The DIY Hunter

7x8 Bull Elk

The 7x8 bull elk when I first found him on trail cameras in July.

Cow Elk Down

My cow elk (shown just over the barrel) from where I shot her.

CVA Accura V2 on Pack

My CVA Accura V2 Nitride finish.

KB showing me elk track

KB showing me some fresh elk tracks.


A porcupine chilling in the oak brush.

Ruff Grouse

One of the few Ruff Grouse I saw while hunting. They have been a little scarce this year. I find that on wet spring years there are few grouse.

Recovered SST muzzleloader bullet

I found the 300 Gr SST muzzleloader bullet resting against the hide in the abdomen after it passed through from the neck/shoulder area of the opposite side.

I have been looking forward to hunting with a muzzleloader for elk this year. Normally I archery elk hunt but this year I was really busy with other commitments in August and September so hunting the first of November with a muzzleloader was a better option for me.

This summer I also had a nice 7x8 bull on two of my trail cameras. Based on reviewing my trail camera footage from the previous two years most of the elk leave the area for the rut, especially the larger bulls. I was hopeful that some bull elk would be back in the area in November, in particular, the 7x8. Hopefully, come November during the muzzleloader season things settle down and the 7x8 bull would move back in the area.

Opening morning I worked my way back into the area were Dallen had taken a cow elk during the rifle elk hunt. As I worked my way into the area I ended up sitting right where Dallen and I sat when he shot his cow. I was sitting near the end of a narrow meadow that meanders down the edge of quaking aspens, oak brush and maple trees.

While setup in this location, close to a CWMU property line, I started cow calling and within minutes had a bull bugling on the CWMU heading in my direction. Every few minutes he would bugle a little closer and I would answer with a group of two to three different cows calls. Eventually, the bull had moved past my location and bugled but he was still on the CWMU. It appeared the bull knew where the no-fly zone was. He was paralleling the property line and wanted me to come to him. How do they know where they will get shot?

Shortly after hearing the last bugle to my left I turned back to my right to see a lone cow elk coming around the exact same bend in the meadow that Dallen's cow elk came around during his rifle elk hunt. It was complete deja vu. I swung my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader around, cocked the hammer, lined the Vortex 1x24 scope on the edge of her neck/front shoulder and filled the air with a blast of smoke. The 300 gr SST just crushed the cow dropping her right in her tracks.

With the cow on the ground, I pulled out my range finder and ranged her at 68 yards. I figured Dallen's cow was at 75 yards when he shot her. Dallen's cow ran off 30 yards before her lungs filled up and she tipped over or both cows would have fallen within yards of one another as they were both standing in nearly the exact same spot when we shot them a couple of weeks apart.

I was glad we both had purchased the $30 cow tags this year. It worked out great for us to fill the freezer.

I spent much of the remaining day boning out the elk and hauling it up and out of the canyon. I took the exact same game trails up and out of the canyon that we did with Dallen's cow elk. 

One thing I will remember from the day I shot the cow, is that I noticed I was peeing dark brown. Something a couple of CT scans later showed I have a 6mm kidney stone that I will have surgery to remove later this month. Oh, joy!

After a couple of days I was back out looking for the 7x8. I ending up hunting six days, two completely full days and four half-days of hunting. On one evening I had a five-point sneaking past me in the really, really thick oak brush at just 30 yards. Unfortunately, he never stopped and it was just too thick to find a hole through the brush to thread a bullet. It was cool hearing the bull coming through the brush as I could hear his antlers scraping across the oak brush. Through the narrow gaps in the brush I was able to recognize the bull as a wide five-point I have bugling and chasing smaller bulls on trail camera from October 20th. You can see this video on the page.

Four days into the hunt I was sent a photo of the 7x8 taken by another hunter right near where I had just hunted. I was right, the 7x8 did move back into the area for the muzzleloader hunt but someone else found him before I could. You can see some full HD video of this bull in July on this page below.

One evening my youngest son KB went hunting with me. We found fresh elk tracks all over the place but nothing standing in the tracks. KB did find a shed elk antler and we also found a NOAA weather balloon with the styrofoam enclosed instruments and we sent it back in the mail to the NOAA. KB is fun to take hunting. He is getting so excited to be able to hunt deer and elk himself.

