Outdoors

So you drew an elk tag: now what?

After boning out a spike elk with his hunting partner in the Blue Mountains, Jim Kujala gets ready to haul out the meat in four bags along with the skin and the spike antlers on a game cart.  After going a short way cross-country, Kujala and his partner, Rich Landers, were able to pull the cart on old logging roads closed to motor vehicle traffic about 2 miles to a main road near their camp. (Rich Landers)
After boning out a spike elk with his hunting partner in the Blue Mountains, Jim Kujala gets ready to haul out the meat in four bags along with the skin and the spike antlers on a game cart. After going a short way cross-country, Kujala and his partner, Rich Landers, were able to pull the cart on old logging roads closed to motor vehicle traffic about 2 miles to a main road near their camp. (Rich Landers)

HUNTING — I'm feeling pretty smug this week after checking out the special hunting permit lottery results and seeing that I drew a coveted Blue Mountains antlerless elk tag.

Most years I wish calamities on camo-clad brethren who draw tags while I sulk in the huge pool of losers.

But the game is only begun.   Now it's time to be sure everything is planned out, from the camp sites to the scouting and most important — the physical conditioning for hunting day after day in the steep canyons of the Blues.

The last time my hunting partner, Jim, drew a bull tag, he started working out in June in a well-planned schedule with a backpack and increasingly longer distances and heavier loads.  

A hunter waits years to draw a tag for a special opportunity to harvest an elk. You don't want to waste the chance.

My workout program kicked in high gear last weekend as I helped my daughter move all her belongings out of a SECOND STORY apartment.

I commute to work on my bicycle, riding 14 miles round trip up and down the South Hill.

I'm planning at least four major backpacking trips and numerous dayhikes through the summer.

And that, in my experience, is just barely enough to get me on track for seriously hunting the Blues and being in shape for comfortably packing out the meat if I'm lucky enough to score.

What are you doing to prepare for elk season?




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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