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  1. #26


    Love the posts, keeps me inspired!

  2. #27


    Monday we decided to try a whole new area. The day before a bull had been bugling right behind camp. I was almost kicking myself for not pursuing him, and when I mentioned it to Dad on the drive Sunday morning, his response jokingly was "what are you going to do, drag him to the neighboring unit?" Of course, this puzzles me for a moment, when I remembered my Dad has a deer tag that's unit restricted and he was getting confused with that ... our OTC tag is plenty good where we are camped. I reminded him and you could see the gears turning.

    So, back to Monday ... once again we're making coffee and well before light there's a bull bugling. Then more than one. Why the heck are we driving somewhere if there's elk right here? They shut off about 20 minutes before shooting light, but we had an idea of where to go.

    Up, up, up and away we started exploring and climbing. As we hit the edge of the highest meadow, the laziest short bugle you ever heard sputtered out. We looked at each other wide eyed to confirm it was in fact a bugle. 20 seconds later it was confirmed as he bugled like he was awake this time. I told my Dad to get set up inside the cover 60 yards ahead, because when I call he's coming, but he'll probably stop at the edge and not see the elk he's looking for. As he was maneuvering into position, before I had even called, a bugle blasted out just ahead. This caused my Dad to stop short of where I had told him to go, as he was afraid the bull was coming any second.

    Well, after a few minutes of waiting, the bull did not appear, so I settled in to making some sweet cow calls. After what seemed like an eternity, I was starting to question what had happened. We were starting to hit that time of day where the thermals shift once again ( I always hear 10am, but it seems more like 7:30am where we hunt ) and questioning if we had been unknowingly busted when finally a branch cracked. Dad gave me the thumbs up.

    A few minutes later there was an awful lot of ruckus heading down the hill from us. I was confused, as I didn't see anything happen. A cow and spike passed above me, but out of range. I tried calling and they stopped and turned around several times, but were unsure. Finally, they went over the ridge.

    We grouped up and my Dad immediately asked if the bull was as big as he looked. I had no answer - I never saw him. The bull had hung up 50-60 yards from my Dad before finally being annoyed at not finding the cow. Gee, that sounds an awful lot like what I told him would happen.

  3. #28


    Friday, I was able to leave work a little early, but decided I needed to make sure the guns were sighted in for future hunts, so I stopped at the range on my way west.

    First up was my wife's CVA Optima II. Since it would just be used for pronghorn this year (just over a week away!), and last year the mule kick of it gave my wife target panic, we had worked up a new load of just 80 grains of Blackhorn 209 and 250 grain Thor bulllets. We had also swapped in a peep site. It took about a dozen shots to get everything back in line. A couple shots in the red at 100 yards had me please. Those Thor bullets do make a concerning woosh-woosh-woosh sound, though. Anyone else come across that?

    Next was her .270. We'd be using this on our WY pronghorn hunt coming up in early October and her mule deer hunt later in October. We decided to switch to non-lead ammunition this year and are shooting 130 grain FederalŪ Power-Shok Copper. I took 2 shots at 100 yards and both were 2 inches high and 1 inch right. Gave it a few clicks to the left and moved to 200 yards. Put two shots right in the bull. I think these shoot better than what we were using before as I'm only a mediocre shot.

    I packed up the guns and blasted over to a spot to glass for elk with the remaining time in the evening. I finished the 1/2 mile or so hike with about 45 minutes of glassing light. There were some elk bugling over on private, and I saw a black bear over there, too, but I couldn't even find a deer on the public land.

  4. #29


    Saturday found us returning to the same area where he had called in the bull on Monday, albeit with no pre-dawn bugles. Nobody was home in the nearby meadows, so we kept moving hoping to find sign. It was already pushing noon when my Dad said he'd had enough and was going to head back to one of the meadows and park it. I decided I was going to keep pushing until I found today's sign.

    Finally, about 2PM I found a fresh pile. Within a hundred yards or so I found some more, and the area stunk of elk. I had the general feeling that the elk had been there in the morning and headed West to bed. The wind was very fickle, so I didn't like my chances of pushing into the bedding areas. Time for lunch and a nap.

    Around 5PM, the thermals started changing and the wind started a steady downhill draft. I moved into position where a trail crossed a skinny, long meadow. ( Looking uphill in this shot )

    I sat back down to read my book. Around 6:30, there was some distinct crunching uphill to the southwest of me. This is it, I thought. The thump thump of hooves crossing a downed log. Antler tips were visible above the short pines, but I could not see his body. I didn't really have anything resembling a shooting lane unless he came into the meadow as it was very thick on both sides of it. The antler tips got to about 40 yards and stopped. And then, as it has been this season, a strong gust came from the northeast. The wind almost never blows from the east here.

    The hooves thundered away, and I never even got a good view of him.

