FORWARD: I have been bow hunting elk for the past 25 years while living in Colorado and the two previous years as a non resident from Ohio. I killed my first bull elk in 1989 as a non resident bow hunter and even how when friends ask Tricia why we moved to Colorado, she states, " Paul just wanted to bow hunt elk every year". I was 52 years old at the time we move to Lake Granby Colorado where we purchased a tourist lodge and ran it for the next 10 years, and yea, right in the middle of elk country and as you might expect I caught the elk fever even more.
This is the first elk season I have kept a daily log; those things dear, those things exciting, as well as those things, well sort of mundane, but necessary while in elk camp and while actually hunting. Some thoughts, some observations, and maybe even some hallucinations, as I might not see another hunter or person for days on end and some times I just talked to the wild critters. No this is not a camp with other hunters, not a camp with a wall tent and wood burning stove, not even a truck camp or 32 foot trailer camper but what it is, is a solo elk hunt with a two person mountain tent, two tarps, sleeping bag and mat, freeze dried foods, treated water out of a near by stream and on occasion, a bath out of that same stream. Oh ya, a few packs of Big Wet Wipes for those very cold days. I will leave three days before the Colorado opener to one of Colorado's Wilderness areas in the center part of the state and will stay the whole season if necessary.
Now this essay may not be for the guy who has slain the dragon many times but you might find some humor or memories in the story so you are invited to follow along even if painful, leaving the thought behind, "I have been there and done that". A better audience might be the occasional bow elk hunter still trying to slay his dragon or the bow hunter with one or two elk to their credit. And maybe, even better yet, the bow hunter who has never hunted elk, but in their mind, "I have a dream" to do so.
I will back pack up the mountain for 2 miles, gaining 1400 ft in elevation to 10,258 ft. I still remember what Coach Green, my foot ball coach stated (yelled) back in 1958 when I was a senior in high school, and us linemen were hitting the very heavy blocking sled, "Come on girls, the cheerleaders can hit this sled harder and faster". I wonder what the coach would think of this hunting exercise? I believe we all have a "coach Green" some where in our lives that want us to live up to our full potential, to climb the highest mountains, and to live life with gusto, with love, with passion, and with with respect for others thing and for others. On of my favorite sayings is " you only go around once in life so grab up all of the gusto you can" as you know this current life experience you are now having is not a dress rehearsal for the next time around.
So lets get started, day by day, with stick in hand on a doable challenge for elk in the high country in Colorado.
3:34 pm. Arrived in the elk unit and parked in the Forest Campground for the first over night stay. My pack weighs 45# but need to reduce the weight by 10# and make room for my bow and day pack. I will sleep in the truck tonight and start up the trail in the morning, early AM.
5:39 pm. Traveling up the forest road this evening I spied two bulls through the spotting scope high up and in , a very open old burn. One single bull and one with 6 cows. I will not attempt to hunt as the very open burn area is hard to get close to then and it is still 3 days before the opener.
11 PM. Very restless night in the truck
6:30 am, Up and at them, Rearranged my equipment last night and this morning.
7 am. at the trail head with 40# pack, 42 degrees, Should be a cool morning for the climb up to spike camp area. I always feel I am taking too much stuff but if I end up staying over a week or more, I might as well be comfortable.
8:30 am half way up 9:15 am, 3/4 up 10:20 am, at spike camp area. I want to check out the trail camps which were positioned two week ago but I have to follow my rule, when you get to camp make camp!
12:30 pm. camp set up with lean-to for outside eating and rain/snow shelter. Will take the 2 gal plastic jug to water on the way to check out the cameras.
1:30 pm. First camera. Disappointed with no pictures. I had made a screw in the tree/camera attachment and it seems like it loosened and pitched the camera too far forward. Reset in a different location. Second camera , one coyote, three elk cows and calves, and a 4 pt bull elk, the then lots of moo cow pics. I know now where these elk might be entering the meadow. This will only be an evening hunt when the cooler currents descend. Made a makeshift blind 20 yards away.
3 pm, picked up water jug and added 24 iodine tabs for treatment
3:30 pm. A freeze dried meal of Chicken and rice. after which i shot the bow. Time for a cat nap.
5 pm. Headed for the Big South Meadow to scout and observe. 6:05 Pm Cow elk and 5x5 bull crossed 200 yards down hill. Stayed until dark and head back to camp 20 minutes away and over the hill.. No more sightings or sounds.
9:15 am. Just returned from scouting. Observed elk high on the mountain at least 800 feet high. Can not tell bulls and or cows. It is unbelievable how quite it is here in the thick, old growth timber of the mountain Wilderness area. Sure, a jet plane high above once in a while.. But all in all, the quite is almost deafening but just the way i like it. The older I get the more quite I like it. This is the first morning in camp and was up at first light. Coyotes off in the distant can be heard. Instant oatmeal with a granola bar broken up and added to it. Washed down with a cup of hot spiced cider. Camp in comfortable in a grove of mature Engleman Spruce Pine trees.
10:32 am, There is a perfect uprooted tree with a huge root ball covered with dirt, a great target for practice out to 30 yards and the dirt even has the color of an elk's hide. Speaking of the color of elk this time of year. The light tan color sticks out like a sore thumb on the hill sides and can be easy to spot from a distant but in the timber they blend in very well, not so easy to find.
10: 58 am. Trying my best to say well hidden and without leaving too much scent as I am the only hunting abut a square mile. The old age forest is very dense and the meadows are the only place to observe elk when then come out in the evening or about to enter in the mornings.
11:01, time to shoot a few arrows.
12:19 pm. Time goes slowly. I wonder what the mountain men did in their spare time. I would expect they did not have much time off just trying to keep alive, trapping beaver, hunting for food, finding shelter for the elements. I guess be hunters today have it easy with all of the modern gadgets. If we do not like the current situation or environment, we just to home to a warm bed and a full refrigerator. I hear a coyote off in the distant. I guess I am not along. I was never much of one to do a lot of hunting and camping with others. Most of the hunters my age have retired and the other are still working and supporting their families. Maybe my roots go back to the mountain men, to the one guy who like to be along. I have hunted with a few good men and enjoyed their company for sure. That coyote is still yelping.
12:46 pm. I still have 4 1/2 hrs to hang out before I go set on the North Meadow. Clouding up, it might thunder and rain like it did yesterday for awhile but still warm.
1:30 pm. Hard to believe it has been two years to the day that I was at this very spot hunting. I am now convinced that the year only has 200 days, not 365, and the number of hours in the day is 18 hrs and not 24. Lots of things to think about miles from nowhere, no radio, no tv, or newspaper. I remember 9/11, I was back in the timber elk hunting and did not find out about it for four day when I came out. Crazy world and crazy times. But here I am again loving what I am doing and doing it in a free country. I wonder what it will be like 50 or even a 100 years from now. Will our current life style be but a distant memory and not even read in the history books.. I KNOW ONE THING l AM GOING ELK HUNTING IN THE MORNING!
