How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…by 2013 Prois Award Finalist Sheri Coker

How Road Kill Rabbit Stew Led to My Western Elk Hunt Honeymoon…

Weddin' Worthy Rabbit Stew

My first, but certainly not my last Western hunting adventure had humble beginnings. I grew up hunting and fishing the hills of Arkansas.  As a child my dad stuck me on deer stands and put fishing rods in my hands until the outdoor passion became engrained in my weird, multifaceted personality.  I was told that every Southern woman worth her salt should be able to accurately shoot any weapon she was handed, skin any animal without a flinch, and back a boat on a dime.  I’m worth my salt. My undergraduate degree was in biology, but my master’s in dance, yes DANCE, so even today, I continue to priss through the woods, daintily leaping over logs and gingerly performing dance steps over the slippery rocks of rushing creeks to commandeer my game.

My 90 year old Grandma Hill would have target practice with a paper plate stuck in the top of an old cedar tree so that “When I want rabbit stew, I can just go out and get one!”  My boyfriend accidentally ran over a swamp rabbit one rainy night.  If you aren’t familiar with swamp rabbits, then let me tell you those rascals are like a cottontail on steroids!  The poor thing was expired but intact, so I suggested he pitch it in the back of his truck.  Once home, I proceeded to make the best road kill stew out of that rabbit that he had ever put in his sweet little mouth! After dating for over two years, THIS was the push over the top for the immediate marriage proposal.  Really?  If I’d known that was all it took, I might have frequented the back roads in search of those hippity hoppity creatures myself, screeching through the darkness, weaving to and fro at speeds not unlike Dale Earnheardt!  At any rate, in two months we were wed and bear hunting and halibut fishing on Prince William Sound, Alaska.  But that is a story for another day!

The second portion of our honeymoon, we decided, would be that elk hunt we had both dreamed of for years.  We planned.  We schemed.  We trained.  We contacted a good friend from Alaska who is wise in the “Elkin Way.”  He flew to Utah, where we drove 22 hours to meet him, continuing on to a section of public land in the backcountry of Idaho.  Folks, Idaho is a long way from Arkansas!  We loaded our supplies and headed up, up, and up to our chosen base camp location, from which we would hike twice daily for eleven days of hard, concentrated hunting.  We climbed about 2000 vertical feet per day, and at 5′ 2″ and about 115, I still lost 12 pounds.  Ladies, I discovered that elk hunting is a great way for a woman to stay in those “skinny jeans!”

On our first hunt, we excitedly hiked down to a canyon that cornered up to a section of private land.  Pointed out to us was the approximate whereabouts of an elusive fence line, beyond which we were not allowed to shoot an elk.  That very first crisp, cold morning, a group of handsome bulls came bounding out of the golden glow of aspens at the bottom of that canyon, and I thought my rifle would shake right out of my hands!  They put on a tremendous show, unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. However, they were at a distance and quite obviously on private land, so I raised up to get a better look.  When I did, I happened to see movement below, catching 13 cows waltzing down a trail right under me.  Not legal!  Oh well.  But what a first hunt!

Later that morning, out from the trees on the ridge across from us, 400 yards away, meandered a little spike bull.  I watched him.  I wondered.  I realized I had forgotten to discuss the efficacy of shooting a spike.  In whitetail hunting, where I come from, you get in trouble back at camp for shooting a spike and I did NOT want to be the one on the hot seat!  I’m a goody two shoes girl who implicitly follows the unspoken rules of the hunt!  So, I crunched on potato chips and crispy apples and made enough racket that I’m surprised it didn’t echo across the canyon and send that little spike into a run for his life.  I decided then and there that I was really gonna like elk hunting if I could consume enormous amounts of loud food while doing so.  I like to eat.  A lot.  At home, I would have sat motionless and starving, for fear the smell, noise or movement would’ve scared away my prey.  In the end, I chose not to take the spike, for fear of retribution back at the base camp.  Turns out I was wrong and they would’ve been thrilled for me to have harvested the meat.  Well, darn the luck.

My husband and I would be the first to leave camp and the last to return each day, but still no elk to haul back.  We continued to see elk, but all cows or bulls on private land.  Or were they?  Exactly where WAS that fence line?  I was looking pretty rough by the 10th day without washing my hair and my fourth day wearing the same ratty tee shirt.  It didn’t help my femininity that our host’s girlfriend was driven up to camp wearing her perfectly matching hi tech outdoor garb with her perfectly styled hair blowing in the wind, flashing her blindingly white teeth, while batting her doe-like false eyelashes and exclaiming, “Oh Baby, isn’t this fun?  It’s like we are really camping or something!”  I thought, “Oooooh, yes, “Baby,” it is SOMETHING alright.”  Grrrr.  It made me even more determined to get my elk!

We were now on the next to last day with my chances of getting an elk slipping away. I was crouched stiffly in my spot, freezing my butt off at the crack of a nippy dawn and finally decided to warm up with a little jig across the ridge to check out that fence line position once and for all.  I eventually figured out that elk are not like whitetails, but are nomadic, and I could investigate the fence line without being too awfully concerned about never seeing an elk there again.  I know.  “Duh!” all you Western hunters are saying.

