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My 15 year old son and I spent Father's Day scouting the area where we are going to hunt elk this year. We got to the trail head at 7:00AM, and got out out bows and our day packs.  We had thumper tips on our arrows so we could practice shooting stumps as we worked through woods looking for elk sign and a potential site for our camp.  I had been pouring over maps since the Winter and after we got word that we had drawn a license on the 10th, I had decided that this would be the best possible way to spend Father's day.

There were a couple of other groups of hikers at the trail head and I knew their goal.  These hikers were going to follow the trail until they reached the end, and then they would hike back.  They would probably take pictures at the top to go with some pictures they were snapping at the trail head.

Ronan and I didn't know where we were going, but we were going to take ten or so hours getting back to the truck.  Our goals were to shoot some stumps, find elk sign, maybe a wallow or a bedding area, find a good camp near good water, and enjoy a perfect Colorado Spring day.

We started down the trail after a group of four hikers in their twenties. They were Trustafarians in a Landrover and had given our bows a couple of sideways glances. They weren't sure what to think, but body language says a lot.  After about 200 yards of following them, Ronan and I slipped off the trail to the West and started towards a plateau that was situated about a 1/4 mile from a good sized creek. The plateau was situated at 10,200 feet and looked to be about 400 yards on a side with a 100 foot drop to the creek. Elk might be there. It took us about an hour to work through the dark woods to the plateau.  Some elk sign, but all of it from early last year.  On the West side of the plateau, Ronan spotted a game trail leaving the area.  We decided to follow it Southwest as it slowly turned away from the creek.

We had been thumping stumps and Ronan was up 10-6.  He has a knack for estimating range in the woods and he shoots dead nutz.  We learned how to shoot bows together, but the youth always learns faster. We alternate who takes the first shot and call the spot on the stump. Closest wins the point.

As we worked through the woods on a remarkably straight game trail, we saw our first sign of elk activity this year. Tracks and some of the tell tale green dimpled pellets...there were flys still was still very moist to the touch...within the last two hours.  We back off and look at the map and our route and realized the game trail was headed straight towards another plateau about a 400 yards from the creek.  We decided to follow the creek to the West instead of the trail and then work our way south to second plateau from the creek.  We guessed that there would be another game trail headed from the creek to the second plateau. After picking along the bank for the creek, we spotted a game trail heading Southwest to the second plateau.  We follow it...more sign, tons of sign, sign every ten feet...tracks from a cow and a calf....the second plateau is a bedding area...nobody home that we can see, but definitely a bedding area.  We back off the plateau and decide to head West along the creek.  Ronan is up 17-10 thumping stumps.

We've picked up two rusted out cans and a 80s vintage Coors bottle along the creek.  Not much human traffic here since the wilderness area was established.  We are using game trails, but they usually follow the creek for a brief while and then head back into the dark woods, so going is slow, but I am seeing some fishing holes that will need attention the next time we are out when the water settles a bit.  Lots of elk sign, scouting with maps is paying off.

We find Elk Camp 2008.  It is about 350 feet from the creek with a view a 13,000 ft peak Camp is at 10,450ft.  There is sweet little pool that is going to have trout 200 yards from camp.  We'll start using it on off this summer as we scout.  Ronan and sit down for a late lunch. It's 1:40PM. We eat lunch and glass the mountain.  There isn't much activity; too much snow. We find a family of marmots, a mountain goat, and not much else.  We are a mile or so from one of the main trails, and will have to hike about   two miles on that trail back to the truck.  We'll be at the truck by 5:00PM.

We head out and find sign 600 yards from camp and what may be a wallow in the fall. We'll have to check back during to course of the summer.  We have found a elk superhighway...more sign...tons of sign.  We keep heading South and we hear/see the first humans since this morning.  They don't see us until walk out out of the woods and I can tell immediately they don't like the look of us.  I say, "Hello, beautiful day."  They mumble something, but can't seem to just articulate a simple, "Hello."

"What are you hunting?"  The blond in the lycra top and Patagonia shorts asks.

"We're not hunting, just thumping stumps and scouting elk." I explain the game to them and they seem somewhat mollified that we didn't kill anything today.