6:15. a young spike bull steps out 80 yards away and then looks back over this shoulder. Out steps a nice 4x4 followed by two more young bull. Ten minutes later, the wind shifts and they spook backing to the timber. Elk educated! I decide to leave and hunt over to the North Meadow
O'dark 30. ie, 5 am. I thought, of the 44,000 Colorado resident and nonresidents who bow hunt elk each year, I wonder how many will be out this day. 6 am. I was in my natural blind just as I could see without my head lamp. Cool air was drifting down and in my face and of course on the first day, the first morning, one has high hopes. Hopes of at least seeing or hearing an elk. No use to be aggressive this first week and I know there are elk around.
9:05 am. the air became very still and I knew the wind was about to switch from down to up the hill and towards the wallow meadow before me. Time to bail out but first to check the trail camera. WOW! at 5:45 pm, last evening a nice 5x4 bull walked through the camera' s lens. Was mostly the one I had seen in the North Meadow last night that got down wind. Maybe he will do the same tonight. Based on my current sightings, the elk are active 15 min either side of 6 pm.
12:10 pm. of the bulls I have seen, most were hard horned except for the spikes. Some of the bulls are still in bachelor groups or single this early in the season. I would expect to hear a night time bull bulge anytime but most likely not in earnest until next week or later. NO hard frost and early more temps in the low 40s.
12:34 pm. Spike camp in at 10,280 ft above sea level. being here for three days my lungs are starting to adjust to the altitude.. One nice thing being at this elevation is that it is down hill to the truck. I have nine days of food and if needed will make a run down the hill for more. I did not bring enough elk and goose jerky so I will restock that for sure as I am munching on it thought out the day. Good stuff and good protein. I usually eat my evening meal before I head out so I do not have to mess with it in the dark.
9:pm. Returned to camp and ready for the sack. Sat in the blind over the wallow for three hrs. but no elk observed. Did hear the first grunt/chuckle and then later a short bugle in the same meadow when I saw the 4x5 bull. Might try to sneak in there in the morning.
10:06 am. Warm last night and this morning. Went to the North Meadow but no elk. Sat there from first light for two hours after. Checked the trail camera, no pics. Followed a moo cow trail into the forest 200 yards and found another small meadow with, what seems like only a moo cow wallow but it looked of interest so I build a natural 15 yards down wind for the morning or evening hunt. This time of the year the bulls and cows are usually still in their summer mode, ie, bed to feed and a few bull feeling the urge to sniff around and roam some.
11:18 am, went to the creek for water to fill the 2 gal container. I am using a gallon a day of water for cooking and drinking. I am hoping for a shot at a dusky Grouse for dinner when the season comes in next week. I have not seen or heard any fly ups/ downs. in the morn and evening.
12:06 pm. I now have 6 hours to putts around. Parts of elk hunting solo and far away from others, can be boring.
4:39 pm. Getting ready for the evening hunt. Warm in the low 70s. with a cloudless sky. mile wind from the SW. Earlier I was watching a large black ant that was crawling around doing what ants do. Not sure what I was looking for. Now listen to this. The question came up years ago from my 8th grade art teacher, how observant was the class. We all assured here we were very observant on a daily basis. So she then states, "how many of us have observed an ant? We all shouted, " I have". So the assignment right then was then to draw an ant as we had all observed 100s of ant in your short life times.. Well to this day and having many ants in my vision I do not believe I can draw on accurately. Interesting how the mind drifts to the past, ie flash backs, when alone, when one has time on their hands.
Back at camp from a very interesting hunt at the Wallow Meadow. At 6:21 pm, Moe and Joe show up at the opposite end of the meadow 80 yards away. Joe in young 4x4 and Moe is a young 4x5, almost like twins. Like two teenagers or brothers when like to punch, shove and wrestle, these two bulls got into a shoving match. Head to head, and noses to the ground letting out small grunts and wines, then pushed closer and closer, antlers together banging and clanking. They would break apart for awhile and "horn" a near by small pine tree and then go at it again. I picked up the camera.. they came closer and closer, 50 yards, 40 yards 30 yards, (now within my effected stick range) now to 22 yards. Heads locked together, still head to head, still grunting, still whining and they did not have a clue I was there watching this while thing unfold. The 4x5 had his rear to me pushing the other bull slightly to my left and out of my shooting window.. I was hoping they would come right out in front for a very good opportunity. The bigger bull kept at it and they both stayed to the left and just out side of the shot window.
So here is what was going through my mind. Man, it is only the second day of a 30 days season. It is hot out and these two bull are nice and especially to meet my goal of killing my next bull with the recurve bow. Ok, lets get this done, I picked up the bow and shifted in the blind for the 22 yards shot and surely a kill.
I'm enjoying the journey and pictures.
Great read so far, Paul. Can’t wait for the rest of it!
I guess the only good thing that came from this close encounter and missed opportunity, is that I still had 28 more days to elk hunt.
The alarm did not go off so I was a half hour late in going. Dressed, grabbed a granola bar and headed to the South Meadow. THis is a tricky place as one nears the top side dividing ridge, the cross wind can shift to down and through the meadow. As soon as I was nearing the ridge, not being as careful as I should have, I spooked an elk. I moved over and tried to melt into the timber but there was the bull and cow I had seen a few days before, 150 yards away, staring in my direction. To calm them down, I gave out a few cow elk sounds. They drifted off into the timber but in the adjacent arm of the larger meadow, I hear a loud bull bugle. My first thought it was another bow hunter until I looked in that direction and saw a good 5x5 bull standing in the meadow looking in my direction. And then another bull stepped out and they both headed into the timber. Where they went in might be a good place to set up tonight for their return.
9:29 pm. another interesting evening hunt in the south meadow. I set up within 25 yards of where I had seen the two 5 pt bull enter the forest. Time 5 pm and the wind was in my favor. Nothing until 7 pm. I cow called off and on trying to lure the two bulls in to range if they were in hearing distance. What show up from down in the meadow was two young bulls, may Moe and Joe. They were interesting in my calling but did not come straight in to me. One circled to my left and then the other circled to my right and then got down wind. They both then spooked away. Another day gone by. I can see the advantage of having another hunter along to call or to shoot from a different location. I will take a break from this report and continue tomorrow. Thanks for following along.
Paul, planning on getting together Saturday. Details this week and looking forward to hearing the story in person.
Paul, planning on getting together Saturday. Details this week and looking forward to hearing the story in person.
Elk plus 4, Tuesday, August 29 th. Slept in this morning as the elk, who have been up all night have been heading for the bedding area at very first light of day, to the shade and security of the pine forest. Too early for the rut and I have not heard any intensive bull bugling from any direction. Finished the book, How the West Was Won, by Lou Cameron. A good fictional read about the movement west in the middle of the late 1800s. Of course there is always the good guy--handsome, tall and strong and can handle a side arm or rifle. Then the bad guys, the gun fighters, cattle men, Indians and always, a girl , prettier that usual, blond hair with a blue ribbon.
9:18 am. Headed for the creek to wash a few items of cloths and while they were soaking , I went to check out the trail cameras nearby. no new pics. Back at the wash are and was about to gather up, an cow and spike elk emerged from the forest up hill 100 yards away. They did not see me and continued to travel east and into the forest. Time, 10:10 am. I would expect they were in the upper meadows, bedded down and then decided to chance for the deeper forest.
