I was fortunate enough to beat the odds and draw a cow elk tag for ft. riley during the month of December in 2006. We had been watching elk on the fort for the last few years and always dreamed of drawing a tag. A letter came in the mail in August of that year from the KDWP saying that I had drawn a cow tag! I soon found out that my friends dad Bob had also drawn a tag- a bull tag. A group of us gathered at my house for the season opener (first four days of October). Bob's tag was valid the whole season so we focused on getting him a bull. The first morning I set us up in a spot overlooking an opening where I thought we had a shot at seeing some elk. Ten minutes into first shooting light, Ryan's uncle Charlie says "There's an elk.....a bull....a big bull"! The bull walked into the clearing about 120 yards from us. Bob wasn't sure at first if he wanted to shoot it or not, but when the bull started walking he decided it was a good bull. The elk went over a small rise and we lost sight of him for about 100 yards, and when he appeared again a gun shot shattered the morning silence. We could hear the bullet's impact, but the elk didn't budge. Bob shot again, this time we didn't hear the bullet hit. The elk walked a few yards and stopped again as Bob shot a third time. Another hit! We were sure this bull was about to fall over as he walked over another rise into the trees. High fives and congratulations were exchanged, but after an hour when we walked up to where we last saw the elk, we were surprised to see the bull jump up and run away. We spent all afternoon searching for that elk, but we never saw him again.
By December I had been whitetail hunting the fort for a few months, and hadn't seen any elk. I wasn't very confident that I would have an opportunity to fill my tag but I went out hunting a few times anyway. I was waiting for some snow to cover the ground so I could cut a track and follow it to the animal. On New Year's Eve we got that snow! It was the last day of the season as the snow ended early in the afternoon. I had a hunch there were some elk using a heavily timbered area adjacent to a crop field not a mile from our house. I asked Bayes if he wanted to walk the timber with me and he agreed. We spread out about 200 yards and stepped off the bean field into the timber. When we entered the hardwood bottom I was amazed at the scenery. There was no wind and the powdery snow was weighing down the branches of every tree around. After walking about 30o yards, the timber thickened up and I lost sight of Bayes. I looked up ahead and noticed an elk looking right at me about 45 yards away! I couldn't believe it! It was a smaller calf so I put my scope on it to reassure myself that it was indeed an elk and not a whitetail doe. It was obviously an elk, and I was afraid that it was about to bolt, so I quickly centered the cross hairs on its shoulder and pulled the trigger. The elk didn't budge, so I quickly fired off two more rounds as quickly as I could work the bolt action. The elk was still standing there looking at me, and I saw nothing to convince me that I had hit it! I only brought three bullets and was standing there with an empty gun looking at an elk staring at me at 45 yards. Finally the animal took a few wobbly steps towards me and layed down.
I heard Bayes yelling "What are you shooting at?".
"I got one", I replied.
"Got what?" I heard coming from the trees.
"An elk, a calf, come check it out!"
After going to the house to get a knife, we came back and field dressed the "small" elk. We drug it over the snow out to the field where Bayes pulled his jeep down to pick it up. Somehow we managed to get that roughly 400 lb. animal into the jeep after taking out the passenger seat. What a day. It was New Year's Eve, time to party!
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