It’s an Elk Hunt in the Ozark Mountains

Where to go?  That is the first question.  What kind of a hunt do I want to do?  That is the second question.  How much am I willing to spend?  That is the third question.  Those are all bad questions and if you are thinking along those lines, throw them all out.  What I focus on is where can I have the most fun.  Then I try to pick the time that will work for my schedule.  My wife and I like to travel in the fall and that is usually right around elk season in the mountains, so some of the places picked do not work for our schedule.  What I want are good accommodations, good food, a one to one guide, and results.  References are an absolute must.  I like to make sure the people that recommend the outfitter have had a good experience with a lot of fun mixed in.   I like to hear, “I had a great time and will or would go again.”

Winchester Blind Side Waterfowl Load Shotshells

Winchester Blind Side Waterfowl Load Shotshells
I have been on elk hunts in three states, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.   Hunting in National Forrest Service terrain is always an exciting adventure.  In many cases your percentages go down, not unless the hunting areas are positioned near private land that holds elk year round.   A private ranch that holds elk is probably the best way I believe to harvest a nice animal.  Percentages go way up and you generally stay in a lodge setting with all the amenities. My days of roughing it are all gone, and I want a comfortable bed at night and a hot shower after being in the field all day long.

If you are going to the mountains with an outfitter that is hunting National Forrest Service Land, you should be prepared to be able to ride a horse.  On my first trip, I went to a riding stable and practiced riding, mounting, and getting off without falling off. This I would recommend. The other concern that would apply to all of the people that live in the flat lands is the altitude.  It is so easy to get altitude sickness with low grade nausea and severe headache.  Hydrating is the key ingredient to overcome this problem.  After I have hunted in the mountains, on my drive out, I drink a liter of Gatorade.  Then every morning I drink at least a half a liter of water before we leave, and a liter a day on the trail.  I also drink another half a liter at the end of the day, but I might have to get up a couple of times during the night. That is why tenting it anymore is out for me.

Federal Premium Vital-Shok Nosler Partition Centerfire Rifle Cartridges

Federal Premium Vital-Shok Nosler Partition Centerfire Rifle Cartridges
This is the round I shoot for Elk, and it is deadly.  Click on the link above or the pic to buy from Bass Pro.

 It gets cold in the mountains during the night and it is pitch black unless there is a full moon.  The process is to wake up around 2 AM with the urge to find a fire hydrant.  I put on my boots, put on my coat, grab a flash light, and grab my pistol.  When I shined my flashlight out of the tent, I have seen in the past eyes staring at the light.  The outfitters have told me not to worry as it is deer.  However, I have seen wolf tracks in camp in the morning and that means one walked through during the night.  So, it is a process to take care of mother nature, and if it is raining, it is more work.  Oh, to be younger.

I applied this year in Wyoming to hunt in the Big Horns and did not draw a license.  When July came around there was nothing in my area so that was out.  When I checked at a private ranch in Colorado that features ranching for wildlife, they were booked up.

Winchester Model 70 RMEF Sporter Bolt-Action Rifle
This is the rifle I shoot for big game in North America.  Coupled with the Federal ammunition with Nosler Partition bullet makes and outstanding combination.  Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro.

When I checked with High Adventure Ranch in the Ozark mountains, they had an opening in November.  I took it.  There are advantages here.  First, it is a guaranteed hunt, and if there is not an animal harvested you pay nothing.  Second, it is a one on one guide experience, and I like that.  There is nothing like personal attention.  I have been teamed up with another hunter on an outing that I did not know.  It worked out okay, but having one guide dedicated to you is the best way to go.  Third, you sleep inside a nice lodge with a bathroom and a good bed.  I have a 20 below sleeping bag, but in this case I don’t have to bring it along.  Food is served buffet style in a comfortable dining room.  There is also a big lodge setting available so you can lounge around.  It is like being at home.

Nikon Monarch 5 XR Rifle Scope
I use this scope on the 300 Win Mag. Click on the link or the pic and buy from Bass Pro.

Service is excellent and while you can have your animal processed at the lodge, my preference is to bring it back to my processor.  I have about a 10 hour drive and having hunted in January, it was not problem to bring the animal back in total.  However, on this trip in November I will have it hung for a day and then de-boned and packed in coolers on ice to keep it cool.  Then it goes to my processor.  I like my elk cut in a certain way and the burger mixed with 15% pork butt.  Everyone has their own tastes, but mine are a little particular.

I leave on November 1st and the hunt starts on November 2nd.  There is nothing like elk steak or burger, unless you are fortunate enough to go up north and harvest a caribou.

Gander Mountain

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.   Hank


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