My 2016 Elk story

Discussion in 'Big Game Hunting' started by wl704, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    I’ve always thought some context was important to a story adventure. If you want to jump to the hunt you’re going to have to wait till Chapter 3 (I’ll post in a couple of days).

    Chapter 1
    My Dad and my uncle Butch were both hugely important in developing my love of the outdoors. Before I started in kindergarten, my father had taken me hunting and fishing with him. Rifles and shotguns were the tools we used to learn how to spot & stalk and still hunt. April first was the first day of trout season, some date in November the beginning of deer season. Each opener we were absent from school, an ‘educational field trip’ was what my Dad would jot down as the excuse we needed to carry to school. Spring and summer was fishing season. Fall’s quarry was birds, small game and deer. Year after year, this was the routine. My uncle would take myself, my siblings and my Dad on various fishing adventures, but he wasn’t a ‘gun hunter’, he hunted nearly exclusively with a bow.

    Sometime in the 70s, my oldest sister brought me along to our town’s summer recreation program and she introduced to archery. I learned archery basics on a crappy fiberglass bow and cheap wooden arrows. Within a year I had purchased my first real bow (a 50# Bear recurve) and some aluminum arrows. Daily, I would spend hours practicing and by the end of that second year I was reasonably proficient. My Dad eventually also started learning to shoot with a bow and joined us targets hooting in the backyard as my uncle Butch had given him one of his old recurves. After we all took the NY state archery training course, our backyard archery hobby became a means to extend our hunting seasons. So was the routine till just after college.

    After graduating from college, moving south, meeting a wonderful young lady, got married and we started our family. Hunting and archery just weren’t the priority they once were and my bow and guns sat idle for years. Life was busy. Work, family and chores filled my free time. Eventually we moved to NC and I became an IT consultant, traveling every week, managing projects for demanding clients and ample stress. Weekends were jammed with trying to catch up with family, laundry, and chores. There was no time for hunting. While I was busy, my uncle passed away.

    About 6 years ago, my Dad had a stroke while visiting one of my siblings in AZ. After getting him home to NY, the prognosis showed cancer was the root cause and the prognosis wasn’t good, it was cancer. Though not a total surprise since my Dad had been smoking for nearly 60 years. However the cancer was fairly advanced and widespread and I think my Dad knew his days were very numbered. While spending time with him, we had lots of time to catch up, old hunting stories, life, family, etc. Before he died, he gave me a bow that was once my uncle’s, an Oneida screaming eagle. Practicing with this bow helped to re-ignite my interest in hunting, being outdoors and was a great counter to my work. Years passed.

    Being a road warrior meant long days, eating out, little exercise and I had gotten fat. Just before Christmas of 2015 I noticed how rotund I had gotten, I felt constantly sore, decrepit with my wife complaining of my snoring when I was home. I was pushing 230lbs.
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    January 2016 was a milestone– 50 years old. I needed a new challenge, a goal and an adventure. My challenge and goal was to lose 40 lbs and try to get in decent shape while being on the road. For years I had followed the CO elk trip threads on bowhunting.com and I decided this would be a great motivation, reward and an adventure. I logged my interest to the 2016 thread early in January.

    I knew nothing about elk hunting. My prior trip to the Rocky Mountains, painfully memorable due to altitude sickness in the high peaks. I was shooting what most would consider, vintage archery equipment. I also knew I needed new gear, and with 3 of my 5 kids now in college, I really wasn’t sure how I would be able to afford the gear, let alone the license and trip. Could I even hold my own without embarrassing myself on such a trip? So many doubts.

    The one thing I knew, the Oneida would be along for the adventure.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  2. Hungry Horse

    Hungry Horse Weekend Warrior

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    Liking what I am reading Bill. Sounds very similar to my own hunting history in some ways. Looking forward to Chapter 2. : )
     
  3. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 2
    Having now worked in managing project for years, I decided, I put together a plan. Breaking the problem down I determined there were 6 areas I needed to focus on: Physical conditioning, gear acquisition & preparation, studying upon elk hunting, weapon proficiency, reconnaissance and planning, and licensing.

    In January my company rolled out a new health and fitness program with incentives to lose weight and become more fit. I was also fortunate to spend the first two months of 2016 at home, so 5pm every night I’d close the laptop and go for a walk. I started with a couple of miles, but kept pushing myself and was quickly up to several miles a night.
    These first couple of months were key with establishing some form of exercise routine. 10000 steps were the next target for the routine. I also changed my diet to a calorie restrictive diet and cut most (high glycemic) carbs from my diet; eliminating breads, rice, potatoes and most sweets. I kept pushing myself trying to increase my pace and then grabbing an old daypack and available weights.
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    By the end of February I was toting 20-30lbs. Time to start the acquiring gear.

    Having traveled for years, I had a nice cache of points in various hotel and airline chains which I could redeem for goods and Amazon gift cards. The incentives to lose weight also could be converted to Amazon gift cards. I decided a decent backpack would be one of my first acquisitions so I could continue pack training. I went with the Horn Hunter Full Curl, which was available via Amazon. Not my first or even third choice, but the first of many compromises.
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    A 40lb bag of rock salt quickly went in the back and the exercise routine continued through the spring, now doing 5 miles a night.

