Average Joe's 2018

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sn.outdoors

sn.outdoors

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After swapping batteries and SD cards, and getting drenched by monsoons, I blasted my way to Santa Fe to pick up my mounts. As usual, Imperial did not disappoint. I've said it before, but I don't think I can overstate it, Paul and Vince are amazing artists who pour their lives into each and every animal that leaves their shop.

The memories of the hunts and the hard work that went into making them a success is what the mounts represent. I'm very thankful.











Running out of wall space is not something I was expecting to have happen this early in my life.

*Note to self: buy a house with taller ceilings next time*





Still not sure where the moose is going to go.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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sn.outdoors

sn.outdoors

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Got this in the mail today... Things are getting real.




"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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I’ve been finishing out two classes so I could take a couple months off to hunt, so sorry for the absence!

I’ve been absolutely crushing the gym, shooting daily, and I couldn’t be anymore ready for this season.

I’m leaving for New Mexico in about 16 days and my season opens in 19.

Arrows are flying great


I started hanging horns some days when I shoot. Maybe it’ll help me stay calm when I draw on a good bull haha. I’ve been known to get a little wild.

Broadheads are also shooting well at 10-40



I’ve got 5 cameras up in NM and a couple in Kansas.

Most of my NM cams are tucked way away, but I told a friend where one was.

He said it was loaded with elk.
Here are just a few





Some pictures are also starting to roll in from Kansas






This is going to be such an amazing year.

I’ll be tying up a couple loose ends the next couple weeks, continuing hitting the gym and shooting.

I cannot wait to get into the beautiful mountains.


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sn.outdoors

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I have a lot of pics to go through from this weekend. Had many close encounters with some really nice elk, but they were very aware of which side of the fence was safe. No elk were harmed in the taking of these pictures.











I have a few videos to upload as well, and I'll be working on getting that done throughout the week. Lots of last minute preparation and less than 5 days to get it done before I'm off to hunt Oregon for the first time in my life.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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sn.outdoors

sn.outdoors

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Last weekend I had the opportunity to introduce a high school friend and his dad to the wonders of western hunting. Late last year, my buddy hit me up, told me he traveled to eastern Idaho for work several times a year, and asked if I'd be willing to show him the ropes and maybe hunt some elk.

Well that's an offer I can't turn down.

As the calendar sorted it's self out, he lined up a work trip scheduled for this week, so he and his dad bought tags and came out a few days early to hunt elk in the desert. This wouldn't be a "classic western elk hunt" by any stretch of the imagination. We were hunting farm fields and desert. We couldn't even see the mountains because of all of the smoke.

Despite the fact that we were hunting hay fields and desert, the guys were excited to be hunting elk.





The plan was simple. Drive around, cover as much ground as possible, find elk, figure out a way to kill them.

It didn't take long to find elk, the only problem was they knew they were safe.



We found a very large herd on a property we couldn't hunt. So we started knocking on doors, flagged down a few tractors, and made some phone calls. Unfortunately, we didn't gain access to the fields they were feeding on that morning. The plan for the night was to have the hunters sit on a water tank not far from the elk while I sat and watched them from a distance.









Unfortunately for my buddies, the elk didn't move the right direction, but they did go to a different field that we didn't ask for permission to hunt yet. We decided to check a different area the second morning, and midday we'd call the landowner.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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sn.outdoors

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A few more pics from day one.









"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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sn.outdoors

sn.outdoors

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The morning of day two falls solidly into the unfruitful category. We checked out an area I'd never been to, and it wasn't just a dry hole, it was bone dry, resembling more of a real life Hell's scape. Hey, at least we could check this spot off the list.



While making the drive back to the hotel, we made the call to the landowner of the field we watched the entire herd feast on the night before. And as luck would have it, a few dairy farmers from the Midwest were able to sweet talk their way on to a prime piece of elk hunting real estate. Things were looking up!

We discussed the evening's plans over a hard earned Culver's butterburger, cheese curds, and a pint of custard. We decided to do a a similar plan of attack as the previous night. I'd watch the herd, and they'd sit on the field and wait.

The evening started with a very positive vibe. The elk were bedded 3/4 of a mile away from the field, and the wind was good. It looked like a slam dunk.



