Contributors to this thread:
How do you handle blowdown?
Just wondering what all of you elk guru’s think about areas that are heavy with deadfall. Do you avoid them, or seek them out? How do the elk react to heavy blowdown in your hunting areas? Obviously, with the abundance of beetlekill in much of Colorado’s elk country, it’s a common terrain feature we deal with. Would love to hear all theories and strategies on hunting blowdown rich terrain.
Pretty hard to avoid areas of blowdown. Sometimes you just have to take your time to get thru it.
Elk do the same.
One step at a time. Be careful. Those little stobs that stick out of the trunk can rip your pants and/or your leg. And, walking on the tops of them can be slippery in the early morning.
Don't hunt with cnelk....
"Pretty hard to avoid areas of blowdown...Elk do the same."
Exactly. Where I used to walk straight through areas, now it seems like I'm constantly taking detours...just as the elk do, as Brad points out. Heavy downfall sucks, especially in the dark, but it's unavoidable.
Every year before the season, I have to clear an old road that I park my atv on, as well as the path I take to my tree stand. I never go anywhere in my truck without a chainsaw, and l always have an axe and saw tied to my atv rack. I've lost count of the times I've had to cut my way in or out. I'm also careful where I set up camp. I now do so in the open, away from trees. I even had a narrow miss with a live one a couple years ago, so if I do have to set up close to even a live one, I make sure it's leaning away from my camper.
Dread fall. Its a blessing and a curse. Elk seem to go through it with much more ease than I do.
I spend allot of time with my eyes planning my routes through the area I can see and repeat. Unless its a major area that was all blown down at once you can usually pick your way through it. Its pretty much everywhere where I hunt now so it is a constant for the most part. Going around it is almost always easier than going over it. It may take twice as long and twice as many steps but it slows me down and that seems to add to my success in creating elk encounters. I learned to step over the logs rather than on them. Of course this is not snake country. I rarely walk on the logs as its just an accident waiting to happen and a risk I feel is avoidable.
It will funnel the elks movements. An few blown down trees in a pile can put a bull right where the shooter wants him. Bedding areas have become more concentrated as the added light on the forest floor heats up and dries out areas that in the past were damp and lush. I find if its real bad as in going all directions and way up off the ground they don't go through it but will bed close to it.
After witnessing it coming down due to the wind I stay out of the forest when the wind rips. The bonus is it discourages many hunters from areas that otherwise would be trampled.
Its still easier to navigate than the brush I found in Idaho. That stuff was terrible.
Elk figure out ways through it, I look for the heavily used trails, and slowly pick my way through.
Trekking pole definitely cuts down on "mistakes", and helps you move more quietly, IMHO.
In one of my favorite spots in our unit, the beetle kill blowdown from a big wind storm two years ago totally changed the elk movement. Yesterday I went in to scout a new area on the other side of that same ridge and gave up because it was so awful. No way would I want to pack an elk out of there. I think I'm going to move to spruce forests for a season.
Remind me to show you the big scar on my leg where I rammed a staub through my calf and barely missed an artery...
I followed a bunch of elk through the snow 2 years ago during late rifle. The blow down was bad enough that I didn’t touch the ground for 50 yards at a time but they never skipped a beat. They seemed to step over it. I assume a few place they had to jump but those long legs didn’t seem to have much issue.
If you need to pass through to get to an area worth hunting find the path of least resistance and mark it with flagging and reflective tacks.
Rut Nut's Link
My buddy and I spent an hour getting through this little meadow. Picture doesn’t do it justice. About half way through we decided we needed a break and that we just as well call home as it was one of the few spots we had s signal. Those logs you see above the grass are 4’ off the ground. Well after a few phone calls we proceed on, kicking the herd out of their bed at close range about 20 yards after our phone calls. A big frame 5x5 and his cows looked like olympic hurdlers getting the 150 yards out of there in about 7 seconds, lol. The area next to the blowdown is heavily used by hunters but those elk were in that blowdown every day. Seamed most of the elk in that unit bedded in blowdown.
What's the big deal?! ;-)
I hunted the gore range a few years back... what a sh!t show. It was like a damn jungle gym.. never hunted that area again, very difficult to move fast when necessary
Sometimes it just ain't worth it.
I cracked 2 ribs last year walking over a nasty spot when the log rolled out! Can be a bad place to be!
Elk will chose to conserve energy like people do and move through areas with easier access. I have found that when pushed or when bedded down, they prefer areas of low dense pine cover rather than blowdown. They can squeeze through reprod and young growth far easier than legging over tangled blowdown, and prefer to hide in this thick stuff and wait until you are almost on top of hem before sneaking or busting out. They turn back to watch their back trails so move in parallel to their trail if tracking in snow. That is if you are not calling them, but hunting during off-rut periods. To hell with that dead fal any more, it is not worth entering, I skirt it altogether if I can unless I see fresh tracks going right in and it is huge. Otherwise, I go around, esp. on side hills or in wet or snowy conditions. Nothing takes you out quicker than stepping on a greasy down facing bark-less lodgepole.
I handle it one step at a time. People with horses can't take them through, and only crazy people hoof it into the best blowdown.
Unfortunately I'm a crazy people.
