Tod's Blog

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

Locavore

Posted by todblog on November 20, 2009

November 15, 2009

The big environmental buzz everyone’s talking about is reducing your carbon footprint on this planet. One such way is to be a locavore… a what?

Locavore- someone who eats exclusively – or at least primarily – food from their local area.

So, does hunting near home count as being a locavore? You bet it does. How about driving 10 hours away…hmmm. Okay, what if it meant you didn’t leave the state. Well, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, you’d still be considered a local who pays resident versus non-resident hunting fees. So, I say if you’re hunting in-state, you’re still a locavore.

My last post (Fungus Among Us) reported that our deer hunter-gatherer skills were leaning heavily on the gathering of mushrooms and our deep freezer was going through a deep depression as it began to forecast a gloomy meatless winter. But, wait a minute. Before you start clapping those vegan hands together…I should tell you there was one more bullet left in the Lum hunting rifle. In other words, there was one last chance to get out the meat slicer and vacuum sealer…it would be Jacob’s Snake River bull elk hunt. It was a very generous gift given to him from Aunty Bitsy, a coveted landowner preference tag for her Northeast Oregon ranch property.

Without a hint of expectations from mom, she gently told Jacob that she would much rather eat elk meat over venison any day. No pressure there. I’m not sure if she followed-up by saying that she would still love him even if he came home empty-handed. I was less subtle. “We’re counting on you to get an elk.” No, of course I didn’t say that! To me, it was going to be another opportunity to spend some quality time in the outdoors with my favorite number one son.

We left Roseburg at 5am Veteran’s Day morning and arrived at the ranch at 3:30pm. It was spitting snow and rain as the last remaining daylight vanished at 4:30pm. The weatherman forecasted snow overnight and it was just what we wanted. We hoped the snow would bring elk down to lower elevations, making them easier to spot and track and most of all require less calories and ibuprofen to go after them. It was an anxious evening as I made last minute preparations for the morning hunt. It was lights out by 9pm. One of the earliest times either of us had been to bed in quite a while. As I lay there in my sleeping bag I kept thinking…Where should we go? How many elk would we see? Would there be any bulls? Would any one of them want to come home with us? Would we see any elk? Would I be able to wake Jacob up? Should I pack the salty peanut granola bars or take the brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts? Which knife was the lucky one? Where did he put his elk tag?

The alarm clock went off at 4:30am and it was still WAY dark. I rubbed my eyes and thought we could probably snooze a little longer. We did for another 30 minutes and I got the coffee going. I could see the ground outside was all white with snow. It was only a couple of inches deep. I thought that probably wasn’t going to be enough snow to push the elk down. We would see once the daylight broke. By 7am, we were out trying to locate elk but, the low clouds made that pretty difficult. The only open ground we could see was down low and there were no elk to be seen. There were deer scattered around the hillsides and lone bucks with their swollen necks on the hunt themselves for does in heat. Every now and then, we would catch a glimpse of the higher slopes but, no elk. At 9am the clouds began to slowly lift and they revealed more slopes covered in white snow. We could finally see some elk, about 200 of them! They were mainly cows and there appeared to be a few bulls in the group but, they were too far to really tell how big they were. It didn’t matter anyway, they were on a neighboring property a few ridges away. All we could do was watch them as they fed along the open hillside and bedded down for the morning. Well at least we saw some elk and they were not double nose bleed high, maybe single nose. For the next couple of hours we continued to glass the hills with binoculars and spotting scope and tried to turn every rock or bush into a bull with Jacob’s tag on it. But, no luck. We opted to warm up and eat lunch so, we headed back to the ranch house.

Jacob made us sandwiches as I continued to glass the hillsides from the living room window. I could still see the large herd on the neighboring property and they were very content to lie on the south facing slope absorbing the sun’s warm rays. We both began to eat our sandwiches when I spotted some elk skylined on one of Bitsy’s ridges. They had just come over the hill out of the timber and were now in the open. It was just two elk and they both had branched antlers! My adrenaline was pumping again and I excitedly told Jacob to look through the spotting scope. “There’s your elk, let’s go!” We swallowed our last bit of lunch and headed down the road to begin our trek up the ridgeline.

