Learning elk - a story

diamond hitch

Well-known member
Feb 9, 2020
Western Montana
The big herd bulls tend to pull away from the cows after the rut. Often they gather with 1-2 other bulls near the winter range where rich food, water, and security are close so they can recover from the rut with minimal expenditure of resources. Often you would find some exceptional bulls early in the season in places you would never expect to find one. We called them bull gardens. Typically there are no cows anywhere close.

My father had found one of these out of Avon, Mt in the middle forties. The bulls would feed all night in the meadows and then bunk up on the little ridges between them during the day. Access was limited. The meadows were private hay fields while the ridges were USFS. Above them were bare grassy hills with minimal roads of questionable quality.

My uncle was on a transport that was sunk in the south pacific and was sent home on leave to recouperate. Coming from the tropics to Montana in November was a significant shock to his system. They dressed him in everything they had and left him in a running model A pickup with the heater on. He was shivering so bad he couldn't even light a cigarette.

Dad made a sweep of the little ridges into the wind and a nice bull broke cover a ridge ahead of him and headed up. He never paid any attention to the running truck and trotted past the pickup. My uncle jumped out, shot the bull and then jumped back into the truck and waited for Dad to show up to gut him cause it was too cold.

Dad got him gutted and some neighbors drove by and helped stuff the bull into the back of the pickup which isn't much bigger than an atv box. Must have been quite a sight on the highway to Deerlodge in the 40s.

Now the dillema was how to get the elk to Alberton. My uncle wouldn't have anything to do with quartering it up. He wanted it whole to show mom and dad.

The family was Milwaukee RR from top to bottom. Granpa was an engineer, the other one was a conductor out of Threeforks, my great aunt ran the beanery in Deerlodge after her husband (a brakeman) was killed under the Higgens ave. Bridge in Missoula.

They tried to get the bull into the baggage car but that wasn't going to happen. After dinner at the beanery, negotiations were completed to hang him on the back of the caboose on a westbound freight just readying departure. My uncle agreed to stoke the stove in the caboose as a ride along.

The next dilema came in how to move an intact bull elk, now frozen, out of the train yard. Granpa made a deal with the track crew (gandy dancers) to transport the bull on a baggage cart up the main street of Alberton to the garage for the elk hide which was used as a cover for the wore out seat in the speeder.

I'm sure that was not a railroad sanctioned event but things happen with family.


Well-known member
Jul 11, 2021
Nice how things can work out some times. We we on a moose road kill list years back. I got a call to go get one at a railroad crossing that the railroad drops themmat for folks. I got there just in time. As the rail crew was there n loaded them in my truck for me. They even gutted them. I got one that our Chesapeake enjoyed because it looked like it got hit by a train. So they loaded up a nice one that was hit in the head with no loss.
Hey good on ya man

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Latest member