11:03 am, Quite as a mouse. very light winds. Have not see or heard another person in five days. Very slow moving, puffy white clouds moving in from the west.
1:42 pm. clouding up more. Having an early dinner of instant mashed potatoes, white Albacore tuna. That reminds me of the vacation Tricia and I took to the Oregon coast last July. I booked a off shore tuna charter with 7 others. 30 miles off shore and trolling in a 42 ft charter boat, we caught 108 Albacore tuna from 10 to 20#. We ended up bring home, 70# of tuna steaks. Good stuff.
8:40 pm. I am sure you other elk hunters would agree that the swirling winds have saved more elk from death than anything else. So here is that story of tonight. Figuring that the 3 pm, wallowing bull at the Wallow Meadow might need another mud bath I played the odds against change winds and headed there at 2:30 pm. I kept my fingers crossed that the wind would be in my favor if an elk showed up. The sky had clouded up and the winds were basically from the north but can change on a dime. I set there at 3 pm, 4 pm, 5 pm and watched the limb tied wind direction string blowing mainly to me. At 5:01 it switched and was blowing out into the meadow. at 5:04 a young 4x4 bull comes in to the clearing to drink but he is out at 40 yards, too far for my recurve bow . I pick up the camera for the picture, he take one gulp of water, smells me, and takes off. I do not feel too bad but he could have been at 30 yards when the wind switched.
Just finished my first canister of gas for my Jet Stove. They seem to last 4-5 days for heating 2 cups of water for breakfast and then dinner. Heard a bull around 7:15 that answered my cow calls. Sound coming from the north meadow.
11:09 am. As warm as it has been, the elk are sticking to their normal summer patterns, bed to feed. So far, I have had a wallowing bull at 3 pm but the. other experiences, like last night, 5 pm to 6 pm seems to be when the elk are moving but with the unsettled winds at that time all of the elk have known I was there somewhere. So far the blind at the wallow meadow has given me the best opportunities and if the elk would show up even an hour later, when the wind was in my face,, the possibility for the shot would increase.. I have seen no action at the wallow meadow in the AM.
3:49 pm. Time sure does move slowly especially for a solo hunter miles from civilization. Took a power nap, ate a macaroni/cheese dinner, shot the bow, read a chapter of the new Louis Lamour book, The Trail To Crazy Man.
8:48 pm. A big zero at the north meadow. Light winds, some dark clouds. The wind was so light that if you attempted to fly a kite,even if you ran like hell, and then stopped, the kite would crash.. At 6 pm, an hour later, the winds picked up to 15 mph, from a variety of directions. You know that kite? Well if you tried to fly it now, it would get torn out of your hands and fly to the next county. Mountain weather!
Will, I do believe the local elk have me figured out some and this morning and evening were good examples as I have been busted by sight and smell. The wild animals,, the elk, are starting to retreat and earlier habits are changing also. Unless you have one chained to a picket-pen, they surely are unpredictable at times, and now I think this is that time. I will give it one more day and the after that a four day rest, (Labor Day weekend) return as things may have settled down. And maybe cool down some also.
Elk plus 6, Thursday August 31. 7 am. I have decided to head home for the Labor Day weekend. Took me 1 hr and 10 minutes to get to the truck. Gravity did help in the quick descent. Be back in four days. on Sept 4th. Should be home mid day.
I too like gravity!
Good luck, Robb
Four days later. Elk plus 10, Sept 4th. Monday: Left home a 5:15 am and stopped in Walden Colorado of breakfast. I was in the hunting unit my 11:45 am. Stopped by a friends camp and had lunch. Thanks Bob and Betty, enjoyed the conversation and hospitality.
2:11 pm. Headed up the mountain to spike camp with enough food for 10 days. Warm day again and the hot sun was shinning on the south side of the mountain. Needs more frequent stops and water but was in camp by 5:30 pm. First accomplishment was to get water, the a bucket bath to get rid of the sweat coming up.
6 pm. Mack and Cheese for dinner.
7:30, the setting sun is bright orange as there is forest fire smoke in the area from a variety of distant sources, out of state and north in Colorado near Steamboat Springs. Another quite evening. Great to be back in elk camp.
7:44 pm. Just heard a bull grunt/chuckle from the north meadow which is only a 20 minute hike from camp. Setting on the slope just below camp listening. Tomorrow I will start the elk hunt again in earnest.
7:49. another bull sound
7:52 cow churps
7:54. another bull sound,
the day light is fading fast
Elk plus 11, Sept 5th, Tuesday: 5:15 again. Alarm went off but I stayed in the sack for 10 more minutes. Very quite but was hoping to hear some bull sounds. Normal breakfast.
10: am. Setting of a log back a camp writing this and munching on elk jerky and dried apples slices ( from my own trees). A Gray Jay landed 4 ft away, hopped over and grabbed a hunk of jerky and a apple slice. They go by another name, Camp Robbers.
5:45 am. Went to the Wallow Meadow and checked the camera. WOW! a good bull walked in front of the camera at 5:46 pm, about the time I was returning to camp last night. Can not be in two places at once, I guess.
8:am, in the wallow blind. hearing some bull sounds to the north in the dark timber. Also hearing off in the distance, a cow round up. Cowboys shouting, cows mooing on the far hill side a mile away. Round up time to get the cows off the Federal land, ie, grazing permits.
10:41 am. Cutting through the forest, above camp and came upon this cach of stuff hanging in a tree. This is only 500 yards from my camp. Left a note stating I was camped in the area and bow hunting. I might have company during the ML rifle season at starts on Sept 12th. Saturday.
4:28 pm. Lunch. Chicken Noodle soup with chucks of elk jerky. I keep listening for human noise from above; I bet by Friday at that camp. Have to wait until at least 5:30 to hunt the wallow meadow as the wind does not calm until then. No new camera pics from the North Meadow. Need to arrive at the Wallow blind later, to avoid being detected but most of the action in around 5 to 6pm when the wind is just an IF.
4:44 pm. getting restless to go but need to wait
8:26 pm, No action at the wallow blind. Head a bull in the north meadow again and went to check it out with 15 more minutes of light left. No sighting. Heard him up higher. 8:34 pm. back in camp, the bull is now just above camp and within 500 yards.
8::41. the bull sounded off with a high pitched bulge, calling to the girls.
Elk plus 12, Sept 6th 9:27 am. Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast Mt House. First time, we will see if good.
8 am. Hunted the north meadow, check the trail camera. Picture of cow and spike that a have seen before.. Stayed there for two hr but no action. Climbed up to the higher meadows looking for grouse, No birds. Cow elk called across to another ridge and deep cut and was answered by a lone bull with low bull grunts. I would expect it was the bull for last night above camp. Again, very still, cloudless, very dry, no for-casted rain.. 42 degrees in the mornings.
