Spike, Spike, Raghorn, Spike, Trophy Spike, Raghorn, Spike...


New member
Feb 26, 2003
South of the Border
I got out of town a bit late on Saturday, as I had to coach the season's first two basketball games for the daughters. The 3rd-4th graders got beat pretty bad, as the
other team had a 4th grader that was over 5' tall. On the 8' hoop, she could almost touch the net. The littlest Gunner had an off game, as she was suffering from the Flu. During each timeout, she would come over, and her eyes would be rolled back in her head.

In the second game, the 5th-6th grade girls were a bit more competitive, but we still suffered a defeat. I was proud of the Junior Gunner, as she was able to drive to the hoop every time she got the ball. You gotta like runnin' and Gunnin'... She made a couple of baskets, and got hammered pretty hard with some fouls. Turns out the regulation free throw line and a 10' basket is a bit out of her range... Airrrrrrrrrballlllllllll.... But I was proud of her for being aggressive with the ball. And unlike her dad, she can go to the Left and the Right....

After the games, it was time to load the rest of the gear into the SuperDuty, and head for the hills. Another stop at Wal-Mart, top the tank with gas, and I was on the road by 3pm. The rest of the guys had got back up to the mountains before daylight, after taking the Holiday off to be with kids. I pulled into camp, a bit before dark, and set up my cot in the Wall Tent. Unloaded some more gear, and started cooking dinner. I figured they would be back in
a bit. Since I am the only one that likes to cook, and am relatively good at it, I am always appreciated when I show up. They had eaten 4 nights of Wienies and Burgers, and were happy to see Italian Chicken with Rotelle and Marinara sauce.

When they got back, they reported bedding a Spike, a bunch of cows, and no Bulls. After dinner, and a few cans of Tecate and Coors Light, the laughing started as we told stories on the guys who no longer hunt with us. Out of the 4 of us in camp that night, 3 of us have hunted together for 11 years.
(The 4th guys for about 5 years.) We seem to have settled down to the same 4 now, for a couple of years. We have gone thru a dozen other guys, some we struggle to remember their names. Some made it one year, a few maybe up to 5 years. About 1/2 of them only made it 1 day, and then became a Camp Beatch. Something about their legs hurting.... One guy killed his first and only Elk, and then while watching us pack it uphill, decided he never wanted to kill another one... We told stories about little Elk killed, big Elk missed, Earl getting lost, and Gene getting drunk.

One of the guys there, I don't see for 51 weeks of the year, but the 52nd week is a lot of fun to be around...

As always, sleep came easy. Something about a sleeping bag, a cot, a wood stove, and 10 degree weather just makes one fall asleep. The stove is a pack stove, so it only holds about 2 hours of wood, but even after the fire went out, the bag was still comfortable.

5:30am came soon, and the fire was rebuilt, and sandwiches were made. Ok...
Who likes Mustard? Who likes Mayo? Who likes Miracle Whip???

We decided the day's hunt would be the Oregonian's hunt, as they had left the area about 10 days earlier, so we knew the animals had not been bothered for better than a week. We got down to the ridge after about 30 minutes of hiking down. We pulled out the glasses and started glassing, while one of the guys built a fire for warming the toes back up. Nothing out... 3 sets of glasses, and still nothing. Look on the back side... Still nothing. Ohhhhppp, there's an elk... And another... Finally, we found 2 cows... Then another.... A bit more discussion around the fire, and back to glassing.... There are 8 on the backside, with a spike. Ohhh... 6 on the front side, all cows... And so it went.. They started moving, and we kept finding them, another spike. Finally, clear to the bottom of the drain, the Swarvo 15x binoculars found a bull bedded. With 15x it was difficult to see the horns, but they were there. With 10x, you could barely convince yourself he was a bull, but only because you knew the answer. It was clear that he was not a trophy, but he was the best thing going, and maybe he was laying with another bull. One of the guys has been 4 years of not killing a bull, so he wanted to go, and the guy who spotted him went with. The other two of us headed back up the ridge to the rig, to run the shuttle.

Well, as it turns out, the Bull was a little Raghorn, less than 24". Maybe 3 or 4 points on a side. He was laid up in a good spot, with a difficult shot. A little gunplay was ineffective, and maybe that bull will grow some real antlers in the years to come. It turned out to be a good deal that he was not killed, as the packout would have made our top 5 shittiest pack outs. And not worth hauling little horns and big body.

At the bottom end of the shuttle, we got on the trail and back into where we would meet. We left some sandwiches and water for the guys who came down, and we went up another trail for the evening. About a mile and a half, we started glassing, and found another bunch of cows, a spike, and a 4x. Heading back at dark, we found a bow kill, and found the stick hunter's trigger release... There is $49 extra on the cost of his elk.

It gets dark about 6:10, and with it clouding up, there was not much light
from the Half Moon. Dinner was Sparkling Potatoes in the Dutch Oven and Cheese Burgers. A few more beers, and a few more stories... The weather report was calling for warmer temperatures and for snow. About 5am, the snow was barely covering the rigs outside. By 6am, there was 2 inches on
the ground around camp. Up on the ridges would be more.

Unfortunately, the ridges were stuck in the middle of the clouds, so there would be no hunting off the top. Given that we pretty much have the mountains to ourselves, there was no need to go bumping around in the fog.
It would clear the next day, so we headed to some country about 1/2 way down, known as the Outfitter's Camp. Our season is 3 weeks long in the area we hunt. We hunted Opening day for the day hunt, passed on a spike, and let the ATV's and road hunters have the area for the next week. There is no road hunting in the area, as the Elk don't hang near the roads. After the second week, even the outfitter gives it up, and closes up shop. We are not quite sure why, but just as the hunting gets good, people quit hunting. I
am not sure if it is the snow, or the 5 degree weather, or if people just wear out/give up after 2 days, but it ends up being My Own Private Idaho.

