May 2021 - 2



A good elk story


By Brian Nesvik

like telling stories about my adventures
across our great state. Count me lucky
- the more hours I spend outside, the
more tales I have to share. This one starts
last fall, in pursuit of elk. It was a weekend trip
on a ranch near Arlington with a handful of
family and friends. Of course there were campfires, great food and drinks, but hunting with
my bow-hunting son was about all I had on my
mind. That's why when our group arrived on
Friday afternoon, just a few hours before sunset, the time couldn't go to waste. My son and I
quickly set out for a quick evening adventure.
We decided to head to water first, and we quickly found ourselves
creeping up to the river's edge. Mere minutes later, a cow elk stepped
out only 20 yards away in thick cover. As she moved away, a bull
elk screamed to our left and another to our right. More bulls began
moving around to our front and only a snapping branch and my
startled inhale announced their arrival. The heavy thickets of shrubs
and trees jutting from the bank proved to be favorable cover. The
bulls drank from the shallow water, unaware of us nestled just feet
away. My son couldn't raise his bow from our makeshift blind, a large
cluster of willows, because there were bull elk on all sides ... and
close! In my son's handful of years bow hunting, it was the closest
he'd sat undetected by multiple bull elk. We just sat and watched
seemingly endless bugling wapiti as close as 20 yards until the light
faded. We weren't disappointed by any stretch, because neither of
us was keen on ending the hunt this early in the trip.
Up close those bulls were regal, impressive and breathtaking. Bow
hunting the Rocky Mountain elk certainly lives up to all descriptors
and hype. It's that allure that draws wildlife watchers and hunters
2 | May 2021	

alike to pursue them, even just for a look. Elk in Wyoming are a
favorite for visitors and wildlife photographers, but even residents
like me get caught up by their beauty time and time again.
It's no wonder then why elk are a favorite among hunters,
especially since in Wyoming you can stand to be selective with your
harvest. The species is an annual pursuit for many Wyomingites,
especially since residents have the chance for limited-quota licenses
or general licenses that allow harvest of a bull or a cow in many
areas and are sold over-the-counter. That means any resident can
buy an elk license each year, and use it in 51 areas across the state
as long as the season is open. For those preferring to pick a specific
area you must put in for the draw. Don't forget the deadline is the
end of this month.
For those hoping for an autumn excursion, an elk hunt is rarely
disappointing. I'm happy to report many of you found fun, relaxation
and success in 2020. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department license and harvest data, hunters broke several records.
Game and Fish issued 73,961 elk licenses and hunters reported filling
37 percent of those, the highest number in at least the last 10 years.
That means a stunning 47 percent of limited-quota license holders
harvested and 28 percent of general hunters, the highest general
license success in six years. Bull harvest triumphed at 11,320 which
was the most significant harvest in at least a decade. Cow harvest
remained high at 12,045.
These noteworthy numbers are possible because of the amazing
and growing elk populations we have in Wyoming, and the continual
support of hunters who pay for their management. Elk thrive in every
county in the state, in the timber and plains, on public land and on
private ranches. Because of this, Game and Fish has increased the
number of limited-quota elk licenses available in 2021 by nearly 4
percent to aid in management, especially to reduce their numbers
on habitat shared with mule deer.
While my son didn't harvest an elk that evening on the river, he
did harvest a nice bull later in the season, and I was happy to harvest
a respectable cow. I don't mind that we waited. I like that we spent
more time together outside, watching the elk that beckon us back
each year and make our fall stories worth telling. I wish you all the
best in your 2021 elk draws and hunting adventures.


May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2021

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