For the last couple days of the hunt I couldn't find an elk to save my life. I found fresh tracks and dropping all over the place but nothing standing in any of them. It appeared for the most part that my muzzleloader hunt and during Dallen's rifle elk hunt we were always in the right spot at the wrong time which often can be the case with hunting elk. When you are in them you're in them, when you're not, your not.

Elk season didn't give Dallen and I many opportunities for a bull. That's just how it rolls sometimes. I did have a lot of fun getting out in the woods enjoying all of God's beautiful creations and it was nice to fill the freezer with cow elk meat. There's always next year, yes next year.

CVA Accura V2 with 2015 cow elk

My CVA Accura V2 with my cow elk.

KB with elk anlter

KB found this elk antler while we were looking for elk.

KB my hunting buddy

KB hunting with me.

Hunting buddy KB

Selfie of KB and me hunting elk.

7x8 Bull Elk

The 7x8 bull elk on trail camera in July.

7x8 Bull Elk

Another photo of the 7x8 bull elk on trail camera in July. He doesn't look too healthy right now but I'll bet the the rapid antler growth elk have really take a toll on them in May, June and July.

rain on opening day of elk hunt

Hanging out under our rain fly on opening morning.

fog lifting through pines

The clouds starting to clear out on opening morning.

Browning Powerhouse ground blind

KB and Dallen hanging out by the ground blind.

Elk rubs

KB and Dallen finding some elk rubs.

Bull elk in the distance

We watched this bull way off in the distance on opening day.

Bull elk on trail camera

Oh no! The trail cameras revealed that the bull we were calling to came in to where Dallen could have easily shot him but we left to soon to try another spot. No!!!

Montero stuck

I managed to slide the Montero off the trail and got it stuck real good.

Montero stuck

Another angle of the stuck Montero.

Cow elk in distance

A couple of cows we tried to catch up with.

A lady bug invasion inside of the ground blind

A lady bug invasion inside of the ground blind.

With the muzzleloader deer season coming to a close with me getting skunked and Dallen taking a nice buck, it was now time for Dallen to hunt elk with a rifle.

With a bull taking a 150 grain Accubond Long Range bullet last year by Dallen and getting away I wanted Dallen to use a different bullet this year. (see: 2014 Utah General Rifle Elk Hunt - A Bull Gets Away ) I was going to try a 150 Gr SST but didn't have time to work up a load in my 270 WSM X-Bolt. (see: 150 Gr Hornady SST In My 270 WSM X-Bolt) I also thought about trying the 150 Berger VLD that I love but also didn't have time to test it in my X-Bolt.

So with the lack of time to test bullets and work up loads I had Dallen carry my 300 Win Mag Model 1885 rifle with a 208 Gr A-Max load. This 208 A-Max load has been shooting great out to 1,000 yards with great accuracy.

I checked my trail cameras the day before the opener for what the elk activity looked like for the past month. Nil, Nil, Nil... not a single elk on any of my eight trail cameras. The elk had been in the area quite a bit around the last week in August but after the first couple days of September they completely disappeared. Darn it.

The night before the opener Dallen, KB and I spent the night in a tent on the mountain. And it rained lightly off and on all night long.

Before light opening morning we set out hiking in the rain to one of my favorite places to watch from. Once we got there we setup a military poncho as a rain fly over top of us. As the fog and storm cleared we didn't see any elk at this location.

For the evening we hauled up my Browning Powerhouse ground blind to the location where Dallen shot Charlie One Horn in 2013. I wanted to have the ground blind there for us to get into whenever it rained and we were up there. I planned of just keeping it setup for a month so that during my muzzleloader elk hunt I would also be able to use it if I was hunting that area.

Not long after we got to this area we spotted a good looking bull feeding two canyons away from us. Whenever I would bugle this bull would lift up his head and look our way but other than that he appeared to pay us no mind and just continued to feed. This bull was way out there and across a steep and nasty thick canyon and after a while the bull feed out of sight.

We continued to call every 10 minutes or so to try and attract a bull into the canyon we were watching but nothing responded or showed up.

With a half hour of shooting light left we quickly moved to another spot. At this other location we spotted a cow elk briefly as it moved through a lane and into the thick maples and oak brush. We setup waiting for her or any other elk to move back out into the lane where we could get a shot but nothing ever did.

With the rain off and on during the day and the night before the roads were a greasy messy. I thought of spending the night and driving out in the morning but we wanted to get back so we could attend church first thing in the morning.

