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Diamond Springs’ resident bags trophy elk

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From page A9 | November 23, 2012 | 23 Comments

Editor’s note: Below is the conclusion of the early October hunting trip Diamond Springs’ resident John Sethre took to White Peaks Ranch in Utah to hunt elk. Accompanying Sethre were four generations of his extended family: nephew Gary McCarty, 73; Gary’s son Gordie McCarty, 45; and Gary’s grandson Erik Abraham, 13. Erik’s dad JT accompanied the group as the photographer. This is Gary’s first-hand account of the hunting expedition.

New morning hunt

On Oct. 6, in the morning, John, Erik, JT and guide Mike were at it again, driving down to the lower area to begin their hunt there. Gordie, Gary, guide Steve and another guide hiked to the higher area following the same trial through the brush.

They saw no elk around the wallow so they moved to higher ground and began scanning the hillsides. A single elk was spotted moving down from the rocky ridge where the hunters had set up the previous morning. The distance was far too great to attempt a shot. Moving down the hill the elk disappeared into a gully.

A while later, a series of shots were heard — one clearly a ricochet. A short time later, the elk we had been watching appeared walking across an open area. It suddenly dropped to the ground and an instant later the sound of a shot reached the group. For a second, it was a little confusing with the elk falling before the sound.

John, Erik, JT and Mike hiked to an area near the point where Erik shot his elk the day before. They spotted an elk coming down the rocky ridge about 800 yards away. When the elk dropped into a gully, the group moved to a point where Mike believed that John could get a good shot.

The elk came out of the gully and continued to move toward the group. When the elk was in range, John used a dead tree for a brace and took a shot missing high; he continued to shoot four more times, each time he was high. On the fifth shot, John hit a part of the elk’s antler creating the ricochet sound heard earlier.

The elk was now behind some trees; John moved to a new vantage point and waited for the elk to clear the trees. As it moved into an opening, John shot once more and dropped the elk. This is the sequence that occured when the sound of the shot came after the elk dropped. They came down the hill to participate in the congratulations and the photo shoot. Mike and Erik then field dressed the elk with Erik doing much of the work; he could now do one himself.

Afternoon hunt

On Oct. 6, the whole group headed for the area of the rocky ridge for the afternoon hunt. Three elk were spotted including the unicorn that Gary wanted. Gary and Mike set up where they thought the elk would pass by; the rest of the party led by Steve began to push the elk toward Gary and Mike. Gary got a nice shot using a spotting scope tripod to steady his aim. He hit the elk with his first shot; it almost went down with knees buckled.

The wounded elk and two others moved off; Gary and Mike followed hoping for another good shot. One more shot was attempted; Mike thought it was a hit. Gary was frustrated that every time the wounded elk turned broadside, one of the other elk was in line.

Steve and Erik then circled the elk to drive them back where Gary could get another shot. JT was on the rocky ridge set up to photograph the action. Finally, Steve and Erik pushed the elk down a fence line where Gary could fire at the elk. As the elk ran down the fence line. Gary took several more shots, hitting the elk at least once more.

The wounded elk stopped in a field not too far from a major gully. Mike asked Gary if it was OK to take a shot to avoid the elk dropping into the gully. It was a shot of about 300 yards; Mike missed twice but finally dropped the elk.

Another morning hunt

On Oct. 7, the whole group hiked a different trail leading to the highest area of the ranch. The group finally broke out on a ridge near at the highest area of the ranch.

On previous days, a group of about 10 buffalo had been observed in this area. Sure enough, after a while, the buffalo emerged from behind a small hill. There were no elk to be seen but the buffalo provided some entertainment; calves were having fun running and bucking. The herd wandered aimlessly but eventually headed toward our location.

Erik, Gordie, Mike and JT climbed over a steep ledge just off the trail while John and Gary dropped down below. Gary and John saw the animals from a distance of about 80 yards; the rest of the group got a much closer look. At the closest point, about five yards, JT was looking through the lens of his camera and the buffalo saw him and they turned and ran. After a bit longer, the group decided to head back to the lodge for breakfast.

Evening elk hunt

Mike and Steve did some reconnaissance before the hunt; they believed the elk would come around west of the rocky ridge toward the lower hunting area.

The group hiked in to get a good vantage point. Three elk came around the point as predicted; one was the elk that Gordie was stalking. Unfortunately, Gordie’s elk disappeared. After watching the other two elk for some time, Gordie and Steve decided to hunt through a section of brush and ascend the rocky ridge.

As they climbed the ridge, two huge elk came over the top of the ridge. Steve and Gordie got within 50 yards of the elk before they moved off. As dusk was approaching, it was decision time; should Gordie give up on the elk or try to shoot a buffalo.

Gordie decided to try for a buffalo and the adventure began. Gordie, Steve and JT set up where they expected the buffalo to move. Mike took the truck up to the high area where the buffalo were hanging out as they had been for the last few days. Erik, John and Gary moved to the rocky ridge to watch the action.