Well apparently nobody filled the elk in on our plan. The main herd did not move toward either of our locations, all except for this nice young bull who decided to come hang out with me.



He watched the herd for a few minutes and he turned 180 away from them and walked straight to me.




He came to 35 yards before angling away.



And then he decided he was too tired to stand any more.



67 yards away! Talk about a gross miscalculation. Haha. There I was, with a bull laying well within range, and no tag. Haha. Oh well.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the property, my buddies had a close call with 4 raghorns. The bulls hugged the wrong side of the fence until the last 10 minutes of legal shooting light. When they finally crossed over to the hay field, the elk were just below a slight drop off and never presented a clean shot. Soooo close!

It was unfortunate that I couldn't stay longer, but I had to get back to work Monday morning. (I didn't sleep much Sunday night, but I wasn't late for work.)

My buddies sat on that field Monday and Tuesday, but never saw another elk. They did sit down with the landowner for a few hours, talking farming, and sharing stories. It's rare, but always refreshing to meet a genuinely nice person who seems just as excited for you to hunt their land as you are to hunt it.

My friend's dad had to fly home today, and sadly left without punching his tag. He was grateful to have had an opportunity and realizes that's more than most people get.

My buddy will have 2 more nights to hunt, so hopefully the elk come back and he's able to capitalize on the opportunity. It would be awesome if they could make it happen.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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I leave for Oregon tomorrow afternoon... Should probably finish building my arrows. I'm going with a 505gr Easton Axis .300 w/ 6 fletch 1.75" bohning x-vane and 100gr kudupoint. Should be a solid elk setup.





As I said earlier, this will be the first time I've ever stepped foot in Oregon with a tag in my hand, and because I spent most of my summer away from home for work, I haven't been able to scout the area either. We're going in totally blind; no insider info, I didn't even scour the interwebs and forums to see if people had hunted there. I just looked at harvest statics for the unit and spent a couple dozen hours pouring over it on Google Earth.

I don't really have any expectations other than the fact that we'll spend a week in the unit, hunting as hard as we can. I'll be hunting with one of my best friends, and hunting in what looks to be some rugged and beautiful terrain. It could be a total ball buster and we very well could leave out tags unpunched, but that's fine with us. We'll give 'er hell and have a ton of fun doing it.

Since I don't believe in luck I'll leave you with this quote before officially starting my season.



"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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sn.outdoors

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There are at least 3 elk in this new growth. One bull for sure, a raghorn 5 point. No wind, no calling or elk talk heard so far. We're going to let them bed and try to make a move. It's super thick, so we'll play it safe.





"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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I have some decent 4g where I'm at so I figured I'd pay an update of this adventure I'm on.

---------

Day 0

I spent the morning of day zero at the bow shop doing some very last minute tuning that I would have done myself, but I don't have the right limb adapters for my new bow. Luckily the shop wasn't terribly busy and we were able to get it back to shooting lasers in no time.

I picked Ryan up at the airport early afternoon and we were headed for the mountains.

About an hour away from where we were planning to hunt, we spotted a cow elk off the side of the road in an area we can hunt. So we stopped the truck and tried to make a move on her, but she was gone before we could get close enough. The rest of the ride was uneventful.

------

Day 1

Since we'd never been to the area before, we made the decision to start hiking out of camp at sunrise so we could see what was around us. The plan was to hike in about 4 miles and setup in a spot that we thought would overlooked a lot of beautiful terrain. As I was picking up my bow and getting ready to head up the hill I started to say, "I really have zero expecta...." when I spotted 2 elk feeding in a meadow less than 1000yds from the tent. "...there's elk...... Right there."

I guess we weren't going to be hiking in to find elk. They were right outside camp!



By the time we got to where the elk were, they were deep into their sanctuary of thick new growth. They had a few sentries posted up, keeping an eye out for danger.





We saw a few spikes, a raghorn, and several cows feeding throughout the new growth, and watched them until the disappeared or bedded down for the day. Knowing that they were probably going to stay in that spot for the entire day, we decided to go explore a little bit of the area.

