AMK Sportsman

High Desert Elk Hunting

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
331
One of my favorite photos of myself was taken on a remote ranch in South Central Utah ten years ago when I was 63.



In the photo I am sitting a midst a group of flat top sandstone boulders. I look like a rock. I like that. All you can see of me is from the chest up. My clothes match the rocks and I am wearing a round Sheepskin hat, my “Lucky Cold Weather Hunting Hat”.



My face is all covered up. It was a mid-winter 10 below zero morning, I am looking at around 130 elk and watching them walking into me.



Typically I sleep out until I take my Elk. I made my bedroll out of three layers of the heaviest surplus woolen blankets. It is impervious to cold. I decline staying in the ranch bunkhouse at night till I have “made meat”. I feel it is important for me to really be out with the elk or any game animal when I am hunting.



Often I would spread out my bed roll in a shallow cave overlooking a timeless elk trail. The cave’s walls are covered with ancient Native American rock art,,,depicting primal hunting scenes. I would start a small fire and see those images coming and going in the shifting firelight at night.



This cave was a hunting camp, used by native Americans for many thousands of years. Being there was a privilege.



I have never taken an elk beyond 200 yards.. Most were even closer. There is something that seems right the closer I take my big game animals.



Back to those incoming elk.



I made three different tell-tales to judge wind and tied them under my muzzle. They were all made from the course mane and tail hairs from my horses. I braided one thicker, one medium and one was just a bunch of real long hairs.



I used them to judge varying wind speed and I could pick up the most delicate luff of wind with those few fine long hairs.



The wind was ideal, coming almost from the elk to me. Then it stopped, and for just a few seconds the gentlest soft slow breeze went from me to them.



The elk were about 750 yards away going in a long single file line. Then the lead cow lifted her head almost straight up, smelled me, others followed suit and the entire herd compressed into a circle with the youngest in the middle. There were a few young spike bulls but this herd was mostly cows, and yearlings.



Next the rear guard cow began a retreat, the circle formation became elliptical, spear shaped as they returned to the high country. A rule of elk hunting is never shoot the lead cow. She is the keeper of survival knowledge. The last cow elk is also very critical. She is also key factor in herd survival.



Lead cow elk, Last cow elk, they are herd bookends





I was happy for them, seeing their survival skills protect them from me. I felt privileged to have witnessed all this behavior. What a sight to behold!



My rifle was a 1950’s vintage model 70 Winchester in .270. It wears a fixed 4X scope.



All the checkering is worn smooth. The bluing is “thin” at best and the scope finish has been worn down to bare metal from going in and out of my saddle scabbard so may times.



So scoped, for deer or antelope it is a 250 to 300 yard rifle at most. Elk are bigger, so add an extra 100 yards for hunting them,,,at most, but I always do take my big game so much closer.



I know many younger hunters would say that with their modern super long range rifles, they could easily shot elk at that 750 yard range.



Some have told me I should get a better rifle.



I never for an instant regretted not having a longer range rifle that day. I do not want one. I like taking my game animals at about half the maximum range of my old rifle.



For me, shooting one of those elk so far away would have been obscene act, a profane use of way too much technology to feel like I was engaged in a “Fair Chase Hunt”.



There would be many other Elk for me to hunt and kill and I did, the next day at 175 yards in vast open country.



I slept in that same cave again the night before. Doing that, looking at the ancient images made by stone age hunters,,,,well,,,,It makes me aware of some misty, cloud born contract I feel as a hunter.



I am not sure exactly what the all the rules are,,,, but to keep my hunters soul intact,,,and it still is at 73 years of age, there are some boundaries I do not cross, some contracts I do not break.


Happy Trails,


Mustangs Rule.
 

Wallydeuce

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2021
Messages
507
Location
NV
Here here Rule. I'm just a whipper snapper at 70 but I do my very best to abide by the same code.
 

Gila

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
458
Location
New Mexico
One of my favorite photos of myself was taken on a remote ranch in South Central Utah ten years ago when I was 63.



