What Happens in Elk Camp

Cool! Downright chilly.
New elk hunter blooded now.
She loves my down coat.

Being in elk camp always produces interesting results.  This year the opener was hot and dry.  Two days later we were at 13 degrees in 8 inches of snow.  It was the change in weather, mostly that made us acquainted with a young couple who camped near us.  We have a nice camp with a roomy tent that has a sheepherder stove for heat.  They had a small room in a cold metal horse trailer with no light (broken lantern mantle).  They had pulled in near us fairly late, after dark  before the opener, so we did not see them when they moved in.

Turned out, he is very good at calling elk; had had hunted the area in bow season.  She was really a new hunter, only having taken a deer before this.  He pulled in a big bull to only 30 yards, and managed to pull it back several times until she could get a shot.  She made a great shot at a small target, hitting him square in the nose as he stood looking straight at them, and breaking his neck from the straight-through shot.  (I have hidden her face for her privacy.)  What a bull, and what an exciting way to get it, for your first elk hunt!!

Very nice couple.  We met them the following night after dark once they had finished packing out meat, getting it to a locker, and then he tried hunting that evening.  That was when we found they had no mantle for their gas light.  We always have extras.  It was clear she was freezing as the change of weather came in.  We fixed their lantern, invited them back for apple pie, and that evening I loaned her my down-filled jacket, which she wore for the remainder of her stay up there.  While the other three of us hunted, she stayed in our tent and tended the wood stove – well enough that she was in shirt sleeves when we returned at dark.  They were a delightful, very considerate couple, so young and yet so conservative, thoughtful, and insightful.  They really added to our trip.

Our own adventures?  Later…


6 Responses to “What Happens in Elk Camp”

  1. Love the camp and the area, but must admit I have lost all taste for hunting in my old age. Too many hunters seem utterly irresponsible and callous.

    • Col,

      It is interesting to hear you say that. I sense African hunting for locals is pretty different than what happens here in the western US. Those I meet are dedicated to conservation and fair chase. Oddly, we were the elders at elk camp. The friends we have been aquiring are anywhere from 10 to 30 years younger, it seems, but they are dedicated and responsible. We do our part to encourage responsible behavior, too, I might add. I think in some parts of the US, local ethics may be different, but these come from long-established regional traditions, and the practicioners may well know nothing different. I will say differing conditions across the country have spawned differing local hunting techinques that do make sense to the given locales.

      • That is a different ball game.
        I particularly detest the hunters who come for ‘set up’ trophies, and the ones who irresponsibly leave orphaned young or who lack the sense of responsibility or skill to track down and finish off wounded animals. Also the ones who are quite happy to wipe out the population in an area.

  2. Good morning Serendipity,

    Welcome back. 13°= downright chilly, Hahaha. It was nice of you to help them out.
    It’s interesting how situations like that can bring people together.

    What was she shooting?

    • Hi Karl,

      She *thought* she was shooting her own .243, but it was actually her husband’s 7MM WSM (done by the High Country Hunter guys), which was ported. As you know, when you shoot at something besides paper, you never notice the recoil. Clever fella just slipped her his rifle and told her to shoot, so she never knew and didn’t notice until later. It was really a better choice for such a shot on a substantial animal.

      Elk camp does bring people together. We often become a social gathering spot with our nice warm tent. Strangers soon become friends. It seems a natural thing for the more prepared in such situations to help out the less prepared. Years of experience separated us, but they were still doing things mostly right. They were not the only people we helped – a couple others were way more experienced, but just a bit unfortunate. When it comes to our gear and or camp, I am a true contingency planner, and I believe in redundancy for the things you really can’ spare. Example on an antelope hunt that started in an unexpected blizzard a few years ago, I outfitted no fewer that four other people with raingear and coldweather clothing out of just my own truck, without giving up any of my own. Those who knew me best just laughed and shook their heads – while appreciating the loaner.

      And by the way, something under -25 is really chilly. It is tough to get newspaper to burn to start the fire in that temperature. I should know as I am the fire-starter in the morning, and the thermometer could not register below -25!!

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