THERE IS SUCH A THING AS AN "EASY" ELK
In my column of two weeks ago, I expressed concern for possible meat spoilage as my coming Wyoming elk hunt was scheduled for late August and potential warm weather. My apprehensions were needless as it was 34 degrees F. when I dropped my elk early on the morning of August 28th. Mike Hall and I doubled on our cow elk on the edge of a private property aspen meadow at the foot of the Grand Tetons, and the carcasses were hanging in the local Jackson locker plant before temperatures reached 40 degrees.
As I had touted the affordability, adventure, and meat quality of cow elk over the years, column reader Dennis Groen of Scotland, SD put me on to Wyoming hunting, and Joe Hargrave in particular.
When my elk went down that cool Tuesday morning, my first inclination was to not tell you about the hunt. It was too easy – first morning, no aching muscles, exhaustion, or packing meat on my back to the trailhead. But then I realized that my years of climbing steep slopes and packing hind quarters were behind me. Apologies aren’t necessary. Mike, though a bit younger than I, has had both knees replaced. He doesn’t need a mountain man challenge.
We did something I’d never done before. After our elk hit the ground, we quietly withdrew. The herd wasn’t spooked, and they worked their way into heavier timber in a stress free manner. The herd was gone when we returned.
We hunted the 9000 acre Snake River Ranch that borders Grand Teton National Park with Joe and Traci Hargrave. Their website is jacksonwyominghunts.com and their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am convinced that Joe will help you nail a 320-340 B&C point bull at an affordable price without your having to risk a heart attack. Joe will happily guide you through the license application process.
Following our one-morning hunt, Mike and I traversed Grand Teton National Park. With my free Golden Age Pass, I felt like we pulled something on the feds. That night we were supper guests of Joe, Traci, and their two-year-old son, William. Needless to say, Mike and I have some new friends.
We drove to Jackson by way of Hot Springs and Edgemont, SD, Lusk, Casper, and Dubois, WY, and enjoyed looking over herds of pronghorn antelope along the way. Jackson traffic was well beyond our liking, but we did enjoy breakfast in Wilson at Nora’s, and BBQ supper in Jackson at Bubba’s. The art galleries in Jackson, especially The Legacy Gallery, are “Must See…...” as are the Grand Tetons!
If any church group, club, or organization would like some elk burger for a feed, let me know. It’s as good as burger gets.
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As per usual, I have an agenda today. Because bagging an elk was not a priority as my December Wyoming elk still pretty much filled our freezer, I had decided to use my .50 caliber “side hammer” Hawken muzzleloader on this hunt. After a trip to the Pickstown range and some practice, I scrapped the muzzleloader plan as my aging eyes could no longer handle the open sights of my Hawken. My groups were 20 inches wide!
Yes, I could have gone out and purchased a scoped muzzleloader for my Wyoming hunt, but I didn’t want a rifle I couldn’t use in my home South Dakota. Our SD regulations ban the use of telescopic sights on muzzleloaders. I understand this primitive approach to the way our forefathers hunted, but if we are going “primitive,” why does SD permit modern “in-line” rifles? It doesn’t make sense to me. The philosophy is not consistent. I will use my Hawken this fall/winter on a SD deer, but I will limit my maximum range to somewhere around 40 yards.
I would like to propose to SD Game, Fish, & Parks that scoped muzzleloaders be permitted for hunters 70 years of age and older. If that won’t fly, make it 75 years of age. There is some president. Handicapped archery hunters may use a crossbow with a doctor’s endorsement. Isn’t failing vision a handicap?
We all want a clean, swift kill, and telescopic sight precision will give us that. If what I’m proposing makes sense to you, give me some support.
See you next week.