Elk hunters Cathy Rasley and her husband, Scott, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with the hunt of a lifetime.
Especially for Cathy.
As opening day waned, the couple paused near an apple orchard. The sun slipped toward the horizon and they’d seen no elk.
Cathy had the Prescott Unit elk tag.
Scott, an expert elk caller, had drawn no response from a bull during the hunt near the Snake River.
"We were sitting in the truck in the dead silence, after we’d called for an hour and didn’t get a response," Cathy said. "We were just kind of looking around with the binoculars to see if we could see anything."
Then, Cathy had a hunch. She asked Scott to "Call, just once more."
At first he declined because of the lateness of the day.
"So I told Scott, ‘Well, honey, just get out and call. Just call once more,’ " Cathy said.
"So, he stepped out, and he got a bull to answer right away," she said.
"We were like, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ So we jumped out of the truck," she said, re-living the excitement.
"I got my gun loaded, and he grabbed all of his calls, and we ran down the side of the apple orchard," Cathy said. "The sun was slowly starting to go down, so it was lighting us up big time.
"Scott called again, and we could tell the bull was coming in," she said. "It was getting louder, and it sounded pretty aggressive."
Carefully they hurried closer.
"I sat on my rear and propped my rifle up on my knee," she said. "Scott goes, ‘Just wait. In 10 minutes it’s probably going to poke it’s head out.’ It was dead quiet.
"We were waiting and waiting," she said. "And just like Scott said, because he knows what he’s doing, the bull stepped right out."
Cathy saw the bull and sighted through the rifle’s scope, choosing not to look at its horns. She wanted to avoid being too anxious.
"All of a sudden, Scott kind of sucks in his breath a little and he goes, ‘Kill it.’
I go ‘Really?’ and he goes ‘Kill it, now!’
"So I figured it must be a big one," Cathy said.
Cathy downed the bull with two shots. The second one "dropped it dead," Cathy said.
A friend used a front-end loader to lift it into Scott’s truck.
"Then we took it around to show it to everybody," Cathy said.
"It was very exciting," Cathy said. "Like I told my husband, it was the most relaxing, enjoyable hunt I’ve ever had in my life. It was just him and me.
"That was my first big bull, and it was a really, really good hunt," Cathy said. "My husband did a really good job. He’s really good at calling."
Scott is a biologist for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He and Cathy celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. She’s been hunting with Scott for 32 years, ever since they first met.
Scott expected Cathy would want a ring for her anniversary present, but she wanted to bag a bull elk instead.
And he’s happy that she got her wish.
"Scott and I grew up in Spokane," Cathy said. "When we got married we moved around a lot, and now we’ve been in Walla Walla for 25 years."
Cathy and Scott have three children, two girls (Kelly, age 29, and Jenny, 27) and a boy (Jon, 28).
Cathy, who still helps drive cheerleaders to away games, retired about two years ago as the cheerleader coach at Wa-Hi after 11 years.
She misses coaching, but she wanted to open a coffee shop with her daughter, Jenny.
They’ve been operating Hot Mama’s Espresso for 10 months.
"Being women, we like to have a theme," she said. "And Jenny is a firefighter, so we thought, ‘Why not the fire department?’ Everybody likes firemen because they save our lives and help us out.
"They’ve been so nice," she added. "The fire departments of the area gave us stuff. And we have pictures of all the local firefighters on the wall.
"We got some stuff off of eBay, and we have fire department patches from round the country — Los Angeles, St. Louis and Hawaii," Cathy said.
The shop develops the theme of firefighting and firemen with thematic drinks, photos and fire-fighting memorabilia.
"The coffee shop is going well," Cathy said.
And, of course, Cathy’s elk hunt also went well, and she has the trophy to prove it.
"I’ll have it mounted," she said. "It scored 341 (on the Boone and Crockett rating scale). We’re going to have (the head) turned, so that it tips up slightly. It’s really nice."
While the bull doesn’t rank as a state record or anything, Cathy said it’s the biggest one in the Rasley family, where everyone hunts.
"Our whole family has hunted," she said. "All of the girls, and my son Jon. We’re all big hunters.
"My son got drawn for a Dayton tag a couple of years ago, and he got a nice one, but mine’s bigger," Cathy said and laughed.
"I just think that more women should go out," she said. "I just didn’t start hunting. I went out with my husband for a couple of years before I even picked up a gun and attempted to get a license.
"It was just enjoyable," she said. "I enjoyed going out with him into the wilderness and looking at everything.
"Hunting is our family’s life, and it’s a huge part of my husband’s life."
Contact Don Davis at email@example.com or 526-8326.