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1st Rifle Recap

enbhunts

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
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43
Alrighty...

Figured I'd try my hand at doing a recap write up on my wife and mine's 1st Rifle season hunt.
I wasn't really into writing these up; I liked reading other's recaps, like the infamous @Dsnow9 & @MtnElk recently.

Then I realized it could even be a form of fully realizing and remembering the hunt.

So here goes...oh, and, staying true to my principals, the area we hunted shall remain "nameless, in this case, unit-less"

Saturday:

Due to work constraints, my wife and I could only hunt two full days, which would be Saturday and Sunday, opening weekend. I work in the evenings so ideally we wanted to harvest opening weekend.

Spoiler alert: didn't harvest opening weekend.

We started the morning hunt walking into the area I shot the bull in my profile pic last year. We got halfway up the mile long trail when I looked at our dog (yes, we hunt with our dog, he's in training but doing well) and I realized, "shoot, I forgot his ear protection in the truck" maybe some of you would say ear protection for your dog is a bit much, but it's what we do. I told my wife and she said "well, nothing we can do now".

We get up to the ridge where we wanted to hunt. Lots and lots of tracks, lots of scat, day old, but nothing out in the open feeding. Beautiful morning, heard 6 shots at different areas in the unit. Heard two bugles which was awesome, especially considering they were only about half a mile to a mile away.

This particular ridge that we were hunting has a South East facing bald ridge, then benches out as it slopes North and West. The northwest side is dark timber/aspen, perfect bedding and still lots of feed. I should mention the elevation is around 9500'.

We weren't too inclined to head into the timber after themright away, despite hearing the bugles. We preferd that they be more in the open and not have to pressure them in their bedding area. So we backed out to the truck to regroup.

Saturday afternoon was filled with a nice nap, then driving to a high point in this area where we could glass for the late afternoon/evening.

This glassing knob, at 11000', allows us to see about 4 miles north, three miles west and 4 miles east and south. Lots of downed timber and old logging cuts to glass. From this vantage we can also see the ridge where we hunted in the a.m.

After glassing for a few hours, spotting 3 really nice bucks, the day shadows started to get long. I turned the spotting scope over to the ridge where we hunted the morning, and saw two other hunters walking right through the middle of the ridge at 6 p.m.

"Darn it"

I felt that was blown for the evening. Boy was I wrong.

I looked at the ridge again at 6:30 and saw...1, 2, 3,4567......50 cows feeding out into the opening! I excitedly waved my wife over to me. She got behind the spotter and said, lets go! Unfortunately, we didnt have tome to make any sort of play on the herd. But...we saw at least 5 bulls with the 50 cows and calves, also got to witness 2 bulls sparring which I'd never seen before.

All of this after 2 other hunters walked right where the bulls they were chasing now stood. I couldn't believe it.

We had our morning plan for Sunday ready.
We were gonna get a bull, or two, Sunday morning. At least, that's what we thought.

I'll post Sunday in another post, this is already sort of long winded.

I didn't get any good pictures on the day, but pictures of the rest of the says will come.
 
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Sunday:

We devised a plan for Sunday to make sure that we came into the ridge with the thermals gmcoming down, and the prevailing west wind in our face.
This required us to hike straight up at the trailhead about 800'. Way to get the morning muscles moving I guess.

The ridge is steepest at the bottom, and eventually gradually benches out at the top.

However, while the main ridge runs west-east, there are these little divets and spines that run north and south, that create these folds where thr elk like to bed and feed. You can't see everything from one single vantage. You have to be physically on top of these little spines in order to see into the folds. This is important for later.

We get to about 700' out of the 800' climebs, and it's legal shooting light now. All of the sudden, I see a head and ears on the skyline, and then to the right, a massive, heavy, set of antlers staring us in the face. 66 yards away...they had us pegged.

At this point I'm going to give a little context on my wife, because it helps to understand what happens next.

She started hunting with me after we got married, but didn't actually hold a tag until 2020. She was successful and got a cool looking 5x5 that year.
Never had I ever seen someone take so much time and energy to learn to be successful how to hunt. Her dedication and commitment to being successful as a hunter was pretty inspiring to me. Her personal ethics while learning from me and others, helped me to even look at myself and how ethical I was as a hunter. She's my mentor as much as I was hers.

Part of those ethics is learning about shot placement and shot opportunities.
Which is wherever pick up the story.

The bull and cow had us pegged. They could hear us, but they couldn't smell us. We knelt down ever so slowly, got our rifles down, and my wife grabbed her pack.