  5. #30


    Because you can never have enough moose pics. One of these days I'm going to have to take my good camera. Saw a real brute (5 brow tines on each side!) but he didn't hang around for the photo.

  6. #31


    Sunday, we went back in the same area and found that bull had come back into the meadow but left before we got there. Nothing more eventful happened throughout the day as we pushed into new territory and found no new sign. Dad had to leave so we hiked back out and cooked up some lunch. I resolved to sit over that wallow in the evening, as it seemed like that bull was active there.

    At 4:30, I hiked my way back in only to find that bull had been there while we were at lunch. Gosh darn it. I stayed until dark but nothing showed and the world was quiet.

    I'm running out of time on this hunt as I have a 3:30am Monday morning shuttle to the airport on Sept 18, which means I have to be careful where I hunt this weekend. I cannot risk shooting a bull too late or too far. Dad cannot make this weekend, and my one buddy also has to work, so it looks like I am solo. However, I've had this one wilderness area in my back pocket that's been calling to me and I don't know if I can resist heading in there on Saturday.

  7. Default

    Keep up the hard work! I'm waiting for a "hero picture" text message

  8. #33



    A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 55. Breezy, with a west southwest wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.


    Rain showers likely before 4am, then a chance of rain and snow showers. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36. Breezy, with a west southwest wind 9 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.


    A chance of rain and snow showers before noon. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 52. Breezy, with a west southwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.


    I think Saturday afternoon is going to be killer.

    If work calms down here, I'm out of here ASAP.

  9. #34

  10. Default

    Very nice, can't wait to read about it

  11. #36


    Congratulations excited to hear the whole story.

  12. Default

    Congratulations! As a southerner who has made this trip for the first time, I'm jealous of what y'all have up here. We only have a short window of time and it is tough!

  13. #38


    Not enough time for the journal entry yet as I am packing for my business trip in the morning, butchering this elk and repacking for the pronghorn trip we're headed on when FireTiger picks me up on Wednesday. This was the only full body photo that came out halfway decent - its hard to photo while solo at dark in a rainstorm.

  14. #39
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Lake of the ozarks Missouri


    Congrats, I have enjoyed following along.
    I work so I can hunt

  15. Default

    Congrats Ryan!!!!

  16. #41


    Congrats Looks very nice, big body hope you had help packing him out!

  17. #42


    I finally got comfortable with the state of things at work and was able to leave home a little after 2pm. The drive was easy, but as I approached my destination, the mountains were completely shrouded in clouds. The rain started as soon as I hit National Forest. Upon arriving at my camping location, I got suited up and the rain gear on, but hesitated. I thought to myself, "This is dumb, nothing is going to be moving in this steady rain." Then I'd talk myself up again .., "You came out here to hunt, go do it!"

    Finally, I convinced myself to pack light and climb the nearby ridge - at least scout the route up for the morning. I had never truly hunted this location before, though I had drawn the route on my map 3 years ago. There's no trail here, its straight into the beetle killed timber deadfall uphill to a ridge gaining 700 or so feet, then you can follow the ridge to the mountain, then another 1000 ft to the top. Grabbing just the "essentials", I finally headed up the hill with the plan to scout to the mountain, but no farther.

    It took me longer than anticipated to gain the ridge, and my lower half was already soaked (I intentionally wear quick dry rather than waterproof pants, but my boots are shot as far as waterproofness goes). I couldn't help thinking "Yep, I'm an idiot. Look at me getting all my gear wet the night before the big hunt." I looked around for a few minutes, then let out a couple of cow calls for the heck of it.

    I didn't feel like an idiot when a bull immediately responded from the mountain. Kicking it into high gear, I quickly covered the ridge top and got to the base of the mountain. Calling again produced more responses, not in the same area, but much closer. The next twenty minutes was me giving a call or two, then moving at first 100 yards, then 20-30 yards as I closed the distance. There were at least four distinct bugles. The wind was variable from the SE to the SW, but the bulls were uphill to the South of me, so all was well there.

    Finally, one bugle was distinctly closer than the rest, so I focused on him. Give a call, quietly sprint 20 yards to the next pine, and wait. I repeated this a few times until I got one angry, close bugle. Time to shut up and let him come find me.

    I saw the bull slipping my way about 80 yards out, and quickly to 30 yards when I drew. All I knew was his brow tines were plenty long enough to be legal. He passed by me on the downhill and I had to turn my body and replant my feet. One twig cracked and he stopped and drilled me with his gaze. "Awww no, did I just blow it?". I had no shot. I wasn't settled in either, so I just held steady at full draw. Steadily enough, apparently, because after 20 seconds he took two steps and bugled.

