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Spent 25 days just north of the WY/CO border hunting elk. Lots of aspen leaf borer and pine bark beetle kill. Several times I had bedded bulls bugling often and was still unable to get closer than 60-80 yards. Seemed like it was impossible to move more than 20 feet without climbing over a 3 ft or higher barrier.
I've been hunting occasionally since 2003 and it seems to be getting worse.
Is this what I have to look forward to. I'm pretty old so I don't think I can wait for it to rot.
Yes. Its not going to get better, sooner. Young growth coming back is going to see the aggravation of thick under growth plaguing hunters in these areas, for the next 20-30 years if a cold fire doesn't help the progress of natural succession. But, the plus side is larger, healthier herds are a coming. If you build it, they will come kinda thing.
The latest beetle issue started about 1996 and peaked in 2008. In 2003 you were just seeing the beginning of them falling. They will be falling for years to come.
Its dramatically changed a lot of places I hunt but It also has created some great trails and pinch-points since even though the elk can go through it making it look easy, they often take the easy routes. Its a pain, but when life gives you lemons....
We saw the effects of the "cyclone bomb" this year first hand. 100ft green healthy pine trees, just uprooted. Ponderosa's, Spruces, Pinon, pulled up the boulders and all. Trees snapped in half. The blowdown was everywhere, blocking road access, etc. Must have been scarier than hell on the mountain when that hit the proverbial fan.
Some areas that I used to hunt in SW Montana, the beetle kill, and resulting blowdowns are so bad that I walked hundreds of yards without ever touching the ground. The worst thing is that it pretty much destroyed our favorite camping spot as all the nice shade trees died and were cut down or fell down. Seems like the trees quit dying a few years ago, but there are a lot of dead ones waiting to fall.
The blowdowns were terrible in the Steamboat area of Colorado. It was impossible to navigate when it was hot and dry and worse after it rained, it was like walking on snot in a baggie.
The problem was there were more dead trees standing than on the ground. A fire maybe the only answer.