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  • 2017 Self Guided Elk Hunt (Part Two)

    Bear Grylls style straight down the mountain. We close the distance, a quick poke with the business end of the rifle and a sigh of relief. Holy crap, this things as big as a cow. The size doesn’t hit you until your right beside it, and again as you try to roll him over for a good picture. Grinning from ear to ear we do the mandatory photo shoot and try to let it all sink in. All the hours of research, Sunday mornings watching Randy Newberg, and those guys from “Hushin”, finally paid off. They always say, after the kill, now its time for the real work, or something like that ( a lesson soon to be lived) . Sorting through our packs, Kill kit Check. Plastic Bags ( as pack liners) Check. TAG Bags, Check. I’ve always processed my whitetails back in North Carolina, to me its part of the whole experience. The process was familiar, now just make everything 3 times the size and you start to realize how much work you have in front of you. Get the hyde off, Don’t mess up that cape cause you can’t get a replacement at the Walmart… Hold that leg back. Crap, can’t see what I’m doing. Looking around, Man its getting dark. Grab my headlamp and get back to it. We all keep stopping to look up and scan the edges of the tall grass for eyes. Some Locals we had met earlier told us how bad the wolves were in this area. Even the Forestry service has signs up about bears, both kinds. Don’t forget about the cougars… Needless to say we were all on high alert as we broke the animal down piece by piece. We have to let the meat cool or it will spoil. Trying the gutless method as seen on TV by those “Hushin” fellas we continue to make progress. Quarters off, backstrap out, cape up the neck then a quick cut and TWIST. By now its 10PM, a nice cool night, sweating like crazy and already worn out. We split out 5 TAG Bags full of meat and a 60 pound head/neck. We hang 3 bags in a tree to come back for tomorrow.
    Time to hit the trail, Crap this is heavy. My pack straps are squeaking and grunting under the load, so am I. Fully loaded and sinking mid boot in the bog we ran across earlier we head back to where we slid down the hill. Not having been down that trail before and not taking the time to find a gradual way down in the daylight we went straight back up. Pulling on trees and and hands on the hill for balance we worked our way back up the cliff to the trail. Completely winded and worn out we stop for our first break about 100 yards into the hike. From there we had a good trail and made it back to camp a bit after midnight. We drop our packs and sit down to rest. A quick cheers and a sense of accomplishment and were off to bed. We all slept pretty good that night.
    The next morning the coffee was great the air was a crisp 35 and the camp neighbors seemed a tad bit jealous. In Honnor of the Local Nez Perce Hunting tradition, with more of a Randy Newberg camp style preparation we take out the giant elk heart (about the size of a football with one of the pointy ends knocked off). Starting at the little end I made several quarter inch slices (Stopping just short of where the bullet went in). I put them directly on the grill, Tssssttt they sizzled Smelled great, a quick flip and medium rare we dug in. Not Bad, Elk heart with a dash of victory.
    With empty packs the hike from the night before seemed like nothing. I bet the lions tigers and bears had a feast on the carcass last night. Surely we will see a wolf or ten. Nope, nothing. We grab the last load of meat and head back to camp. The sun is bright and its getting to warm to keep this meat hanging. We made a quick run to town to refuel, (diesel and Burgers) and got 20 bags of ice. Did I say quick, well it was only a 2 hour drive each way. Another day gone to meat care and we settle into camp ready for an early morning.