The Last Go-Round?

mtmuley

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 11, 2009
Messages
11,485
Location
montana
Sitting at work, less than 24 hours from PTO and my give-a-sh!t has broken. There may be a distinct possibility that I'll come down with a case of anal glaucoma tomorrow around lunch...
I hear ya. Left last Thursday for our antelope hunt. All tags filled and have just hung out for a bit. Good luck to you guys. mtmuley
 

BackofBeyond

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
3,279
Location
Boise, ID
Got some “extended LTE” service so I’ll copy and paste what I’ve got written in my Notes. Pretty wordy, but with no service and a FIL as conversational as Josie Wales, I’ve got time to type some…

Quick and exciting start to the season, no elk harmed, but it was exciting.



FIL and I met down at the highway yesterday about 6:00 and drove the hour or so back up to where we planed to hunt. We managed to get the camping spot I wanted, so started out well. Instead of setting up camp right away we went down to my favorite glassing point off the road to do some looking, it’s also a good spot to show Gordo the lay of the land. While there we talked with a couple guys that have a bull tag for the same area, we compared notes, and their plan worked well with what I initially wanted to do - sit in the glassing point and let the elk move, we could adjust from there.



Back up to camp after the sun went down, and got everything set up. FIL had eaten on the road down here, so I whipped up a Mtn House to form tomorrow’s turd. About the time my food was choked down my hunting partner, Dan-O showed up, with his SxS. General deer season is open here, so he’s going to deer hunt while Gordo and I elk hunt. We visited a while, Dan-O and Gordo got caught up, and we headed off to bed. I slept like crap. I always sleep like crap, but especially the night before opening day, I slept like extra crap.



First thing in the morning we headed down to “the Lookout” and started glassing. Wasn’t long before I picked out a couple cows across the canyon. Gordo took one look and said “ain’t no way I can get to ‘em, have at it.” So I down I went. Dropped about 400 vertical feet and got to where I had a good view, 450 yard shot, but I had just grabbed my rifle and went. Didn’t grab my pack and I was in some pretty tall grass. I’ve got a bipod in my rifle, but with the steep downhill and then trying to shoot above my own elevation, prone was out of the question. Had to sit there and watch them walk away. After they worked out of site I got to take the slog of shame back up hill, which took a while, it’s steep country. Not quite the alpine experience that @Stocker had in Nebraska, but close. I did the usual lessons learned from the encounter, #1 being don’t leave your pack. I’ve learned that lesson several times now, sooner or later it will stick.



We sat at “the Lookout” for most of the morning, then decided to take a drive in Dan-O’s new toy and see some country. Took a cruise over towards the river side of the unit, steeper, hotter, and dryer yet over there.



Made a stop on our way back at camp, grabbed more water, grabbed a chair for Gordo, and headed back to “the Lookout” for the evening.



From “Lookout” you can glass back up into a different side of the canyon, to a place Gordo instantly dubbed “Cherry Ridge.” Dan-O and I have lots of experience with Cherry Ridge, he shot his bull in the bottoms there last year, I lost a bull during archery up at the head end. We see elk there a lot.



About 6:45 Dan-O comes running back to the Lookout from taking care of some business and says “there’s elk out on the south face of that ridge.” So we all grab our stuff as fast as we can, pile into the SxS and go screaming back up canyon to see what can be done.



There’s a switchback in the road right there so we stop, and it’s a fair poke from there to the face. I get set up, prone, and it’s 540 yards to the elk. Not great, but doable, problem being there is a 5 point, two spikes, and 4 cows, and 3 calves mixed together feeding their way up the ridge. It’s getting to be that time right after sunset that it was getting dimmer and it was near impossible to 100% identify what was a cow and what was a spike. No shot. But we get an idea.