    I built a prioritized list of needed gear, continued to earn and redeem my points working my way through the list. Some first lite layers to use for spring turkey hunting, a new sleeping bag, water filter, a jetboil and more. This was the approach through the first half of the year, slowly securing the gear I would need. Effectively, I was able to purchase most of my gear, simply through airline, hotel or health incentive points.

    By now I was working in Texas and it was getting warm in the south and the routine needed changing – no packs on the road, more cardio, longer distance and trying to find any kind of hill possible to work my legs. Parking decks, stairwells, hours on elliptical trainers and treadmills on the maximum inclines seemed the best options. Pack workouts while at home with still increasing weight. While home, I started taking my dog along for my exercise hikes, now switching to a cooler morning routine. No big deal, except she is a Rottweiler/Labrador mix weighing in at near 100lbs. Ironically, this served as some additional core workout. On weekends we would stretch our walks out longer and longer, soon we were gone for 2 hrs at a time. Many evenings in the summer with a morning and evening hike. Podcasts on anything hunting, especially if they included archery or elk hunting became the favorite on our treks: The “Exo hunt backcountry podcast”, “The Rich Outdoors” and “Gritty Bowmen” simply weren’t enough. “Full draw full time”, “Nock On” and “Ben Greenfield Fitness” podcasts joined the listening rotation. I learned much about hunting, exercise, archery and bow hunting.
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    Weapon proficiency was regular practice with the bow. Over the last several years, I’ve been pushing my practice distances out father. 40 yards is my norm, a limit of my range, but throwing a target in the back of the car and riding to a nearby field, allowed me to stretch my shots out further. I’d mix up my practice out to about 60 yds, but was pretty certain I wouldn’t be shooting that far. Writing this after the trip, there are a few things I would add and add to my plan should I go on another trip like this: practice shooting with a weighted pack, more practice at high heart rate, more practice from elevated positions (or downhill simulation) and more practice with the target elevated (or uphill).

    Any free time was spent devouring the websites and forums, BH.com, Colorado parks and wildlife, Rokslide, and Elk101 to glean any wisdom or insights. Besides making informed gear selections and compromises, I stored away many tidbits I’d later use on the hunt. By early-summer a 60# bag of concrete was in the pack and by the end of summer I was hauling 80+lbs. Pounds had fallen away and I met my weight goal, but decided to set a new goal of 50# which I also hit before leaving on the trip.

    I spent about a day reading up on the licensing requirements for Colorado. A hunter safety test, with a classroom requirement? WTH? How was I going to get to Colorado to take some classroom test? My initial though was a weekend trip to Colorado, take the hunter safety class and scout. But surely there was some other out, “ah, here it is, just provide a copy of your original hunter safety card. Hmmm’. I took my hunter safety course sometime in the late 1970s in NY. No problem, I just check with NY to see if they had my old records. A quick search of the New York DEC site and “Certificates dated earlier than 1980 cannot be found or replaced. If you need a certificate and yours cannot be found, you will need to retake the course.” Oh Sh… My final option was a new provision added in 2016, if you’re 50 or older, an online testing out option was available. After much procrastination, I finally took the test at the start of September.

    I knew I wouldn’t be able to scout the area where we would be hunting, but tried to do a bit of study via google maps and topo maps. I marked margins of ½ - ¾ mile around every trail, dirt road and highway around where I thought we’d be hunting as I thought those would be unlikely areas where we would find elk. I’d later confirm, this was indeed what I experienced, along with a lot more.

    I felt I was nearly as ready as I could be. I still had to make air travel reservations and buy the license. But I still had some lingering doubts. What would these people be like at the camp? Was my training enough and would I be able to hold my own? How would I do at altitude? And I still couldn’t figure out why somebody would open up a camp to others…

    A week or two before the trip, I made my air travel plans, coordinating my arrival with another hunter. Some guy traveling from Spain. I redeemed a bunch more airline miles and spent $11.20 for the fees and taxes. I’d fly into Colorado on Thursday evening which would allow me a bit of time to let my body start getting used to some thinner air. My plan was if I was lucky enough to get an elk, I’d rent a car and drive back to NC, otherwise I’d have the return flight home. My bags were packed, I was as ready as I was able, and was out of time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  4. Hungry Horse

    Hungry Horse Weekend Warrior

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    Wl704 Bill: Excellent planning & training routine. Packing 60 # of concrete 5 miles is quite the work out. You are to be commended for that! But that is what it is like packing out a elk quarter. : ( There is joy mixed into that chore : ) I think Huck should make this a sticky to his elk hunt invite thread for... How to prepare for a Colo elk hunt. Looking forward to more chapters. Thank you, HH
     
  5. Bails-UK

    Bails-UK Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Loving the story so far Bill, reminds me of my first Elk camp back in 2008, looking forward to the follow mate.:)
     
  6. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 3
    My flight connected through Dallas (DFW).
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160915_142113_zps4q2s9u5e.jpg

    Will (IAMYOURHUCKLEBERRY), the host of the camp had texted me a pic of Oscar, traveling from Spain, who also was also on my flight from DFW. Oscar was pretty easy to spot as he was the only other guy waiting for the flight with a camo back pack.
    We traveled to Denver, picked up our gear at the baggage claim.
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    After getting our gear, we met up with Will and Troy. Troy, from Australia, was a camp veteran. The ride from the airport we got a start on the hunting stories, and when Will and Troy were together, I laughed, a lot. It was interesting to hear of prior hunts, camps and experiences. Will also mentioned his first bit of advice “elk hunting is like a rodeo, you have 8 seconds.’ Having hunted jumpy eastern whitetail, I wondered how much more on edge elk would be. He also provided the back story for why he offers the camp. Sorry, that’s his story, you’ll have to attend one of the CO elk hunts for that story…

    The plan was to stay overnight in Denver and pick up the last person (Lionel) at the airport on Friday and then head up to camp.
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    The distant Rocky mountains.

