02 October 2012

Elk's in the Freezer, Let's go Hiking (and Partying!)

------ warning: dead animal photos ahead --------- 

Hunting Elk with a Longbow

Whatever I do, I pursue it with "Knowledge and Thoroughness," as the motto of my Alma Mater Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MS 1981) puts it. This makes elk hunting a bit like moonlighting at a second job. Parties, hiking, and some other social activities get put on hold.

In addition to what I have posted earlier, there have been some great moments at my elk hunting blind. This young coyote came in one afternoon and seemed more interested in exploring than in hunting Brer' Rabbit:

Like the many elk that avoided the spring when I was nearby, this mule deer doe clearly knew something was not right:

A trail camera consistently showed elk coming to the spring. Look carefully at this young 4X4 bull, as you will see him again:

The elk just did not come when I sat near the spring. I had two well-hidden spots, but finally abandoned them and went back to the old Indian hunting pit that friend Dave Carter has found. It did not seem like a good spot: too far from the spring and crowded into the base of a sagebrush hillside leaving little visibility. But it was the right place:

This young bull came by chasing a young cow, and he and the cow practically leaped over me. Several other cows watched the show, though they were just out of longbow range (c. 30 yards). But I made a soft cow call, he walked past at less than 20 yards, and then walked slowly away until falling over dead after 200 yards. At such times, it is good to have a friend like Dave--big, strong, and willing to help me load an elk at short notice:

I am thankful for this gift, honor the elk's spirit, and will use his flesh well. I also cherish a tradition of hunting that goes back to the Native Americans who dug and hunted from "my" pit. This photo shows my arrowhead, the bull elk's ivories, and a jasper tool flake I found in the pit:

Let the Fall Full Moon Festivals Begin

This past weekend was marked by the full moon, which heralded two major holidays that are dear to me:

My little city of Butte, Montana, has put on a good and growing Oktoberfest the past few years. The warm weather brought out a good crowd this year:

Several bands took the stage, playing everything from contemporary folk and country to traditional oom-pah-pah. Got tuba?

Beer races drew out competitive natures:

And others took the opportunity to dress up:

A brief shower found my friend (and gifted writer and geologist) Richard Gibson celebrating the first rain we have seen in many weeks:

After the Oktoberfest, we joined our Chinese-American friends at a dinner celebrating the mid-autumn or full moon festival.  There is nothing like a 12-course Chinese banquet to cap off the day. The dinner ends with the lucky egg yolk food of the day, moon cake (this photo is from http://scienceray.com/astronomy/chinese-moon-cake-festival-or-mid-autumn-festival-is-near/ ):

Golden Time

The following day, to work off all those brats and moon cake, we hiked into some high mountain lakes to see the Alpine larches. Unlike other conifers and like hardwoods, the needles turn yellow and fall off in the autumn. "Golden Time" peaked a week or two ago, but the trees still had good color:

I carried my pocket-sized grouse gun, and this grouse made a tasty dinner:

The lakes are very scenic, and we all wished we had come to camp instead of for a day trip:

Our weather is predicted to turn colder with rain and snow later this week. It's been a gorgeous summer, even though I got off to a late start. Happy autumn, everyone!


Richard Gibson said...

That last photo is spectacular. (More than the others!)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Congrats on the elk - Mark

RD3 said...

Nice post. Nice Elk congrats.

troutbirder said...

Wonderful hunting sequences. My own short lived bow hunting career was far more hilarious that successful...;)

Janie said...

Your elk looks like a healthy specimen who will provide some good eating this winter.
Octoberfests are good times.
Love the lake photo. That's a beautiful spot.
Our aspen show is fading, but still colorful in some areas.

Judy said...

When they say mule deer have big ears, they are not kidding!!
Love that shot of the moon!!

Merri said...

Now bow hunting takes some skill! as does getting an elk up in the back of the pickup. I like how you honor the spirit of the animal too. good karma.
- The Equestrian Vagabond

mdmnm said...

Congrats! A bull on a solo longbow hunt is a heck of an accomplishment. Hope the rest of your fall goes as well.