In the photo I am sitting a midst a group of flat top sandstone boulders. I look like a rock. I like that. All you can see of me is from the chest up. My clothes match the rocks and I am wearing a round Sheepskin hat, my “Lucky Cold Weather Hunting Hat”.



My face is all covered up. It was a mid-winter 10 below zero morning, I am looking at around 130 elk and watching them walking into me.



Typically I sleep out until I take my Elk. I made my bedroll out of three layers of the heaviest surplus woolen blankets. It is impervious to cold. I decline staying in the ranch bunkhouse at night till I have “made meat”. I feel it is important for me to really be out with the elk or any game animal when I am hunting.



Often I would spread out my bed roll in a shallow cave overlooking a timeless elk trail. The cave’s walls are covered with ancient Native American rock art,,,depicting primal hunting scenes. I would start a small fire and see those images coming and going in the shifting firelight at night.



This cave was a hunting camp, used by native Americans for many thousands of years. Being there was a privilege.



I have never taken an elk beyond 200 yards.. Most were even closer. There is something that seems right the closer I take my big game animals.



Back to those incoming elk.



I made three different tell-tales to judge wind and tied them under my muzzle. They were all made from the course mane and tail hairs from my horses. I braided one thicker, one medium and one was just a bunch of real long hairs.



I used them to judge varying wind speed and I could pick up the most delicate luff of wind with those few fine long hairs.



The wind was ideal, coming almost from the elk to me. Then it stopped, and for just a few seconds the gentlest soft slow breeze went from me to them.



The elk were about 750 yards away going in a long single file line. Then the lead cow lifted her head almost straight up, smelled me, others followed suit and the entire herd compressed into a circle with the youngest in the middle. There were a few young spike bulls but this herd was mostly cows, and yearlings.



Next the rear guard cow began a retreat, the circle formation became elliptical, spear shaped as they returned to the high country. A rule of elk hunting is never shoot the lead cow. She is the keeper of survival knowledge. The last cow elk is also very critical. She is also key factor in herd survival.



Lead cow elk, Last cow elk, they are herd bookends





I was happy for them, seeing their survival skills protect them from me. I felt privileged to have witnessed all this behavior. What a sight to behold!



My rifle was a 1950’s vintage model 70 Winchester in .270. It wears a fixed 4X scope.



All the checkering is worn smooth. The bluing is “thin” at best and the scope finish has been worn down to bare metal from going in and out of my saddle scabbard so may times.



So scoped, for deer or antelope it is a 250 to 300 yard rifle at most. Elk are bigger, so add an extra 100 yards for hunting them,,,at most, but I always do take my big game so much closer.



I know many younger hunters would say that with their modern super long range rifles, they could easily shot elk at that 750 yard range.



Some have told me I should get a better rifle.



I never for an instant regretted not having a longer range rifle that day. I do not want one. I like taking my game animals at about half the maximum range of my old rifle.



For me, shooting one of those elk so far away would have been obscene act, a profane use of way too much technology to feel like I was engaged in a “Fair Chase Hunt”.



There would be many other Elk for me to hunt and kill and I did, the next day at 175 yards in vast open country.



I slept in that same cave again the night before. Doing that, looking at the ancient images made by stone age hunters,,,,well,,,,It makes me aware of some misty, cloud born contract I feel as a hunter.



I am not sure exactly what the all the rules are,,,, but to keep my hunters soul intact,,,and it still is at 73 years of age, there are some boundaries I do not cross, some contracts I do not break.


Happy Trails,


Mustangs Rule.
You sound like a wrangler I knew from RS
 

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
331
You sound like a wrangler I knew from RS
Thank You I guess !!!! ??? but what is RS,,,also Gila,,,are you from southern Arizona? I used to live there. I really liked the high grasslands south of Tucson
 

Gila

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
458
Location
New Mexico
A wrangler from Rock Springs. He is quite the cowboy like you. He took care of the mustang herds from the round-ups. We have a mustang only he is from Utah. Had him since he was a foal. He is quite the hit with the mares. We live in the high desert near the mountains so he is right at home here in New Mexico.
 

