No the title is my indication I intend to be more positive this time....course I didn't run into any jackwads this time to piss me off! LOL!
Let's see.........I forgot my camera at home this time. That was smart. So I used my Phone.....which I generally keep turned off unless I need to......take a picture.....or check my off grid hunt maps. And it takes FOREVER to turn on and load apps.......I hate it. oops.....positive didn't last long did it. Oh well. I don't hate it but it is irritating therefore I take fewer pics. Sorry. I love posts with lots of pics.......
I tried a new way into a hunting area. It cut a mile of hiking off but went side hill through some dense steep as heck stuff.........less elevation gain/loss but the constant steep sidehill and timber to climb through and over offset any of that. Plus the road back to where I park is nearly technical 4x4 rock crawling. I am surprised I still have mud flaps on my stock Taco.
Coming out I saw some guys eyeballing from the top of a steep section trying to spy a route through the boulders and crevasses that passed for a road. They saw me and backed off.....and up I crawl. They asked if the road got any better on up.....I assured them it did not..... I won't be eager to try this route again.......the road kept creeping into my mind and wondering if my tires would be flat or oil or gas all leaked out from the beating my truck took going in. Not where you want your mind to wander during a hunt.
I took a pick of one of the tamer sections.....the nasty one's I was too busy trying not to destroy my truck to take pics. Also a pic of the nasty dark timber slope I traversed into my hunting spot. Fork this.......no fun breaking ankles through a mile of this stuff.....this is fairly clear. The boulders with deadfall areas were a real treat. No way I could pack out and not get hurt/killed through this.
I set up above a wallow on a route I've heard elk using as they cross some saddles from the next drainage in the evenings. I have good wind. I settle in and make sure I've shot LOTS of yardages...........(pause for self flagellation)........and wait. And listen. Don't you love how time drags on in the evenings waiting for the sun to go down and the elk to perk up and start making noise? Nothing but birds and damn squirrels.....did I mention I hate me some squirrels......I think they hate me too. Fair nuf.
It gets down to the witchin' hour......20 mins of legal time and the light is fading fast. I can hear an elk across the drainage in the timber. I throw out some cow calls but he ain't coming......at least not in time. So back to camp trying to avoid bumping any elk.....which is pure luck at that time of day with the route I have to take.
I make it back without any major problems.....no crashing off into the timber of elk......that is good. I pour water into my MH granola and blueberries and mix up an bottle of propel hydration powder in an old 12 oz gatorade bottle I brought for measuring water, etc. Gotta pound the water and hydration as I was pissing near brown at times last weekend. Shove my dinner down and time for bed. I plan to get up early Saturday and hunt over the pond where I failed to take the 6x6 last Sunday. Its hot. Its dry.......some of the water sources have dried up.....I'm thinking hunt the water.
I take my time and get to the top of the elk trail to drop down about 7 am. I start down through some deadfall I have to cross to get to the trail and as soon as I get across I hear an elk bolt down below........damn! Sure enough there is an elk below me on the trail heading out having spotted me. I really need to get better at slowing down, stopping more, and really scanning the area before moving. This lesson is not an easy one for me and will be repeated again.....trust me.
Now that I am awake.......I slow down and ease on down the trail. I need to start using my binos because I still didn't see the elk cow or muley......I couldn't tell......that was eyeballing me 150 yards down the trail in the thick timber......at least not until it turned and headed further down. It may have been a couple of elk, a bull and cow. The second animal was smaller than the first....pretty sure the first was a bull. 2 gone either way........embrace the suck and keep on trying.
I get down to the pond, wind is good........nothing shows. long story short. I hang out until 11 am then decide its time to go back to camp, rest, and think about making a water run.
So back at camp I pull out the hammock and set it up in a nice shady area. My tent site turned out to NOT be a shady area as I had hoped.....at least not during the times when I am in camp needing to rest and be cool. Hammock went up fast and it was pure heaven. I took a 4 hour nap. LOL. I had to rush a bit to make my water run.....which took longer because the creek that was close was dry now.....wasn't last weekend....so I had to hike down further to running water. I hauled up 4 liters of water......and prolly sweat out 6. Not liking this weather.
On the way up just about to crest the top of the ridge where I camp and a muley buck.....first I've seen live.....pops off his bed and bounds off. He was in the shade below some rock outcroppings. Hmmm.....I have a deer tag so maybe I need to stalk around the edges of the ridge to see if I can spy a dozing buck some day........ But I could care less about packing a deer outta here....I'm here for an elk and don't need to spend time and effort on a deer. I have a better spot for that hunt.
