Submitted May 21, 2009

Haven't hunted elk since

Well, I don't know how much I remember of this story, because I am now a disabled veteran with long-term memory issues, but here goes:

Many years ago, around 1986, when I was in the military, a guy I kind of knew, asked me to go elk hunting with him. I did not have a rifle and he loaned me some kind of WWII Japanese rifle. I don't know what it was but it was old and had open sights.

Well, to start off, I thought he was smarter than he was and trusted he knew what he was doing. I drove to his house and we prepared the equipment to go. He had a horse trailer with a horse in it, to pack out anything we shot. About half and hour after I got there, his pit bull dog jumped into the horse trailer and bit the horse on the upper thigh, and upon examination, the horse was bleeding very bad. We took care of that and moved on.

I remember getting to the hunting location, around 9 am or so. We were on a ridge and there was an elk around, I would say 300-400 yards. We both shot about 4 shots each. That was around noon. When we examined the elk later at 4p.m. it got hit about 6 times, and it was a moving target. So, that means, with open sights I hit it at least 2 times. One of the huge horns was shot off.

Around 4p.m., he decided it was time to get downhill to the elk we shot. When we got there, he started to cut up the elk, which took quite a while. By the time he was done, it was getting dark very quick and it began to rain buckets. The plan was to leave the elk there and come back the next day with the horse to pack it out. Well, it got very dark, very quick. We started uphill back to the truck, which was up the hill/cliff about a 1/3mile or so. It was raining huge raindrops, it was totally dark and ... guess what ... neither one of us had a flashlight! So, two grown men, holding hands, so we did not fall or lose each other, trudging up the slippery, now very muddy hill. We got probably 1/3 of the way up and hit a wall. Remember, we could not see our hand in front of our face. I even tried using my light on my watch for any light. Feeble attempt. The wall we hit, we found out the next day in daylight, was the 20' bottom of an uprooted tree trunk that we got to the downside bottom of. We felt our way around that and continued up the hill 3 steps forward, 2 steps back....still holding hands. We somehow found the logging road where the vehicle was. Then 20 minutes later found the truck. We both sat in the truck, soaked to the bone, shivering with the heat on full-blast for quite a while. We survived! By how much, I will never know. That huge tree trunk could have slid down on us. Lots could have happened. Guess what, now, I have a led flashlight always on my keychain! I have lots of flashlights.

Next day we returned to retrieve the elk parts. He got his horse and started the first few feet of the descent down this very steep hill/cliff. Instantly, within 5', the horse tripped or fell and rolled down the hill about 50'. I thought for sure the horse would die. My friend got down there and righted the horse and continued down. When we arrived back to the site of the elk murder, we mounted the quartered parts on the horse and headed out. There was a creek/small river they had to cross and proceeded. The horse slipped a little and the pieces of elk fell off and began floating down the river. My friend ran after the elk parts, downstream and caught two quarters. The other two quarters were gone.

I must say, this memory and experience is the last time I trusted anyone with my life and the last time I did not have a flashlight in my pocket or backpack. This situation could have come out a lot worse. By the grace of God, I survived. Haven't hunted elk since.


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