High Country Twerking

If you’re an outdoor type and you’ve never witnessed the fall rut out west, you owe yourself a trip. It’s a hormonal spectacle, for sure.

Last week I traveled to Jackson, Wyoming where outfitter Don Gable shuttled me uphill to his elk camp high above the Snake River. For four days I rode along and recorded the process of enticing elk into bow range. For those of you unfamiliar with lovesick ungulates, here’s how it works.

At a prescribed point determined by hours of daylight, weather, and the internal clocks of the species, the animals fall into their once-yearly process of selecting a mate and consummating the relationship. With vocal pleading, the release of pheromones, and lewd posturing, these animals let down their guard and place themselves in compromising situations. If all goes as planned, a crafty hunter positions himself between the parties in play and cashes in on the temporary stupidity of the male. While my limited time on the mountain didn’t line up with an actual kill-shot, we got close to a few bulls and I had a blast lurking and capturing scenes of the hunt.

Running a high-country hunting camp far from pavement requires a lot of horsepower, human sweat, and ingenuity.¬†Between horseback trips up and down the mountain Don’s camp staff kept us warm, dry, and extremely well-fed. In a place where bright sunshine can turn to quarter-sized hail in a matter of minutes, creature comforts come at a premium.

After the hunt, my wife Kathy joined me in Jackson where we hiked, dined, and toured the parks. The weather was beautiful and the wildlife and scenery were in grand display. Flying back to Austin I pondered my reasoning for living in a dry skillet with no elk, snow, or aspens. But Jackson doesn’t have redfish or Tex-Mex, so I guess that’s why they’re called trade-offs.

Thanks to Don Gable, Staley Weidman, and the crew at Long Draw Outfitters for letting me tag along.

Elk country

All the comforts of home

Don Gable and Staley Weidman glassing the bowls

That smell

Happy hour

Authentic canned biscuits

Fall in the Tetons

Big bulls make big rubs

One more sweep before dusk

Mid-day bull nap

Mid-day photographer’s nap

A not ready for prime time mulie

Blue, the camp dog

Peepshow

Pronghorn rounding up does near Jackson

Irritable stomper of photographers

I don’t mate until spring; got any Cliff Bars?

Jackson’s version of The Hog’s Breath

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