Now What!? On the ground in front of us was a mature bull the size of a small horse. Darkness had settled in. My partner and I were three wilderness miles in from the truck and more than twenty miles from camp.
“We took some trophy shots, made a plan and left the bull around 8:30 p.m.” We knew we’d have to move quickly to save all the meat. There was no light from the moon as we followed the forest fence by flashlight. At camp, we had a quick meal of spaghetti and packed up for the next morning. We got the mules in the trailer by 8 and were back to the bull shortly after 10 a.m. “Ho, so they had mules,” You say. “The rest must have been easy.”
No, it wasn’t. “By the time I started quartering the animal a heavy wet rain was starting to fall. We freed the hide on one side, removed two quarters, then repeated the other side. We worked for an hour, ate a sandwich then started carrying meat out to the mules.”
Chad finished at the carcass while I ferried the 300 some pounds of meat and bone to the pan yards. We left for the truck at 11:30 a.m. Winding our way back up out of the deep canyon where the bull had perished. We tried to pack 150 pounds or so each trip. We were so tired and so the story goes we reached camp by 1 p.m.
It was the hunt of a lifetime for my client who had always dreamed of tagging a mature bull elk. It is also a rare tale one of hunting as it used to be, of riflemen seeking game in remote places, of primitive camps and a prize worth any effort. These days most hunters shoot game reasonably close to roads or within reach of machinery designed to go where roads don’t.
“Im not going down there” is a statement that has popped up with a surprising frequency during my 4 seasons of guiding elk hunters. They apparently didn’t like the idea of going where the game was if it meant climbing or worse packing a carcass back out of a canyon. But there’s a practical limit to such thinking, after all, you must not only kill but pack out the game. You’ve now got both the legal and moral obligations. Planning a hunt around its aftermath seems out there to the idea of the sport, but its an adventure in the purest form. You agree when you hunt to be tested. An for most of us that’s a major reason we enjoy hunting so much. There’s no guarantee of reward, only of demands – on patience, woodsmen ship, resources, and persistence. There’s often a physical test too, just going to the animals and where they are plentiful in remote places ups the ante. You need not only the energy and fitness, but the time to bring out your harvest as well!
Life’s Short Hunt Hard