This is the first of a two-part series about the 2015 elk season.
Luck was instrumental in the big game hunting seasons this year. First four of us drew second deer tags and filled all of them. Only one of the regular deer tags was notched, but this means we filled five out of eight tags, not a bad percentage.
Our luck continued as three of us also received antlerless elk tags for the Ellensburg area. We weren’t as familiar with this territory as our deer-hunting country, but there is a bunch of public land to search.
Rudy Lopez and I rendezvoused at the Main Stop Restaurant, just off I-90 in Kittitas, filled our coffee cups and headed up Colockum Pass Road in my Ram. Hunters were thick on the roads and in camps, which seemed to be located every quarter mile.
We pulled into one camp, just to visit.
“Hi, I’m Denn…,” I started to say.
“I know who you are,” the man said in a gruff voice and I thought he was going to be unfriendly.
The “small world” syndrome was again at play. It seems we had met at his brother’s place in Moses Lake a few years ago. He and his friends changed to a friendly posture. We were offered smoked trout and a tour.
This camp held two families and each had their own cooking area, plus a travel trailer each for sleeping. One cooking area held an elaborate chuck box with room for every cooking utensil.
I commented about it and the owner told me it was made decades ago and was too heavy. There was a time when making a chuck box was a part of the camping scene. Today there are plans for them on the Internet, plus YouTube videos will show you how to make one. These people were from nearby Kittitas, had been at this camping spot for a month and had not seen an elk.
Many elk camps in the Clockum area are established in the same spot year after year. Some of the elk hunters have been attending these camps for decades. The camps are many times set up a week or so before the season starts and some of the hunters, especially the retired ones, are not anxious to leave after the season is over.
A drive along Clockum Pass and visiting various camps during the season is a way to collect camping ideas. On one such trip, the camp I visited had an elaborate kitchen with a full size gas oven, lots of counter space and restaurant-style sinks for cleanup. The counters were made from the boxes used to store the cooking utensils and they, therefore, served double duty.
The kitchen was in the middle of the main living area with a large Army-style tent to the left and another to the right. One was the dining area with tables and chairs for all. The other tent was the recreational area, with a large television and dozens of movies.
Each family or group of friends had their own tent, some more elaborate than others. One had wood shavings as a floor, another had several carpets which covered most of the area inside the tent. Most of the beds were cots, for ease of handling, I suppose.
We pulled into another camp where two elk were hanging. The cows were taken near an area known as Judy’s Tamarack Park. At least we were talking to hunters who had seen elk and actually downed two.
Of interest at this camp was the way the elk were elevated on the meat pole. A winch was anchored to the base of a tree with a rope attached to the cable. The carcass was easily pulled to the top of the pole using the winch.
Next week: Elk hunters notch tags.