I have been away from home for the past two weeks. South Carolina is a beautiful state, and I have friends in Charleston that feed me crabs and take me fishing. Their kids are masters at thumping me in Monopoly.
I barely got home and repacked to go to Wyoming to hunt elk. You probably think that August is early for an elk season — you are correct! This permit is for cows only and is a private land special hunt. These farmers and ranchers are plagued by elk that significantly damage crops and meadows. There are advantages and disadvantages to this hunt. For starters, it is hot during August. Meat spoils very quickly and it isn’t fun to have meat spoil before you can get it managed.
We took block ice and big coolers. Have you checked out these expensive new age coolers? My buddy got one as a bonus when he purchased a new truck. Ice really doesn’t melt in those coolers — I was amazed!
We also hunted early in the morning so it was the coolest time of day. I have hunted elk for more years than I deserve. To be able to sit on a rock near the top of a mountain and watch 300-400 elk in a meadow a thousand yards below you when the sun is just cracking the night is a very special part of my life. I am very fortunate to have friends that help me, and I always give thanks for them. I also pause to remember the great friends that I have shared elk camp and life with that are no longer part of the hunt. I honestly don’t have words...
I was able to harvest a nice cow. I was shooting into the sun, and sunlight on crosshairs is not a great combination. I had to get a bit closer to the scope to see the animal in the scope and for the second or third time in my life I put a memory mark on my nose. I thought I could hold that 270 forward enough — but I couldn’t. It is a very small price to pay. We had her packed in ice in less than an hour. The next morning I was on the road back to Kansas.
There are no processors open in August since the main season opens Sept. 1. I brought the meat home and two friends helped me clean and package the meat. Elk aren’t small, and it took most of the day. I am grateful for the skilled friends in our community that help me. That is a singular joy of living in our place.
This is the earliest I have ever finished the elk hunt. I think it is time to fish and start thinking about dove season. It still feels odd to hunt elk in August.
Jason and crew are burning at the Bottoms. It is not very long until teal season, and the fall migration is getting ready to start. There is so much that happens in the fall — I wish we could spread it out over the whole year. There just isn’t enough time! Polish up your binoculars, get the mosquito spray out and go see the fabulous fall migration and the seasons that define our life in Kansas. We are so fortunate !
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.