9:51 am.. I give the Bisq and Gravy breakfast
a #7 but add some pepper, than an #8, not bad, would eat it again. A good change from instant oatmeal
12:12 pm. Naps are good. Brewed a cup of hot cider and ate a few pieces of elk jerk and dried apples. Still smoke in the air as the ridge tops 5 miles away are had to discern. According to a study, (take it for what it is but also to ponder.) the primary elk rut, mating, when some cows come into heat. This happens 5-6 days before the Equinox and this year that is on Sept 23, so things should be heating up around Sept 17th. The report also states that prior to this time, the bull are feeling the urge to investigate cow area and scent check open meadows. THis has been my experience over the years. Now this can happen in different areas of the state and the country where elk are. I still am not seen many cows and calves around, a lot less that two years ago. going through a full moon phase. According to my GPS , the best time to hunt, moon phase, is between 12 and 2 pm and the good times is, dawn and dusk. Regardless, I know the best time and the good time, is being in the right place and the right time and than can happen at any time.
12:44 pm I have been keep up with the daily log for my bowsite friends. the good, the bad and the ugly.
(AT home, 6:16 am, heading for the gym to work out some. I will continue when I get back.
Keep it coming!
9:01 pm. back at camp. Crazy afternoon: I left camp at 3:30 to explore a big meadow to the west 3/4 mile. While there and right up to sundown, a big Lear Jet and a two engine turbo prop were doing fly over in big 5 mile circles. Around and around they came, Loud as hell. Noise pollution for sure. After 5 circles, the Lear left but the turbo continued to sundown. I learned later the jet belonged to one of the Millionaires that live part time near Meeker. I am still investigating the turbo and why only 5-6 mile rt hand turns and circles over the Wilderness area? Later I ventured higher to the end of the meadow and into the dark timber, sending out locator bugles and a few cow calls. Right at sundown a bull answers and he is heading my way. He will not get to me during legal shoot time. Not to spook him. I pull out and head down the trail and an area he will not smell me. Later, he passes by bugling and looking for the cows he thought were in the area. Full moon tonight.
9:59 am back at camp. Lots of excitement in the elk woods this morning. I headed of the wallow meadow but once there and hearing nothing, I decided to create some elk excitement by hiking through the old growth forest of all pines, and dead pines laying on the forest flow like matchsticks. I wanted to create the sence that I was a young bull pushing a group of cows forward and in the direction I wanted to go. Also keeping in mind, the direction of the morning currents which at this times would be a cross wind. Shortly I heard a bull respond off to the north. I kept heading SE keeping bugling and cow whining off and on, the wind in my favor. Hard going, with down timber but there were a few opening here and there. Still can not see much farther than 50 yards. Forty five minutes later and just after I was in the middle of a calling sequence, a real life bull opens up 100 yards in front of me.. I cow call, and small bull squeal. He responds back with a loader bugle. I circle to the tight to get more down wind and find a good opening. THe bull to the north, he is also closing in fast and I hope he will pass by within bow range to challenge the other bull.. So we have a three some, call fest. Later the north bull looses interest and drifts off. The other bull is still bugling but drifting off also and to higher ground, across a dry creek bed.. The only option I had was to back out as the warming wind was going to drift up hill and to him shortly. I backed out and returned to camp a mile away. Fun and exciting morning.
10:19 am. Camp robber graped an apple slice
10:22, the turbo plane is back and doing the same thing as before.
10:25, Brunch, a two pack of oatmeal, 2 granola bars, hot chocolate
12:22, plan still flying around and a lot over head.
3:43 pm. Upper body and hair wash. feels good.
4 pm. will hunt the south meadow this evening where I had the bull action this morning. Warm again. maybe a 50 % chance of rain on Saturday. The ground is dry in the meadows. Less water in the stream as two year ago but there is a nice 4 ft dia pool of clear water where I get my drinking water. Still lack of seeing cows and calves. They might be lower down in the Aspens where there is more moisture, shade, food and water. I know of two 4x4 bull that were killed below me, one the first morning and one just last week.
5:00 pm. Heading out to the South Meadow. Will wait across the meadow until the cool currents start to descend around 6: 30 , then I will cross the meadow to where I believe the bull is that I encountered this morning. I will enter the timber, wait and listen.
6:31 pm. I am in position. I hear a bull doing soft grunts, three or four. I wait 10 minutes and then do a few cow and calf calls. No response.. I move another 50 yards into the thick timber and run right into him standing 40 yards away, looking in my direction from behind some thick brush. I quickly step back and do a few cow calls. That seem to confuse him to what he thought he saw so he did not spook away. In stead he started to circle, towards me, and would be passing thought a small opening at 30 yards. My bow was up and ready, but he passed through too quickly for a good shot. He continued to circle, almost down wind, to the trail I had come in on.. He put his head down, must have smelled my track, turned the other way and disappeared. I then advanced to the bull trail the bull was first on when I first saw him and where he had come from hoping another elk might be following. I set up. Up the hill and in the distance, another bull bugles and he is closing . I stand my ground. He answers my cow calls. He advances to within 60 yards but I can not see him. He bellows once and leaves. I never see him again. More fun!
9:59am. more excitement in the elk forest this morning but the elk was not sighted as he was higher up and heading away. I worked my way, that way to the NE for a mile but had no more encounters. The wind was starting to hit my back and uphill so I had to retreat from the chase. The only good way to get through this stuff is to follow the moo cow trails, as I know the elk do. Checked the trail camera at the top of the north meadow and at 6:50 pm yesterday, a cow and bull passed by. The cow gave the camera a nose print. I fashioned a blind 20 yards down wind and will be there tonight hoping they will come out.
Oh, forgot to tell about the forest fire down below near the road when I was in the south meadow. Heard later is was from a lightening strike a few days before. The next day a big jet dropped fire retard on it and put it out along with some ground help. It never jumped the road and came up my side so I was ok.
11:58 am. Lunch and then nap time
3 pm Chick and rice for dinner
3:21.pm. I believe you will agree that we hunters are mostly part timers and the the animals we hunt are at it full time, 24/7/365. A hunter walks into their environment, their home range, their living room, their kitchen, their bedroom and then they figure it out real fast. Something is out of the ordinary. Just like if someone invaded your property, so after a while you would know, something is out of place. And in the animal world, that "something" is us.
4:47 pm Complete cloud cover along with a temperature drop. Can only hope the increased winds will subside.
5pm. headed to the north meadow and planned on setting in the blind I had made where the camera caught some action of bull and cow..at 6:30 I was in my hide with a cool, in the face, wind. I waited until dark. No action I did hear a bull off to the east but did not respond. Another day gone by. I am ready for a wine and a woman! Maybe there will be one of each when I get back to camp.
9:45, another long wait until late after noon. at least I do not have to hike up and down from the road two mile away to hunt up here. I have two more paper backs to read, and I hope they last. Two year ago I kill the cow elk up here on Sept 21.
10:24 am. Shot the bow extremely well out to 30 yards. Now if I can just find a bull in range that is blind on the side I am shoot from. Starting a new book y Clive Cossler, the Havana Storm. Found this American Wildlife knife near camp. Actually I found it two years ago a stuck in a standing log and left it there. Wandering around camp I found it again, but this time it will be heading home with me. How many knives does a guy need on one of these hunts. I always take my Leatherman and one more knife with a gut hook but for some reason, when I packed and unpacked, I kept placing another knife in the pack so I end up with a few more.
