Monday, January 07, 2008


My Sister the He-woman
Cara Bags a Five-point Elk in Idaho

It's official, my little sister is the toughest woman (possibly the toughest "person") in my family... an not just because she can out leg-wrestle anyone of my sibling (four big burly brothers), but because of her recent exploits in the woods of Idaho. My Christmas present this year was a freezer stocked with several pounds of elk meat from her hunting trip in November.

I want to talk a little about the politics of hunting... for those of you who eat meat, yet think hunting is cruel (ever been in a slaughterhouse??) But before I launch into my tirade about how hunting is justified, let my sister's story speak for itself...
My father was an avid hunter and as a child, we always had elk, antelope and caribou meat in the freezer to eat. He was a carpenter and didn't make much money those days, so with 7 children, you can imagine that all the meat brought home by way of hunting was important. He had a gift as a hunter and we believed it came in part because he hunted out of necessity. In my sister's story you can tell how while on her hunting trip, she felt more connected to my Dad, who died 3 years ago.

Hey all, Roger and I went hunting on Wednesday, this was my last chance to get an elk, so we started at 4am, got on the four-wheeler and froze while we drove nine miles to the trail head. When we got there we hiked up for about an hour and then sat down and looked for elk. We saw them a distance off and decided to sneak in on them, so we left my backpack and hiked up and down, in and out for another hour, and of course they were gone by the time we got there, so we hiked back out the way we had come.

By the time we got back out it was noon, we picked up my backback, and I put it on, and it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. I sat on a rock, put my head in my hands and just bawled- I was soo beat. I had just gotten over being sick with strep throat, so I wasn't up to full strength yet and I was ready to be done.

I told Roger I wanted to go home and about that time his friend called us on the radio to tell us he was pushing some elk towards us, we saw them, so we tried to sneak in on them, going back the way we had just come. We got close to them, but they were gone by the time we got to them, so Roger decided to go over to the mountain across the canyon, and stage me at a draw where elk frequently crossed. And said he would use his spotting scope to find them for me, and tell me when they were coming in on me.

So we did this and I waited for an hour. They they finally came out, the cows first, then the small bulls (about thirty of them had come up through the draw, no big ones yet) then all of a sudden they ran away as quickly as they had come out. I looked for what spooked them and saw some hunters on the next ridge line with horses, so I waited for another hour in case they decided to come out again.

They finally did come out. There were two four-point elk, a group of cows, and then a five-point elk came out, I thought I could shoot him, but I figured I would wait to make sure there wasn't another big one, I could hear them just over the ridge pawing the ground, and grunting, and clacking horns. I was afraid they were going to smell me and walk right on top of me and run away, so I focused my scope in on the five point who was surrounded by cows, and I lined him up in my sights just in case I had to shoot fast, then Roger came on the radio and said, "if you can see the big one in the middle of the cows and you have a sure shot, shoot him!"

So I shot him, and then they were all gone in a flash. My adrenaline was going crazy, I jumped up, ran to the spot I shot him, and couldn't find any blood, but I was sure I hit him, he was only 250 yards away, so I looked around, and finally saw a small clump of blood in the snow, so I was thinking we will have to chase him because I didn't get a vital shot, then his tracks ended about five feet from the blood, but he had skidded on his heels. I was so confused, I looked all around, and up to the right and behind me I saw some more blood so I followed it, he had jumped!

Then the blood got to be more like a spray gun, and more obvious, and I almost stepped on him for looking down. I didn't dare go close to him without Roger, but I chambered a shell just in case. He died within 50 yards of where I shot him, double lung shot, perfect. You know I thought I would feel differently when it came to actually shooting a big beautiful animal, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it because I wouldn't want to kill them, but it was so different when I actually did it, I felt very connected with the circle of life, and there was almost a reverent feeling when I realized that animal gave his life to feed my family, like it was the way God intended it. I think I can see why dad loved to hunt, and why my husband loves it.

Both of these men like to push themselves to the utmost limit, they go to heck and back, and live to tell about it. And when you hunt, you see views that most people in their lifetime will never see, you get to up close and personal with nature in a way most never experience. Roger was way excited I shot it, despite the fact that he wasn't telling me to shoot that one, he meant the six point that was just out of my field of vision, but he was suprised I did so well without him by me coaching me. I am sure dad was with me too. Jenie actually got a feeling I shot an elk and called me on my cell phone, and left the message that she knew I got an elk, and she had a feeling dad was proud of me.

Anyway, I just like to think of him, smiling in heaven, looking down on what I am doing, and being proud of me and my accomplishments, hunting or otherwise, it makes it that much more enjoyable when I think of his face as it is lit up with a smile of pure joy.

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