Where the buffalo roam

Gary observed that there was a lot of room for the buffalo to move without getting close to the shooter; another chaser or two might help push the buffalo where Gordie could get a shot. Sure enough, the buffalo headed around Mike and away from Gordie, Steve and JT.

Mike then headed back to try and turn the buffalo toward Gordie and company, while they tried to move to a position where they might get a shot. After chasing the buffalo around, Gordie was finally able to get a shot with his 300 Weatherby magnum while standing on the bed of the truck.

For Mike and JT inside the truck, the round was like a bomb going off. They both immerged from the truck with their ears ringing and slightly disorientated. The buffalo moved further toward the back of the ranch. JT took the wheel of the truck and drove up the road trying to get closer to the buffalo. The light was quickly fading while the urgency of getting the buffalo down was increasing.

After getting on the buffalo again, Gordie tried to make another shot, but the injured buffalo didn’t separate from the rest of the herd. We decided to formulate a plan that was risky but provided the best chance of ending the hunt as quickly as possible. Mike secured a strong flashlight and joined Gordie outside on the back of the truck. JT drove the road, now totally dark, trying to spot the buffalo in the headlights. Once they were spotted, we drove into the rocky fields to get a better shot.

Strategy

Mike and Gordie strategized and maneuvered the truck by pounding on the roof and shouting directions. Luckily, the designated buffalo had separated from the rest of the herd and made a shot possible. With the headlights and flashlight spotting the animal, Gordie made his final two shots. The buffalo was down for good to the great relief of all involved.

The buffalo was down not too far from a rough road in the direction of the high ground. The group positioned the beast for pictures; a challenge as the animal was huge. After the photo op, Amanda took Erik, John and JT back to the lodge in the suburban; Gordie, Mike, Steve and Gary began field dressing the buffalo.

It was now pitch black with the only light coming from the truck, Steve’s LED cap and a great little light that Erik had the foresight to purchase before the trip. After the field dressing was complete, the group headed back to the lodge for dinner.

Time to wrap it up

On Oct. 8, the hunters packed up to head back home. Then they moved down to the meat processers to decide which cuts were desired. The elk, after skinning weighed: Erik’s 553 pounds, John’s 445 pounds and Gary at 479 pounds. Gordie’s buffalo came in at 777 pounds for a total of 2,254 pounds, or well over a ton. Cut up the total cut and wrapped should be over 1,100 pounds.

It was decided that the meat would be split into five equal parts; to allow everyone to get some buffalo as well as elk. John and Gordie then headed back to Sacramento and shortly after, Erik, JT and Gary left for Peoria, Ariz. Everyone arrived safely back home.

Special note: White Peaks Ranch told the group that John, at 87, was the oldest of the hunters to bag an elk this year and the only one to use a rifle with open sights.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 23 comments

  • Bob DomanDecember 06, 2012 - 2:28 pm

    Seems hard to have a challenging hunt on 400 acre piece of ground surrounded by houses and gravel pits.

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  • robertdnollDecember 06, 2012 - 4:09 pm

    why didn't they just herd the animals into a horse trailer and then shoot them.they would have saved a lot of ammo

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  • EvelynDecember 06, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    And then there is the story about former VP D*ck Cheney 7 years ago shooting lawyer friend and party benefactor Harry Huntington while trying to bag five hundred newly released caged quail.

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    When the elk and buffalo get high powered rifles it will be a different kind of hunt -- one not so much fun for these brave manly men.

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 4:36 pm

    Richard shot Harry in the face. After everyone got sobered up, the police finally were permitted to arrived. Harry, of course, apologized to Richard for his face obstructing the buckshot. Moral of the story: Don't drink and shoot at someone's face.

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  • EvelynDecember 06, 2012 - 5:29 pm

    It is true, James. Harry did in fact apologize to D*ck. What was THAT all about? There must be an untold part of the story. Also there was something interesting - I can't take the time to find it right now - about the angle of the shot; i.e. the story simply did NOT add up. Any chance D*ck was "annoyed" with Harry? ********** Recognition goes to Catherine for the spelling of D*ick. Much more civilized than *ick.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 6:24 pm

    Bob Doman, where do you read that Utah elk hunt took place on 400 acres surrounded by th 'burbs?

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    Evelyn, by apologizing Harry accepted the responsibility of the "accident," thereby clearing Richard. Shall we just say it was a favor to power.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 6:42 pm

    James, You are correct. Times have indeed changed WRT this manhood thing. In the old days the rites of passage took many forms, only one of which was a boy or youngster joining the hunt. That avenue to passage is nearly closed due to population constraints and increasingly due to the negative connotations placed on hunting. Rites of passage are increasingly being "civilized" gangland style. Humans HAVE become the target. This surely must be the sweet revenge of the deer, elk, buffalo and antelope . . . But the old ways linger in Michigan. This fall my great grandson AND my great granddaughter each killed their first buck. Their freezers are full. That’s good because the economy really sucks in Michigan. WHICH, BTW is converting to a right to work state! But that’s a little off topic. Venison is ORGANIC!!

