Why Would Anybody
Want to go Elk Hunting?
By Dan Howard
It all started in May when we (Dianne, Steve and I) received word that we had all been drawn for the very best Roosevelt elk hunt in Oregon on the Rouge River. This hunt had taken us five years to draw, and we were all looking forward to hunting the big Roosevelt elk that inhabit the west coast rain forest. Success runs 42 to 58 percent. Wow, elk meat this year for sure!

I did my normal working out in hopes of packing out a couple big-bodied animals; had my truck tuned up and the transmission serviced and repaired; changed the oil in the generator; and double-checked that the trailer was in good working order, charging one of the two batteries, including putting air in the tires. I even made sure the Quad was running good, bought a can of tire fix-a-flat and taped it to the back — just in case, you never know! I also took my rifle to the range and got it all tuned for that once-in-a-lifetime elk.

My Hunt

October 30th
While packing my guns for the long-awaited trip, I happened to hear a sound that was not quite right. With just three days before we were to leave, I looked for where it had come from and soon discovered that it was the spring that secures my clip in place on my rifle. My wife, the great gal she is, jumped into getting it repaired for me. She picked it up on Friday, ready to go…

October 31st Halloween
I dropped my truck off to a friend at Big O Tires to get the tires rotated and my brakes checked. Everything is good.

November 1st
Loaded the truck and trailer with our gear, put the Quad on the truck and strapped it down. I had to make a couple final errands — you know, go to the bank, work stuff…etc. While doing my last-minute running around, I heard something that did not sound right with the truck. I took a few minutes and took the truck down to the local transmission shop where, as I mentioned before, the truck had been serviced a couple weeks eariler. They took the truck for a ride, checked everything out and confirmed that everything was fine, right on, and I need not worry at all. My family jumped into the truck and off we went. We stopped in the redwoods that night to lay over till morning.

November 2nd
Pulled into Huntley about 1 p.m. and started to ready our camp. As I was unhooking the trailer, I found that everything was oily. I soon found what was going on — the transmission had blown out all its fluid as it had crashed and burned. Remember this is Saturday, in Gold Beach, Oregon, so I headed for town in my broken-down truck to try to find someone to check it out and to call my transmission shop back home. As you may guess, nobody home anywhere. Bought some transmission fluid at Napa Auto Parts. Forecast: 65 and sunny.

November 3rd
Hung out in camp, too worried about my truck breaking down while out scouting. Forecast: 68 and sunny.

November 4th
Took the truck to Brookings about 45 miles from camp to have it looked at. The technician took it for a ride and hooked it up to the computer and advised the transmission was toast. My options were not very good — rebuild or replace with a new one. If they rebuilt it, it may take up to four days, or, order a new one out of Portland and it could be up and running Wednesday. The catch… $2,800. Wow!

So a new transmission was ordered and on the way that day. The dealership offered us a car at a discounted rate, but where would I put my gear, firewood, etc… So we located the only truck for rent in town, a 1998 Ford Ranger quad cab. My family and gear were packed like sardines. Went back to camp and did a little scouting. Forecast: 68 and sunny.

November 5th
Went scouting, saw about 20 elk and picked up firewood for camp. Had a couple of beers. There is only so much a person can take on vacation — I have less stress at work.

November 6th
Went scouting, saw 60 elk, came back to camp and discovered that one of my batteries had taken a dump, so I hooked up the other. Remember I had only charged one, so no power in the second one, either. No big deal! Started the generator and soon discovered this battery was also gone. I put both bad batteries in the truck and took off to Brookings to pick up my repaired truck and replace my batteries. Got everything done and was back to camp at dark. At this point I was starting to feel a little better. Wow, I may be able to hunt after all.

November 7th
Went scouting, lots of elk. Forecast: big storm moving in.

November 8th
Went scouting, some elk, not as many with the storm, they where holding up in the tall timber. Got back to camp and one of the batteries went low so I started the generator to charge it up. Well, the damn thing ran for about one minute and went kaput. So off to town I went again at 3 p.m. on Friday, found a place that would repair it and have it back on Saturday at 2 p.m. This cut into my hunting plans, but what the hell, we needed the generator.

November 9th
Opening morning, the storm blew in with 60 to 75 mile-per-hour winds and 4 to 5 inches of rain in one day. Everybody and everything was wet, and no elk would be out in this stuff. Tried to dry out our stuff but could not. Four people and a wet dog in one trailer is just too much, so off to town to stay in a small hotel with our hunting friends (Steve and Robbie Weber). Picked up generator and took it back to our lifeless, wet camp.

November 10th
More rain and I mean HEAVY rain. No nada, no animals anywhere. Hunted hard all day, not one elk sighted by any of the three of us. Forecast: more of the same.

November 11th
More rain, no nada, anywhere. All the elk where held up in the timber. Figures! Two days left and the forecast was for more of the same.

November 12th
What else? Another three inches of rain and wind. Met the State Police Officer (warden in Oregon) for the area and he said, "By this time last year I had seen over 20 elk killed, but not any this year yet, the rain is just too heavy." Just my luck! One more day left.

November 13th
Hunted hard, only two inches today. No elk shot, but I did jump a bull in the morning and could not get a shot. The elk were finally starting to move on the last day. Found where some elk had relocated to and had my last chance till the end of the day. No nothing… By the way, the timber companies always open their gates for hunting but this year, because of the biggest fire in Oregon that happened in the unit across the street from ours, no access would be allowed. This really hurt as it kept us out of a lot of great hunting areas.

November 14th
Had a few cocktails, and felt bad for myself. Forecast: No rain for two days. Moved back to camp in the morning to find my propane had gone out and all the food in the fridge had gone bad, the freezer stuff was OK. Went to town to get propane and pick up more food. What else could go wrong?

November 15th
Finally dragged myself out and went steelhead fishing with my son. He hooked and landed an 11-pound, 31-inch Rouge river steelhead on 6-pound test. Garrett will be hooked forever. By the way, that is a lot bigger than my 16-inch, two-pounder. After fishing we went back to camp to show Garrett’s fish off and to my amazement looked down to see my almost flat trailer tire. It looked good enough to get to town.

November 16th
Packed up camp in the rain. (What else?) When I removed the jacks, the tire went completely flat. I got out my handy fix-a-flat stuff (the same stuff Uncle Jim uses) from the Quad and pumped it up. As I was doing this, I got the stuff all over my hands so I went over to wash it off at the spicket on the side of the trailer. When I turned it on, it broke off in my hand. Had the tire fixed in town, but the spicket is still broke and will be until spring.

Arrived home safe that night. One thing for sure, everything I own will be in good working order next year.

I can’t wait till next year.

Editor's Note: This is truly a dedicated hunter! By the time we got to the end of the story, we were expecting to read that he'd sent the trailer, Quad, and hunting equipment over the nearest cliff — in the rain (and become a vegetarian at that)!

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