2008 Hunting Journal

The best way to explain the kind of season we had this year , is to just say we were just truly blessed. Although we didn’t harvest as many elk as we generally do, we saw more elk in the area this year, and had more opportunities than we have had in the past. We also were seeing better quality bulls than we have seen before. I would say that the majority of the bulls we saw this year were over the 300 inch range, indicating that the herds are healthy and vibrant in this area. I can honestly say that out of all the hunters we had, no one left feeling dissatisfied. It was common to hear “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” We met some wonderful people and I can’t wait to go hunting with them again!

It seems a journal need a good success story, when the hunter gets the big bull in the end, but this year I’m going to write about a day when the elk won.

It was the 4th week of the season and we had 4 hunters in camp. There is a patch of green timber on the back side of the mountain from camp which is surrounded by the burn. There is over 100 acres of old growth timber and small new growth which always holds elk. The problem is getting them out. We devised a plan to set the four hunters we had at the upper end, then the guides would split up and walk through driving the elk from their hiding place. Guides, Dave and Joe took two hunters around the lower part and I took two hunters above on the ridge. Dave and Joe split up in the drainage in order to set the hunters up in strategic locations. While Joe was taking his hunter to a vantage point, they spotted three bulls across the drainage in the new growth timber. The bulls were less than 300 yards away, standing broadside. The problem was, the hunter Joe had with him had opted to apply for a cow permit , and couldn’t shoot the bull! Joe hurried and caught up with Dave and his hunter who did have a bull tag, leaving his hunter (pondering his decision to apply for a cow tag) to watch as the elk slowly grazed through the short green timber. When Dave and his hunter got back to were they’d left the first hunter, the bulls where well over 400 yards and out of position for a well placed shot. The hunters watched as the bulls slowly disappeared into the thick green timber, but they got a good look at the horn size of the three bulls. One was easily over 300+ inches.

The other two were rag horns, with one being a 5X5. They decided to get back into the original positions and continue the drive. I placed my two hunters and met with Joe and Dave and began walking through the timber. Before long we heard crashing through the small trees in front of us knowing that the bulls where on the move. I was above Dave as we walked into the dense old growth timber toward towards the end of the drive. I saw several cows head out of the green and into the burn directly toward where I had placed a hunter. They passed within 25 yards of him. All of a sudden, I heard Dave give out a yell and there at the edge of the timber, several steps from walking out to where one of my hunters could get a shot, was the big 6X6 bull.

The bull was determined not to leave the green timber. Dave, armed with only a stick and some almost “off colored words” was trying to cut off the bull from turning around and heading back into the thicker timber. The only thing was, he was chasing the bull right towards me! I waved my arms and yelled. The bull lowered his horns in a threatening manner and I got the message. Get out of the way! The bull passed me by at about ten yards, went over the ridge, and was gone. Dave’s hunter, who was below us had the other two bulls pass by him, but he let them go knowing that the bigger bull would soon appear.
(Final count: Elk 3, Hunters 0)

But what a fantastic day!!

This year, Samuel from Virginia shot the largest mule deer buck (a nice 24" 4 point), and Pat McGuire got the biggest bull, making his record 50% on bulls harvested since he has been hunting with us for the last 8 years.