Hunting: Day 3

Day 3

Don’t try this at home
Shouldn’t go hunting alone
I went anyway

Since Mike had to travel for the next few days and my writing buddy was horrified by the idea of going hunting with me (my invitation startled her speechless), I was forced to make a decision. Either give up on a perfectly good evening of hunting (my morning was booked), or go by myself. I realized—as I was making it—that it was a foolish decision. My internal mother-voice was screaming, “Don’t be a moron! What do you think you’re doing?”

But I had to do it. I had to see if I had the guts to go it alone, just me, my pack, and the elk-slayer. I’ve recently found myself wondering about age-related things, like, when was it that I stopped working on my handstands? I used to be pretty good at doing them. Sure, I may be 55, but Jack LaLanne was doing his insane workouts until the week before he died at age 96! Yes, I had to go hunting by myself. I would only be out for a couple of hours, and I would head home before the sun set. Maybe I would even try a handstand when I got home.

Halfway up the rocky, snowy road I started to get nervous and ate the third of six “fun size” Snickers bars I would consume just getting to the trailhead. Although I probably should have lost several pounds with all the hunting and hiking I’ve done these last couple of weeks, I’ve used the increase in energy expenditure to justify my over-indulgence in the chocolaty treats.

In any case, my “what ifs” were going into overdrive. What if I get stuck? How would I turn my 4-Runner around on the steep, narrow, icy trail? What if my brakes won’t work on the way back down? I had myself worked into a tizzy and almost turned around at a wide area on the ascent, but I couldn’t give up that easily. With a half-mile to go before I could hunt, my tires spun in a rut. “Shit,” I whispered, as if I would scare away a potential target if I had said it any louder.

I was able to back up—Phew!—and decided I probably shouldn’t drive any farther. I parked off-trail and geared up. “Shit,” I whispered again when I realized I had left my gloves at home. Alas, all I could find in my normally-well-stocked vehicle was a pair of blue rubber-coated garden gloves. “Perhaps this is telling you something,” my mother-voice whispered. I ignored it and stuck the silly gloves into my pocket.

The surge of adrenaline I experienced when I loaded the .308 surprised me, and for a brief moment I thought I might have to rush to the woods to unload, um, the Snickers bars. The feeling passed, however, and I started down the slippery trail with the stealthiest steps I could manage. I saw many tracks crossing the road. Bunnies. Squirrels. Birds. I couldn’t remember what mountain lion tracks looked like, but I was pretty sure I didn’t see any of those.

scope 3I stopped frequently as I maneuvered down the trail and practiced a sighting drill my friend John taught me. Look at the target, keep both eyes open and on target, bring the weapon up so the scope is in line with your sighting eye, and voilà! Ready to fire! I got better and faster each time I practiced. That sitting squirrel had no idea how cute he looked in my crosshairs.

When I finally reached the area where we had hunted on Dayblue glove 1, I settled down in a spot with good visibility in several directions. The blue rubber gloves proved to be most unsatisfactory, but I had grabbed a couple of expired hand-warmer packets from my vehicle and they provided a bit of heat.

For the next half-hour I sat in silence as the sun settled into the trees. I knew there would be no reckless herds of elk wandering across my path with “Shoot me!” signs on their sides, and if there had been, I probably would have shot pictures. What was I thinking, hunting alone?

snow selfieI brushed the snow off my butt and started back up to my vehicle, practicing my aiming skills every few minutes along the way. I could have continued to hunt for another hour, but I wanted to make the drive back while there was still some ambient light. I couldn’t resist taking a snow-selfie. Roger Miller’s song “King of the road” played in my head when I saw my impressive shadow on the snowy surface. It was better than my pesky mother-voice.

When I spotted my vehicle, I felt like I had accomplished something. I had overcome my fear of doing something “risky” at my middle-age, and alone.

