Idaho woman, 85, bags elk 3 out of last 4 seasons

HARVARD, Idaho -- The mark of a good elk hunter is one who consistently harvests an animal.

Using that measuring stick, Orvetta Minden, of Harvard, Idaho, is a pretty good hunter. She's gotten her elk three out of the past four years.

She just happens to be an 85-year-old great-grandmother.

Minden got her latest elk this month while hunting alone in the thickly timbered mountains near her home.

"I went out in the evening, and a spike and a cow came out," she said.

Her son, Denny Chandler of Harvard, had recommended a hunting spot for his mother. But Minden had other ideas.

"I felt good about my area," she said. "My son wanted me to go to another spot. I just felt I wanted to go to this area."

She did and she shot the spike with her .243 at about 150 yards. Then she drove home and called Chandler to help her field dress and pack the animal out of the woods.

Chandler said his mom is up for anything while hunting. If it's sitting on a log and watching, she's OK with that. If she needs to drive through thick brush, she does that, too.

"She is quite a remarkable gal. A lot of the times that she is out there I am with her. But the last two times she has killed an elk she has been by herself. She just calls and says, 'I need help,' " he said. "You don't see many men hunting when they are 85, but she still gets out there."

Minden has been a hunter for about six decades and has killed her share of elk, including two five-by-six bulls and one six-by-six bull. Her first elk came when she was 19, while hunting with her father and brothers in the Lochsa country.

Her love of hunting, fishing and the outdoors in general came early.

"I was close to my father. If he was outside, I was outside," she said

He and the rest of the family were outside a lot and hunting a lot.

"I had a father, two brothers, my husband and four boys. In a male environment like that and all avid hunters, I just kind of succumbed to that way of life," she said.

She's already trying to bag a deer and doesn't plan to give up hunting any time soon.

"Just being outdoors, I love that -- hiking, hunting, fishing and all that," she said.

She's killed elk, deer, antelope and bear. She has yet to bag a moose, but hopes to in the future.

"I've put in every year for the last few years," she said of the tag drawing. "I haven't drawn."

At her home, she flips through a photo album stuffed mostly with pictures of her extended family. Most all of the pictures revolve around hunting. There are pictures of her, her kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids posing with deer and elk.

"We love to hunt," she said.

To drive the point home, she likes to tell the story of her granddaughter, Ronda Brown of Potlatch. About six years ago, Brown gave birth to a child on a Wednesday and the following Saturday took to the field and filled her once-in-a-lifetime moose tag. The whole family is like that, she said.

But Minden is modest about her hunting prowess. When asked for hunting advice, she demurs.

"There are so many better hunters than I am," she said. "I sure don't want to give any advice."