A little background on me: I'm a Marine Corps F-18 pilot stationed in Iwakuni Japan so getting back to scout before hand is going to be impossible. I have bowhunted for the last 22 years, and elk for the last 10. After 7 unsuccessful years in Colorado, Montana and Idaho I have gone 3 for 3 on my last 3 elk bowhunts (raghorn, 270'', and a cow), along with calling in a few decent bulls for my buddy. I would say physical fitness and mental toughness are my strong suits, but obviously still have a ton to learn and have zero knowledge about Utah or the Book Cliffs. Almost all of my elk hunting has been bivy hunting 3-12miles back in the mountains. The only open country experience I have is a hunt a few years back in the Montana breaks. My calling has definitely improved in the last couple of years and I would almost call it a strength. I have a tripod, 10x50s, mathews halon (good out to about 60 yards on game day elk), and all the backpacking gear. I will not have access to horses or quads unless I hire a guide.
I am still getting my feet wet and am by no means a trophy hunter, looking to enjoy this experience and hopefully take a representative bull
- would you recommend I hire a guide? (and if so any recs?)( I have had some recent success DIY but I will likely have to wait 16 years to ever draw this tag again)
- anybody available to talk on the phone about their past experiences/recommendations?
- what dates within the archery season (aug 17-sept13) would you target if you only had 10 days?
Please Pm me or text/call 434-284-3637 (again I'm on Japan time, phone is on silent at night so I might not answer, but will call you back after checking state side time to make sure you dont get a 3am call back)
- I have not elk hunted in the BC archery (killed a cow on late rifle) but spent some time there bear hunting, and hunted the Colorado side a lot. but send me a PM if you want
- If you go with a guide go the dates they say. If not, I would go the last 10 days to hopefully get the elk bugling which will greatly help locating and killing. You can totally DIY this hunt if you have a truck with 4x4, spare tires, and chains in case it rains, and realistic expectations at a 300" bull. (there are bigger for sure if you get lucky, but lack of scouting will be tough. you may luck out and find another tag holder willing to hunt with you, also look for deer tag holders who will invariably see elk)
Most of my hunting took place in close proximity to Divide Road. This is canyon country. One of the few places I've elk hunted that I would recommend a good set of 8X or 10X binoculars as necessary gear.
Did not spend much time north of the canyons, but it is much flatter and somewhat heavily timbered. Was told there is great elk hunting, just never spent much time there. Good glass would be less important there.
If you have experience bowhunting elk, a guide is not necessary. Basically, there are elk everywhere. Once the bugle ramps up, they tend to talk all day. If you mess up on one, you can bet there is another in close proximity.
If you are there early, hunting water is the key. Personally, I would hunt later...as every day I hunted, bigger and better bulls just kept showing up. The last week was absolutely crazy. Never had so much fun on any hunt....(so far).
Expect the herd bulls to have big harems. This is the toughest part of killing an elk in the Books. You will have to deal with lots of eyes and noses when attempting to get in bow range of a herd bull.
The satellite bulls can be pretty big too! Ended up shooting a satellite 6X5 that appeared every bit as big as the herd bull I was working. When working a herd bull, keep your eyes and ears open!
There are plenty of big 6X6 bulls in the Books...but I saw just as many 6X5 and 5X5 bulls...maybe more. Some of those "management bulls" were dandies. Your odds of getting an opportunity at a bull in the 320" range are very good. Best bull I saw was an absolute toad. Had a close encounter with him one evening, but a spike bull saved his life. Never saw anything like him before or since. Would say 360" is being conservative.
I would definitely recommend a 4-wheeler and leave the truck in camp. If it rains, the mud up there is ALMOST as bad as the the Breaks in Montana. If you are towing a trailer or camper, coming in from the north would be easiest. Lots of narrows and switchbacks climbing up from the south.
Bring everything you think you will need. It is a LONG way back to civilization. Most of all....ENJOY! The Books is an incredible place....
Best of luck. Last, but not least, thank you for your service!
One of the reasons he did this is he knows he will likely NEVER draw that tag again. You beat “big odds” drawing that tag and what ever you do just understand you are not likely to draw that tag again. Utah odds are tuff and getting worse at the fastest rate of the elk states. Good karma has come your way. Keep us updated as your hunt progresses! C
Pav- Thanks for helping out a fellow Marine. I've never hunted the Books but that seems like some great intel for someone who hasn't hunted there and has a tag.
I would just chase bugles on top. Talk to the oilfield guys, if you see them, they see a lot of wildlife.