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Golden anniversary celebration, elk hunt a success

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Golden anniversary celebration, elk hunt a success

D.J. Hagen sits by the elk he helped take along with former Manteca residents Wayne and Bill Daniels and Bob Barker in White Sulfur Springs, Mont. last month.


POSTED December 4, 2010 3:17 a.m.
In my last column, I told you that I might be moving to the local KOA, because I was going elk hunting on our 50th anniversary.

Well, I am glad to say that I still have a happy home.

Although it did cost me two parties and a very nice dinner, but it was worth it. Putting all jokes aside my wife was very understanding when told her the Castle Mountain Ranch in White Sulfur Springs since the Nov. 9 was the earliest we could book a hunt.

Now for the hunt.

When my son, Bill, our neighbor, D.J. Hagen, and I left Great Falls Monday evening it was snowing hard and did not let up until we got to White Sulfur Springs, which is about a two-hour drive southeast of Great Falls in good weather — and we had to go over 8,000-foot Kings Hill pass.

When we arrived at the motel, I had about an inch of ice on the front of my pickup. The town of White Sulfur Springs, gets its name from the many hot sulfur springs that are in the area and the motel where we stayed has a spring right next to it and they pump the hot mineral water into an indoor spa, and boy did it feel good.

On Tuesday morning, we met Bev Fryer, at the Ranch office and she explained their operation. While waiting for Bev, we were treated to a serenade of cow elk cow calling their calves that had gotten inside one of the corals and were looking for a way out.

Bill, D.J. and I are into hunting and not just the killing and even if we did not get an elk, the experience of hearing the cows talking to their calves was worth the trip.  

After we signed in, Bev gave us a map of the area we would be hunting and explained that she would unlock the gate and we could hunt anywhere inside that assigned area and that we would be the only hunters in there and to lock the gate on our way out.

Now, I not sure just how big the Castle Mountain Ranch is, but the road we were on went back 7 miles. After closing the gate, we parked the pickup and started walking. We spread out and walked about a mile back in and saw a lot of tracks, but no elk.

I walked back and pulled the truck ahead and we walked some more. We did find three bulls and tried to follow them, hoping they would lead us to the cows, but they busted us.

On one of our rest stops, my son and I were talking about the snow and how the ground under the some of the pine trees was clear of any snow and just a few feet away. Here, it was 2 feet.

I pointed out that would be a good place to stay if you got lost and had to spend the night. While sitting there we got to talking about what was needed if you had to spend the night and we decided shelter, food and heat were the most important things needed to make it through the night. We decided to take an inventory of our equipment to see how we would fare if we got lost.

Both of us had a 5x8 plastic tarp for shelter, a box of water proof matches and some fat wood to start a fire and several power bars but we were a little short on water.

That night in the motel we decided to make a list of the things a person would need and this is what we came up with Shelter, water proof matches or flint, fire starter, food, map of the area a GPS or compass, a bone saw that can be used to cut fire wood, a cell phone or two way radio, 50 feet of parachute cord, some people call it 550 cord.

Also, have a whistle and a morrow to signal with. There are several things you can use for a starter: fat wood, cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly.

The most important thing to remember is don’t wait until dark to set up your camp and collect as much fire wood as you can while you can still see.

On the second day, Bob Barker joined us and we split into two groups with Bob going with D.J. Bill and I hiked about 2 miles back in and found a small herd of elk, but due to 2 feet of snow we could not move fast enough to get close enough for an ethical shot but that‘s hunting.

Bob and D.J. were about three miles above us and had split up so they could work both sides of the hill. D.J. said he was crawling through some heave timber at 7:30 a.m. when he saw several elk about 200 yards away.

D.J. said the timber was so thick that he could not make a shot from where he was at so he got down on his hands and knees managed to close the distance to about 80 yards on a nice cow. D.J. said the cow was facing him and he was afraid she was going to see him.

D.J. said he laid down on his back behind a tree, then rolled out and made the shot and dropped her in tracks.

When my son and I got back to our truck, we found their note and joined then to help haul the elk out.

By the time we located Bob and D.J. they had already field dressed the elk, cut her in half and drug her back to the truck with my sled.

I have pulled a lot of deer out of the woods, but nothing prepared me for the size of an elk. The head alone must have weighed 80 pounds!

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