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  • 2017 Self Guided Elk Hunt (Part Three)

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    2017 Self Guided Elk Hunt (Part Three)

    Fully dressed in the sleeping bag, its time to get up. Stumbling, half asleep I manage to get my boots tied without falling over. Its cold again, thirty something. Pack prepped and loaded the night before, we are strapped up and walking and I’m still rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Bens halfway up the mountain moving like the wind. It doesn’t take long to wake up when your sucking down 35 degree air like you just ran suicides. I’m not cold any more, that’s for sure. Before long before we all shed a layer. The suns not up yet but its about to make a grand entrance over the mountain and light the river valley below. The light pierces through the clear sky and it’s a perfect start to a beautiful day. First full day of hunting. We can go further back, look for sign on the trails, glass for miles. We had endless opportunity and the pressures off. We already did it, no matter what this is a successful hunt. Lets enjoy this beautiful country and see what happens. We find ourselves overlooking the carcass from my kill, still untouched by anything of size. The cold had kept the stink down but it was swelling a good bit. Lets get up high, on top of that hill and see how far we can look. The map shows another river on the other side of the mountain, maybe we can see both bottoms from up there. We make it to the top only to find heavy timber and no visibility to the other side. At least now we were on the other ridge. Further down the ridge Hoping logs making our own way off trail we find ourselves still looking down into the same bottom. Up there, if we can make it up to that rock I’m sure we can see both sides. We can see as far as we could walk in a day (or as far as we would want to). We trudge up the hill, loose gravel and burnt trees. This is the steepest climb we have done yet. The rock doesn’t look that far away, its just slow moving up there. We made it, a nice flat topped hill with a great view down 3 of 4 sides. We Drop packs and take a break. No need to move from here we can see for a long way. So much cover even though it looks wide open. We settle in for a serious session with the binoculars. A few minutes turns into a few hours. Mid day by now, we get comfortable snack a bit and take a nap. Glassing, napping, snacking. The afternoon starts to pass by. We see a few deer playing off in the distance, all does. What a beautiful day 65 and sunny. Couldn’t ask for better weather or a better view, this was the relaxation and serenity I was hoping to find. Getting tired of sitting, and with sunset nearing we decide to close the distance to the bottom, so we could be in range if we see anything. We drop down to a lower hill, Continuing to Squeeze the Hoochie mama from time to time. Just as we get settled in our new spot, Ben says there’s a deer, I see legs…Wait, wait. Those are brown legs. That’s an elk, there’s two… Two elk over there, across the river right where the deer were before. By the time I get my binoculars up the bull is easing down to the rivers edge. Ben leaves to get in front of me, and close the distance to the elk. We played with the range finder earlier to see how far things were and I knew the elk was at about 500 yards. With Ben dropping down to the next hill, moving quickly and out of site I give the hoochie mama another squeeze. The bull throws his head up, standing tall on the bank of the river. He commits, Running full speed straight towards us splashing through the river, he is across in no time. Making the rugged boggy ground we had struggled through earlier seem like a downhill trot. The crisscrossed trees passed over like a sprinters hurtle. With such ease he has closed the distance of the entire bottom and is now racing up the back side of the hill that Ben is just getting to the top of. I try to motion he’s coming he’s coming but its to late. They meet at the top of the hill. Face to face at 20 yards. The elk spins on his heels and in a flash he’s a hundred yards away. Ben trying to take aim, braced on standing dead tree, just cant take a running shot. I squeeze the hoochie mama again, desperately hoping he hears it over his frantic retreat. He slows and looks back. Squeeze again, and he turns around. Ben is 75 yards from where I’m at and the bull knows the cow he hears isn’t in the same place as the guy he just had a run in with. Shoot Ben Shoot, why aren’t you shooting, I look over and he is pulled hard up on his scope. After what seemed like an eternity, still no shot. He must not have a good angle. I squeeze again and the bull comes 3 more steps. Powww, a single shot rings out, the bull stumbles back on his heels. Ben put one right in his chest. The bull spins to run and only goes about 20 yards. He gets stiff legged and falls to his butt then flips back entirely. You did it Ben, You did it. Now where is the other elk? He’s over about 50 yards behind a pine. Body in full view but head completely hidden. I tell Steve don’t take the shot, it may be a cow. It won’t move for several minutes. Finally it takes a step out, trying to focus the binoculars I can’t see the rack. Focus, focus, it’s a spike, No, a cow. No, there’s definitely antlers, velvet. He’s a velvet spike, Not a shooter, Not a shooter. At the time I thought we had to have brow tines, but it turns out this was a legal bull, just not one Steve wanted to take down. A quick run down the hill to meet Ben and another feeling of disbelief, we go down and start at the top with another photo shoot. Much quicker this time, the learning curve was short. We worked like a well-oiled machine. The elk half packed, half left in the cold creek water, we are ready to go. The walk was a bit longer this time but we were back in camp about 1030. A celebratory cheers and we were off to bed. What a perfect day.
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