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.
My husband, Eric, and I hunt public lands here in Montana during archery season. Quite a few archers come to Montana to hunt elk. However, there are about five times as many rifle hunters as there are bowhunters. We spend a good amount of time scouting and looking for places to hunt elk where most other bowhunters won’t hunt. One of the advantages we have where we hunt is that we hunt many places we've hunted before, and the bowhunters are really courteous. Usually, they won’t park and walk in behind another hunter. If they see his/her truck on the road, they will drive around and find another place to hunt. During rifle season, that same protocol isn’t usually followed. If we get tags for eastern Montana, we’ll usually scout the day before we hunt. But if we get a tag to take an elk where we live, we’ll know that area, because we spend so much time horn hunting after elk season. By hunting horns, we find places where the elk hole up in the winter months, and we also scout before the season.
We mainly hunt Wildlife Units 101, 102 and 103. This past year, Eric and I and another couple all drew doe tags to hunt in the Thompson Falls area of Montana on a crop depredation hunt. The deer were destroying the farmer’s crops. Three of the four of us each took a doe. I shot my doe with a gun during the first week of September. The doe was only at 30 yards and would’ve been an easy bow shot. Although I’m not a fan of gun hunting and much prefer to bowhunt during deer season, I will hunt with a gun if the occasion arises. On this particular hunt, I had taken my bow as well as my gun with me. The light began to fade, and I said, “The next doe I see I'm taking.” As luck would have it, this doe walked in at 30 yards. I had my gun in my hand, and I put her down. Usually, Eric and I will eat one elk and as many deer as we can take each year. However, the last 2 years Eric and I have both taken elk, so we have a freezer full of meat.
I'm often asked, “Are you seeing more ladies bowhunting now than you’ve seen in the past?” At least in my area, I definitely have to say yes. We have regular archery shoots where I live. Instead of going with their husbands and just hanging out, many of the wives decided they would start shooting also. As more and more lady bowhunters started appearing on television, more of the ladies who shot tournament archery decided to try bowhunting. Where I live in Montana - including Missoula and Kalispell - women bowhunting is more of the norm than women who don’t bowhunt. When we have an archery tournament, you’ll probably see at least 50 women in the Bowhunter Class. I have about 10 or 12 girlfriends who bowhunt who live in my town.
Eric has been bowhunting for 15 years, and we bowhunted together when we were dating. So when we got married, we went on a “hunting moon” instead of a honeymoon. After the wedding, we went to Pike County Illinois, for 3 days on a buck-and-doe hunt. The hunt was archery only, and it was a week before the rut. We both took does, and we saw some really-nice bucks, but we didn’t have a buck in a place that we could take the shot. We really had a good time. Our “hunting moon” was something I knew Eric would enjoy, because he's not much on going to the beach and laying in the sun.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm about to have a baby at this writing. I’m hoping by the time the baby gets here, I will have found a babysitter, so I can still hunt elk and deer this year. I found a spot about 2 miles from my house where I have cell service, and I think I can ride my bike to get there. That way, I can have a babysitter stay with the baby, and I can still go hunting and be within contact of the babysitter by cell phone.
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.
Yesterday: Wendy Drake's Biggest Bow Bull Elk