2016 Group Elk Hunt - Hunt Report By Andy Backus This year Robb Wiley of Non-Typical Outfitters suggested that the LRH Group hunt take place during the last part of the season ending on Halloween. In past years cold, snowy weather often moved in during the late part of the season causing the bulls to be on their feet moving through our hunt area as they started heading to their winter range. There are always lots of bulls in the areas Non-Typical hunts, but during that late part of the season they consistently see the biggest bulls. As my dad and I drove the 1300 miles from our home state of Wisconsin to meet the LRH group at camp the weather forecast was disappointing. Daytime temperatures were forecast to be in the mid to upper 50's with evening temps hovering just above freezing. The weather had been about the same a month earlier on my DIY archery elk hunt in Colorado and I had wished it was colder back then too. The hunters arrived in camp on Wednesday afternoon and we had a chance to check our zeros and validate our dope on steel at 350, 500 and 800 yards. What a luxury at a hunting camp! We spent some time going over a couple of the most common shooting positions the hunters might encounter during their hunt. The terrain we would be hunting is steep and most of the hunters hadn't tried our suggested positions in the past. We showed them how to use shooting sticks in the front and to build up a rear rest on the side of the mountain using their packs, rocks, logs, etc. The lights came on in our wall tents around 4 am on Thursday and after a hot breakfast the hunters and their guides rode horses out from camp or trailered their horses for 15 to 30 minutes before riding out. My guide James and I rode up to a high ridge and then rode along the top quite a ways until we got to the end of it. We tied up our horses and waited 15 minutes for the glassing light to improve. Then we dropped off the top of the ridge and slowly worked our way along the side hill stopping to glass across the canyon quite often. We were looking for a nice bull they had seen the week before that they guessed would score around 320. He was living in the timber on the other side and we tried to pick apart the small openings in the timber looking for the glint of an antler or any small movement. My Dad and Robb had headed to a specific area across the valley from us and planned to set up in an ambush spot hoping to see the same bull. We never spotted the bull we were after that day but we did see two bulls calmly feeding on a sunny hillside a couple miles away. James was surprised they were out in the wide open this late in the season. One of the bulls was definitely a shooter and we were considering making a move on him when he and his buddy made a bee-line for the timber. We saw another bull and a few cows in the distance that first morning. We continued glassing and moving the rest of the day and eventually rode the horses around to the opposite side of the valley so we could glass back towards the ridge we had been on in the morning. Around 4:30 several cows and small bulls appeared out of the timber in one of the larger openings across from us. They sort of frolicked down the hillside into the bottom of the valley. A few minutes later a nice 5x5 stepped out of the timber. After taking a good look at him through James' spotter I decided that I would pass on this first hunt day. The bull followed the cows into the bottom of the valley where we lost sight of them. 5 or 10 minutes later we heard a couple shots that we later learned were from one of our hunters going after the 5x5. Unfortunately there was a ranging error and both shots missed high. Back at camp around the dinner table we learned that everyone saw elk, generally more cows than bulls. The bulls seemed to be sticking to the timber other than the first and last few minutes of daylight. Justin from Kentucky had hunted with our LRH group three years ago and he was back this year with his buddy Bobby along this time as a non-hunting spotter. They had served together in Iraq and now only get to see each other every few years. They had a nice 6x6 bull work out of the timber just before dark and planned to head back to the same spot in the morning hoping he'd still be in the area. The last hunter to make it back to camp that evening was Thomas from Pennsylvania. He was late because he had killed a nice 6x6 bull with a great shot of 830 yards. His dream had been to shoot a nice bull in the mountains on a horseback hunt and he was thrilled! On Friday morning James and I along with Robb and my Dad headed to where James and I had seen the shooter the morning before. We tied the horses and snuck to the top of a small ridge and Robb immediately saw the bull out feeding on the hillside across from us. James took Dad and me with our horses to ride around some timber and down below where the bull was feeding. Unfortunately the bull had played this game before and must have heard our horses because he took off. Later that morning Robb spotted a really nice bull in a small opening in some timber and we later spotted another nice shooter bull with him. James and I spent the afternoon still-hunting into their area and eventually set up in the only gap in the timber where we could watch the opening the bulls had been in that morning across a small draw. My shooting setup was perfect and if they had appeared in the opening I would have had a very makeable 250 yard shot. Unfortunately they never showed. That evening we got to hear the story of Justin and Bobby and their guide finding yesterday's bull in the same spot in the morning. Justin made a great 620 yard shot across the valley with Bobby's help and Justin was now two for two on nice LRH Group Hunt bulls! Some of the other hunters only saw a few elk that day while others had close calls that just didn't pan out. George from Massachusetts saw over 100 cows from his high vantage point with only a few small bulls. On Saturday James and I rode to a different area and as we approached the top of a high ridge in the early morning light we bumped several cows two different times. I got to practice jumping off my horse and quickly extracting my rifle from its scabbard in case a bull was with them. We set up at a high vantage point and glassed across to the timbered slope where we saw a few cows and also got a quick glimpse of a 5x5 bull in one of the many small openings in the timber. That afternoon we worked our way down a ridge to a spot I would be able to shoot cross-canyon if the bull appeared again. As we worked our way down we did spot him but we needed to cut off more distance. When we got to a reasonable shooting distance we were down quite a bit lower and could no longer see him. We decided to side-hill along the valley and stop often to glass across as our angles changed offering new views into the broken timbered slopes across. We saw a few cows from time to time. At one point I asked James to stop so I could get a bight to eat. I had just sat down on the steep, gravelly slope and pulled a few things out of my backpack when James said he saw a different bright yellow bull in one of the openings and he was a shooter. I quickly gathered my stuff and we started getting into a shooting position. We knew the opportunity probably would not last long since the opening the bull was in was quite small. The slope we were on was steep and it would have been a better hillside for a left handed shooter. Just as I was close to being set the bull looked our way and could smell a rat. He scooted across the opening and was out of sight. James led me quickly about 75 yards along the hillside and told me to start setting up next to a tree. It was an even trickier spot to shoot from and it took me longer than I would have liked to get set. James ranged the bull at 450 yards and I was finally ready to shoot. I sent the 180 grain Berger VLD from my Long Rang Rifles, LLC 7mm Dakota and it hit true. The bull rolled down the small ravine he was in and piled up upside down on top of his antlers dead. On Sunday morning my Dad and Robb glassed from a high perch they call The Pinnacle. It was a glorious spot with 360 degree views of the beautiful Wyoming mountains. In the afternoon Robb spotted a nice 5x5 in a small gap in some timber and they worked their way into a good shooting position. Dad made the shot at 574 yards with his Long Range Rifles, LLC 28 Nosler. The horse ride up the steep mountain to the bull was difficult and the bull was piled up in a tough spot but they got to him. Dad and I left on Monday afternoon after deboning our two bulls and icing them down in our coolers. Robb and his guides are breaking down their camps out of phone or computer communication so we haven't yet heard if any more elk were killed on Monday, the last hunt day. Once again the LRH Group Elk Hunt was a blast. Every year we meet great new people and there is always a fantastic camaraderie in camp. Now that I am back home I am already looking forward to next year's LRH Group Elk Hunt. If you've been dreaming of a western horseback elk hunting adventure consider joining us next year. Go HERE for more information.