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Big game cover girl takes two elk in two years

Amanda with her 2010 elk

Amanda Alexander and her hunting partner (husband Ira) share their hunting tips and story

Aug. 22, 2012

See all the photos of Amanda’s hunting trip and share your hunting tips on ODFW’s Facebook page.

She did it again! Amanda Alexander, bowhunting cover girl for the 2012 Big Game Regulations, took another elk last season.

Amanda is pictured on this year’s cover with her 2010 elk taken on public land in the Starkey Unit in northeast Oregon.  She and husband Ira returned there in 2011 and each took another elk—four elk in two consecutive years on general season, over-the-counter archery tags.

In 2010, both Ira and Amanda got their elk on the first day. After a long drive from Redding, Calif. to northeast Oregon, they were tired but excited to scout before turning in. They hiked to an area where they saw elk the prior year, a spot with some watering holes and a creek. “We went up on the hillside and watched for a good hour,” explained Amanda. “We thought we heard some elk way up ahead of us and then we spotted them working down the hill.”

After cow-calling on and off, they watched a lone cow come down the hill. Bulls were bugling up ahead. And then one by one, the bulls peeled off and started coming down the hill, right in front of them!

Amanda describes waiting for the right shot. “I pulled back but the bull was moving too fast to get a shot; he stops and I can’t see anything but the back of his legs,” said Amanda.

Amanda with her 2011 elk.

“Then I hear the suction cup of foot in mud and I pull back again.”

I ended up doing that three times before he finally turned and gave me a broadside shot at 20 yards. My arms were shaking!” she said.

Not even 10 minutes later, a second bull came down and went broadside in front of Ira. “It could not have been more perfect,” she said. “I watched him shoot the bull with a dead center double lung perfect shot.”

“I was jokingly telling my husband that I wouldn’t be getting an elk on the first day this year,” she said about the following year’s season (2011). “Then I heard a cracking sound and a six-point elk was running away from us.”

The couple went silent and quietly walked another 50 feet up the hill when Ira flashed the stop signal. Another bull elk, a five-point, was coming down the same hill in a different direction. “Sneak down to where you were and see if you can cut him off, he whispered to me,” she said. “I got about 30 yards from where I thought he was going to be and sure enough, he was.” 

Amanda is quick to point out that two consecutive years of success are not typical. “There have been many more times we've come home with nothing to show,” she says. “Each of these days we learn a lesson which has made us into the hunters we are today.”

Here are some other elk hunting tips offered by Ira and Amanda. 

  • Get in shape before hunting season—so you’re ready for long hikes and heavy packs if an animal is taken. “In 2010 we did all the packing out ourselves—it took six hours to debone and bag up both elk and then eight straight hours and three trips per person to get the meat out of the woods back to camp.”
  • Practice often with equipment so you are confident in your equipment and your shot. 
  • Study your hunting spot before going afield. Use oregonhuntingmap.com, Google Earth, good BLM maps (which can be ordered) and download the topo maps to GPS. Also review statistics from the annual state Fish and Game manual to help decide which zone to apply for or where to hunt.
  • Look for an area with lots of public land or property open to hunting—the bigger the better so there are more places to roam. 
  • Look for feed and water for the animals you will hunt.
  • Look for road access or trail access. Some road access is fine but not too much. “You can’t just drive around on a quad and look for elk. Maybe you can for deer but in my experience, the elk hear that from far away.”
  • Hunting elk is completely different than hunting deer. “It’s more like hunting a big turkey during the rut. Spot and stalk.”
  • Look for wallows, old rubs, scat and other signs of elk.
  • Put on the miles. Keep moving, slowly of course. Keep looking with binos or spot scope. And when you spot something miles away, don't be afraid to go after it.
  • Learn how to be silent and keep the wind in your face. Not letting elk see or smell you is half the battle. 
  • Get in range for a lethal archery shot and make it count. If all the practice and homework is done your chances increase dramatically. Right place at the right time always helps too!
  • Leave the area the same as your entered it (no tire tracks or fire pits) to keep the hunting environment as natural as possible.  “When we were cutting up our elk from our 2010 hunt there were elk just a few hundred yards away feeding and a nice bull screaming. We just were there doing our business not making too much noise or attention. The herd was able to do their thing. It was amazing to watch.”
  • Listen to advice of other more experienced hunters—and offer up your own.

“We spend time sharing our experiences and knowledge with new hunters,” Amanda says. “Each season we expose these youngsters around us to this wonderful sport.”

Share your hunting tips and see more photos of Ira and Amanda’s hunting trip at ODFW’s Facebook page.

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