Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A huntin' we will go... 2009. (edited)

With the change in my current lifestyle it is safe to assume that this fall would be my last season for hunting.  With that in mind I was determined to fill the freezer one last time, to prove my worth as a provider for the family. 

My friends all thought Dickidoo was either very trusting or very stupid for going out in the wilderness alone with me... with a loaded rifle, and for good reason because for the first time in our 25 plus years of marriage he is actually worth more to me dead than alive.  But with kids like ours, even as old as they are, I don't relish the thought of being a single parent and it suits me to be able to say 'Go ask your father!'

Preparation is a ritual.  I washed my camo and blaze orange gear in hunting soap... which smelled like dirt.  I then showered with soap and shampoo that also smelled like dirt. (I suspect it is so difficult for hunters to spot elk during the season because the elk can spot hunters from miles away... we all look like big fat blaze orange pumpkins and smell like dirt!)  At o'dark hundred we were up and out in search of the elusive bull elk.

Dickidoo had the perfect spot in mind.  We arrived early, got set up and waited. We weren't the only hunters in the area but that was okay, we didn't mind sharing.  Too bad the other hunters didn't feel the same way.  They didn't think twice about talking loudly, walking around us and then walking right through the field in front of us.  Jerks! 

It was pretty obvious that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time so we began to look for signs and tracks.  'Signs' in hunting speak is 'shit'. 

Deer shit, elk shit,
Oh shit, bear shit!

Dickidoo knew where the elk would pass through so we set up a make shift blind.  If the elk showed up as planned I would be filling the freezer. Unfortunately a couple of helicopters doing low altitude maneuvers decided our little area was the perfect area to train.  "We appreciate your service guys, but seriously, go away!"  Of course, they did not.  They circled until all of the animals in the state of Colorado had migrated at full speed to Kansas.  Not cool!

Time for Plan B (or was it Plan C?).

Plan B incorporated the assistance of Dickidoo's friend who was hunting up the way who would be in communication with us via a two way radio if he happened to see anything moving in our direction.  There's nothing that makes one lose the urgency for relieving one's self in the woods than the thought of some guy with high powered binoculars up the hill behind you and some guy with his son scouting around in front of you.  I had to go soooooo bad that I thought I would pop, but there was no way I was baring my full moons with that much traffic all around!

Day one was what I call a 'Murphy's Hunt', when anything that could go wrong did go wrong.  Day two could only get better, right?
Not so much.... There was no fresh sign anywhere, except for bear scat. And let me tell you something about hunting in Colorado.  Colorado is in the Rocky Mountains.  'Mountain' is another word for 'up'.  In Colorado everything is up.  Even down is up.  To get to the top of a mountain you must go up.  To get back down you still must go up.  And no matter how up you are, there is still upper and then it's all uphill from there!

I don't like up.  I really don't. 

So when Dickioo suggested that we wait in a nice little scrub oak hollow looking out over a meadow, with very little up involved, I was ecstatic.  We visited the grave site of an 8 year old boy who died in 1886.  Dickidoo affectionately calls him 'Jimmy'.  We would be hunting in Jimmy's meadow.  Dickidoo is a spiritual hunter.  He asked for Jimmy's permission and then he asked for Jimmy's blessing.  I had a hunting prayer that I whispered over and over.  'Let me be swift and sure.'

It was almost sundown when Dickidoo spotted the antlers among the scrub oaks.  He followed their progress patiently through his binoculars.  I sat by impatiently, waiting for a glimpse of the big bull Dickidoo promised was coming.  Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, the bull crested the hill.
It was a decent sized elk although not so much wide as tall... I admitted aloud.  My future ex gave me an 'are you fricken kidding?' look.  He uses that look on me a lot although I'm not exactly sure why.

Steve jumped into gear and began a new plan of action.  The bull had disappeared behind a dam with 3 possible exit routes. We moved into place... and waited.  And waited.  And waited.
It was almost sun down.  I was running out of time so we began to run as quietly as we could through the cactus minefield to peer over the dam and possibly spot the bull.  Just as I got to the base of the dam Dickidoo hissed for me to look to the left.  I turned right and only saw my husband's excited face.  'Left, left!' he hissed again, running over.  I peered over his shoulder and he grabbed me by mine.
'Your other left!' he growled, physically turning me to my left, and then I saw it standing just 100 yards away.  It was a picture perfect pose, broadside and motionless.  Not so much wide as tall.  I dropped to one knee, took aim and squeezed the trigger.