    Will was taking care of some last minute camp preparations and some work on Friday, so the plan was Troy, Oscar and myself would pick up some last minute groceries and kill time before picking up Lionel who was flying in from Mauritius.

    We started Friday with the plan to pick up the groceries, our licenses and last minute items (like fuel for the jetboil). Troy also was going to pick up some Heather’s choice meals he had ordered from her co-packer in the Denver area. We picked up the camp groceries, odds and ends at Cabela’s and the food Troy had ordered. But Troy had a couple of surprises in store. The first was a stop to Rocky Mountain Specialty Gear, worth checking out if you’re in town.
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    The next a detour to Kifaru International. I really didn’t need anything, but it was definitely a cool stop.
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    We next headed to the Colorado parks and wildlife to pick up our licenses and who’d thought Troy even knew folks who worked there.
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    The final stop was my attempt at treating my new international friends. A simple lunch at Chick-fil-A.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160916_144453_zps7nbsntuk.jpg

    With a slight change of plans, Will would now pick up Lionel. Troy, Oscar and I would head up to camp and meet up with them later. After heading back to Will’s place and loading up our gear, we were soon on our way to the camp.
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    After a quick pit stop in Frisco, apparently Walmart is a souvenir shopping mecca by my international friends, we were back on the road.

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    Snow on some distant peaks.

    After getting to camp at dark, we got our gear unloaded and headed down to Leadville for dinner. A few others were already at the camp when we returned including Chris (from Scotland).
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    Tomorrow the hunt would begin.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2016
  7. bz_711

    bz_711 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Great stuff Bill!...keep it coming.

    There's so much more to an elk hunt than just trying to kill an elk...it's a nearly year round adventure IMO...I can't get enough of it.
     
  8. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    And it was great meeting you Matt. Hope to be able to do it again.
     
  9. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 4—Day 1
    I don’t recall if the first day began with the sound of the generator firing up, but this would become the morning routine for the subsequent morning wake up routine followed by water boiling (Coffee!) and the space heater firing up. Somewhere in the morning blur, Will whipped up some great breakfasts, this also would be the routine. Thanks Will! I think the morning chores gave time for Will to consider where we would search for elk over the week.

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    Will (on the left) and Paul (on the right), presumably putting the plan together for day one.
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    Folks checked out their gear with a few practice shots as the plans finalized. Most (flatlanders) noticing their shots a bit higher than normal. Maybe it was adrenaline, maybe the thin air. I noticed my shots hitting about 3-4” higher than at home, adjustments made. Glad I verified.

    By the time everybody finished checking out their gear and we mobilized it felt like it was late morning. But it was spectacular and I felt the excitement of a young child on Christmas morning!
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    Just one last pit stop before heading out…and as Troy said ‘and you get to choose your own view.’
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    Day 1 and I’d join Paul and his son. I wondered if this was a test of the flatlander getting paired up with a seasoned local, maybe it was because we were both ‘seasoned’ in years :D…I didn’t dwell long on this. We headed to a trailhead in Minturn. I still wasn’t sure how well I would hold up. Paul led out on the trail with tags for mule deer, bear and elk in his pocket. I had either sex elk.
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    And yeah, despite my training, despite losing 50lbs, I was sucking wind. I think more cardio will be in the cards for any subsequent trips…
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    We hiked maybe ¼ mile up the trail and stopped on a switchback. While I was panting like a tired dog, I saw the first decent critter of the trip. “Paul, isn’t that a mule deer over there? Or is it one of those clever deer shaped stumps?” A Mule doe probably 100yds from us, just watching us. “Shouldn’t we put a stalk on it”, I asked. And off we went on what would be the first unsuccessful stalk of the trip as the doe slowly disappeared behind some brush. It was still awesome! We ventured up the nearby ridge and small drainage running up the mountain, covered with bear scat, and some beautiful views.
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    Finding our way back to the trail, we saw 3 more mulies, and one more unsuccessful stalk.

    We pushed further up the mountain. Through some awesome aspen stands and in one meadow we stumbled onto someone’s camp around noon. We stopped for lunch, water and a brief siesta.
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    After venturing through some dark timber, we found a nice seep and followed it up the mountain. Dark timber on one side, and a steep aspen meadow on the other. Along the way an old deer skeleton, a bit of elk and deer poop and some mystery branch cracking, but no more deer or elk.
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    The trip back down, we followed the edge of the forest, paralleling some private land. Somebody had a little slice of heaven up here.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160917_164140_zps5hvwlzic.jpg
    We head into Minturn to pick up a celebratory (survival) 6 pack and then back to camp for dinner. On our return I’d learn Troy had ventured off for a solo trip and would be back on Tuesday, the rest of us would be grouped up for the next few days.

    No altitude sickness, no fatigue, no elk, but the thinner air was evident.

