Betty's bull - Coeur d'Alene Press: Outdoors

Betty's bull

Coeur d’Alene woman, at 73, gets first bull elk

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Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 12:15 am

Ray Capaul has a new nickname for his wife, Betty.

Old deadeye.

The Coeur d'Alene woman, after 25 years of hunting, finally bagged her first bull elk - something she had been gunning for since taking up the sport.

"I was pretty excited," she said as she sat in her kitchen.

The 73-year-old shook off an ailing right knee to get her trophy from a distance of about 80 yards last month. She had spotted some fresh tracks and taken up her post on a log near a clearing on a Thursday afternoon in the Calder area outside St. Maries.

She heard the elk before she saw it.

"It came down off of the same hillside where I was sitting," she said.

First came the horns from the brush.

She had to be sure it wasn't a moose, that it wasn't a cow elk, before pulling the trigger of her Remington 308.

Once the elk, estimated at 425 pounds, with a 5-by-5 rack was completely in view, she knew.

One shot behind the neck and it went down not far from an old logging road.

"It was like an instant thing," she said.

"You couldn't ask for any better," Ray said, smiling. "Not much work."

It was a relief for Betty and ended a long quest.

Years ago, she had a chance at one, but failed to fire from close range.

"I just stood there and watched it," she recalled, laughing. "You see something and then get up, I was too excited."

After more than two decades, she has three nice bucks to her credit. Last year she felled a cow elk.

"I've hunted all my life since I was 16," Ray said. "I never shot a buck anywhere near as big as them three.

But her quest was not complete.

"I'm not going to quit until I get a bull," she said to Ray.

This time, on their annual hunting trek when they spend a few weeks in the outdoors, sit around campfires, drink and talk, she did.

"I stayed pretty calm until after I shot him," she said.

After that, it was time to run and find Ray and celebrate.

"I thought, 'Where is he at?'" she said.

Her husband of 27 years was about a half mile away. He arrived as Betty was looking for him.

"Bob, did you shoot that bull?" he asked his son when he arrived.

"Hell no," he answered. "It was your wife."

Betty was beginning to doubt it would happen.

They were down to the final few days of their two-week trip, and early on, her grandson killed a bull elk.

"I just knew there the rest of the time my bull was shot, so that was kind of heartbreaking," she said.

But that chilly Thursday morning, knee brace and all, she didn't want to give up.

"Let's go back up to one more spot," she said.

When she found it, she waited.

Success came a few hours later.

The meat ended up in the locker of their home, and the rack is being prepared for display by Ray.

For Betty, it was a bit of luck and determination.

"I wasn't going to give up until I got one," she said.

Betty believed she was fortunate, too.

"You talk to a lot of people, and they didn't even see anything," she said.

"Wolves, we hear them at night," Ray added. "I've seen four. We haven't shot any. They're too fast."

It's also about doing what she loves. Never mind those cold, wet mornings when she's out there, rifle in hands, freezing and she hasn't seen even a squirrel for two days.

"It's something a woman's got to want to do and not just doing it to prove a point," she said.

The hunt behind her, Betty went ahead and had that right knee replacement surgery Wednesday and is recovering at home. And Ray is scheduled to have his hip replaced, too.

"We ought to be bionic people by then," he said, chucking.

The elk won't stand a chance.

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