We were up before the sun and headed out on the trail to find some elk, silently shivering in the dark.
Cough! Sputter! Gag! Ahem...
No we weren't...that might have been the other guys. But it wasn't us! McKenzie and I both had cow elk tags, but were waiting to go when our husbands both came down off the mountain. They did finally, but we had cow work of our own to do (yes, both ranches) plus we were helping out our other friend with some of his cow work.
We looked at the final weekend and the weather gave us one day to work with.
Saturday morning, we all had to tend to our own cows once again....they put mineral out for their cows, Husbeast had to check water and mineral for ours and I had school to catch up on with Weebeast.
By the time we headed over to the neighbor's place with our horses and hunting gear loaded, it was about 11:30. We had a flat tire on the truck and one on the trailer. They have a tire changing machine and patches so we had to tend to that first. The truck tire was an easy fix. The trailer tire got a plug and then we thought we were on our way. Loaded three more horses in our trailer, the two bigger boys who'd be going with us and headed out. Nope. Wait. There's more...the plug on the trailer tire wouldn't hold. These guys would have made the NASCAR pit crews proud with their speed and accuracy in jerking that tire off, patching it and getting back on again!
So, closer to about 3:00-3:30 (yep. PM) we hit the trail out of the bottom. We brought the two older boys along because we knew we wouldn't be getting very far in that night.
They rode along up the trail, counting creek crossings (14 or 15, is still debatable), eating elderberries that Jason picked for them and chattering away about this and that until Jason gave them the que that we were at that point where we might spook elk.
Husbeast was leading the way and he and Jason spoke in dude talk to each other about where we should go. This basically means there was some raising of the eyebrows, a head nod and a shoulder shrug and we had a heading.
Not long up the trail, Husbeast spotted some cows. We all rode along as quiet as we could. We'd been riding for about 45min-1 hour, so "quiet" was getting more and more difficult. But we managed. The boys being better at it than we girls...including the mare I was on who wouldn't stop sneezing.
When we stopped again, it was to glass a different herd.
Kenzie and I did some dude talking too, which is much more difficult for us because one of us always ends up giggling.
We traveled up the trail a few minutes more and Husbeast had some cows bedded down. He took us in to the mahogany to tie horses up so we could do the sneak thing. Again, those two little boys trudged up that mountain like it was flat land, while I felt like I was puffing like a freight train! My heart was already going 4,672 beats per minute when Jason said, or pointed rather, at a tree indicating that one of us girls needed to get there and quick. I looked and Kenze and she looked at me and said "you go." I said "me?" She said "yeah." and Jason and Husbeast went "ohfortheloveofgodgetoverhere" but very silent like. So I went ;)
Jason told me which cow to aim for and I couldn't seem to keep the cross-hairs on her shoulder. I was nervous and trying to catch my breath and went from "take your time" to "they are moving out. You gotta punch one."
Again, cross-hairs moved like those you see at the carnival. I finally slowed everything down enough to feel okay taking a shot.
My first shot was at 270 yards and my last was at 170 or so.
By this point, I was finally not nervous...
Husbeast and I took the boys with us to clean the elk. Jason and Kenze headed back for horses and to maybe get an elk for her. Unfortunately, it was late enough and they had moved out quick enough that those they did see got too far away, too fast. So we only took one home that day.
The boys got an educational experience out of watching how we, Husbeast rather, got the meat. They asked questions and were great about all of it. It was definitely a biology lesson for them!
By the time we headed back down the mountain and hit the main trail, we were riding in the dark. Once again those boys chattered on their way home. We got rained on a bit, but the canyon provided some shelter from the storm that was headed in. We reached the trucks at the top of the hill at about 10PM. Kenzie's dad had told her he would have dinner for us so we gladly followed them back to their place. We had dinner and visited a bit before heading home.
We tucked in about 1that morning. The only thing that would have made that day better, would have been taking two cows home. I'm the most proud of those boys and how far they had to ride and hike and how quiet they had to be. This may be just the beginning for those two!