No Eastern Oregon outdoor skills day would be complete without hunting stories.
Verlyn Savage, of Cove, delivered his share Saturday morning at the Pendleton Convention Center during his presentation on elk calls, part of the Eastern Oregon Youth Outdoor Skills Day. Savage broke down the kinds of calls elk make and asked the eager young in attendance to use plastic elk callers to mimic bull bugles and cow vocalizations.
Kazoo-like cacophony ensued.
“That sounds like a herd of elk if I ever heard a herd of elk,” he quipped.
Savage recalled one hunt when he hid behind a bush while a big bull stomped through the forest, uprooting trees and bugling. The bull was no more than 40 yards away and moving toward him. Moments later, the elk was right in front of his bush and much too close for a shot with his bow and arrow. For sure, he said, this elk would toss him about.
Elk, he said, urinate a lot when they bugle. And instead of ripping out the bush and revealing him, the bull sounded off.
“I’m getting sprayed on,” he told the crowd. “I’m taking a shower.”
That drew a share of chuckles, including from Dean Curry, of Pendleton, and his son, Ethan, 10, who joined others in making those elk calls. The lad said his technique needed work.
“I’ll practice,” he said. “I’ll irritate mom.”
This was the free event’s second consecutive year. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was the major sponsor. Tim Campbell, chairman of the organization’s Pendleton chapter, said approximately 300 youths attended, and with parents or guardians that probably pushed the total north of 500. Still, that was down from last year when around 1,500-plus showed. Much of that, he and others suspected, was due to the winter weather.
Beyond elk calling, children and teens could learn how to use a tourniquet to stop a wound from bleeding, identify animals from fur, tracks or scat, spot the differences between wild birds and animals. Members of the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office taught about search and rescue in the wilderness and gun safety. Oregon State Police troopers talked about hunter safety and game violations. Staff with the Umatilla National Forest showed how to have a proper and safe campsite.
Tina Hatanpaa and her son Jackson, 8, enjoyed the event. The family moved to Pendleton five years ago from Kodiak Island, Alaska. Jackson said he came last year and looked forward to this year. The mom and son finished up identifying animals.
“I kind of messed up on the birds,” Jackson said. “I’m more on the land animals, not quite the birds.”
But he said that’s going to change. He received a 20-gauge shotgun for Christmas and would be bird hunting soon enough.
Tina said she thought the show was good for the community and families.
Regina Nelson, 12, came down with family from Walla Walla. She said she uses the bow and arrow, so she tried her skill at the outdoor archery shoot.
“I hit them all in the target,” she said.
Justin Dow of Pendleton brought his daughter, Ava, 11, after her basketball game. They also worked on identifying animals. As a father and hunter, he said, he wanted his girl to learn these skills.
“They got to know how to transverse the land,” Justin said. “Everyone should know how to go up to the mountains and fend for themselves, I believe.”
Ava nodded in agreement.