I predict sweating copious amounts of fluids out of my body. Sleeping on an air mattress that I slide off of in the middle of the night. Very sore limbs, crusty eyes, bad breath, chafed nuts, blistery feet, scratched up arms, leaky water bladder, broken equipment, deepest despair, and hopefully highest elation.
Then I remember what it's like to be standing at full draw with a 6x6 elk at 12 yards when he lets out a deafening bugle and mauls the saplings that stand between us. I see the vanes on the arrow spinning and the glint of sunlight off the steel of the broadhead as it courses through the air. See the single off colored hair 2 inches behind his elbow as the arrow disappears in his body. Hear the freight train of hooves and breaking limbs as he tries to escape the inevitable. Feel the shaking as the adrenaline passes and quiet returns to the mountain. Live the psychotic nightmare that is simultaneously elation and despair as I slowly follow the red splashes that mark the tornadoes path. Feel the dump of triumph, happiness, and exitement when I spot an antler sticking up from the brush. Mix in some sadness for having extinguished the life of a warrior, and gratitude that my creator has blessed me. Absolute exhaustion as I pull off the final 80lb load at the truck. Fulfillment for a brief second when my head hits the pillow and I pass into a dreamless complete sleep.
I remember these things and tell the reptile brain not today. We're heading up the mountain no matter the cost.
What I predict for elk season is feeling alive on the mountain with the order and chaos that god has magnanimously placed between my ears. I couldn't be more excited.
It is hard to explain to people at work why I want to spend precious vacation time and money to have burning lungs & legs, be sleep deprived, unbathed, blistered, hot, cold, cramped, hungry, and unsure of what to next. I've tried, but most just don't understand.
Good luck and stay after 'em.
Elkman -- Apologies for getting too technical. Possibly oversharing a bit! When I wrote yesterday I had just finished a 5 mile hike with 50 lbs on my back. No matter how loud I turned up the music yesterday that damn voice just kept trying to butt in on my training. "Dude, you're in the best shape of your life! You don't need this extra couple of miles today! You'll be fine when you get there, and besides you've got 28 days 9 hours and 43 minutes until you land in Denver, there's sooooo much time!"
Technically, I'm in an enviable position elk wise. My best friend since I was 3 years old lives in the unit we are hunting. He not only has eyes on bulls, but is feeding me motivation with pics from trail cams and spotting scopes almost daily. What I have to be able to do is execute when I arrive. Read as much ElkNut knowledge as I can. Study my terrain as much as I can. Listen to elk sounds and what they mean as much as I can. Work out hike routes from camp with different wind scenarios as much as I can. Shoot my bow in as many uncomfortable and challenging positions as I can. Pack and re-pack my gear until I'm as light as possible. Most importantly prepare mentally to accept that most of my pre-hunt theories are garbage, to adapt rapidly, and shrug off the plethora of failures that are inevitable in the mountains.
I wish all of you a tremendous amount of success how ever you define it. If you're chasing elk in the mountains and it's not going your way, lift your head up, look around and appreciate the height that you climbed.
Just make sure you do it in the off-season and give yourself at least 4-5 months to recover! ;-)
Man, I wish I was chasing the buglers this year (but hard to complain about the hunts I have coming up)!
Horn Donkey, very well written. The most memorable uphill climb I had was several years back. My brother-in-law and I were headed straight up a long rockslide at about 11,000' . I thought I was going to have a heart attack and turned around to tell my bin this dire news. Suddenly I couldn't help but to break out in laughter because he actually looked like he was having a heart attack.
I'll have what he's having........WAIT! I have! I just never could articulate my feelings like that....nice!
RutNut--I read your Timber Rattler thread from start to finish. I live in Georgia, soooooo, now all I can see on the ground where I'm hiking is rattlers! Seriously though, I learned a lot from your post about the do's and don'ts. Hopefully will never have to use it, but important knowledge to have.
Thanks for the kind words. I'm super pumped about being on the mountain in 22 days, 12 hours and 28 minutes. My hunting partner sent me this picture last night at midnight.
Horn Donkey's Link
So stinking pumped to be on the mountain next week I can't concentrate on anything else. Honey'dos piling up cause I'm shooting the bow 2 hours a day, hiking 2 hours a day, doing the Elk101 workout 2 hours a day, looking at maps 2 hours a day and f'ing with my gear 10 hours a day. Wife says I'm having an elk affair on her.
