When I decided that I wanted to try out hunting as a way to source my own meat and enjoy the outdoors in a new way, I really didn’t know where to start. I didn’t have any family who hunted when I was growing up, and I don’t live in an area where hunting is a common activity. Through some friends, I found out about the Field to Table classes run by Greg at Outdoor Solutions, and signed up for one of his doe & hog events in Texas. It was a fantastic experience, and this is now my third time hunting with OS.
My first two classes were really good beginner practice – several small animals with lots of opportunity to make mistakes without significant consequences. Short shooting ranges and easy-mode rifles.
This trip was much more like a graduate level course. The quarry was a cow elk, and we were hunting in a primitive zone – so only muzzleloaders allowed. Now, our host outfitter (Love of the Hunt in Magdalena NM) had some amazing muzzleloaders for us to use – “Best of the West” rifles built on Remington 700 actions and scoped with BDC cams set to the exact loading we were using (315 grain expanding bullets at about 2400 fps). But even well-armed, getting a shot on an elk in western New Mexico is a lot more difficult than a hog in Texas. And I only had a tag for one animal – so choose well and shoot well!
Well, my guide and I did find a group of elk on the first day of the event, and I made a first-shot hit. It wasn’t a fatal one, and we had to do a bit of tracking and make a second shot, but all things considered I am satisfied with the job, being my first time in the situation. Happily, the other four hunters in the class also were successful (although one fellow took until the very last day!).
Once we had the elk down, thermal work began. We proceeded through the steps of field dressing her (this is not shown in the video). We were a bit of a steep hike away from road access, so we opted to quarter her in the field and hike the quarters out. Back at camp we hung the quarters in a cooler for a day and then I got into the job of processing the quarters into individual cuts of meat. I was really happy to see that what I had learned in the previous classes came right back to me, and I was able to process the whole animal with minimal assistance.
And now, I have a freezer full of delicious elk that will last me until next year!