Bemidji’s 80-year-old bow hunter’s latest moose fills freezer again

She is now 80 years old and has been hunting big game with a bow for 38 years. On September 5, Evie harvested her ninth male elk with a net shot from her tree in northeast Utah. The big boy produced 195 pounds of meat, so much so that Evie and her husband Ken had to buy a new freezer.

“I’ve really wanted to have an elk this year since I turned 80,” Evie said. “I didn’t care what it was.”

A surveillance camera captured the bull elk that Evie Johnson harvested on September 5, 2021, in northeast Utah. (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Evie Johnson's loyal Yorkshire Terrier Blitz helps track deer after they've been shot.  (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Evie Johnson’s loyal Yorkshire Terrier Blitz helps track deer after they’ve been shot. (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

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She typically climbs 17 feet tall in her tree for three hours in the morning and three hours at night during the month-long trip to Utah. She records all her time in the booth.

“I sat in my tree 55 and a half hours before I had it,” said Evie, who has mastered the art of cow calling with a variety of special diaphragm calls. “I heard him in the undergrowth, spoke of a cow and he answered with a little bugle. If he’s with cows, he’s not going to give a full-fledged bugle because other bulls would come in and try to steal his cow. So he gave a few sounds, then he came to face me. I spoke again to stop him.

This second call put the bull in a better position. “Then I shot him,” Evie said. ” He was tall. “

Evie Johnson transports her male elk for treatment during her month-long hunting trip to Utah.  (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Evie Johnson transports her male elk for treatment during her month-long hunting trip to Utah. (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Evie has only hunted deer a few times on her homestead Meemken, and the memories aren’t great.

“When I was at home, my brother took me,” she recalls. “I shot a deer but missed it. I was aiming for the head. Well, you’re not aiming for the head. The only time she uses a gun these days is when pesky critters are around.

“The only thing I shoot with my .22 is red squirrels or if I catch some creature in my live trap, skunks and raccoons,” she said. “I finish them with my .22.”

Her bow hunt began shortly after her marriage to Ken in 1983. The two were divorced and they met in a support group for widowed, divorced and separated people. He was a primary school teacher and she worked in BI-CAP’s energy assistance program.

“Before we got married that summer, he asked me if I had the money to buy a bow,” Evie said.

“No, I said I would buy you a bow if I could afford it,” Ken clarified.

So Evie paid $ 100 for that first arc, and the rest is history.

“He set up a target and I started shooting,” she said. “We got married in August and that fall we went to the Black Hills for the mule deer. So every year since then, 38 years since we’ve been married, we’ve gone hunting in the west.

Among the trophies that Evie Johnson has collected over the years is this record-breaking bear captured in Beltrami County.  (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Among the trophies that Evie Johnson has collected over the years is this record-breaking bear captured in Beltrami County. (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

The results are quite impressive. Evie is holding a score sheet of everything she has collected with a bow. It includes 11 white-tailed deer, two mule deer, nine male elk, one bear, three turkeys, one roach and several carp.

Their hunting party has grown in recent years to include friends and family. This year’s group of seven hunters collected three elk. The meat is processed nearby in Utah, then the feast comes on the spot.

“Heart and braces never come home,” said Evie, “because we eat this the next day for breakfast. We have a potluck. We cook it in our RV. Oh, it’s really good.

Evie Johnson says she will continue to hunt with a bow until she can no longer shoot the bow.

Evie Johnson says she will continue to hunt with a bow until she can no longer shoot the bow. “I have good genes,” she said. “It’s something I love to do.” (Contributed / Evie Johnson)

Evie honed her shooting skills by participating in archery leagues at Beltrami County Fairgrounds or at her playground. She has also been involved in state shoots. She also trains three days a week at Snap Fitness in Bemidji.

There are no plans to quit now that she is in her eighties.

“I’ll stop when I can’t draw my bow back,” she said. “I have good genes. Mom lived to be 96 years old. Dad was 87. It’s something that I love to do. When people sew or whatever, I said I would do this when I get old, but not right away.


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