1st Solo elk confessions/lessons learned

DouglasR

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Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
43
First and foremost I want to thank Randman Newberg and the other forum members that helped me. You know who you are, I will not mention you by name because I do not want to tarnish you’re reputations by associating you with this fiasco. I’m afraid mrsmuley or twsnow18 might light my ass up for this one. I might deserve it. I feel a bit like “river bottom bull” should’ve felt. But, I know I sweated, bled, cried and worked my ass off to get that meat out. I do not consider the trip a complete success, anyone who hears the story hears of the lost meat.

Also, I’d like to apologize to any forum members wives who may have had their Holliday weekend with their husbands messed up because I was blowing up their phone and using them as a coach/therapist. Seriously, thanks dude.

I’d also like to thank and mention “Bill from Wisconsin”. Bill from Wisconsin is a 50 year old, smooth operator, Bad Motherfu***r that could give Randy, Corey, Cameron, Steve and Wllm13 a run for their money. He was solo but had his own wall tent equipped w/ a deep freezer/generator. He hauled a 6x6 bull, spike camp and tree stand out from 3.5mi in. He saved my ass! I’m forever indebted to him!

I’d also like to thank “Colorado Craig” and “Mountain Montey” for giving me rides/confidence and saving me tons of walking.

I typed up/poured my guts out in a 10 page novel, deleted it and came up with this.



Long story short

Last week I drove 1000mi to Colorado for my 1st ever solo backpacking/elk hunting trip. Historically, I’m not a real outdoorsy guy.

Shit went sideways. I was in over my head. I lost meat. I cried a lot. I learned a lot.
Here’s a short list



  1. Practice as much butchering as you can. I extremely underestimated the physical/mental aspects of doing this. If it’s 87 degrees, he’s laying on a open hillside and you’re getting swarmed by flys and stung by bees it gets hot and nasty. While I felt like I was somewhat prepared for the hiking/hauling, cutting that thing up took time and BEAT MY ASS.
  2. DO NOT PANIC: I’ve only been elk hunting for about 11-12hrs so don’t take me at my word for this, but I think that meat will last surprisingly long in the heat. Even if he’s bloated up like roadkill, smells like hell and you spill stomach contents everywhere while field dressing. STAY CALM, take your time and for the love of god, if you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not caping him out, make your 1st cut down the spine and get every gram of beautiful back straps out and HUNG & TIED off.
  3. Always hang and TIE OFF your meat!!! The predators know elk are delicious too!!!!
  4. Ration your water. It might be a long way to the creek and it might be 87 degrees.
  5. Next time, if you guys will let me come back and I’m hunting early archery I’m bringing tons of citric acid and black pepper.
  6. EAT FOOD EVERYDAY.
  7. - 10. STAY CALM. IGNORE THE HEAT/SMELL. PRACTICE BUTCHERING!!!!!
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ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
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791
Location
Iowa
Thanks for being honest. Would you share the whole story? I'm sure I could learn something and others could too. I've butchered maybe 15 large animals and it's second nature by now but I know I have more to learn especially with unlevel ground, high heat, and back country logistics involved.
 

Roughwater

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Sep 11, 2015
Messages
76
Well Douglass, For starters, you did something the first time solo that probably less than 10% do. You killed an ELK and with a bow nonetheless!! You seemed to have processed it as well though I take if from your thread that it was far more problematic than you ever imagined. But it sounds like you got some good help and maybe made a few friends along the way. Since you make it sound like you went through hell to get the meat out and you admit your mistakes you appear to be a very ethical hunter! Kudos to you. I think you ought to put your whole story together as I think it would make a great read in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's Bugle Magazine.
 

