Hunting Elk in the Snow

When my dad, brother and I drew cow elk tags on the second draw for the northern unit of the Black Hills I was pretty excited at the thought of a freezer full delicious steaks and burger.  Mother nature, however had different plans. 

Heavy snows just before Thanksgiving had moved most of the elk out of our unit and to lower elevations by the time the December season rolled around.  Cutting tracks was difficult, as we hiked several miles from the road through knee deep or higher snow only to find old tracks.  On the last day of our hunt we finally found some fresh tracks unfortunately so did the other 10 hunters in that area.  Hiking deep into the woods following fresh tracks we heard a shot ring out over the next ridge sealing our fate of getting an elk by pushing the elk herd deeper into the forest and out of reach for that day.

For me, time spent in the hills is never wasted.  Even though we didn’t bag an elk spending time hiking the same trails I did when I was younger is reward enough.  Hiking miles through snow filled pine forests that open to calm untouched meadows provides a peace that is hard to match.

The variety  and abundance of wild game in the hills is simply astounding.  Every night, after a day of hunting, we would drive to the flats to glass. Watching hundreds of mule and whitetail deer come out of the hills to feed.  Flocks of a hundred turkeys could been seen making there way towards the forest to roost for the night. 

If you enjoy hunting or the outdoors, try for a tag in the Black Hills.  Get out of your truck, out of a tree stand and hike.  Get deep into the forest before first light and glass a ridgeline or better yet listen to the sound of a huge bull bugling through a valley. Fill your tag or not you won’t be disappointed.

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