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A Grand Slam

By Bob Anderson

The Grand Slam

 


Bob Anderson passed away suddenly late in August. He was a great part of Deep Countree as well as a good friend.

Family and his passion for the outdoors was what he lived for. Never in the twenty some years that knew him did

I see him get angry. He always had a smile for every one he met and genuinely enjoyed talking with them. Whether it was a waitress at a restaurant or a new member to the Douglas Ridge gun club, he was interested in them as a person.


The story below is a hunt we went on about 7 years ago. He was more excited that that I got my elk than about his harvest. Knowing my friend, I am sure he his chasing elk all over the "Happy Hunting Grounds". My friend may your ammo always be dry and your aim true.....You will be missed....

Love your family, love your sport and remember we are only here a short while.



When you think of a “Grand Slam”, it conjures up all sorts of images based on your life experiences and expectations. You may think of things like one of every major species or all the mountain goats in America or the Big Five in Africa.

 

Bobs First ElkToday, however, we are talking about five hunters and five bull elk on opening weekend.

 

It was getting to be a “typical” November elk season in Eastern Oregon. The weather was clear and bright; but, unfortunately, the temperature was like San Diego.

 

Alas, there would be no snow for tracking and no rain to soften footsteps on the forest floor.


My friend, Russ, had driven down from Seattle to join me on this hunt. It was his first time hunting in this particular area and he was both excited and a little nervous as he did not know what to expect. The drive up the Columbia River Gorge was beautiful as usual and there was still an occasional wind surfer out on the water. We arrived at the ranch around 5 p.m., hooked up with my friend Frank, and headed up to the cabin, which resided in the middle of 8000 acres we had leased for hunting.

 

The drive up to the cabin takes a couple of hours and follows a creek most of the way up into the mountains. The drive is always interesting as you will see all types of wildlife on the way. When we dropped into the canyon off the main highway there were Golden Eagles perched on the cliffs overlooking the creek, which is probably 75 ft. wide at this point, looking for an opportune meal.

 

Further up the road, there were mule deer, an occasional white tail, and wild turkey. About a half mile through the gate, we drove through a flock of about 20 wild turkeys. They didn’t panic and just sauntered off across a grassy meadow with a creek meandering through it. By now the creek was only about six feet across and covered with sign from browsing elk and a few deer.

 

To say that we had a resident herd of between two and three hundred elk wouldn’t be quite true, but about that many animals move around through the acreage as well as surrounding ranches. When the first season arrives, there is a fair amount of pressure brought to bear on the elk and they move higher into areas that are not so heavily hunted. Our season started a week after the first one ends.

 

Typically in warm weather the herd will break up into smaller units and keg up in the upper, timbered draws and one has to seek them out. If we get lucky and it snows they tend to band together more. Did I say that our cabin was between four and five thousand feet in elevation?


We arrived at the cabin just before dinner, got ourselves moved in and our gear situated and sat down to eat. Frank had cut a bunch of elk steaks into one inch cubes and tossed them in flour with all kinds of seasonings.  Fried potatoes, homemade sour dough biscuits and fresh vegetables completed the meal. Man, did I ever stuff myself. After dinner we discussed the next day’s hunt and who was to go where. Since I had a crew cab pickup, my job was to deliver the other four to the top of the ridge above our favorite canyon for hunting elk. When I was done I was to return to camp and pick up my Rubicon ATV and drop down the backside of the hill we were on and go to the lower end of the canyon. It is about 600 feet off the backside down to the road and somewhat steep; I would be doing it in the dark.

 

We all hit the sack about 8 p.m. and were up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. I went out and fired up the generator and Frank put on the oatmeal and sausage. At 5:30 a.m. we all loaded into my rig, drove down into the canyon and up the other side. I then had to take them over to where the canyon daylights out on the ridge top. Everyone got out and I waited while they got their gear together. After about ten minutes, I decided they must be done and were just talking, so I slowly started out. There was then this loud cry to stop, which I did. Apparently my friend decided to use the back bumper as a rifle rest and had not picked it up.  When I had moved, it fell. It was only a Browning Safari grade BAR, but who is keeping score.

