Hey all, I am two for two on catching winter storms hunting this year! First, in Wyoming while taking my daughters antelope hunting, braving wind, 14 degree weather and 6" snow on my youngest daughter's first antelope hunt. Second, this past weekend in Unit 6 on my elk hunt with my older daughter! We had a major wet snow dump! When we were getting our packs on and guns out, up comes a law enforcement officer to check our licenses at 5am as the snow is falling! She said she had not seen a mother/daughter elk hunting duo and was totally impressed! Told us we were heading to a good spot.
We hiked in about 2 miles up several benches and were on the edge of heavy dark timber looking out over a aspen grove. We had heard a bull in the area the day before the season. The primary spot we wanted to hunt was completely over run with hunters, and we chose this as a back up. We decided it was a good sanctuary. Well, opening morning, and we hear probably 10 gunshots within thirty minutes where it was crowded. We stayed put until we were soaked from a very heavy, wet snow. Got back to the car at 11:30am. Disheartened.
That afternoon, we tried to get back into the place where we knew there were elk, but there were about 10 trucks parked in an area where there were room for five...we saw so much hunter orange out there, we once again left. Went to another back up place. Nothing.
Snowfall had inhibited us from going to several areas. Roads were greasy, wet, nasty. Second morning, we went to a ridge line where it changes from dark timber to aspen and there are willows and water. We had seen elk crossing there on numerous occasions. No dice again.
Went scouting after going to town and nursing our wounds by eating a large breakfast. Ended up on another mountain, no elk tracks. Pulled out our .177 Crosman pellet pistol with reflex sight and proceeded to bag a mess of pine squirrels. (They are marinating in the fridge as we speak for squirrel hasenpfeffer) Stumbled upon a fresh set of bear tracks in the snow, and realized here my little daughter and I were walking around with a single shot pump pellet pistol and a fixed blade hunting knife to defend ourselves against big, mean critters...Pretty silly, we were thinking, as we plinked another squirrel.
Our last stand was at a pinch point off a ridgeline coming out of a pine forest, crossing a willow lined creek into an open aspen bottom and going into sagebrush. We were settled down into a large blowdown in the shadows. We heard a few twig snaps, but never saw anything. The twig snap came from an area where we were going through the woods up a hill through the snow and I looked up and was staring a big bull eye to eye at 40 paces! Only thing, it was a bovine bull, not an elk bull! The bovine was all alone and looked to have a bit of a limp. Wondering if he lost his herd when they were moved off the public land. We never heard any gunshots either, except from some frustrated idiot shooting his AR15 over the next hill. Maybe that is why we didn't see anything?
We were officially skunked.
The good news is that we both have cow tags for fourth rifle back in this unit. Last year during fourth rifle, we had bull tags, and all we saw were cows. But the compelling reason to return during fourth rifle, is that we only saw one other hunter in the area where we found the elk... So were are hoping for bitter cold, a little snow but not too much to keep us from getting back into the area, and no hunters!
I told my daughter that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, stand a little taller, makes a fighter...oh wait, isn't there a song with those words!
Thanks for all the encouragement and advice guys. It would be nice to have a mentor here in person, but thanks for being my online mentors! I appreciate it!
First Picture: Day before season began where we decided to set up
Second picture: Hiking out after first morning
Third Picture: Daughter and I
Fourth Picture: Hmmm, something was sharpening their claws here! Also ran across fresh bear tracks in the snow!