Hunting (big game) [Part 2]

   This album is the second part of my deer & elk hunting photos. My Dad (Vermont) and I (Wayne) had hunted together since Fall of ’69, which was my first year of hunting. I missed some hunting seasons while attending college.  In the Fall of ’74 and ’75 I was attending a college in Illinois and unavailable during those two hunting seasons.

   Vermont and I had, what turned out to be, our most productive hunting day during the Fall of 1989. During that year, the W. Washington general elk [modern firearm] season started on a Wednesday.  From Wayne’s outdoor journal: On the first day of hunting, we didn’t see any elk, but "I saw a doe and a fawn feeding in the sunshine next to the trees I had been in only minutes before." On Thursday, 2 Nov 1989, the second day of elk hunting, we left my truck at 6:15 am. The second place we hunted, involved walking down a cat road, and then walking down a game trail toward a stream. Although we went as quietly as we could, we stepped on 2 or 3 branches, that “popped”; I hoped that the noise of the stream would mask any noises we may have made.

   The strategy worked. At 8:15 am, just before we got to the stream, Vermont stopped. I looked to my left through some trees and saw 3 tan objects that could be elk; I thought them likely to be logs. I was getting my binoculars out when Vermont said “there’s a big bull”! I told him to “shoot it”. I looked through my binoculars and saw 3 cows and the “big  bull". I was getting my scope covers off, when Vermont shot. Intuitively I thought the bull would try to cross the stream, so I continued to take the scope covers off as I ran to the edge of the stream. I got there in time to see the elk stumbling into the stream [I was certain that Vermont had hit it]. I was concerned that it might get away if it got to the main current, so I prepared to shoot. I aimed to shoot it in the front leg, and fired a shot. I was concerned that it would float downstream. I had to cross a brook, and when I got there, Vermont was holding it by the antlers and trying to pull it onto the bank [a rock was sticking out of the water]. I saw a sandy beach downstream, so we decided to try to float it to the sandy beach, using the current of the stream. This approach worked, but the elk was too heavy for 2 of us to pull it out of the water. Hence, we field dressed it, with the elk partially in the water. Vermont had rubber boots on that allowed him to work without getting his feet wet. After we field dressed it, the elk was considerably lighter; and the two of us managed to drag it out of the water and onto the bank. 

   At 9:45 am I headed toward the truck [with elk heart & liver] to get the packboards, carpenter saw and wet stone. I reached the truck at 10:30, and left my rifle in the truck. I got back to the elk at 11:30, and Vermont had a good section of the elk skinned. When we quartered the elk, we went parallel to the 3rd rib. Vermont and I took a load to the truck at 1:00 pm. I carried a hind quarter, that I believe weighed 100 lbs. Vermont helped me get it onto my back. We reached the truck at 2:00. Each of us had a 7up at the truck. We returned to the elk at 3:00 pm. I took the 2nd hind quarter up the steep hill to the end of the cat road, and left it there. I then returned to the elk. Vermont used old [but clean] bed sheets to wrap some of the quarters; he also had a game bag for one of the quarters. At 4:00 pm I packed one of the front quarters to the top of the hill, and left it there. 

   As we field dressed it, we found that Vermont’s shot hit it in the lungs, and Wayne’s shot hit it in the front leg, just above the knee. Because of Vermont’s shot, the elk did not run very far. A hunting partner of Vermont’s, named Ken, was a butcher by trade. He told Vermont to scrape away the blood shot meat in the field.  Hence, we had to pay special attention to these 2 parts of the elk.  At 4:35 we took the other front quarter up the hill. At 5:15 we headed toward the truck, each of us with a front quarter. At 6:00 [while at my truck] I got spare AA batteries for my head lamp [just in case they would be needed]; as it turned out, I needed them. We returned to the final [hind] quarter of elk at 6:30. It was pitch black out. The spare batteries worked great [in spite of being a year old]! I carried the last quarter out via the logging road. Vermont carried the 2 day packs. 

   We reached the truck with our final load at 7:15 pm. I estimated that I walked 16 miles today. And much of the time I was carrying a load.

   Yesterday was a nice day-sunny and it frosted over night. This morning it was cloudy, but it didn’t rain until we were nearly done this evening; then it was a fine mist. 

   We used two green army packboards; the straps did not have any padding. At the end of the day I had some bruises on my arms, due to the pack straps. It was a hard day, but very worthwhile!         

Note: Part 3 of this set of slides can be found at Sitemap->States(US)->Washington->Hunting (big game) [Part 3].

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