    I survived day 1! A small victory. Beer was consumed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  10. Hungry Horse

    Hungry Horse Weekend Warrior

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    wl704 Bill I can feel the excitement and anticipation in the hunt from your words, and the 1st day happiness to get on the mountain and hunt !
    Thank you for taking the time to share your hunt, can't wait to hear of the adventures on the bivy hunt. HH
     
    jbbowhunter1980 likes this.
  11. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 5 – Day 2

    The generator fires up, it’s time to start day two. Paul, his son and myself would hunt a ridge along Homestake Rd. After breakfast we hit the trail which started gently (and deceptively) working its way through some spectacular aspens.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_074023_zpsjvqjxeoc.jpg

    Soon after, the trail continued more steeply through a large meadow extending up the ridge. This was our view looking back down the trails toward the aspens.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_075315_zpspj8orytk.jpg

    While covering ground through the meadow, and not in stealth mode, we saw we saw 3 mule deer. Which, wanting no part of us, ran off from ~150 yds to probably 400+ yds before dropping over a distant ridge. Not elk, but a good start to the morning. Toward the top of the meadow, the terrain turned to pines.
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    As we entered the pines, Paul and I would split up 70-100 yds apart and we worked the piney ridge top. Paul toward Homestake, and I was just over the other side. A good bit of scat, but none very fresh, and no tracks.
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    A good bit of deadfalls to navigate, apparently due to beetle and storm damage. The moss and lichens clues we were working our way toward some darker stands.
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    An old pile of bones, a clue we were looking in the right places.
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    We continued up the ridge to ~10,600’, found some seeps, more bones and scat, but no elk. Paul had to head home in the afternoon, so arced down the hill covering some untread ground and headed back down to call it a morning. At the time, I didn’t realize we had ascended about 1400’, as we headed down my knees reminded me. This was the only time I had any minor knee pain during the trip.

    We gradually worked our way back down and eventually back to camp.
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    We grabbed a bite to eat. The remnants of some critter, remained in the kitchen area, later I’d learn it was a marmot one of the camp hunters had taken.

    Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was impatience. But about 10 minutes after Paul and his son left, I started to contemplate afternoon hunt options. The camp was located near “No Name Road” at the 10th Mountain Division Memorial Highway (the 10th Mtn Division is worth googling). Rising up behind the camp an interesting ridge…this would be my afternoon venture. In hindsight, this was probably one of my two ‘not so bright’ decisions on the trip.

    After a morning trek up 1000’+, the climb up the ridge was another 800’ on very warm day 2. I had to stop many times to catch my breath and sip of water, eventually draining the bladder that I forgot to refill from the morning hunt.


    After the climb, the ridge quickly flattened into a mix of aspen and thinned pines. For a forest, it seemed pretty desolate. Little sign, other than some bear scat and occasion deer scat, and an absence of water. No streams, no springs, no seeps. Crap.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_163546_zps3i7fdlrs.jpg

    After a couple of miles hiking I dropped over the far side the ridge, worked my way down through a boulder field, into some thick woods and then some nasty blow downs just above (and east of the switchbacks) No Name Road. Looking back, my pack work will include more obstacle navigation for any future trips.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_174829_zpsanteae1e.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_174835_zpstbqdqx4e.jpg

    The sun was getting low on the horizon, I knew I was on No Name Road, but I had no idea how far a hike it was back to camp, and it’s been a few hours without water. Fortunately I dropped down onto the road on a stream that paralleled the road and I broke out the water filter. This was the best water so far on the trip…I topped off the hydration bladder and started down the dirt road, fortunately I knew camp was downhill as my phone (doing double duty as GPS) was nearly dead.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160918_190108_zpskb0t0gir.jpg

    On my return I grabbed dinner. Got the story about, and passed on sampling, the marmot (someone described it like greasy rabbit). The other big news was Lionel had shot a mule deer, which we’d retrieve the next day.

    I think Matt and the ‘Illinois boys’ had pulled in, perhaps on Day 1, and set up camp next to ours. I think ‘Sexy Rexy’ (NY) and Hayden (MO) had also joined us at camp.

    Despite two decent climbs for the day and a good trek, no altitude sickness, and no real fatigue, maybe that training was paying off.

    I survived day 2!
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  12. Hungry Horse

    Hungry Horse Weekend Warrior

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    wl704 I see you comment on the heat on Day 2, did you know what was to come to the area ?
     
  13. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    I had little cell coverage and when I did, looking at the weather forecasts wasn't a priority. We knew there was 'a chance' of some weather late in the week.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  14. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 6 – Day 3
    The Illinois boy’s generator fires up and it’s time to start day three.
    The plan for the day started with retrieving Lionel’s deer. Will and Lionel would butcher the deer; Chris, Hayden, Oscar, and myself would be dropped off along Wuritz Ditch and rendezvous at spots along Hwy 24 (10th Mountain Division Memorial Highway).

    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_080004_zpsvlvckkb1.jpg
    When we got to the deer, the gut pile was gone. A bear was the immediate suspect, but the deer fully intact. With 4 of us, we just each grabbed a leg, hauled the deer up the hill, loaded it into the truck and away we went. I was eventually dropped off near Yoder’s gulch.

    Interesting and varied terrain and landscape, forest turning into a swampy meadow riddled with tracks and back into forest. I worked my way down the drainage, the sides getting steeper and steeper into a ravine.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_110754_zpsffomhwcy.jpg

    Looking across the ravine…
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_111704_zpsul6abnvu.jpg
    Eventually finding some moose poop…
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_112618_zpsebyroi6w.jpg

    …and shortly after an impressively sized track.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_112958_zpsyu5nt8ae.jpg

    Getting close to mid-day, it was hot (maybe only 80, but felt hotter than the day before) and once more I was out of water. But only a short hike remained.