"When do we need to worry about being shot by accident?" the stud in the north face matching garb asks.

"Never. Never been an accidental shooting with a bow in Colorado. Range is too short to make a mistake, plus you're never going to be where we hunt."

I decide to end the conversation and signal to Ronan that is time to get moving.  As we walk back to the truck we pass at least 20 groups of hikers headed in both directions.  When Ronan and I have a man made trail to hike, we motor. I'm 6'3" and he's 6'1" and we can stride.

"I haven't gotten this many nasty looks since Boulder/Fairview," says Ronan making reference to the city high school sports rivalry.

I nod and realize that the trails that are literally overrun by hikers surround our hunting area on all four sides.  All of this traffic is going to keep the elk in the area where we found them.  Eight square miles of hunting elk and a bunch of rude treehuggers acting as a high fence. My success is likely because of them.  I love irony.

We get back to truck, load our gear, and head home. This is going to be a great summer.

Originally posted to Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:04 PM PDT.


Hunting is

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Comment Preferences

  •  Elk Wrapped w/Bacon (10+ / 0-)

    Eight cloves finely minced garlic
    one pound thin sliced nitrate free bacon(wild or whole foods)
    two pounds elk tenderloin

    cut the tenderloin into two oz pieces
    coat the tenderloin with olive oil
    rub in the garlic
    wrap each piece of tenderloin in bacon

    grill it to perfection
    serve with asparagus and mashed potatoes

    Flow with the go.

    by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:08:01 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the recipe (5+ / 0-)

    My husband and sons also hunt for our meat.  I love elk.  Thanks for the diary.  I understand.  Here in MT there are more hunters than hikers.  Lots of both.  Thanks for the recipe.

  •  Ha! I grew up in the rural south. (6+ / 0-)

    I hear you.  If I had to gather my own food, I'd probably be a vegetarian.  I can't bring myself to kill furry critters.  But you have at it!

    Some people just don't know when to mind their own damn business.  I would swear that some people actually believe their filet mignon is plucked from trees, wrapped in cellophane.

    blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,

    by browneyes on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:15:30 PM PDT

    •  Thing is, the fuzzies aren't always (0+ / 0-)

      the best eating.
      Sometimes you want the finned things.
      Sometimes you want the feathered things.

      And hunting makes you pay your way for the meat; I've met no hunters who lacked respect for either the game they took or the natural world they partook of while hunting.

      I'm another Edwards Democrat

      by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 05:33:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the Blue Mountains of WA and OR, (11+ / 0-)

    there are wheat fields that nestle right up against the forest.

    Grain-fed elk. Unbelievable.

    As for the rest, eh, a lot of it is unfamiliarity. I doubt they eschew animal products.

    Hasten to add that as a landowner, it only takes one or two obnoxious hunters leaving gates open, damaging fences, strewing garbage, hunting drunk, to ruin it for the rest of you. I've never experienced that with bowhunters though. The gun crowd, on the other hand, is really no longer welcome unless I know them personally. We have even had cattle shot in quite small corrals. Sick.

    What's so hard about Peace, Love, and Truth and Progress?

    by melvin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:18:33 PM PDT

    •  Couple of assholes (8+ / 0-)

      can ruin it for everyone. It's like with any group that can be defined by the worst in the group.  Every African American isn't a gangbanger, every white guy in a polo shirt isn't a developer, and every hunter is a drooling redneck.

      Flow with the go.

      by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:22:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You said "They were Trustafarians in a Landrover" (0+ / 0-)

        You lost me right there. You don't know anything about those folks except (I guess) the guys had long hair and you think they smoke pot. Sounds like you might have given just about as much bad attitude as you got back in return.

        Hasn't ever happened to me, but if I ran into somebody armed for hunting (you don't usually use a big compound bow for self-defense!) while I was out hiking, I'd look them over carefully and decide if I thought they knew what they were doing or not. I'd strike up a friendly conversation, too, but that's just me.

        Never been a bow accident in your state? Nice for you, and it's absolutely true that a bow has a short range, it's almost impossible to think a bow "isn't loaded", and the average bowhunter is way more responsible compared to the hunting population at large. Reasonable question for the guy to ask, though. I don't hike or hunt huckberries or mushrooms in the areas that are open for deer/elk/bear hunting.

