Caribou Gear

Amazing success on our first WY Elk season!!

Bob-WY

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
251
This is my wife and I's first "resident" hunting season in WY, last year we were on non-resident tags, did well on pronghorn and deer, but struck out on elk (ok I miss-read the ending date and we pretty much blew it and didn't hunt much for elk!)

This year, our goal was a limited draw area near where we hunt and we went for cow tags for both of us figuring 100% draw, where bull was 25% chance and we really don't know what we are doing.

Archery season was hit or miss, my wife was restricted with a strained Achilles, so she was in a tree-stand. We had excellent camera traffic leading to the season, then a labor day snow storm seemed to drive the elk lower very early, she saw nothing. I called in a single spike, then on last day, jumped and tracked 4 cows and got into a "argument" with a bull who got them, that was fun.

rifle started slow, we had a spot handed to us via the person we bought our house from. It was his "secret rock", but he out of the blue gave us the coordinates, actually I think he gave them to my wife, not me :) this was, in his words, a "36 hours after the first big snowstorm up high".

we started up high 8000+ feet, we didn't hunt first week for a few reasons, then we were up there and did a 5 mile "loop" in 6 inches of snow and didn't cut a single track. Rumor had it the elk where low already. So low we went.

Into the "secret rock" spot, went in once, didn't see anything, no snow there yet.

My company gave us election day as a holiday, so naturally I turned this into a 4 day weekend by taking Monday off, figured with 4 days I could explore some areas and spend some time hunting. It had been "slow" so far even for pronghorn, where the public land hadn't "relaxed" from the blitz of opening week! I can't find any.

Went in last Friday after work , to the "secret rock" spot. It was an amazing turn around. we had LOTS of elk tracks in front of the "rock". My wife chose to sit there. There was a trail in the snow about 3 feet wide crossing about 50 yards out from the "rock" and other random tracks. I left her there and I went for a walk. I followed the trail about 150 yards, and when it went over the edge and down (steep) I stopped, it wasn't fresh, at earliest my guess was that morning. I was standing on a rock glassing the other side of the drainage (700 yards across). There's a trail down there I can get my ATV up so figured if I see one over there I'm going. Didn't glass anything over there, stepped off the rock to continue along the ridge, when I caught movement 75 yards down the slope. It was a cow sneaking away! I couldn't get a shot through the lodgepole pines, so started paralleling her movements trying to find an open lane. finally after about 40 yards or paralleling her along the ridge, I found a tunnel down. She had stopped and the head and butt where visible. I got a solid rest on a tree and waited. Finally she started walking again and when the crosshairs hit shoulder pulled the trigger! She actually ran up the hill towards me, then looped across and out of sight. I didn't hear anything with the snow. I gave it a minute or two, then moved over to see down the hill where she went. there she was! Went and grabbed my wife, and the fun started. Unfortunately I forgot my phone in the car and hers died, so the only picture we have is her packing meat! Our first elk pack trip, two round trips, 3/4 mile each way and we needed headlamps only the last "out bound" leg.
sheila-backpack.jpg

Saturday we took off as we were wiped out from our first elk pack experience!

Sunday morning we went pronghorn hunting. Wife glassed a group bedded on the far side of the public land, probably a mile. Given how jumpy these critters still are, we took the cautious route and hid the truck out of site from a mile, then stalked in. We closed in to about 400 yards and figured out they were about 50 yards on the other side of the private land fence. We decided to just lay there in the sun chatting while waiting to see what they would do. Figured trying to move closer we ran the risk of blowing them out. After about 40 minutes of laying in the sun chatting (was a WARM weekend). We decided to pull out and go elk hunting.

Wife took her rifle, I was going as "guide" and packer. We had checked OnX to find an easier walk into the "Rock" and we found one a bit longer, but much flatter. As we moved through the woods heading that way my wife spotted a cow along a ridge about 100 yards, she couldn't get a shot, while I had the cow in the binoculars. She eventually went over the ridge and we booked it up the hill to the top. All we heard was her running off breaking branches. I told my wife we will never catch up, but she's going in the rough direction of "the rock". So we went back to our plan to get to the rock.