As I crept down the fence line from the top of the ridge, I heard a cow call, and as I watched in amazement, I saw a magnificent bull step out from behind a tall spruce in the distance.  My heart was POUNDING.  I put my crosshairs on him but I couldn’t pull the trigger.  I didn’t know where he was in relation to that fence line marking private ground.  I frantically scoured the hillside with my binoculars, looking for that tiny strand of barbed wire.  Hurriedly, I would glance back to my elk.  He was just leisurely nibbling at leaves, giving me one broadside shot opportunity after another.  Having this beautiful creature in my crosshairs again and again for 10-15 seconds at a time and not being able to pull the trigger for fear of violating private ground was killing me.  I watched, tears rolling down my face as he disappeared over the next ridge.  I followed that lone barbed wire strand to find he had been on my side of the fence for a long while.  I kneeled down and sobbed.

He was the last elk I saw on my first Western hunt.  Next year, the first day, I’m marking that fence with bright, neon ribbon tied in great big bows that will glow in the light and flap in the wind!  I’m considering battery powered blinking lights.  The first legal elk that is dumb enough to step into my sites will be headed for my freezer.  I will even pack an extra clean hat in case “Baby” comes up from civilization to spend day 10 with us.  Oooooh yes.  I am now addicted to the Western hunt.

Incredible + Socks = Incredisocks

Prois Staffer Teri Lancaster

By Teri Lancaster
“Socks? She’s reviewing socks?”  I know – that’s what you are asking yourself right now – but stay with me.. really… these socks are WORTH reading about.  I’m not usually one to pay more than $10 for a pair of socks and would have never even thought about buying these socks. However, these socks were given to me by fellow Prois gal and original badassery guide, Angie Denny from Table Mountain Outfitters.  I was there in last September  tagging along on my husband’s elk hunt.  The first night out I acquired a huge quarter size blister on top of another blister.  I was definitely in a bad way.  I think I had about 5 bandages on top of one another to try to alleviate additional rubbing on the blister.  By the end of the third day hunting I was miserable.  The fourth morning when we showed up early to hunt and Angie saw me limping I showed her my blister. “OUCH”. She ran upstairs and brought me down some socks. I think I looked at her sort of dumbfounded and even replied “I have socks on”.  She said, “Try these socks from Prois.  They are really good socks, I promise.”  Ok – she’s in her boots 12 hours a day, mostly 6 days a week, so I know she know’s ‘good socks’!   I can truly tell you that these socks are worth EVERY penny!  The reinforced toe and heel are definitely thicker than other socks I’ve tried.  But the best part of the socks are truly that they keep your feet dry and after 3 days of wearing them straight they didn’t stink. Not that I put them up to my nose, but REALLY, do you need to put socks up to your nose after 3 full days of wearing them to know if they smell or not? I’m sure Angie is probably wondering where those socks went to – hmmm, should I tell her they are safe and sound in Florida with me?  Shhh… we’ll just keep that little secret between us.
This sock is made with 200 thread count, patented 3 dimensional weave with an Italian weaving machine so it fits like an Italian suit; perfectly. Incredisocks are antimicrobial, odor absorbing and moisture wicking for supreme long wearing comfort which makes for the perfect travel companion. Backpacking or simply working, repetitive wearing is not an issue, they won’t need laundering. Incredisocks are the ideal choice for travelers, sports enthusiasts, or those just seeking the best comfort available in sockwear.  Made from bamboo charcoal, the sleek designs only confirm Incrediwear’s commitment to perfection. This recipe ensures a perfect match no matter what your desire. Whether you are a competitive athlete, or simply have cold, tired feet, Incredisocks evoke luxury and sophistication that is unavailable in other socks. Keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when its warm, Incredisocks performance unequivocally lives up to the promise of excellence. How do Incredisocks and Incredibraces help to increase circulation? The natural properties of bamboo release negative anions into your body causing an internal vibration of the cells and resulting in increased blood flow, which means more oxygen to the tissues. Why don’t my socks not stink after I wear incredisocks? The fibers used in Incredisocks contain anti-microbial properties that kill odor causing bacteria. In fact, Incredisocks can be worn for extended periods of time without washing. One test drive in these socks will make you a believer! Join the Incredi-movement today!
http://www.proishunting.com/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=87
MSRP $18.90

Prois Posse Member, Shannon Rasmussen Has No Ordinary Sleigh Ride!

I spent Saturday morning doing something truly unforgettable. Picture it, a cold snowy winter morning. A horse-drawn sleigh with hay bales for seats. A group of friends, anxious for what they know they are about to experience. Two majestic draft horses pull the sleigh as it jolts forward down a snowy lane, deeper into the woods, then comes to a stop. There we wait. After several minutes the first silhouette appears in the trees, as if it had been standing there the entire time, yet somehow unseen by this group of spectators. Suddenly more and more bodies appear, making their way through the trees, brush, and deep snow.  Then we hear it… a sound which will remain one of my favorite spine tingling sounds for as long as I live-a bull elk bugling. Then you see him, trotting in with the rest of the herd, as if a dinner bell has been rung, which in fact it has, only in the form of sleigh bells. Filing in one after another, cows, bulls, calves, what seems like an unending procession of elk.

Do I have your attention? Now for the best part!

The hay bales I spoke of earlier are what the sleigh bells have beckoned this massive herd of elk to come running in for. Dinner is served. One by one the elk surround the sleigh and start snacking on the hay bales, yes, right out from under our warmly dressed bums. As an elk hunter and admirer of these creatures I cannot think of a more  surreal situation. Magnificent bulls mere inches away, not caring that we humans are sitting atop their meal. I can’t think of anything else quite like it!!!

Although we could have sat there amongst that herd all day, unfortunately it was time to go. So, once again the horses pulled on their reigns, jolting the sleigh forward, and away we went, knowing we wouldn’t see this herd of elk again until next winter when they are drawn in by the sound of sleigh bells in the cool, crisp winter air, ready to feed.

Shannon and Her New Friends!