Around noon we sat down to take a break, eat some food, and swap socks after hiking a few miles. After sitting for 45 minutes, Ryan spotted an elk slowly moving down the ridge in front of us. The wind was perfect for a stalk, so we let the elk settle into it's spot, put our boots on, and slowly made our way into it's bedroom. The area was steep, thick with short new growth, and loaded with tons of deadfall.

When we got to what we thought was "the spot" we stood still for a few minutes to look, listen and smell. We knew the elk was close, but couldn't find it. We also had no clue if it was a cow, calf, or bull. After we didn't see or hear anything, we decided to move down the hill a few yards and wait again.

As soon as we took our first steps, the elk stood up and busted down the hill to the bottom of the drainage. He turned out to be a nice young 6 point. He stood at 100yds and looked back up at us, trying to figure out what the heck we were. After he calmed down a bit, we tried to move a little closer, but he wasn't having any of it. He trotted up the other side of the drainage and out of our lives. So close.

After the encounter, we hiked back to the drainage we saw the elk earlier that morning and glassed it for a few hours before we finally spotted the herd feeding. They were in a small meadow surrounded by re-prod and feeding uphill, into the wind. We decided to work parallel to the herd and hope they popped out on our side of the new growth before dark.

As last light was fleeting away, the sound of large animals started getting danger close. We could hear them feeding closer and closer to the edge, but couldn't see anything. We tried to make a move when, boom, there they were. 60yds away and staring right at us. We messed up.

They busted out of there and never gave us a shot. Again, so close.

We ran into another hunter when we got back to the road and offered to lend a hand if he needed it, since he was hunting solo and was going to be in the same area we were.

We hiked back to camp bewildered at how well the first day went. We couldn't believe we got into elk on day one, and had 2 separate opportunities. Even though we never drew back our bows, we counted the day as a success, but it also felt a little too good to be true.



"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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Day 2

We spent the morning of day 2 glassing the drainage we saw the 6 point in the day before. We didn't see any elk, but we did see 12 other hunters working the opposite ridge. No surprise that we didn't see any elk walking around in the open.





Since there was a boat load of people in the "easy" to hunt spot, we decided to hike down into a deep hell hole to see if we could find any fresh sign.



Well... The deadfall and terribleness in bottom of the drainage was way worse than we thought it would be, and to make it even better, there was no fresh elk sign anywhere we went.



There was plenty of old elk sign in there, and it had all of the characteristics of being a sanctuary... but they hadn't been there in a while.

By the time we made it 3/4 of the way out of the hell hole it was about 6pm. We stopped to take a breather and stared at the other side of the canyon. I saw something moving in a tiny meadow well over a mile away halfway up the other side, and asked Ryan, "what would you do if we spotted an elk over there?"

He said we'd go back to camp...

I said, "oh, cuz there's an elk right over there." We glassed up 2 really nice bulls feeding their way to the top of the opposite ridge. There was no way we could make it there during the day, so we packed up our stuff and walked a few miles to the drainage we dubbed Spike Meadow the night before. We didn't see any elk, and finished the night off with a short, but steep walk back to the road in the dark.

We made it about 100yds up the road before there hunter we ran into the way before pulled up behind us. He offered us a ride, we accepted, and asked him how his day went...



"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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Well, his day went a little better than ours, but he sure was flustered and tired from covering a ton of ground and killing an elk many miles away from camp. He was so far from camp that he actually had to hitchhike a ride back.

We congratulate him on killing a bull and told him we'd help him pack it out after our morning hunt. He couldn't believe we would actually be willing to help him out, but we swore we'd be there and it would be our pleasure. We set a time and place to meet up, and promised we'd be there.

------

Day 3

We decided to hunt close to camp since we were going to help Ben (the stranger who killed the bull) pack his animal out, and we'd seen a ton of elk so close. So we sat on the hill 200yds above camp, and glassed the drainages we'd seen them in the first morning. Sure enough, we spotted a herd with 2 spikes, 2 raghorns, a decent young bull and a handful of cows and calves. All of them were less than 400yds off the road. We couldn't believe it. All that hiking in the "backcountry" with more hunters than elk, and then we see a dozen or so elk right off the road.

