- Written by The DIY Hunter
- Category: Hunting
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This year I bought a combo elk tag hoping I would have time to get out and hunt elk again with my bow and for sure spend a few days hunting with my muzzleloader in November.
The few times I was able to get out and check my trail cameras through the summer and into the fall I have noticed a very distinct change in the patterns of the elk in the area. The elk haven't been coming into the area nearly as much as they have in past years, not that there ever was a lot of elk but this year the cameras were showing a reduced number of elk.
There was one bright highlight to my trail camera footage and that was a nice looking six-point bull had been camped out in the area from July 23rd through August 5th. Unfortunately, he never returned but we sure hoped he would.
One bull and the only elk that was in the area during the hunting seasons was the Unicorn bull I had on camera last year. Funny thing is he was a unicorn again this year except he was a unicorn on his right side instead of his left. What a strange bull. How in the world did he get a unicorn G1 only rack again this year and on the opposite side?!?
Archery season came and went with me just not having the time to break away to get out and hunt at all. When rifle season came around it found me and my two youngest headed up the mountain for the opening weekend. We had a great time sleeping in the tent and enjoying a ride in my new to me 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon I bought as a replacement for my old Montero. I had a great run with my old Montero but she finally gave up the ghost this summer.
We spent the opening Saturday watching deer but never saw any sign of any elk. We tried boys, we tried. So we checked a few cameras and back home for church we went.
Midweek Dallen took a few days off work to hunt. He hiked over into a different area than where I took the younger boys on opening day. He stayed out all day his first day out moving around in an area of thick oak brush and maples, hunting small meadows in the trees. As the day was coming to a close and he was about to get up to start hiking back out he turned around and a spike with some cows had snuck in right behind him. His occasional cow calling had worked at bringing in some elk.
Dallen's X-Bolt 300 WSM put the spike down and he was quickly on the phone to me asking if he should also fill his cow tag and ask for me to hike in to help him. I was in the process of helping my kids at home with their evening activities when the call came in. No don't shoot a cow, we'll have plenty to deal with getting the spike out this late in the day. Dallen could have taken a cow as well but I was glad he didn't.
By the time I dropped off Landen at a football game and made it up the mountain to meet up with Dallen it was midnight. Not a good thing for me because I didn't sleep well the night before. Anyhow, needless to say, I wasn't feeling well but we worked into the night boning out his elk. It wasn't one of the fastest deboning processes I've done but we got it boned out sometime in the middle of the night and all loaded up for the muddy pack out up the side of a canyon and about a mile back to my Jeep.
Nice work solo hunting Dallen. This was his first elk harvest being out hunting by himself. After this hunt I feel Dallen is ready to go totally solo on the boning and pack out all on his own.
After a day I was back out with Landen and KB hoping to find some elk on the second Friday evening and Saturday. And.... once again Dad couldn't find a single elk for my youngest boys. And that finished the extent of my elk hunting this year.
Due to work demands this year I just wasn't able to get out and hunt with a muzzleloader for myself and the two Saturdays I was able to get out with my boys resulted in not finding any elk. I still loved spending time with Landen and KB but wished we could have seen some elk. Next year maybe.
- Written by The DIY Hunter
- Category: Hunting
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With just a couple days to spare my youngest KB turned twelve during 2017. This gave him the opportunity to hunt cow elk from his birthday through the end of January. This has been my most anticipated hunt of the year. Seeing his excitement as he has hunted with me and his brothers throughout the years has really got me excited to help him on his first-ever big game hunt. He has been talking about the opportunity to hunt elk for many months now and this has been weighing heavy on my mind that I really wanted him to fill his tag.
Our family was fortunate enough to have all three of my sons and myself draw late season cow elk permits and with us eating tag soup on our bull elk hunts we needed at least two cows in the freezer to keep meat on the table until next winter.
This year has been the craziest year ever to find cow elk in the public and private areas I have access to hunt. The total lack of snow this winter I’m sure has been helpful to the elk and deer herds but it also has kept the elk far away from the areas that we can get into to hunt.
Every year I have had a cow elk permit I have filled the tag. Every time I have gone out hunting cow elk I have seen some and I can only remember having to go out more than once in a season to fill my tag. This year was a lot different. I went out hunting four days before I found any cows. I did find some bulls on two of my first trips but no cows. On one trip I hiked in over four miles to the back of some public property and down the other side of the mountain and couldn’t find cow one even on the adjacent private canyons.
This year also has been the driest I can ever remember. There isn’t any snow. Yes, we have had a couple of snowstorms but for the most part, it has been very warm and dry with all of the south-facing slopes devoid of snow up to over 8,000 ft in elevation.
My first priority was to help KB get his first elk and big game animal. I had him out a couple of days but couldn’t find any elk. Dallen had work off one day and I decided to just take him since we hadn't been seeing any to see if we could locate some elk. I should have taken all of my boys that day. Dallen and I found a group of cows and filled our tags.