    From the railroad track, I could see the road below me and a stream.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_115508_zpsx5sttvcc.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_115522_zpsrurwgxq5.jpg

    Oscar and I met up on either side of the stream and simultaneously seemed to have the same idea…
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_120210_zps5siti30i.jpg

    And this would be the best water of the trip! Ice cold and freshly filtered. The rest of the week the temps would start to drop.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_120204_zpsqwrcj4vw.jpg

    When we got back to camp, we learned Luke (from the ‘Illinois boys’ camp) had success. Congratulations Luke!
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160919_133206_zpsqu2ntjje.jpg

    That evening we would head back to Wuritz Ditch and I’d stake out the marshy meadow, others once more dropped off with plenty of room between us. Will and Lionel would set near where the deer had been taken, in pursuit of the bear. Though I saw nothing, Will and Lionel would see the smallish bear, probably only couple years old.

    I don’t recall if we had the mule deer venison, cooked over the fire on this particular night or the next, but it was phenomenal. Yours truly doing a masterful job cooking it to a rare/med-rare ;). Some say a lot of mule deer has a distinct taste, perhaps from eating a lot of sage, not this one. Tender and delicious, maybe due to his young age and diverse forest diet.

    We all slept well, in spite of some snoring, I won’t mention names.
     
  15. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 7 – Day 4
    The generator wake up call.

    This morning we would head over to Resolution Mtn. Will drove his truck up the dirt roads, where we spotted some mule deer (small buck and doe) on the way in. Cresting the ridge, above treeline…
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_081113_zpshmdqwvfk.jpg
    …the roads turned quite rutty and we would hunt the back side somewhere around 11,500-12,000’.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_081855_zpsngvjwsmo.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_081909_zps0mxcw61c.jpg
    We would hunt a different fingers of timber covered ridges extended away from the truck like a crows foot. Oscar and Hayden would hunt one finger, Will and Lionel another and I would hunt the third. We would meet back at the truck at 1pm. As we were close to the tree line, I would work diagonally up side hill as the thermals would (theoretically) be blowing up hill as the sun climbed. The terrain a mix of timber, meadow, rocks and every combination of them.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_083645_zpscvfipucg.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_084443_zpsa9derjhu.jpg
    A lot of deer and elk tracks and scat, hopeful signs of recent animals in the area.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_125157_zpsrgxfgwqx.jpg
    My favorite view, except with a worthy target in the sight…
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_093255_zpskyjpwgdd.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_100610_zpsujbfzwhi.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_102517_zpsdyjls6l1.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_103835_zpsodrc68iy.jpg
    Unfortunately, the sun never seemed to break free of the clouds, and as you hear, the wind swirled most of the morning. After nearly cresting the ridge at the top of treeline, I dropped straight down the mountain into some thicker timber and worked my way back toward the truck. No idea how high I climbed, descended or walked. Resting up from our treks we shared what we found on our mini-expeditions. Hayden an old cross country ski, myself some old radio antenna (presumably from the 10th Mtn times),
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_140433_zpsqlxcuqzd.jpg
    Will & Lionel spotted 2 spike elk, but didn’t have a shot. Lionel pulling up the pictures as proof.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_135702_zpsguohiviv.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_135652_zpsrugdkfx5.jpg
    After the morning hunt, we stopped at the summit for pics of the scenery. Lionel getting some awesome pics of marmots.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_142356_zpsysvx1bf8.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160920_142400_zpslahz9y0d.jpg
    The afternoon hunt would be exploring an area above No Name Road. A mix of Timber and marshy meadows. I didn’t take pictures that afternoon as my phone was nearly dead. In short, no elk, many rubs, tracks, poop and not much of an adventure. I’d hunt there the next day, with much to see and more action…stay tuned.

    Dinner was Tacos. Will cooked up the meat, I sliced up the lettuce, tomatoes and nicked tip of my finger with this lovely knife (I believe it was Schultzy's)...a camp with hunters and you will find sharp knives.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_051848_zpsfbrn0xqz.jpg

    Elk were spotted for the day. Another minor victory.
     
  16. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 8 – Day 5
    The generator....

    Without the sun to warm the day, the evenings and mornings felt cooler. Warming next to the heater became the morning and evening meal centerpiece.

    Hayden warming up.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_053428_zps5dfsvcog.jpg

    Will, whipping up some breakfast.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_053436_zpsok9mzfx1.jpg

    Day 4, I’ve not seen an elk nor grouse while out hunting. Frankly I was getting a bit frustrated. The first couple of days were getting some familiarity with the areas, confidence in my training and getting familiar with this elk hunting thing. I’ve been replaying the game tape in my mind, “Why haven’t I seen any elk yet?” Two thoughts were in my mind: Play the wind; Go where others aren’t.

    Playing the wind, should be second nature, but I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t paying much attention. Going where others aren’t, the deepest, and the nastiest stuff was a tidbit I recalled from one of the many podcasts or forums while preparing for the trip. I had even marked up my maps (see chapter 2) and apart from the first and second day’s we were always in the zone I marked off on my maps. Today this would be the plan.

