Sunday, July 14, 2013

Scouting for elk

I drew out this year on the limited entry rifle bull elk hunt on the Wasatch unit.  This is a big deal.  You pretty much only get this opportunity like twice in a lifetime, so when I found out I was incredibly excited.  Most of the time if you want to elk hunt in Utah you can only shoot a spike.  But if you are lucky enough to draw out on the limited entry hunts you can shoot a bull of any size.

Part of the fun of this type of a hunt is the scouting process.  Locating where the elk herds are, where they hang out, and where the big bulls are.  I decided to hunt in the area where my dad and I have elk hunted for the past 10 years or so.  I might not shoot as big of a bull elk over there, but I know I will have fun, I know it is beautiful there, and I do know there are trophy bulls in the area that we have seen in the past.
Last month my buddy Dave and I went up there on his trail bikes and checked the area out.  The trail bikes were quite snazzy for getting around.

The wildflowers were starting to bloom and looked awesome.

We rode the bikes all the way to other side of the canyon from where I will be hunting.  It was very scenic over there.

We saw some cool cascading streams.

And even this neat waterfall.

Most of the time I go up in the evening to check out the area at dusk.  I am always treated to fantastic sunset views of Strawberry reservoir on my way out.

On the morning of July 4th I got up at 5:00 am and headed up to the site.  It was a torrential down pour.  This photo might be hard to see, but everything was soaked.

I hiked a couple miles from the car to this clearing and the rain stopped.  This spot provides great views in all directions.

After enjoying the views and glassing for elk, I went to a spring I wanted to check out.  Near the spring I found this bear track in addition to a ton of elk tracks.  It's a pretty fresh one too.

Here is the spring that empties into a watering trough.  I'm sure it was set up years ago by some cattle or sheep herders, but it is dominated by wildlife now.

On the way out I got some awesome photos of the wildflowers.  The mountain blue bell is possibly one of my favorites.

Last Sunday I went up with all the kids for an afternoon drive to check out the area while Lisa went to a cancer meeting.  I told them that if they saw some elk that I would give them all a dollar.  They were so excited and began to look anywhere and everywhere for elk.
On the drive up we spotted a group of 4 grouse right off the road.  I jumped out and snapped some pictures of them.  This guy thought he was hiding and wouldn't budge until I was right on him.

The bird in flight.

We got up to our area and the kids and I got out to stretch the legs.  They were happy and trying their hardest to use their whispering voices so as to not spook any wildlife.  We need to work on that whispering with the two little boys some more.

We spotted this little buck up the road from us.  I didn't have my telephoto lens so he doesn't show up really well.  But if you look closely at the top of the road on the right hand side, you can see him silhouetted against the sky.

Again, we were treated to a fantastic sunset.

Last Tuesday I went up after work with my friend Tyler and placed a trail cam by that spring.  Unfortunately the batteries were old and died after the first night, but it did manage to take 3 photos.  The first one is of me hiking back out.

Then it took two more about 7:00 am Wednesday morning (ignore the time stamps on the photos) of this young 6 point bull.

Tucker and I went back up to the site last night and hiked in to swap out the SD card in the camera and put in new batteries.  He was an awesome little hiker, and when we got there, he couldn't stop talking about how cool it was that we had a camera set up.  When I pulled the SD card and looked at the photos it took, he was so excited to see that elk.  I was too.  This bull isn't the size I want, but he is still exciting to look at.  I will go back up in two weeks and take down the trail cam before the bow hunt starts.  But all of my scouting has helped me to better formulate a plan of how I'm going to approach this hunt.  I can't wait.