Craig my huntng partner and I were heading out early 28 Aug., season 1 Sep. Our hunting grounds will be at the base and just below the timber line of that series of mountains.
My favorite ranch entrance sign.
This is my story and I am sticking to it.
Set up base camp
It was hot and would continue to be above normal for 17 days with no useful rain.
Craig is a dark side hunter and one of the hardest hunting and most successful hunters I know. He has hunted this area for over 20 years and is as tuff as the country we would hunt. His one fault in my opinion is he is a antler hunter now after all the years of success. But it works for him and he is as I said very successful. I have hunted here with him years before.
Craig was going to be hunting mule deer up high the first few days. Up there
One I dont hunt antler, if its legal and its ribs arent showing I will try to get a shot. Two I dont have the boots for hunting that type of terrain. Three Yhea No Thanks!
That meant I was hunting the first few days of the season on my own. Day one found me seeing a few muley does but it is antlered deer only and any elk. As I worked a creek bottom trail I found myself following a bugling bull. I dont call much anymore. I may cow call or bugle to locate, but if a bull is bugling on his own, I just try to sneak close and then call if within 100 yds or less. Get all up in his grill and what not. This bull was leading me along a ridge. He was with cows already. When I finally got close I thought I could see an elk in the timber. It disappeared and then I heard the bull heading out the other way. Dang almost there. As I dropped down off the ridge into a old clear cut of course I see a calf, then some cows and calves. Busted they run back up to the bull and off they all go. Long walk out but I found an old logging road that had a lot of sign and would let me enter the area from another direction.
Excellent adventure! I was captivated by reading it. I would love to do something like that. It looks like you had quite the fun. Congratulations!
After I left Craig said it went from hot and dry to raining almost non-stop. He only had short periods to hunt. The old meadow came thru again. Craig killed a spike on the meadow, did I rub off on him, hummm. Probably not the rain was the factor. It wasn't supposed to stop for several more days.
He also saw deer from base camp but opted not to take one. He had taken a mully earlier this year in Arizona.
A very successful hunt for us both even with the extremes in weather. I believe weather saves more game than any other factor.
Thanks for coming alone
Equipment; JD Berry North Star one of a kind made for me 50@26. Homemade poplar shafts tipped with 190 left griz., 580-600 grain.
Thanks for the 'tag-along' Jack. Excellent.
Well Done! Thanks for sharing.
Great pics Jack. Thanks for the tag along !!
Day off in Jackson. Famous elk antler arch in town center park. Million dollar bar.
Excellent hunt and story. Thanks for taking us along. Congrats.
Its fine. This newer site software makes it less easy and less fun...but that is old history.
Sounds like you are having a great hunt Jack. Congrats on a fine elk! I haven’t even seen a elk so far.
Man my story got broke up funky. Sorry guys.
Awesome...thanks for sharing !
Tuesday the 6th. We decide to go in and put up our spike camp. Craig has a nice spot along a creek. We will be just below where the elk hang and dont have to go far to get into them. He has used this east end of the mountain for years. We will be just below the saddle. The back side of the mountain on the left is an old burn.
We shoulder our packs at about 2. Remember its hot, yeah the pack in was brutal with the heat till we got over the double hump and started following the creek up to our camp spot. As we neared our area there were at least 3 bulls bugling. Its like 4 in the afternoon. The bull across the creek is a growler, the one to our right is 150 yds from camp. But camp is a priority. So we leave the bulls alone expecting to get into them tomorrow. They bugle as we set up, yes the whole time its crazy.
Tough to see unless you are looking. We are about 2 miles in.
We had set up, got water about 80 yds to creek, eaten our mountain house dinner and where sitting in our nice lite camp chairs whispering back and forth. The bulls had stopped bugling and where probably heading to the meadows above to do what elk do at night.
Craig leans over and whispers there is a elk across the creek. Humm sure enough, a cow. She turns back up the creek and I cant see her. In a minute Craig whispers she crossed the creek, get your bow. I look at him mister horns is telling me to get my bow? Yep he shakes his head. I reach over and get my bow it is leaning on the down fall just behind me. Put on my glove. I kneel down next to my tent. I remember thinking as I put my arrow on the string dont poke a hole in your tent dumb ass. I can see just the head and ears of the cow. Then she walks down into a small cut that passes right by the tents and here she comes. As she is coming down I begin following her with my bow arm. I am thinking stop..stop. Guess what she stopped in the wide open and must have either seen my movement or just noticed the tents.
I am sure most of you have heard of Tom Clum. I have been trying to work a lot of his ideas into my form.
I have my spot. Start my draw yhea I like the shot picture. Anchor thats easy because I cut my arrows so that my broadheads just touch my finger. Elbow back and pu... I didnt get to pull...pull..pull. Just pu and the arrow was away, it flew like it was on a string and with the white fletch I could easily see where I hit her. She turn ran at a slight angle away, I could see my shaft burried up to the crest in her side near the heart. It was 7:04. I heard her crash thru some brush below and I was sure I heard her go down. After waiting and discussing the shot Craig from his position could see me draw and shoot but not the elk. He was bragging that it look like the perfect trad shot. Draw concentrate anchor second or two and shot. We didnt even look for blood it was getting dark, and I was sure I knew about where she went down. At first we passed her in some thick little pines. They always look for nasty to die in. As we worked our way back towards camp in a cut Craig says I smell elk. Sure enough we found her on the edge of the cut just a few yards up.