We parked the truck and met neighbor Dan Warnock talking to someone in a truck and they were both looking at the large elk herd on the neighboring property. We told him that we’d seen some bulls and were going after them. He said he’d be around if we needed any help. I thought to myself, how does he get any work done with all these distractions. That’s probably the last thing he wants to do is climb up a steep face with loose rocks and snow to pack an elk off a ridgetop. He’s such a great guy.

Moments later Jacob and I were trudging uphill through the snow with pack frames on our backs. We were making a beeline for the ridgetop we thought would offer us the best location to see the bulls. The reality of the steep slope soon greeted us and we began to zig zag up the steep face. We had to place our feet in between rocks and bunch grasses to prevent sliding back downhill or falling. It would’ve been easy to do if you could see through the snow that covered them. I was getting winded and sweating heavily. The sun would break out of the clouds intermittently and provide us with gorgeous views below and lots of glare off the brilliant white snow. We had one pair of sunglasses to share between us. I wanted “shooter boy” to have them so he wouldn’t have an excuse for missing his target. He felt bad for dad who was beginning to see pink snow. We switched off with each other as we continued our hike uphill.

After an hour of slipping and hearing weird noises coming from my knees, we reached our point on the ridgeline where we anticipated having a view of the bulls. We knelt and slowly eased up on the ridge trying not to skyline ourselves. Jacob in his chemical Tyvek white suit blended in well with the snow. I pulled out the binoculars to glass the distant hillside. The clouds were just hovering over the ridgeline like wispy strands of cotton candy providing us only a partial view. My mind was racing with thoughts like,…Did we spook the bulls? How could they have known we were coming? The wind was a breezy crosswind but, I thought it was okay or was it? Did they hear me slipping and falling on the way up? Did we just get here too late? Did I wrench my knee for nothing?

I continued to glass the rimrock structures and tried to reconstruct where I had seen the bulls last from the ranch house way down below. They couldn’t be very far away. The steady crosswind gave me a sense of reassurance that they couldn’t have winded us and they certainly couldn’t hear us coming even after a few loud episodes of falling and moaning. The same winds came to our rescue as they lifted the strands of cotton candy clouds and there they were… the two bulls on an open hillside. I whispered loudly, “There they are, you see em!”

Jacob pulled down the Browning rifle’s bipod and hit the snow in a prone position. He wriggled around in the snow and rocks to find a spot he could finally settle into for a steady shot. Our timing couldn’t have been better. The bulls were just getting up from their mid-day siesta and were getting ready to move. While we were setting up, one of the bulls walked behind a rocky ledge and disappeared from sight. The other remained on top of the rock and stood broadside to us. I fumbled with the rangefinder and it wouldn’t give me a reading. I was shaking too much. I grabbed the rangefinder with two hands and tried to settle down and hold the tiny square on the elk. Nothing. I moved the square sight onto the rock the elk was standing on and held tight… 325 yards.

Jacob lay still for what seemed like forever as the bull stood there broadside looking uphill. At 1:30pm, the canyon and all it’s snow muffled the sound of the .30-06 as two 165 grain Nosler AccuBonds did their job. The bull dropped in the snow and was quickly grabbed by the hand of “Mean Old Mr. Gravity” as he took him 300+ yards down the steep snow covered rocky slope. The bull finally came to rest about a quarter mile from a ranch road below. We couldn’t have asked for a better location to quarter the elk and get it back to the ranch. Packing an elk downhill is good, sliding one downhill is even better. Dan Warnock would not be distracted from carrying out his daily ranch duties today.

As we walked up to the bull elk I could see the amazement in Jacob’s eyes. It was the largest game animal he’d ever taken and he could not believe the size of the magnificent animal before him. I was very happy for him. At 16 years of age, he has had some amazing opportunities afforded to him (thanks again Aunty Bitsy) and he has had a great network of support from family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc. It was also a key moment for me too. It suddenly hit me that we would not be needing a bunch of store bought meat this winter and thanks to Jacob’s efforts, we were doing our part to consume local fresh natural meat. Somehow that made me feel better about the carbon output we’d be expending on our 10 hour drive back home…

A gorgeous view of the sun breaking through the clouds (Jacob’s Ladder) in the Upper Imnaha River Drainage

Jacob and his first 5×6 bull elk

Two locavores so happy to be looking at a road a quarter mile below them!