I get dinner cooked....I have found I like dinner before the evening hunt rather than after in the dark. MH Beef Roast. New to me. Damn......that is almost good! Highly recommend it. 2 serving size pouch so I crammed down 500 cals. With my meat sticks and snack bar this morning that gets me up around 1500. I'm probably burning 4000 a day up here. Hmmm........I could stand to lose weight but concerned about losing focus and strength to get'r done if I get an elk down. I'm so hot I have to force myself to eat......not much appetite.
I go to sit in the hammock a bit before heading out.......sit down......RIP.......fall through. Fork.......brand new hammock for my kid's christmas just shredded on me. The one piece of real pleasure out here and its destroyed not 6 hours after I set it up. Not happy. Oh Well.....soldier on. Good news....I bought it at JAX and they will do an exchange........thank goodness. Darn thing is rated 400 lbs and I may be old and fat but I ain't that damn fat.
I slam some more propel water and head out for the evening hunt. I decide to hunt down below along an old road where it looks like a good spot for elk to come up out of a deep dark nasty drainage to a meadow up above. Wind is blowing up when I set up but of course switches 180 degrees when the sun drops. So I have to set up below my first set up and hope the elk don't smell me down the drainage. Not liking it now. But I'm pregnant at this late hour and tough it out.
Nothing blows below me but nothing happens where I am........I have a dark hike through some dense timber to get back to camp. All goes well other than all the racket I'm making in the dry forest. Everything cracks and crackles....like hunting in a freaking box of rice crispies.
Time to shove down some water, MH granola and blue berries and get some rest. Sunday is gonna be the day.....its been a week since I duffed my shots so maybe I can repeat with more success. I plan to be back at the pond but use the route I hunted tonight and hopefully not fork up the elk coming from above on that trail.
I get down there pretty quick but take my time (sort of) through the really elky sections. No busts so that is good...at least none that I hear.
I get set up with high hopes. I hear alot of birds and squirrels. I hear an elk above me blow.......must be a hunter up there....sounds like it was on its way to me. Crap......such is life. Hope for more elk but nada. I decide to explore a new area further down below my camp on the way back.....so I head out about 8:30 am. Its hot as balls......I mean nasty hot for this early. I'm sweating buckets and barely moving. I am really taking my time, scanning the woods......finally I get past a drainage to my left that is elky as hell and decide its time to un-nock my arrow and hike on back to the new area so I have time to get back, rest, go on a water run.....eat dinner then regroup for the evening hunt.
You know where this is going......
I take make another 20-30 steps......go maybe 15 yards or so......I have my bow in one hand, my release in my pocket, my hat in my hand......I'm hunting shady spots as I ascend. And I hear a hoof. I look up to my right and 30 yards there is a 6 walking away. Not freaking busting just walking away from this odd thing that walked up on him.....and on his tail is another bull.....looks like a 7 on one side that I can see. If I had my release and arrow nocked I could have probably made a shot on him before he got behind trees. I'm such a crappy hunter........blown opportunity again.
They wander up the hill about 40 more yards and hang out looking my way. I have my ultimate predator cow decoy on the bow and am hiding behind it praying they don't catch my wind...its blowing back and forth and up and down....nightmare wind. But they don't blow. They move around trying to get an angle to see what the heck that was down there.......then move to the right.
I take a few slow steps down to my right looking for a shooting lane. Got it. I pull the rangefinder......maybe I'm not a total idiot.....and range some trees. I can see where they are heading and think I can have a 50 yard shot. If they go behind the recently fallen big pine I'm screwed.
The 7 walks into the lane and right out before I can draw....didn't feel it. The 6 is coming and I'm ready and draw....but he is further up the hill and behind more timber so no shot. I let them wander off. I think about sneaking low and fast back to the pond thinking they may be headed there....and think better of it. They weren't spooked....they should hang around.....let 'em walk and hope to catch them again....soon.
So that was exciting...and depressing......I could have had a hell of a fine elk if I'd been hunting elk instead of shade. This was at 9 am.....I figgered the elk were all down on their beds for the day. That is why you never let your guard down....the elk can't read....they don't know when they are supposed to be one place and not another. They just do their elk thing. When and where they like.
I head on to the new area. Its a far drop down and not worth hunting. Sure there is sign and a nasty deep north facing drainage with little light that looks great for elk to hang out in......but no water....the old spring there was dry. And not enough fresh sign to entice me. Plus hauling an elk up outta there plus the added up to camp and back to the truck....it would be over 1000' not counting the minor ups and downs in between. I have better and easier places to haunt.
Back to camp. I cleared the pine cones and sticks and crap off my trail to make quieter walking since I expect to use this route alot in the coming days. I'm pouring sweat off my face and peeing dark yellow. I can't drink enough and running low on water. I take a break and try to nap but its so hot........hottest day by far....has to be in the 80's where I'm camped. Awful....even the shade is hot.