    Today was also going to be an all-day hunt. Will would drop us off and be back to pick us up “at 7pm”. I got dropped off at the same spot, so I was familiar with the marshy fields and some parts of the timber. ‘Play the wind’ I kept in my mind. I no sooner got past the first field and into the woods a few hundred yards and I hear some cracking at my 8 o’clock. The wind was blowing from 9 or 10. Awesome. Time to put my stealth on. Only problem was this was some thick stuff, lots of crunch and obstacles to avoid.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_065848_zpslymdnixk.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_072856_zpsw5om8ops.jpg

    After about 30 minutes, I was only able to close maybe 100-150 yds. I hadn’t heard anymore cracking from the area I was heading, but now hearing it at 2 o’clock. WTH, did the elk swing wide around me? Should I head in that direction or keep on? Decisions, decisions. I decided I’d press on to toward the first sounds I heard.

    After about another 45 minutes I was in the vicinity of the first sounds. Eventually I’d find nothing there.

    Along the way, I snapped a few pics for a friend on facebook who questioned how you could tell the difference in animals from the scat. Feel free to play ‘Name that scat…’
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_093529_zpsqeboi5ny.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_111359_zpsgd1jh1h1.jpg

    There were also some impressive rubs, mind you the Oneida is a good 50” tip to tip.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_114840_zpstud0l4ps.jpg

    I kept on into the wind and knew I was almost back to No Name Road having trekked a giant L shape and No Name road make a hard turn. I circled back toward the marshy field. I’d hustle up the field edge and back to where I first started into the woods. Hiking along the edge of the woods/field, I’d give a look toward the woods as I had visibility past the spruce trees. All of the sudden, I see these white horns headed toward me through the woods, directly toward me. “What is that”, I thought. It’s big. Its dark. It’s headed right toward me. I stepped behind a dense spruce, ready to draw. I waited, pacing it, for it to pass me. It didn’t. “What was that? Where did it go?” I stepped a few paces forward past the spruce and I saw him about 40 yds away. Not an elk.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115408_zps2p61l21d.jpg

    I fumbled with my phone, snapped a bunch more out of focus pics..”Zoom, zoom”. As the moose turned to trot away.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115600_zpstjqv5aqd.jpg

    I made a sound like I heard on so many shows of a moose vocalization. Holy crap, it worked, he stopped dead in his tracks and turned. We don’t see any moose in NC, so this was cool. Too bad, I wasn’t hunting moose.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115605_zpsokta3bci.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115607_zps5skuqlts.jpg

    The moose and I did a stare down for minutes. Eventually, he turned, to continue up the marshy field, almost to the woods and he stopped again. I followed, stopping where he once stood. I couldn’t tell what he was doing as there was a slight rise in the field between us. I was closer now.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115904_zpsdfyfounw.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_115905_zpsejmzbiqm.jpg

    I’d see the top of his shoulder ripple, his head occasionally bobbing up and down. Occasionally, he’d stop and throw a look my way.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_120413_zps3cogsfig.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_120506_zpsiuw8frox.jpg

    I’d eventually put the pieces together, he was digging a wallow.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_120519_zpsvb2pzmob.jpg

    Later, I’d return back and find the wallow, a scrape and a rub. Must be rutting time for Moose.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_185542_zpsver8ypwc.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_185531_zpssaedcb07.jpg

    I watched him for what seemed like 15 minutes and decided, I’d give him his space I made a hard right through the field and let him be. Returning to where I started into the woods, the wind had changed directions again. I decided I’d keep moving into the wind. It started to drizzle.

    Another impressive rub.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_122146_zpsjxneisj1.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_122242_zps2ltud8ej.jpg

    I had asked Will what this yellowing ground cover was earlier in the week.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_132528_zpsan86ren3.jpg

    I was expecting some precise response as he had entertained many of my questions over the week. I think his answer was “Elk food”. I suspect it was some kind of wild blueberry as I’d find occasional small berries on them. I gave one a try, meh, flavorless. The rain picked up and I donned the rain suit.

    Perhaps one of my favorite pics of the trip. Beauty is where you find it.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160921_152136_zpswdf75yij.jpg

    Pressing on, into the wind. The rain would start and stop at least the crunch forest floor should be a bit quieter. The rain suit went on and off a few times.

    I dropped down the back side of the mountain. I needed some water. I found a nice dark stand of timber with a seep and filtered some water. I continued side hilling. Up and down a few different drainages. The ground was getting rockier. As I was coming up on a rocky ridge guarding a small drainage, I remember thinking ‘this feels like where mule deer would be’. I popped my head over the rocky edge and a about 30 yds away an elk cow stands up, broadside to me and facing downhill, followed quickly by another. And in 2 seconds they were gone, darting down the mountain side. Not 8 seconds. I didn’t see the cows look my way, I’m pretty sure the wind was in my face, I think I may have not been quiet enough on the approach. I milled about the area checking it out and trying to figure out why the cows were bedded there, it seemed safe. I looked at the GPS, 3800’ from where I was dropped off…hmmm.

    It was about 4pm, and the rain started really picking up, I started heading back toward the direction of the pick-up spot. The bottom fell out, I broke out the dead branches from the bottom of a spruce, and holed up under the tree till the rain relented. I ran into a fellow hunter, an odd fellow, he had a pistol tucked into his waist. We made awkward small talk. ‘Any luck?’ ‘Which direction are you headed?’ Our conversation was interrupted by some branches cracking. I said I was going to check it out and departed headed down the mountain. Nothing. I eventually continued back toward the drop off point as evening was approaching. And I ran into the odd hunter again, he offered me a smoke of some of Colorado’s latest bumper crop. I passed and once again left.