3:38 pm. ate a early dinner of tuna and mashed potatoes. Weather man was correct except for only a 50% chance of rain, it turned out to be 100%. All in all a welcomed relief.
5 pm. at the side of the north meadow. waiting for the wind to shift downward. Had heard another hunter bugling early near here but had left by the time I had arrived. Must be from a drop camp a mile west of here, I think.
6pm. Wait, i hear the pounding of hoofs on the hard ground coming up the hill towards me. these two young spike bulls came within 30 yards, spooked and headed off.. other that that, a quite evening in the blind at the top of the meadow, cool and good wind but no elk. Another day.
I am sure everyone will remember where they were on tomorrow's date, 9/11. Received a nice surprise this morning. Not it was not the Swedish bikini parachute team dropping in to say hi, and stay the night. It was a deep throat bull bugle from the north meadow where I have been last night in my hide. I will give that area a rest for a day hoping to catch him during day light hours. Hunted instead the south meadow, no action.
9:47, dinner and the sack. 9:56 pm. the rain yesterday quieted down the ground and the forest, good walking and stalking. Days are cooler.. Closing in on a half moon.
12 noon, washed shirts in creek and hung out to dry. Nap time
2:10 pm woke up to thunder and rain, shirts will not dry today.
3:15 pm cleaning dirt from boot cleats.
8 :34 pm writing this in the tent with a head lamp. Another crazy in the woods. went to the north meadow at 4:30 and sat on the upwind side and away from the direction the elk come from and opposite my hide. At 4:38 this bull that I am sure is the same one as this am let out a low bass, musical bugle. Not one of those "get the hell out of here bugles" bugles but one of those, " hey girls I am your stud muffin, come on over". He was situated within 200 yards north of my hide across the meadow. Sounded like he was still bedded. He did his best Dean Martin love song sounds every 15 min until 6 pm and then he just got up and moved east.. I moved to my hide when the wind shifted down and tried to call him back but he did not come. Maybe had a cow with him. So I am setting in the hide. good wind, thought he might come back and then I notice movement to my left and coming from the meadow. moo cows. I get up, run out and chase them back the way they came. End of the day with no other action.
Elk plus 17, Sept 11th. Sunday. A day worth remembering. I was glad to hear a jet fly over high. Headed west but only saw and heard coyotes. Missed my first grouse.. Decided to hike down and go to Meeker to stay two night, see the sights and have a good dinner with Scott the City administrator.
10 am. arrived in Meeker, checked into the best and cheapest motel. not bad. nice bed and hot water, and tv.
Next two days in Meeker, a tire fixed as I had a 4 in nail in it, ie, low tire pressure., good dinner with Scott, aka, Mathews Man. Good breakfast, visited the historic Meeker hotel and museum.. Will head out on Wed back to camp.
11:30 back in camp. Check the trail camera, no new pics. Lunch later, nap also.
4:30 dark clouds and thunder coming from the west. later went hunt higher up and ran into two spike bulls. no more action.
11:41 am back in camp. Shit happens but then it is suppose to happen to the other guy, right? :). I was a happy camper when I left camp this AM and headed for the north meadow where I had been hearing this bull off and on but could never get him in close for a good view until he crossed my path at 28 yards and yes broadside, this morning.
So here is the story of this hunt this morning. I decided to sit at the moo cow wallow at first light as I had heard this bull just early up above it, a 100 yards or so. He was moving away and to the east. I thought I might me able to attract him back with some loved sick cow talk. He did come back but stayed away on a slight rise above me. We traded cow sounds with bugle sounds, and then small bull sounds. He bugled very loudly and at times I thought he was coming closer but I still could not see him. At one time he must have been only 50 yards away in the thicker down fall and thickets. He moved off. When I knew he might not return, I went after him, not really knowing how far he was away but it sounded in the thick timber he was at least 200 yards away and still moving away. I went after him with loud bull bugles and grunts and a few cow sounds and it seems I was catching up based on his position. All or a sudden he was right in front for me but moving left to right behind a thicket only 25 yards away. He did not know who or where I was. He kept moving to my right but still no opportunity for a shot. There he is heading for an opening. I turn that way ready for the shot. He stops just before the opening and looks in my direction. I had been doing bull screams at him to get him mad.. For some reason, he jumps back a few feet but then continues to circle around to down wind. I watch his travel route. He keeps moving right and he is heading for another opening 28 yards away. I am on my knees behind a downed pine tree ready to draw but my lower arrows in the quiver get caught on a limb and I loose concentration for a few seconds. He is only a few yards from the opening and as he steps into it, I cow call. How, we all know bull elk NEVER stop broadside in an opening! Well at the sound of the cow call, he stopped directly in the center of the opening. I can see his whole body, head and antlers.. I draw the recurve bow, pick a spot, release, (do not know if it was a smooth release or if I dropped my bow hand) but the arrow was the exact correct height to take out the heart, BUT the arrow was 18 inch back too far. A forward center gut shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!! more than half of the 510 gr arrow had penetration and I watched him spin, and green glowing nock showing the way but for only a few seconds and he was then gone away, slightly to the right. I know right away it was not a good shot as the broadhead and arrow are absorbed by the fat and the contents of the gut. and after eating all night, he had plenty of gut. Any arrow/broad head hole might be blocked so no blood escapes. There was no exit hole. I heard him crash through some thicket and then all was quite. A little later I went to the spot and looked for any blood. I searched up and down and trail or openings I could think he might have traveled. I did find only a few hoof scuff marks on one trail but then none else. I expanded the search for blood from 50 yards, and then to 100 yards, and then started to to a grid search. No luck in finding any blood that may indicate which way he might a gone. ie, straight across the meadow, up hill or circle around to his bedding area. I searched for 6 hours and then returned to camp very rejected for my poor shot execution. The next morning I search higher up and around with the thought that maybe I would just find him dead on one of the trails. No doing. Or dead in a bed. NO doing. Some of us have been there and it is not a good feeling and it will play on our hearts and minds for a long time. The what ifs, if this had happened, the what ifs, if I would have done this. Maybe I should have been standing and shooting, what ifs. What if he had not stopped in the clearing. Any way, a lost bull elk I do believe and he will most likely be absorbed back into the natural circle of life and death, in this case. Do I know this for sure. Well I do not but most likely. Sad day for me for sure. I do think this was the bull.
Did your bull ever turn up?
5:55 pm, the coyotes are yapping loudly to the west. Maybe they have a good reason to do so. As I crawled out of the tent, I noticed it looked more light than usual. No light, just a 1/2 of fresh snow. I hunted for awhile, even looked for the elk but saw nothing and hear nothing.. Later at is warmed up some, large snow bombs dropped on the tent with a great bang. some just missing me also. My 1 pm, under a warming sun the snow was almost gone. I am sure, with my recent activities in the area, the elk have dispersed to other places. 'Time will surely tell that.