I make a water run. Haul back 6 liters of water. I use up a liter for dinner and hydration drinks with propel powder. I have 3 in reserve and my what's in my camel bak......will need to get more tomorrow.
I cook up dinner. MH lasagna with beef. Not bad. A little over 700 cals that I really need. I'm wearing down.
I sneak back to the pond and plan to stay until dark. It is so hot and dry.....surely an elk will show up to drink. No luck but just after shooting hours end I hear a bunch of noise. It's a full moon....I have good glow on my pins still......but I'm done hunting. I hang out to see what shows because its too late to sneak out without busting it. Turns out its a muley doe....at least I think because she is in shadow and even with the bright moon all I can see is a light tan shape. I shift my weight just a little and she explodes 10 feet. I am surprised she can see me in the shadow of the pine with the elk decoy on my bow in front of me. There is another deer behind which I presume is a buck but I never see. She blows and goes.....time to head for camp.
I get back a bit after 9 pm without any other busted animals in the dark.....I call that a win. I choke down my MH granola and blueberries, mix and drink some propel hydration and get into the tent. Its still hot. I'm exhausted. I hoped to sleep in my hammock but it ripped out so back on the ground I go. I actually moved my tent to the hammock spot at lunch for the extra shade. There is a dead aspen with a live pine tree right next to it that freaks me out. Don't wanna get squashed in my tent if the tree falls.
It is too sturdy to push over. So I use my mule tape to tie up another dead and sturdy aspen to a live aspen then angle it over into the live pine so the dead aspen that is standing is unable to fall (hopefully) on me. It should hold. It has so far.
I took a better pic of the old fireplace back in the woods. I also stumbled across an old vehicle.
I suck it up and head out. Hit the glassing spot on the way to......yes the pond again. I really want to have another shot to redeem myself on an elk at that spot now that I know the yardages. I stop by another pond up above and sit for 1/2 hour.....nothing but an angry squirrel....yes I hate you too little buddy.
I hike up to the hike down to the pond. I go back beyond so I have the wind coming in and am away from the trail where I busted elk going into this spot previously. Its quiet. I set up and wait. And wait. And then I hear it.
And elk came in behind me and is huffing in disgust at my stank.....so am I for that matter. Dang. No luck.....busted from behind. I can hear him huffing down towards a close drainage that is deep, dark, and has a creek in it. I decide to beat him there as he is not busting butt to get there just walking and blowing. I get down and set up and throw out some cow calls. I wait......he doesn't show. Maybe he went further away before dropping in or went a whole other direction. I tried. I failed. I found an old Buick truck......pretty cool left back in the forest. You don't see these around much.
I hike back up to my "stand" and hang out until 11 am. It is time to head back, rest, get water, wash, rinse, repeat. This hunting and camping is alot of dang work. I kick pine cones and sticks and branches off the trail on the way back to clear the way for future trips......slightly less crunchy.
I try to rest and cool off in camp. Its hot but the wind is starting to whip with the cool front approaching. Gusty. I can't sleep so I run to get water. I told my wife (using my InReach which is solid gold....not really but I like it alot) I planned to come out Weds for a break. I got my water.....4 liters this time....and headed back I had an epiphany.
I was beat. No way I could pack out an elk in my current state. I was exhausted, off and on dehydrated.....I needed a break now. It was going to blow and gust with the front, it was smoky, although temps were gonna drop I didn't expect alot of elk action until the wind died down. I was leaving....come back Weds before the crack ass of dawn so I'd be able to hunt my way back to camp. I'm outta here.
I get my trash, dirty clothes, and anything else I decided I didn't need on my pack, stowed my water, buttoned up the tent.....stowed my sleeping bag in a waterproof sak......I forgot to mention I left my sleeping bag out and a mouse set up residence while I was gone 3 days after Part I of this adventure. Bastage mouse pooped up a storm all over my bag and tent but didn't chew up anything......so I mouse proofed this time as best I could. Got my smelly not sealed food and packed out. It took 1 hour and 10 minutes to cover the 1.5 miles to the truck from camp. I already mentioned the steep side hill traverse. I was borderline too tired to be safe coming out. Reaffirmation of my decision to break from the hunt to recover a bit. No way I'd safely pack and elk out this way in my depleted shape.
I get to the truck and there is air in the tires, the gas and oil didn't leak out.....despite the beating on the way in the Taco rolls. I'm relieved. I put it in granny low 4 and we creep back down the boulders that pass for a trail. I pass a rig being repaired and stop to see if they need help. They are pros and have it under control. I think I hope I'm not in the same situation before i get outta here. I make it out and still have my mud flaps....small wonder as they got the crap beat outta them.
I head for home, a beer and a burger at MudRocks........showered first of course....damn that was good. I live practically next door so that was quick and close.
That is all for now until next Sunday/Monday. Everyone be safe out there and enjoy the experience!!