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16 Responses to “Locavore”

  1. ning mcgill said

    hi, jacob! Hooray, Way to Go! very happy for you and your dad and your mom and jessie… and for your freezer.!
    how much does an elk like that weigh??

    Like

  2. John Peyton said

    Yeah, Jacob!!!! Congratulations!!! Job well done and we all are very proud of you.

    Tod, great story and worth the wait for the read…..looking forward to more in the future.

    Like

  3. Taj said

    Carbon footprint, schmootprint… BBQ that baby and make a carbon snow angel! Nice work and good job Jacob…Jessie is next for the family hunting stories, right?!

    Like

  4. Tamara Peyton said

    Wow, what an awesome trophy:) Way to go Jacob. You sure have grown up. Way to blend in with the snow. Um Todd, you stick out like a sore thumb.:) I’m sure mom was happy with the yummy elk meat. Awesome job. So when are you all driving up this way for chinese food with Bitsy???? In December??? Let us know, you’re welcome to sack out here.

    Todd as always terrific writing. Such technique and eloquent.

    Like

  5. Michele (Higgins) Busboom said

    Wow, Tod! This brings back such memories for me of staying at the cabin @ Buckhorn and watching my son’s Dad, Jay, head out on the horses for the hunt in these jagged but beautiful hills. My son, Jacob, who is now a Marine, also nabbed his first elk there. I can tell you that they NEVER got so lucky to have the access that you and your son, Jacob had. Congratulations to you Jacob! Such a meaningful experience for you and your father. Yum! Elk stew for the winter! (Tod, you have such an eloquent way with words! It’s like dessert to read them!)

    Like

  6. John W. said

    way to go Tod and Jacob ! You have a good argument for all those hypocriticizers out there. You’re my hero.

    Like

  7. Wendell Kam said

    Good Job, Jacob!

    Nothing is more healthier than organically raised elk. Enjoy.

    Like

  8. bob said

    Fantastic Jacob! You will always have that Great Memory of Your first Bull elk. More so, Your Dad will have that same memory and always smile. Tod, It was as if I was there hiking up the ridge right behind You with my knees going pop pop pop. Getting old sucks. An awesome adventure written down very well. With All the Aloha to Your Ohana,

    Bob

    Like

  9. Brad said

    Tod, I have been waiting for this story and finally received it today. Definitely worth the wait as usual. Congratulations Jacob and Tod on the fine bull. Jacob, what a shot at 325yds. You are a very fine marksman. Must be all that training you had in junior rifle with the .22.

    Talk to you guys soon.

    Brad

    Like

  10. Warnocks said

    Great job Jacob. I was going to take a picture of the trail your elk left in the snow as it skidded to the bottom of the hill. You could see it real well from our house. It got covered with snow before I got to it 😦 . We were so glad you got one. Great job.

    Warnocks

    Like

  11. Gary Lewis said

    Jacob,

    Good work. Congratulations on your nice bull.

    Tod,

    Nice story. Enjoyed it. Having been there, I could picture it all.

    Gary Lewis

    Like

  12. Sandy DeMaris said

    Wow, reminds me of when Tom got his elk. He was fourteen and he called the log house and said, “You be ready!” and hung up! Ha! He was so very excited so I know how much you must be proud of Jacob.
    I don’t know if you know already, but I am going to be a Great Grandmother! Can you believe that? Michele’s daughter Tessa and son-in-law are going to have a baby in April. Michele of course is on cloud 9. So guess that means I move up a notch to GGMa. Sounds a little French to me! Ha!
    Love you Lum Family…Jim is doing great…Sandy and Jim

    Like

  13. Ron Laeger said

    Whew…nice chunk of protein, Jacob! He’s a brute-ster. Way to “dispatch” the woodland giant.

    Like

  14. Pam Chun said

    Great story, Tod, well-told as always with lots of love for Jacob and reverent appreciation for the world God’s given us. And I love the photos!

    Like

  15. Bob Hera said

    Congrats again Jacob! A little late, but you got the job done. What an experience it must have been! You are getting a lot of guys envious of your accomplishments. Your mom and dad must be so proud of you, we are..

    Like

  16. Terri said

    YAHOO!

    Like

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