KipCarson

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Aug 5, 2019
Messages
91
Location
Bossier City, Louisiana
First, Thanks for baring your soul. It’s always nice to see a truthful story (which I’d love to hear more of), you could’ve just posted a hero pic like everyone on instagram and most people would never be the wiser to the dirty details. Second, Take solace in the fact that it could definitely have been worse. The last elk I shot I hit in the back edge of one lung and the liver, several miles and 3 days later I found him, lost all the meat to rotting in the heat and bears, and to add insult to injury some other hunter had cut the head off to claim as his own trophy. Third, Beating yourself up some is ok too, I think a little self loathing here and there can force us all into becoming better versions of ourselves. Just know when to quit kicking yourself and rebound and rebuild. And fourth, Congratulations! Like I said it could have been worse and you’ve semi-successfully done something that most hunters never will. Hats off to you for sharing!
 

twsnow18

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Apr 4, 2013
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Location
Boise, Idaho
Hey, no shame on my end. Elk are trophies. Any elk solo is a true trophy. I’ve never actually killed a bull solo, always had the good fortune of a buddy or 2 along.

Everything, and I mean everything about elk are work. Even if you killed an elk off the hood of the truck, it would take half a day to figure out how to get it loaded whole into the bed. Try hanging an elk whole, I’d bet that’s a bitch.

I remember my first elk hunt like it was yesterday. I truly thought I was prepared. Getting on elk on that trip would have been the worst thing that could have happened. Not a doubt in my mind, I would have lost half the meat.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Congrats on your bull, well earned!
 

Scarey

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Sep 22, 2018
Messages
329
Location
Idaho
First time anything hunting you are going to learn some hard lessons. One of my favorite sayings is. " I don't mind making mistakes as long as there is something to learn from it". Pick yourself up brother, and dust yourself off. Look for the lesson to be learned here and try again. That is what makes us who we are. I know it was a hard hunt, with hard lessons to learn, but you did it solo and on your first try. Hats off to you!
 

HSi-ESi

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Nov 1, 2012
Messages
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Location
Corvallis, MT
Congrats on the successful hunt - and for being so honest.

I thought I would throw out 2 other scenarios. First is personal experience - but one year I killed a bull and butchered / packed all the meat out. I was with my Dad, temps were cool and we were able to take our time. I got all the meat home, packaged and in the freezer. Only my little freezer in the garage wasn't big enough - but a buddy had room in his. So half the elk went in his freezer. I get a phone call a few months later and the freezer had died. Half an elk gone like that. I was really bummed, to say the least.

Second scenario, has not happened to me - so it is more anecdotal- but I have known folks that get an elk, and let it freezer burn over time because they aren't really in to wild game, etc. Which in my view is tough to swallow or explain.


I think that with so much more educational info available - it can be tough to impress how much work it can be - and we want to make it look good. To the uninitiated, it can be daunting once the animal is down and can be surprised because the videos made butchering look so simple. So big kudos from my perspective that you have meat in the freezer and it sounds like some predators got a meal or two as well.
 

DouglasR

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2019
Messages
43
Thank you everyone for being cool about this.
@ElkFever2 @Roughwater
I will try to edit the complete story and at least DM it to you guys to check out by the weekend. Idk if there’s much to learn. Getting the bull down was 99.9%luck. I accidentally called him into my camp just before sunset as I was cooking dinner, trying to relax, take in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and hopefully be able to glass up/lay eyes on a elk. Then all of a sudden he was standing at 100yds and I got blasted out of a cannon. He was the 1st and only elk I’ve ever seen. A unbelievable amount of things fell into place and I was able to get 2 arrows into him just before sunset. The only thing I can take credit for is that I practiced with my bow and calls. But I in no way, shape or form expected that obnoxiously huge Phelps bugle tube to actually work.
As far as the going through hell part I’m prob being a bit overdramatic. He was only 2.5mi in from the trailhead, 5 from the car. He died on the trail. It would’ve been a cakewalk for western people/guys with experience.
I’m 29, I’ve never been married, had kids or graduated from college so this is pretty much the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m pretty sure I used up all my luck on this trip. I’ll prob never see another elk, deer or squirrel ever again.
 
