The third time is the charm. You have no idea how happy I am to be able to use that phrase instead of the alternative—three strikes and you’re out.
Last week, while arctic air was covering Minnesota, I got a chance to go somewhere a little warmer, actually about 60 degrees warmer. Where else but Montana, and what else but chasing elk.
Since we had an opportunity to use our bull tags for a late-season cow hunt, and the weather looked good, hunting buddy Cobi Hood and I made our third trip out. Although I had my heart set on a bull for my first elk, after eating a few meals of the animal, I decided a cow would satisfy my addiction and fill the freezer at the same time.
We arrived at our destination in the early morning hours on Sunday after having to stop multiple times for herds of elk. With a few hours of sleep in the truck and talking with some other hunters, none of which were having any luck, we spent the day glassing the hills and got permission for the next day.
Early the next morning we were at our spot watching over 200 head on the mountainside. We decided to use the wind to our advantage and go after a small group of 20 or so that had bedded behind a ridge. We snuck around a few hills and crawled up to a good vantage point about 500 yards away from the nearest animal.
We laid in the snow with the wind in our face for an hour or so waiting for them to get up and feed. All of a sudden we felt the wind switch. Within seconds they were on the move. We took a shot, but the moving targets were untouched. We scanned the hillside and finally saw them appear towards the top. Cobi hit them with the rangefinder and they were at 900 yards.
Now is where it gets tricky.
We knew our guns and optics were capable, but the question was, were we?
It was time to find out. We dialed our scopes in. With no wind—we took our shots.
I think my dad and all my old hunting buddies that are gone had a little to do with it. Somehow we fired a couple rounds up the mountain and they found their target. We quickly made our way closer and Cobi got a finishing shot. Immediately the elk came sliding down right by us. Luckily it stopped before going down to a river bottom. I got a rope tied around it and anchored it off so it wouldn’t go any further.
It finally sunk in when we started to quarter the animal and found our bullets. We just took a huge cow at 900 yards. Maybe it was us, but I believe someone was looking over us. And we would of been two happy hunters if the day would of ended there.
As luck would have it, we got the meat down the mountain and decided to go to another spot and see if anything would come down before sunset. We had to hurry as the sun was heading down.
We approached a wind swept hill, crawled up and over, got our packs off and settled in. Cobi noticed a calf that kept looking left, so he crawled over the other side and was soon waving me over. As I belly crawled to him, he said there was a cow coming closer, right over the ridge at 250 yards.
I peeked over and got a good rest. It took two shots but I had the second elk on the ground just as the sunset. The hunt just turned from amazing to unbelievable. Once again, we got to quarter up an elk and take some quick photos. No one needed to tell me to smile.
What started off as a five-day trip quickly ended the first day, and that didn’t upset us one bit. Finally my dream of shooting an elk came true thanks to a bunch of people giving me advice, lending me equipment and wishing me luck. I can’t forget my wife for letting me chase my dream. Thank you all. So I guess I would say, if you have a dream, chase it. Or in this case, climb over a mountain for it. It will come true.