1st Solo elk confessions/lessons learned

kansasdad

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He was the 1st and only elk I’ve ever seen.
That is amazing in itself, when you really stop to contemplate that scenario. You are 1 for 1 sir!

It seems that you are somewhat down on yourself, but we all see the harvest on the kitchen table....not too shabby for a rookie who had a "rodeo" in the mountains.
 

mmcneil

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Dec 21, 2015
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Congrats on getting an elk. First trip success is very rare in my opinion. When hunting solo reality can be overwhelming. Looking foward to reading the whole story. Good job DouglasR!
 

marshman

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Jul 10, 2017
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Southwest Washington
Actually a very cool hunt and experience in my opinion. This is how you learn about things you are passionate about, and by your writing it is apparent you care a lot about the sport and the animals we pursue.
Next time it will be better, you are on your way to knowing.
 

Talk2elk

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Aug 21, 2018
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Anaconda, MT
You did your best and have nothing to be ashamed about. Every hunter I know have experienced these types of growing pains. Hunts are totally unscripted and they don't always fall where you want them too. Nice bull and you will remember this hunt forever, they tough ones seem to be the most remembered.
 

pipelake

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Jul 4, 2015
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One of my great satisfactions of western hunting is learning, then getting to teach and share. For those that don't live in the mountains, cherishing the camp, hunt, and kill that millions feel they are incapable of accomplishing is, to me, one of the greatest satisfactions. Use your knowledge, good and bad, share with others, and all will benefit. You are definitely approaching this with the right attitude and good will come from all of it, the good, bad and ugly.
 

brymoore

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I think most new elk hunters have no idea of what happens after killing an elk. A couple hours to break it down and then the real work begins with the packout.
 

ElkFever2

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Iowa
I'd like to hear some expert opinions on how they would have handled this situation.

Of course anyone's Monday morning quarterbacking risks making some of the OP's choices look less than ideal, so it's really more a matter of me trying not getting myself in a similar pickle someday.

1. Shot opportunity at bull 5 miles from road at nightfall. Forecast is 87 degrees the next day.

I pass the shot because if I fail to make a great shot I might not find the bull until the next morning, and at that point the clock will likely win.

2. Let's say I do take the shot and it looks good.

I wait 30 mins to let the bull die, then locate it by flashlight.

If I can't find it that night, it becomes an emergency, and my newest goal is finding a stranger to help bail me out.

3. After finding the bull just after dark, it is flat on its belly.

I'd prefer to take the meat off the bones on one side, then flip it over, but this is one of those rare circumstances where repositioning the bull isn't going to happen. Even more so if I find it the next day and rigor mortis has set in. Instead, I remove the neck meat, back strap, tender, ribs. Detach the skull. Set a tarp to one side, then disconnect the front and back legs on that side and roll them on to the tarp. At that point it's a maneuverable carcass. Hang meat bags up when they're ready after midnight in a cool shaded place.
Sleep 6 hours then start hauling out loads one by one until it's all back to
the truck.

Ok experts - pick out the flaws in my theoretical plan.
 

DouglasR

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Jan 9, 2019
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For the record, I didn’t find the bull till noon the next day.
3-4 days without REM sleep wears on a guy and effects your rational/decision making.
Although that bull was piled up on his belly I was able to use my lack of common sense and JV wrestling background to hit a power half/cheap tilt (you Iowa girls wouldn’t know anything about this), roll him onto his side and start by removing a front Q. I then proceeded to cut the cape way too far towards his spine and got dirt and debris all over the BS as I rolled him around while trying to remove the rear Q.

Also, I’m still trying to complete the full write up. I’ve been busy trying to unpack and rotate back into boring real life. Lol
Plus, the squirrel rut’s really taking off here in Il. I think I heard one bugle last night.

