Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kentucky Chocolate!

By John Houck  

We sat above the “Holler” glassing the nooks and crannies of the reclaimed coal mines of Kentucky, when our guide Brandon whispered excitedly, “there he is, there’s Chocolate!” As we followed his pointing gesture with our binoculars, we too spotted the 6x6 bull elk grazing below us, 800 yards away. His dark “chocolate” antlers with polished tips were unmistakable from the three other bulls.

My son Joe and I had front row seats to the best beguiling festival that Kentucky has to offer. The show lasted for two hours as we witnessed bulls, bugles, and battles for the eight cows below us. As the sun set on a misty Kentucky night, we anxiously headed back to camp, anxious to plan our opening day strategy for the Kentucky rifle season.

So opening day strategy continues around the campfire…. While both Joe and I are experienced hunters, and have been on other guided hunts, this was our first elk hunt. What our experiences tell us is, do your homework months ahead of time in regards to finding the right guide and outfitter. Once done, follow the lead of your guide, and have faith in who you’ve hired. This strategy has served us well over the years.

Setting around the campfire, Joe couldn’t stop talking about that “chocolate” elk we saw that evening. So he asked his guide Brandon if we could hunt this particular elk, and Brandon confidently said “absolutely, if that’s what you’d like. I’ve been scouting him for several weeks, and I’ll do my best to find him and provide you with an opportunity for a shot.” We figured with a five day hunt planned, spending a day or two after one specific elk would be a good choice. So, with our faith in our guide, that was our plan.

This hunt actually started in May of 2015 when my son Joe received the news that he hit the lottery! Now I’m not talking about “power ball”, I’m talking about a bull elk tag for the 2015 Kentucky rifle season! I’m not sure who was more excited, as Joe went on to say, “I hope you’ll go with me Dad.”

The planning started immediately. Seasons, rules, regulations, harvest statistics, and outfitters were at the top of the list. We left no stone unturned, as we were determined to make the most of this perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity.

After talking to what seemed like every outfitter in Kentucky, as well as numerous references, Joe decided on OMM Outfitters. Nathan Theriault heads up OMM Outfitters, and he lived up to his reputation by exceeding all of our expectations. First class, all the way!