Mongolian Elk Stir Fry & Long Creek Elk Hunt

If you are looking for a way to spice up your same old elk steak routine like I was, this recipe is certainly worth a try, it was delicious and made me feel like I was eating at a restaurant from my own home. I used this recipe from the Real Hunters Wives site as the basis for preparing the meat in my slow cooker, and served it atop a bed of rice pilaf and stir fried veggies for a nutritious, flavorful dish!

mongolian elk

Mongolian Elk Stir Fry

Servings: 3

  • 3/4 lb elk steak (round steak worked great)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen sugar stir fry vegetables
  • 1 box rice, prepared per package– I used Mushroom Rice Pilaf (Far East brand)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Slice venison into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Place cornstarch in Ziploc bag, then put meat chunks inside and shake until coated.
  3. Combine onion, soy sauce, chicken broth, garlic, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, ginger and red pepper flakes in slow cooker.
  4. Place meat in slow cooker so it is covered by broth mixture.
  5. Cook on LOW for 4 hours.
  6. Prepare rice, and while rice is cooking, saute stir fry vegetables in 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet for 3-5 minutes over medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve meat over a bed of rice and vegetables.

This elk steak was from my 2014 bull elk, for which I am both gracious and grateful…..

2014 Long Creek Elk Hunt

This fall Wyoming experienced a cold August and a warm September and October, marked with weeks of sunny, 60 degree weather. This impacted the typical elk migration timeline and allowed elk to remain in the high country. In mid-October Joe and I headed out on a Sunday afternoon with Yolanda and Slim to scout an area for elk that Joe had in mind, given the unusual weather.

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We rode for a little over an hour through an old cut block and old burn area until we reached an open pocket meadow on the East Fork of Long Creek. After tying up the horses, we sat and glassed, and decided we would stay until the sun dropped below the tree line to the west and then ride back. After a little while, we spotted some elk far across the valley, six or seven, that were on private land. We also spotted two buck antelope munching away several hundred yards away. It was a wild and beautiful spot and I was already pretty happy just to have been able to ride to this spot.

As the sun began to lower in the sky, I looked back across the meadow and saw that two cows and a calf had suddenly appeared out of the timber and were grazing away. Ironically Joe had stepped away to find a tree just ten seconds before, so when he returned back a few moments later, I was resting my Kimber 25-06 on a head-high tree limb and was sighted in on the cows, in case a bull stepped out. Joe ranged the elk and they were a good 500 yards away. We watched them a few more minutes as more cows and calves stepped out, eight or nine total now, and were thinking; are they really alone, no bull?! Then, all of the sudden Joe caught just a glimpse of a bull as he headed back into the trees; he had come out of the timber already in front of the cows closer to us, but due to the gently rolling terrain we had been unable to see him from where we were. So now we were on the move to get closer; all but one cow were headed back into the timber and she busted us, but we had no choice but to move. So we “squat-ran” a ways and then got down and crawled up to a stump within 350 yards. And then the last cow headed up into the trees and they disappeared. Disappointed yet excited at having come so close, we sat there and waited about five minutes to see if they would come back out, but were doubtful, since we knew that one cow had seen us. This is usually how our elk hunting has been the past five years; close, but the elk usually win!

As we stood up to walk back to the horses, Joe glanced to the north and much to our surprise, the bull and just one other cow had stepped back out from the timber and were standing along the treeline eating. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This NEVER happens! Now, we “squat-ran” again to the right, trying to close the distance as much as possible without giving ourselves away, but we now had a bit more advantage due to the lay of the land and fact there was virtually no wind. We crawled the last little bit over to a rock at the top of a small rise and I laid down flat and rested my rifle on the rock. I do best when I have a few seconds to get real comfy and solid, and thankfully I had that time. Just that morning I had printed off the ballistics chart for my new Huskemaw scope and taped it to the stock; Joe had tested the loads he built for my gun at the Range and we were able to enter the data and know exactly how many clicks to make to adjust for distance. At 370 yards, I was able to find the bull immediately in my scope. I zeroed in with laser-like focus as the bull stood broadside, and my shot rang out into the calm evening air. I was confident I hit him, as was Joe, but knowing how tough elk are, I chambered another round and shot again, as he was now standing facing the other direction. I shot a third time. Then I was out of bullets; the rest were in my saddle bags. The elk had gone into the timber now, and in the back of both our minds was the thought we might have to track this animal through dark timber at dusk in some of the most dense bear country; where bears are known to run toward gun fire and a (totally unarmed) man was killed and eaten by a grizzly not ten miles away this summer.