Ps. Just joking about the Iowa girls. I’m a pretty big Gillman/Desanto fan and it legit ruined my winter when the denied Pat Downey eligibility. Plus, Dan Gable. Lol
750237B1-2FA6-4E7E-A6B3-DAE44A5A51BB.jpeg92193A4A-C121-4542-AC9D-1A113CDFD9AB.jpegBF9DBF94-CD03-432B-B4B6-5FD481FCB99D.jpeg
 

DouglasR

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Btw, i left the head attached for the entire butchering process. after removing the meat from 1 side I was unable to get him rolled over and had to field dress him in order to do so.
In hindsight, with the heat, I would’ve field dressed him before doing anything else.
 

ElkFever2

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Iowa
Plus, the squirrel rut’s really taking off here in Il. I think I heard one bugle last night.
Nice rodent! I knocked one out of a tree yesterday, then when I went to pick it up it scrambled back up the tree and probably bled out in some crotch. Wanton waste...
 

BrentD

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Squirrels became extinct here over the summer. We have a bumper red oak acorn crop too. So sad.

Never heard of squirrel rut before LATE DECEMBER.
 

DouglasR

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Nice rodent! I knocked one out of a tree yesterday, then when I went to pick it up it scrambled back up the tree and probably bled out in some crotch. Wanton waste...
Lmao. This has always been one of my biggest fears. Last year I had one get stuck by his foot pretty far up but I was able to tie 3 long branches together with paracord and knock him out. I wish there was a way to post the video.
 

DouglasR

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Never heard of squirrel rut before LATE DECEMBER.
Is this a real tip or do you not want me crashing through the woods with a 20 gauge in the middle of deer season lol.
Historically I haven’t done this because I feel bad about it, but I’ve got a descent amount of venison right now and I’m trying to step up my ruck hiking and if the parks open for squirrel, rabbit and pheasant all at the same time what’s a guy supposed to do? Lol
 

BrentD

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Is this a real tip or do you not want me crashing through the woods with a 20 gauge in the middle of deer season lol.
Historically I haven’t done this because I feel bad about it, but I’ve got a descent amount of venison right now and I’m trying to step up my ruck hiking and if the parks open for squirrel, rabbit and pheasant all at the same time what’s a guy supposed to do? Lol
It's real.

Maybe you should give up deer and take up squirreling - they are MUCH tastier. L)

Pheasants and deer do distract from squirrels, but I tough it out. Pheasants get the lion's share. My golden, Gus, wouldn't have it any other way, but I still get a couple does nutcrackers every year.
 

ElkFever2

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Lmao. This has always been one of my biggest fears. Last year I had one get stuck by his foot pretty far up but I was able to tie 3 long branches together with paracord and knock him out. I wish there was a way to post the video.
Several years ago I shot a squirrel that promptly disappeared into a hole in a willow tree, about 30 feet off the ground. The tree had grown at about a 60 degree angle, so I figure I'll just climb up there and pull it out of the hole. Only when I reach in that sucker is NOT DEAD. My hand comes flying out of that hole and said squirrel sails in a big arc before landing in tall grass. Spent the next 30 mins or so on my knees in failing light trying to find it, and I did. He had bled out by then. I think I'm over anything but a .22 to the head at this point.
 

BrentD

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Several years ago I shot a squirrel that promptly disappeared into a hole in a willow tree, about 30 feet off the ground. The tree had grown at about a 60 degree angle, so I figure I'll just climb up there and pull it out of the hole. Only when I reach in that sucker is NOT DEAD. My hand comes flying out of that hole and said squirrel sails in a big arc before landing in tall grass. Spent the next 30 mins or so on my knees in failing light trying to find it, and I did. He had bled out by then. I think I'm over anything but a .22 to the head at this point.
Smart man. .22's rule
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bushman13

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Jun 11, 2018
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I feel like a see a different species of squirrel every few months hiking around CO. I must be crazy because when I look them up online I only see a couple of species listed. One thing I have noticed for sure, the squirrel out here they are calling an Eastern Fox Squirrel, does not look anything like the fox squirrels I grew up hunting in FL. and Ga.

@BrentD now that is a .22

I really need to break into the squirrel scene here in CO...
 
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