Pro-tip for any married dudes leaving for extended period....Pre-order flowers to arrive in the middle of your hunt with a sincere message telling your wife how grateful you are that she supports your dreams. Works like a champ.
For any above who have already gone and come home, how did your predictions match up to the mountain?
After hiking down a point that my friend thought they herd would use to get to bedding, we split up about 80 yards apart. He began a calling sequence, and 2 minutes later I was staring at a cow and a calf trotting directly towards me. About 60 yards behind them was a nice 5x5. I had my arrow knocked, my release on, was in a reasonably good position behind a juniper and then the cow and calf just kept coming. All the way to 5 feet in front of me. The wind was good, but you never know what will set off that lizard brain that tells an animal danger is near. At 5 feet she and the calf busted towards my friends position. The 5x5 however stopped dead in his tracks and looked straight towards where my friend was calling. Not having time to range him, I drew, picked my spot and let fly.
In gut wrenching slow motion, I watched my arrow sail directly over his back. He took off. Straight towards my friend. Two nanoseconds later I heard a cow call and the unmistakable sound of a bow thump. Prediction of deepest despair? Check.
Right when things couldn’t get lower for me, a bugle erupts from the 100 yards down the point. My friend answered him right back. WHAT? The herd bull is answering him? I’ve got a shot? Back to cloud 9! I see bushes moving violently from where the the bugles are coming from. I see antler tips! I pull out my range finder and it says 70 yards. The bull lets out a another bugle and chuckle and continues thrashing the bushes. This goes on for another 5 minutes, and then I see him. He comes out from behind the bush, lets loose another bugle and stands and watches. My friend answers back, the bull turns as if to leave, and then I see the bushes being thrashed again. I knew that I needed to move to him.
50 Yards I tell myself. You need to get 20 good paces closer to this bull and you can take a shot. So I start moving. As I move from my position to the next tree, I am totally exposed in the open. Naturally, the bull stops thrashing the tree, moves to the opening and lets out another bugle and sees something he doesn’t like. ME. Luckily, his testosterone gets the better of him and he decides to respond to my friends challenge bugle and goes back to thrashing the tree. I move up quickly to the next tree and range the opening. 49 yards.
The bush stops moving. I draw. Anchor. There he is. Pick your spot. Squeeze. The arrow is gone. My heart stops as I watch the arrow. The cosmos was created in less time than it took that arrow to arrive at it’s destination...and then it hit. Exactly where I put my pin. Right in the V. The bull spins and takes off like a locomotive. Beating hooves booming down the mountain. I drop my bow, raise my hands, and revel in amazement at what just happened.
I run up to my friend. He says, “I got that 5x5! He only went 20 yards, he’s right there! Did you see that 6x6? They just busted outta here.”
I say, “Did you not hear me shoot?”
Friend, “No, did you shoot the 5x5 too?”
Me, “No dumb sh*t. I shot the 6x6!”
After hugs, high fives, and a sip of bourbon, we went to find my bull. I walked directly to where he was standing and my nightmare came to life. “Are you sure he was standing right here? Are you sure you hit him?”
“Yep, that is the tree he was standing next to, those are his hoof marks as he high tailed outta here. This is the spot.”
Zero blood. Absolutely no blood. No arrow. Nothing. We followed his exit tracks for 20 yards. No blood. We continue along his tracks another 20 yards. Nothing. I’m going to throw up I’m so nauseous. This can’t be happening. I saw the arrow clearly. It happened in slow motion after all.
40 more yards. Nothing.
20 more yards. What’s that? Holy sh*t! A white blazer vane. My arrow. I pick it up and there’s only 6 inches. That means I’ve got 21.5” in him. What’s that next to the arrow? A single drop of blood. I’ve come out of slit your wrist depression to just above sitting in a beanbag naked eating Cheetos all day depression.
We keep following the hoof prints another 40 yards. I’m furiously searching the ground for blood. All of a sudden my friend’s hand crashes against my back and he let’s out a whoop! There he is!
My god what a rollercoaster. I’m absolutely exhausted. We humped meat and horns from 8:30 am to just before midnight. What an adventure. All the preparation and mental thought that went into this trip. It was just amazing.
I wish that you all get to experience a hunt like this once in your life. Hope you enjoyed the story.
I’m shooting a Magnus Snuffer SS 100 grain. It was shaving sharp. Still a little bit baffled about why the blood didn’t pour out.