Every once in awhile

mountainhawks

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Joined
Sep 29, 2015
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100
Location
Nevada
How many times have we all been out in the hills chasing animals and devised a plan of attack that at the time seemed like it was rock solid only to have it fall apart in comical fashion? For me this seems to be an annual occurrence. I can look back at all the great ideas I've had while hunting and laugh at how ridiculous they seem now but at the time I was shocked they didn't work.

Luckily this past week was one of the rare times when the scheme we thought up actually worked to perfection, although there were some serious hiccups that made me question our sanity in the process.

My hunting buddies wife drew a bull elk tag this year in an area that I'm somewhat familiar with and it would be her first big game hunt of any kind. The planning started months ago by going over the maps and old photos (excuse to drink a few beers and bs) and getting her dialed in on the gun on the weekends. We decided to forego any scouting trips because her hunt was a rifle hunt that came later than the archery and muzzy hunts and generally the elk in this unit move large distances between the seasons. I have a good understanding of the area so we decided to just save the days and fuel money for the hunt itself. Fast forward to last Tuesday when myself, my buddy, his father and his father in law all headed up to the unit to set up camp and try to locate some bulls before the hunter could arrive on Friday. She's a school teacher and has limited days off so she couldn't be there for the Thursday opener. We located several good bulls leading up to her arrival and found a specific concentration of elk that were still rutting heavily in an area that we felt we could get her to. The morning before she would be able to hunt (Thursday) we watched these same bulls from a long ways away and developed a plan of attack. We would hike in from the other side of the mountain the next morning and beat them to the basin they were bedding in, there were 3 bulls we thought she would be happy with and hoped to be waiting for them in the am. Super simple right? The only issue was I had never come in from that side of the mountain but it looked to be one big hike and then a few small ridges to get to where we needed to be. She arrived that night and we went over the plan. To be where we wanted to we thought it would take about an hour of hiking but not knowing her hiking speed and the exact route we would take we decided we wanted to be hiking by about 3:30 am. I'm so glad we made that decision.

I looked at my gps as we started our hike and it was 3:32 am, I was expecting a long sit in the dark once we reached our destination but I was happy we were early. We made the big uphill hike and crested what we thought was the biggest ridge in only about 40 minutes. My buddies wife kept up great and things were going perfect when we realized we had a huge drainage to get through that we had somehow missed when looking at the maps. No biggie, we had plenty of time. Down we go and then up the other side, things are slowing down a bit and we got cliffed out a couple times but still had plenty of time. We crested the next ridge and what do you know, another, bigger drainage to cross. It's dark, people are getting tired, we are starting to second guess ourselves and the tension is beginning to build. We had picked a heading when we started and had to stick to it, even though we weren't sure it was correct anymore. We got through the next big drainage and by now its about 5:45 am and my buddies wife thinks we are completely lost and nuts (I may have had those same thoughts) but we continue across a large basin that we hope is our last feature before we are looking down on the canyon the elk are moving up. By now the wife is mad and asking "how far?" the father in law isn't saying anything, my buddy just keeps repeating "i don't know, it's dark!" and I'm cruising the perimeter of the group like a satellite bull trying to avoid any confrontation.

As the sun is starting to touch the mountain tops I realize we are dang near in the exact spot we wanted to be, we just need to move up the hill about 200 yards to get a better view. We start up and my buddy who is in front hits the ground like his body quit working. He motions to us to do the same. He crab walks back to us and relays that one of the bulls is out ahead of us moving up the draw and we need to haul up the little drainage we were in to get out above him for a shot. The rodeo begins and we all start crawling/running/tripping up the draw. I've tried to race elk before and it never works out. In my head I'm thinking we're screwed and we didn't leave early enough. Another failed plan. Why were we so dumb? Then I look up to the ridge about 200 yards away and there is about 15 cows that nobody knew were there looking back at us. Crap. Then I see my buddies wife with her dad and husband getting into position for a shot. They had a better angle than me and from their spot they could see antler tips approaching the cows. As the bull stepped onto the ridge she made the shot and he went about 80 yards before tumbling into the trees. I could not believe that our plan had actually worked out. She ended up with a great bull on her very first hunt ever. We were all ecstatic that it worked out the way it did and I can safely say it was one of the most rewarding and fun hunts I've ever been on. I just wish it had lasted a little longer. The only problem with the hunt is that now she wants to know why we always insist on leaving for a couple weeks on our hunts when it "really only takes half a day."
 

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Baerman

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
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1,396
Location
Boy-see
that is going to be hard to beat! awesome bull. love when a plan comes together.
 

LuckyMike

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2011
Messages
336
Location
Helena, Montana
Congrats to all involved - great bull! I especially liked your description of the extended family dynamics as the outing got more intense. I've been there.
 

Muskeez

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,690
Location
NW Iowa
Congrats to the little lady and the team that helped make it all happen for her!! So did you pack it out the way you came in or did you keep going toward where you scouted them from? At least you had some helpers to lighten the load.
 

HSi-ESi

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
1,122
Location
Corvallis, MT
Great story told well.

The last statement of getting it done in a half day rings true to me. My wife is all about efficiency - and this would always come back to bite me.
 

mountainhawks

Active member
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
100
Location
Nevada
Thanks guys! The pack out actually wasn't bad at all, had a road about 3/4's of a mile below us that we were able to access. Just didn't take it in the morning because we didn't want to blow anything out.
 
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