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
331
A wrangler from Rock Springs. He is quite the cowboy like you. He took care of the mustang herds from the round-ups. We have a mustang only he is from Utah. Had him since he was a foal. He is quite the hit with the mares. We live in the high desert near the mountains so he is right at home here in New Mexico.
Hello Again Gila,,,,,Thank you for responding to my post



When I was a kid,,,16,,,just got my drivers license,,,, I went to work on a real top notch ¼ horse ranch. That was in 1964/1965 We had a horse named “Kid Five” on the ranch who was the 1964 World Cutting Horse Champion.



I worked my way up from cleaning stalls, to working with the breeder,,,it was not artificial, real hot studs, real mares in heat. Lots of squealing going on. I lunged the yearlings in a huge round pen but I would never be allowed to work with the trainer.



The trainer was a woman in her late 30’s and her helper was a woman in her early 20’s. This was as per the ranch owners firm instructions. Only woman could train horses there. Now I understand why.



Consistently, unless we are talking about a master horseman like Buck Branaman, women have that edge of patience and kindness. As soon as mare dropped her foal they were both there, imprinting, picking up hooves, taking them into a stock trailer with mom and nurse there. They did a great job



These women were both foxes,,,,,and they got the full attention of men of all ages on that horse ranch.



The helper in her early 20’s was named Rhonda. Almost all if us were mid teens to late teens, working for $1/hour.



At lunch one day we guys were all laying down under tree, with our heads on our cowboy hats. Then the song below came on the speaker on the barn wall. Rhonda put it on



Rhonda came over our way, swishing, and bobbing, the next thing she was just outright dancing.



She teased us about putting her boots on our belly and dancing right on top of us. It started, All our guts were so tight then you could have broken a coconut throwing it hard on our 6-packs.



Rhonda was dancing right on us, going from one of our six packs to the next to the next. She had on tight jeans and a loose cowgirl blouse that was not tucked in. Yippy kay Aye



Last year I invested three months of training in mustang mare from Wyoming. I hired a woman trainer. The mare was really too old to train, 6 years old, plus she was a lead mare,,,she was real head strong, but so darn pretty. She came out of Wyoming. When the cavalary called it quits there theylet their horses go and they had a lot of Tennessse Walker Blood in them.

This mare I was so smitten with had such great conformation and she just naturally collected while moving.


My horse sense told me to cut my losses and I did. She was a bucker for sure. I could see that sooner rather than later I would end up in the ground with her “dancing” on top of me. Not as much fun as when Rhonda did that. She almost killed the next owner,,,pulled a “Rhonda” on her.



Again, thanks for the response and enjoy only the “happiest and safest trails” with your horses


Did you ever ride with Oxbow Stirrups?????????? Many many deacdes back I had Buckaroo bronc saddle with those great stirrups.

I used a model 54 winchester in those days,,,great peep sights, a real classic, my eyes were young then. I used to go on a "hunt about, ride about" with a cool young appaloosa gelding. We often did not come home for days and days on end.

Mustangs Rule.

 

WesternWyoming

New member
Joined
May 10, 2021
Messages
20
One of my favorite photos of myself was taken on a remote ranch in South Central Utah ten years ago when I was 63.



In the photo I am sitting a midst a group of flat top sandstone boulders. I look like a rock. I like that. All you can see of me is from the chest up. My clothes match the rocks and I am wearing a round Sheepskin hat, my “Lucky Cold Weather Hunting Hat”.



My face is all covered up. It was a mid-winter 10 below zero morning, I am looking at around 130 elk and watching them walking into me.



Typically I sleep out until I take my Elk. I made my bedroll out of three layers of the heaviest surplus woolen blankets. It is impervious to cold. I decline staying in the ranch bunkhouse at night till I have “made meat”. I feel it is important for me to really be out with the elk or any game animal when I am hunting.



