First Time

The next several days of of hunting involved going into the high places looking for bull elk.  No one had any luck finding a legal bull.  Several of us saw a big 2X2 bull, but he didn't have brow tines and therefore wasn't legal.  On Tuesday the snow started flying.  Against better judgment we all went out hoping that the snow would let up and we could find elk.  I gave up sure that I would be the first one back in camp.  As it turned out I was the last.

On my way back into camp I saw a weasel, completely white in his winter coat carrying his lunch, a small vole.  When he saw me he dropped the vole (already very dead) and ran off.  To this day I
wonder how many other people on the planet have seen something similar.  If someone were to ask me why I enjoy hunting so much, the story would likely involve Mr. Weasel.

The next day broke with clear skies and the possibility of tracking elk in the fresh snow.  I finally got to hunt the West side of the mountain and took my wife with me.  She had hunted hard and not too far up the mountain ran out of steam.  She elected to sit in a good spot, overlooking a decent amount of the mountain.  Not coincidentally, she was sitting where I had killed my first elk on the mountain.

I chose to hike higher up the mountain, following the trail past the archery hunters' blind, higher and higher until I cut elk tracks.  I followed  the tracks until, for some reason, my gut told me to leave them and walk out towards a rock outcropping.  As I reached the outcropping, I heard and then saw the elk that I had been following.  He was 50 yards away, but his head was hidden behind some brush.  He had no idea that I had dropped in below him, and was feeding peacefully.  Unfortunately, due to his feeding and the brush between his head and me I could not tell if he was a legal bull.  After about three minutes of watching him both through my rifle scope and binoculars I finally decided he was legal.

The next 30 seconds were tied up in me figuring out how to make a clean shot.  His shoulders were hidden behind the brush.  I was forced to take a shot further back on the front side that angled towards his back shoulder.  Having selected my shot, I shouldered the rifle, took off the safety, monitored my breathing, and squeezed the trigger.  I almost did not believe what happened next.  I immediately ran the bolt and chambered another round, fully expecting the elk to take off running.  Instead, he took two steps and dropped.

I waited to see if he would get up and move, but after several minutes I couldn't contain myself and started making phone calls.  I called my father-in-law, my uncle, and my wife telling them that I had an elk down.  Finally my heart rate slowed enough that I could approach the elk.  I came up to him with the safety off in case he had not yet expired.  As I neared, it was clear that my first and only shot had done the job.

I quickly gave thanks to the elk and the mountain, then I got to work.  In short order had him gutted.  My wife showed up and then my uncle and father-in-law.  We quartered him and with the help of the snow, had him down the mountain and into camp.  My first bull gave seven families three elk to share.  My freezer is now full and I have to figure out how to mount the antlers of a 4X5 elk.  I have been blessed with elk for the last four years.


  1. OK, I have to ask the obligatory red carpet question. What were you using and what caliber?

    Outstanding hunt and great story.

  2. He was taken with a Ruger M77 in 7mm Mag. I bought it from a family friend with plenty of hunting ju-ju already on it