We went 4 different directions from the landing where we left the rig, and I
headed for the ridge over the Outfitter's camp. I started glassing, and before long, there was a spike above his camp, on the hill behind his now vacated camp. It would have been a 400 yard shot over the canyon, and even an easy pack out on the ATVs, but I was not interested in a Spike. A couple
of more cows, but that was it. The snow was still coming, and the fog moved down, to where I couldn't see the animals, so it was time to be back to the rig.

We dropped down a bit lower, and found some new areas to explore in the Summer, and thought about shooting Snow Geese with the rifles.

Tuesday was to be the day. Clear sky and fresh snow. The previous day had been a bit blustery in the 100 acre woods, so the optimism would be high. Out to the end of the road, 2 miles down the main ridge, and then we started splitting down the side ridges. 1/2 way down, I finally cut a Bull track, and as it was the best thing going, I got in his tracks and started following. This country is a wee bit steep, and a bit brushy, but tolerable if you pick your routes. If you let a Bull pick your routes, you have no such luxury. I tore my Achilles Tendon a week earlier, and the most pain was on the uphill steps, when your foot slips in the snow, like a "peel out". And sure enough, this Bull wanted to go up hill. It was either uphill or side hill for 3 hours. He eventually led me through some blow downs, and almost stepped on a 5x5 Winter Kill. I picked up the skull and antlers, strapped the useless weight on my pack, and kept going.

The tracks led me to four does and a forked horn, who would not flinch at 50 yards. I bumped a cow and a calf, who were flinching, but still could not get a look at the Bull. I found some sort of plant that is an annual, but as it dies, its stem turns woody, and the skin is kind of easy to peel, and he had stripped one, by accident in his horns. The snow in his tracks was still not frozen back up, and every time he pissed, it was still smelling, and not frozen. I kept going, and we crossed a couple of ridges, and two small bowls. All the time climbing. I crossed one of my partner's ridge, and I could tell by the tracks, that he had passed before the Bull, so I knew I was not far behind.

I finally came around a corner, and started glassing the top of the next peak (the highest one in the area), and sure enough, there he was, cutting across an open area about 100 yards wide. He never stopped walking, but would keep looking over his shoulder. It reminded me of the lines in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" where they are trying to flee, but keep
looking over their shoulders, saying "Who is this guy?" as they are being relentlessly tracked. I was now easily a 1/2 mile behind him, and with the 10x glass, I could see he was yet ANOTHER Raghorn. I called off the
pursuit, and turned toward the camp. 3 miles down to camp, exhausted from the climb, but glad for the day.

Down the same ridge my buddy had taken out, I kept cutting deer tracks and beds. Even jumping deer that he must have jumped just an hour or so earlier. The walk out is a long one, and given that I had spent 3 hours
going the opposite way, I got back to camp a bit later than the rest. Two more spikes had been spotted, and another Rag Bull.

I ate the leftovers from their lunch, and we headed back up to the outfitter's camp. This time, I could only find the two cows.

The last morning was below zero, as the alarm went off. A bit cold, but the
fire was nice. We had discussed pursuing one of the spikes, for a quick hunt, but there was not much desire. Still a bit more talk about a couple of day hunts, so nobody was ready to punch a tag for a spike.

We laughed about years ago, when a spike would have been worthy of a bullet, and a day's pack. Now, it is Go Big, or Go Home...

We made a hot breakfast, and then started tearing down camp and trying to get the Diesel rigs to start. Jobs, family, and other obligations called, and everybody had given it an honest effort.

Maybe a day trip on Friday or Saturday, but it appears not much Elk Meat will be in the Freezer.

Sorry for the long read, and no kill, but there is nothing like looking at Elk with a pair of binocs, and a gun over your shoulder, and being able to resist the temptation of killing one before his prime.... Hope all the rest have as good a trip as I did.

The Gunner.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-07-2003 20:39: Message edited by: ElkGunner ]</font>
Thanks for the story. Sounds like a good time was had. Too bad your now the Camp Beatch!!!

Tough luck in the B-ball games. With a name like 'Gunner are you running a pro-style offense or the standard 'flex'?
Great story gunner, I could smell them potatoes and even had a taste of the cheeseburger. grilled onions right?

Happy trails
Good tale gunner!
Glad you kept your priorities straight and will no doubt continue that search for the trophy spike!

...by the way....what time's dinner???
Thanks for the comments. I enjoyed the hunt, and writing about it. Remember, we go for the memories and the experiences, as much as the meat and the horns.

I am trying to get them to run the Triangle offense, but I don't seem to have quite the athletes that Tex Winter and Phil Jackson have used....
So when all else fails, we will just push the ball up the court, Runnin' and Gunnin' like the old Loyola Marymont teams, and play defense like Nolan Richard's 80 Feet of Hell! I actually detest the set offense for these ages, as too many coaches just let their best kid get all the shots, and the other 4 learn nothing.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Dinner was Sparkling Potatoes in the Dutch Oven and Cheese Burgers.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You sure fed those boys good. All Chef Gunner fed me was a PB & Jelly sam-witch...but tis was goooood.

As always, great story!
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> I actually detest the set offense for these ages, as too many coaches just let their best kid get all the shots, and the other 4 learn nothing. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Very much agreed! At those ages I think they should also get to play more than just one position.
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