Hunting season is weeks away, but my thoughts turned to autumn on Saturday, as I pulled a Tika .308 rifle out of its case.
My sister-in-law, Ginny Ulrich, handed me the firearm on behalf of her dad, Bob Guditis, of Great Falls, MT, who also happens to be my two oldest boys’ grandfather. After much looking, he found a left-handed rifle for my son, Andy, to use on our upcoming deer and elk hunt in Montana in November.
Last fall, when we went to Montana to hunt antelope with Grandpa Bob, he gave Andy and his older brother, Joe, each a rifle to use and keep — .25-caliber super short magnums complete with scopes. But, the guns both were for right-handed shooters and Andy is left-handed. So, Andy used the gun, but Bob kept it and promised to find Andy a right-handed rifle.
A few weeks ago, he called me with the news that he had finally found one. Needless to say, Andy was thrilled with the news. So was I. This will allow us to capitalize on a golden opportunity to hunt near Great Falls for the second year in a row. After coming close but failing to get an antelope on the last hunt, the boys are hoping to harvest both an elk and a deer. Their tag is good for both, and they can shoot either sex.
They got special tags that Montana offers to youth who are sponsored by either a resident or a nonresident who possesses a big-game combination license (for both elk and deer) for that calender year. Grandpa Bob qualified and sent me a special form that he filled out and signed. I then filled out the applications and mailed them in along with Bob’s form and got the boys’ tags a couple weeks later. It was simple.
The best part was the tags cost only half the price of the normal nonresident big-game combination tag. Instead of paying $648, we paid $324 each. Actually, Granpa Bob paid for one of the tags, so I had to spend only $324 for both tags.
Any Minnesotan who has hunted in another state — particularly out west — knows that this price is cheap for a nonresident license. There is some serious price gouging going on when it comes to license fees for nonresidents, so I felt very fortunate to be able to get these tags at such a modest price. Then, last week, some cow elk tags went on sale and I bought one of those so that I could hunt alongside the boys.
I don’t know what we would do with three elk, but I’m not worried about that right now. To be honest, I would be thrilled with just one. Elk meat is absolutely delicious and I would love to have some in the freezer. And, if we happen to get more than one elk, I will just give meat away to friends and family. It is so good that I am confident none of it will go to waste.
In the meantime, I have more bass fishing left to look forward to, plus my annual fall fishing trip to Lake of the Woods with my friend Pete Wolney, a high school classmate of mine from Totino-Grace High School in Fridley. This will be our fifth trip up there and we have done well so far, especially last year, when Pete caught a walleye just over 28 inches and had it mounted. I lost a big one and am hoping for another chance at a lunker this year. Despite the cold, this is one fishing trip neither of us would want to miss.