Editor’s Note: Forty-one-year-old Troy Grogan has been a Mossy Oak Pro for 7 years and lived in Utah for 26 years. Then he moved to Farmington, New Mexico, 15 years ago. He’s been hunting elk for at least 27 years. He’s taken two mature bull elk but also 25 to 30 cow elks and spikes.
There are three reasons I hunt cow elk and spikes:
- I can draw a tag for cow elk and spikes much easier than I can draw a bull elk tag, especially during archery season.
- My family and I love the taste of elk meat, and we eat a lot of it.
- My extended family and I meet in Utah. We set up a camp, and we all hunt together.
The number of family members who show up for our annual elk hunt will vary from five people to as many as 15. When we take an elk, we use the elk tenderloin to cook up for camp meat while we’re on the hunt. Then we debone the rest of the meat and divide it into packages for the number of family hunters in camp with us. This way, we always have plenty of help to field dress, debone, cut up the elk meat and package the elk meat. We freeze the meat to get it home. Then each family processes the meat in their favorite way. For me and my family, we make sausage, kielbasa, cube steaks, roasts or elk burgers. We usually average about three elk per hunt, because we all try to take an elk cow or a spike, and we all pitch in to help prepare the meat.
The best way for easterners to understand our family elk meat hunt is to think about a southern deer hunt with dogs like those held many years ago. Hunters would be put out on a certain piece of property. The drivers and dogs went in and spooked the deer. Then the standers would harvest the deer. All the deer would be taken back to camp, skinned, butchered and cut up into pieces, depending on the number of hunters who had hunted that day. The meat from the deer that was harvested would be put into packages. Each hunter got their share of the deer meat.
I've only hunted with a rifle twice in my life, and I've never taken an elk with my rifle. I'm primarily a bowhunter. One of the advantages of being an archery hunter is that many of the western elk seasons for archery are scheduled around the time of the rut. In New Mexico, our archery elk season starts in mid-September. The Utah elk season begins a little bit earlier.
Sometimes I'm asked, “Troy, what do you like about elk hunting?” I guess the easiest explanation is that elk are majestic animals. When I'm out in the mountains with them, I really have a lot of fun listening to the elk bugles and trying to get close enough to take a shot with my bow. I believe that being in the mountains listening to elk is just an awesome experience. I like to hunt in August and September when the weather is really good.
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.