WILTZ: The Lodge at Chama under a magnifying glassLate last summer, I wrote that one didn’t have to be a person of means to enjoy an elk hunt as a cow elk hunt can be had for a small fraction of the cost of a bull elk hunt.
By: Roger Wiltz, The Daily Republic
Late last summer, I wrote that one didn’t have to be a person of means to enjoy an elk hunt as a cow elk hunt can be had for a small fraction of the cost of a bull elk hunt. The antlers may be missing, but the “hunt” is still there. Because a bull or bulls have been with every cow I’ve ever killed, I don’t feel that bagging a bull requires any more skill than hanging a cow on the meat pole.
You also come home with a supply of great meat that hasn’t been adulterated with growth hormones. Response to that column was followed with numerous requests for information about where to go. I suggested the classified advertisements in Huntin’ Fool magazine as my first cow hunt was booked through them. I also suggested The Lodge at Chama as I had once visited the place.
I booked a cow elk hunt with The Lodge at Chama in Chama, N.M., to arrive on Nov. 27 and hunt on Nov. 28. The $1,600 cost of the hunt included two day’s meals, lodging, guide, care of my elk and license. Betsy went along as she had seen The Lodge’s website as well as The Lodge’s centerfold advertisements in Sporting Classics magazine. I will describe my Lodge at Chama experience as accurately as I can.
The Lodge was 823 miles from our door in Wagner. We spent a leisurely two days getting to Chama and drove straight through (14 hours) on our return trip as we were concerned about the meat in the back of the pickup. The Lodge skinned, quartered and cooled our elk for us at no additional expense.
I’ll admit to some apprehensions about The Lodge. I knew The Lodge itself was very plush, but I wondered about a one-day hunt. Where on Earth could I bag a wild elk in one day? I certainly didn’t want any part of executing a penned animal. As it turned out, my concerns were needless.
We checked into The Lodge around 10 a.m. on the 27th. Lunch was served at noon. After lunch we headed to the range to check my rifle, and then we went hunting. My guide was Jaime Ortiz, the most experienced guide at Chama. Jaime knew about my tremor, and I told him what to expect of me. We hit it off like brothers.
I talked to Pat, Chama’s head guide, about my additional half day of hunting as The Lodge specifies that it is a one-day hunt. He told me to advise readers to arrive early the day before and plan on lunch at the Lodge. Hunting began after rifle sighting.
Our suite at The Lodge included a spacious living room with leather furniture, television and fireplace. Our bedroom featured a king-sized bed, television, fireplace and walk-in closet. The bathroom counter top had separate sinks.
At lunch the first day, and again at breakfast on the second day, we were presented with personal supper menus. We were to check what we wanted for supper that night. I saved Wednesday’s menu as a souvenir. It included the following choices: Ranch-Cut Rib-eye Steak (8 oz, 12 oz, or 16 oz) and how you wanted it done, Duck, Mahi-Mahi, or Rack of Lamb. The A La Carte extras included Escargot, Lobster and/or Alaskan King Crab Legs.
The lodge itself included a magnificent central room with a high cathedral ceiling, massive fireplace, huge elk antler chandeliers and awesome trophies. A well-stocked bar was included along with hot tub and sauna. Though the luxury wasn’t necessary, we enjoyed it immensely. Neither Betsy nor I had ever experienced such pampering, and I doubt that we ever will again.
The Lodge at Chama is located on 36,000 acres of Jicarilla Apache Indian land. Other than elk, one can hunt buffalo, mule deer and turkeys at The Lodge. World-Class trout fishing is also offered. About 6,000 acres are high-fenced. This is where the very pricey elk hunts take place. The remaining 30,000 acres where we hunted were on low fence mountain side. These free-ranging elk were migratory, and we were told the hunting would be difficult as conditions were unseasonably warm and dry.
I’ll tell you about the hunt part of our adventure next week.
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I received an interesting e-mail this morning from our family physician Dr. Richard Honke, of Parkston. Rich bagged a rooster pheasant last Sunday. While cleaning the bird, he found a dime-sized tumor in the left breast. The meat around it looked good, so he cut out the tumor and cut it open. Inside he found a kernel of corn imbedded in the meat. Explain that if you can!
Doc actually lay awake in bed last night thinking about how that corn kernel got there. Now you can think about it. See you next week.