Editor’s Note: You don’t have to name your dog Mossy to be part of the Mossy Oak family. You don’t have to have your senior high school project include using Mossy Oak logos. You don’t have to have an almost totally Mossy Oak wardrobe to be a Mossy Oak pro, however, all these actions help. “My real name is Samantha, but everybody calls me Sam,” says 21-year-old Mossy Oak Pro Samantha Wolfe from Lincoln, North Dakota. “I’ve been hunting as far back as I can remember.” Her favorite pattern is Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, but when waterfowl hunting, she prefers Duck Blind.
We do have elk in North Dakota, however, we don’t have a lot of elk. So, we’re pretty much a resident-only, elk-hunting state. Residents are permitted to draw a once-in-a-lifetime elk tag, and this hunting season I drew mine. The tag is good for bighorn sheep, moose and elk. You choose the species you want to hunt for, and you put in to be drawn in certain hunting units where the species is found. Most of the elk units have various seasons and different start dates. You also can put in to hunt with either a bow or a rifle, and you can put in to draw for a bull, a cow or any sex elk. I got drawn for an any-sex elk tag in 2016. This lifetime tag not only allowed me to take a bull elk this season, but next year, I’ll be able to put in for a moose or a bighorn sheep tag. I put in to hunt unit E3, which is in the Badlands in North Dakota. Hunting unit E4 surrounds E3, and E3 surrounds Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
My best friend, Sierra Mees, got an elk tag when she was only 14. When I got drawn for my elk tag, Sierra was the first person I called. She had hunted in the same unit I applied for, she had a bull tag, and she filled it. She hunted on a piece of private land in that unit that one of the girls on our softball team’s grandfather owned. Sierra harvested her bull within the first 20 minutes of opening day of elk season in unit E3. So, Sierra called the people who owned the land where she’d hunted and secured permission for me to hunt their property in 2016.
The first morning of elk season our group – Sierra, her dad, Ted Mees, my brother, Logan, and my dad, Cory Wolfe - saw three or four cows, a small spike bull and one bull that had 6 points on one side of his rack, but the other side of his rack was missing. Sierra and I literally had a herd of people going with me to help me find a bull I could harvest. The next weekend my mom and dad were out of town. So, Sierra and her dad went with me, but the weather was very bad with heavy mists. We hardly could see more than 10 feet in front of us. Finally, we got a call from a friend of ours who had a friend with land in E3, who said he’d seen elk on his property. When we met the rancher Matt Burke and his family, he told us we could stay in a house he had for his ranch hand, who wasn’t working the ranch at that time of the year.
The first morning we hunted at the Burkes, we went to the top of a hill where we could see most of the ranch, but we spotted no elk. I had my dad with me on this hunt. When we returned to camp that morning, Matt asked, “How did your hunt go?” When my dad answered, “Not very well,” Matt said with a big smile on his face, “I found the elk for you. A friend of mine was hunting mule deer on land I own across the river. He phoned me this morning and said he was watching six bull elk that were feeding on my property.” So, that afternoon, we drove across the river, and Matt called his buddy, who was hunting mule deer, to find out where he’d seen the elk. We crossed the river, went up on top of the hill and down into a draw. Then my dad got a phone call from Matt who told him, “I've just seen the elk, and they're coming up the draw toward you.” While my dad was talking to Matt, I spotted eight bull elk moving over the hill straight toward us. I laid down on my stomach, put my rifle on my shoulder, started looking through my scope and prepared to take the shot. Three bulls that were all about the same size were in the front of the herd, and three spike bulls were following them. The bulls turned and started running away from me, and I heard my dad say, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! Let’s see if we can go around, and get in front of them.” When the bulls stopped, I whispered to my dad, “How far away do you think those elk are?” My dad responded, “They’re at about 300 yards. Aim a little bit high of where you want the bullet to hit, and take the shot.” When my gun reported, the bulls turned and started running straight toward us, and I couldn’t tell if I’d hit the bull I’d shot at or not.