Tod's Blog

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

Late season elk hunt

Posted by todblog on February 22, 2007

February 22, 2007

This past weekend was the opening of Jeanine and my elk hunt west of Roseburg about 3o minutes away from our house. Saturday found us busy with commitments which only left us Sunday to chance finding a group of cow elk in the south half of the huge 208,000 acre Weyerhaeuser Millicoma Tree Farm. It’s the same area that Jacob drew his youth cow elk hunt for the past two years with no success. However, that’s not his fault. Dad chose to hold him off from shooting elk in steep places. In hindsight, we should’ve taken the shots and dealt with the pain later (mainly my pain).

There were only 36 tags available for our late cow elk hunt and after 3 years of applying, we both drew tags to hunt together. Jeanine would be hunting with a Winchester Model 70 chambered in 7mm Rem. Mag. and I was using my trusty .30-06 Browning FN. I handloaded special loads for this hunt using 165 grain Nosler Partitions on top of 57.5 grains of IMR 4350 powder. All that was left was to find some elk.

Sunday morning, 6:30 a.m. came early for the kids as we dropped them off at our neighbors and good friends Ray & Kaye Lehne who treat them like their own grandkids. At 7:15 a.m. we slowly made our way through the tree farm scanning new to six year old planted units (clearcuts) where elk might be visibly out feeding. The weather was cool enough and the forecast predicted rain showers with a chance of snow. That combined with no moon the night before made for great elk hunting conditions.

We pulled off the main road and on a whim turned off on a secondary road that took us by more planted units with no sign of anyone else in the area. We stopped in a wide spot on the road and got out to get a closer look below. Down in the creek bottom way below us were seven elk. By the looks of it, they were all legal elk (cow only hunt). We were excited to see elk so early in our day and they were feeding and clueless of our presence.

The range finder said they were over 400 yards away. We got our gear together and headed down toward the group of elk with the wind in our favor and lots of young trees and brush to conceal our stalk. We wanted to shave off half of that yardage to make a good shot. The elk were busy feeding and walking along a creek bottom with lots of trickling water to help cover our noise. Our chances were pretty good if we could narrow the distance but, we’d have to hurry as elk can walk and feed pretty fast when they are on a mission.

The going was slower than expected with the steep hillside having soft slippery clay soil and scattered logging slash. It was a challenge to negotiate quietly with aging knees and ankles and a backside grown accustomed to ergonomically adjustable office chairs. Once we got closer to where the elk were, we couldn’t see them anymore. By dropping down to them, we lost our elevational advantage and it left us wondering where they might be. My experience has always told me to go slow if in doubt so we don’t bump into them and spook them off. That’s what we did and were treated with the sight of a yellow elk rump walking through small trees. I ranged the distance to be 54 yards. The rest of the elk had to be close by and I told Jeanine to load her gun.

A loud “KLACK” was heard by the elk as Jeanine tried to load her rifle! Two pairs of elk eyes were focused on us as we stood frozen for a couple of minutes. They slowly went back to feeding and it allowed me to ease my way to an opening between the trees. I turned to see what Jeanine was doing and she gestured for me to go ahead. She was too nervous about losing the window of opportunity to get an elk. Where were the rest of them? Were they ahead of this pair or behind? Were they below? Would we see more feeding into an opening or would this be our only chance? Would we be able to clearly identify the elk as cows and not a young bull with spike antlers?

As those questions ran through my mind, one of the elk fed uphill into a small opening between some trees and I could see that it was clearly a cow with its neck outstretched eating grass. The cow took a few more steps and presented an open broadside shot. I wrapped my arm around the sling and snugged the rifle up against my shoulder, peered through the scope and flicked the safety off. I held the crosshairs just behind the front shoulder and touched it off…”KaBoom”. The cow staggered and stood still. I chambered a second round and shot again for insurance. That was all it took.

After the shot, the other elk began to mill around as they gathered somewhere below out of sight. They left the area with branches snapping and popping as they entered an adjacent stand of big dark timber. Not once did they reveal themselves to us.

It was 8:15 a.m. and there was a lot of work to be done. We boned out the elk and loaded meat bags onto our pack frames and humped it up the hill back to a nearby road. The GPS said it was 520 feet to the road but, that was a horizontal measurement, it didn’t take into account the slope we had to climb. Take one step forward and slide 4 steps backward and try to halt your slide by grabbing some blackberry vines! The weather was constantly changing on us that morning from sunny to rain to hail to snow to sleet. It kept us cool on the hike uphill.

It was a great day to be out elk hunting and getting one was simply icing on the cake. What truly made it even better was sharing the experience with such a great hunting partner. Afterwards we both shared a bottle of Aleve!

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9 Responses to “Late season elk hunt”

  1. wendell said

    Congratulations!

    Nothing like a good hard hunt to appreciate your age!

    Like

  2. ralph saitos said

    What a great day…I know the feeling, Jeannine…when i was young and would go hunting with Ralph! Go for the elk jerky, elk stew etc! It will keep you fed for a little while! So good to hear from you..thanks for sharing your life!……

    Like

  3. Lloyd said

    I want to see a picture after you completed the pack out. That’s why I never shot an elk…it wasn’t my hunting skills (ha ha), it was the thought of packing it out. Say hi to the family.

    p.s. the pictures of the bulls fight were awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  4. Frank said

    Wow! What a cow! Last one I saw was somewhere on Parker Ranch, but this one had a sign on her side saying ” I dare you”, signed “DLNR”

    Like

  5. John said

    The “TROPHY HUNTA” says- weah da horns cuz?

    Like

  6. Mark said

    Right on! Fire up the grill!

    Like

  7. EcoRover said

    wow, must be pretty warm in february in your ‘hood. here we’re on snowshoes and wearing 14 layers for late hunts.

    good hunt story, though. and good on ya for insisting on stalking close and not blasting away from a long, ridiculous range.

    and good on ya for killing a cow–they eat much better i found after many years of killing both bulls & cows, have pretty much left the bulls to those who want wall hangers.

    Like

  8. Terrific internet site:D Hope to visit once again,,

    Like

  9. drvsarchry said

    This would be a great experience for you. It seems that you have a productive elk hunt season even if this would be a late one. Your post had became interesting, for giving me the ideas and motivation of being good and effective elk hunter.

    You have shared an interesting post!

    Like

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