 

After that episode, I returned to the cabin and retrieved my ATV.  I proceeded down the mountain to the head of the canyon. I stashed the ATV and climbed up a grass covered ridge so that I could look down on the road coming out of the canyon. I then radioed the others that I was in position and proceeded watch as the sun came up.

 

I had a great deal of trouble trying to reach people on the radio because of the limitations and the canyon I was in.

 

As the sun came up, I noticed that there was an opening in the timber about 25 yards wide just about the same elevation as myself and 100 yards away. Straight above that location, a couple of hundred yards through the timber is a meadow of several hundred acres which is used for summer pasture by local ranchers. This time of year, the cattle have all been moved.

It is not uncommon for elk to run along the edge of the timber of that meadow and then drop into our canyon and run out and over a saddle on the next ridge south.

 

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 a.m., I noticed some movement high up on the hill across from me, way to the right. I couldn’t tell what it was, but hoped it would be elk. After waiting several minutes, a large mule deer doe came trotting by. She was probably spooked by the other party up on the ridge top.

 

Now I was alert and kept watch for some sign of movement. About fifteen minutes later, I was alerted to movement in the same general area.  This time I picked them out coming through a clearing further up on the hill.

 Bob, Frank and Russ A true Grand Slam

They were elk and they were coming straight down the hill. Halfway down there is an old skid road and it crossed through that opening in front of me, so I chambered a round and got myself in position for a shot. Then, they were there. The elk were making no noise but moving silently through the grass.

 

First a cow appeared, then another cow, followed by a calf with another cow, followed by a spike. ”BANG!”

 

I was certain that I had hit him and as I looked to my left I could see the elk crossing the road and heading up over the next saddle. I did not see the bull. I decided to wait a few minutes so as not to spook him if he was still standing. I did not want to track an animal all over these mountains.

 

After about twenty minutes, I walked slowly up to the clearing and didn’t see anything, so I started slowly following the tracks they left. It couldn’t have been twenty feet and I saw him standing on the other side of a large bush. He was hunched up, so I knew I had hit him.

 

Slowly, I raised my rifle and put the cross hairs on him. Before I could pull the trigger though, he fell over and rolled all the way down to the skid road.

 

I rolled him over and dressed him out. He was too big for me to put on the Honda Rubicon by myself and I got on the radio and called for help. Cecil, the father of one of the hunters, came by with his Polaris and then we put a winch cable with a tow strap over a hefty tree limb and winched the elk into the air.

 

I then swung the elk onto the back of my Honda and took it back to the cabin. Cecil also informed me that they had three elk up on top of the canyon. I hooked up a small trailer and headed for the top of hill and quickly located them.  

 

The rest of the party had beenElk hanging walking the fence line when they spotted the elk in a small draw on the other side of the fence.

 

Since that side is free to hunt, they spread out and put the sneak on them. Frank’s son had stayed at the fence line but moved further ahead. Suddenly Frank walked straight into the whole herd and off they went. Frank’s son tipped over the first spike that approached the fence.  Cecil’s son and Frank both got a spike. Russ, who came with me, didn’t get a clear shot.

 

When I got there, they were all dressed out. Two were in the ravine and it was too steep for two guys to them drag out, so I went down there with the Honda and we loaded them both on the trailer. Frank sat behind me and Cecil’s boy stood on the trailer and hung on the back frame.

 

It was slow going, but that Rubicon pulled us out of that draw and down the canyon and back up to the cabin. It was probably no more than 9:30 or 10:00 in the morning.  That night, we celebrated.

 

The next morning we put all of our rifles away and only carried side arms, except for Russ. This time we went in the opposite direction and found a place for Russ to set up.  A couple of the guys set out to do a drive. It wasn’t long and there was a shot.  We all rushed down to where Russ was set up.

 

He had seen a bull come out of the timber and shot it right behind the shoulder with 180 grain Accubond Federal Premium 30-06.  The elk piled up into a slash pile and that was our grand slam.

 

We stayed a couple of days to enjoy the weather and the beautiful country, but soon the warm weather caused us to wrap hings up and head for home. We dropped our two elk off that night and got them into a cooler.  And so, our nine day hunting trip was cut short by good weather, but it was a memorable hunt and not likely to be duplicated.