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This elk hunt was a few years in the making. Sometime back in 2013 or 2014, while on a traveling duck hunt with my good friend Tim, We discussed the possibility of him coming down from Alaska to hunt wapiti with me and my Son(Christopher) in Wyoming (2016) and, us going to Alaska to hunt moose with him and his friends(2017). Well, a few preference points later and here we are in 2016 and time for the elk hunt..
The trip started in September for me and my family, when I transported my horse to WY on a long weekend, to acclimate to the altitude and air for a month, prior to the rifle season.





Before my son and family got to camp, I began setting up what would become the camp for the season.







On that trip, I chased grouse with my Daughter in law while my son and his friend chased elk with their bows.







The next month after that weekend dragged by, as my Daughter in law updated me daily on FB of her progress riding my horse in preparation. Even my Grandson was riding Joker to help out.





Finally, the day to leave rolled around and Tim showed up at the house. In perfect Oregon fashion, it was pouring rain when he arrived, and had been all day as I packed the gear and the quads on the trailer.
We took off in the evening and split the trip at Ontario. We spent about 6 hours to sleep at a motel 6 there and hit the road first thing in the morning for the second half.
We spent the first day in WY getting a few items from my Son's place and filling my horse trailer with certified weedless hay for camp in the USF.
The next day we headed out to the chosen site to finish setting up camp.





On the way, we couldn't help ourselves and, we created another diversion to the plan when the whole front top fiberglass piece on my horse trailer fell off along the way. Unfortunately, we didn't know where in the nearly 50 miles of back roads it came off. So, when we got to camp, we set up as much as possible and left in plenty of time to have daylight all the way out. We got lucky, 20+ miles back on the trail, we found it laying off to the side of the road. We threw it in the trailer and headed back to my Son's place.
We made up a list for supplies for the repair the next morning, and then, we hit the Ace Hardware in Alpine first thing in the morning, to see if they had what we needed. It isn't like being in and around a big city here, where you just run down to a Home Depot or metal fab shop and get what you need. We had to do some improvising but, isn't that the fun and challenge of it all?
We spent most of that day fixing the trailer and made the decision to wait until the next day to haul the horses to camp. That gave us one more home cooked meal and another night's sleep at the house.
After getting back to camp that Thursday, we spent a good deal of time finishing setting up camp and cutting some firewood.











The next day, Friday, the day before the opener, I shot a limit of grouse while out cutting more wood and looking around.



We double checked all the rifles for zero. We rode the horses up into a nearby canyon at the end of the day in hopes of spotting a big bull for Tim for the next day(the opener). The plan didn't work out.







Late that night the rest of the family showed up and we all did our best to get a good nights rest before the opener the next day.
The next morning came early. We had an all day hunt planned and we all packed a lunch to stay out.
The hunt was long and steep and muddy. And, as Tim puts it my Son and I were angry hikers. To hear Tim tell it, it may have rivaled the Baton death march at times. While we did hear plenty of shooting, in other areas, this was not to be our day. And, as a matter of fact, at some point, Tim adjusted his expectation from a 6X6 to anything 4pt or better. LOL

We returned to camp to find an excited young trapper, Hunter (my Grandson). He had taken it upon himself to rid our camping area of all mice, voles and chipmunks that might think about stealing our cash of food in the kitchen. His traps had brought the demise of 2 rodents and, by days end, that number climbed to 6 as he paraded around the camp area with his 2 year old sister Summer in tow. You would have thought he'd tagged a 6pt bull from the look on his face. (VIDEO?)
The second day was pretty uneventful. We all worked down through a system we hadn't hunted before, that didn't usually see too much pressure. The hopes were that it would hold some animals pushed from more popular areas. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out and again we returned empty handed and no shots fired.
That Sunday evening, the rest of the crew headed back to town and it was just Tim, me and 2 of the horses in camp. It started spitting snow just before dark and, after dinner, we hit the rack at about 8:00, hopeful for tracking snow in the morning.
At 11:00 I heard Tim say something out load that woke me and I looked over to see his side of the tent collapsed on him from the weight of the snow. It was heavy enough I couldn't push it off him from inside and I had to go outside the tent to clean most of it off before I could put it back up into position and reset the pole and stake ropes. In the 3 hours we had been sleeping, we had gotten 8"+ inches of snow and we spent the next 2 hours cleaning it off all the tents. After another 2.5 hours of sleep, we had to repeat the same process and clean another 6-8" off all the tents.
The next day ended up being a "snow day" of sorts and we got the camp in order and in shape for the possibility of even more snow.























We did take the quads to scout a trail for quads but, that trail was not passable for us due to the lack of winch and trenching tools to continue passed the deepest snow area.