    Settle in, he's close, 20 yard pin. Slightly quartered to - tight to the shoulder. Extreme downhill, so a touch high thinking of the exit, but also very close, so a touch low ... center mass it is. THUMP. All I could see was the fletching sticking out. He burst downhill, so I let out a few cow calls and he stopped. I couldn't see him anymore, but 5 seconds later was a massive crash.

    "Holy crap ... That just happened. Seriously? I haven't even been here for much more than an hour. That really just happened."

    I hadn't noticed, but the rain had stopped at some point. Earlier in the year, I had said I didn't know if I could hunt elk in the rain, as they can go a long ways on a fatal shot and tracking is hard enough. I debated for about 2 minutes on what to do, but the light was fading and the forecast was precipitation for the forseeable future.

    I could see tracks from where I was standing, so I put an arrow in the ground and moved down to where I had shot. Within a few feet I found 8 inches on my arrow broken off, with all but the fletchings covered in blood. Marking this on the gps, I moved down to the next track and then scanned with my binoculars. It only took repeating this 3 or 4 times before I saw the bull piled up against a tree.

    It wasn't until I walked over that I first got a good look at him. I'm not even sure I can describe what I was feeling at the time. I don't know if I've ever really seen a bull this size while hunting, let alone taken one. I know he's not like a 300 class elk, but this is an OTC unit and I don't pass up any legal bull.

    As anybody who's hunted elk knows, though, this was just the start of the adventure ...

    Last edited by vanish; 09-19-2017 at 10:14 PM.

  18. #43


    Quote Originally Posted by Ohboytimmy View Post
    Love the posts, keeps me inspired!
    Thanks for following! I hope I can continue to inspire.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lostinthewoods View Post
    Keep up the hard work! I'm waiting for a "hero picture" text message
    How'd I do?

    Quote Originally Posted by WildWill View Post
    Congratulations excited to hear the whole story.
    Halfway there! Thanks for following!

    Quote Originally Posted by plumber1969 View Post
    Congratulations! As a southerner who has made this trip for the first time, I'm jealous of what y'all have up here. We only have a short window of time and it is tough!
    It can be tough when you live here too, as it can be hard to decide what to focus on. But its a good problem to have. I used to live back East (that's where the Season 7 comes from) and can't imagine going back.

    Quote Originally Posted by 7mm08mo View Post
    Congrats, I have enjoyed following along.
    Thank you, and thanks for reading and your support!

    Quote Originally Posted by Crumb View Post
    Congrats Looks very nice, big body hope you had help packing him out!
    I didn't at first, but I got lucky and will tell the rest of the story soon. Hopefully tomorrow morning or while I'm on the plane back to CO tomorrow afternoon, as we start the CO Muzzy pronghorn doubleheader on Thursday.

  19. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vanish View Post

    How'd I do?
    You did well! Lol
    Now lets keep it going and text some antelope pictures to each other soon!

  20. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    North Dakota


    Congrats on a job well done.

    Can't wait to hear the remaining stories yet to unfold.

  21. #46


    Well, I forgot my power cord on the airplane and this is the first moment I've been able to sit down since I landed.

    Trying to finish butchering before heading North to be eyes and pack mule hopefully for my Dad.

    Came home soaked yesterday, but with two more tags filled.

  22. #47


    That's a really nice bull for otc. Definitely no shame there

  23. #48


    This next post brought to you by "Big Shooter Coffee" in Kremmling Colorado.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasher View Post
    That's a really nice bull for otc. Definitely no shame there
    Oh heck, I'm stoked! To me, he's huge!


    Alright, bull down and recovered, hooray! Breathe for a moment... but darkness is approaching. I set up my pack on the uphill and stuck my phone in the quiver, which held it pretty still. I forgot how to do the multi-burst mode that worked so well before, and the rain was making the touchscreen a bit ornery, but I did alright. Would have been a good idea to clear some of the grass away but oh well. I wasn't going to move the 600+ pound animal much, either.

    I sent a few pics to my best buds and got a reply from one of them "Where are you? - I'll come help pack! I'll bring the celebration."

    Considering I know what it takes to get an elk out, and I had packed minimal - no hot food - this didn't take but a second for me to describe my location. It was about a 3 hour drive for Rand. Ok ... if you look back I had packed the "essentials." Apparently I had not deemed my kill kit, including my knife, essential. Dumbass. That earned me a trip back to the truck, about an hour of squishing in my wet boots each way.

    I figured I had enough time to go back, get my kill kit, drink a Monster ( something I reserve pretty much only for packing out elk ) squish my back to the elk, skin half and get a pack load. I had just enough signal to keep in communication with Rand back at the truck. As I started back up the mountain, I got a text "ETA 12:38" ... damn, that's like 90 minutes later than the last estimate... ok... going to be a late night!

