The purpose of Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) is to achieve wildlife management objectives without shortening seasons or completely closing areas. LEH seasons are essentially lottery draws to limit the number of animals that may be taken, or limit the harvest to a certain class of animal.
At the present time, the only animal on Vancouver Island that is subject to LEH hunting is Roosevelt Elk. Smitty had been trying for 33 years and finally hit the jackpot – he drew an antlerless elk at the north end of the Island for Dec. 1 to 31, 2010. Needless to say he was overjoyed at finally being drawn.
Now you may wonder what two old guys are thinking about when they take on the challenge of an elk hunt. Well let me put it this way – between the two of us our average age is 87 and built within those somewhat aging frames are the spirits of 25-year-old men who have yet to learn their limits. However, throughout the years we have learned quite a lot about “easyology” and “slow busy,” which translates into busy retirement, and we had a successful elk hunt.
Added to our resources for Smitty’s elk hunt were two angels from Port Hardy in the persons of Bill Shire and his wife Fran. When they heard Smitty had an elk draw in the Woss Lake area they insisted on volunteering to help us after an animal was down with their considerable retrieving skills in pulling Smitty’s elk out to the road.
We were booked into the Rugged Mountain Motel in Woss, which was our hunting camp. Reports from local residents confirmed there were several good-sized elk herds in the area. Bill connected my truck with a radio phone so we could stay in touch while scouting for elk. Fran suggested that we needed lipstick in our truck if we wanted to see game. It seems that when Fran and Bill hunt together they see a lot of animals as is the case with their friends who also hunt as couples. To back it up, Fran had shot a nice bull moose in the Interior and she was looking for a black-tailed buck on this hunt.
The first afternoon of the hunt Smitty and I had close encounters with tracks, but no elk. While this was happening, Bill and Fran phoned twice to tell us they were looking at several nice elk – the lipstick syndrome?
Day two dawned with crisp, clear weather and fresh snow. We returned to the area where they had seen elk the previous day and sure enough the lipstick syndrome still works, but all Smitty and I could see were deer and other hunters.
After a tailgate lunch with our angel friends we split up to explore some promising valleys. In one place we went from a snow-covered landscape into a hidden valley void of snow, but surrounded by towering snow-covered peaks. If nothing else happened on the hunt, the time spent in that intoxicatingly beautiful little micro-climate was worth the trip.
For our afternoon hunt we chose a clearing where Fran and Bill bad seen elk and there was abundant sign. We were getting nicely settled into the clearing when Smitty spotted a herd of elk. After the shooting we had a nice cow elk.
Earlier we had been admonished by Bill not to shoot an animal after 4 p.m. because it would be dark before we could get it out to the truck. Smitty got on the phone to Bill and Fran to tell them it was 3:55 p.m. and we had an elk down. When they arrived I was up in the timber cleaning the animal. Smitty and Fran hooked up a snatch block to the trailer hitch on my truck and Bill pulled over 700 feet of line up to the animal.
Bill tied the animal to the rope then Bill talked to Fran by phone in their truck. By skilful driving on Fran’s part, judicious instructions from Bill, and timely assistance from Smitty, his elk was out to the road shortly after dark – applied “easyology.” The rest was anticlimactic as we took pictures and returned to our camp in Woss.
Have a happy and prosperous 2011.