Can’t wait for my Idaho huntGot my first elk last night with a Wyoming resident general tag while looking for a whitetail. Now I'm really happy I always carry all my tags with me!
The tag was an accident to begin with, my husband and I had researched elk units and I decided to put in for a tag that had extremely low odds of drawing but a high success rate. He wanted a general tag as second choice, but I was looking forward to my antelope hunt and didn't want the pressure of finding an elk so I didn't want the general tag. He was filling out the applications for both of us while I was cooking supper, and after putting 'general as second choice' on his form, he did the same for me without thinking. When the tag arrived I shoved it in my pack and mentally wrote it off.
It was the day before the last day of deer season and between weather and lots of people on ATVs the deer have been pretty scarce. I went out in the national forest day before yesterday trying to fill a deer general tag and the biggest critter out and about was a chipmunk. While I was hoping to get a buck, I was at the point where I'd rather take a whitetail doe and have the meat than wait and miss out entirely. It snowed pretty steadily all day yesterday and was still coming down when I headed out again in the afternoon.
There was nothing out for the first mile or so up the mountain. No tracks, no squirrels, not even a magpie. I found a sheltered spot on the side of a ridge, looking down into where there had been a lot of deer sign the night before, and waited to see if something would walk through. After sitting for about half an hour with no action, I decided to head up and around the top of the ridge. When I came around the curve of the hill, there were three bull elk grazing happily near the top at about 80 yards.
It worked out great that the clearest shot was at the biggest bull, he was the only one completely in the open, but all three were facing directly at me. I slipped forward and got braced against a tree, kneeling behind it, and waited until he reached over for a bite which gave me a clean shot into his body where his neck met his shoulder. He staggered back at the impact and then turned and headed straight up the hill to my right, giving me a perfect broadside shot (with my husband's voice playing in my head "do not stop shooting til he stops moving!") The second shot sent him rolling head over heels back down the hill, meanwhile his two companions, not realizing where the shooting was coming from, headed straight for me. I was saying "don't run over me, don't run over me" and they finally turned and headed up the hill. Their tracks came to 4 yards from the tree I was kneeling behind. My bull had snagged on a stump and was lying halfway down the hill.
I called my husband and he and the kids hiked up the mountain, and since I'd been chatting with a dear friend via text all day I sent her a picture. She volunteered her husband to load up his four wheeler and come help us get the meat down the mountain and we were thrilled to accept. It was full dark by the time we were quartering him up and blowing snow sideways.
So instead of a whitetail doe (which I would have been very thankful for!) a tag was filled on a 3 year old 4x5 bull elk and I'm so grateful for what turned out to be a great hunt!