After a few weeks at home, to rest and regroup, the time was nearing to return to WY. This trip would be a rifle hunt, on my remaining cow elk tag. In the same area I had bowhunted in Sept.
As if on cue, just 2 days prior to our departure, I received a call. It was to inform me the codriver that was to drive with me was unable to make the trip, due to personal issues that had come up.
So, just as the previous trip, I would be working a 12hr grave shift and leaving directly from work in the morning.
So again, I headed down I-84 alone, only this time the weather was looking wet when I left.
Fortunately, in no time, the weather changed and I left the rainbelt.
After an uneventful drive, I arrived in WY late at night on Oct 12th, 3 days before opening day of rifle elk.
The next morning, after some further loading and, picking up a few more items at the local market, we topped off all the vehicles and headed to the elk camp.
Pretty much found the camp the way it was left a few days before by my son.
After some more set up and rearranging in camp, my son, grandson and myself took off on the quads to search out some wild chickens. We headed up a road that would become known as "the grouse road".
In no time, a grouse appeared on the road ahead and I dismounted the quad and quickly wiffed a rushed shot. As I approached, my son said something like "there's another off to the right. So, as I swung on that bird, more birds began to flush and some ran. My son got off the quad and told his son to stay put. The next 3 or so minutes gave us the quickest 2 man limit I can remember. Before it was done, we jumped at least a dozen grouse and bagged our 3 each. We didn't bother to finish out our ride on the road and, instead headed back to camp to get a picture with the camera we had forgotten to throw in.
The following day we continued to tweak the details of camp, cut firewood, double check the siting of everyone's rifles and, of course, shot some more birds. We ate jumbalya with hotlinks and grouse meat for dinner, to lower our possession numbers.
Finally, opening morning arrived on Monday and, we all had big expectations. We split up into two groups and headed in somewhat different direction but, in the same general area.
There was a bull that would bugle occasionally but not often or close enough to pinpoint.
Each time we would hear shots, I'd call my son on the radio to check if it were them. "No" was the answer, all day.
Myself and the friend who was moving along with me saw no elk that day but, my son saw a nice 6pt and some cows. They just couldn't get into position for good shots or didn't get the chance to setup for the shot. They couldn't have shot the bull anyway, they both had cow tags. He (my son) had already made up his mind he wasn't shooting his cow until his wife's cousin shot his elk first.
My son had to return to town for work. From Tuesday on, it would be just Jarred and I there at camp.
On Tuesday, we went back to the same area, 2-3 miles in off the road. We had a bull screaming at us on our walk in, in the dark. Before we got to the area we intended to hunt, it started raining and as the day progressed it got worse. Then, the wind picked up and we had some snow and sleet mixed in. I was expecting the weather to be a help to our hunt but, it never did materialize that way.
Along about 10:00 we sat down and built a nice fire to dry out and warm up. We ate some Mountain House meals and brewed fresh coffee. Man, it was tough putting the fire out and moving on. At some point during the day, we had another bull bugling. It wasn't like a rutting bugle more of like a bugle to let the cows know where he was.
By the time we finished our hunt and returned to camp, I didn't have a stitch of dry clothing on. We put dry clothed on and proceeded with the trenching of the camp and tightening everything we could to help with wind and rain combat. It was raining so hard we were both trenched again within about an hour and just continued to finish up in our wet clothes.
It was nice having the wood stove all stoked and the tent warmed when we finished and hit the rack for the night.
We spent the next day's hunt near camp. As we headed up a meadow to access a nearby ridgeline we were going to check, we heard the sounds of a love sick cow moose and the returning call, or rather grunts, of a bull. We sat and waited a shortwhile to see if they would make a showing but, it became apparent they were headed deeper in the timber on the opposite side from where we were headed.
As we hunted our way across, we heard shots below and slightly behind us. We were quick to give ourselves some credit in what ever success there may have been. We were sure we had pushed what ever they were shooting at toward them.