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  • EvelynDecember 06, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    ABOUT THAT ACCIDENT: The following is entirely borrowed/lifted/stolen from Capitol Hill Blue's (2/16/06) ********** Cheney's hastily-arranged interview . . . came only after an angry President Bush ordered his recalcitrant Vice President to try and undo the damage of four days of silence on the shooting that left 78-year-old Texas lawyer Harry Worthington hospitalized in intensive care after one of the shotgun pellets reached his heart. What did Cheney plan to do if Whittington died? Hide the fact that he killed someone? Find a scapegoat to take responsibility for the shooting? Cheney refuses to admit he was wrong. "The accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me," he said. There may have been other reasons. He admits having "a beer" for lunch but other sources say the Vice President had more than one can of brew that day before picking up a shotgun to shoot quail and lawyers. County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III was barbecuing in his back yard with his family at 5:30 p.m. Saturday when sheriff's Capt. Charles Kirk called to report "a possible hunting accident at Armstrong Ranch." Kirk went to the Armstrong Ranch gate but was not allowed on the property. He called Salinas to report he was there with a U.S. Border Patrol agent who didn't know what was going on. "I told him don't worry about it. I'll make a call," Salinas said. He called another deputy who moonlights at the Armstrong ranch, said he was told it was "just an accident" and made the decision to wait until Sunday to investigate. "We've known these people for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 7:10 pm

    Evelyn, James, do you mind if we mosey down memory lane to Chappaquiddick while we’re at it? And after that to old KKK democrats . . .and after that to the democrats voting against civil rights law . . . .Ahh yes, the rear view mirror . . . Ten to one Abraham’s Sarah was Democrat when she kicked Ishmael and Hagar to the wilderness. Dr. Laura would have kept the family together, I bet!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    closed to postings?

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 7:19 pm

    As long as we are moseying down memory lane shall we visit Chappaquidd*ick while we’re at it? And after that to old KayKayKay Democrats . . .and after that to the Democrats voting against civil rights law . . . .Ahh yes, the rear view mirror . . . Ten to one Abraham’s Sarah was Democrat when she kicked Ishmael and Hagar to the wilderness. Dr. Laura would have kept the family together, I bet!

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  • EvelynDecember 06, 2012 - 7:50 pm

    Any direction you look, there's no shortage of scandals/outrages/injustices to be recounted or revealed. The Cheney incident reminiscing was sort of spontaneous combustion, arising from RobertDNoll having written "why didn't they just herd the animals into a horse trailer and then shoot them.they would have saved a lot of ammo". It's Robert's fault!!!

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 7:53 pm

    . . . more to the point . . . Colonel, you are correct. Times have indeed changed WRT this manhood thing. In the old days the rites of passage took many forms, only one of which was a boy or youngster joining the hunt. That avenue to passage is nearly closed due to population constraints and increasingly due to the negative connotations placed on hunting. Rites of passage are increasingly being "civilized" gangland style. Humans HAVE become the target. This surely must be the sweet revenge of the deer, elk, buffalo and antelope . . . But the old ways linger in Michigan. This fall my great grandson AND my great granddaughter each killed their first buck. Their freezers are full. That’s good because the economy really sucks in Michigan. WHICH, BTW is converting to a right to work state! But that’s a little off topic. Venison is ORGANIC!!

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  • James E.December 06, 2012 - 8:37 pm

    Phil, Dr. Laura. What has happened to her. She has fallen off the face of the earth.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    LINK - DEC 6th Dr Laura's call of the day

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 06, 2012 - 9:02 pm

    LINK - Dr. Laura Says She's Quitting Radio After N-Word Flap

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  • bob domanDecember 07, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    Phil Veerkamp, I have seen the place they hunted. White Peaks in Utah is one of the most unfair highfenced places out there. You can see all the elk from the main Interstate. It is a big field with a few rocks and grass and a couple gullies. The elk drink from troughs.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 07, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    Bob, are you certain that the "preserve" you saw is the same one that is source of this MD series? Is it possible that this one is the hunt site? - LINK - White Peaks operates over 10000 acres of private land. Elk Hunting takes place on 4000 acres of hunting preserves.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 07, 2012 - 3:12 pm

    Bob, FYI - 10,000 acres is nearly 16 sq. mi. That's 4 miles on a side. Your drive by research seems skimpy.

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  • robertdnollDecember 08, 2012 - 9:07 am

    don't care if they pay to shoot livestock,but don't call it hunting

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  • Bob domanJanuary 03, 2013 - 10:46 pm

    Phil, white peaks can tell you whatever they want on their web site. I know for a fact this hunting is done on 400 acres in Utah. They're Idaho place is around 800 acres. All the other high fence they have is farm and fields.

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