With most out-of-state hunts already secured and the excited hunters now packing and preparing to go, I will finish a most exciting high mountain hunt I made back in 2004 out west.
In last week’s article I related a scary episode while elk hunting in Colorado when I in turn became the hunted. The largest black bear I have ever seen before or since was spotted trailing and winding me for breakfast.
The story ended right, and it and I both walked away with no further damage.
I would like to pick up right there in the story and relate the successful elk hunt the days after the encounter with the behemoth bear.
Our guide had secured for us a private piece of land, some 300 acres a few miles from the lodge. My minister friend, the late Rev. Kenny Rockco, and I spaced ourselves apart on the old cattle ranch with me on the edge along the fence line overlooking a large Bureau of Land Management open range mountain.
Bro. Kenny was in the middle of the ranch overlooking a small pond in hopes the elk would come to water.
It was frigid that morning and I had climbed over into a pop-up tent to be concealed and out of the cold wind.
As the sun broke across the beautiful towering mountains, I spotted a small herd of elk grazing on a near slope and angling toward my friend and me.
I shall never forget the tantalizing sight of the sun glistening off the antlers of the lone bull, like a thousand sparkling diamonds.
Bro. Kenny had started calling with a cow call not long before, and I watched in wonder as the bull would raise his head and bugle back, all the while easing on down the slope toward my friend with six cows in tow.
The brush of the slope came to a point, like a funnel, about 600 yards on down from me, and that is where the elk cows started appearing as they were headed to the pond to water. I climbed out of the tent and ran as hard as I could down the barbed wire fence line trying to close the distance as I am not a great long-distance shooter.
With my blaze hunter orange vest and cap on, I only managed to cut half the distance until the cows noticed me just before they would have started jumping the fence. So I stopped and propped up on a notched-off limb on a cedar post and got ready as I fought to get my breath back from running in excitement.
As I did so, the cows began to run up and down the fence line in a panic when the young bull, with a 5-by-3 antler, appeared and walked up to the fence.
He had not spotted me, so there he stood broadside with his magnificent head over the fence about to jump when I elected to take my first shot.
I later would find out I hit the right spot in the boiler room, but he did not go down, but rather turned to go back up the slope.
He was hurt enough he could not do so but began to angle back toward me, and I was fortunate enough to finish off the beautiful bull less than 100 yards from where I stood.
My friend came and together we took pictures and celebrated our good fortune before field-dressing the splendid bull.
We then brought our four-wheeler ATV close enough at the fence to winch it onto and under the fence and then secure the bull to the back of the ATV and slowly drag the 1,000-plus pound animal down the mountain and onto our truck.
I have been privileged to harvest some really nice whitetail deer, even some trophy bucks, over my 55 years afield, but never have I experienced the euphoria of seeing that magnificent bull bugling on that crisp morn and then taking him in such a grand manner.
The tantalizing smell of the sage, the spectacular view of scenic high mountains and those gorgeous animals grazing, all God’s great creation, just cannot be described adequately.
To top it off, as we made our way back off the ranch and onto the mountain highway to go into the western town of Collbran and have the bull processed, we came upon a real cattle drive with horsemen.
They had the whole roadway covered, but we just tagged along behind enjoying the icing on the cake of the hunt in a come-to-life old western John Wayne film!
That’s been 16 seasons back but the thrill remains, and I encourage every hunter reading this to make plans to hunt the vast and beautiful mountains of the Rockies, be it Colorado, New Mexico or any other western state. It will be the trip of a lifetime whether you score or not.
God bless you and God bless America.
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BRO. MALCOLM “MIKE” DYKES of Tylertown is chaplain of Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.