        Sorry you missed a chance to open some eyes, maybe next time.


        •  Dude (0+ / 0-)

          Trustafarian is a rich white kid in dirty clothes with dreads.  There were four trustafarians means that there  were four dirty white kids with dreads.  I would have called them hippies if they just had long hair.  I try to use my pejoratives with some specificity.

          You should lighten up.  I wasn't accusing them of being careless with a weapon or assuming anything that was readily apparent.  They were trustafarians.

          Flow with the go.

          by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 08:35:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

            You think you know everything about them because of the way they look to you.  But you don't know them.

            Then you complain because they think they know everything they need to know about you just because of the way you and your son looked and because you were carrying hunting gear.  But they don't know you, either.

            That's sad, because (taking a quick look at your posting history) you're probably on exactly the same side on the Bill of Rights and the environment.

            Hey, maybe you find out your snap judgement was exactly right, and they are just snotty spoiled wannabe rich kids. Fine, talk to them about donating to the ACLU! :-) And let 'em know they can't judge you by your appearance.

            Not sure why you're saying "I wasn't accusing them of being careless"; they were concerned about hunters being careless.


            •  You are a touchy one (0+ / 0-)

              A 20 something with dreads in a 45K SUV is a trustafarian.  Are you a white kid with dreads in a 45K SUV?  If you are, you are a trustafarian.

              Politically, I am nothing like them.  I drive a car that gets 40mpg and have a beater truck with 120K miles on it.  I wouldn't feel right driving a gas guzzler like a Land Rover and I think a white kid with dreads is confused.  

              The POINT is that I made judgments, but was civil in every one of my interactions. I didn't look cross eyed at them and try to avoid human interaction, instead I said "hello, beautiful day!" and got a barely human response from every treehugger I ran into on the trail.

              You can and should make judgments based on appearances.  What do you think allows you to function in the world?  The way you hope things should be? I judge based on appearances and experience and then I gain more experience.  Being civil on the front end helps you discover errors in judgment.

              I'll keep saying "Hello, beautiful day," to everyone.  Treehuggers should learn to say "Hello, beautiful day" instead of concocting a fantasy about the scary hunter and forgetting their manners. It will help everybody.

              Flow with the go.

              by Kenevan McConnon on Tue Jun 17, 2008 at 07:48:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Did you see the video the ACLU made? (0+ / 0-)

              Flow with the go.

              by Kenevan McConnon on Tue Jun 17, 2008 at 07:50:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Torn (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not a hunter.

    However, if it were the only way to survive, I'm a hunter.

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:18:46 PM PDT

  •  Some of the nicest T bones (7+ / 0-)

    I ever had were from an elk my BIL got.

    We have deer on our property that are so tame they are like dogs so my husband prefers to do his hunting elsewhere. The general rule in this family is if you kill it you eat it.

    I am not a big fan of hunting for the trophy aspect but many hunters are ardent conservationists and have just as much love of the land as those who don't.

    We live in the south everybody here has a bow or a rifle. I have a compound bow that I just use for target practice.

  •  Meat Eaters have no be opposed (5+ / 0-)

    If you're vegetarian, ok, you can be against hunting... but otherwise, you do realize that the steaks/sausages/chicken nuggets that you eat suffer a far worse fate than the hunted deer/elk/fish.

    judging by the poll response, i doubt many here disagree with me.

    •  One of the reasons I like to post on DailyKos (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, buddabelly

      The response to these diaries about hunting is always positive.  People understand and I think it is important to remind them.  We really did get the evil eye and from folks that would read my diary and say, "I guess hunting is ok."

      Flow with the go.

      by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:30:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ignorance can produce stupidity (0+ / 0-)

        People who don't know about something are one thing.  People who don't know about something and presume to have an opinion about it anyway are quite another.

        As I always say, "Opinions are easier to find than knowledge."

        Hanoi didn't break John McCain, but Washington did.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 04:25:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ah, but you *looked* modern (0+ / 0-)

        had you been shirtless or buckskinned and carrying Native-American implements, those Landroverites would have been overawed.

