To say that '08 has been a great year would be an understatement. My Dad, my brother and myself left for our annual elk hunt on Sept.8, and returned to town on Sept.21 with 3 6X6 bull elk in the back of the pickup.
Well there are alot of stories from this trip, here is the story from the day that I got my bull....
Got up bright and ugly 0500, light a fire in the stove and climbed back into the sleeping bag, guess I'm getting too soft to just get up and get dressed anymore, but it only takes 10 mins to warm up the tent. Up and attem, get dressed, give my dad, and brother a rousting, remind them that the elk aren't going to come to us, and head out of the tent to saddle my horse. Get the ponys all saddled up and have a speed breakfast (protien bar, and oatmeal to go bar) and out of camp by 0600. After about an hour ride we get to our tie up spot, by now its just breaking daylight. My dad and I start heading to the ridge that we will be hunting for the morning, my brother heads up onto a knob that he can glass from, and call us on the radio to direct us to he elk. As my dad and I start climbing the ridge my brother informs us that there are no elk out that he can see, so we just take our time and climb for an hour or so untill we get to the top. As we get to the top of the ridge my brother calls us on the radio that he has located a pretty good bull with excellent browtines and good 3rds at the back end of a high basin. We chat for a couple of minutes and decide that we will meet back at the horses to formulate a plan. While my dad and I hike back to the horses my brother watches the bull and his cows bed down in the timber for the day. By the time that we all meet up at the horses it is 1100. We decide that dad will take the horses back to camp and that my brother and I will hike almost to the top of the mountain and follow it around to the ridge above the basin. After a quick snack we say so long to dad and off we go. It took us about an hour and a quarter to get to this spot where we start making our way around the mountain.
After we took a couple of pictures we started heading around the mountain, almost immediately after leaving this spot we bumped a couple of cow elk that had been bedded where the grass meets the rocks. We freeze... as they crash down the mountain through the timber we hear a bull start to bugle. I pull out my cow call and try a couple of mews, only to hear the bugling get further away as the bull follows the cows down the mountain. After a couple of minutes we continue on our way with a little excitement from our encounter. All in all it took us about 4 hrs to get to this ridge above the elk.
When we first peaked our heads over the ridge and looked into the basin we could see the cows milling around in the timber (on the left had side of the picture). I ranged a clearing in the timber at 545 yds totaly doable. As we watched and waited I surveyed the area and decided that we could make up quite a bit of distance if we moved down the ridge a ways, so we snuck down so a not to skyline ourselves and headed to a new perch. On arriving at our new perch I reranged the same clearing at 305 yds, no problem except as we started to glass in the timber we could no longer see the cows... Now the mind games started, had they some how seen or heard us as we moved to our new perch? The wind was blowing up the ridge off our backs and our scent should be well above them, but did they wind us? We tried to maintain our composure as we sat there waiting fr what seemed like eternity. All of a sudden the bull darted out of the timber and ran across the meadow to a wallow that was at the base of the ridge we were on. He was splashing and rolling in the cool water directly below us, completely oblivious to our presence, but there were trees in the way that prevented a shot. After about 10 mins the bull got out of the wallow and started back to the timber I quickly ranged him at 230 yds and put my 300 Ultra on his shoulder. He stopped for a quick minute and I touched off, down he went, bang/flop. My brother ran over for a congratulatory hug, and we called my dad on the radio, he had heard the shot from camp, and was very excited... maybe not quite as excited as me.
Now you may wonder why we were hiking when we had perfectly good horses at our disposal... well we had not been into this particular basin before there was no horse trail into it. My brother and I made our way down to the bull, and got him dressed out, and started making our way back to camp. The next day found us cutting in with a chainsaw... for 8 straight hours... using a half gallon of chainsaw gas. But we were able to get the mules in and get him packed out, and back to camp.
The next few days found us chasing more elk, and returning home. Perhaps we will review those tales anoher time...
Thanks for listening to my story, it was a great time, and I hope that all of you have or are having a great year as well.