Great morning all,
30° with a mostly clear sky here in the southwest Wyoming desert. High today of 47° so things should continue to dry out.
We got out in the morning to do some scouting & glassing. We kept to the better roads North of town. Doug called around 11am with a report of Elk sighting East of us about 25 miles. We met up back at the house & Doug called off work for the afternoon.
By the time we got to the area were the Elk were seen they naturally had moved. Fortunately it was closer access from the side road we were on. We parked down the road a ways, loaded up and quickly figured out a way to put cover between us & the small herd. We needed to close from around 500yds to with in 300yds. Luck favored us with a low rise that Doug & I crept up. Uncle Mike stayed back some to watch from further concealment.
I got in front of Doug and slowly peered over the rise & they were alert but not spooked. I took a knee, set the shooting sticks clicked off the safety while looking for a suitable cow. Doug said "careful, there are a lot of spikes in there" I scanned and whispered back "ya I see 'em". I swing the cross hair onto the biggest bull, kept moving more right onto a cow. She was front quartering shot, not ideal but doable. She stood still but didn't offer a more favorable target. I sqeezed, the 300 mag recoiled off target & I could not see what happened.
Behind me, Doug said "did you hit her?" My reply, " I don't know, I did not hear an impact & did not see it fall" Doug followed "I didn't hear a hit either." I quickly scanned for a wounded cow among the 20 or so Elk. "I still don't see any, what about you?"
Doug asked "Did you miss?" " I could have it was only a quartering shot" was my response. Doug then said "Try another shot"
I put the cross hair on a broad side cow, squeezed and saw a cow collapse right there. Success. We quickly closed the distance to make sure she was down to stay. About 100yds away both Doug & I saw slight movement to the right of the down cow. "Shit, we have two down"
I had in fact hit the first cow. Doug kept going toward the second & I turned to the first. She had collapsed into a small depression behind a large sage bush. She tried to pick her head up but wasn't able to initially. Doug confirmed the other cow was dead & came over toward me. As he approached the cow in front of me stood up and slowly walked away. The words "Elk are big tough animals" passed through my mind.
The cow slow walked about 100yds & laid down. The conversation with Doug was simple. "We better call game & fish to tell them what happened and what they advise us to do".
Uncle Mike made his way down the slope to us. Doug was on his phone. Doug gave his number to dispatch and was told a warden would call back soon.
Mike & I went about quartering the dead one. After a few minutes speaking to a warden, Doug walked over to get my rifle & said "The warden said finish her off he is on his way to our GPS coordinates"
Calling in was the right thing to do even if it meant I would be ticketed & fined. It took about an hour for the TWO game wardens to arrive. Doug walked back to greet them while Mike & I finished the last little bit on the second cow. On the walk down the slope, Doug explained what happened. When the three of them got to us I was asked to explain what happened. My story was just what Doug had said while we were apart so the wardens seem satisfied we weren't trying to get away with anything. It is always easy to repeat the truth.
After checking my tag, and getting some basic info we all walked over to the other cow. Doug had been instructed to gut her out. The younger warden looked at the entry/exit wound & agreed it was a front quartering shot. That seemed to confirm to him we were being truthful. Then he called his supervisor for guidance. Meanwhile, the other warden asked a few more questions. He too was satisfied we were being honest as well. Both the wardens stepped away to converse about the situation. They came back & asked if I was ok with donating one Elk to the needy. My reply was "Of course". I was relieved when they said I was only going to be issued a written warning with no fine involved.
We helped drag the whole cow the 500yds to their trucks.
I received my citation. I commended both wardens for their professionalism and discretion & shook their hands. They thanked us for doing the right thing in calling in my violation rather than leaving a cow to go to waste.
Packing out the cow I was allowed to keep took only about a 7 minutes each trip.I
Bonus for the trip, Doug found a shed antler.
As it stands, we have Elk quarters hanging in the garage. After a day or so, we will begin butchering.
There's the adventure for yesterday.