Joe headed back to get the horses and bring them over, and I waited and watched the spot where I last saw the bull, by a six-foot tall dead tree stump. Joe was back in a few moments, so I re-loaded my gun and walked out ahead as he followed with the ponies. I got over to the stump while Joe tied up and looked down for blood, and much to my horror, saw none. I then glanced over into the timber toward the direction the bull had gone, and out out of the pine trees saw two elk horns sticking up; he was only about 20 yards away laying down in the trees. I turned my scope way down and held my rifle up to my shoulder and shot him in the nose-area just below the eyes. Still alive. Joe now came up behind me and had me aim at a tiny patch of neck visible through the branches, so I shot him there as well. He now rolled onto his side, and as we approached, realized he was still indeed alive, head rolling up and down. A quick final shot with the .41 to the back of the head ended the suffering. They are tough.

I was instantly overcome with excitement and gratitude at having harvested the bull in such unsuspecting circumstances in such a wild and perfect spot, and grateful we would not be put in the situation of having to search the woods for the bull in the dark, or worse, not find him.

mo elk 2014

The next step was to quickly field dress him; Joe grabbed his knives off Slim, we had our rifles within arms reach, and we moved the horses as close as we could to have extra eyes keeping watch while I held legs up and open while sitting on the chest cavity and Joe gutted the elk. We discovered two of my first three shots hit the mark; the first shot was through the lungs, the second missed, and the third hit low, in the guts. By now it was dark, so donning our headlights, we worked up a good sweat as we drug the head and each half of the elk through the woods to the treeline using lead lines. Slim saved us a lot of work, as once the elk was at the edge of the treeline, Joe got on him and Slim dragged the elk halves several more yards out into the open so that when we returned the next day with pack horses they would be visible, should any bears be on them. Having done what we could for the night, Slim and Yolanda took us back out in the dark under the stars with a light snow falling. We got back to the trailer right before 9 pm, and in six hours, our “scouting trip” had turned into a successful and very memorable elk hunt.

Copy of Taz with 2014 bull

The following day, I had to work, so Joe and a friend rode back in with all four of our horses and retrieved the elk. No bears had visited during the night, and the ponies packed out the quarters for us. Taz, 30 years old, packed out the front quarters and head, the tough old bird. We do not use him very much anymore, and I was thrilled he did okay on this trip. Joe went on to harvest a calf on his cow/calf tag in December, and I have already told him that next year it is his turn to go after the bull!

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Weekend with the Elk + 10 Tips for Camping in Mountains with Horses

Imagine riding into your camping spot, and along the way seeing some elk here and there, and then arriving to your location to find you are surrounded by 600 head of elk. That is precisely what happened last weekend when Joe and I and the four best friends headed to the mountains. The elk sightings began before we even hit the trail. While driving to the trail head a herd of about 15 came at a dead run over the top of a huge ridge and across the road in front of us, and finally came to a stop in the pasture on the other side. I have never seen elk with their tongues hanging out and panting like dogs, like these were. They were given a run for their lives.

Here is a glimpse of the weekend: Yolanda and Taz taking a break before crossing the Wiggins Fork. We had to step off the horses here anyway to walk down the steep hill to the river bottom.  DSC01326 Wiggins Fork- We crossed the river and rode along the opposite ridge before climbing over the top. DSC01328 Do you see the drive line? Sheepeater Indians, a branch of the Shoshone, used this as a drive line for hunting. We passed another structure further up the trail coming home. DSC01334Camp ???????????????????????????????View through my binoculars of some of the hundreds of elk across the valley from where we were camped. To the west, there was another small group and we could see one spike still with his horns from last year.??????????????????????????????? Ponies eating their cubes with elk watching from above. ??????????????????????????????? Time for human supper! We always carry this grate for cooking, it’s lightweight and portable. DSC01343 Note from Joe- Always double your paper plates if you don’t want greasy pants!  DSC01345 The herd moving in behind the tent at dusk. During the night they stampeded by us. DSC01349 Sliver of moon.  ??????????????????????????????? Waking up to Taz grazing by our heads. When I opened the front tent door, a group of about twenty elk stood 50 yards away, along with a single mule deer and our three horses. DSC01351 Boiling drinking water from the creek for the day. Last summer with the strict fire bans across our area and much of the West, I bought this jet boil for hunting season, and the day before our elk hunting trip the ban was lifted and we didn’t take it. So we tried it out on this trip, it really does boil fast. I used Folger’s coffee “tea bags” and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee too. DSC01352 Elk watching us and the horses with curiosity. ??????????????????????????????? On the way out. ??????????????????????????????? 10 Tips for Camping with Horses in the Mountains

1. Hobbles- Take hobbles for your stock and know how well they can use them. If it’s the first time you are putting them on a new horse, as we were with Slim, monitor them until you see how they do, or practice at home first. Some horses need encouragement to move forward if they are not used to wearing them. Similarly, know if your horses are skilled hobble-hoppers and will leave the country in them.  It is no fun running through the woods chasing hobbled horses, trust me. Some horses cannot handle mormon hobbles and do better in the kind that look like handcuffs and have just a chain link between them, like Strawberry. See what works for them.