Missed the heart but double lung. As she ran and whacked the shaft which she broke off it must have sliced or I broke a rib on the off side because it looked like a gun shot.
We quartered her, left her to cool over night. I told Craig to go hunt the morning and then come help but he was right it was hot and we needed to get her out.
First quarter felling good.
Four shuttles and 6 hours later we had here in the back of the truck. Changed clothes and took her to the only game processor in the area. Did I say it was HOT.
Second shuttle location. Dropping a quarter to go back for more.
On Friday we went back in. Craig had a stalk on a 5 point on the old meadow but it fed up and away. A doe mule deer snuck up behind me and snorted and jump, which made me jump 10 feet. I almost for the first time broke game law and killed an illegal animal.
It was crazy dry and noisy, I wasnt going to hunt deer this high and could not follow Craig around because of the noisy conditions. So I packed out and hunted mullies from base camp. The elk stopped bulging with the heat and the full moon they must have been enjoying the nights.
I hunted till the 12th with the nasty dry conditions I just could not break the 30 yard mark even on bucks coming into the base camp meadow. Which I saw more bucks from base camp then in the woods. Almost shot a fork horn within 100 yards of camp. Wouldnt that have been something, shooting both animals from my camp.
A bears den? Seveal bears in the area and a guy baiting 600 yds from base camp.
I was leaving on the 14th. In this area rifle deer season starts on the 15th. I really didnt want to compete with them.
Guess what of course it rained the night of the 13th. Great news it will improve Craigs chances for the big buck or bull he always hunts. He hunted 20 days alone last season never getting a shot at the big one, but his choice. I reminded him he could have already been tagged out. He is good with it each to his own.
Me I never look a gift cow in the mouth. I look at that crease just behind the shoulder.
Day two found me entering from the new direction. Down the meadow from us was another camp. Craig knew the guys they hunted here year after year. Alvin had several game cameras up in the area. He was a gun hunter but decided to carry an X-bow this year. We found ourselves going in on the same road. He was heading to a camera on a small pond. Bugling ahead of us, two bulls. When we got close I ask which one you want. He says I dont archery hunt much so you go ahead. I close the distance on the closest bugle. He is in the old clear cut oposite end that I jumped his cows in the day before. It is a well manicured cut. I can see quite a ways. This bull sounds close but I cant see him. Alarm bells are going off in the back of my mind, but I push ahead. Busted he was standing behind the only Christmas type tree to hide him in 80 yds. I was 50 yds from him when he took off. All I see is ass and ivory tip antlers.
Cussing my mistake I stand, walk maybe 10 feet and see a elk body behind me. Dang drop to knee put on arrow and the first elk is followed by a 4 point, probably the other bull I heard. 30 yds no shot he didnt stop and the two headed down and away.
But what about I dont hunt elk much with bow. They should have been in his shorts. He was breathing heavy, he had not been that close to elk in a while, also a head hunter not big enough.
Day three found me working clear cuts and timber. I was getting close to deer all does, and some small groups of elk. The dry conditions was making stalking almost impossible. I could get 50 yds or so but could not break the 30 yd mark needed for a shot.
Craig came down and complained of the wind changing direction on him. He was right it was out of the east instead of the normal west. It was all wrong for the deer he did see. Instead of busting them out he left the mountain. His boots had blistered his heels. We went into town to get moleskin. He is tough as I said and continued hunting using moleskin and duct tape.
There was smoke in the valley from a fire we where not sure its location. So for the next couple of days we hunted from base camp. We waited for the Labor day campers and road hunters to leave.
I was up in a saddle between two small peaks Craig calls the double d's. The elk had stopped bulging ? heat.
Here are some classics
JD Reverse handle North Star, I named Crown Jewel. See previous post as to why.
Craig passed a shot on a 4x3 muley. On the 5th we took a long walk into the west side of the area we would hunt.
Craig passed a shot at a 4 point elk on the old meadow, a spot he has taken elk off of several times in the past. He called me up to see if I could shoot. Umm no 50 is just out of my range. He of course thinks me crazy to limit myself to such short distance.
As we moved west along the base of the mountain in the timber we found this.
Mother nature can be more devastating then any logging crew. This sucked to cross, it used to be a very elky draw with grass. After crossing we entered an area where elk are always hanging. They feed in meadows at the tree line then feed down into the timber to bed. Very little sign, nothing like years past. Then we found this.
Another new slide cut threw the mountain. That mound is 30 feet high. Elk dont like crossing these slides anymore that we do. It will take a few seasons before the elk start using this area again. Elk and deer sign was very weak through the west end of our projected hunt area. That really narrowed us down.
A sign of times past.