'23 Wyoming Elk


Well-known member
Apr 9, 2015
Anyone ready for another elk hunt story? Quit reading if you want big bulls, continue reading if you're into fart stories.

Missed on any LQ tags here in Wyoming this fall, guess I was stuck hunting general units with the rest of these third class citizens. My goal living in Wyoming this go-round was a bull every year. I will not be here forever, and it seemed doable. To have some headgear on the wall to remember this place by was high on my priority list. I had a quick overnight scouting trip at the tail end of August and had my spot all narrowed down. Somewhere there's a thread of that scouting trip. I was excited to say the least. I was feeling as strong as ever, and had done my homework e-scouting plus with boots on the ground I figured it was a sure thing.

Then my dad started dropping hints about wanting to come out from Wisconsin for an elk hunt. Didn't seem to matter he wouldn't have a tag, just wanted to spend time with me in the fall. Selfishly, I admit, I went back and forth for a long time if I wanted to hunt with him, knowing at 70 there's no way he'd be able to hang with me in the general unit as I chased a bull. This left chasing cows closer to home in some easier country. After reading one too many, "wish I could have ONE more hunt with my dad" comments, I made the call to invite him out and started laying out logistics.

The summer was flying by, and he had been instructed to walk with a pack on to get ready for our hikes. There's nothing that I can do to get him ready for the altitude, anything on the physical spectrum was up to him. I'd call often, and it was "too hot, too muggy, too many mosquitoes" etc, pick your excuse to not get out walking. I was getting frustrated to say the least. Couple highlights from our conversations leading up to the trip: "I've been watching videos about 'rucking', yeah it turns out it's pretty popular for a workout" or "hey I'm at Sierra what kind of socks do you think I should get?". Had to laugh because if I didn't laugh I would have cried.

Anyways, eventually he does make it out here, figured the first couple days we'd go easy on the elk. Had some fresh snow one morning after he got here so couldn't resist the urge and got out there. Nothing like elk hunting in the fresh snow. Pretty uneventful, no fresh tracks other than some wayward bulls. Had a fun time building a little warming fire and shooting the shit for a while. Had to laugh, I asked my wife to fix us some lunches before we left town. When she was done, she put the bag on the porch and I just stuffed it into the pack. First time I've ever had a sandwich out hunting that was packed in Tupperware, but I'll be damned if that sandwich wasn't one of the best ones I've had in the woods. No smushing, no soggy bread. Pristine.


Other than filling an antelope tag on the last day of the season, the next few days are pretty uneventful. Bumped into a trail runner at one point (impressive those guys can carry a full conversation mid-stride) who said all the elk moved out and are down on private you'll never find them up here. I have taken several elk out of this spot in the past, on dates much later than what we were hunting, but it still kind of dropped that little bit of doubt in the back of my mind. Over the next couple days I'm starting to think maybe this guys right.
A lot of how I've hunted this area is just covering a ton of ground as fast as possible looking for sign. It's not a great spot for glassing so burning boot leather is about all a guy can do. Usually I'll pick a little drainage (probably not the right geographic term but it's my story), and plan a walk to see if there's elk around. Most days I do two or three little drainages and the country getting between them, so maybe six or seven miles a day. The main road runs say north/south, the drainages all kind of run downhill to the road. So I'll walk up the little drainage, over to the next one, down that one back to the road, and repeat. This is not a possibility when hunting with my dad, and quickly found out I was limited to 1 drainage per day.

Five or six days into the hunt now, with only a few to go, we were running out of time and no where near finding fresh elk sign. I was beginning to get nervous we'd never catch up to them. Now, this particular afternoon I also apparently ate something that didn't quite agree with me, and my stomach was letting me know it's displeasure on the way out. Just turned the radio up to drown out the gurgles.

Arriving at the main road, I parked at the head of the drainage we were going to work that afternoon. As the Wyoming winds often do, our strong west wind turned to anyones guess as we started hiking. I switched game plans based off wind direction at least a half dozen times before we got to the top. Once we got to the top where we could decide to go east/west, we sat and had a couple candy bars while picking which way the wind was going to be the most reliable. Primarily west, but with a good swirl every now and then to give the elk a chance.

I grew up deer hunting the woods of Wisconsin with my dad and the tactic we always employed was still hunting. We probably both have a touch of ADD or something, but sitting just isn't happening. I've always employed still hunting as a tactic in this area and more often than not it works out. As we stood up from the log, wind in our face, we silently fell into single file and started sneaking through the timber. Shortly after we left that little meadow, I was having some pretty serious stomach pains.