About 100 yards later I spotted several cow "heads" working just over a ridge. Turned out to be group of about 15-20. No shot chances and we rushed to get higher hoping for a shot. Two more times we caught the group and finally they went over the ridge down the steep side. We went to "the rock" and saw nothing else. While chasing the group we did see more focused elk sign than anywhere else.

Monday afternoon we went back in, except not to the "rock" Wife wanted to post up in that area with all the sign. She wasn't up for a long hike as her Achilles was acting up after packing mine out. We got to the spot and she suggested we sit right up against a pile of rocks as it was surrounded by tracks, I suggested we move out a bit as if they come from a blind area they could be in our lap before we know it. Remember that!

We moved off about 100 yards where we could see in 3 directions with those rocks about 100 yards in front of us.

After about 2 hours, my wife said "I see one coming", they were coming from her left, my back. I looked over and eventually we saw it was the group again! They headed right along those rocks she wanted to sit at, had we sat there, they would have come from infront of us with plenty of time! Strike one on the "guide". After the previous day I had told her elk aren't like whitetails, where once you are seen you have to freeze as whitetials will just bolt out of there. Elk are a bit more acceptable to some movement, so if you don't have a shot, move to get one.

It became clear that we had a nice wide tunnel through the trees so when the elk past the point of the rocks, they'd be in the open for about 10 feet for a good shot. Problem was as the first few went through, we could see them sporadically through trees, they just sort of disappeared. They were actually heading up into those rocks! My wife got up and moved forward and to the right to find a tunnel. I stayed on the binoculars.

Finally she found her opening and shot. I hit the cow call. the herd pretty much froze and now she can't do a follow up, no elk fell, I couldn't see clear enough to even know which she shot at and she couldn't tell either. The entire herd did a 180 back the way they came. Except one! In the binocs all I could see after the herd bolted was a single back leg of an elk, except it was at 45 degrees like she was trying to stay on her feet. I looked at my wife and said "shoot again", she had to move again and tried an offhand shot and missed. The cow then walked SLOWLY back the way she came and stopped after 25 yards, all I could see was the butt standing there. She really walked like she wasn't feeling good. then she walked off where we couldn't see.

We grabbed our stuff and headed over, it looked like a murder scene with blood splattered in a 10 foot circle where she shoot and a steady stream in the snow as she walked off. We talked over options, mostly to get my wife to settle down a bit (she's never gotten an elk). We started tracking, decent to good blood. We went about 300 yards easy to follow when she crossed snow patches, hard to follow on the pine needles. It was starting to get dark and we decided to pull out for the night. The elk was heading to places we hadn't been yet (still learning the area) and down hill away from the truck. Everything in my head was saying "liver hit".

Next morning we went back in, back to last blood and over the next 90 minutes covered about another 250 yards. The cow was mostly going parallel to the ridge, slowly edging down. Blood was getting worse and harder to follow and there were so many tracks and droppings it was impossible to follow a track. We lost blood and circled several times til one of us found it again, moving a ribbon from blood to blood to mark last blood. The cow then started to change directions randomly, then went straight down the steep hill.

We found blood, moved the ribbon and couldn't find more, so I went straight down, wife went to one side. She then found her elk! It had stumbled and landed in a rock pile. The head was stuck under a rock wedged in 180 degrees off from the body. She had never bedded.

We managed to get her out of those rocks to work on:

sheila-elk.jpg

Turned out her shot was PERFECT just behind the shoulder, it destroyed the near lung totally and took a chunk out of the other lung, I also couldn't find anything, not even a good sized chunk, of the heart. How that cow went 600 yards boggles my mind! You can see the entrance hole in the above picture, darker spot at the back edge of shoulder.

So now for the second time in 4 days were were packing elk!
 
Last edited:

wseidel

Active member
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
131
What a great series of hunts for the two of you to share...with some good eating this winter, to boot. Congratulations on working hard together. God bless...
 

EastTNHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
561
Big congrats!!! It never ceases to amaze me how far an animal can go after being shot. They are already dead, but they just don’t know it yet
 

mannmicj

Active member
Joined
Nov 1, 2020
Messages
199
This is my wife and I's first "resident" hunting season in WY, last year we were on non-resident tags, did well on pronghorn and deer, but struck out on elk (ok I miss-read the ending date and we pretty much blew it and didn't hunt much for elk!)

