Archery Elk Hunting 2013
I’m back from my archery elk hunt, and I had a blast! I didn’t harvest an elk, but it was a great adventure and a lot of fun. The way the trip started out I thought it was going to be miserable. After I packed my truck I was covering the bed with a tarp, and I left one of my favorite knives I was using to cut para cord sitting on the rear bumper. I realized that when I was about a half mile from home, and even though I traced my way back I couldn’t find it. It poured rain the entire 150 mile drive, and the final few miles were on a very narrow four wheel drive trail. At one point on the trail another truck was coming from the opposite direction, and there was no way for either one of us to attempt backing up. We both tried to squeeze as far off the trail as we could, and I felt my truck suddenly bump and shift a little bit, but I didn’t think much of it. Later when I was setting up camp I saw a big crease and dent in my bed side wall, apparently I hit something. Click here to see a video of that drive.
But I wasn’t going to let those two events ruin my trip, I had a week to spend in the wilderness and there was nothing I could do to change what happened with my knife or my truck. I got to the trail head just as the rain let up, and it stopped completely while I set up my tent, and then started again almost immediately when I finished. I thought that was a good sign, someone was feeling sorry for me I guess.
My canvas wall tent is quite spacious, and it was very comfortable with everything I brought. I had a wood burning stove, for which I brought 70 pounds of coal and some firewood. I had my camp kitchen set up, a propane stove/grill, two tables, a chair, and a cot. Although it was a bitch to set up by myself, it would be a comfortable home for the next six days, and a welcome sight at the end of each evening hunt. Click here to see a video of my tent.
It rained every day and night, some days more than others, and that’s not good for elk hunting; the rain makes them nervous because they can’t hear, see or smell as well as they normally can. But I’m not making excuses, I had plenty of chances, and I got close to several cows and three bulls, and a few bears as well. I worked really hard on this trip, partly because I had to since I was camped at the trail head and each morning started with a long hike well before sunrise, and I didn’t get back to camp before 8:00 PM, one night I didn’t get back until after 11:00 because I had gone really far up and out that day. On my last day it only rained a little bit in the morning, and the rest of the day was gorgeous.
The elk were still up pretty high, and they were starting to bugle more and more each day. On one day I cow-called a bull to within 20 yards, but I couldn’t get him to come out of the heavy underbrush of alders that he was hiding in. I tried to get a picture of him, at the time he stopped coming any closer I got a good look at his head and front shoulders, but by the time I got my camera out all I could see was part of his right shoulder. You can kind of see him in the picture if you look hard, but it’s difficult to see because all that came out was his shoulder. He just stayed there making grunting and wheezing sounds, and occasionally he would let out a loud “WEEONK!” as if to state his frustration and uncertainty. Suddenly the sky flashed brightly, followed immediately by a deafening crack of thunder that I could feel rumbling the ground beneath my feet, and the bull bolted off into the forest, ending our standoff.
I had never seen as many berries in all the years I hunted this area, and there were a lot of bears around, their droppings were everywhere, and often very fresh. One day I was out for an evening hunt and it started to rain really hard with a lot of lightning. I decided to wait it out under a thick group of pine trees where it was somewhat dry in a small pocket at the base of one tree. It was difficult to hear because it was raining so hard, but I could hear something rummaging around and making noise, and then I could smell a wet bear. Imagine what a 500 hundred pound dirty, wet dog smells like, and that’s kind of what it smelled like, only worse. I kept scanning around me as the sounds grew closer, and then I saw a mass of black fur about 15 yards away. I was sitting completely still, and I watched the bear eating alder berries, grabbing branches with his paws to pull the berries to his mouth. It was amazing how efficient he was pulling those berries off the branches and then moving on to the next one. He didn’t even know I was there, and he kept on his way without bothering me.
There is a lot more to write about this trip; I had some more exciting encounters with elk, even more exciting than the one I described, and maybe I will elaborate on more details in future posts. I certainly have a lot of material that I wrote in my journal each night, I made sure I did that, no matter how late it was. It was a great trip, and one that will stick in my mind as one of the best elk hunting trips I have ever had; obviously not because of the end result, but because of the experience.
Below is a picture gallery of my trip, and below that are links to some cool videos:
Here are some videos of me stalking through the woods. There are no elk sightings because my camera makes too many electronic sounds turning it off and on, so I couldn’t get video of the times that I was into elk. Click on the links below to see what it is like to hunt elk in the mountains.