About 100 yards , still walking mostly north up this drainage, Dad 25 yards behind me, I decided to sneak a fart to see if that would alleviate some of my near constant cramps. Nothing big, certainly no major force behind it, but just a little psssssssstttttt to try to help. Ahh a bit of relief, certainly no danger of this situation escalating. Wind blowing left to right, no risk of blowing any critters out of where we were headed, just glad to have some relief. And that's how the afternoon went, eventually we turned head on into the wind, and every 15/20 minutes I'd let out a silent little fart to help me feel better. Every now and then the wind would swirl as I'd let one slip and about bring tears to my eyes, and while I think the term vile is overused, I mean these were VILE. Like stripping paint kind of vile farts. I just accepted it as this is my afternoon until I work whatever this is out of my system. Didn't think much of it and kept on with the hunt.

At this point I'm getting irritated. I've got my dad 1000 miles away from home and I've been hyping him up for this awesome elk hunt we're going to go on, my stomach hurts, I'm seeing no fresh sign and running out of time to find the elk. I'm just mad.

Let me back up, during our planning, at one point I was explaining to my dad how elk have a very distinct smell. At the time I think I explained it like a musky barnyard smell, but also not really. I told him it was hard to explain, but he'd know it when he smelled it.

Now, here I am on the edge of this meadow just wishing there would be an elk standing there, when I hear my dad closing the gap to come talk to me. Again, I'm mad at this point, I don't think the extra noise is going to help our case, what could he possibly have to say?

In a whisper he says, "hey, what'd you say elk smell like?"

Frustrated at his innocent question and not wanting to explain further, I shoot back, "SHIT dad, they just smell like shit."

You should have seen his eyes light up. I mean my daughter's 7 and she doesn't get that excited about Santa Claus. They got as big as saucers and he says, "OH MY GOD WE'VE GOT TO BE CLOSE I'VE BEEN SMELLING THEM ALL AFTERNOON!". It might have dawned on you by now, but in the moment I didn't think anything of it. I was like this guys lost it, I am in the lead, I've seen zero sign, smelled zero elk, "Oh OK dad we'll pay attention a bit coming up then."


As I stepped off, I realized what he had been smelling. I have been farting for over 2 miles at this point, I'm talking double digit farts, and undoubtedly he has been taking in huge pulls of the rotting stench hitting him head on, thinking we're on the elk.

So. Do I stop and tell my dad what he's actually been smelling? OR, do I recall when I was a boy and would follow him through the woods, he would rip an enormous fart in the woods and tell me it was a moose, and of course not knowing any better, I'd spend the afternoon thinking we were going to walk around the corner and see a moose in SE Wisconsin.
The afternoon is drawing to a close, and I know Dad is super uneasy about being too far from the truck at dark. No big deal, we can start to hunt our way back down to the main road. Rather uneventful walk back and I do try to curtail the noxious fumes I'm sending back his way. I have a good hike to decide to tell him the truth or not. As we step through the edge of someones unoccupied camp to get down to the main road, I'm still undecided.

20 yards into our walk down the road to the truck, I look up on the hill and there's a set of elk antlers staring down at us. Well that doesn't do any good I've got a cow tag. We stand there for a second or two admiring the bull before I think to scan the hillside and sure enough, a herd of a dozen other cows and a couple other smaller bulls are standing there staring right back at us. I dont have a shot as they turn to leave, so I run down the road a little further to a little cut that should be low enough to see. Just as I get to the cut and up the hill a bit, of course the elk are well across it by now and I can do nothing but watch them filter away into the timber. I take a couple more steps forward to get a bit better view of the hillside, and wouldn't you know it, one lone cow is standing broadside staring at me? And wouldn't you know it I send the first shot straight over her back? The second shot seems like a solid hit as she hunches a bit and staggers. As I'm loading the third round I watch her get woozy and tip over.

Unreal. I turn to see my dad coming up the hill asking if I got one, it was too steep for him to see the herd of elk in front of me. He says all he saw was the bull at first, and the group of cows, and then they all took off, then I started shooting. Better than nothing I suppose. I tell him I got one and we start to walk over. I didn't give her enough time and she's able to regain her feet when we are about 30 yards away, one more shot behind the last rib angled through to her front shoulder and she's down for good.

Standing over this nice cow, a beautiful star filled sky, 200 yards DOWNHILL to the truck, with the guy who got me my start in hunting.


All he can say is, "I knew I smelled them earlier!"

Yepp Dad, you sure did.

I hope you were running video on his face when you told him the “elk smell” was you all along.
Great read… I lost my Dad in May of 2022. I would give absolutely anything to get one more day with him. Thanks for sharing.
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