Husband/wife team make memories in hunting heritage
BY GINNA YOUNG
For one Cornell family, hunting is a family tradition. Dave and Carol Hakes, along with their grown son, Curt, have made many memorable trips out west, collecting trophies, adventures and stories to share with others.
This year, the family drew a Montana Combination Big Game license, which allowed them to harvest elk and mule deer.
“After 15 years of hunting in Montana, this fall’s hunt was by far the most challenging and rewarding,” said Carol.
One day (Oct. 25) before Montana’s two-week rifle season began, Dave, Carol, close friends, Steve Sime, Sam Howard, Steve’s cousin, Chad Sime, and dogs, Olivia and Riley, set across cattle grazing fields of the Jones Hills in Cascade County, Mont. Keith Stickney, Wally Gass and Curt were scheduled to follow them out to Montana, for the second week.
The group took two full-size trucks, three ATVs and enough supplies to last during their time in camp, with propane heaters to keep warm, generators and a freezer to keep meat cool. At that time, the temperature was 67 degrees.
“Big Sky Country never disappoints, as we took in the mountainous views, sounds of nearby streams and the smell of sage in the air that evening,” said Carol, adding she even spotted a cinnamon bear with a blonde cub, feeding.
The next day (Oct. 26), the rifle season started – and so did the snow. Overnight, more than a foot of snow fell, with limited visibility.
Once the hunters mobilized, Carol took an ATV through a few creek crossings, before she saw a small, 6x6 bull elk, bedded down over 1/2 a mile, uphill.
“Spotting game is my forte, harvesting them is Dave’s,” said Carol. “We make a good team that way.”
Carol headed back to get Dave, then the husband/ wife team positioned themselves, according to wind and cover. The snow had stopped, but the elk was bedded down and located on private land. Finally, as the couple was about to give up and look elsewhere, another bull was seen about 400 yards below them.
“Dave came into this hunt with the hopes of harvesting a bigger trophy than he has already accomplished,” said Carol. “Me too, but after a few years of errors in judgement by this much less experienced hunter, I thought he was a magnificent trophy and I was NOT about to pass up on the first day, what I wouldn’t pass up on the last. Call me crazy, but for some reason, I find that I often check the time of day when it matches gun calibers. This was one of those ironic time tracking days.”
So, at 2:43 p.m., Carol’s .243 “caliber hunt” began. The couple moved through deep snow to a good place to set up for a shot, but, unfortunately, the first shot went stray. The bull turned and started moving the opposite way.
However, Carol wasn’t letting him go without a fight. She reloaded and with the bull giving her a broadside shot, she pulled the trigger.
“I pulled the trigger, reloaded, looked up to see him go down, followed by a strong pat on my back and Dave saying, ‘Good shot,’” said Carol.
After congratulatory hugs and kisses, the duo headed to claim Carol’s trophy. With the help of Sam, Carol even found the bullet she used for her shot, lodged in the front shoulder of the elk.
“Bellies full of a home cooked camp stove meal, the sharing of hunting stories and bouts of laughter, made a very happy ending to a fantastic hunt,” said Carol.
A team effort harvested this buck mule deer, with Carol Hakes taking the shot, as husband, Dave, encouraged her that she could harvest the deer. The buck was bedded down when Carol nabbed her deer, making an instant-kill shot through the animal’s neck.