We eventually came up on a timbered flat spot. Sort of a knob, standing out by itself back from the surrounding ridges. There was grass under there and windfalls too. I caught movement ahead and motioned to Jarred to watch and be ready. It turned out to be deer. Somehow, this nice 4pt (probably 24 inch, give or take) and decent 3pt had made it through the rifle season. It was good to know there were decent bucks left. I planned on hunting the area or not far from there, if I draw my buck tag next year.
We spent the evening hunt in the same area where I had initially got my bull in bow season to answer my calls. There was good sign there and we decided we would likely return there in the morning , with more time to cover more ground. Just 200 yards down the road from where we had been parked, a cow jumped out on the road and, spun around and returned to the timber she had come from, so quick we almost thought we had imagined it. Jarred jumped out and moved into the brush to see if he could get a look at her, or any others that might have been with her. He could still hear her running down the side of the canyon and back up the otherside. He returned to the rig with a renewed confidence in the area we were planning to hunt the next morning.
Morning came early and I tried to talk myself out of the morning's hunt. I even went so far as to discuss the idea with Jarred and, all that did was wake me more to the point I wasn't going to sleep anymore anyway.
We headed back up to where we had spent the prior evening hunt.
After making our way to a ridgeline, we separated and began our hunt, down through some dark timber and across to another ridgeline. We discussed over the radios which way to head from this point. It was decided we'd head back to the road where we had left the rig and head back to camp and get some chores done before evening.
Not 2 mins after the discussion on the radios, Jarred called to tell me a cow had just ran past him but, he didn't hear her in time and wasn't able to get ready. So, he didn't get a shot. The elk were really spooked around the places we were finding them. It was kinda wierd.
Jarred struck off on his own for the evening, to a ridgeline that was accessible from a quad trail. I, of course, returned to "the grouse road" for more fresh protien to throw in the pot.
I let Jarred know I was planning on sleeping the next morning and trying to do some of my laundry in camp. We discussed plans for a hunt for him the next morning and he decided to make his final choice in the morning.
When Jarred returned to camp, he had some bad news of sorts. While on his hunt, he had found a cow. Some one had made a good shot on her but, it didn't appear they tried real hard to find her. She was pretty much in a fairly open area and there was an obvious blood trail right to her. She was a collared and ear tagged cow. He was kinda bummed to have found her and I could tell it sorta took the wind out of his sails some.
I got out and got a few more birds before we headed out for an evening hunt.
For the evening, we decided to return to the area the cow had run past Jarred, the day before.
We devised a new plan for the area. I dropped Jarred off at a quad trail. He would walk that trail for 1/2-1 mile and then head up over the ridge. I drove on to a spot that was on the opposite side of the ridge and would be moving in a similar direction and then would turn and drop back into the hole we had hunted previously but, I hunted it in the opposite direction as before. I followed an old overgrown firebreak road I had stumbled onto in the previous hunt. It made for quiet walking and allowed me to cover more ground than if I was pushing the undergrowth. Eventually, I got to a point where I knew I had to strike out in the intended hunt direction. Probably just another 400 or so yards and I walked into a big open grassy spot on the hillside. I guess you could call it a meadow. As I rounded the curve of the meadow and began to drop into the first draw below me, elk began to run in 2 different directions. I had dropped right down into their bedding area and it was so thick I didn't see them until they got up to run.
Then, straight across the draw, at about 150 yards, a cow walked into a window between 2 trees. She stopped and I raised my rifle for an off handed shot. The crosshairs set on the mark and I squeezed off the shot. I couldn't believe my eyes, she was still just standing there. I looked in disbelief and considered she might be a stump and my mind was playing tricks on me but, as quickly as that thought was formed, I discounted as I remebered seeing her step into the opening. I quickly put the crosshairs on her again and sent another round down range. It looked as if she raised her front legs and spunaround to head down hill from where she had stood. I couldn't see her, almost immediately, due to the thick windfall and brush in the area. I headed straight toward where I had last seen her but, I was off my mark a bit in all the excitement. I looked and tried to find where the ground was torn up from her initial movement uphill into the window and, also, possibly where she had traded ends on the second shot. I had the sick feeling come over me in the pit of my stomach. Had I really missed? Right at that thought, I heard it, the gasp. Everyone who has hunted long knows what 'm talking about, the sound of her last breath being released. I knew instantly she was down and I was not up high enough on the hill. I went directly to the sound and, there she lay, in her final resting place.