Just about ready to take a mouth full of oatmeal then the pine martin shows up looking for hand outs and maybe another grouse carcass to chew on. I spoke to him telling abut the wounded elk and that there might be a year's supply of food up in the timber if his nose set him in the right direction. Lots of down time. consider hunting 3 hr in the am and maybe 2 in the pm. The rest of the time is for sleeping, napping, eating, pondering, exploring, reading and thinking abut a hot bath.
2:41 pm. a flock of Sand hill Cranes just flew over high heading SE. Maybe a storm front come this way from the north.
5 pm. Sat the wallow blind. Terrible winds unsettled. Had a bull respond to cow calls but he never showed up in time. He came near and i had to sneak out to avoid him after hours. At least two bulls still in the area.
8:15, back at camp, cleaned up . Starting a new book, Bulls Eye,
Well, I truly to not know how a morning in the elk woods and with bow in hand can be more exciting, well unless one counts last weeks encounter. I have two primary areas I hunt. the north and the south meadows. I try to give each a two day rest and then hunt the other. So the north meadow was scheduled this morning and I arrived at first light and peaked over the ridge into the meadow. I was surprised to hear a bugle and then noticed a good bull crossing and then entering the timber and a few minutes later, another small bull. I waited 15 minutes and then followed and entered the timber where they had being careful not be be seen. I proceed farther on a moo cow trail and find an opening a set up and do a few cow calls. Within a 100 yards, I hear a mighty roar from the larger bull. I call, he answers, I call again, he answers, He is getting closer and at 50 yards, he grunts and bugles loudly. I can not see him, but there, here he comes on the other side of the thicket, he is moving to my right, no opening for a shot. At 30 yards he stops and looks but not shot. He moves again, I think his head is behind a tress, so I crawl a few feet to get to a better shooting position spot. His was looking at me when I moved so he busts out and back but not away. I call some more, he responds but moves off to the right more but farther away. I get up and move to my right and farther down wind and try to circle ahead of him which I do. 200 yards farther, i set up and wait for him. I hear him grunting and coming my way but 50 yards away in a small meadow. I call, he calls back but will not come closer and passes by out of range and disappears. If you have elk hunted, this stuff never gets old!
So an 1/2 hour before the end of this chase and at the last set up, I look to my left and on the ground is an old kill area, bones, hair, leftovers of a killed elk and right next to my location, its the skull with a perfect 6 pt rack still intacked from last year. I try to make a note of where this is in the thick timber but when I tried to find it later, you know, like finding a pin in a hay stack. Oh well, just another story.
8:52 pm back at camp. Never, Never, Never, underestimate what might happen or can happen while in elk county with bow in hand. So at 5:15 I head up the hill to the south meadow. Only takes 20 minutes to get to he upper ridge before dropping into the meadow. When I get to the ridge line and since I was early and the wind had not settles yet I decided to turn right along the ridge and move through some small openings and scattered pines a few hundred yards. A few days before I had noticed that someone had left an old wood burning stove, two pans and a snow shovel head from a past camp in a pile of logs. Also a large piece of black plastic has blown out in to one of the openings so I would bundle it up and hide it under some of the downed timbers. I move that way and actually the wind was calm along this part of the ridge. As I was about to pick up this large plastic, I head a noise that sounded like an elk racking its antlers on a tree or another elk's antlers. I listen more and was convinced that is what it is. I first check the wind and it is perfect, coming up the hill. I looked around for a set up spot and see two or three that might work based on the wind, the cover, and where I think the elk might come to, if he does come to my cow calling. I am in a small wooded area, scattered pines, openings, with a few downed timbers. Before me was an small arm of the big meadow, and beyond that,70 yards away was the thicker woods and where the elk was. I convinced myself that if he came, he would try to come in across wind and then swing down wind. crossing the meadow from left to right at 25 yards. so I pick the set up where I had two shooting lanes for that out front. I had heard no rubbing for the past few minutes so I quickly set up, checked the wind again and started to cow and calf call. Arrow on the string, bow in position. Over the next 5 minutes I did two series of cow calls trying to project them behind me to draw the elk close if he came. I was against a small pine tree to my left but I can see that way ok, A large downed tree was 15 yards in from of me and expanded away to the left the way it had fallen years ago, sort of blocking the path that way. A had a good view of the meadow in front but it sort of disappeared to the left as it rolled down the hill and behind some tree clumps and meadow edge A called a few more times looking right to left but mostly right and straight ahead ready for action.
Well action came all right but came from the far left. Unknown to me, the 4pt bull, after he had rubbed the tree, and moved down and along the inside of the timber/meadow lined and may have moved 50 to 75 yards farther to my left and out of sight. After hearing the cow sounds, he must have waited for awhile to make sure he was hearing what he was hoping for, ie, cow elk. Then he crossed the narrow meadow, down hill under the roll of the downward angle of the meadow. He then turned up on my side and came up the timber line towards me unseen.
I caught movement to my left and here he came right at me from straight upwind., 40 yards away. They never do that. Thirty yards, twenty five yards, twenty yards, fifteen yards, ten yards, fifteen feet. The small, sort of blocked opening an elk was not suppose to pass, behind that big fallen tree to my left, he walk right through it.
So here I am, pinned down. I can not shoot to my left at all and I have a young, 4x4 bull elk standing 15 ft away not even knowing I am in the area and thinking a few cow elk are around.. ON my knees, I turn my head slightly, and can see him looking around trying to figure the situation out. He sniffs the ground where I had been but does not seem to concerned. A minute goes by and there we are almost nose to nose or butt to butt. I am screwed! I watch my wind direction string hanging from the top of my bow. It is swinging away and up the hill but then starts to slack and swing right and then left and then right at the bull. Well you might be able to fool their eyes and ears but never their noise. In a cloud of dust, he spun and was gone in a flash back the way he had come not even giving me a chance to take his fleeting picture. Still;kneeling, I lower my head, touching the ground with it, close my eyes, try to swallow with a dry mouth, and think, OH, Well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! there you go Paul. Another close encounter. Close!!!!!!!!!
So here is where the Ifs come in. If only I had chosen a better place to set up with more flexibility to shoot out front in more that two areas and to be able to turn more to shoot standing up. One of the set up areas I had considered was just like that and only 10 yards behind me. OH, WHAT IF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I sent Tricia the,I am OK. message from the SPOT. Even in the tent I can hear him now calling to the girls.
Elk plus 25 Sept. 19 Tuesday.
5:39 am. I do believe the Jet Stream is close by or right over head. At nearly two miles above sea level, the tree tops have been swaying all night and the wind sound in the tops remind me of a high powered fan turned to the highest setting. My experience is that most animals hate the wind. It screws up their defense mechanism. Mine too! I will wait for awhile to see if things calm down some, if not more down time in camp. Hard to stay in camp. 6:06 am. Headed for the south meadow and as expected, not a creature stirred, not even a mouse. Moved farther to the west, and set up twice and did some blind calling. The last set I noticed another bow hunter 200 yards away going through a sun spot. Either he did not hear my calling or just decided it did not sound like and elk.
