I’ve been a Master Hunter for several years, and have been fortunate to participate in several elk hunts. In 2008 I drew a bull elk tag for the Dungeness hunt near Sequim. This is a damage control hunt. Although the season runs six months from Septemberthrough February, hunting opportunities are very limited; some successful applicants may not get called by the Hunt Master to participate. I was called in late February 2009 and realized this would be my only opportunity to hunt. Typically two hunters are contacted to participate at the same time, and this was the case in February.
As legal shooting time approached in the morning I watched a herd of approximately 60 elk feeding in a field in front of me. However, they were on private land and thus not huntable. As the morning wore on the elk left the field and bedded down. I had the good fortune to meet the other Master Hunter. He has been a Master Hunter for more years than I. I asked if he wanted to wait out the rest of the day and see if the elk would come out in the evening. Through conversation, I soon became aware of the quality character of the other hunter, and was proud to be a Master Hunter.
The elk did indeed come out again with about two hours of hunting time left. I asked the other hunter where he wanted to hunt. He said he wanted to stay with me in the same spot I hunted in the morning and I agreed. With about 30 minutes left, a bull came within 140 yards of us, but again we chose not to shoot as they were just past the boundary of private land.
Since I had hunted this area before, I had a good idea of the elks’ patterns. With shooting time nearly gone, I told the other hunter where I thought the elk were heading. I suggested that if he hurried he could possibly intercept them. He asked if I wanted to go, and I offered him the opportunity. He hurried to the spot and shot a nice bull with about 5 minutes of legal shooting time left. As there were only two of us, he asked if I would help him clean the elk, and I agreed. I stayed with him until about 9:00 p.m. helping clean the animal, load it into his truck, and take some pictures of him and the elk. In return he offered me a portion of the meat, which my family greatly appreciated.
Thinking back on the day, I realize that I could have made the move to intercept the elk and probably shot the bull myself. It’s a good feeling to harvest a bull, but it’s an even better feeling to help another hunter, especially a deserving Master Hunter.