Often I would spread out my bed roll in a shallow cave overlooking a timeless elk trail. The cave’s walls are covered with ancient Native American rock art,,,depicting primal hunting scenes. I would start a small fire and see those images coming and going in the shifting firelight at night.



This cave was a hunting camp, used by native Americans for many thousands of years. Being there was a privilege.



I have never taken an elk beyond 200 yards.. Most were even closer. There is something that seems right the closer I take my big game animals.



Back to those incoming elk.



I made three different tell-tales to judge wind and tied them under my muzzle. They were all made from the course mane and tail hairs from my horses. I braided one thicker, one medium and one was just a bunch of real long hairs.



I used them to judge varying wind speed and I could pick up the most delicate luff of wind with those few fine long hairs.



The wind was ideal, coming almost from the elk to me. Then it stopped, and for just a few seconds the gentlest soft slow breeze went from me to them.



The elk were about 750 yards away going in a long single file line. Then the lead cow lifted her head almost straight up, smelled me, others followed suit and the entire herd compressed into a circle with the youngest in the middle. There were a few young spike bulls but this herd was mostly cows, and yearlings.



Next the rear guard cow began a retreat, the circle formation became elliptical, spear shaped as they returned to the high country. A rule of elk hunting is never shoot the lead cow. She is the keeper of survival knowledge. The last cow elk is also very critical. She is also key factor in herd survival.



Lead cow elk, Last cow elk, they are herd bookends





I was happy for them, seeing their survival skills protect them from me. I felt privileged to have witnessed all this behavior. What a sight to behold!



My rifle was a 1950’s vintage model 70 Winchester in .270. It wears a fixed 4X scope.



All the checkering is worn smooth. The bluing is “thin” at best and the scope finish has been worn down to bare metal from going in and out of my saddle scabbard so may times.



So scoped, for deer or antelope it is a 250 to 300 yard rifle at most. Elk are bigger, so add an extra 100 yards for hunting them,,,at most, but I always do take my big game so much closer.



I know many younger hunters would say that with their modern super long range rifles, they could easily shot elk at that 750 yard range.



Some have told me I should get a better rifle.



I never for an instant regretted not having a longer range rifle that day. I do not want one. I like taking my game animals at about half the maximum range of my old rifle.



For me, shooting one of those elk so far away would have been obscene act, a profane use of way too much technology to feel like I was engaged in a “Fair Chase Hunt”.



There would be many other Elk for me to hunt and kill and I did, the next day at 175 yards in vast open country.



I slept in that same cave again the night before. Doing that, looking at the ancient images made by stone age hunters,,,,well,,,,It makes me aware of some misty, cloud born contract I feel as a hunter.



I am not sure exactly what the all the rules are,,,, but to keep my hunters soul intact,,,and it still is at 73 years of age, there are some boundaries I do not cross, some contracts I do not break.


Happy Trails,


Mustangs Rule.
Mustang, Thank you for this luminous piece of writing about your undeniable and perfect connection to the herd, the land, the past. I hope we run into each other sometime out in the elky desert.
 

Mustangs Rule

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
331
Mustang, Thank you for this luminous piece of writing about your undeniable and perfect connection to the herd, the land, the past. I hope we run into each other sometime out in the elky desert.
Thank you very much for such a supportive response. I know for sure many elk hunters have taken more and many bigger elk than I have. The question I ask is "How have you taken your elk"?

Did your hunt give you a whole set of feelings which you could simly not forget. Did your hunt expand your knowledge and sense of connection to the place you were befor you were born. Elk and elk hunting can be a guide to there

I have been playing a "new deer and elk" hunting game for some years now.

If I write about such elk doings I will PM you

I left the desert country in 2015. A huge part of me will always be there.

A real fine friend in western Wyoming keeps asking me to come for a visit with my old rifle.

I might.

Thank you again
 

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