Wednesday, December 14, 2016

An Elk is in the Freezer

Gander Mountain

We have meat for the winter along with plenty of people who enjoy wild game.  Just recently a friend asked when I was going hunting as he and his wife want to dine on some fine fresh elk.

The original plan was to hunt Axis deer at High Adventure Ranch.  After lengthy research, it was discovered that this was not the animal for my family and friends.  It was really nice of the ranch to accommodate me with a different date.  They were totally booked in October and November was not any better.  Thank to the ranch manager Monty Pitts, he told me to come down the end of September and he personally would guide me on a hunt.  I really appreciated him doing this for me, but this is the service provided by a company that goes out of it's way so that the hunter is taken care of.
My lodging at the Ranch
A days drive down to St. James, where I spent the night and the next morning I was down at the ranch.  Meeting with Monty he asked,  what do you want to kill, elk or deer?"  I told him last year they had put me on a spike that had lost one of his antlers in a fight and it was outstanding meat.  The ranch wanted him removed as he could not spear another elk if they go into a disagreement especially during the rut.  I told him I wanted another meaty spike or a maximum of a 5 x 5, that looked good and meaty.
Up on a ridge top this is what you will see.  It is close, and it was warm.

This is typical of what you will see.  Notice how dense the timber gets.
The rut was just starting and the bulls were gathering around the cows.  Also, the bulls were developing a really bad attitude, and so we wanted to be careful as we prowled the timber looking for the right animal for me.  We spent the morning checking heavy timber on the ranch as we looked for an elk with a good set of horns and nice and meaty.  I saw some really big elk in the timber and tried to get as many pictures as I could.  Anytime you saw some cows, there were some really nice looking elk and big ones with a rack that would complement anyone's game room.

There is a nice looking bull that would have been an easy shot, but there are better.
We spent the morning prowling and stalking and still did not find the one I wanted.  I had never been at the ranch this time of the year and there was limited ground cover as the ground was very rough with gravel and grass.  The timber formed a canopy over the ground floor and as usual you had to look through the standing timber to locate an animal.

After lunch we headed to another spot on the ranch and we found the one I wanted.  A 5 x 5 with a herd of cows, but he was way out of their class as there was some really big bulls nearby and those bulls were not going to let him get close to the ladies.  Monty glassed the area and he was moving slowly down off the ridge between the timbers.  I moved in a straight line toward him keeping a tree between his head and my body.  It was dead calm and so he did not wind us, and he just slowly moved in among the standing timber.  When I got to the big tree he was still visible and his right front should was between standing trees not more than 30 yards away in a straight line. I could not see his head or his rump.  Putting the cross hairs on the sweet spot the round was sent on its way.  Monty was standing off to my right and behind me and said good shot.  The elk turned around and fell.  The 300 win mag again did its job.

A nice young bull with a respectable rack plus he is meaty.
We got him transported down to the location of the barn and coolers.  I like to have my harvests gutted of course, skinned and allowed to hang overnight in a cooler to allow rigor to set in. This time there was not room, so he was skinned and deboned and the meat placed on the trays in one of the big walk in coolers.  Also, my two coolers were place in the cooler to chill them down and help hold the meat cold.  The next morning we would pack the coolers and cover the meat in ice and I would check on it once when I gassed the truck somewhere in Missouri.  

The meat made it all the way home and I checked on it once, added more ice at home, and took it all the the processor the next day.  I have my burger mixed with 15% pork and this time I did a dumb thing.  I kept the tenderloins whole instead of cutting them into one inch steaks.  The plan is to have people over and I will bake a tenderloin as I have done before.  It is outstanding. 

There he is, already for skinning.  Look how nice and meaty this boy is.

The skinning is done.  Now it is time for the de bonning.

There he is all that is left after the skinning and deboning.
Late that afternoon, I was sitting down at the lounge area and Monty stuck his head in the door, and said come on quick, we have found something that is really unusual.  It was a calico deer.  He moved all around the timber and we drove over some maintenance roads to get a good picture of him.  Very unusual color pattern, but the proof is in the picture.

There he is.  Look at the rack first then the hide and the coloring on him.  He was discovered while I was there. 

That evening after an outstanding dinner, Monty told me that the big bulls would come down out of the wooded hills in the evening and hang around in the pastures.  There they would bugle and fight.  It was a sight to see.  I did not get any pictures of anyone warring, but when I went to bed that night they still were bugling and grunting.

I drove over to the pastures and did not get out of my truck, but these are some outstanding pictures of some really big bulls.  I was advised not to get to close as the bulls were getting nasty and the ranch has had a truck attacked. 

A couple of nice big boys
Check out his rack.  I think he gets the cow of his choice.
A bull with his harem.
Next morning I headed back to Iowa after a great trip and experience at High Adventure Ranch.  Contact Monty Pitts at 1-573-743-6606 for more information.


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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