"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Wyoming Journals, Ch. 15: Harvesting Elk with a Chain Saw

The cast changed at the elk hunting camp in the Snowy mountains of Wyoming during the weekend that cousins Bud and Chris and I were off in Casper visiting at Bud’s house.   Cousin Bob headed north for home, and Brad’s son Charles flew south to his home.
Sunday, Dave appeared to fill out the cast for this week.   Bud had already filled his elk permit, so that left Brad and Dave as eligible hunters.   The rest of us were the supporting cast.

So, it was as the supporting cast that we took off into the logging trails to find Brad and Dave one mid-morning, after we received word that Dave had downed an elk.

No, the photo isn't crooked.

Of all things, a chain saw became the most appreciated piece of gear for retrieving the animal.  Now, I’ve seen chain saws used in hunting camps before, but they were assigned to firewood detail.   This chain saw served an entirely different purpose, and it didn’t even have a bar and chain on it!

On a steep mountainside, of course.

They had to tie off the elk to a tree to prevent it from sliding downhill. L-R: Dave, Brad, Bud.

Dave completes his hunting form.

See that last tooth?   It's ivory.  Once long tusks used in fighting and in rut, these teeth have evolved to mere nubs.

Brad packs the abdominal cavity with snow to aid in cooling the carcass.

The elk is rigged for towing up the hill.

Once the animal was field dressed and ready to be taken off the steep hillside, Bud got the chain out.  As I said earlier, the saw didn’t have a chain on it.   Instead it was equipped with a winch that made dragging the animal up a steep slope and through a thick forest pretty easy, all things considered.

Bud, uphill, with the chain saw, sans chain.

Chris keeps the antlers from digging into the ground.

Almost time to move the chain saw winch to another location.

The saw was positioned strategically a few times and the elk pulled through the trees in straight lines.  

Chris operating the winch.

Dave guides the elk through the last few yards.

Dave and his elk.

Bud and Brad.

At the vehicles, it was winched onto the back of Brad’s truck and transported to camp.

Note the use of a snow shovel to guide the cable.

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Then, it was transferred to Dave's pickup and off he went to deliver the carcass to the processor in Medicine Bow.

That afternoon, I have to face a reality I never wanted to encounter again.   I had noticed earlier that my voice had a somewhat raspy tone to it and that I felt kind of sluggish.   While resting after lunch, I realized my nemesis was back:  high altitude sickness, but to a mild degree thus far.   I knew some pulmonary edema was accumulating.

I had a few pills left from the prescription, and I started taking them again and they helped me feel better but not entirely well.   For the next few days, I stayed in the motor home, happily writing and reading and taking naps while the others helped Brad in his hunt for a cow elk.
I am not sure I ever convinced Bud that I was as happy as could be.

And that ended my days on the support team, but the adventure wasn’t over yet.

Chris and I left camp the next weekend, headed for her home in Colorado, near to Denver where I would fly out of to return home.

Along the way, we would have a couple adventures that I’ll tell you about next.


  1. Great job, Jeanne. I am sure you enjoyed yourself except for the altitude and I felt bad that you had such a tough time with the altitude. I only caught one mistake in your story and I sent you a private message.

  2. What a creative family you have ... winching an elk with a chain saw, sans chain. Whodah thunk?? Sounds like you made the best of the altitude getting to you: writing, reading and taking naps! Hugs. Patti and Cap