This year, our goal was a limited draw area near where we hunt and we went for cow tags for both of us figuring 100% draw, where bull was 25% chance and we really don't know what we are doing.

Archery season was hit or miss, my wife was restricted with a strained Achilles, so she was in a tree-stand. We had excellent camera traffic leading to the season, then a labor day snow storm seemed to drive the elk lower very early, she saw nothing. I called in a single spike, then on last day, jumped and tracked 4 cows and got into a "argument" with a bull who got them, that was fun.

rifle started slow, we had a spot handed to us via the person we bought our house from. It was his "secret rock", but he out of the blue gave us the coordinates, actually I think he gave them to my wife, not me :) this was, in his words, a "36 hours after the first big snowstorm up high".

we started up high 8000+ feet, we didn't hunt first week for a few reasons, then we were up there and did a 5 mile "loop" in 6 inches of snow and didn't cut a single track. Rumor had it the elk where low already. So low we went.

Into the "secret rock" spot, went in once, didn't see anything, no snow there yet.

My company gave us election day as a holiday, so naturally I turned this into a 4 day weekend by taking Monday off, figured with 4 days I could explore some areas and spend some time hunting. It had been "slow" so far even for pronghorn, where the public land hadn't "relaxed" from the blitz of opening week! I can't find any.

Went in last Friday after work , to the "secret rock" spot. It was an amazing turn around. we had LOTS of elk tracks in front of the "rock". My wife chose to sit there. There was a trail in the snow about 3 feet wide crossing about 50 yards out from the "rock" and other random tracks. I left her there and I went for a walk. I followed the trail about 150 yards, and when it went over the edge and down (steep) I stopped, it wasn't fresh, at earliest my guess was that morning. I was standing on a rock glassing the other side of the drainage (700 yards across). There's a trail down there I can get my ATV up so figured if I see one over there I'm going. Didn't glass anything over there, stepped off the rock to continue along the ridge, when I caught movement 75 yards down the slope. It was a cow sneaking away! I couldn't get a shot through the lodgepole pines, so started paralleling her movements trying to find an open lane. finally after about 40 yards or paralleling her along the ridge, I found a tunnel down. She had stopped and the head and butt where visible. I got a solid rest on a tree and waited. Finally she started walking again and when the crosshairs hit shoulder pulled the trigger! She actually ran up the hill towards me, then looped across and out of sight. I didn't hear anything with the snow. I gave it a minute or two, then moved over to see down the hill where she went. there she was! Went and grabbed my wife, and the fun started. Unfortunately I forgot my phone in the car and hers died, so the only picture we have is her packing meat! Our first elk pack trip, two round trips, 3/4 mile each way and we needed headlamps only the last "out bound" leg.
View attachment 160730

Saturday we took off as we were wiped out from our first elk pack experience!

Sunday morning we went pronghorn hunting. Wife glassed a group bedded on the far side of the public land, probably a mile. Given how jumpy these critters still are, we took the cautious route and hid the truck out of site from a mile, then stalked in. We closed in to about 400 yards and figured out they were about 50 yards on the other side of the private land fence. We decided to just lay there in the sun chatting while waiting to see what they would do. Figured trying to move closer we ran the risk of blowing them out. After about 40 minutes of laying in the sun chatting (was a WARM weekend). We decided to pull out and go elk hunting.

Wife took her rifle, I was going as "guide" and packer. We had checked OnX to find an easier walk into the "Rock" and we found one a bit longer, but much flatter. As we moved through the woods heading that way my wife spotted a cow along a ridge about 100 yards, she couldn't get a shot, while I had the cow in the binoculars. She eventually went over the ridge and we booked it up the hill to the top. All we heard was her running off breaking branches. I told my wife we will never catch up, but she's going in the rough direction of "the rock". So we went back to our plan to get to the rock.