    I got back to the elk at 10pm and got to work. This was the first time for many things for me. First solo elk butcher job, first time butchering in the rain, first time by headlamp. Amazingly, I did not skewer myself. The bull had wrapped around a tree in just the perfect fashion on the steep slope. I was able to use a trucker's hitch to pulley his front shoulder, and then hind quarter, up out of the way so I might cut underneath. Getting to the other side was a bit more difficult, but with a few lengths of paracord I managed to roll him over. It took about 80 minutes to do each side, leaving the head to be dealt with in the morning as I was fearing Rand would show up while I was still on the mountain, and I wanted to be sure I was there to greet him.

    Making my way back down with the first load of meat, Backstraps, tenderloins and some other trim ( that was plenty heavy, don't discount that when planning a packing regime ), I was really glad I had a trekking pole with me, and was wishing I could have the second one, but I needed the extra light of my flashlight. It was DARK with no moon. The steep downhill deadfall covered section was no picnic, and I managed to get about 1/4 mile off course, ending up back at the truck just past 1am. Luckily, I had left my lantern on top of the truck to guide me.

    Hmm, no Rand. I got out of my pack and texted him ... "You Lost?" a few minutes later... "Yep."

    After much back and forth about where he was, I finally said I'd drive out to meet him at the main intersection. Arriving there, he wasn't there, even though he thought he was. This is so much fun... Definitely type 2 fun in boat loads. We finally figure they (yes they, S was with him as she wanted to experience the "fun" of packing an elk, having just gotten her hunter's ed cert and a new bow) turned down a nearby private road, and I can see his headlights. We made it back to camp and finally in bed just after 3am, with a 5am wakeup --- We're going after the herd before we finish packing out mine!

    I've got to go. Just got a text from my Dad that promises interesting things, or a kick in the balls.

  24. #49


    Back home as of last night. That was a whirlwind 400 miles! Now I'm even more awesome updates behind!

    Unfortunately for y'all I have to get some actual work done, and I'm pretty sure my little lawn is approaching the two foot mark.
    Last edited by vanish; 09-26-2017 at 10:42 AM.

  25. #50


    We awoke early to the coldest morning of the season, and snow flakes lightly falling. Ok, I'll be honest. I'm not sure if I even slept, but a little rest was good.

    I had forgotten to mention; the elk were bugling around me all night while I was quartering the bull. It seemed like it would be a simple matter to get Rand on one of them in the morning. We booked it up the ridge and over to the mountain where I had left the elk the night before, but all was quiet. Some light calling elicted nothing. Hmm ... did they really move in the last few hours?

    Just as we were approaching my bull ( I was literally trying to find him based on my gps ), we finally heard a bugle. It wasn't close, but it wasn't far, so we moved into high gear to close the distance. The weather thought this was the perfect time to also shift into high gear, and while it wasn't quite a whiteout blizzard, it was snowing pretty hard. That made side hilling the 45+ degree slope just a pile of fun, but we were making progress.

    Now, I haven't hunted much with Rand. We'd met at a BHA pint night a couple years ago and really hit it off, but our schedules just hadn't aligned. Ironically, the one day we'd gotten together last year was also a snow storm. Regardless, we seemed to be in tune as just as we came to a rockslide, and I felt we were within "the zone" of one of the bugling bulls, Rand motioned that he was going to attempt to slip in while I kept the bull talking. I was already positioning for just that.

    Time passed, and passed and passed. The bull just kept on bugling. Sometimes it seemed like he was really close, and other times a little farther away, but with the wind howling, it was hard to tell. I made the decision that I needed to move. I had no idea where Rand was exactly but I trusted his instincts. There was a distinct saddle to my right, and it sounded like the bull had moved over there, so I made a dash for some cover and set up to call again.

    He immediately growled at me, and then ten seconds later I could hear him bugling again, but way out. Uhoh, something just went sideways! I waited a bit and heard Rand give the meet up signal. Apparently, the 6x6 bull was leading a small herd, and he really wanted me to come join, so he'd run over, bugle at me, and then run back to the herd. I was trying to stay in cover over a small knob and saw none of this.

    He'd finally had enough and pushed his herd away, but when I moved, I got his attention again. The change in position and the raging weather had made the bull sound much farther away than he was, and he wound up next to Rand at less than 20 yards with Rand looking past him. He was busted without a shot.

    There were still a couple of bulls bugling above us, but we had been on those elk for almost 2 hours and the winds were starting to shift as the storm broke. We determined that going up after them would just push them out, so we headed back to pack out my bull.

    That evening we tried to find the herd again, but with the storm having moved out and the weather bluebird once again, they did not move or bugle until after dark. Rand and S got on them again in the morning and went on a merry chase, but no shots were presented once again. I got a good night's sleep and left as they headed out, so that I might have a chance to pack and get some of the bull processed before my early flight the next morning.

    Last edited by vanish; 09-26-2017 at 06:38 PM.

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