Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Elk Hunt

We had our annual family elk hunt again this year. There were some big rain storms at times, but we were fortunate enough to not get caught out in them. When my dad and I first arrived Friday mid day to set up camp, there was actually some fresh snow at the camp site. Crazy.

After Lisa and the kids came up that evening, my dad and I headed down to the BYU vs Connecticut football game. It ended up being a fun game and BYU won. After the game we headed back up to the elk camp and pulled in at about 1:00 am.

Opening morning Lisa came out with me and was carrying her own rifle and elk tag. We also brought Tucker and Aubrey along with us. Cole and Blake are still a little too young to go hiking around with us. We have an unofficial rule in our family that you have to be 8 years old to go out with us. My mom stayed back at camp with the little boys.
I made sure to pack some yummy treats and candy in their bags to keep them happy during the boring moments. We dressed them all warm as the temps were in the low 30's that morning. The mountains are so beautiful this time of year. It's one of my favorite reasons for going elk hunting.

My opening morning crew.

This is the hillside we were glassing.

Unfortunately we didn't see any spikes or cows that morning. It figures that the only thing we don't have a tag for is big bulls, and that's all we saw the first morning. Oh well, we had a lot of fun watching a big bull across the canyon from us. He was a big 6x6 that probably would have scored around 320. We followed him and watched him with our binoculars for quite a while. Here's a picture my dad took of the four of us on the side hill where we were watching.

 Here's Tucker looking at the big bull.

We were glassing across this canyon. We have such beautiful sights where we hunt. The scenery is wonderful.

The kids were great little hikers.

Saturday afternoon I went out with my dad and my cousin Zach to do some more hunting. Lisa stayed back at camp with the kids. She had fun, but ever since her tumor she struggles to stay warm. Even bundled up a ton she still will be cold. So she decided to stay back and warm her bones.

That afternoon was quite successful for us. I set up on a hill side overlooking some beaver ponds and some good cover that I was sure elk would be using as they came down to feed and drink for the evening. I got to my spot at about 4:30. Zach was up the canyon from me and my dad was down the canyon from me.

Here's the view from where I was sitting.

Right as I got to my hill side I looked across the canyon and saw what I thought was an elk in some thick trees. I pulled up my binoculars and sure enough, it was an elk. I didn't pull my gun up to shoot yet because I wasn't sure whether it was a cow or bull. I figured it was probably a satellite bull since it was all alone, but couldn't confirm it for a while. After a couple of minutes the elk was on the move. Right before it entered into some thick pines I got a glimpse at the head and saw that it was a cow! I was so excited. By the time I pulled my gun up she was in the pines. While I was watching that group of pines to see if she would step out, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. About 30 yards away from where she entered the pines I saw a 5 point bull walking through the thick aspens. I was confused as to why a smaller 5 point bull would be following a lone cow this time of year. Well the bull ducked back the direction he came and disappeared in some pines. I kept watching the pines where I last saw the cow, but couldn't see any more movement. I sat there for well over an hour and a half watching, waiting for something to step out into the open, but never saw anything. About once every 20-30 minutes I would hear a big stick break in the pines, so I knew she was still in there.  Around 5:30 I saw my dad on a ridge off to my right. I let him know through hand singles that I had spotted some elk across the canyon. He sat down for a while and glassed the area as well.  At about 6:00 Zach came strolling down to my spot. I explained to him the situation and we both sat patiently watching the hill side. At about 6:15 my dad left his spot and headed down the canyon to get to the four wheeler. The sun was starting to set slowly. I told Zach that if nothing happened in 15 minutes, we could head out as well.

Our patience paid off.  A few minutes later I saw the cow step out into the open. I pulled my gun up and through my scope I saw that she wasn't alone. There were other elk too. Zach and I started shooting. After my first shot I saw my dad come running back over the ridge he just left and was pulling up his gun as well. We were shooting at about 400 yards away. I dropped my cow on the fourth shot. Zach took a few more and dropped his cow. My dad only took two shots and stopped because he was further away than us and didn't want to have more elk down than we had tags. He said that he also saw the herd bull step out of the trees for a bit once we started shooting. Turns out it was a whole herd of elk in the trees I was hearing, not just the cow that I had initially seen. It was a super fun evening. We were pumped to get two cow elk.

Here's a picture of my cow elk where we found her after she rolled down the hill after my final shot dropped her. I know, not the most glamorous picture of her, but she was too big and heavy to turn around for a pretty picture, and the sun was setting quickly. 

We quickly gutted both elk, finishing off in the dark, then I left my orange hat and jacket hanging in a tree so we could easily find them in the morning. Zach, my dad and I then drove back to camp in the dark. It started raining on us as soon as we got back to the four wheeler and continued the whole way back to camp. Once we got back to camp, as soon as we stepped in the trailer the skies opened up and it began to rain hard. Good thing we weren't still on the mountain trying to pack out those elk.

The next morning we headed back out to that spot to quarter and haul the elk out. Lisa came with us to help pack them out. We were able to successfully haul them out in two trips. Lisa was an absolute rock star. She jumped right in and offered to help us haul them out.  Here's a fun photo of her with my cousin's elk head and me carrying the back straps and tenderloins in a back pack.

My cousin Zach took the front quarters, Lisa took the head, and my dad took the tenderloins and backstraps while I packed out the hind quarters. I thought I was going to pass out with how heavy those were. They weighed about 120 pounds, and I did that twice. Once for each elk. My shoulders were so sore and for a while I lost circulation of blood in my arms because all that weight was on my shoulders. In all it was worth it though. We are getting probably 175 pounds of elk meat after the butcher is done with it. 

Even Lisa said she had fun. It was hard work, but worth it. Here she is hiking out my elk head. We weighed it when we got home and it weighed 30 pounds. We kept the head for gender identification purposes. If a game warden stopped us, we needed to prove that what we shot was a cow elk, and not some big bull.

My dad was able to borrow a side by side from a vendor through his work. It was really handy and a ton of fun. The kids loved us taking them around for rides in it. That thing has some power and a ton of torque.

For the drive home I placed the elk legs in the bed of my truck so that they were sticking up. It was a funny sight to see.

In all it was an awesome hunting trip. We had a ton of fun together as a family and are looking forward to next year already.