    7pm came, I was at the pick up spot. 7:30pm passed, still no ride. A few other hunters passed by, presumably hunting bear or moose as one had a rifle and donned in orange. I wondered if I should start down the road, but stayed put. 8pm-ish, the truck pulled up. A blown out side wall. We continued back to camp. Another bear encounter by Will and Lionel. I was able to share my moose and elk encounters.

    Dinner and we hit the sack. A day of a mix of new experiences. The moose and elk were cool encounters.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  17. Hungry Horse

    Hungry Horse Weekend Warrior

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    Wl704 Glad to see you finally saw your first two elk... and the moose I am sure was a treat. Cool blog so far. Happy to hear you passed on the wacky weed ! LOL Unit 45 has a 4 pt rule or 5" brow tine, so the spike bull elk sighting of Will and Lionel were not legal game targets, but I am sure Will knows that.
     
  18. Dan-N

    Dan-N Newb

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    Good read so far. I was there with my friend Peter. We didn't spend too much time with the group, but we did have some dinners and breakfasts. We weren't lucky enough to see any elk... maybe next time!
     
  19. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    Chapter 9 – Day 6 & 7

    We slept in that morning.

    Troy had returned from his ‘walk about’ and had some interesting and bitter-sweet tales. Again, his story. He offered to take us up to some of the higher peaks to set up a spike camp. Troy our expedition leader, Lionel, Oscar, Hayden and myself making up the rest of the part. We packed what we needed for a few days and Will dropped us at the closest trail head to our destination and would return at an arranged time in a few days. From here it would be a hike…well off the beaten path and away from other hunters.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_132835_zpsjkfiuy6b.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_133020_zps9kyvet92.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_134418_zps6gxce78x.jpg

    Several stops along the way up and an extended stop before crossing a boulder field. Troy our guide pointing out distant features, mountains and landmarks.

    We pressed on, deeper into the amazing landscape.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_143013_zpsx85b6i9u.jpg

    There was a decent wind (I’d estimate 30-40 kt) near the top of the mountain, we assessed our options for our camp. We found a great spot, on a protected part of a ridge overlooking a large bowl (maybe 1-2 miles across), which would give us some protection from the wind.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_150210_zpscnqb8fhs.jpg
    We set up our tents, hung up the food away from camp (in case of bears) and unpacked our necessities.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/FB_IMG_1474809517639_zpsemsistov.jpg
    Our camp was probably 700’ above the bottom of the bowl on one side, and a forested downslope of the mountain on the other. We set up to glass the bowl. And quickly spotted elk below us. Good luck trying to see them in this picture from my phone.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160922_163834_zpsjjzpmvia.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/FB_IMG_1474809483158_zps7osal8ph.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/FB_IMG_1474809489290_zpskpqpuxuz.jpg
    We counted a couple of bulls, cows and a younger calf working their way up the bowl to feed. It was late afternoon and we hatched our plan. Lionel and Hayden would drop into the bowl to pursue the elk. Oscar and I would hunt the wooded side of the mountain. Though an unsuccessful hunt for the afternoon, this was more elk than most of us had seen for the week so far, combined.

    We prepped our freeze-dried and MRE dinners, not nearly as good as the meals at base camp, but we were satisfied and hit the sack early. The wind howled all evening.

    The next morning we awoke to a spectacular sunrise, calmer wind and cooler temps.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_070755_zpsqnise7f1.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_070827_zpsvbifrqsd.jpg
    As was the norm, the plan for the day came together over breakfast.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_072250_zps4rfppi9d.jpg
    We would as a group all drop down into the bowl, fan out and work our way across the bowl and back over the course of the morning hunt. We descended down from our ridge-top perch to the bowl, a steep descent.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_083931_zps4ovwtmes.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_083945_zpsym9o1pq6.jpg
    At the bottom, a few pics and we agreed to rendezvous at 1pm. The views as spectacular at the bottom of the bowl as at the top.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_084158_zpswoyrrrlv.jpg
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_084245_zpsohwgnntr.jpg
    Troy and Lionel would head in one direction across the bowl, Oscar another and Hayden and I through the middle.
    The dense pine stands we worked through were broken up by meadow, rocky ridges, and some small and cold streams with plenty of forage for the elk. The clouds started rolling in mid-morning with the temperatures dropping as a result.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_101322_zps6hig8squ.jpg
    We slowly worked our way across the bowl, and Hayden and I met up on the far side. We sat down on a log, took a pic and compared notes.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_105423_zpskn6gbmlz.jpg
    Neither of us had seen elk and we decided we would return back across the bowl on a path taking us on higher path toward Troy and Lionel. We departed and crossed the first marshy meadow (~250 yds) and I realized I didn’t have my release on my wrist.
    http://i1319.photobucket.com/albums/t667/wl704/CO Elk Hunt 2016/20160923_105440_zpsklqlxack.jpg
    I wasn’t sure if it had fallen off into the marsh or if I had left it sitting on the log, fortunately I had brought a spare. I worked back across the bowl for the next couple hours to the rendezvous spot as more clouds rolled in and some sprinkles of rain started and stopped. On the return across the bowl, once again I didn’t see any elk. As I arrived at the arranged spot, I heard a whistle above me heading up the hill and saw Lionel already 150yds up the hill. I wasn’t sure if I was the last person to return, maybe someone had some success… I followed him up the trail back toward camp. Oscar arrived as I reached the spot where Lionel had been and I also whistled down to Oscar who followed up the trail.

