Talkin' Outdoors

I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that one of my favorite outdoors activities happens each spring when I join a group of friends for a turkey hunting trip to Menard, Texas. It’s something I look forward to like a little kid waiting on Santa and I’m hoping I never get too old that this excursion loses its excitement.

One of the members of our group is slender, sinewy fellow from Ruston who can walk circles around me when it comes to chasing Texas turkeys. He’s Donnie Parkman and each year when we head out west, there’s one thing I know. While the rest of our party sits in comfortable blinds waiting on a turkey to show up, Parkman takes his game to the turkeys. He’s out tromping through the cactus and mesquite following a distant gobble or making his way back through the rough stuff to get where the turkeys are.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when I heard about a hunting trip Parkman made last week to Colorado after bull elk. If anybody could handle those high mountains out there, I figured it would be Donnie.

“I had a friend from Dallas call me and ask me if I’ve been practicing with my bow. I told him I hadn’t and had questions as to whether or not I could even draw my bow. My friend old me to start practicing because he and I were about to head to Colorado elk hunting,” said Parkman. “I had given my bow to my granddaughter so I borrowed it back, started practicing.”

Arriving at Bear Mountain Outfitters (www.bearmountainoutfitters.com) about 100 miles west of Denver in high mountain country, the quest began.

“The first morning, the guide took me and another hunter with him walking from the camp; he said it wouldn’t be a long walk. The guide was probably in his 30s and it may not have been along walk for him but once we started up the mountain, I realized that the climb kept heading up, and up, and up,” he continued.

The plan was to get high up the mountain early in the morning because after spending the night feeding down in the valley, the elk would ascend to the thick timber to bed down. The hunters would be there waiting on them when the elk reached the bedding area.

“The guide dropped the other hunter off at a spot while he directed me to a clearing 150 or so yards further. He set up on the hill behind me and began calling as I found me a spot to wait in ambush. I was told to not take a shot past 40 yards and I barely had time to get settled in before an elk began bugling below me and I could tell he was headed my way.

“Soon a cow elk walked out within 20 yards of me and in just a minute, this big bull walked out into my clearing between me and the tree I had judged to be 40 yards away, so I drew, put the pin on his shoulder and released an arrow,” Parkman said.

There was one small problem. In his excitement, Parkman didn’t factor in the realization that the bull was walking when he released the arrow. The point of impact was farther back than he intended as he watched the elk crash through the timber. Then all was silent.

“The guide gave out a yell, “Boy, you got him!” We sat and waiting half an hour but could find no blood or evidence of a hit. In the meantime, the other hunter near me had arrowed a big 6 by 6 elk that dropped in his tracks,” he recalled.

Long story short, after searching for a long time, the guide instructed Parkman to go back to camp while he looked for the elk. Eventually he found a big puddle of blood, marked it with his GPS, returned the following morning to continue the search.

Late that afternoon, the guide returned and handed Parkman the big 5 by 5 rack from his elk. To Parkman’s disappointment, a bear or cougar had made a meal from the carcass.

“Before heading home, the ranch owner told me I was the oldest archery hunter that had ever killed an elk on the ranch,” said Parkman.

How old is this mountain man of a hunter? He’s 75 years old.