The rising moon and setting sun were the spoils of my hunt.

moon over mosquito

sunset over Elbert









I took my time driving down the mountain. When I got home, I tried a handstand. Next time I won’t use the door. Oh, and don’t tell my mother.



Hunting Haikus (and more!): Days 1 and 2

Day 1

He trusts me to walk
Behind him with loaded gun.
Crazy husband, mine.

Since I began my “Hunting with Hubby” story with a haiku, I figured I should do the same for my week of hunting. Although I was able to take lots of notes with my iPhone (on airplane mode, of course!) while following Mike for days and days last week, I do not have Sako .308the same luxury this week as I am the one carrying the Sako .308 elk-slayer. Therefore, instead of waiting until the end of the week to gather my notes into one story, I’ll do my best to capture the highlights of “My Turn to Bag the Wily Elk” each day. I have until 5:29 p.m. on November 9th to accomplish this.

We started before sunrise yesterday in an area we were told had lots of activity. We covered tons of terrain and I found myself dressed too warmly again. Since I was in the lead this time, however, I got to chose when and where to stop, and I took lots of cool-down and pee breaks. The most exciting activity we experienced ended up being two frisky squirrels bolting out of a nearby tree chasing one another, and one nearly running up my well-camouflaged leg! It took everything in my power not to jump and scream like a little girl, even though there were no elk within earshot.

The day was gorgeous and Mike did his best to locate the source of tidbits left on trails, but to no avail. Mike with scope

Here’s my haiku from yesterday’s attempt:

No beginner’s luck
Humming “Kumbayah, my elk”
Only squirrels come

Day 2:

We started the hunt this morning feeling hopeful. With the extra hour of sleep (why are we still observing Daylight Savings Time?) and anticipation that the light snowfall would make it easy to find our tasty temptress (I, too, have a cow tag), we set out to a new location.

Hours later with much terrain covered following teasing signs on trails, we returned to the vehicle, elkless again. The spider webs that yesterday glinted with sunshine today were like strands of snow pearls hanging from the trees. Not too far from the road, we found evidence of elk in the area.

snowy elk skull

This morning’s haiku:

Snow frosted elk skull
Successful kill for someone
Sorry it’s not mine

Along with the skull were the pelvic bones and spine, all white as the snow that soon would bury them.

Knowing that we would find easy trails in the snow, we returned to the same spot this afternoon. With me in the lead and feeling like this could be “it,” I did my best to ignore the loud scrunching of our boots as we forged forward into the forest. At first it was humorous,photo 3 but with each step, my boots became heavier and heavier until I could kick off the mounting platform. I felt a bit like Frankenstein.

Frankenstein trudges
Hiking boots laden with snow
Scaring elk away

After a couple of hours of seeing nothing but rabbit and squirrel tracks, I started to get a little irritated. I was tired. I was hungry. I was making far too much noise in the winter wonderland of woods and caved-in mine shafts to sneak up on any prey. It was snowing, the sun was setting, and all I really wanted to do was go home and enjoy a glass of wine. Screw the wily elk.

Mike could tell I was starting to feel petulant and took the lead, trusting me to follow him, on slippery surfaces, with a loaded rifle. When he suggested that we crest one more hill to “see what was on the other side,” I almost cried. Instead, I turned around.

photo 2

photo 1



“See?” he whispered. “We’re doing real hunting. There aren’t too many people seeing this view tonight.” And he was right. We decided then to go just a bit further before heading back (how I loved to hear that phrase!).

Not 20 feet away, we found a fresh track, an elk track, in the snow, heading downhill. With adrenaline pumping, we followed the trail down and down and down…and down…and around…until it stopped, right by a large pine tree. I looked up. Not there. It was truly time to head home.

photo 1 (2)

By the time we reached our vehicle, it was quite dark. The rising moon shone through the foggy haze of rolling clouds and melting snow.

Perhaps tomorrow will be “it,” the day I will bring down my first elk. If not, I’ll just have to suffer through my spectacular surroundings a little longer.

Wish me luck!