We attempted to make it to the top of a system I planned to hunt the next morning but, again we could not get to the top portion of the road due to snow depth. Oh sure, I could have chained up and made it further but, this particular road is iffy in good weather and there would definitely not be any other traffic coming along to assist, if things got ugly. We turned around when the snow got bumper high and, ours were the only tracks for the last 2 miles we drove. We hoped the snow would settle and melt some before the morning, allowing us better access.
That next morning, we headed up through the system that we hoped to hunt the top of. We weren't even half way up and Tim says there's something big, right up there. I jockeyed around for a better look and as I centered him in the scope, I could see his rack. I told Tim he had a fork on top and was probably 5-6 pts. Tim told me to shoot him(the elk) and, we a had a short "discussion" on who was going to take him. I won the discussion and Tim dropped him in one shot to the neck. I was closer to the elk than Tim by this time and got to his animal first. It was a nice 5X5, especially considering it was the first elk Tim had ever shot at.
Finally, our luck had changed and Tim had dropped him a mere 150 yards from a road and the elk was directly uphill from the road, in snow. Tim went back to the truck and moved it to the road below us and I worked on sliding the elk down the snow covered hill. Even with the snow and the hill, Tim had to come up and help me slide the bull the last 80-90 yards. As we got closer to the road, I realized we could probably back the truck against the bank and slide the bull in whole(already gutted of course).
I'm pretty sure of the 30 or so elk I have killed and all the elk my family and friends have ever taken, this is the first bull I remember being in camp whole.







After we broke him down and got the quarters hung, the snow began to dump again.
We spent the next day butchering Tim's bull right there in camp. I cut and he wrapped. I bring a freezer and generator just for this cause.I didn't hunt or scout, just spent the day getting camp in order and putting the elk up.





We spent next day taking all the meat etc into town. We got our laundry done, showers and some good food and headed back to camp. By this time, the cough of Tim's had progressed into a full blown cold and he was swiggin' the syrup.
We got up on Friday and tried to drive to the top of the mountin again, without success still. Where the truck started sliding back down hill is where I backed up and parked. We headed off up a trail that was usually used by hikers, quads and horseback riders. There were none on this day, in the knee to hip high snow that was still present. As we made our way up the canyon, we saw all the tracks from the day before where elk, moose, deer and dawgs had taken advantage of the good weather the day before to head down into less snow blanketed terrain. We were a day late and a dollar short.



















The following morning, I made it to the top but, not to the end of the road. I walked the last 2 miles of the road and could have shot elk but, not bulls. I headed up the ridge and fought my way in knee to hip high snow again while Tim stayed at the truck and took in the view of the surrounding mountains.



I saw plenty of elk, just not the big bull I'd hoped I would find holding out higher than the other elk below.
At some point in this time frame, back at camp, Tim's rental horse found the hay tent, while hobbled. He could smell the hay but, the tent was closed. So, what's a horse to do? He bit a nice hole in the tent and started eating the hay through the tent. LOL





It was already decided that Sunday's hunt would be just myself and my son and Tim was going to stay back in camp to rest up and nurse his cold.
We started off in an area with a big view, at the top of where we had hunted the second day of the season. We knew there would be elk at this elevation due to the snow above still being fairly deep.
From the first view point we stopped at, my son spotted a herd or, at least several elk in the same general area and, we made a plan to head in a direction that would put us parallel and quickly. When we were directly across the canyon from them, we tried to drop down in and across and it quickly became apparent that wasn't going to work. We moved back up on the old road grade and started hoofing it to make our way around the canyon to try and catch up before they got too far into the timber.Time was starting to work against us. It was already 9:00 and they were in the timber above us somewhere. My son headed up the ridgeline and I worked my way around the side and started tracking on a parallel course but staying low. I followed the tracks into a large windfall area and then started picking my way through pretty much the same way some of the tracks were. I'd have to leave the tracks and met up with others along the way. I had pretty much grown tired of crawling over, under and around all the downed pines and started to veer uphill toward where I thought my son was. As I finally started to come out of the fall downs, I caught movement and color to my right.This day was to be the last day I had decided to hold out for a bull and, as I put the big cow in my scope, I had the thought "what difference is one day, meat is meat". I didn't shoot and started scanning for more. I picked out 3 more all bald headed. They caught me or smelled me and started skirting to my right. I wondered if I had made a mistake letting them pass. At that very thought, I caught movement directly in front of me. It was a spike walking straight at me. A bull, now we're talking.At 40-50 yards he stopped and I put the crosshairs on his chest. I squeezed of the and sent one down the pipe.He immediately turned to my left and started to walk down hill like nothing had happend. Did I really miss at that distance. Then, he realized, or so it seemed, that he couldn't get through the mess below and he turn right back up. He was now probably only 5 yards back from where I took the shot and he turned straight at me again. I put the crosshairs on his throat, just below his chin and touch off another. He seemed to jerk his head back and I saw the tree just in front him splinter. He again stepped down hill and went through the same exact circle and right back up in front of me but, at almost the exact spot where I first **** at him. I set the crosshairs on his face this time and made a conscious effort to stay calm and squeeze slow. BOOM! he was down. I got my Son on the radio and told him what was up.
In the aftermath, I sorted out the shots and hits and found that shot #1 hit him between the chest and right shoulder, shttering his shoulder at the lower end of his blade, just above the joint. It then blew 2 ribs into his lung on that side and continued down his side. A small piece exited out his side just behind where it blew his ribs inward and the bulk of the round continued and took out about half of the inner round of his right leg but, did not strike bone and blew a hole you could put both hands through where it exited out. The second, I knew I was threading the needle between two trees and I did in fact hit one.