We made our way down the mountain in my old Montero and were in the process of trying to crawl over some large rocks while on a side incline the back of the Montero slid off a bank and the front wheel dropped into a hole right behind a large rock. We were on a 23 degree incline from one side of the Montero to the other. Oops! We were stuck for the night.

At somewhere around 11pm we pulled our a tarp and some sleeping bags and slept on the ground next to the Montero. The next morning we were able to get chains on three of the wheels thanks to a handy man jack. We also dug out under the Montero clearing the rear axle and we dug a slot in front of both rear wheels and place a flat rock in front of both of them. Once we had this done the Montero crawled right out without any problem.

KB and Dallen will remember the night we got stuck well. I remained calm and discussed with them that everything would be just fine. We were prepared and would be able to get out in the morning. KB reminded me of one of his hunter's safety videos where a guy panics and takes off all his close and gets hypothermia. That's right KB, we remain calm and always try to be prepared to spend a night if we have to.

Dallen was out of school on Thursday and Friday so we headed back up Wednesday evening. Thursday we hiked a long ways and hunted the whole day. We found a couple cow elk but were unable to close the distance and find them again.

Friday we hunted back around the area I have my trail cameras out. At mid day we checked the trail cameras. Thanks to the USB cable and SD card reader we were able to skim through some of the photos and video while we were out hunting on my Samsung phone. To our horror and surprise we learned from the cameras that had we have stayed put on the opening Saturday a six point bull had came in with just enough light to get him. Dallen could have easily shot the bull from where we were setup at 185 yards away from one of the cameras. NO! We're pretty sure it was the bull we had been trying to bring in that was across two canyons from us.

Having this bull come this far really taught us a lesson to stay put if you are in a good spot and the bull you see has disappeared.

After the bull showed up it spent from 7:00pm to 2:00am going up and down this small draw passing four of my trail cameras repeatedly in the dark. Probably looking for those other "elk" he could hear...

Saturday we decided to go into bow hunting mode. We knew where some elk had been hanging around and there was plenty of sign in the area but it was really thick with maples, oak brush and quaking aspens. So Saturday we slipped into this area and snuck around really quietly. At midday we took a nap and that afternoon started sneaking around again.

In one spot we sat down on a side of a hill in the maples watching an opening below us as I cow called. It wasn't long and Dallen swung the rifle around to a cow elk that had come in right to 10 yards right behind us. All Dallen could see was it's face before it took off into the thick trees. That was pretty cool as Dallen had never seen an elk up that close before.

We continued to sneak around and call from time to time that evening. We made one last setup on the edge of a small meadow and I sounded like four different cows and a bull making short mini bugles. That did the trick and a cow elk came sneaking around the corner of the meadow 75 yards from us. I told Dallen to wait to see if a bull was following but it didn't take long for the cow to stop and suspect something was wrong so Dallen placed a 208 Gr A-Max into her lungs. She started to run off, spun and took a second round from Dallen and she fell. She was dead on the first shot but we wanted to make sure.

I wasn't feeling the greatest so it took us until almost 4am before we had the elk all boned out. Dallen actually did a lot of the boning this time and did a great job. Being so late we decided to just sleep under a tree for a couple hours and pack out his cow in daylight the next morning.

Both Dallen and I didn't draw regular cow elk tags this year but we were able to purchase $30 cow tags that we could use in the area we were hunting during any big game hunt. I was glad that we did because we have been out of elk meat for many months.

Even though it wasn't a bull we were both tickled to get some more elk meat back in the freezer.

We did get out one more time but couldn't find any elk.

Nice work Dallen. Great memories!

So now I have just one big game hunt left, my muzzleloader elk hunt. ( see: Hunt For The 7x8 Bull - 2015 Utah Muzzleloader Elk Hunt )



Dallen 2015 cow elk

Dallen with his 2015 cow elk.

Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag with Vortex Viper PST scope

My Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag with Vortex Viper PST scope.

Dallen standing for a pose

Dallen posing wanting me to take his picture.

Muzzlelaoder hunting with CVA Accura V2

Selfie of me with my CVA accura V2 muzzleloader.

Glassing for mule deer with Vortex Razor HD spotting scope

Glassing for mule deer with my Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 spotting scope. I love this little spotting scope.

Alps Chaos 3 Tent

Sleeping in "luzury" in my Alp Chaos 3 tent.

CVA Accura V2muzzleloader with Vortex 1x24 scope

My CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader with Vortex 1x24 scope.

