9 Dollars, Queen Bee, and a Cow Elk

By Jordan Ratterree, Age 11

Someone once told me that you always start a story with “There I was”, so “There I was” in the middle of camp on the first night. My dad and me were on my first big game hunt for a cow elk in New Mexico. The first night we got there I unpacked my stuff while Brett Axton showed my dad the area were we would be hunting for the evening. By the time Brett and my dad got back I had my camo on and was ready to go. Then my dad got his camo on and we were off. We parked the truck and slowly started to work our way up a road that lead us to a pond.

When we got to the pond we walked along the bank and spooked a couple of deer drinking at the pond, so we got down and sat in a low spot on the back side of the bank. There was a salt block that had some elk at it earlier that day so we decide to see if elk would come back that night. No elk came back that night so we decide to head back to the truck. We headed back to camp and relaxed the rest of the evening. One of the groups in camp had a little girl my age that would be my camping partner for the weekend. When all the hunters got back to camp we all shared stories about the animals we saw. Brett told my dad and me that he was way up on the mountain and spotted some elk down in a creek bottom below my dad and I. We had elk around us and didn’t even know it. After the stories were told, we ate dinner, and then everybody went to bed.

The next day we ate breakfast and then everybody but me and my dad took off on quads. My dad and me took the truck and then we went where we were the day before. This time we went in the creek bed and still-hunted through it where Brett had seen the elk the night before. It was real thick with a lot of buck brush on the sides of the ridges. Then we found a trail that the elk Brett saw had taken. We worked our way up the trail very quietly and then it crossed over the creek. Where it crossed there was dark dirt that had elk tracks all through it, which meant that the elk were still close. Then we worked our way up the other side of the ridge. About a half an hour later we ran into two Mule Deer does. After they fed off we kept working our way up the ridge and ran into two Mule Deer bucks. They were feeding away from us but one of the bucks kept looking back down the ridge. Once the deer moved up the ridge, we were getting up when my dad told me not to move. I thought that it was an elk so I got my gun ready, but it was just a flock of turkeys that we think the buck was staring at. Those turkeys were heading right towards us, and they got so close that I could almost feel them breathing. The turkey’s finally moved off and my dad and I continued working our way up the trail.

When we moved down the trail a little ways, there was a little knoll that the trail went up and over. We started to go up and over when we scared two cow Elk that were heading down the trail we were going up. We got down as fast as we could, trying not to scare them away. The cow stopped and my dad knew that we did not scare her that bad. The only problem is that in order to shoot her I had to get to the top of the knoll without her seeing me. While we were trying to crawl to the top of the knoll so I could get a shot the two Elk decided to bed down. It took us half an hour just to get in position on top of the knoll.
My dad laid his backpack down so I could rest my gun on it so I could be steady. The only problem was that when they bedded down we couldn’t see enough of them to get a shot. After a short wait one of the cows stood up broadside. There was a tree that just barley cleared the cows’ vitals, so I was worried that I would not hit her, but my dad asked me if I could see her shoulder and I said yes so he said shoot her…boom, the cow reared up and ran forward about 15 feet, then all of the sudden a huge crash and the cow was expired.

Everybody came on the radios trying to figured out who shot, then my dad came on last and told them that we shot and that we got one. We had a hard time telling everybody where we were at because the buckbrush is so thick that you can’t see out. Pretty soon Brett and Kent Stevinson showed up to help us pack her out. We loaded all the elk quarters on two quads and drove her back to camp.

Later that day my dad and I went fishing, but got interrupted when my dad spotted some elk near one of the other hunters in the camp. We watched the hunt unfold, but they were unable to get one.

One of the rules in camp was that who ever shot the first elk was king or queen bee for the night, which meant that they didn’t have to dishes when it was their night. Also being the first one to shoot an elk allowed me to get one dollar from all the adults. I can tell you this, being queen bee and having 9 dollars in your pocket isn’t too bad. The next day we had to get the meat and hide home so we packed and headed out of there. That was the greatest hunt I have ever been on and I will never forget it. Thanks Brett for inviting me.