Five of us recently returned from my 7-day (3 days of scouting and 4 days of hunting) first-ever rifle bull elk hunt in big game management area No. 111 near Ely in Eastern Nevada.
Here are some of the memories:
All The People:
There were 200 tags for my specific hunting area and season.
With everyone seemingly doing as I did (there were 5 people, 3 trucks, and 3 ATV's in my hunting party), there were about 800-1,000 people and ATV's everywhere.
From outer space, those hundreds of ATV's, buzzing all over the place, must have looked like a swarm of ticks on a dog's back.
All The ATV's:
If you were one of the hunters trying to hunt in that area without an ATV, perhaps you should have stayed home and caught up on your remodeling projects rather than having gone hunting.
Those little noisy monsters are apparently now the only way to go big game hunting.
My Five-Member Party:
It consisted of Don Q as the hunter with the elk tag, Mark Day as our troop leader who is intimately familiar with the Ely area, Norm Budden as my personal gun bearer who carried my rifle (Heck, why should I carry all that extra weight!), Jack Cooke as one of the spotters and No. 1 roller of rocks downhill to scare any elk out of the dark timber, and my son Jim as the driver of our ATV and the primary Manhattan drinker of in our room.
For an entire week, no matter where we went or what we did, everyone (young, old, male, female, skinny, fat, tall short, etc.) was wearing camo clothing.
A tourist, traveling through the area, must have wondered what in the heck was going on in Ely.
The hot dry record-setting unseasonable weather has created extremely dusty conditions on every dirt road. Wherever we went, either in our trucks or ATV's, we were enveloped in thick, choking clouds of dense white dust. Whenever I took off my eye glasses to look through my binoculars, I must have looked like a raccoon.
My clothes were totally covered with thick white dust from riding on our ATV and from all the hiking.
When we returned home, Elaine had to rinse my wool gloves 8 times to get the dirt out of them. Heck, even my thermo underwear had dust on them. I'm still coughing dust!
We got up at the ghastly hour of 3 a.m. each morning for seven straight days, wolfed down a pastry and a couple of cups of coffee, went scouting or hunting, snacked on beef jerky, crackers and candy bars during the day and then returned to Ely to eat dinner at the Silver State Restaurant.
I highly recommend their giant sized chicken fried steak, huge serving of a full rack of pork ribs, the Mexican combination plate (which no one could finish) or their tasty pork chops with mashed potatoes and gravy. Great chow!
The weather was unusually warm for Ely for early November.
Some of the residents told me they could not remember that kind of weather for this time of the year.
As one example, one afternoon, we had hiked to the top of a 10,000' mountain and the temperature there was 63 degrees. We were hiking in shirt sleeves, where you would normally be bundled up in heavy, warm, insulated clothing.
On all seven days, we saw lots of bull and cow elk and deer. One day, we saw 8 bulls in one group.
I wanted a trophy bull for a mount for our cabin wall, and did not want to shoot anything under 350 Boone and Crockett Points.
Sitting on a high remote ridge top, one afternoon, and saying, "What in the heck is that?" as a helium-filled, pink party balloon with a long trailing string slowly drifted over the top of our heads.
That prankster Norm Budden had released it, from further down the ridge, in an attempt to dazzle us. He certainly succeeded!
How Did I Do:
For the record, all five persons in my hunting group, their wives, the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the NDOW game wardens, my taxidermist and my barber are sworn to secrecy. So, if you are not in those groupings, I'm not going to tell you.
Nanner, nanner, nanner.
I had a ton of fun enjoying the camaraderie, the scenery, the wildlife, the riding on ATV's and the hunting. I would not have missed the experience of my first-ever Nevada bull elk hunting trip for all the money in China.
Now, I am going to set my sights on drawing a California bighorn sheep tag for Northern Nevada and going hunting with that same group of 5 guys.
Wish me luck!
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you when you can re-apply, once you have drawn a bull elk tag.
If he grins and says, "If you are unsuccessful, you must wait 5 years to reapply. If you are successful in harvesting a bull, you must wait 10 years to reapply," he could be a Nevada elk hunter.
• Don Quilici is the Outdoors editor for the Nevada Appeal