Tod's Blog

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

Skater Elk

Posted by todblog on October 3, 2012

October 3, 2012

This past Labor Day Weekend we headed out for our annual rendezvous in NE Oregon with a number of family friends. This trip would be slightly different. Jacob would be coming with us from Corvallis where he was spending the summer as an intern working on a chemical engineering research project. We were very proud of him for landing one of the 29 Johnson Scholarship slots awarded to incoming freshman majoring in chemical biological or environmental engineering. It meant he would be spending the whole summer away from us and on his own. That meant no more telling him what to do or not to do with his spare time. It seems all he wants to do in his spare time is shred the paved slopes with his longboard. Fortunately, he wears a helmet and pads and apparently he is good at it. Personally, I don’t care for the longboarding scene and the counter culture that comes with it (not to mention the potential for serious bodily injury). For years he couldn’t skateboard because his baseball coaches said “NO”. The longboarding culture is totally 180 from baseball (except for players like bad boy Tim Lincecum aka “the Freak”). Anyhow, he’s old enough to make his own decisions and face the consequences.

These annual family trips usually found Jacob helping me pack the truck going over a check list of items to bring. Not this time and I also couldn’t tell him what to pack/bring for the trip. I would have to trust his planning skills. Scary thought- I know.

We made our trip in the usual 10.5 hours and immediately began to soak in the sights and sounds of the rugged mountains around us. It always recharges my batteries whenever I step out into country like that and behold it’s raw natural beauty. Meeting up with our host, Aunty Bitsy can only mean one thing, there’s gonna be some awesome outdoor activities in store for us. She did not disappoint.

The alarm went off at 4:45am and attending to the coffee pot is always the first order of business. I woke up Jeanine and Jacob to get them ready for their fast-approaching morning elk hunt. Months earlier, they both got lucky and successfully drew a controlled antlerless elk hunt that coincided with our annual trip to NE Oregon. It would be a new experience to add an elk hunt to our family trip. We sat around the breakfast table and downed some fat Costco muffins and patiently waited for our “guide” to show up.

At 5:15pm a tall figure of a man walked in the door and lit up the dim room with his smile. Our guide Dan was right on time to take us down the road to a nearby ranch where elk were marauding the alfalfa fields each night. This hunt was designed to haze elk from fields to minimize crop and fence damage to the local producers. A herd of elk can eat a lot of alfalfa and bedding down in it doesn’t help matters either. We had a job to do and we headed out the door.

As we piled into Dan’s truck, I noticed Jacob didn’t have on his Danner hunting boots. Instead, he had a pair of thin green canvas skater shoes. Great. I asked him where his boots were and he said they were in his friend’s car from last weekend when they went hiking up Mt. Thielsen. They hurt his feet bad and he got blisters from the boots. These were boots he wore everyday last summer working at the Roseburg Country Club doing grounds maintenance…. no problems then. But hey, not to worry he has his trusty skater shoes on and they’re the right color too, green! No sense arguing we gotta go.

Dan took us to a ranch where several different herds of elk have been showing up. One herd was reportedly close to 70 animals. They should be around somewhere. Jacob spots a group of horses against a fence line on the other side of an alfalfa field. Dan quickly points out, “Those are elk.” Jacob settles his .30-06 rifle into a pair of shooting sticks and starts to pick out an elk without antlers. Jeanine is trying to do the same. The elk are getting agitated and one by one they start to jump the fence and head for higher ground. Jeanine finally tells Jacob to go ahead and take a shot. At 325 yards, he does and an elk lays down.

Dan says he thinks we can find elk in another field down the road. We tell Jacob to stay put and we’ll be back. As we leave the elk gets up and starts to run and Jacob fires again. The elk goes down in a small draw out-of-sight. We opt to stay with skater boy and help him find his elk. We follow the elk’s trail through sticker patches and brush and find it near the bottom of the draw. Having boots on would be a nice thing right about now when you have to deal with stickers in your ankle because all you got is quarter high socks and exposed ankles. But, we don’t talk about that. We just focus on the task at hand, getting the elk cleaned and loaded into the truck where we can take it back to the ranch to work on it. Pulling the trigger is always the easy part. It’s afterwards that the work begins.

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Jacob showing off his Hunter Green Skater Shoes

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Back at the ranch cleaning station. Lots of good meat hanging here.

Two days later, Jeanine found her elk opportunity on a small herd sneaking up and onto a bench almost out of sight. But, our guide Dan was quick to point them out to us and he got us into position where we could slip up on the herd and set up for a shot. I sat behind Jeanine and waited for the elk to appear in the field of dry grass in front of us. Our hearts were pounding from the short hill we climbed and from the anticipation of seeing elk any second. We could hear footsteps in the dry crunchy plants they walked through and the sound was getting closer with each step. A quick check of the wind found it blowing into our faces and all was well. Suddenly, a 1×2 bull walked into view just 50 yards from us as we sat like statues in the grassy field. I was close enough that I didn’t want to make eye contact with the bull as I thought he could see my eyes. The bull stared at us for an eternity sizing us up and he knew we were something different but we remained motionless and he couldn’t smell us either. He slowly turned off and continued his walk uphill away from us. Then the cows started to show up one by one. They were slowly feeding and walking uphill to cross the fence somewhere above us. At 70 yards Jeanine slowly pivoted her rifle barrel in the shooting sticks to the right and when the crosshairs of her scope found the first cow elk in the group she squeezed the trigger of the Tikka .30-06. Cow down! The herd milled around for awhile and then headed over the fence and into the draw above in no time. Those animals can really cover ground when they want to. Ahhh, what a great hunt that turned out to be, and it was over by 7am. Well at least the trigger part…now came the work!

Compared to some other elk hunts and the extreme difficulty involved in getting an elk and then dealing with it afterwards, this hunt required much less caloric output. As a matter-of-fact, one hunter skated on this one.

Thanks Bitsy, Dan and Eric for making this hunt happen. You have provided us with some very good wholesome stuffed alfalfa elk.

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Jeanine with her cow elk taken just above the alfalfa field it fed in all night long.

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Watching the elk leave the field for higher ground.

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The elk are about 150 yards away and will be safe in the timber in a few minutes. They can really cover ground when they want to.

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Running out of slope, it’s getting way harder to drag the elk!

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Taking a break before trying to load the elk in the truck…Could use skater boy’s help about now, ARGH!

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Fish and I carving up the back half of an elk to more manageable cuts before making the trip home.

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Making teriyaki thin sliced steaks. This marinated meat tends to disappear from the grill before getting to the dinner table. Darn BBQ Gremlins!

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Canned elk is tender, juicy and flavorful. It is easy to heat up and make enchiladas, tacos, stews, stroganoff, etc. and no freezer storage!

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Burger, one of our favorite ways to eat elk…meatloaf, tacos, spaghetti, burgers, sausage, etc.

 

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3 Responses to “Skater Elk”

  1. Pili said

    Hmmm….guess it’s pretty much the same thing as hunting pigs w/ my dad & brother huh?

    Like

  2. Karen said

    Wow Jeanine, loved seeing you in action. Yes it’s me again, long overdue cousin Karen. Much love, Karen

    Like

  3. Sony said

    Yummy šŸ™‚

    Like

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