For anyone with teenage girls, I feel for you!  But, I do believe I have found the “magic bullet” that can at least temporarily eliminate all the drama, struggle, and high maintenance associated with raising a young woman.

We headed up to Eastern Oregon in Mid September for Holli’s first elk hunt.  She has always been focused when it came to music, and her drive and ambition has recently paid off; they are holding a spot for her in the National Marine Corps Band, a feat that is almost unheard of for an 18 year old.

This would be our biggest adventure together since we hunted the Kalalau Trail on the Island of Kaui several years back, where I discovered just how tough she could be on the trail.  Physically, I knew she was up for the challenge of archery elk hunting, and it would be a great reference to her during her upcoming Marine Basic Training.

We spent quite a bit of time on the drive up, learning about elk behavior, language, discussing hunting strategies, etc.  She quickly learned to cow call using an open reed call, and I knew she had the potential to be a good resource if needed.

We hit the trailhead in the early morning on our first day, heading into unfamiliar Wilderness.  I realized after a couple miles, we would need to drop down into one the creek drainages if we wanted any chance at hunting elk a reasonable distance from our rig.  We dropped down almost a thousand vertical feet until we found running water, and set up camp in the flattest spot we could find.   We did manage to locate a small wallow a few hundred yards from our camp, and sat the wallow the first evening, with no visitors.  We ended up moving our spike camp after an unsuccessful sit the next morning.


Holli on the famous Kalalau Trail in 2010


We hunted North facing slopes above our new campsite for two days, managed to finally locate some isolated wallows, and finally heard cow talk on day four.  I had never worked so hard in my life just to “hear” elk after four days!  After that last morning, with no shot opportunities, it was time to pull our camp out and head home.

We returned for the last four days of the Archery Season, hoping for at least a temperature drop, but it never came to be.  Even the locals had not seen or heard elk, and with the neighboring wildfires, it was a miserable Season overall for Eastern Oregon.  However, we did manage to see a lot of wildlife on the drive up and back, and got some decent video.

I have learned over the years that success is not measured in blood, but rather in the experience itself.  Holli never complained once about the grueling physical aspects of our hunt, and her face filled with wonder the first time we heard cow talk.  We laughed every night as we ate Mountain House meals under the stars, made shadow puppets on the tent, and talked about our plans for the next day.

I would never trade the time I spend with Holli on our elk hunt, we accomplished some amazing treks loaded down with gear, saw some beautiful country without ever seeing another human over the course of several days, and learned that we could depend on eachother for survival if it came down to it.  I feel in my heart she is truly ready for her future, and I know we will hunt together again in years to come.



Filed under: Hunting

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