Confessions of the World’s Worst Elk Hunter

Post by blogger | November 17, 2008      
Backcountry Skiing

Are those elk on that ski line? Only the Model 700 knows for sure.

Once the wild wapiti is refracted through the glass of my binos, I’m more likely to be stunned in amazement that I’ve actually seen an elk, rather than snapping a quick shot off.

Being around too many other hunters bothers me, so I go where the trucks are not parked — even though those other hunters are where they are for a reason.

I like moving and exploring, when I probably should be sitting.

When I’m sitting, I should probably be moving.

Snow is cold, especially when you’re crawling on your belly for anything over five minutes.

I hunt in areas where we backcountry ski, so scoping new ski lines distracts me.

If you have a bull tag you’ll get cows in your sights, and if you have a cow credential you’ll see nothing but bulls. Thus, if you score an either gender tag, like me this season, you’ll see little of either.

Snow capped peaks loft in the alpinglow as I glass the hillsides in the last 10 minutes of the season’s last hour. I pinch myself because I’m hunting in the middle of elk country worthy of a magazine cover.

Pinching myself doesn’t bring hunting success. But somehow that’s okay.



17 Responses to “Confessions of the World’s Worst Elk Hunter”

  1. powderjunky November 17th, 2008 11:16 am

    That’s why i like to shoot with my camera instead and by my elk from the grocery store. It also saves your back from the wonderful joy of packing out your meat 🙂

  2. Brownie November 17th, 2008 11:43 am

    That’s why they call it “hunting.”

    In two years of going for Elk I’ve yet to see one, much less take my safety off. But, it is fun and a great way to enjoy our mountains. Thanks for the report.

  3. Matt Kinney November 17th, 2008 11:44 am

    Much like BC skiing it looks like the journey is what’s important . Funny tidpits and thanks for the humor. Seem like you would be best at “biathalon” hunting for birds and hares. May as well get some turns while staying warm.

  4. Lou November 17th, 2008 12:05 pm

    Powderjunky, yeah, I was talking with my wife about how we’d gotten in some places where it was probably best we didn’t shoot anything, as we would have had to string fixed lines to haul the meat out. Rough country. Elk love it. And Matt, indeed, I’ve thought gathering some small game off skis would be interesting. Did some rabbit hunting on skis when I was a teenager, probably would have done just as well on foot, in truth.

    Brownie, one out of three is the charm for both you and I? Let’s report back next year.

  5. adeger November 17th, 2008 12:21 pm

    Although I’m not a hunter at all, it was easy to identify with much of this when I substituted in “fly fishing” for “elk hunting” and imagined all of the corollary distractions, annoyances and all of the “variances from standard operating procedures” I end up employing…

  6. BillL November 17th, 2008 2:00 pm

    Hunting has always been frustrating for me: there nothing like hauling that rifle around for a week without having anything to shoot at. OTOH it’s great fun to run through 100 rounds at the range. Biathlon sounds fun, I wish I didn’t breath so hard when skiing.

  7. Lou November 17th, 2008 2:46 pm

    Bill, I think my arms are stronger now (grin).

  8. Randonnee November 17th, 2008 5:23 pm

    About 25 years ago I shot my first elk after just 3 days’ of hunting. I was wuth four old guys in their camp and none of them got anything. Beginner’s luck, for sure. The next five seasons I did a lot of hiking in beautiful mountains while carrying a rifle! Those elk are wiley, especially when trailed by a rifle-toting human. When I am mountain biking or in the woods with my daughter, the big bulls just appear and grudgingly stroll away!

  9. Lou November 17th, 2008 5:58 pm

    Indeed! So long as you don’t have a rifle, then they’re all over the place. Can’t blame ’em!

  10. Brandt November 17th, 2008 8:46 pm

    I take exception to your claim of “World’s Worst Elk Hunter”.

  11. GeorgeT November 18th, 2008 7:10 am

    But did you find some new ski lines?

    Amen on the elk hunting.
    I shared your luck this year…cow tag in hand, so I watched 4 bulls feed and bed two mornings in a row. To add insult to injury a herd of 40 elk ran from BLM to private lands and we watched the locals call the landowner on cell phones, harvest their elk of choice, drive their pickups to the animal, load and go…..aarrrgh. But, in order to fullfill the full elk hunting experience my buddy filled his bull tag 1,000 vert. feet and a few miles from the truck. Gotta love the 4 hour drag over black timber deadfall. I do believe we cut a skiable run thru the black timber though. Perhaps next year we can focus on clearing deadfall to clear a ski run and create an elk extracation chute. ;- )

  12. Lou November 18th, 2008 9:10 am

    George, yeah, we found some places to sneak into on skis, so that’s another plus from the time spent.

  13. Scott Davenport November 18th, 2008 4:27 pm

    Hey Lou,
    I often wonder how your elk hunting goes since you have mentioned it before. My wife, son and me have taken about 20 elk in the past 35 years. Four bulls and the rest by cow permit. I hunted for 10 years before taking my first animal. So there is luck and a learning curve. Only one animal shot in a thicket and expired on a road – the rest whacked up and packed on our backs. The irony is my wife got an elk before I did! My wife had a cow permit for 10 days in Sept and no elk to be found. I have the same permit in a different time slot that just started and runs until the end of the year. I discovered tracks this past Sunday so I know they are there and I’m looking forward to this week end to get back out there or maybe before. I too hunt where the hunters are not. My wife ask if I was excited about the upcoming ski season; I had to say I was still elk hunting. I might get the chance this year to hunt on skis if we get the snow. Thats been my goal since starting back country skiing about 6 seasons ago. It might be a little dicey with a 1/4 on my back! but I’m looking forward to it.
    Thanks for your site and good hunting and back country skiing. As always I hope this finds you well. Scott

  14. Casagrande November 18th, 2008 7:45 pm

    Been doing a lot of armed hiking myself. Little over three weeks left in the season and there’s only one roast left from last year!

  15. Mark November 20th, 2008 10:43 am

    I’ve seen some pretty good elk where I ski too, and I’m constantly distracted by scoping ski lines. No, I’m not really a hunter, but it’s cool to see the critters out there where we like to make turns.

  16. Christian November 21st, 2008 11:28 am

    If it were easy, they’d call it randonee. Many years I’ve been skunked, and I’ve also learned to appreciate and anticipate an elk’s ability to tell exact time and read small text through nylon, but this year, after a very tiring and frustrating 3rd season, I scored a bull on the opening day of 4th. Finally finished processing it and the freezer’s full. If there was decent snow, I might start thinking about skiing, but my body and mind are still on hunting time. No better way to get in shape for the season, whether one is harvested or not. Did Louie give it a whack up at the new digs in the PNW?

  17. Lou November 21st, 2008 11:56 am

    Hi Christian, no elk hunting up at PNW, I’m sure he missed it as it’s something our whole family really enjoys.

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