Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

1st- Youth Cow Elk Hunt

Posted by todblog on February 17, 2006

February 17, 2006

Jacob drew a youth hunt elk tag for 3 weekends in January. Youth hunts are for kids 17 and under and are usually in areas with relatively high success. The hunt takes place on Weyerhaeuser’s Millicoma Tree Farm lands in the Coast Range 30 minutes from our house. It’s steep country that is intensively managed for douglas fir wood products. The elk love the open areas created by clearcutting and re-planted with young expensive tree seedlings. The open units get a lot of sunlight and produce more forage for elk than a closed canopy forest does. Between the steep heavily timbered draws and open units with forage, the elk are thriving in the area. Unfortunately, the tree farm isn’t in the business of raising elk. The elk cause a lot of damage to the newly planted units and several hunts have evolved from severe damage complaints received over the years. The bag limit is one antlerless elk which means no bulls, only cows or calves. As a general rule, when you’re trying to reduce herd size related to wildlife damage, it’s usually women and children that are targeted first. Sorry Disney fans.

We got into elk every time we were out. Each day presented an opportunity to see animals and some at close range. But, for one reason or another, the right shot didn’t present itself. Anyway, we had a great time learning the area and finding animals here and there. On the second weekend, we got 2 inches of snow and we found ourselves tracking all sorts of critters. We finally found some elk on a steep hillside about 3/4 mile below a road and I opted to not let Jacob take the shot as it would’ve been an aching pack out of there. He was so generous he even suggested that we could make multiple trips up to the road. I explained to Jacob there was no way I would be carrying an elk (500+ lbs.) out in one trip even if it were on flat ground! Packing elk out of ugly places is when you find out who your real friends are….Al Eve and Ben Gay.

We finally did get into a small herd of 8 elk and managed to sneak to within 60yds of them as they fed in a clearcut with lots of slash and debri piles. The elk could only be seen if they lifted their heads up. Otherwise it was just backs as they walked and fed along. Jacob grabbed a rest on a stump and waited for me to cow call. When I did, they all raised their heads and he shot and missed. They all bailed down hill into the steep dark abyss never to be seen again. That was our only shot the whole season.

Maybe next year…

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