Story of My first Elk, Last Elk Hunt with Dad

MeatMissile

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
183
Location
Washington
This is more of a story of me and my Dad, that just happens to involve my first elk.

My Dad is a good man. Before I came along, he joined the Army in 1966 and did two tours in Vietnam as an infantryman. He had gotten his pilot’s license and decided he wanted to fly for a living, but flying jobs in the civilian world were few and far between at the time so he applied for Warrant Officer Candidate school and became a helicopter pilot where he served until his retirement in 1991.

We were a one-income family with Dad gone in the field and deployments. My sisters, mother, and I raised chickens and pigs for meat and grew vegetables that we sold at farmers markets to supplement the household income.

Unfortunately, this left little time or money for hunting. We fished, clammed, and crabbed a lot because we lived right by Puget Sound and had to spend very little money and time to keep the freezer full. I took to fishing and it filled my childhood with great memories and kept me out of trouble.

I didn’t start hunting until I went to college in the Palouse where deer and upland birds were plentiful. It soon became a passion of mine and I encouraged my Dad to join me. It was strange we never hunted because my Dad grew up in Alaska and hunted moose and caribou to help feed a family of 7. He explained he had gotten to a point after Vietnam where he didn’t want to do any killing. But, seeing my excitement, he started to hunt again.

After I graduated and moved back home, he met a man who was an avid elk hunter. He encouraged us to try and we decided to give it a try. We checked harvest reports and narrowed things down to a couple units that offered access and higher harvest percentages. We scouted and decided on one unit where we consistently found elk.

We set up camp a couple days before opening day and had plans A and B for the opener. I contracted a stomach bug and used up a lot of TP. We went out opening day in November and it was 60 degrees at 5 AM. Really weird. We hiked into a clearcut and waited for sunrise, only to find a pumpkin patch of hunters in the same area.

We went back to camp and decided we needed plan C or D. We figured we’d hunt the timber, thinking the elk would go into hiding. He left me at the opening of an overgrown landing and I made my way down into the trees. I quickly realized my stomach was still upset and I looked for a spot to do the do.

As I walked with my head down searching for a spot, I started noticing a lot of fresh elk turds. I looked up to find I had wandered into a herd of elk. I quickly scanned for antlers and saw a bull. Right then, I stepped on a branch that made a God-awful snap. The elk were on their feet and starting to move, but the bull headed opposite of the cows. I saw an 10 foot window through the trees and settle my crosshairs in that lane, waiting for him to cross. As he did, my crosshairs found his shoulder and I sent a 180gr partition through his heart. The bull went down hard, but tried to get up again so I sent another partition into his neck.

C1C3A08D-2FAD-43D1-BBB6-0F4345FFB9D1.jpeg

A 4x5 Roosevelt elk was down and I was as excited as I had ever been. My Dad heard the shot and hurried back to me. As we started to process the elk, I saw something was off with my Dad. His symptoms told me he may have low blood sugar. I gave him a ginger ale and a candy bar and had him take a seat as I quartered up the elk and packed it out on my own. It took roughly 9 hours.

We broke camp at midnight and I drove him home, still worried even though he seemed back to normal. He’s had some health problems since then and we haven’t been able to hunt more than grouse.

If I knew that was our last big game hunt, I’d have hunted with him and I would have wanted him to take that elk.
 

Carpet Capital Shyster

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2020
Messages
44
This is more of a story of me and my Dad, that just happens to involve my first elk.

My Dad is a good man. Before I came along, he joined the Army in 1966 and did two tours in Vietnam as an infantryman. He had gotten his pilot’s license and decided he wanted to fly for a living, but flying jobs in the civilian world were few and far between at the time so he applied for Warrant Officer Candidate school and became a helicopter pilot where he served until his retirement in 1991.

We were a one-income family with Dad gone in the field and deployments. My sisters, mother, and I raised chickens and pigs for meat and grew vegetables that we sold at farmers markets to supplement the household income.

Unfortunately, this left little time or money for hunting. We fished, clammed, and crabbed a lot because we lived right by Puget Sound and had to spend very little money and time to keep the freezer full. I took to fishing and it filled my childhood with great memories and kept me out of trouble.

I didn’t start hunting until I went to college in the Palouse where deer and upland birds were plentiful. It soon became a passion of mine and I encouraged my Dad to join me. It was strange we never hunted because my Dad grew up in Alaska and hunted moose and caribou to help feed a family of 7. He explained he had gotten to a point after Vietnam where he didn’t want to do any killing. But, seeing my excitement, he started to hunt again.

After I graduated and moved back home, he met a man who was an avid elk hunter. He encouraged us to try and we decided to give it a try. We checked harvest reports and narrowed things down to a couple units that offered access and higher harvest percentages. We scouted and decided on one unit where we consistently found elk.

We set up camp a couple days before opening day and had plans A and B for the opener. I contracted a stomach bug and used up a lot of TP. We went out opening day in November and it was 60 degrees at 5 AM. Really weird. We hiked into a clearcut and waited for sunrise, only to find a pumpkin patch of hunters in the same area.