        Meanwhile, now they're back home wondering if they actually met the guys that "Criminal Minds" episode about the bowhunting brothers who turned serial killers to carry on their 'Nam-vet uncle's backwoods tradition was about.

        I love irony too...but I wonder if you missed a chance to show them not all hunters are big scary woods monsters.

        I'm another Edwards Democrat

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 05:38:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  While I have no problem (4+ / 0-)

    with hunting in general and with bow hunting in particular ... I can also see how it could be disconcerting to be out for a hike and meet individuals who appear to be heavily armed.  I mean, crossbows are not exactly inconspicuous. Folks sort of know to be cautious during hunting season (like for instance, I'd never take my dogs to the woods at that time if I could help it, and certainly not without orange vests on them) but other times of year it might seem more out of place.

    By the way, I've been missing "Down at the Gun Shop". More, please!  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:28:20 PM PDT

    •  No more Down at the Gun Shop (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, JayBat, lgmcp

      Since the whole Yearlykos/nazi thing I quit going down there.  I decided that in the end the 2nd amendment is just a mask for a whole host of deep seeded ugly prejudices.

      Flow with the go.

      by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:32:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  maybe the way some use the amendment (0+ / 0-)

        I don't much hang out in gunshops or at gunshows any more either. But it's the people not the place......

        " Every Thanksgiving, Bill Clinton stuffs a kitten inside a puppy inside a chimp inside a dolphin. It's like a turducken, only more evil. " balancedscales

        by buddabelly on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:40:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I missed the denoument (0+ / 0-)

        Was there a final installment?

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:41:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't really wrap it up (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp, buddabelly

          My trips down there died a slow death and there was really a diary I could write, but it started with this

          Flow with the go.

          by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:46:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gotcha. (0+ / 0-)

            Too bad you couldn't get even one human acknowledgement out of it.  

            Now I can see why they might accuse us of group-think, wimpiness, or several other unflattering things.  But Nazism?  Armed overthrow?  I reckon those boys really ARE a little on the paranoid side, eh?  

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:52:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Re the high quality meat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Do you worry at all about chronic wasting disease?  The precautions re touching neural tissue only with gloves, cleaning up with bleach, etc. seem rather disturbing.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:36:28 PM PDT

  •  Lighten up on the treehuggers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    emmasnacker, Dallasdoc, lgmcp

    If it wasn't for treehuggers there probably wouldn't be any elf left, or bison, or bighorns or big cats. There wouldn't be any wilderness or national forest areas left which allow your personal exploitation of their resources.

    I'm thankful for our local herds Tule Elk, which were saved from extinction starting in the 1870s by treehugger and cattleman Henry Miller.

    I'm thankful for treehugger president Teddy Roosevelt who was instrumental in creating the California National Forest (later named Mendocino National Forest) which is just over the hills to my right.

    From my perspective as a rural Californian, there is an overpopulation of human beings in this country and an underpopulation of wildlife and too few wild lands.

    Cooperate with the treehuggers because we need as much wild lands preserved as we possibly can.

    •  Teddy was a sportsman first (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, buddabelly, Norbrook

      We have the largest elk herd in the country because of the Colorado Division of Wildlife(founded 1938); a State agency funded exclusively by the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and the excise tax on firearms.  

      Environmentalists were late to the party, but have definitely been the driving force protecting habitat for the last 40 years.  The new coalition of sportsmen and environmentalist is giving the  Democrats the edge they need to turn the Rocky Mountain region blue.  I understand this and I don't mind being called a hick; I just don't like being treated like one.

      Also, I have a t-shirt that reads "Meat eating, gun toting, Treehugger"

      I try to bridge the gap, but the condescending attitude I get from "real" treehuggers irritates me sometimes.

      Flow with the go.

      by Kenevan McConnon on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 03:56:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm an old long-haired hippie (4+ / 0-)

        And I get attitude from the San Francisco Bay Area, brand-new Weatherby Magnum, Cabela's on the back too-much-money yuppie 'hunters'. After all, we're only 3 hours away from the big city.