After it hit the tree, it hit his left antler midway up, hence the head jerk I saw. The shot I put through his left cheek and that was the end.It looked like a blood bath in the snow and you could see everywhere he stepped and every bit of blood he pumped in the course of that short 20-30 second ordeal.I still am amazed that he could even walk after the first 225 grain from my .338 WimMag hit him. He didn't even seem like he was having any problem walking but, his right shoulder was shattered.







When my son arrived, I already had him gutted and we made the decision to quarter with hide on and bag loose meat, organs and put tyhem in my pack and thehead in his and drag quarters in the snow. We were at least 3.5 miles from the road where the truck was parked and if we went to camp for the horses, we would have to ride them from to bottom of that rode , due to road was too rutted to drag the trailer up. We got back to the truck with the whole elk in pieces at about 4:00pm. We arrived in camp at 5:00 or so and worn out. This was the only day my son had this weekend so after dinner he was gone.
The next day, Tim and I again spent butchering and wrapping elk. This time mine. We got done in time to take a ride and look around a bit more now that the snow in the lower areas was melting or melted. I was able to pick up a couple more grouse. On Tuesday, Tim and I discussed it and he decided he would stay with the camp, as I went into town to put my elk in the big freezer and process the grind. He would be alone for a couple days as I was staying over for my wifes birthday dinner Wednesday.
Lucky for the grand kids, grandma likes pizza too.



I headed back out to camp on Thursday ahead of "the crew" with grandma in tow. That evening, Tim and I went up to the vantage point where my Son had found the elk from on Sunday. We were hoping to find an animal or animals for my son to hunt the following day but, again, the scouting didn't pay off, other than to help us not waste time in that area the next day. The rest of the crew showed up that evening and we told my Son the bad news. At this point(actually before), my Son had already gotten to the point that he was hunting for meat, not horns.
Based on the intel Tim and I gathered, or rather, didn't gather, the evening before, My Son decided to hunt a canyon right by camp that he had shot his cow in 2013 at. Tim and I tagged along but, at some point, Tim ended up staying behind near a big open hillside to watch for animals as I tagged along with Christopher and we headed to the top of the ridge. We hunted it down toward camp. At, or near, the end of the ridge, Christopher shot a ruffed grouse. You're allowed to shot grouse with any gun in WY. So, we had another grouse to add to the pot for the jambalaya for dinner.
When we went back to camp, Christopher loaded his family in the pickup and they headed off to set some traps for beavers. He's been doing that for a few years now. The kids love tagging along and watching Dad trap and set up to trap.







After everyone returned to camp, it was time for dinner and Pawpaw's grouse jamabalaya. It's always a hit.





The next morning, we headed up to the top of the system where Tim had shot his 5pt. in hopes that Christopher would have similar luck. This particular area is responsible for 80% of the elk I have tagged in WY.
Tim decided to stay at the truck and watch the surrounding ridgelines and hillsides and I left with Christopher in search of another wapiti for the camp. It was pretty slow and, since most of the snow was melted by now, there wasn't the option to "track" from fresh tracks. Eventually, a couple hours later, the elk showed himself and the camp had another spike on the ground. We again did the skin on quartering and made the 1/2-3/4 mile to the road where I walked the 2 miles to the truck and then drove back to find Christopher already sitting at the road with all of the elk pieces and loose meat waiting.
When we returned to camp, we hung Christopher's spike and they headed off to check all the traps.



Some bets were made as to how many traps would have beavers. I beleive my Daughter in law won the bet. The kids were pretty excited when they returned to camp with the beavers and their stories.







They added some musk rat traps to their set ups for the last night we would spend at camp.
The kids talked Grandma into taking a ride with them and Pawpaw to get some big wood for the last night bonfire. Somewhere along the way, a couple snowshow hare showed themselves to Pawpaw off the side of the road and they were added to the list of eats gathered on the trip.



They would later be panfired and swissed, back in Oregon, and served over smashed taters for a great dinner.



That last morning was pretty anti-climactic, as it was or camp break down day. It started with Christopher and I going to check and pull all his traps, including the beavers trapped.



Then we all spent the rest of the morning, and into the afternoon, doing the deed we all dread, breaking camp.



And that is where the story for this year ends, and camp was brokenand police duty by all for a wrap of 2016 Wy elk.
I can't wait for AK 2017 moose.

Here are a few misc. pictures from the pile o pics.















For the record, the hunter referred to as Tim is AKPirate here on DHC.
 

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WOw, just read through it all, loved the pics and the play by play, sounds like an awesome time had by all!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
 
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