We went back to camp and decided we needed plan C or D. We figured we’d hunt the timber, thinking the elk would go into hiding. He left me at the opening of an overgrown landing and I made my way down into the trees. I quickly realized my stomach was still upset and I looked for a spot to do the do.

As I walked with my head down searching for a spot, I started noticing a lot of fresh elk turds. I looked up to find I had wandered into a herd of elk. I quickly scanned for antlers and saw a bull. Right then, I stepped on a branch that made a God-awful snap. The elk were on their feet and starting to move, but the bull headed opposite of the cows. I saw an 10 foot window through the trees and settle my crosshairs in that lane, waiting for him to cross. As he did, my crosshairs found his shoulder and I sent a 180gr partition through his heart. The bull went down hard, but tried to get up again so I sent another partition into his neck.

View attachment 284150

A 4x5 Roosevelt elk was down and I was as excited as I had ever been. My Dad heard the shot and hurried back to me. As we started to process the elk, I saw something was off with my Dad. His symptoms told me he may have low blood sugar. I gave him a ginger ale and a candy bar and had him take a seat as I quartered up the elk and packed it out on my own. It took roughly 9 hours.

We broke camp at midnight and I drove him home, still worried even though he seemed back to normal. He’s had some health problems since then and we haven’t been able to hunt more than grouse.

If I knew that was our last big game hunt, I’d have hunted with him and I would have wanted him terdallsto take that elk.
That is a real special story. Thank you for for telling it. My dad is 73 now. I grew up camping and hiking with him. We never hunted when I was a kid but I always loved to fish. I don’t think Dad really cared to fish all that much, but he would always take me fishing as a child because I loved it. Even now that I’m a grown man with some small children, he often accompanies me on fly fishing excursions just to spend time together. 99% of the time, he won’t even fish. He will just read the Bible or a history book stream side and watch me cast flies. About a year ago I took him up a little trail in the far north Georgia Mountains to chase some brook trout and see a few waterfalls. It was only about a mile in. He’s always been in tip top shape, often running circles around guys half his age. We got a good ways up the trail and he seemed winded. I wanted to show him some really large old growth trees I knew about just off the trail but he just said he’d let me go look at them and he needed to sit down and catch his breath. He has had a little nagging heart condition, and I could tell he was getting a little concerned. It was the first time he’d ever really looked old to me. Your story kind of reminded me of that moment. It was really poignant to me and as I look back at that scene of us resting under one of the few remaining stands of old growth hardwoods in the area, drinking from a canteen and him catching his breath, I know that’s likely the last time we will ever do something like that together. Sorry for rambling and I wasn’t trying to hijack your thread; just stirred up some memories. Good Dad’s are special people.
 
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MeatMissile

MeatMissile

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
183
Location
Washington
That is a real special story. Thank you for for telling it. My dad is 73 now. I grew up camping and hiking with him. We never hunted when I was a kid but I always loved to fish. I don’t think Dad really cared to fish all that much, but he would always take me fishing as a child because I loved it. Even now that I’m a grown man with some small children, he often accompanies me on fly fishing excursions just to spend time together. 99% of the time, he won’t even fish. He will just read the Bible or a history book stream side and watch me cast flies. About a year ago I took him up a little trail in the far north Georgia Mountains to chase some brook trout and see a few waterfalls. It was only about a mile in. He’s always been in tip top shape, often running circles around guys half his age. We got a good ways up the trail and he seemed winded. I wanted to show him some really large old growth trees I knew about just off the trail but he just said he’d let me go look at them and he needed to sit down and catch his breath. He has had a little nagging heart condition, and I could tell he was getting a little concerned. It was the first time he’d ever really looked old to me. Your story kind of reminded me of that moment. It was really poignant to me and as I look back at that scene of us resting under one of the few remaining stands of old growth hardwoods in the area, drinking from a canteen and him catching his breath, I know that’s likely the last time we will ever do something like that together. Sorry for rambling and I wasn’t trying to hijack your thread; just stirred up some memories. Good Dad’s are special people.
No apologies needed. What you explained is exactly how I felt. He went from being hard to keep up with, to having heart issues and cancer and arthritis. He’s survived them, but they’ve taken their toll.
 

aorams

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2013
Messages
109
Great story MeatMissle! I’m still lucky enough to be hunting with my dad (71 this summer) and I can relate to you wanting him to have killed that elk. I killed many with my dad in tow and always hoped he’d get one too. Then last year he finally did! I was happier about his elk than I’ve ever been with any of mine and thats when I realized that the same had been true for him all those years. Later while we drank whiskey in the wall tent he made it clear he didn’t care who killed or didn’t kill. He was just happy to be there with his son. I bet your dad was just happy to be there with you too.
 

Buck197

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Messages
320
This is more of a story of me and my Dad, that just happens to involve my first elk.

My Dad is a good man. Before I came along, he joined the Army in 1966 and did two tours in Vietnam as an infantryman. He had gotten his pilot’s license and decided he wanted to fly for a living, but flying jobs in the civilian world were few and far between at the time so he applied for Warrant Officer Candidate school and became a helicopter pilot where he served until his retirement in 1991.