The only thing worse than going through downfall to kill an elk is getting him out after you kill him. I'm less ambitious than I used to be.
“I’m less ambitious than I used to be.”
Some of us don’t think of it as being less ambitious. We prefer to think of it as “wisdom gained through experience”. ;-)
Lou did you get an xray on your calf?? Could be it's own thread.
Don't you hate it when you maneuver through a particularly bad spot, crawling over, under, and on the deadfall, finally making it to the other side, and you go to throw out a bugle, and realize you left your bugle tube laying back before the deadfall?
I do. This thread reminded me of a morning last September.
If there are skid trails I avoid it and skirt it unless I see a hella good fresh elk trail going back into it. I hate that chit. And 4 logs stacked high endlessly on a 60 degree slope.....now that is where a brother can get hurt and even kilt real easy. Had my buddy fall backward off the top of the stack on a slope and slide downhill until he hit another stack.....I figgered he was a goner or I'd have to drag him out over that crap with broke chit all over.
Elk could give a rip and just trundle on over it. Poudre.....that hill looks easy.....log steps look helpful. LOL
Um.....no more xrays of Lou's parts......damn.......scarred for life and I'm not worthy .......
Hunt in desert type terrain ;)
Vonfoust and Jordan, the trauma surgeon at the ER had two fingers all the way inside the wound and couldn't reach the end. A nurse came in, turned white, and left. Pieces of wood worked their way out of the wound channel for 6 years, and there's still a piece of wood in there now. I learned that wood doesn't show up on an xray. At least, not that kind of wood!
Caution is warranted around deadfall...
Jaq, sounds like a girl I once knew...
Good thing I didn’t have anything in my mouth... I’d have spit it all over my phone. Lol
Might want to try a different ER next time :)
Might want to try a different ER next time :)
What, no forceps? 'Wood deep in a hole in a blowdown' sounds like a topic for a different forum. ;/
There's no secret entrance or exits in that crap. If the elk are in it then I am too, if they aren't then I avoid it best I can. Trying to get in there pre-season & cut trail is one way but it had better be a short trail as downfall areas are flat choked with those pixie sticks.
Only real good that it has to offer is most hunters avoid it like the plague so hunting pressure is very low. In most cases the elk aren't far from it, I hunt it & cuss it at the same time! It helps! (grin)
No thanks. Hunt high desert.
I have had great success calling elk out of the deadfall the last couple of years. I won't chase an elk thru it. No way you will keep up with an elk on the move thru that stuff......
Hunted some of it in MT, giant no thanks for me. 3000 pound toothpicks chest high. I was hunting solo and honestly thought more so it was a bad idea in case I fell off and couldn't get back. I went a couple hundred yards without touching the ground.
TK, they dug all around in there with foreceps but there were chunks and splinters imbedded in the muscle and they couldn't see the end of the wound channel, and like I mentioned, wood doesn't show on xrays. The doc advised that they would either become encapsulated or work their way out eventually. Which they have.
I have found that the beetle killed blowdowns literally suck. As in they suck you in...........If I'm in the dark it's highly likely I will end up 1/2 way into one before I figure it out. I have had to wait to damn near wait for daylight to see how to get out one before.
I had to go through an unavoidable one in WA once. 1quarter mile. Trouble is I had my old lab and he could not make it through so I had to carry him. It was one of the toughest chores I ever faced. Barely touched the ground the the way. Luckily I didnt drop Kayak.
Pine squirrels are the masters in there...I love watching them commute!
It should be dealt with long before it gets to that! Its called logging! Ha:)
Our forests are so overgrown....just waiting for a lighting strike now is the only way they will get cleaned up. No one wins in that event but sadly it's what it's gonna take with the anti everything's out there shutting it all down. We aren't managing our lands the way they should be. Too bad we couldn't put folks to work, refresh our forests, avoid all the downfall AND make use of a naturally renewable resource. Nah, that would make too much sense. Soooo.....until it goes up like a box of tinder....and you need a really good hot fire to clear that out.....I guess we'll just have to learn to walk on water, er I mean walk on logs!
I've had fun in blowdowns over the years. Seems like the elk like them too. I just go slow and carefully. I get on top of a log and walk whenever I can. Makes for slow going, but is often times a quiet way to sneak into them, and a good method especially because they don't expect it.
Best way I know how to handle it.
Hate it...it s meat grinder...the worst three days of my life it was a main ingredient freak snow storm in New Mexico....2 feet of snow DEEEEP ravines filled with pixie sticks and trying to get two llamas out in one piece...
Blowdowns are off of my list when I almost lost an eye last year. Crawled through one with my 15 yr old while deer hunting and got poked, finished getting out half blind to get back to the canoe, across the lake, stung like hell all night in the tent. Then pack out and the drive back into town next day(he wasn't driving yet)...
I took a shot at one of the biggest bucks I ever saw in that area before the blow down. Now there is hardly any deer sign anywhere, not worth the effort or injury. However, once healed and later in the season we developed some goggles with screen in them to walk through brush.Won't try that again (oh yeah got stabbed a few times like Jacamo too, but no stiches).
The Big Blowdown of 1950 - - The Adirondack Almanack https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2010/11/natures-wrath-the-big-blowdown-of-1950.html
An interesting read for those of you with extra time... :)