Wyoming elk with the older two

rmyoung1

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In October, I made a memorable trip to Montana for my youngest’s first deer. Next on the 2023 priority list was getting my older two to NE Wyoming in late November. I promised their mom that we’d all be home by noon on Thanksgiving Day. I think she doubted we’d make it in time. Caleb (16) and Ethan (14) each had a type 3 elk tag, which allowed the taking of a cow or a spike. I had hunted the unit the year before with my oldest and had a blast. Hunting the ponderosa-covered hills on the edge of the prairie is a lot of fun as it turns out. Once again, my dad joined us.IMG_2186.jpegIMG_2188.jpegIMG_2177.jpeg
 
Ethan deferred to his older brother. So Caleb, Dad, and I parked at the trailhead on the first day just as legal shooting light illuminated the landscape. From just outside the truck, I glassed up a herd of elk. Solid start!
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We spent the rest of the day trying to get a suitable opportunity for Caleb, but nothing came together. We constantly found elk, but getting a solid shot opportunity was more challenging. At the end of Day 1 we had logged a bunch of miles and seen dozens of elk, but no shots were fired.

The next morning found the three of us back at it, glassing the same ridge from the day before. We found elk once again and left Dad in a position where he could keep tabs on them while Caleb and I slithered through the washes and coulees in an attempt to close the distance.

It was fun watching Caleb engaged in the stalk and planning his own approach. We finally made it to a steep hill, which offered concealment and supplied a perfect sniper’s roost at the crest.
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The cow we were pursuing remained completely unaware of our approach, and I had time to examine her through my binos. She was small. I thought maybe she was last year’s calf. But what did it matter? She was a legal elk, and my boy decided he’d take her. A few minutes later we approached the dead cow, and I was shocked. I’d never seen anything like it. Skin and bones.
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I actually had pretty decent cell reception at the the kill site, so I watched the WY G&F video on how to remove lymph nodes for CWD testing. I didn't totally trust myself, so I pretty much removed all the tissue behind the jaw and bagged it up. That evening, in Gillette, I handed the sample to a game warden. They handed me a business card with a QR Code and told me to check back in 10 days for results. But it was a weird deal. That elk weighed NOTHING. I packed the back half almost 2 miles back to truck. It felt like I was carrying stuff for a summer overnight. Crazy light.
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The next morning, Dad, Ethan, and I parked in the same place and, once again, found elk from the trailhead. After a stalk that went perfectly, we sat behind a dead snag only 60 yards from a spike bull that didn’t know we were in the world. The angle was crazy steep, but Ethan put it behind the shoulder and we had our second elk down. This one, thankfully, didn’t look sick.
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The wind on this day reminded us that we were in Wyoming. It wasn’t terribly cold, but the relentless onslaught made it uncomfortable. After a while, during the knife work, Ethan started complaining of being cold. I had just the remedy. I challenged my middle school football player with the claim that any defensive end worth his salt could pack the quarters out of the miserable hole where the elk died. We needed everything back up on top so that we could hit the two-track and follow it back to the parked truck. Ethan was game. I offered to help, but he said, “No! I want the bragging rights.” Off he went.
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After Ethan shuttled a bunch of meat back on top, the three of us packed Ethan’s spike back to the truck, and the next day we left for home arriving a full day before Thanksgiving with my wife’s family. Mrs rmyoung1 was impressed. 😀
After waiting 10 days, I checked the QR Code and retrieved a letter with this opening paragraph.
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The positive CWD test made me feel stupid for not having Ethan’s elk checked, as well. The spike looked perfectly normal, but I wish I had tested it also. I’m just not sure how long an animal can have CWD before the outward signs start to surface. I’m sure some on here can speak to that.

All told, it was a great trip with my boys, yet another thing for which to be thankful during Thanksgiving week. But the CWD cow was a little depressing. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for our ungulate populations, but the whole thing is a shame. That is for certain.
 
The positive CWD test made me feel stupid for not having Ethan’s elk checked, as well. The spike looked perfectly normal, but I wish I had tested it also. I’m just not sure how long an animal can have CWD before the outward signs start to surface. I’m sure some on here can speak to that.

All told, it was a great trip with my boys, yet another thing for which to be thankful during Thanksgiving week. But the CWD cow was a little depressing. I don’t know what the future is going to hold for our ungulate populations, but the whole thing is a shame. That is for certain.
My Dad always told me this about wild game; "Son, that hot Crisco wil take care of any bugs, just remember this, when its brown, its cooking, when its black, its done", ha. Sorry you lost that good cow meat to disease, st least your son got some good hunting and trigger time in!
 
The cow we were pursuing remained completely unaware of our approach, and I had time to examine her through my binos. She was small. I thought maybe she was last year’s calf. But what did it matter? She was a legal elk, and my boy decided he’d take her. A few minutes later we approached the dead cow, and I was shocked. I’d never seen anything like it. Skin and bones.
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Poor thing. Congrats on the kill, sorry to hear about the CWD. Very clear this one had it.
 
Do they offer to issue another tag in that situation?
They don’t. Here’s the verbiage in the letter:

“The State of Wyoming does not guarantee the meat quality of wild animals; therefore, a new hunting license will not be issued if you decide to destroy your meat.”
 

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