January came and it immediately brought to mind the need to apply for my elk tags in Wyoming and possibly New Mexico.
|A nice looking 6 x 6, but I would satisfied with something smaller. We want tender meat.|
The New Mexico hunt sounded really fantastic as it was highly recommended by a friend in our duck hunting club. He had great success there although he had some trouble with the altitude. We are both the same age and I would guess about the same shape. It met all my requirements of a comfortable lodge, three squares a day, and for a few extra dollars I could hunt one on one with the guide. I have shared a guide on hunts before with a stranger. It worked okay, but you have to work at it. If you can have your own for a few extra bucks it is money well spent.
|This is the round I shoot. 300 win mag 180 gr Nosler Partition. Click on the picture or the link below and order from Bass Pro.|
I looked up Moon Valley Outfitters on the Internet and they have a great website that explains who they are and what they are about. I called down and got pricing and visited with the owner. He wanted to know where I had hunted and what my physical capabilities were and what my expectations were. He also asked me about distances shot and harvested in the past. I never tell an outfitter more than I am capable of and it is best to down play what you can do. Harvesting an animal that is representative of the area is what I expect and hope to harvest. A trophy is great, but I never plan on it or plan on looking for a trophy. Meat is the goal as there are mouths to feed, and big old elk are tough. (http://www.moonvalleyoutfitters.com/)
The lodge is in a hard days driving from Omaha, and while I would spend a night on the road going down, I would drive it non stop on the way back. Hopefully, de-boned meat would be in my coolers.
New Mexico is a draw state and the outfitter takes care of the application process for you. All that is required is to give them a credit-card number and you get a copy of the application.
I then called my good friend Bob Barlow with Barlow Outfitters. He was booked up with deer hunters but gave me a recommendation on a private ranch high in the Tetons near Jackson Hole. I would be hunting with the outfitter as he limits how many people he can take and per Bob, this is gentleman hunting. That got me interested.
|Sierra Trading Post
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There is no lodging and I would have to stay in Jackson and drive up into the mountains daily and hunt. Food would be on my own and I was unsure about meat preparation. The price was a little high compared to New Mexico and I would have to buy the General Tag and not draw as I still do not have enough points to draw and especially for this area.
Bob’s recommendation was really all it took, but my goal would have been to hunt with him. I have never had so much fun with a person on a hunt as I have with Bob Barlow. He is really patient with me and I enjoy his company his hunting experience and knowledge. I decided to look at fresh country and apply for the license in New Mexico.
In March the bad news came in. I did not draw in New Mexico and talking with the outfitter, he said if I would have been using a muzzle loader, I might have had a better chance for the area. I like my Winchester 300 win mag, and while I have a muzzle loader, the 300 is my choice of rifles except for white tail deer in Iowa.
It looked like an elk hunt might be out of the question this fall as my goal was to hunt where I had never been before. In my book “How to Hunt Like a Gentleman” there is a list of locations I have been and some more than once. The book is available on Amazon and through Lulu.
While the wind and the snow were blowing around one March evening, I started playing with the Internet. Low and behold while searching in Colorado, here came a spot in Idaho. Wow, for some reason their website popped up on a Colorado search.
Juniper Mountain Ranch near Terreton, Idaho is a private ranch the promotes elk hunting. (http://www.junipermountain.net/)The elk are resident elk although they do add to the herd. No license is required as the hunt is on private property so you avoid the problem of drawing and hunting in National Forrest Service ground where your odds are 20% success rate. I am interested in meat, but more importantly, results. Calling them on the phone and visiting about the ranch met my requirements. What is really important for me is my wife will get to accompany me on the trip. Whether she will go on the actual hunt is up to her.
The Juniper Mountain Ranch is basically a sheep ranch, so the country is wide open and shooting through timber will not be a problem, although it is a challenge. Wide open country will mean longer shots, I believe, so practice for me is a necessity and I must get the rifle sighted in. They recommend sighting when you first get there. Meals, fully guided, and a private bath in your room meets my maximum requirements. There is the opportunity to have the meat processed, and a call was made to the processor. There is a requirement on this item for us. We like to have the burger mixed with 15% pork fat ground fine and made into half pound packages. We use a processor in Minden, Iowa that does things just the way we want it and although we pay extra for this service, it is worth it. There are only two of us and a half pound package makes two burgers. Friends that we give meat to also are empty nesters. When you get older, your ability to eat a two pound steak disappears.
After a couple of phone calls and visiting with the owner, the decision was made to head to Idaho the last of September. We will look at some fresh country and have a new experience to write about, I hope.