By this time Jarred was calling me on the radio to ask if I was doing the shooting. "Yep, get over here. She's down" was my reply. It was 5:00pm straight up.
We worked into the dark to get her all bagged and prepped for the pack out the next day. Jarred carried a quarter over his shoulder and I loaded my newly acquired Badlands 2200 with the backstraps, tenderloins, some hamburger trim and the heart and we headed to camp.
It was Friday and everyone was back at camp for the weekend. I was tagged out for my first WY elk season.
The next morning, I packed the rest of the elk out as everyone else headed out for what was Jarreds last day in WY. I shot another bird on the way back out too.
I was able to butcher, wrap and put inthe freezer most of the elk while everyone else was out hunting during the day.
Jarred left left for his ride home to Oregon as soon as we finished dinner.
This is the only pic I have of my cow. The freezer has the cow minus the grind trim.
I finished what was left, mostly trimming and cleaning up hamburger trim, on Sunday morning, while they all made a morning hunt. It gave me some time to spend with a young cowboy, my grandson Hunter.
When everyone returned from their hunt(empty handed) we gathered up things and headed into town for a few days off from hunting. Over the past week, I was able to shoot a total of 17 grouse.
The first morning back in town, we woke to this.
I started out the day grinding.
And just kept grinding until it was done.
Then, it was time for dinner, tenderloin on the grill with baked potatoes.
On Thursday, My wife and I drove back to camp, to check on the condition of things after it had been snowing.
Here's a few pics of the drive in.
When we arrived at camp I immediately noticed this.
A mere 60 yards from our tent, nearly in our camp, a gut pile from that morning. I really couldn't believe someone had actually shot an elk , literally in our camp. How did they know no one was in the tent or walking around the camp by the river etc.?
Here are the other things we saw on our arrival.
So, it was time to clean up camp and prep the parking spots.
What, doesn't everyone bring a plow blade for their quad to elk camp?
So, I loaded up the needed essentials (dog and guns) and headed of to look for birds with my "huntin' machine".
Saw some nice views from a ridge the quad trail took us to.
Friday came and the people returned to camp to hunt.
I was able to spend more time with my grandson. He was all ready with his pack and coon skin cap.
Young Hunter even made time in his schedule to take ol' Paw Paw out for a hunt in the snow. We went looking for birds with the scatter gun.
The time past fast and before we knew it, it was Sunday, our last day at camp.
We had most of the camp packed when the hunters returned to camp.
A friend that was out hunting with my son and daughter in-law had scored.
Here is Barts 4pt, from the last day out, just 3 days before the bull season was to close and then only cows are allowed to be tagged.
We threw together a quick hot lunch for the hunters. Then, we gathered remaining items and hooked up the horse trailer and headed out. It wasn't 5 min. from camp and our young Hunter was out like a light. I guess all the excitement finally caught up with him.
Wish I could say that was the end of the story and leave it at that but, it wasn't.
The next morning, on our drive home, about 30 miles west of Pocatello ID, we hit an elk. I was able to limp to Mountain home and get to a Les Schwab. A fella named Javier helped us out and was able to get someone in Boise to build another axle for our trailer. We were back on the road by 3:00pm amd the total time was 22 1/2 hours from door to door, back home. It's usually 13 hour drive.
Here are some pics of the trailer.
Lost a fender too.
Overall, it was another great trip and plenty of quality family time spent in the woods