It was a picture perfect miss.  How could I miss at 100 yards?  I'm dead on at 300!  I quickly reloaded and shot again and this time hit my target.  The bull spun and took off back behind the dam.  Dickidoo grinned and congratulated me but I was worried because I could no longer see the elk.  A few moments later we spotted the him laying down near a pinon tree not far way.  It jumped up and took off again, disappearing near the tree line just off to our right (the right right, not my left right).  It was getting dark.  Dickidoo left to get the truck and I waited, listening for any sign that the elk was leaving the wooded area we had seen it enter, hoping that it had bedded down.  Aside from the wind and my constant prayer it was silent. 

'Swift and sure, please don't let this life have been in vain.'

Dickidoo returned a short time later with a couple of friends to help track and retrieve the elk.  In the dark it was almost impossible to find any tracks or blood trail but these guys are good. Dickidoo found two small drops of blood, nothing more, and there were no fresh tracks.  It was as if the elk had been walking on air... or tippie toe as I suggested. Steve's friend was the one who found the bull, tucked in next to a pinon just 100 yards from where we last saw it.  The guys told me where to place the final shot and it was over. 

Some people think hunting is cruel.  I respect their stance.  I, however, hunt without regret or remorse.  I hunt for food.  I will get about 400 pounds of meat from the bull.  That will feed my family for many months, and it sure beats hotdogs!

The bull, which I refer to as Jimmy's Bull, weighed about 700 pounds on the hoof and carried a 6X6 rack that the guys are guestimating will score over 300 in the Boone and Crocket thingie, which means nothing to me but Dickidoo insists that it's 'one fricken big bull!'

We have a standing rule in our family... 'You kill it, you clean it.'  I started that when Dickidoo used to bring home fish for me to gut (yuck!).  It sounded good at the time... until I began hunting.  After my first kill I had to gut my own kills. Dickidoo was in a good mood though (or maybe he realized that it would take me 4 times as long to do something that would only take him 20 minutes to do), and he offered to field dress the bull. I weenied out and jumped at his offer.  Hey, I may not be able to tell my left from my right, but I'm not entirely stupid!  (Thanks Steve!) 

Not only did he clean the elk for me, he also took it to a butcher to process the meat so I didn't have cut and wrap the meat myself, and he's having the antlers mounted (European mount.... I won't have room in my future home for half an elk to hang on my wall.)

While this was quite possibly my last hunt with Dickidoo, it was probably my best hunt ever.  Nothing but good memories.  Murphy's Hunt... anything that could go wrong did go wrong, but it ended up perfect. It was the hunt of a life time with the bull of a life time, (although not so much wide as tall)

Thank God, thanks to the Spirit of the Elk, Thank you Jimmy.  Thanks Dickidoo, that was amazing!

Edit 10/21/09: Dickidoo suggested that I rename the bull 'Jimmy's Bull' in honor of Jimmy McGlothlin (January 10, 1878 - October 3, 1886) whose spirit watched over us that afternoon.  In actuality it wasn't a "Murphy's Law" kind of hunt at all.  It was a "Jimmy's Law" hunt, when everything that could go right did go right. 


Dawn said...

I am glad that all went well and that you have a good positive memory. Maybe you will still hunt together as friends?

be well...

garnett109 said...

What a great looking elk, it's freakin' huge

Astaryth said...

I congratulated you over on Facebook, but I wanted to stop in here and do the same. Wow 400# of meat? That should keep you all eating at least for the winter ;p

Maire said...

You go Jodie. This may sound strange, but what a touching post.

Donna RDH in TEXAS said...

Remind me not to piss you off.. or my head will be mounted european style on your wall lol
Donna In tEXAS

Traci said...

It really was a touching post. Very good writing. As usual!

moshell's lilbit of space said...

This was a great post Jody....

maybe you & Steve can still hunt in the "after" also :)

Christy said...

It's been way too long sinve I've came to visit you, what an elk!! You wrote this beautifully too.