October 21, 2009
Hunting takes father and daughter into new emotional territory.
LEFT: With 4-H and High School rodeo already on her resumé, Riley Raube might someday be Teton County’s Rodeo Queen, but the young lady is happy enough now to have harvested her fi rst elk on a hunt in Wyoming with her father. COURTESY PHOTO
When ivories adorn Riley Raube as part of a necklace or a bracelet, they will remind the young lady of her fi rst harvest and of an unforgettable adventure with her father.
The canines of an elk bull or cow are referred to as ivories, buglers, or even tusks. These teeth have been prized for centuries as an integral element of western jewelry, but they are also the emblem of a successful hunt. You see, the 14-year-old freshman at Teton High School earned her ivories the old fashioned way.
Riley and her father, Paul Raube of Longhorn Corral in Driggs, took advantage of Spud Break this year to harvest an elk rather than potatoes. The two packed camp into the southern Gros Ventre Range in Wyoming, riding eight miles into the Wilderness near Union Pass with a string of animals that carried their gear.
Paul, who had been hunting for the last four years with Erick Kirchner’s Acein- the-Hole Outfi tters, knew the area and chose Tosi Creek for the premiere family hunt. Starting out a few hours after noon on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Riley and her father didn’t finish setting up camp until after midnight due to trouble with a topknot, and we’re not talking Asian hairdos here.
On their way into the Wilderness, Raube and his daughter watched a packsaddle roll underneath one of their animals, sending pots, pans, food, and gear down the trail behind the bewildered beast.
“It was like a Baxter Black spoof,” Paul said. “Oh man, did we have a lot of stuff to pick up.”
The packsaddle rolled a second time before father and daughter made it to camp, but all’s well that ends well, and a tin of beef stew never tasted so good after the two were settled. Tired horses and riders alike made for a quiet camp and a good night’s sleep, and thank goodness… it was 10 degrees and risin’ down by Tosi Creek for the fi rst two mornings.
After successfully completing her hunter’s safety course, Reilly thought she would begin her career with something easy like an antelope. But fate had other plans for the girl who had plenty of experience with horses and pigs through Teton County’s 4-H program. She drew a cow elk tag this season, and that’s what she was determined to get.
Toting a .257 Roberts rifle, Riley and her father hiked from their camp each morning, spotting and stalking animals.
“We did a lot of looking through binoculars. It’s tough stalking, being quiet all the time with no sudden movements”
Riley said of her first few days in hunt camp. “But we jumped a couple deer, and I spotted a black wolf.”
Between taking care of their horses and keeping their own energy up, Riley and her father logged long days in a camp that is close to where a sheepherder was mauled by a grizzly bear around the middle of September. By day three at camp, Riley seemed ready for the emotional task of taking an animal in the crosshairs and pulling the trigger. Other hunters had passed through their camp, reporting nasty weather was on its way. It was now or never, as harvesting an animal is just one part of the process with most any hunt. Hauling the quartered animal out is a whole different adventure.
So on Friday, Oct. 2, Riley and her father set out from camp, following a game trail through the woods and looking for animal tracks. They spotted a cow elk that was roughly four years old and 350 lbs. Riley was as steady as a rock, drawing her rifle up to her shoulder and slowly, deliberately squeezing the trigger.
“I thought I was going to miss,” Riley said. “I wanted a good, clean shot.”
A lot of grizzly tracks and a big, black bear later, the Raube’s freezer is full of elk meat, and Riley has her ivories. The young lady seems somewhat cavalier about her accomplishment now, but the more she talks about the adventure with her father, the more animated she becomes.
“Next is a bull elk,” she said as her eyes sparkled with the promise of another hunt.
“Any elk is a good elk,” said her father, just about to split in two with pride. “This was a dream come true for me. I’m thrilled my daughter accompanied me. She’s as tough as nails, and helped dad find renewed energy he didn’t know he had.”
In the end, it is not the ivories or the elk steaks that Riley and Paul treasure. To hear the father and daughter talk about their shared adventure, you realize that hunting is an experience where parents watch their children grow while acknowledging their own fragile mortality. After four days in the Wilderness, one elk was taken, but a new respect was the biggest prized bagged.Nominate: There were no nominations for the month of September.
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