i was incredibly excited to be invited on Mike and Ellen’s elk hunt at the end of my trip to wyoming in september.
at that point, Elle had to head home, so i spent the last 10 days mostly by myself in the wild. and of the last 3, my friends were kind enough to host me at hunting camp.
Jim also showed up. he and Mike go way back. and actually, he and i do too… randomly enough.
when i lived in pinedale in 2005, i tried my hand a few other jobs after quitting my job at the newspaper.
in this part of wyoming, everyone knows that able bodied folks can make a VERY good living roughnecking in the oil fields. even i was tempted by the high pay they were offering.
one problem though…. no experience. in steps Jim.
he runs a water well rig, which is very similar to the oil rigs out in the fields. and Jim was looking for a bit of help.
long story short, i apprenticed with Jim for one day. quickly realized i’m not the roughnecking type :)
but Jim was incredibly nice to this city slicker, and i will forever be grateful. he’s a good man.
buster found a good spot for a midday nap.
only the essentials… whiskey, guns….. and a broom?
unfortunately, there was still a fire ban… so we had to use camping ingenuity… thanks to Ellen, we were all warm.
when you’re at camp with Mike and Ellen, you’re not going to go hungry, that’s for sure. breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we ate like kings.
we woke up very early on opening day to get the horses ready…
it was a beautiful morning. but opening day is a tough day to spot animals… lots of other folks out looking for them too…
no luck. we searched all morning only to find that we may want to look for a new spot.
so we decided to take an evening drive down from our camp to scout a new location…
along the way, Jim spotted a few grouse…. mmm. dinner.
tastes like chicken. especially when smothered in bbq sauce…
we found a great spot. but we would need to return the next morning before dawn.
and on the way back… more grouse.
so we went back to our spot early the next morning, before sunrise. it was the day i would have to leave wyoming.
it turned out to be a great location… we saw several good bulls. but one thing that i learned about hunting is that you don’t always get to shoot, even when you see what you’re looking for.
we never got the right looks, or they were never close enough. the last thing a hunter wants is to wound an animal right before nightfall, or spoil the meat with a bad shot.
so we explored a bit… and found a moose family. a cow, calf, and bull popped out of the willows and we had a chance to see them on the move together. a real treat.
seeing the moose family was a nice way to wrap up the morning… but the sun was climbing higher, temperature rising. not a great time for hunting.
so i decided to say my goodbyes and get on the road.
i had a really long drive back. but my route took me back through pinedale, and for one last stop at soda lake.
all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012