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Matt's Elk

By Matt Caturegli

                      Apprentice Elk Hunt – Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

The day before the hunt, I left school early to go to Grizzly Island Wildlife Area (G.I.W.A) for my apprentice elk hunt.  We didn’t see any elk on the way in, and started to get concerned that maybe they had relocated to a difficult or remote location on the property.  Once we arrived, we set up camp with the rest of the hunters and spotters. There were a total of six adult hunters, myself, and one other junior hunter, as well as “spotters/guests” accompanying some of us.  We also had the good fortune of meeting another hunter, Darren, who would end up being a great hunting partner for this hunt and friend.  I was going to use my Dad’s .308 cal. Browning BAR. I had to show it and the copper ammo to the Game Warden on duty that day. The biologist that was there, Orlando, gave about an hour long orientation and then told everyone to go on the property and scout for elk. My dad and I scouted for about an hour and we saw multiple herds of 15+ elk.  This really got us excited for the hunt!                                            

The next morning, my dad, I, and Darren set out to look for elk. About 30 minutes after we woke up we went into one of the many hunting zones to find the herds. It was still dark and the wind was blowing over 20 mph, but about 15 minutes after we got there, we started to follow a small herd of about 4-5 elk. We had stalked them for a few hundred yards, but we were too far away from them to shoot. We wanted to see how close we could get to them, and the next thing that happened was the elk saw us and started running away. We tracked them as they joined a larger herd, but couldn’t get close enough for a shot.  After that we had all decided to get back to the vehicles in parking lot 4 to shed some layers of clothing off, even though the wind was gusting badly.                                                                                                             

As we were there, Orlando drove by on his ATV and told us that there was a big herd near parking lot 3. We immediately took his advice and drove over there. Once we got there, we all saw and heard the herd of about 40+ elk. They were a pretty mixed group with both males and females. Some were bedded down, others feeding, and they looked pretty relaxed. We did not want to spook them or else they would run off and we would lose our chances at shooting one.  We literally crawled on a dirt levy road for roughly 300 yards to get close enough to them. With the strong wind at our face, we finally stopped about 250 yards away and I took the shot at a cow elk but unfortunately missed.  My dad was watching closely with his binoculars, and the miss was clean, so we let her go.

After I missed, Darren recommended that we follow the now-distant herd for another few hundred yards through the marsh. Darren and I hid behind a huge wall of tullies, about 150 yards away from them. When Darren and I got into position, my dad told me that a big cow elk was clear to shoot. 

He was watching with his binoculars when I shot.  He said “you missed, shoot again”, however, I was shooting at a different cow elk and had dropped her in one shot!  We were very excited, especially because she was down, and I had made a clean shot on her.  The herd was on the move again, and Darren quickly started to follow them for another couple hundred yards.  We saw him set up and shoot, but then he got up again and moved another hundred yards and shoot again.  He jumped up and waved his hands in celebration.  He had gotten himself a nice 425 lb cow elk. We called Orlando to come pick us up.  Darren and I retrieved our animals and went back to camp to field dress them. I had never skinned and processed such a large animal.  It took us over two hours, but we did a clean, thorough job and she was ready for the butcher.  I had a wonderful time with Darren and my father on that hunt and hope to hunt with Darren again soon.