We were a one-income family with Dad gone in the field and deployments. My sisters, mother, and I raised chickens and pigs for meat and grew vegetables that we sold at farmers markets to supplement the household income.

Unfortunately, this left little time or money for hunting. We fished, clammed, and crabbed a lot because we lived right by Puget Sound and had to spend very little money and time to keep the freezer full. I took to fishing and it filled my childhood with great memories and kept me out of trouble.

I didn’t start hunting until I went to college in the Palouse where deer and upland birds were plentiful. It soon became a passion of mine and I encouraged my Dad to join me. It was strange we never hunted because my Dad grew up in Alaska and hunted moose and caribou to help feed a family of 7. He explained he had gotten to a point after Vietnam where he didn’t want to do any killing. But, seeing my excitement, he started to hunt again.

After I graduated and moved back home, he met a man who was an avid elk hunter. He encouraged us to try and we decided to give it a try. We checked harvest reports and narrowed things down to a couple units that offered access and higher harvest percentages. We scouted and decided on one unit where we consistently found elk.

We set up camp a couple days before opening day and had plans A and B for the opener. I contracted a stomach bug and used up a lot of TP. We went out opening day in November and it was 60 degrees at 5 AM. Really weird. We hiked into a clearcut and waited for sunrise, only to find a pumpkin patch of hunters in the same area.

We went back to camp and decided we needed plan C or D. We figured we’d hunt the timber, thinking the elk would go into hiding. He left me at the opening of an overgrown landing and I made my way down into the trees. I quickly realized my stomach was still upset and I looked for a spot to do the do.

As I walked with my head down searching for a spot, I started noticing a lot of fresh elk turds. I looked up to find I had wandered into a herd of elk. I quickly scanned for antlers and saw a bull. Right then, I stepped on a branch that made a God-awful snap. The elk were on their feet and starting to move, but the bull headed opposite of the cows. I saw an 10 foot window through the trees and settle my crosshairs in that lane, waiting for him to cross. As he did, my crosshairs found his shoulder and I sent a 180gr partition through his heart. The bull went down hard, but tried to get up again so I sent another partition into his neck.

View attachment 284150

A 4x5 Roosevelt elk was down and I was as excited as I had ever been. My Dad heard the shot and hurried back to me. As we started to process the elk, I saw something was off with my Dad. His symptoms told me he may have low blood sugar. I gave him a ginger ale and a candy bar and had him take a seat as I quartered up the elk and packed it out on my own. It took roughly 9 hours.

We broke camp at midnight and I drove him home, still worried even though he seemed back to normal. He’s had some health problems since then and we haven’t been able to hunt more than grouse.

If I knew that was our last big game hunt, I’d have hunted with him and I would have wanted him to take that elk.
Thank you sincerely for this story. It's my dad's birthday, I buried him March 1 of 2000..Some things still bother me alot, this helps. Its all about those magical times.
 
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MeatMissile

MeatMissile

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
183
Location
Washington
Thank you sincerely for this story. It's my dad's birthday, I buried him March 1 of 2000..Some things still bother me alot, this helps. Its all about those magical times.

You’re very welcome. I hope, when that time comes, I can truthfully say I left it all on the table with no regrets.
 

Scoot

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2012
Messages
691
MeatMissile, I loved your story. That is an awesome memory you'll have until your last day. My dad passed this past October and I can tell you I'd give damn near anything for one more hunt with him. Hell, I'd give all I've got for one last conversation and handshake/hug. But... that's not how life works and time is always too short with the ones we love.

It may have been your last big game hunt together, but it's not your last opportunity to spend meaningful time with him. Take advantage of any and all chances you have to do anything with him. You won't regret it.

Congrats on your bull, but more importantly, on the memories you made with your dad.
Scott
 

gelton

Senior Member
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
2,149
Location
Central Texas
Great write-up. I have about two hunts left with my old man. This year and next. He got his disability crossbow license from CO so that he can archery hunt with it this year. And we have 8 points that we are going to burn next year for the coup de gras.
 
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MeatMissile

MeatMissile

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
183
Location
Washington
Great write-up. I have about two hunts left with my old man. This year and next. He got his disability crossbow license from CO so that he can archery hunt with it this year. And we have 8 points that we are going to burn next year for the coup de gras.

Live it up! Sounds like a great hunt.
 

Bowhunter365

Junior Member
Joined
May 12, 2021
Messages
13
Cherish those special times with your dad. They won't last forever. My dad has gone on to a better place but I sure do miss those times we had together.
 

hobbes

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2012
Messages
1,548
Nice write-up.
👍👍👍
My dad is 76 now, did the Vietnam thing as an infantryman also. He packed the big radio on his back for communication. I miss my days afield with him but have a lot of good memories of hunting with him.
 

Lurch12

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2021
Messages
74
Location
Western, PA
Great story. I cant imagine the look in his eyes when he heard your gun go off.

I'm taking my dad to Colorado elk hunting this October for his first trip west of the Mississippi. We were hoping to draw 1st season tags but were unsuccessful due to point creep. So we will go 2nd season OTC. Hoping for success but it is more about the trip together than the killing.
 
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