        But let's consider that anybody who gets out into the wilderness is good for the future of keeping what we have and perhaps gaining more. Even if tree huggers show up in brand-new Patagonia clothes, they should get a chance to warm up to the idea of spending more time in the wilderness.

        I am aware that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation group put up some money to help buy out a 21,000 acre ranch which was added to our local tule elk and eagle area (and which was later approved to become a wilderness area).

        It is the tree huggers like Senator Boxer who helped make the deal work, too.

      •  Love your shirt! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kenevan McConnon, BachFan

        I get the same looks and rudeness from some hikers and mountain bikers when I'm riding my horse. Mountain bikers are even worse than the hikers. They destroy water breaks on the trail, and can put a rider on the ground pretty easily by not announcing themselves as they careen around the mountain.

        Hands off my Social Security, John McCain.

        by emmasnacker on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 04:52:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Conservationists - not treehuggers (5+ / 0-)

      The term "treehugger" tends to refer to a particularly rabid subset of people who give environmentalism a bad name.  I run into these people on a regular basis, unfortunately.  They'll often spout a set of dogmas which are either disproven (nature is in balance and harmony) or demonstrate a lack of knowledge of the region/area they're trying to "protect."  

      Roosevelt was an avid hunter, and a conservationist.  The idea of protecting various areas was not so much because of some environmental ideal, as it was to keep an area for future generations to enjoy - including hunting.  One of the biggest advocate groups for wetlands preservation is Ducks Unlimited.  Their motive is rather simple - wetlands are where ducks breed and feed, and the more wetlands, the more ducks to hunt.  That preserving wetlands has other environmental benefits is a nice added bonus, but not their principal motivation.    

    •  I hope he's not hunting elf... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, lgmcp, BachFan

      That would be almost like cannibalism.

      Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

      by lineatus on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 04:12:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Actually........ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kenevan McConnon, BachFan, Norbrook

    Hunters and fishermen are the first, and true Conservationists. Their money is what saves species, and their voices were the catalyst that first saved forests and streams. Teddy was a great man, and understood what preservation meant to America. Hunters and Fishermen helped forge the laws that ensure survival of our living resources. We did it before a "Dept. of Fish and Game" was even dreamed of. If more people knew just how our license and tag money was spent maybe we wouldn't be lumped in with the "rednecks"

    BTW, me and my youngest daughter scouted this last weekend for our Elk hunt in Washington. She is 17 and has harvested 2 Elk, 4 deer, and countless fish since she was 12. I am also a Dem.

    •  License and tag revenues (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kenevan McConnon, BachFan

      are declining here in New York.  Last year the fund ran a $6 million deficit.  It's not because of overspending, it's because so many people no longer hunt and fish.  That money is used for preservation and conservation of the wilderness areas, and hunters and fishermen were the principal funding source.

      There's now some consideration of charging hiking/trail fees to replace that decline.  

      •  That started being a problem in Texas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kenevan McConnon, BachFan

        and then the Parks & Wildlife folks discovered and started promotion of alternative outdoor activities -- boating, fishing, birding, etc. It helped. They also started selling "conservation passports," which gave discounts on park entry fees, camping fees, and a subscription to a quarterly newsletter with activities and highlights. That helped more.

        I'm another Edwards Democrat

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jun 16, 2008 at 05:46:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  NY already does a lot of that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kenevan McConnon

          The problem is that boat registration fees go to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, fishing license fees are dropping along with hunting fees, and our "Empire Passport" sales aren't all that high.  There are three campground systems - two run by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, and one by the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation.  The "wilderness camping" is run by the Forest & Lands section of DEC, and is free.  The DEC Campground fees fund the campgrounds - they're self-funding.  OPR parks aren't in the same business.  The DEC also has a magazine called "The Conservationist" which is monthly.  There have been, and continue to be, major efforts to get people to go out into the woods.  The success rate is variable.

          Right now, the hunting & fishing licenses which had been funding trail maintenance, etc. are declining seriously.  There is now some thought being given to charging user fees or other fee mechanism for trail use, etc.  IOW, up until now, the birders, canoeists, kayakers, and hikers have been getting subsidized by the hunters and fisherman.

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