Amongst hunters there is a sense of adventure and spirit of camaraderie that occurs. For untold generations hunters have gone into the woods and fields and streams together to work as a group and harvest their own meat. This is my story of a unique elk hunting trip in Washington State.
Brent: “Hey dude, I hear you’re into bow hunting. Some guys down here in AZ have a solid spot scouted out. If you ever wanna come down and hunt, let me know.”
Griff: “Dude, I appreciate the offer but… in a couple weeks I’m going to hunt elk and deer for three days, then head out to the San Juan Islands. We’ll salmon fish and hunt blacktail for another three days then pack it home. You want to come up for that?”
Brent: “Well fuck man, way to shit all over my offer, but yes. What are dates? I’m 100% taking you up on that offer.”
So that’s how it started for me. Griff, Wes, and Jayson each have their own unique stories. Pick up an edition of Outside Magazine or head to CombatFlipFlops.com if you want to read theirs.
This was to be my first elk hunt. I’ve been a very consistent bow hunter for the last five years, and it took over 50 days in the field to finally down a deer with my bow. Due to my past experience, I was expecting to get nowhere near an elk. My biggest hope was that we could find where they were and try to put a stalk on them. If you told me prior to hunting how it would actually play out, I would have never believed you.
Luckily, through some local connections, Griff had lined up some hard to reach public land for us to hunt on and nearby private land for us to camp on. Anyone who knows hunting knows that finding a good spot with the right number of animals and a clear decision point for harvesting is critical and challenging. In fact, it’s the reason I extended my offer to come hunt down in Arizona: most hunters are always looking for a good place to hunt.
Packing for the Elk Hunt
Packing for the hunt I had minimal guidance from Griff on what the plan would be. My pack consisted of a setup that would allow me to comfortably truck camp or backpack in should the need arise. Before coming down Griff said “bro, you can literally show up naked and we’ll get you fitted out with whatever you need. The only thing you absolutely have to do is get your hunting license online before you come.”
Being completely nude certainly would have made the flight more interesting, but I opted out. The plan was loosely this:
- Fly to Seattle
- Uber it to Griff’s house
- Throw our stuff in a rental truck, and head out to wherever we were hunting
I still don’t know the name of the town. When I got in everything went smooth from the gate; oh wait. No, it didn’t.
First off, Griff’s dog is apparently an escape artist and local celebrity. As soon as the door opened, he bolted. After chasing the dog with my pack on for about 12 minutes, I came back dragging him along. Griff wasn’t home, but his wife informed me that it was cool Griff’s dog had gotten loose, he roams the neighborhood and visits all his friends a couple days a week. He would have just come back in a couple hours or so.
Whatever, a little dog chasing sprint workout never hurt anyone.
Hunting License and Safety Certification
Getting back to Griff’s meant packing up and heading to the hunt, but we were still waiting for everyone to get in. In the meantime, I Uber’d to the local Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy my hunting license. I couldn’t get it done online for some weird reason, so I figured I could smooth talk somebody at a brick and mortar store to sell me a license. As it turns out, you HAVE to have your hunter safety certification number to buy a license in Washington. Since my hunter safety course was taken as a child, and I’ve only shown hunting licenses as proof to purchase since, I had no clue how to obtain a license. Luckily I had my fancy internet phone on me which led me to find out that Washington State will accept ANY state’s hunter safety course. Add to that the fact that Virginia as well as Texas have completely online hunter safety courses, and we had a solution.
So while the guys waited, I took my hunter safety course. Luckily after a decade of wandering around the wilds with a firearm for both work and pleasure I was able to basically just take the tests at the end of each module. Anyone who has taken an online course knows how this game is played. An hour later, I had my Virginia Hunter Safety Certification and was headed back to Dicks.
A few peso’s exchanged and I had a deer and elk tag in my pocket. High fives all around and we were on the road.
We will be releasing his hunting journal as a serial over the next month, stay tuned for more adventures to come.