While I had a three-season elk tag in my pocket I was unable to start my elk hunting season out with the archery season due to getting my knee replaced in May. Learn more details about my knee replacement in my 2022 Utah General Deer Seasons article.
My knee this year has been taking a lot of time to heal and the most difficult struggle has been getting my knee to bend. Many years of scar tissue buildup from multiple surgeries have taken its toll on getting my knee to recover. My knee replacement recovery has been a struggle and a lot harder than I imagined it would be.
I really wanted to archery hunt but I would have been hunting by myself with a knee in constant pain and being very much out of shape from not being able to ride a bike because my knee wouldn't bend far enough. I just knew this was a perfect recipe for me to actually find an elk and shoot one and then what. How would I get off the mountain by myself in such rough shape? I had to call it off. :(
We had a good laugh finding this "bull elk" out in the middle of the day, near a main road, in the middle of the Utah elk season, just a little bit over the border in Wyoming. It's amazing how the elk know where to go to be safe. LOL!
I started my hunts with the muzzleloader deer season and my knee did well enough to make it into the backcountry and have a successful and fun hunt with my boys. This gave me the confidence to rifle elk hunt with my boys in the Unita mountains the following week.
The boys and I have been in a lengthy drought of finding any elk for the past several years. We were hoping to end that dry spell this year. For the past four years, we have been focusing on an area in the Unita mountains that we know has good numbers of elk. We continue to learn more and more about the area and the habits of the elk that live there. The more we learn the better our odds so back to the Unitas for the 2022 rifle season we headed.
Mid-season we made it to the trailhead late one evening and decided to camp at the trailhead and make day hikes in to hunt for elk. The next morning we were up early hiking further up the mountain in the dark. We found as always a lot of elk sign just didn't find any elk in their tracks. We decided to circle around into an area we have never been in for the evening as we worked our way back to the Jeep.
As we got deeper into this new area we found more and more fresh sign. At one point we found a fresh rub that extended over ten feet up the tree. The tree was smaller and more flexible so we guess that the bull had this small pine bent over when it was rubbing it. This was a really long day for my knee. We spent a good deal of time in steep rough terrain, going through tons of deadfall pines... my knee made it but I was pretty tired that evening.
The next morning we headed back in further than we did the day before, heading deeper into the area we were in the day before. We found a lot more good elk sign but still were unable to locate any elk. As we were slowly working our way through a cool looking draw Kaden spotted a black bear about 100 yards below us sneaking around through the pines. This was pretty cool. I was able to snap a couple of photos before Dallen spooked the bear as he was moving to remove the cover off his rifle. Little scared were you Dallen? LOL
We hiked a good deal again this day again without finding a single elk. Boy, we sure aren't lucky at finding elk. We returned to camp earlier in the afternoon this day and decided to move camp and go explore another location. As we were starting to break camp my heart went into AFIB again as it had during my muzzleloader deer hunt. Darn it all. We loaded up camp in my Jeep and started heading to another drainage to explore. My AFIB subsided after a few hours but I was nervous about going for any more strenuous hikes so we went fishing that evening and the following day and then pulled out of the Uintas a day earlier than we could have stayed to hunt.
We had a lot of fun catching Brookies with my new Tenkara rods and flys I hand-tied. Initially, the boys started fishing with spinning rods but after I caught a handful of fish one after the other with my DRAGONtail MIZUCHI Tenkara rod (#ad) they switched over and used my two Tenkara rods to catch some Brookies. I likely caught my personal best Brookie. I didn't measure it but he looked to be 14-15 inches.
Tenkara fishing the Unita Mountains with likely my personal best Brook Trout in the net.
I had high hopes of getting out with my muzzleloader for elk in early November but a combination of a large amount of snow, my knee not it the best of shape, my heart going AFIB and an opportunity to help with a large video project at work had me staying home for the muzzleloader season.
Maybe next year we will see some elk.