year begging, yes BEGGING for more of the same abuse. What is wrong with us?
The Last Thing He Saw
Oh Oh, BUSTED!!
Edited by Larry $, 26 November 2007 - 06:28 PM.