About 100 yards later I spotted several cow "heads" working just over a ridge. Turned out to be group of about 15-20. No shot chances and we rushed to get higher hoping for a shot. Two more times we caught the group and finally they went over the ridge down the steep side. We went to "the rock" and saw nothing else. While chasing the group we did see more focused elk sign than anywhere else.

Monday afternoon we went back in, except not to the "rock" Wife wanted to post up in that area with all the sign. She wasn't up for a long hike as her Achilles was acting up after packing mine out. We got to the spot and she suggested we sit right up against a pile of rocks as it was surrounded by tracks, I suggested we move out a bit as if they come from a blind area they could be in our lap before we know it. Remember that!

We moved off about 100 yards where we could see in 3 directions with those rocks about 100 yards in front of us.

After about 2 hours, my wife said "I see one coming", they were coming from her left, my back. I looked over and eventually we saw it was the group again! They headed right along those rocks she wanted to sit at, had we sat there, they would have come from infront of us with plenty of time! Strike one on the "guide". After the previous day I had told her elk aren't like whitetails, where once you are seen you have to freeze as whitetials will just bolt out of there. Elk are a bit more acceptable to some movement, so if you don't have a shot, move to get one.

It became clear that we had a nice wide tunnel through the trees so when the elk past the point of the rocks, they'd be in the open for about 10 feet for a good shot. Problem was as the first few went through, we could see them sporadically through trees, they just sort of disappeared. They were actually heading up into those rocks! My wife got up and moved forward and to the right to find a tunnel. I stayed on the binoculars.

Finally she found her opening and shot. I hit the cow call. the herd pretty much froze and now she can't do a follow up, no elk fell, I couldn't see clear enough to even know which she shot at and she couldn't tell either. The entire herd did a 180 back the way they came. Except one! In the binocs all I could see after the herd bolted was a single back leg of an elk, except it was at 45 degrees like she was trying to stay on her feet. I looked at my wife and said "shoot again", she had to move again and tried an offhand shot and missed. The cow then walked SLOWLY back the way she came and stopped after 25 yards, all I could see was the butt standing there. She really walked like she wasn't feeling good. then she walked off where we couldn't see.

We grabbed our stuff and headed over, it looked like a murder scene with blood splattered in a 10 foot circle where she shoot and a steady stream in the snow as she walked off. We talked over options, mostly to get my wife to settle down a bit (she's never gotten an elk). We started tracking, decent to good blood. We went about 300 yards easy to follow when she crossed snow patches, hard to follow on the pine needles. It was starting to get dark and we decided to pull out for the night. The elk was heading to places we hadn't been yet (still learning the area) and down hill away from the truck. Everything in my head was saying "liver hit".

Next morning we went back in, back to last blood and over the next 90 minutes covered about another 250 yards. The cow was mostly going parallel to the ridge, slowly edging down. Blood was getting worse and harder to follow and there were so many tracks and droppings it was impossible to follow a track. We lost blood and circled several times til one of us found it again, moving a ribbon from blood to blood to mark last blood. The cow then started to change directions randomly, then went straight down the steep hill.

We found blood, moved the ribbon and couldn't find more, so I went straight down, wife went to one side. She then found her elk! It had stumbled and landed in a rock pile. The head was stuck under a rock wedged in 180 degrees off from the body. She had never bedded.

We managed to get her out of those rocks to work on:

View attachment 160728

Turned out her shot was PERFECT just behind the shoulder, it destroyed the near lung totally and took a chunk out of the other lung, I also couldn't find anything, not even a good sized chunk, of the heart. How that cow went 600 yards boggles my mind! You can see the entrance hole in the above picture, darker spot at the back edge of shoulder.

So now for the second time in 4 days were were packing elk!
Fantastic job you two. I plan to move my family to Wyoming in the next two years. Where abouts do you guys live? How was it finding a home and jobs?
 

psycho

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
212
Location
Las Vegas, NV
The amount of work it takes to haul them suckers out adds to the feeling of accomplishment each time. Great Job.
 

ntodwild

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 21, 2018
Messages
594
Location
Washington
Way to go. Fill that freezer up. Gotta love it when a plan comes together Or Lady Luck crawls in your back pocket when you're not looking.

Very cool congrats.
 
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