We boogied over to try to cut the herd off before they got into the new growth, but we just couldn't get there in time. The entire herd vanished into the reprod and we lost them. So we walked back to the truck and met up with Ben.







We helped him get his bull unstuck, broke it down, and packed it out of there in one trip. It was fun sharing time and stories with a complete stranger, and helping someone who would have been in a rough spot without a few extra hands.

It's amazing to me how complete strangers can instantly bond over a common hobby. Hunting seems to be one of the strongest forms of camaraderie we share. As long as ego is taken out of the equation, just about anyone who hunts can easily spend time and get along with other hunters.

After we got the meat off the mountain, Ryan and I decided to refill our water, soak our feet, and wash some clothes in the creek. It was a nice break and helped boost our morale quite a bit.



We tried to get back on the elk we'd seen in the morning, but they were gone. Well... They certainly weren't where we thought they'd be.

We saw nothing that night. It wasn't awesome, but that's hunting.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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The morning of day 4 was utterly uneventful. We didn't see a single animal. We walked through a few miles of new growth, hoping to turn something up, but couldn't find anything other than boot tracks. So we decided to pack up 2 days worth of food, and head back in to the hell hole where we'd seen the bulls on the night of day 2.



Our plan of attack was to come in from the top, and slowly work down the side of canyon. Hopefully we'd be able to peak their interest with some calls and get them on their feet. And if that didn't work, we would hopefully be at the bottom of the drainage by the time the thermals shifted, and could start working our way back up an adjacent finger ridge.







We found a ton of old bull sign, but couldn't locate any animals. It's definitely an area we like to hang out, but again, the freshest sign in there was boot tracks and lots of these....



We marked a bunch of good spots and decided to not spend the night on the trail because we were feeling a little lazy and our cots sounded much more appealing after doing two 1/4 mile, 1500 foot climbs and not finding any elk. Additionally, we had to leave midday the next day so I could be at work for an important meeting I couldn't get out of.



"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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We didn't get back to camp until a few hours after dark and we were dead tired. So the morning of day 5 we chose to be super lazy and glass elk from the tent.





The herd came back, and was in the same place we saw them the first morning. We ate our breakfasts and walked up the drainage to Spike Meadow, and found the elk exactly where we thought they'd be.

The only problem was the terribly inconsistent wind. It was calm, and the winds were swirling every direction. It was extremely frustrating. We could hear them walking around, mewing, calling, and even heard a bugle, but we couldn't get close.





"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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After driving a ton of miles to the house, spending the night with the wife and kids, going to work, and driving back to the mountains, we were back at it. We headed straight to Spike Meadow this morning, and guess what?



Found em again.

We're currently sitting a few hundred yards above them and waiting them out. The winds are kinda garbage, but we're hoping they'll settle down and do the same thing they've been doing the last few nights. I feel pretty good about our chances of getting close to them tonight. Let's just hope the wind and the elk cooperate.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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Well... The winds didn't cooperate. The bulls were in the thick new growth, 40 yards away from Ryan when the busted him. They then ran over to me and skirted by at around 65yds. We didn't see or hear any of the cows tonight, just the 2 bulls who winded us both.

We're going to sit in a new spot tomorrow morning and try to glass up a different group. Its been a frustrating hunt so far, and the elk have not been talkative. We only have a day and a half to get it done, and we'll be giving it all we have. It takes less than 30 seconds to completely turn the hunt around. Hopefully we get those 30 seconds tomorrow.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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The mustache must be bad luck.



Had a random group of cows sneak up on me just before noon. Chased them all over the mountain and every time things were looking good, the wind swirled and they boogied out.

We're back above spike meadow, listening to a bunch of elk breaking twigs and mewing. The wind is much stronger today, so hopefully it stays a bit more consistent than it has been the last few days.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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We snuck down into the meadow...



But the elk had other plans tonight. Have I ever mentioned that I hate elk hunting? I should say, I hate going into a place blind, not scouting, finding plenty of elk, and then not being able to get on their schedule.

All that's left is a few hours in the morning before we have to pack up and get Ryan to the airport. Wish us luck because we're going to need it.

"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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Six clean arrows that were never even pointed at an elk.



"Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you." ~Mike Rowe
 
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