Hunting with Family for a First Elk
Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak is all about family. Krissy Knox from Harrisburg, Oregon, and her brother, Ryan Hay, give a new meaning to the words, Mossy Oak family. “My brother and I have been hunting partners since we were young, and today he’s still my hunting partner,” Krissy explains. “We hunt together often.” In some families, children are very competitive with their siblings. However, in the Hay and Knox family, Krissy and Ryan are very supportive of each other. One rarely hunts without the other. Both are Mossy Oak ProStaffers and part of the Mossy Oak team. They are also on several other pro staffs in the outdoor industry as a team. Krissy has a degree in veterinarian science and is in the Ag research industry, primarily focusing on crop research.
I was in my first deer camp when I was only 4 months old and have hunted all my life. My brother Ryan and I have been on the Mossy Oak ProStaff for a while. Mossy Oak’s Regional Director, Parrey Cremeans, signed us both up at the same time. We hunt Rocky Mountain elk, blacktail deer, mule deer, turkeys, antelope and black bears.
I’ve lived in Harrisburg, Oregon, my entire life, and our entire family hunts. I spent most of my younger years hunting with my grandpa, Bill Hay, Sr., since my brother Ryan always hunted with my dad, Bill Hay, Jr. Grandpa decided to take me under his wing to help me learn to hunt.
After Ryan and I were both mentored into hunting by the older members of our family, we became hunting partners and have remained hunting partners throughout life while raising our own families. I have a 6-year-old son, Jesse, who hunts with me now, and a steady boyfriend, Stacy Locks, who hunts with us sometimes and scouts with my son and me. Jesse enjoys sitting in the blind with me and got his first bow two years ago.
I started out my hunting career hunting with a rifle, and then 15 years ago, I began hunting with a bow. Since then, I’ve been hunting exclusively with a Bowtech bow. As big game hunting became more popular here in Oregon, drawing tags became more difficult. When we weren’t able to draw elk and deer tags sometimes, a light went off in our brains. We decided to start bowhunting on the years we didn’t draw deer tags. Little did we know that once we bowhunted that we never would pick up a rifle again.
Bowhunting tags are general tags in Oregon, and most of them are good statewide. A bow tag is an over-the-counter tag that’s good for most of the state, except for trophy units. The bow seasons are longer than the gun seasons, and we don’t have to go through the draw to hunt big game.
I took my first bull elk eight years ago when my brother and I had gone into the back country. That bull came within 26 yards and presented me with a perfect bow shot. I learned to call elk about 10 years ago, so as Ryan and I hike through the back country, we call elk. Another reason I like bowhunting for elk in Oregon is because bowhunters get to hunt during the rut, and I really enjoy the thrill of getting extremely close to the animals I’m trying to take.
I’ve even watched:
- a bull elk rub against my brother as the elk passed by him;
- a cow elk bite the sleeve of my brother’s shirt; and
- a calf elk lick my camera lens when I was trying to film it.
Elk are just such big, beautiful animals and so graceful. If someone told me I’d never harvest another elk, I’d still go into the back country and call to them. I love having a big animal like that come extremely close to me.
Knox’s First Elk:
I love to hunt, chase and learn about these animals. The first elk I took was on a Labor Day on an afternoon hunt, just before the bulls started bugling. The weather was really hot. We went through an area we call Cougar Hill, because I had a cougar almost in my lap on this mountain several years before - within 5 yards of me. During the early season, Ryan and I have learned to cow call as we hike through the back country and keep our heads on swivel. We never know what direction an elk may come from due to the bulls usually coming in silent during the pre-rut.
We were in an open meadow when we heard branches breaking behind us, so we had to find a place to hide as we spotted a spike bull. We were on our knees, and Ryan was right behind me with a range finder. Since Ryan had taken his first bull the year before, he really wanted me to have a chance to take my first bull. I nocked an arrow and prepared for the shot. The bull saw us, but he didn’t quite know what we were. He spooked a little bit, went out to 35 yards and then started creeping back in to us. Just as the bull stepped behind a tiny Christmas tree, I drew my bow and anchored my shot. My brother Ryan whispered, “He’s at 26 yards.”
I was so focused in on my pin sight and the spot on the bull that I wanted to hit, I didn’t see the flight of the arrow. I had no idea of what really had happened, when the bull broke to run. We waited for about 2 hours before we investigated the site where the bull had been standing when I shot. The bull had only gone about 80 yards before we found him. When I got my knife out to help with the skinning and the field dressing, Ryan took my knife out of my hand. He was afraid I might cut myself or make a bad cut when we were skinning. I was as proud of that spike bull as I would have been if he had been a 350-inch trophy bull elk.
When we found the bull, we saw that my arrow had gone in at the top of the elk’s lung, and the fletching was still outside of the bull and blocking the entry wound. So, there was only a small circle of blood coming out of the exit wound. We had to walk about 60 yards before we found the first speck of blood, and I didn’t locate my arrow, until we found the bull. I was really getting worried that I might have made a bad hit, but the bull was only 30 yards from where we’d located the first speck of blood. Since we didn’t have our frame packs with us, after we field dressed the bull, we each carried a front shoulder and our bows the two miles back to our truck, picked up our frame packs, walked back to the elk and then carried the rest of the meat out. I had shot the elk about an hour before dark, and by the time we got the meat out and back to the truck, it was midnight.
I took this bull before Ryan and I began to video our hunts. Neither one of us is a professional videographer, we don’t have a TV show, and our hunting comes before making our homemade videos. However, we do enjoy filming them when time and circumstances permit. Then we can relive the hunts and share them with our friends, families and sponsors.
To get John and Denise Phillips’ free cookbook, “Miz Denise’s Outdoor Cooking: More Than 35 Recipes for Elk and Mule Deer,” go to http://johninthewild.com/free-books.
Part 2: Krissy Knox’s Best Bull Elk