Hunting > Big Game

Anasazi Wonderland

A hunt for elk provides not only trophies and meat for the freezer, but a glimpse at a 1,900-year-old landscape populated by hunters of the past.

Hunting, to me, has always been about adventure and exploration. Spending time in the outdoors with friends and family is great, but the thing that gets me out there is the possibility of encountering something in the field I’d never see behind a desk. Last October I traveled to New Mexico to hunt elk, and I was reminded of that when I experienced several firsts.

There were four of us in the party that hunted the Floyd Lee Ranch: myself, Rob Fancher, PR point man at the time for Steiner Optics, Tom Slaughter of C.A.M.P. Technologies and another writer, Pete Mathieson. Fancher and I hunted with guide Bobby Strand, while Slaughter  and Mathieson were guided by Dave “Gadget” Huf. I’ve hunted elk enough to know we’d be lucky to get two bulls between the four of us. But I didn’t care if I was one of the unlucky two, I just looked forward to another view of the West.

“There’s elk,” whispered Bobby as he peered through the windshield into the darkness. He needn’t have been quiet—we were ensconced in the cab of his pickup. I pulled up the Steiner and pointed it in the direction he was looking and made out a handful of elk.

“There must be a bull around here, right?” I asked. “I mean, the rut’s over, but they should still have their harems.”

“Yeah,” said Bobby, “I saw a pretty good one here last week with a handful of cows. He should be around here somewhere.”

Within moments the growing light revealed two more groups. Elk were everywhere, or so it seemed to me. It was more like pronghorn hunting, not elk hunting. We drove over the hills to our right and cut left, then right, meandering this way and that until we finally spied a large herd feeding in the sun on a hillside a mile away. We watched them in our binoculars a long time before we found the bull. Actually, there were several bulls, but the one we liked didn’t materialize for 20 minutes. When it did we scrambled to set up the spotter for a better look....

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