The next day I went back in with Landen, KB and two friends of mine. We were able to locate the cows again thanks to some cow elk calling. I had the cows responding to my calls but they were located in the heavy oak brush where we couldn’t see them. With KB on my left and Landen on my right both setup on shooting sticks, I was able to call one out of the brush and it stopped at 95 yards looking right at us. All we could see was it’s head so I told KB to shoot it in the head. After what seemed like several seconds, boom went the rifle and down went the elk. I totally thought KB shot the cow but it actually was Landen. Landen waited as long as he thought he could for KB to shoot and made the right call in shooting before it ran off. Nice work Landen! On the other hand, KB was a little upset but a trooper about it. He had it in his scope he just hesitated with it being his first time hunting elk but KB was a good sport and supportive of his older brother. We had gone over bullet placement a lot but never in our discussions had we talked about headshots. This threw him off a bit.
With the cow down and plenty of daylight, it was a great opportunity for the boys to learn more about boning out elk. They both jumped in and were helping. It was a great memory for me to be there teaching them about the antimony of an elk.
KB and I went out one last time and hiked a bunch looking for some cows. We did find some but they were on the private ground we couldn’t hunt. We couldn’t even find any elk tracks at all on the ground we were hunting on. What a crazy cow elk hunting year.
As I write this I can’t help but feel really bad that I let KB down by not getting him an elk. I like taking care of my kids and him not getting an elk hurts, probably the most distasteful tag soup I have ever had... no, my 2012 LE Archery elk hunt really stunk. On the bright side, he is really young and will have plenty of opportunities in the future.
Another bright note is that our family was very blessed with filling the freezer with elk meat. When I dropped off the meat to the butcher he said something along the line that the previous year they butcher 250 cow elk in January and this year only 10 so that made feel really fortunate that we were able to fill three out of the four tags.
You can bet I’ll be helping KB extra hard this coming fall on his first bull elk and mule deer hunts.
- Written by The DIY Hunter
- Category: Hunting
- Hits: 3562
With a very rewarding rifle deer season hunting with my boys and harvesting a nice buck myself, I was excited to go out after elk with my muzzleloader.
I haven’t been having a lot of success in the last couple of years with my muzzleloader. I was hopeful that would change this year.
With not having a lot of saved up vacation I was only able to take the last three days of the hunt off to pack into the backcountry.
I glassed and glassed on the way in but was unable to locate any elk. I did see a number of decent mule deer buck. Hmm…. I might have to put in for the general limited entry late-season muzzleloader tag next year.
There was a little snow when I got about four miles in but not much. I really needed a good amount of snow to really push the elk into this location but you never know what might be in there until you go look. One of the things I did like not seeing was any other hunters. Last year in the general area there were 10 horse hunters the spooked the six-point bull back onto the private ground before I could get into position for a shot.
As I got ready to crawl into my Alps Chaos tent I heard the distinct sound of antlers sparring and lots of elk mewing within a couple hundred yards of my tent. Awesome!
Talk about one dang cold night. I should have grabbed my really extra heavyweight sleeping bag.
So at first light the next morning as I was crawling out of my tent I heard the antlers and mewing again. This time even closer to my tent on the opposite side of the ridge. So I set out slowly going over the ridge looking into the distance when all of a sudden I realized they were right in front of me, a 5x6 and 5x5 bull elk. The 5x5 was quartering away from me and the 5x6 was broadside behind a little scrub brush. I have never taken a 6 point so I opted to wait out the 5x6 to offer a better shot. As the bull walked forward around the brush all of a sudden he stopped and stared right at me. Well, the gig was up so I centered the crosshairs on the front edge of his shoulder and sent a 300 Gr Aerolite his way.
As the smoke cleared both bulls ran off around the ridge and out of sight. I calmly reloaded my muzzleloader and started following the path the 5x6 had taken. And I followed and I followed but there was no elk to be found. Nor was there even a drop of blood. What the heck just happened? It was a 45 yard shot. The angle wasn’t perfect but I was shooting a 300-grain bullet. Well, long story short I hiked all over looking for him that day with no sign at all. The thought of hitting a bull and it getting away just made me sick.
To try and find closer I hiked all the way back in there a week later and hiked all over the place looking for birds and still nothing to be found.
So what happened? I would like to hope that I missed but that just likely isn't the case. Here’s what I think happened and what I am going to do about it for the future. Using 120 Grains of loose FFG Triple Seven powder I believe the 300 Gr Aerolite bullet just blew up in his shoulder. The 300 Gr Aerolite bullets shoot so very accurate in both Dallen’s and my CVA muzzleloaders but I’m finding out that although they are 300 Grains they come apart rather easily at high velocities.
When I went back and reviewed what happened with the young mule deer that Dallen shot this year with his muzzleloader at 80 yards I found that the bullet made it to the opposite side of the deer but it didn’t exit and it was just a pile of small lead fragments. My elk was much closer and I was shooting into the front edge of the shoulder of a large bull elk. I think the bullet didn’t penetrate and just exploded on the shoulder. I can only pray that he survived and maybe waiting for me next year.
Looks like I better find a tougher bullet for elk hunting in the future. I have a number of new bullets to try including Triple Shocks, 338 Platinum and 348 Copper bullets.
I did see a few bucks during this hunt. I'll include a few photos in this blog entry of some bucks I saw while out on this hunt.
This hunt really upset me, so much so that I have sat on publishing this article for many months now. I don't like having animals getaway. And to top it off this would have been my very first six-point bull elk. I'll be better prepared with a better bullet next time. Maybe next year I'll find a six-point.
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