An Elk Odyssey: Part 6

Part 6 Of 7
Montana Bound

From last week in Part 5: “Pulling a Muzzy-tipped Beman from my quiver, I loaded my Mathews. Settling into a comfortable position, I came to full draw and settled the pin of my Black Gold bowsight on his ribcage. The arrow flashed over the distance in a moment, forever frozen in my mind, disappearing in the side of the bull directly where I’d intended. Hardly bothered, the bull spun around, glaring in every direction as he tried to figure out what had just happened. Frozen in place, I watched google-eyed at the scene unfolding before me. As a few cows slowly started to move away, the monarch finally began to trot toward his herd. Covering less than 10 yards, the big bull simply expired on his feet, crumpling directly to the ground. I was speechless!”

Part 6
After spending most of the next day retrieving the meat of my Arizona bull from the field, Peg and I were ready for a hot shower and an evening of relaxation around base camp. Grilling some tenderloin, we gorged on lean meat and fresh vegetables from our home garden, while washing it all down with cold sodas. 

Life was good, and we were blessed! As evening turned to night, a campfire provided a means to roast marshmallows, and a place to get lost in our thoughts. Realizing that half of our elk hunting odyssey was already over, I knew that both of us were slightly saddened by the abrupt, early end to our Arizona trip. But then again, we both knew that when it came to bowhunting, you’d better “get’em while the gettin’ is good.” Turning in early for a good night’s sleep, we both knew that the next two days would be long ones — “windshield time.”

Base camp in Montana — once again, the author says, better than he’s used too!

Rising early the next morning, we soon had base camp disassembled — by midday we were rolling down Interstate 40, eastbound. Arriving back in Oklahoma on the 18th of September, I was stunned that my Arizona hunt was already finished — there were nearly 10 days of season left! After a few days at home spent catching up on some work, both Peg and I were antsy to get back to the high country. Pointing the Ford north, off we went.

If Peg had thought that it had been a long drive to Arizona, she soon found out that it was a much longer one to Montana; I bet she asked me, “are we there yet?” a dozen times! Nevertheless, after nearly 30 hours of driving time, we finally rolled into our hunting destination, midday of our second day on the road. Finding a private camp spot in the national forest, we both set about getting things arranged for a long stay. It was our plan to be in the area for two to three weeks if necessary because I intended to fill another bull elk tag, at all cost! 

The terrain in Montana was rugged — any type of shooting opportunity could be encountered!

Spending the remainder of the day resting, toward evening, I finally found myself becoming antsy. Grabbing a fishing pole and some lures, I headed to a nearby stream to see what I could stir up. In short order, I had a nice batch of brown trout strung up! Cleaning my prizes, I strode back to camp to display my prowess to my woman — nothing like being a successful hunter/gatherer!

Giggling like little kids in a candy store, we discussed how to best utilize our catch. The discussion was short, owing to the fact that we were both in perfect agreement on this topic — supper, now! Lighting our grill, as the sun slid behind Western mountains, we both scurried about in preparation of the feast soon to come. 

As coals turned white, trout carcasses were glazed with olive oil and spices. When the time was right — alright, maybe a little sooner — four, fat brownies were plopped down, soon sizzling into an aroma that only experience can describe. A little later, as Peg and I stuffed ourselves with juicy, white meat, the chill of a late-September night settled around us. Not ready to retire for the evening, I soon had a small campfire crackling around us, chasing back the darkness of the moonless, mountain night. Far in the distance, a young bull elk could be heard whistling in the night; what more could a bowhunter ask for?

The author had confidence in his shooting from all positions thanks to a lot of pre-trip practice.

As we both sat staring into flames — lost in our thoughts — I found myself dreaming of the soon-to-start hunt. Even though I’d been at this game for more than 30 years, the anticipation of a new chase yet made me feel as alive as I could ever hope to be. Inside, I scanned the possibilities — would I get one? — if so, how long would it take? — how hard would it be? — how big would he be? Little did I know, but the answers to those questions were going to come much sooner than I expected.

Please read the conclusion of the series in Part 7.

For a fine selection of Archery gear, click here.

Eddie Claypool provides tips on bowhunting, with an emphasis on whitetails. Claypool has harvested 63 Pope & Young-class recordbook animals including 35 whitetails (Coues included), 16 elk and eight mule deer. All the animals were taken on do-it-yourself hunts.

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