She moved off to the right and up the ridge about ten yards to try and get a better shot. At this point,the cow had moved off. But the bull just stared at us. Minute by minute went by. No shot. No shot. Then the bull move ten yards to our left, the whole time staring a hole into our soul.

My wife stayed on him. The entire time, the bull was skylined. Not once did she, nor me have a shot that wasn't skylined. Now I know some might take the shot. I'm not here to argue what you should do. This is what we did. I kept looking at my wife and she looked at me, shaking her head. No shot. All told, the bull stayed there at 66 yards for 7 minutes.

Eventually, we he moved off.

We kept climing the ridge, very slowly, To try to get a shot. But because of the topography of the ridge, we could only see his antlers as he moved off into the timber, bugling away as he went.

This was a rough one. My wife said three or four times "I had him. I had him." It was rough for me to see her first missed opportunity. But every hunter goes through this at some point.

Fast forward through the day, we has another opportunity at a couple bulls in some timber on an opposing ridge, but never could get a clean shot off. Sunday would forever be known as the day we had him.

I'll include Monday on here...we didn't hunt lol. Took the day to regroup and rest up for the home stretch on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I'll post up Tuesdays recap tomorrow.
 
Tuesday:

Wanting to give the area we'd hunted over the weekend a break, we decided to go to the northwest end of the unit.

We had scouted this portion day before season and cut some decently fresh elk tracks as well as a big ol cat track on the elk track.

Get up to a glassing knob and my wife immediately spots 4 big mule deer bucks. This is way higher than we had been hunting- now at 12500 ft.

We glass for about three hours with no action. Just as we're about to leave, I check the saddle and ridge above timberline one last time, and I see 4 cows, a spike and a nice 6x6.

Here we go!

They are about 800 yards from us across a saddle. We wait to see what they are going to do.

After about 2 minutes, the feed into a timbered ridge and we lose them in the dark stuff.

Thinking they bedded, we try to sneak around the tip of the ridge, maybe to get a shot if the timber isn't as think in the other side.

We don't see em, and I walk in a little ways. I find the bulls tracks, long story short, they moved along the timbered ridge and out of site.

Not wanting to push em without knowing where exactly they went, we moved out.

No other action to speak of for Tuesday. Just beautiful country. So we decide we know what we will do for the last day morning hunt. Come back up to timberline. IMG-20231019-WA0097.jpgIMG-20231019-WA0092.jpg


IMG-20231019-WA0098.jpg
 
Wednesday:

LAST DAY!

The pressure was on to fill our tags. But, as we had acknowledged to each other earlier, we had seen bulls every single day that we hunted, which is more than some can say.

We came to the same ridge and saddle on Wednesday morning that we saw the 6x6 and cows and spike on Tuesday morning.

It was a bust, we didnt see anything except for a another buck. Oh well. We had fun regardless

We decide that for the last evening of the season, we will hunt the same ridge where we began the season. Only fitting.

Boy were we right to do so.

We walk in from a different direction this time, and we post up at a spot on the ridge where we can actually see about 400 yards, which is more than we had been able to before.

We set down about 4 p.m. At about 5 p.m., we had a doe walk right up to us then spook out when she saw us. Pretty cool.

At 6.pm., I hear aspen leaves rustling behind us. I turn to my wife and tell her to get ready, something is walking through the timber.

About 10 minutes later, I turn my head to the left and I see antlers. 40 YARDS AWAY. The bull isn't huge but that doesn't matter, he's a bull, he's legal, and he's got a massive body.

I tell my wife and she's ready. The bull walks right below the rim of where we are sitting. 20 yards away.

He ends up walking at a quartering away angle. He gets to about 100 yards before my wife has a clear shot. I give him a little, "mew" and he stops for 1 sec,then keeps going, so I give him a "mew,ew" and he stops dead in his tracks.

I stop myself from whispering to my wife "shoot! Shoot!" Im thinking, take the shot, take the shot.

 BOOM

I see the bulls body reverberate a little, and he trots out of site about ten yardsz then i see dust fly up.

I ask my wife how'd it feel? "Good, but I've never taken a quartering away shot before"

"Where did you aim"?
"A little left of where I normally would, I hope I didn't hit the guts" (the bull was quartering away to the right at 100 yards.)

We walk down the ridge and find the bull, toppled over, on a pretty steep inlcine.

I hug my wife, couldn't be more proud of her, she hit him through the heart, 20231018_180421.jpgIMG-20231018-WA0009.jpgIMG-20231018-WA0014.jpg and we get busy.

She filled our freezer again. What a cool hunt. Beautiful wife, awesome bull.

Thanks for coming along.
 
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