After Dallen's successfully getting a nice buck on the opening day of the muzzleloader deer hunt I was itching to get back out on the mountain and find a nice buck for myself. I was packing my new CVA Accura V2 with Vortex 1x24 scope that Dallen used on his muzzleloader hunt to take his buck at 192 yards.

Even with only a one power scope shooting milk jugs out to 200 yards was not a problem for the Accura V2 muzzleloader when I was setting up the muzzleloader.

I planned on hunting the last four days of the hunt. I had my dad drop me off at the trail-head and I started the six mile hike across the mountain.

The spot I wanted to hunt generally is only hunted by a few guys who hunt from horses and that is only during the rifle season. Of those that hunt in this area I am not aware of anyone hiking down into some of the area I like to hunt. So as always I had really high hopes that I would be able to find a nice buck or two in the area.

As I was hiking in I glassed occasionally and found a few small bucks but nothing of any size.

This trip a took a luxury with me, my Alps Choas 3 tent. On many of my trips I only take a tarp and a military poncho to save on weight. This tent is quite lightweight, very breathable, with lots of room inside and it sure was nice to crawl into in the evenings.

For the next three days I spent hour after hour glassing. The weather was a little warm for this time of the year and the deer weren't very active during daylight hours. What I found successful in finding deer was to glass for a half hour then move 50 yards around a canyon rim and glass the same areas again and again and again from the different angles to see if I could spot any bedded deer. Where I wouldn't see a deer from one angle I would from slightly different angle.

Although I was able to find a lot of bedded deer I was unable to find bucks of any size. I did one evening find a pretty looking 4 point buck buck but after examining it with my Vortex Razor HD spotting scope I found it to be a might on the small size. Having the spotting scope with me saved me a long hike going after this buck.

One evening I could hear a elk bugling off and on while I was in my tent. The next morning I found a 3x5 and two spike elk. I made a few cow calls with a cow call I always carry with me and the two spikes came on a string all the way across a large canyon right into my lap. I was able to get some nice photos and video of the three bulls.

On another day while I was glassing a canyon I heard something to my left and a cougar was coming over the ridge and going to pass right in front of me. I was able to reach back and grab my camera just in time to snap three quick photos of him. Upon a close look at the photos I noticed that the cougar had been hooked with what I would guess to be a deer antler in the side of his face making a nasty rip in is face. This cougar passed by at 21 yards in front of me.

On the last day I hunted I only found a single deer, a three point that was bedded. So much for getting a deer this year. At some point in my life I'll get rewarded for my hard work with a nice buck but apparently it wasn't to happen for me again this year. It was pretty disheartening to work as hard as I did, to hunt such a remote area, and not see any decent bucks to go after. It still was a lot of fun and I will always remember the cougar and those three bull elk playing around.

I think I really need to find a way financially to be able to hunt out of the state of Utah. I hear lots of stories of large bucks in the surrounding states on general public ground.

Mountain Lion with cut face

Mountain Lion with rip in his face that I would guess happened with an antler hooking this kitties face.

Mountain Lion with cut face

At this spot the Mountain Lion is 21 yards from where I am sitting.

Bull elk at wallow

These young bull elk played around a lot at this wallow. I have some shaky hand held video footage of these three bulls on this page.

Spike Elk up close

Spike elk up really close. It's amazing what a cow call can do to a bull elk. Two of these spikes came all the way across the canyon and right into my lap for a nice photo shoot.

Sunset on Salt Lake

Sunset one evening.

Filtering water from spring

I made a little dam under this rock to filtering water from this spring.

Mule Deer buck on CWMU

This was the largest buck I saw on the hunt and he wasn't big at all, not to mention he was across the canyon on a CWMU.

Doe and fawn bedded in a favorite deer bed

Doe and fawn bedded in a favorite deer bed.

small mule deer buck bedded

Small buck bedded in the scrubby pines...

small mule deer buck bedded

and another small buck bedded.

small mule deer buck bedded

and another...

small mule deer buck bedded

and another.

small mule deer buck bedded

How about one more small buck bedded.

small mule deer bucks

And some more small bucks.

small 4 point mule deer

The largest buck I could find on public ground. A beautiful 18 inch wide four point.

Dusky Grouse

This Dusky Grouse was keeping an eye on me one morning.

Goal Zero charging phone

Charging my phone with a Goal Zero solar panel.