2. Feed situation- Know the feed situation for the area you are going into. Prepare for how many nights you will be out and how much stock you have. Weed-free alfalfa cubes are about $10 for a 50 lb. bag from feed stores and can easily be packed in. We packed in one bag (split in half into another empty feed sack) in order to feed our four horses for one night. Give horses the option to drink before bed if they cannot access the water themselves during the night.

3. Keep at least one animal secured during the night- Even if you know your horses and their habits, keep at least one animal secured during the night if you are leaving the others out hobbled or in an electric fence corral. Secure horses on a high line, in a sturdy corral, or to a tree. Electric fence can get stampeded through and some horses can really move on hobbles. You don’t want to wake up and be left on foot to search. Strawberry cannot do mormon hobbles and we left her chain link pair at home, so she was chosen to be kept in a small corral overnight.

4. Headlights- Headlights are valuable to have as they enable you full use of your hands to check on horses at night or to go catch them in the dark.

5. Bring your glasses and sleep next to them- This is really only for those who wear contacts and are blind without them, which would be me. I always bring my pair of glasses and sleep with them next to my head. When you have to get up in the middle of the night to catch and re-tie horses or check on what that noise was, you want to be able to quickly see what you are doing. I don’t want to be blind if I have a bear in camp at night.

6. Banamine- Always pack a dose of banamine with you. Yolanda almost died four years ago on my first multi-night elk hunting trip with Joe. We were fifteen miles into the wilderness. We left from Brooks Lake, and on day two of the hunt the horses munched on some green grass during lunchtime. Two hours later, still an hour from our camping spot, Yolanda promptly stopped in the trail and laid down with me still on her. I got off in a hurry and luckily she didn’t break my rifle when she rolled on it. She coliced on that green grass and I spent the next three hours walking in circles with her while she sweat and shook and then finally took a crap. I was lucky she pulled through it and always carry a syringe of banamine. You can buy it from your local vet.

7. Bear Proof- Bear proof your camp for the safety of you and your stock. Check your saddlebags for any food or scented items and store them away with your food during the night, either hung from a tree with a lash rope or in a designated bear-proof pannier. Listen to your horses at night, they will make some noise if an intruder enters camp. If your horses are restless or making a fuss, get up and check. I sleep with a .41 and bear spray next to my head (alongside those glasses and my headlight), and Joe’s pistol between us.

8. Trash- Have a plan for packing out your trash. Especially if there is a fire ban! Bring a plastic grocery sack if it’s an overnight, or a real trash bag if longer. Also, remember to pack out aluminum foil, tin cans, and other objects that don’t fully burn. Make sure bags are heavy enough that they won’t rip in the panniers and make a mess. Also, for multi-night trips make sure to hang your trash at night, or secure it safely in a bear-proof pannier with the rest of your food.

9. Feet and Shoes- Check the condition of your horses feet in the days before heading out overnight. Make sure no shoes are missing, and check to see if any trimming is needed.

10. First Aid- Many items in a human first aid kit can also be used on horses to stop bleeding. I always carry a small survival kit and a full human first aid kit in my saddle bags. I choose not to carry additional first aid for the horses, but a homemade kit would be easy to make. I have in the past had to duct tape frozen water bottles to Yolanda’s leg overnight to prevent swelling while in camp. While working as a camp cook I carried a ziplock bag with antiseptic spray “Blue coat” and gall salve, as those were the two most common injuries that routinely occurred with those horses. Common sense and precaution will help prevent many injuries, but accidents happen. Have a plan and have some first aid gear for where you are and what you are doing.

Slim

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Yolanda and Slim (in back)

It has been a wet weekend here with rain and snow providing some much-needed moisture. This morning before the rain moved in again I got outside for the first ride of the year in the mountains with the newest member of the family–Slim.

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About three weeks ago Joe and I bought a 7-year old gelding. We had been looking on and off for another horse for the past year, now that Taz is 27 years old and can no longer do multi-night trips. He still does great on day rides, and spent a week in hunting camp last year day-riding from camp with Dave and Clare. Taz was a trooper on our four-day, 40 mile elk hunting trip last fall too, but the long pull back out to the trail head loaded with the front quarters of an elk was a bit much for him and from then on we have been seriously looking to add to the herd. Since our two saddle horses are mares, we had to narrow the search to a gelding. We rode Slim in the arena along with eight other head before buying him, but today was the first time actually riding out. It was sunny for a while!

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We did about a seven-mile loop, enough for Slim and Yolanda to break a little sweat and for Joe and I to wake up some leg muscles, and two deer horns later, made our way back to the truck.  It was really nice to get outside! Hope you were able to get some fresh air this weekend too. Slim is a great addition and will be used in hunting camp this fall …he will become an important part of the process of making meals from the mountains.

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