9:30. Later I visited the wallow meadow and checked the trail camera.. on the previous Sunday I had placed a stake in the ground out in front of the camera and then placed some elk scent jell on it. The camera had a picture of a cow elk coming up to the stake at 10:30 am, and smelling the jell and then leaving. With nothing else to do, I sat in the blind until 1 pm. No action.
1:38, back to camp and I am now in the tent., The west wind is cool and is howling. Time for a nap and to read a couple of chapters.
1:42 pm. I just thought the tent was going to be lifted off the ground by that last wind gust.
4:11 pm. Nap felt good. Ate a tuna pack. Brewed a double batch of hot cider. Gee, the wind has even slacked off for awhile. Maybe better things to come for this evening. 48 degrees but without the sun, cool.
4:30 sat in my woodland La-Z-Boy with my 76 cup and drank hot cider and soak up some rays before the hunt.
8:22 pm. I would have bet my recurve bow that I would have seen or heard something this evening. Nothing! I have not heard any elk sounds in the evening for the past 3 evenings. There is a time when the elk just might have moved to a new location.
6:02 am. Just when I thought all of the elk had left the area!!!!!!!!!!!!! Last night when I had returned to camp, I let out two bull bugles locator calls. No response. So I am back in the sack for about an hour when 200 yards above camp a bull lets one go, a loud bugle. And just about an hour ago, the same bull is working the north meadow where I will be heading shortly. Just finished a two pack of oatmeal. I am dying for eggs, bacon, and toast!!! Heading out. So I get half way to the meadow in the gaining light of the morning and the bull bugles just up the hill from me. Not in the north meadow at all. The wind is good but too early to see well and shoot. I wait in the same spot trying to judge the distance to the elk and where he might be and in what direction. Shortly it is legal time but I have not heard him for 15 minutes. I cow call and he bugles farther away and to the west. I circle around to get closer, set up, cow call, no response, he goes quiet. Gone. Dam! Later, I head for the north meadow and make a big loup to the south and to the end of the south meadow. No action but I run into Tom and Lee from California. Tom has been following a bull and cows up from the bottom. Tried to get to the bull for a shot but the bull out distance him. A large cow lags behind offering him a clear 42 yard shot which he take and connects.. I join them for the track. Well the track is what every bow hunter wants to see after he has arrowed an elk.
3:42 pm. this strong SW wind is making the evening hunts difficult for both meadow areas and adjacent forests. Lee told me there is another story coming on Friday night or Saturday. Oh good!
3:45. Here is a thought. The holiday or vacation, hunting trip is almost over when you start thinking about what you need to do when you get home. I am starting to think about that. I think it will take two trips down to the truck to get my stuff out and down and off the mountain. So on Monday I will break it all down, lay it out and determine how to and what to pack first. It take me normally, 1 hr and 10 minutes to go down and 2 hrs and 15 min to come up. So two trips will take about 5 hours, ie, down, up and then down again.
3:52, still have 4 days to kill an elk and it can happen this evening. As always trying to keep a positive attitude.. I have a good shelter, food, water. I can still taste those fried eggs, bacon, toast. Oh, and throw in a few pancakes.
4:43 Read two chapters, getting ready for the evening, wind will be a factor for sure.
5pm, left camp
8:42 pm back in camp. It only takes me 20 minutes to where the ridge rolls over into the south meadow. Got there and turned west again where I had the encounter with the 4pt bull. Spooked a grouse. My taste buds were activated in memory of the last kill and a roasted bird. Later I decided to hike up an adjacent ridge and just pass the bull encounter a few days before. ON the top of the ridge the timber became thicker and I thought this would be a great bedding area for an elk. Ten steps later, a 5 pt bull, jumps out of his bed, runs across in front of me and is gone. Later I cross over to the other side of the south meadow, wait for an hour, almost dark, get up, and see a spike elk coming up the middle of the meadow. He sees me and retreats.
Later, in the sack, and writing this.
Elk plus 27, Sept 21, Thursday. 5:16 am My air mat has been leaking so I have to re-blow it up every evening. Have been laying here for the past hour listening to a 747 jet flying over. Actually it is the wind! Could be worse. I could be stranded in Alaska, in a 2 man tent, with a guide for 3 days waiting for the storm or fog to clear.
5:30 am. it was two years ago this evening I killed a cow elk with the compound bow, a 1/4 mile from here. Warmer last night and this morning above freezing. Just completed doing the "in the small tent, getting dressed dance".
10:44. am Returned to camp after another interesting morning. wind calm a first but then gusty later. Circled around the south meadow, seeing nothing. I sat down on the far side. Later, three cow elk with calves trotted by within 60 yards. I believe it was the same cows that Toms was after with the bull a day or so earlier. I set up hoping the bull was following but it did not happen.
12 pm I decided to pull the wallow meadow trail camera. so I headed that way.. I have been using my digital camera as a card viewer. I had some great trail camera picture for the last few weeks on the card but the last time I was there, I reset the picture counter back to zero on the trail camera, not knowing I had just eliminated all of the pictures. Luckily, I still had some good pictures on the other camera's card to share
1:30. Climbed into the tent to get out of the wind. The wind is switching from the West, to SW and now to the south but here is not a cloud in the sky..
1:35. looking around my comfortable quarters. I am impressed with my Kelty Grand Mesa 2 tent that I have had for ten plus years. Only cost 149 bucks. Might be a little heaver than the new modern mt tents. but only 6 pounds. I added a Kelty 9x9 light weight tarp over it for extra protection from rain, snow, and snow bombs.
2:39. the wind is blowing very hard.
4:41. Just finished James Patterson's book, Bullseye. Detective Micheal Bennett does it again. Saves the President and the city of New York from the bad guys. Time to get ready.
Later in camp, 8:28. the big south meadow is where all of the action has been so I headed that way. I have seen elk there most often but now is the question, how to get within 30 yards of one. I set up on a trail hoping for some action. None but right a last light as I existed the forest near the edge of the meadow. a 5x5 walk out, 100 yards away and then just walks up the middle of the meadow, without making a sound. No bugle. I watch him walk to the other end and disappear. I head back to camp in the dark. Just outside of camp I give out to loud bugles. Sure, now he answers and he travels to the west and down to slope.
8:36 pm, starting a new book, BGen Coes's, First Strike. This is the last book I have to read.
5:30 am Nothing worst than a stuck zipper when you have to pee. An hour ago I thought I was in Tornado Alley as I heard this great wind gust coming up the mountain from the south and SW. The noise in the pine tops was exceptionally loud and the pine nettles came raining down. I was sure, as Kansas Dorothy did, that I would be swept away any minute. I have not been outside yet, but there is suppose to be a storm coming tonight or tomorrow for sure.
6:02, just completed a total Big Wet One, bath. Refreshing but looking forward to a hot, hot shower. Will be heading for the south meadow as that is the only place for recent action. It is big and long enough and I am sure there are elk around that I have not seen or heard as they are traveling around some for other places I am sure. Temperature above freezing in the low 40s but very windy with big gusts. When getting into the dense, thick old growth forest, there is a huge difference in the wind, almost calm in places. That may be why the elk elk like that environment for their bedding areas.
