Elk hunters always hope that the snow gods smile on them.
So last week, when I opened the motel room door at 4:30 a.m., I’m pleasantly surprised when I see a couple of snowflakes falling in the darkness of the parking lot.
By the time my hunting companions and I hit the road, it was snowing a bit harder harder. In fact, the closer we got to our hunting grounds, the snow the snow really began coming down and was starting to accumulate.
By the time we got out of the truck to begin our hunt, it was snowing hard enough that you could only see maybe 25 yards. The wind had picked up and was blowing directly into my face.
For an elk hunter in Montana, you couldn’t ask for more ideal conditions.
The fresh snow enables me to tell whether there had been any elk moving on the mountain that previous night. Also, I knew the particular mountain we were hunting is a popular migratory stopping place for many elk as they make their way to a winter ground.
I slowly made my way down the mountainside, zig-zagging across the treed face. By mid-morning, the snow had let up and the clouds were starting to give way to blue skies and sunshine.
I didn’t view that as a problem. The end of the falling snow actually made it easier to look for fresh elk tracks.
It was a beautiful day to be out. The hunting was great. But as elk hunters know, even ideal weather conditions doesn’t mean an elk is guaranteed. So the day elk hunting ended with no trace of elk, at least on that mountain.
That night, the temperature got down to 4 degrees â€“ much colder than the previous night.
The next morning. we were back to the same mountain walking basically the same area as the day before. But this morning turned out to be different.
I picked up the tracks of a single elk about halfway down the mountain. It appeared by the looks of the tracks that the elk was just leisurely walking along. It would go about 40 yards one direction then head the other way, all the while making its way down the slope.
I tracked the elk for about an hour, then followed them into a heavily-treed slope. Suddenly, I heard a ruckus about 50 yards ahead of me. There he was, five point bull elk. What a magnificent sight.
I’d like to say the hunt ended perfectly, with my tag on that beautiful bull. After all, the elk was only 50 yards away.
But I never took a shot. By the time I got my rifle in position, all I could see in the cross hairs of the riflescope was the elks’ behind as he moved out. That’s not the best shot for an elk hunter or for any big game hunter.
The elk had busted out of its bed and started to run across the side of the mountain. It was quickly out of sight.
No, I don’t have any elk in my freezer after last weeks hunt. But, the season isn’t over yet. I will be back and I’ll do it all over again.
I’ll admit I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got that magnificent five-point bull and the enjoyment of perfect elk hunting days permanently etched into my memories.