    After the three of us we got to the ridge top, Lionel wasn’t feeling well, some altitude sickness maybe, and ducked into his tent. I wasn’t looking to climb back down to meet Troy and Hayden and climb back up the ridge, so Oscar and I waited at the top of the hill and I was contemplating how to signal down to Troy. If I had a radio, or a whistle, or something. I thought of the times I had used an acorn top as a whistle, but it was just pines at the top of the ridge. I grabbed a water bottle cap, which served the same purpose, a makeshift whistle. When Troy arrived at the rendezvous spot, I now had to think of how to signal him…I blew three tweets. Thinking the guys at the bottom would first think 3 whistles…problem (which I wasn’t sure for Lionel), but then maybe thinking there were 3 of us atop the ridge. And when Troy ascended, he said that was exactly his track of thinking…problem…maybe there are 3 of them at the top. Troy mentioned he ran into a couple of elk, no shot, not far from or rendezvous spot. Damn.

    Hayden hadn’t shown up. We hoped for some good news, and got to making lunch for ourselves and a warm meal for Lionel.
    When Hayden finally arrived at camp an hour later, sure enough he had an encounter with some elk. I should’ve shadowed him more closely. Double Damn. I won’t tell his story, but he shared the excitement, an opportunity and as us older folk may remember “…the agony of defeat.”
     
  20. wl704

    wl704 Legendary Woodsman

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    We crashed for a short nap and got to strategizing the afternoon hunt. Hayden, still heartbroken, stayed at camp as did Lionel. Troy and Oscar would venture in one direction. I was headed back to the bowl. I knew there were still (many and decent) elk below us, why look elsewhere?

    We all set out around 3pm. Just before leaving I mentioned to Hayden to grab me an MRE meal as I figured I would be worn out when I returned. Half joking I also said, be worried if I’m not back by 8:30pm. I dropped into the bowl and started toward where Troy had recently seen the elk, nothing. I figured I’d angle across the bowl working toward where Hayden described his encounter and once across the bowl, I’d see if I can just happen to find my lost release…

    It started snowing. Flurries. A great windicator and they were blowing fairly consistently perpendicular to my track. I pressed on. Nearly to the other side, I saw a bull directly in front of me, about 50 yds. Everything I heard came rushing back “8 seconds”, “don’t count the points, just look for the brow tines”, vitals, wind…Don’t blow it! The bull was head down feeding, but facing directly toward me. There was a stand of pines in front of me 20 yds, a clear lane of about 20 yds and the bull was feeding about 10 yds past more pines. I quickly reckoned, if one could get to the lane between the pines, there would be an opportunity, but trying to put an arrow through two windows of branches was too risky and too low of a probability shot. Be cool. The snow kept falling, perpendicular to my line of sight. The bull slowly turned and fed slightly toward and now nearly broadside but still about 7 yds behind his pines. This is painful…”Get in the lane”, I thought. After what seemed like forever I reasoned, I needed to make the move and I slowly crept forward a few yards. My arrow was already nocked. He looked up, directly at me through the snow…he looked past me…dropped his head and continued eating. “Is that 4 points on that side or 5?” I crept forward again, a few more yards, and he looked up again…not seeing me, he kept feeding. I had closed ~10 yards. I bumped the slider to account for the distance I closed….and the snow changed directions...and blew directly toward the elk. I froze. He didn’t. He threw his nose up, took a big whiff, spun around and sauntered off. Awesome and frustrating.

    I pushed on and eventually found the log, where Hayden and I had sat with my release now covered in snow. A minor victory I supposed. I checked my watch and it was about 5:30…sunset was at 7pm…I did the quick math in my head and realized I wouldn’t be returning to camp with much if any light and I charted a new direction back once more across the bowl. No elk on the way back. It was dark when I got to the base of the ridge, now covered with snow. I donned my headlamp. I couldn’t find anything resembling a trail up the ridge, so I made my best guess, committed and started up the ridge.

    In addition to my several stops to catch my breath, I realized my options were becoming more limited as I ascended the ridge. Before me more and more steep faces. More than once I stopped and thought about camping on the side of the face, hunkered down next to a rock seam…Instead, I scrambled up the ridge, grabbing any hand hold I could. A small branch here, a rock there, trying not to slip down the rocky and snow covered slope. In hind sight, this was the single worst set of decisions I made. I was truly concerned, maybe even fearful about my own safety. The risk of falling would’ve been very bad…like helicopter evacuation bad, if I slipped down the several hundred feet of snow covered rocky mountainside. Let’s just say I’ve already shared more here than I have with my wife…

    Eventually, I made it to the top. Exhausted. Overheated and sweaty. Out of breath. I stumbled into the tent I shared with Hayden…about 8:20pm. Fortunately, he had grabbed me an MRE. ‘Hunger is the best seasoning’ and that MRE tasted really good. This time, I got to share my encounter. I stripped off my wet (sweat on the inside, wet from snow on the outside) clothes and ducked into my sleeping bag. I slept pretty well that night, despite the falling overnight temps.
     

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