Editor’s Note: Wendy LaCrosse Drake from Libby, Montana, has been elk hunting for 6 years and has been a member of the Mossy Ok Pro Staff for about 5 years. Her favorite pattern is Mossy Oak Treestand, because she believes it best fits the terrain where she hunts - primarily northwest Montana.
I started shooting the PSE X-Force before I ever started hunting. When PSE introduced the Stiletto, I liked it, because it was similar to the X-Force, but it was more of a lady’s bow and that bow just fit me! I shoot tournament archery as well as bowhunt, and I compete in the Women’s Open Class. I got into tournament archery after my husband, Eric, bought me a bow for my birthday, and he taught me how to shoot it. Eric’s father had worked at the archery pro shop, xXx Archery (http://xxx-archery.com), and Eric and I enjoyed shooting our bows in the summertime. My friend, Emily Vega, shoots in the Professional Archery Division. She encouraged me to start shooting tournament archery, and we went to a lot of tournaments together. This past year is the first year I haven’t shot much tournament archery, because I'm expecting a child. But in the past, we've done the Redding shoot in California, and we've shot the Triple Crown tournaments that have been put on close to home.
I took my first elk 2-years ago hunting from a tree stand. I went to this tree stand, because it was the closest stand to our deer camp. I knew I would have to hike in by myself, so I didn’t want to get too far from camp. Although the stand was 3 - 4 four miles from camp, I only had to hike in about 1/2-mile by myself. I always carry a Garmin GPS (http://www.garmin.com) with me, so if I'm by myself, regardless of where I am, or where I’m going, I can navigate.
My tree stand was set-up over an open meadow. Two days before the hunt, we had a rain in that area. So, when we scouted the edge of the meadow, we saw fresh elk tracks going into and out of the meadow. We decided this would be a good place for me to take a stand. I had two cow elk come within 25 or 30 yards of my stand early that morning. But when I saw them, they were looking at me, so I couldn’t get a shot. I then returned to camp.
Late in the evening, I went back to my stand. I only had been in my stand 20 minutes, and I heard movement behind me on the same trail I just had walked. My first thought was that a mountain lion was trailing me to my tree stand, because the sound I heard was muffled, possibly like a lion walking. But in only a few minutes after I heard the sound, I spotted two cow elk. One of the cows walked right under my stand. All I could see was her feet. I thought the cow would see me for sure. I was so excited I could hardly breathe, and adrenaline was really pumping through my veins. Finally, the cow walked out to about 25 yards straight away from me. When she turned to look back, I was already at full draw, and I released the arrow.
Once the arrow struck the cow, she ran to the end of the meadow, and I saw her fall. I had about an hour’s worth of daylight left. So, I waited until dark before I went to get the cow. There were other hunters in my area, and I didn’t want to get down and possibly spook elk that they might be able to take. Finally, Eric came to my stand after dark. He couldn’t believe that I had really taken an elk. He wasn’t hunting far from me, and he said, “I thought I heard an elk crash.” He still didn’t quite believe me until we found the elk. Then, Eric got really excited. Fred Sachting, who was a butcher, was on the hunt with us. Fred helped us skin the elk and get the meat out. Like Eric, I could hardly believe that I finally had taken an elk with my bow. For me, this hunt was a dream come true!
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oaks Pros Know Bucks and Bows” on Amazon. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.
For information on making jerky from your elk and other big game animals to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book.