Last weekend we set out to hunt Merriam's in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. We filled an elk tag instead. You may be saying about now, "Wait a minute, that sounds illegal. There isn't a spring elk season." And you would be correct. Sort of. Here is what happened...
4:30 Saturday morning rolled around and the normal hunting ritual began. Camouflage was donned. Every pocket in my pants and hunting jacket were filled with the necessities for the day: turkey call, hunting license, tissue, chapstick, salt & pepper sunflower seeds, yadda yadda. Since the destination we were headed for was a good 45 minutes away, I snuggled in the back seat and closed my eyelids while my husband and Big Al chatted away consuming large amounts of coffee and Mt. Dew. My dreams of turkey were rudely interrupted several times by loud announcements of "ELK!" followed by my body being lurched forward due to abrupt stops of the truck. Apparently the lure of fresh green foliage in the drainage ditches were an appealing alternate to the winter diet the Elk had been surviving on. The buffet was open, wildlife was lining up and you had better pay attention to the reflective glare of eye balls seeming to flash back the message "cafe open for business - get out of the way." Driving mountain highways in the wee morning hours of spring quickly becomes a game of frogger.
As we rounded one corner, I vaguely heard my husband comment, "huh. Look at that bull laying by the fence. That's a nice bull." Back to la la land I went. This time I think I may have dreamt about elk.
After an unsuccessful morning Turkey hunt, we decided to move to an area that was less windy and a little lower in elevation. This meant driving back up the mountain range past the morning "buffet lines." By this time, breakfast was over and nap time had beckoned the four legged creatures (who so rudely awakened MY morning nap) to their beds. As we chatted, the thought crossed our minds... what if there was something wrong with that bedded elk by the fence line. Both Al and my husband admitted that the thought had crossed their minds several times after initially seeing him. It is a bit strange that a bull elk would be bedded at that time of day and in that spot. And as we rounded the corner, there he was!
Immediately, we knew something definitely was wrong. We rolled the truck to a stop about 100 yards from the bull. He didn't budge. He sat there staring at us and from the look on his face it was apparent that he had the desire to get out of dodge, but didn't have the means to do so. He was injured bad. His breakfast was either rudely interrupted that morning by a passing vehicle or a poor attempt at crossing the fence line. Either way, he wasn't going to survive. Both back legs were completely mangled preventing him from moving from is bed. I could hardly stand it.
Not wanting to leave him, but knowing we needed permission from DOW before putting him down, we reluctantly drove on to find cell phone reception. A few miles down the road we were able to get in touch with the State Patrol who connected us with a DOW officer. Permission was granted to put the bull down. I've never been so thankful to put down an animal! I definitely have a problem with people hitting an animal with a vehicle and driving on like nothing happened. (Maybe those anti-hunters out there should take heed and focus their attention on the vehicle slaughter that occurs every year instead of well intentioned hunters trying to feed their family in an ethical, healthy way. Talk about inhumane! I've never met a hunter that has left an animal to suffer and done nothing about it.)
Anyway, by the aid of Troy's .40, this 5x5 bull was quickly put out of his misery. We proceeded to gut him and load him in the truck. It did take some time because his hide was covered in ticks. So, we had my dad drive down an additional truck so the Hub's carpeted truck bed didn't also become tick infested. (My dogs say "thank you" btw.)
So what can I say? I feel blessed. An elk was put out of his suffering and my freezer will now be filled once again with healthy meat thanks to our roadkill issued tag.
Troy picked up a heads-up dime in the Walmart parking lot before going in to buy his Turkey tag. He made the comment, "That must mean ten times the luck." Well that may be true since we went turkey hunting the next day and came home with an elk. I know better. I had said a prayer the day before, asking God for a small blessing of getting a shot at a Turkey. As soon as the prayer left my lips I felt a bit guilty asking for something like that. However, God knew. I had recently cried out due to a lot of different circumstances for a small raining down of his love. As a friend at work recently told me... sometimes when you ask for a hamburger, he smiles down and says "how about a steak." The point is - you have to ask and then leave the rest up to Him. I think he delights in blessing us at just the right moments - when we least expect it.
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.