I was in my truck when my cell phone rang. It was Johnny Delaney, a young man I mentored years ago and helped break into hunting and conservation. Johnny had been notified he drew a coveted, hunt-of-a-lifetime tag for the Tennessee elk hunt that began in 2009. The bow hunt began the previous year. Johnny needed help so he reached out to me.
I carved out a week of vacation to get back up to speed with elk hunting and worked with Brad Miller, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s elk biologist, to help us.
On Sept. 30, we went to Caryville, TN where we set up just before dawn and started calling. Bugling got responses from three areas. I misjudged the response, found out we were too close and spooked the bull. We eased out and went to lunch.
When we returned, glassing from the woods across the field at about 500 yards, I spotted a nice 5X5 elk. Johnny set up close to the edge of the field and I bugled loudly. The bull responded, came out of the woods and headed across the field directly toward us.
Johnny’s rangefinder spotted the bull paralleling us at 52 yards. At his shot, the bull bolted and headed toward a ravine. After tracking about 100 yards, we found the dead elk down a ravine and called Brad who came with a TWRA truck.
Since this is a special hunt to Tennessee, the elk had to be checked in, analyzed, weighted and scored at the “elk headquarters.” We were happy for TWRA’s help with the recovery and the work they put into elk restoration in Tennessee.
SCI has goals we try to accomplish every year including humanitarian, conservation and education. With this hunt, the Tennessee Valley Chapter fulfilled those three:
Humanitarian – provided free guide service to a young Tennessee hunter
Conservation- Helped harvest a bull elk to assist herd population management
Education – Showed a young Tennessee hunter the ins and outs of elk hunting
It does not get any better than that.