Next morning we were set up at the Lookout again, but Dan-O is set up to glass Cherry Ridge full time. Wasn’t long before we hear “their back” and off we go again. This time the elk have already fed back into the brush and presumably bedded down for the day. We spent the rest of the day on a different glassing knob, found 3 cows on the move during the day, slipping from one piece of cover to the next. They didn’t come out the other side, we assumed they had bed down. Gordo and I loaded up, leaving Dan-O to glass while we freckled over there. Deal was Dan-O would put out a blaze orange vest if he saw them leave. We were out of site for about a mile, and popped back over the ridge, about 300 yards from the cover they were in and the blaze orange vest was out. Slog of shame back again… turns out a couple other guys had come from the other side, walked right through the middle, and busted the elk out the bottom.
 

BackofBeyond

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
3,279
Location
Boise, ID
The Verizon gods are smiling on me right now, 3 bars out of the blue…

Having learned a thing or two, we decided to glass from that switch back above Cherry Ridge. About 5:00 we see two spikes and a couple calves feed out from the top, much to far of a poke, then quickly two momma cows come out of the brush, bark a few times, and everybody files back into the brush. About 20 minutes later we see a cow and calf bust out of the brush on a dead run for the bottom, followed closely by one of the spikes. We look up the big ridge above them and there’s two guys cruising through a shady spot above where they were bedded. I figured the gig was up, what was the likelihood that two groups of elk being in the same drainage? Gordo over ruled me with “this place is cherry, just cherry. Don’t leave elk to find elk.” So we stayed put. Good thing we did because right about 6:45 Dan-O spots another group coming out the bottom, to our far right. Much to far out there for a shot, but there’s an old logging road that cuts off on our side of the drainage, we decided we had 30 minutes to make something happen. Gordo tells me to go, he won’t be able to get there in time so off we go.



We clipped on down the cat track as fast as two mid 40’s guys with bad knees can go for 3/4 of a mile and we broke out into a clearing and magically there was a big lone cow standing in the opposite side. I plopped my rifle down, took my pack off, Dan-O got the binos on her and confirmed her as a cow, then got me a range - 471 line of site, but I missed that last part. Dialed for 500, got a steady rest on my pack, settled the cross hairs right behind her shoulder, and squeezed. Just to be sporting I gave her a warning shot across her back. Dan-O instantly said your high, so I tried to get a better rear rest thingking I pulled it high. Meanwhile, the cow settled down after running about 30 yards sidehill and was back to feeding. Good rest, deep breath, squeeze… good hit. I saw her take off in a death run down to the bottom, but tumbled and got hung up in a tree. Big cloud of dust, and the barely visible outline of a grey/tan shoulder and a darker brown neck peeking through the bottom branches.



Dan-O went back to the road to get Gordo, I stayed put with one eye on where we thought my cow was, and another in the 3 bulls, 4 cows, and 3 calves that fed out right into the same opening as my cow had. Not a care in the world. I reset the rifle in a better spot and hoped that Gordo could make it down before shooting light was up. No dice. He got there in time, took one look at them and said “huh, will you look at that? Well, you boys have enough work ahead of you tonight, don’t need to add more.” So we kept on and headed into the bottoms where Dan-O and I dropped our bags and left Gordo to climb up the face of the ridge to find my cow. We walked right to her, and after taking some photos we tugged her out from behind the tree with the intention of dragging her down to the bottoms… as soon as she cleared the tree she was off and rolling. Tumbled a good 100’ straight down, through several brush patches and finally hung up on a game trail and more brush. I will freely admit laughing my ass of when she started to go. Great intentions, horrible in practice.



This was Gordo’s first time seeing the gutless method. He was under the impression that we’re going to gut her, old school style, then head back out to get saws, hatchets, and pack boards to start packing quarters. Dan-O and I pulled out Havalon’s and game bags and got to work by failing headlamps. Wasn’t long we had her all worked up, 4 quarters, a bag of loose trim, heart, tongue, and both ivories for my boys. Gordo kept saying “this is great and all, but how are going to get the trendies?” Then when we actually got the tendies out, he was fully sold. Next mind blowing thing for Gordo was the invention of the meat shelf. I kept kidding Dannie about one tripping it, and Gordo asked “how the hell are you going to do that?” I told him we’re going to strap them to our backs and go! He was almost dumbstruck when we sandwiched the quarters between the bag and frames of our packs. 1.5 miles packed out, first half with a failing headlamp, second half with a cell phone flashlight because I didn’t want to stop. All good fun.