10:22 am, no action in the south meadow area. Did find another good wallow farther back in.
12:50 pm. More wind gusts, stronger at times., sun out once in a while. Hot water heating up. Jet Stove working well.
2:30 pm, a light rain falling. Something is coming.
2:45. Thunder in the distant
3:19 pm the storm rages on, With the un-settleness of the last 6 day's weather, this year's elk season is closing in fast. A lot less sightings. I have pushed that area hard and it is not unusual for a hunter to out do their welcome. So I am on the ropes and it is the 9th round. Do I retire now and remember the good days or should I keep on punching to the end? I will let the weather conditions help me make that decision. Only three days to the end of the season.
4:20 pm Looking farther down the hill from camp and I can see the tips of a few Aspen Trees. Because of the shorter days and cooler nights, the production of chlorophyll is being reduced and the other pigments in the leaves is starting to show, orange, red and golden. The saying, 'When the Aspen trees are changing to a golden color in the high county, the elk are bugling.'. may be true to some extent. Maybe tonight.
4:25 Every bit of left over camp food placed on the rock in the middle of my camp meadow, has been eaten by the Gray Jays. They are now feeding on left over mashed potatoes, and tuna. Very social bird and usually come in pairs and quite wings. Good company for this solo elk hunter.
8:17 pm Friday evening after the hunt. The wind had finally died and I had two good blind calling setups where i had seen elk before. You know the saying, :find the girls and you will find the boys. Not many girls around so that surely effects the number of boys in the area now.
So my decision is to break camp in the morning, Saturday, and head down the mountain from my lofty perch.
What a great experience it has been for me. Most of my goals and challenges have been accomplished except actually bring home some elk meat. There is an excellent chance that the bull I shot did not survive and not to be flippant and or dis-respective of the bull's life, but nothing goes to waste in the wild. Enough said!
I surely had some close encounters with bull elk since the start of the season in late August. The hunt might have been over on the second day if I had been more aggressive in my approach to that situation. There is that work, IF, again. And then there was the 15 ft away, bull. IF I had only set up in a different place. The bull I hid. If I had executed the shot better. What about the two other situations were the bull was only 25 to 30 yards away. If only there had been an opening to shoot through..
I am not sure I will be returning to this exact place in the future, as it take at least a PP or two to draw the unit and in two years, I will be 79 years old. For the past few years, I have taken one year at a time to plan my hunts and sometime my future.
I do acknowledge this, Elk Fever is catch able, and once you get it, it is impossible to get rid of it.
Oh ya! I finely learned to observe and draw an ant. My eight grade art teacher would proud.
End of the Grand Adventure. My best, Paul
Oh wait, it is not over yet.
Sept 23, Saturday morning at 6:30 am. Out of the tent, light rain, wind from the south streaming in fast, a few scattered snow flakes coming down, 33 degrees. Dark clouds.
I better get out of here fast. So I take down the tarps, clean out the tent and lay out all of my equipment, fold up the tent. and then try to figure if I can just make one trip down. If I do not and it keeps snowing, I will be in deep do-do.. My new Eberlestock back pack might be up to the challenge but am I up to the challenge to carry it and pack it down? I also have a duffel bag with a strap and handle. I pack the back pack first and then the remaining stuff went in the duffel bag including my trash bag.. Bow strapped on the back pack. The normal hike down is 1 hr and 10 minutes on a dry trail and light pack. I leave at 8:10 am. The first part of the hike is not too bad but I have to get use to the weight, at least 60 # on my back and 15# in the duffel bag which I carry in one hand and a walking stick in the other. A half inch of snow is now on the ground and the trail is getting muddy. I stop to readjust the load every 100 yards or so. The first part of the hike is sort of flat with a slight down hill and then with three steep benches to preform, it gets harder, wetter, and more slipper. . with water running down the track. I had some great boot with deep treads that really helps.
Exhausted and 2 1/2 later I arrive at the truck but with no falls or broken equipment. when I took off the heavy back pack, I think I grew 4 inch as I felt I was compressed for the last few hours.. I was so what wet, and still had snow on my pack. Glad to be down. It pays to watch the weather and get out quickly and safely.
I headed for town, took a very hot shower, dressed in civi clothes. had a warm lunch, and headed home. Just in time for Tricia and my 35 wedding university on Monday.
Thanks for following along and for the kind comments and encouragement..
Hope to see you on the elk trail in the near future. Paul
BTW.....Happy Anniversary to you and your bride!
And thanks for the posting and pictures.
What an adventure...... there's a good many 20 somethings that wouldn't do a solo hunt or for that time. Adventures like that leave impressions and effects that can bring moments of change in your life, even a life that has had so many adventures flow under the bridge. Pretty cool.
Pau. Wonder how many know that word? Thanks for a bit of.... connection..... =D
Thanks again for bringing us along in such detail.... it's a big effort and solo makes it that much more so. You do it very very well.
Congrats on a great hunt.
What a great successful bow hunt. Thanks for sharing. Who cares if you didn't kill a bull and had a pic with your face behind it. That's not what matters. You have found a great spot on public land and you can hunt it every year and see elk. That's the icing on the cake. I just hope I can do the same at your young age. You're truly blessed.
You are certainly an inspiration! I am amazed by your passion and hope to make it to your age with at least a little bit of you spark! Totally AWESOME hunt and experience you had this year! I will be rooting for you to accomplish your goal in the coming years! Awesome photos and storyline on this one for sure.
Man, you should put your hunting experience down in a book or something. I would love to have access to what you have seen and done as well as those wonderful photos!
Well done, my friend!
We need to have a Hooters Bowsite Lunch and a dinner event now that the west of I-25 season has concluded! I can bring moose.
Thank you for the story and I'm happy you had a safe trip.
Thank you again for sharing the coues deer pictures on my "First coues deer hunt" thread. I hope you get a chance to look at it again and read about my hunt.
Looking forward to your next story, Jeff.
Congratulations on your successful adventure and God Bless.
How did you keep your camera battery charged since you used it to view game camera pics too?
The other "thing" the camera does, especially when writing a story, it chronologically, places the pictures in a daily and hourly order for future reference as the story moves forward.
Sort of like this can of peaches. I know when I return to the truck after a long or hot day, there will always be this cold treat waiting. Just zip open the top and gulp them down. good question. Paul
Thanks for an absolutely incredible read. You are an amazing story teller and the photos are fantastic as well. I've never been elk hunting, but I think this story was about as close as you can get.
Looking forward to seeing you at my place on Saturday with Lou, otcwill and the gang to share our 2017 stories
Wish I could have stayed out there for Aaron's send off party to hear all the stories. Great bunch of guys out there in FoCo. Best of luck on your WT hunts and looking forward to reading about the next adventure!
Tavis, Not sure I could do any better but will stick with the Great Plains bow. Shot execution is the key, and I failed that in the " 5 second moment of truth."
August 16, Time 5:45
Sept 4 Time 5:43
Sept 9 Time 5:47
the only problem is that the wind and currents are very unstable at that time and it is very hard to set up and be in the right place and the right time without be detected.