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BrentD

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Feb 3, 2018
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2,254
Location
In the middle
Thank you everyone for being cool about this.
@ElkFever2 @Roughwater
I will try to edit the complete story and at least DM it to you guys to check out by the weekend. Idk if there’s much to learn. Getting the bull down was 99.9%luck. I accidentally called him into my camp just before sunset as I was cooking dinner, trying to relax, take in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and hopefully be able to glass up/lay eyes on a elk. Then all of a sudden he was standing at 100yds and I got blasted out of a cannon. He was the 1st and only elk I’ve ever seen. A unbelievable amount of things fell into place and I was able to get 2 arrows into him just before sunset. The only thing I can take credit for is that I practiced with my bow and calls. But I in no way, shape or form expected that obnoxiously huge Phelps bugle tube to actually work.
I’m 29, I’ve never been married, had kids or graduated from college so this is pretty much the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m pretty sure I used up all my luck on this trip. I’ll prob never see another elk, deer or squirrel ever again.
Congratulations!!! Sounds like a lot more than luck was involved. You made the most of an unexpected opportunity. Can't do better than that.
 

ajricketts

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Sep 19, 2016
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694
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South Florida
Thank you for posting this. I think it would be beneficial on a number of levels if you're willing to share the whole story.

Often we see people on here in a similar situation to yours: they don't have a lot of outdoor experience, they've never chased elk, and they decided to backpack in for their very first western hunt. That is a huge task and many might think they are prepared when they are not. Thank you for being honest.
 

SAJ-99

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Jan 5, 2019
Messages
30
Location
Montana
Great job, luck or not. It looks like he LITERALLY died on the trail...in a heap. I think they pointed out in the podcast, sometimes you have to dress it out the way it presents itself and in this case taking the backstops first looks like it was your only option. After that, it looks like it was going to be a sheet show. 😫
 

ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
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791
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Iowa
I look forward to reading the DM. I admire your courage in sharing what you have so far publicly on the thread. Shame grief and embarrassment sometimes keep us from reaching out for support, but like you mentioned earlier you did call several people for advice or to vent. In my opinion this is the most inspiring part of this tale as many others might just feel bad privately and not learn from it or return to build off of their mistakes or ignorance.
 

Duck-Slayer

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Oct 3, 2010
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2,606
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great state of Idaho....
Honesty goes a long way! You added more luck to the pot by telling the truth to the Internet peeps..... you did your best you could in the situation you have never been in! Now your Experienced, time to start planning next year! Congrats
Matt
 

JTHOMP

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Oct 3, 2017
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Louisiana
If you're willing to sale the horse shoe that was up you butt I'll be first in line to buy it. Kidding...but let me know.

Congrats on a great bull! I'll second that it would be great to hear the full story of details. The best part of hunt talk is hear people's experiences and if I can't learn something knew even better.
 

MN_Bowhunter4

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Jan 24, 2018
Messages
306
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Apple Valley, MN
Count me as someone who wants the full story too! I've never hunted elk but dream of it someday.

One thing I've learned about this forum is that there's always folks willing to help, and that is a pretty cool thing to be apart of.
 

prhunter

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Aug 2, 2014
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Far West Texas
I believe every hunt is a learning experience. Take what you learned from your previous hunt and go on to the next trying to make it better every time.

Congrats on successful hunt, you have accomplished a tremendous task by taking that bull with a bow.
 

backcountry_sassn

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Sep 2, 2016
Messages
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Its the dark side of hunting no one likes to experience, but everyone has gone through it especially those of us who like to hunt solo. The new Elk Talk podcast came out just a little to late for you, but it has a ton of great information on how to avoid losing meat. What sets you apart from most hunters is you know you messed up, and have already thought of ways to prevent it from happening again. Don't let it discourage you from hunting solo again. Learn from it and give it another shot. I think about the first solo elk I did. I had a lot of "gut'n and gill'n" that some old guy says, and still lost meat. I've now packed out meat further then that hunt in warmer temperatures without losing meat. It's a very satisfying feeling. Awesome Bull btw!
 
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