2021 elk hunt

mcseal2

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May 8, 2014
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I finally got caught up enough to write the story of my Wyoming elk hunt this fall. Dean, a close friend, and I drew a decent unit after building points. We have hunted the unit twice before, and it seems that each time we draw it takes close to double the points it took last time. We have made several friends that live in the area though we enjoy spending time with, it keeps us going back when we can.



We hunted the last week of rifle season, end of October and beginning of November. This year the weather did not help us out. The roads on the top of the mountain were drifted shut, but the snow was not deep enough off the roads to push elk down. It really had the elk scattered. Usually either the snow has them concentrated a bit, or the hunting pressure does if there isn’t snow.



Several long hikes into holes that have produced in the past failed to produce elk sightings. The bachelor groups or lone bulls just weren’t pressured into those areas yet. On the advice of our local friends we started concentrating on a different canyon we had not hunted before. It’s a tough place to hunt but did hold some bulls. It’s a really deep and steep canyon that has very few paths off the rim into the bottom. Without snow picking out bulls was also very tough. They had all the resources they needed in the bottom and didn’t have to expose themselves much.



We hoped a front would bring us some snow, but it just socked the mountain in with fog. We spent some time in the lower foothills exploring for a couple days until visibility improved on the mountain. Saw some new country and gave the legs a little break.



Once we could get back to the canyon I did find a couple bulls that I’d have been happy with. Problem was both were broken up. One bull I guessed around 320” intact but he was missing a couple points off his left antler. He was also in about the worst part of the canyon to pack a bull out of, and horses can’t access that canyon. Our hunt would have been essentially over if I’d have taken the shot by the time we got him out.



Later in the hunt I found a bull that would have been the biggest elk I’ve ever seen while hunting if his antlers matched. He was missing his whole left antler, but had a hell of a right one. I spotted him from a distance and got in position above him on the rim at 400 yards before I could see how broken he was. It was still cool finding him and getting within range of a wise old bull like that. Part of hunting the late season is dealing with broken antlers.



The last day we located some bulls feeding at the top of the face from a distance. My friend went after the lone bull and dropped me off to pursue a group of seven. I had a heck of a hike through unfamiliar terrain to get an opportunity. It took me about 3 hours to climb the face and get to the clearing the bulls had left that morning to bed. Some places I would have been on all fours climbing if I hadn’t had trekking poles. I followed a closed road for a bit, then what was supposed to be a horse trail before reaching the steepest part. I think I was on the horse trail because I saw a couple old sawed off trees, but there wasn’t much other sign of a trail. I used the tracking feature of OnX coming in to help me get back out in the dark.



As I got to the top the wind kept getting more and more wrong for what I was doing. I would not have tried it that night if it hadn’t been the last night. I looked for a place I could see the trail behind a big rock on the face of the mountain that had better wind, but there just wasn’t one. The only place I could get the elevation I needed was atop another rock formation and the wind was bad. I put on the puffy layers and climbed the rock to wait, laying prone with my rifle over my pack.



The wind started quartering across my position and I started thinking it might work out. Finally I saw antlers start coming up the trail. The first bull was a small raghorn, the second was larger but I could not see the tops of his antlers to tell how much better he was. I knew there were a couple good 6 points in the group but figured they would be toward the back when they came out. About then the wind hit me in the back of the neck and ears. The raghorn spun and took off as my wind hit his nose. The larger bull’s head popped up and he stared at my position for a second or two. I decided that was my last chance, and put the crosshairs just inside his near shoulder as he faced me. I sent the 180gr Nosler E tip down the barrel of my 300 win mag. I lost him in the recoil, but he didn’t go 60 yards from where I hit him. At that angle the E tip had a lot of elk to damage before exiting in front of his hip.



He turned out to be a decent 5x6 bull. Not huge, but I was very happy to get him at the last minute. I got him gutted and his rib cage propped open as light faded and made it down the steepest part of the path out before it got completely dark.



I was worried about horses being able to back down the slope I’d climbed with a load of meat. I have a lot of experience with horses from cattle work on our ranch, but not mountain horses or packing meat. I had been above the area where I shot the bull once before and thought there might be a better path that way. I met up with the local friend who was going to bring horses in to help me pack the bull out the next morning. I told him my plan and he thought it sounded good. I had Dean drop me off with my UTV on the road above and a couple miles south of where I’d shot my bull. I hiked down to the bull from there to start cutting him up. Chris, the packer, would come up the way I had come to shoot the bull with the horses and see what he thought about packing meat back out that way. If it was to bad he’d pack the bull back up to Dean and the UTV, unload the meat, and ride out down the road.



That is what we ended up doing. I packed the head back down the steep trail, and Chris and his girlfriend packed the meat up to the UTV. Dean picked me up on the way down with the UTV, and Chris rode the horses back down the road. Dean’s bull never fed back out that last evening so we are splitting the meat from mine between us. Both of us will have some steak and burger this way.



It was a tough hunt, but a great one also. I got to see a lot of new country and challenge myself physically and mentally grinding it out. Also we got to see some good friends we don’t see often enough. I can’t wait to draw the tag again someday.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
2,299
A few pics from the hunt
 

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mcseal2

mcseal2

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Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
2,299
Thanks!


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