Featured Animal November 2016
Rocky Mountain Elk: A young adult describes his first hunting experience
By Levi Price
Growing up in Iowa provided me with many outdoor recreational activities. I was actively engaged in many camping, fishing, and hiking trips. Sadly I never had the opportunity to go hunting. When I moved to Utah the opportunities for outdoor recreation increased tenfold. I love living here next to the mountains. It has provided opportunities to go rappelling, hike to waterfalls, and go bouldering, all of which are a little harder to do in my home state where there are no mountains. Among the many new opportunities I’ve enjoyed, my first hunt stands out.
I had been planning this trip since the beginning of fall semester and I could not wait to go. I decided to try for an elk. Deer are plentiful in Iowa but we have nothing that compares to an elk. My college has a fall break during October and I was going to make the most of it. When the week of break finally arrived I was ready. I had stocked up on the best jerky and granola bars I could find. I had my hunting license and tags. I had all the necessary gear. When Friday came around, I booked it out of town and drove up to Henefer, Utah.
When I arrived my guide was ready. Unfortunately I got there too late to go hunting that night. We would head out first thing in the morning. I jumped in bed and got some shut eye. My alarm clock’s blaring woke me up before the sun had even risen. We loaded up into the truck and drove into the mountains. Once there we hiked up to our perfect hunting spot. We set up over a small clearing with a pond in it. The elk were bugling in the forest around us and my guide tried to call them in. For some reason they wouldn’t come into the open! We heard gun shots in the distance and knew that some other hunter had gotten their kill. My excitement waned the longer we waited. Time droned on and nothing came that morning. Our afternoon was spent glassing the mountain. We saw several deer and even a couple bull moose! Sadly there were no elk nearby. Nightfall came and we hiked out. Disappointed; I would have to wait until Monday to try my luck again.
Monday morning came around and I woke up feeling that this would be the day. I could just feel it. We decided to wait out the early morning rain in the truck before getting on the four wheeler. When the rain stopped we loaded up the quad and headed out. As we got off and started walking we heard several elk bugling loudly. They were super close. A light mixture of rain and snow started falling again as my guide and I sneaked up the ridge. When we reached the top we saw them. 300 yards away stood eight bull elk with no idea that we were there. My guide spotted the biggest one and I got ready to fire. When I looked through the scope I couldn’t see anything! The precipitation had made it impossible to see through it! My guide repeatedly wiped the scope clean as I tried to sight the elk in. As I sighted in the elk I felt several different things. I was nervous that I would miss and the whole trip would be a loss. I was excited because the elk was so close. Then as I took the shot everything seemed to focus in. I knew what I had to do and as my finger slowly pulled the trigger I held my breath. BANG! I felt the recoil of the gun and knew the bullet had hit home. I was so happy I had succeeded.
Ecstatic we rushed back to the four wheeler and drove it up to the elk. It was a nice six point and was bigger than I had expected. Then we began the process of dressing the meat. I had gutted fish and chickens before but nothing as big as an elk. I wondered how we were going to do it. My guide knew exactly how to cut the elk up so we could transport it. It took a while. I thought about how incredible the world around us is. There are so many things we can do. I was able to appreciate the strength and beauty of an elk. I couldn’t believe how much fun I had. Spending time in nature is a joy we can take for granted. The mountains have a way of clearing our heads and refreshing our minds. I can’t wait to try and get a buck next year.