From Out Of The Yukon

By Alan Klassen

From out of the yukonAlan Klassen
Yukon Territory, 2009, DIY, Public Land

When Ryan Hatfield asked me to write an article for EHJ on the elk I harvested this past fall, my initial reaction was of mild controlled panic, kind of like when that big 40-inch Dall’s sheep gets up out of his bed and begins to walk calmly over a ridge while the weather is starting to give out and I’m on day nine of a ten-day hunt. My longest essay to date was WAY back in high school and was only 500 words. How was I going to write that many words when it only took me one day to take this magnificent elk? Well, the panic has finally subsided and this is my attempt…

“Are you kidding me?” is what I thought to myself. “Did I really see what I just saw?” There was definitely some doubt in my mind about what had just taken place. I knew I had just seen something spectacular. I have guided and killed big 40-inch rams and 400- inch caribou, but nothing like this ever entered the view of my binoculars. By looking at the bone growing out of this animal’s head, anyone could tell that this guy was off the charts. By looking at my two buddies’ expressions, I think they were having the same thoughts as I was. Then I looked over to the seven-year-old that was along for the hunt. I think he was just fascinated to see a wild animal so close and to see three full grown men wide-eyed and drooling uncontrollably!

Although I killed this elk in September, the adventure started back in early summer when Yukon Renewable Resources decided to give out a few elk permits to some very lucky Yukon residents. When I looked on the computer monitor and saw my name as one of the lucky recipients, there was an instant war cry and a phone call to my son. From that day forward, the game was on.

These Yukon elk were introduced from Elk Island (Alberta) in the late 1950s. In the last 50-plus years, the two herds have grown to a size where a sustainable harvest and limited entry draw is now possible (currently for Yukon residents only). The season is very liberal, as one can hunt from September to March. Knowing this, I was in no hurry to get it done. Although I didn’t need all of the time allotted, it was very comforting knowing I had a lot of quality hunting time and I was prepared to hold out for something special.

Over the years, my friends and I have seen many elk in the hills near Whitehorse. As such, I already had a fairly good idea where I wanted to start and what to expect. Still, before the season started I began my research. I looked at maps and mastered the hunt area. I also got written permission from the First Nations just in case I needed to go on settlement land. I saw a few elk on these excursions, but nothing to exciting. They weren’t responding too calls yet, but I was happy I had everything figured out. Now it was a waiting game until the season started.

Like so many hunts, they start in the dark with big anticipation for the day to come; and like usual, I was up way earlier than necessary! Two good friends, Bernard and Paul, and Paul’s seven-year old grandson and I headed out to an area where there was significant rut sign and activity. Tree rubs, wallows and a musk smell was in the air - a perfect morning for a monster Yukon elk in the rut.

From out of the yukon

For a full account of Alan's adventure, go to page 32 in the June/July 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.