The day had finally come, after a couple years of planning and buying preference points, I had just finished my last 12hr graveyard shift and was on the road to Wyoming, for my first elk hunt there.
Originally, I was to have a co-driver, shotgun so to speak but, just 3 days before our departure, she was involved
in a carwreck and she was not able to go at the last minute.
Just an hour outside of the Portland Metro area, on highway I-84, this was the view of my eastbound travels.
I drove straight through, as always, and added 3-4 20-40 min power naps along the way. I saw the sunset behind me,
somewhere between Twin Falls and Pocatello. Where exactly I couldn't say but, I thought to take this picture out
the window as I was driving east.
I arrived at my son's house somewhere around 10:30pm, 15 hrs after my departure. It's usually a 12 hour drive from
my work, give or take, without the stops for naps.
My son was already out at camp, another 2 hour drive from here at the house.
I hit the sack and tried to catch up on lost sleep.
I headed off to camp around mid day the next day. When I arrived there was obviously something missing.
There we go, this is better.
By the time I laid everything I had brought out, there wasn't time for a serious evening hunt. Instead, we took
the quads up a deadend road to access a ridgeline and see what we could hear at the end of the day. My son shot a
grouse on the way up and we added to our jumbalaya the next night for dinner.
This road my son showed me proved to be a signicant piece of info., later in the trip.
The next morning we were up bright and early and parked at a trailhead painting up our faces.
Another rig showed up and we discussed where each group was headed, in general, so as to stay out of each others
We headed down the trailhead a good 20 minutes after they left. As we were walking in, we could hear bulls off in
the distance, toward where they were headed.
We listened for a short while and then headed our way.
As it turned out, we also had 2-3 bulls in our general area that were being vocal. None of them really seemed
serious. More of that gathering "hey girls I'm over here" kind of bugles, without the chuckles and screaming.
After 3 hours or so of these tactics, we sat at a place above where most of the sounds were being made and
listened as the main bugler made his way off deep over and into the canyon beyond where we were. we did still here
an occasional bugle below but, again, it just didn't sound like he was all that serious.
We sat there for awhile and then decided to just make our way back to camp. Hopefully, they would get more serious
in the days to come, without us bumping them out of the country.
As we made our down through some of the same blow downs and deadfalls we had encountered on our way up, we became
somewhat relaxed in our talk and pace of our walk. That's when we bumped a cow off to the side. We didn't really
quiet ourselves down but, rather continued to talk, almost out loud. I remember mentioning how getting between a
bull and any of his cows was often a winning move. I didn't really say it like a plan but, more of making
That's when things got wierd. The bull from below had quietly closed the gap on us and now he bugled at us in
displeasure of our intrusion to his harem, from a distance of less than 200 yards. We looked at each other in
total disbelief. This bad boy was coming in, and mainly to the sound of our walking and busting under brush.
Almost immediately, he closed the gap to 80-100 yards and we both sprang into action to prepare for a possible
My son moved down and out in front of me as I made cow calls and continued to snap twigs, to convince him his
straying cow was still here.
I saw my son begin to draw and, instantly, I knew the bull was close, shooting close. He let down slowly before
reaching full draw. I tried to look around, through all the deadfalls, with my eyes, while not moving any part of
my body. Then, I saw him. I could only see a piece of one eye and a portion of his right antler but, it looked to
be a thick main beam and decent, what I could see of it.
I continued to snap twigs down low, near the ground, hoping to get him to take another step or move in some way
that would allow my son the shot. He made a slight shift in his position and I watched my son come to anchor, set
Oh the sound, it was awesome. I've heard that sound of the thunk and thwack of a chest shot watermelon hit, mixed
with the cracking of a rib. I knew he had a solid hit but, I couldn't see the hit as he ran off.
There was an obvious blood trail, from within feet of the hit and, out both sides. We calmed each other down and
sat down and ate lunch to give us an hour before beginning the trailing job.
My son was adamant that it was a solid 6X6.
We tracked the beast for an hour, even through an open meadow before finding the arrow that must have been barely dangling out the exit side of him. At that point, I believe we took less than 10 steps and I looked over and saw his rack sticking up.
I just couldn't believe the size of his rack that I did not realize as he ran off. Maybe it was because I had been trying to focus on his side looking for the arrow or wound. At that point it didn't matter.
We took a few pictures and then took to the task of breaking him down and moving him about 100 yards to the meadow he had croosed to allow for access with the horses for the pack out the next day.
It was right at dark when we arrived to the trailhed with nothing but the head and antler and the heart and liver.
The horses would do the bulk of the work the next day.
As we made our way back to the meat the next morning, we passed up 3 rifle deer hunters. Yep, that's right, there
is a rifle deer season going on in the same area we are archery hunting elk. Wyoming is just a different kind of place and it works for everyone.
2 1/2 -3 miles later we arrived at the meat site and the prep and loading begins. My son is very stricked on opposing panniers being even in size, shape and weight, as much as possible.
Then it was all about the packout and guess who was walking out, the guy taking all the pictures, of course.
After arriving back at our camp, we spent the rest of the day buthering and wrapping meat. I had brought a freezer and generator to help us process and not have to worry about spoilage and such.
There wasn't much time for an evening hunt after cleaning up. We headed out on the quads for another ride up a road designated to quads. We made a short setup around the backside of a ridgeline at the top with no results. On the way back down the mountain, my son ended up shooting a limit of ruffed grouse.
The next morning we were up well before light and headed into an area in the dark, on the horses. By the time we got to our destination, the sun was coming up.
We were hunting an area we had found the previous season that had alot of racks and wallows. As it turned out, we missed the boat by 3-4 days from the looks of the sign. There had been a bull through the area thrasing the brush but not today, or even yesterday for that matter. The horse ride into and out of the area probably took longer than the hunt.
My son had to return to town, to work the next day and, take care of the meat etc from his bull.The middle portion of the day was spent getting his stuff and the horses loaded.
The rack looked impressive sticking out of his pickup bed.
After my son's departure, I headed for an area we had looked at when we were here scouting in August. Much to my surprise, there was a loader and a fellerbuncher, right in the middle of a new logging unit that was half clearcut and half thin out. I'm guessing it was a beetle kill cleanup bid more than anything else. The timber they were dropping was barely worth paperpulp, let alone lumber.
I moved on to another area to check out but, I was running out of daylight before I could get into anything serious.
On my drive back to camp, my thoughts turned to the next morning's planned hunt. I had discussed some options with my son before he left and was thinking I might actually get a bull to sing in the dropping temps.
(TO BE CONTINUED)