FD0563EA-9372-46EE-8BBE-CF5095D707BC.jpeg

56E01A55-4983-4BA2-9510-83FB54ABC53C.jpeg
 

BackofBeyond

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
3,279
Location
Boise, ID
This all went down Sunday evening. Once we got the quarters back to camp and hung up, around 11:00, Dan-O took off for home hoping he could get a few hours of sleep before he had to head to work. Good guy, really good friend.

We slept in Monday morning, then loaded up the thoroughly cooled quarters in the cooler and headed for town. The guy that usually does meat processing work for my wife’s family had no room in his game cooler, but he recommended another shop about an hour north. Got up there and loaded her in their cooler, and while filling out the paperwork the gal dropped a Jeremiah Johnson reference, so I know my cow is in good hands.

We came back up to camp Monday afternoon, did some glassing from a different spot, saw some cows, but my legs were sore. I was in no mood to walk, and Gordo was content to just watch elk.

Talking with Gordo Monday, he did confirm that his hunting partners Mike and Steve, who he’s known since middle school, and hunted with for 40+ years have both hung up their boots. No more elk hunting for them, and this is, in fact, his last hunt. He keeps talking about how watching Dannie and I pack quarters made his knees hurt, and made him realize just how much of a young man’s game elk hunting is.

It’s like watching him age right before my eyes. Once again the adage of “hunt while you can, you’ll run out of health before you run out of money” holds true. It’s a good lesson for me to see a prime example of.
 

BackofBeyond

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
3,279
Location
Boise, ID
Nothing much happened Monday afternoon, we glasses from Lookout yesterday morning. We took a drive in the SxS yesterday afternoon just to see some different country, then ended up back at the Cherry Ridge switchback glassing for the afternoon. About 6:00 I heard some brush popping back in the timber on the south side (where the old road is) and Gordo decided he wanted to “hunt that North Idaho style.” He’s said multiple times that he’s just not cut out for this spot and stalk stuff, he’s used to still hunting, so he wanted to just still hunt that road if there was something moving back in there. Last I said was “if they feed out, I’ll run down the road and catch up to you.” Sure enough, 6:45 and here they come out of the timber at the head of the draw. I grabbed my pack, spotting scope (for the tripod) and started hoofing it down the road trying to be as quiet as possible, while still making some speed. I caught up to Gordo about a 1/2 mile in, told him they were out in the far face at the head end, and we headed down to see about getting a shot.

I’m 6’-2” and when I want to cover some ground I’ve got the legs to do it. Gordo is about 5’-8” with bad knees. It was probably the slowest “quick walk” I’ve ever experienced.
 

BackofBeyond

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2018
Messages
3,279
Location
Boise, ID
We got back into the head of the draw and true to form the 3 cows, 2 calves, and a spike are all spread out feeding their way up. I set up my tripod and pointed the spotter to the ground to create a good rest, and Gordo laid his rifle across it. 345 yards, steep uphill shot, and he sailed it over the lead cow’s back. They looked around a bit and went back to feeding, but Gordo was in the dumps. He kept saying “I’m shaking like a leaf, I’ve lost it, pack me up.” We watched them for another 15 minutes til they made their way up to the top of the ridge, and out of view.

We headed back to camp, and Gordo was down in the dumps. I frankly got a couple bars at camp, so I called home and got my oldest on the phone to cheer up “Grumpa.” Seemed to do the trick, we’re back at Lookout this morning, watched a group of 6 cows, 3 calves, a spike, a 3 point, and a 6 point most of the morning. None where Gordo will make a move, but just enjoying sitting in the sun watching elk. We do have a plan for this afternoon, hopefully this one works out.

Weather forecast is calling for it to turn cold/wet Saturday, and Gordo doesn’t want to be up here for it. So plan is to pack everything up Friday afternoon, then hit the road after the evening hunt. Meaning I’ve got 2.5 more days to get him into position and punch a tag for his last time out.

8E9DEAF3-2151-489C-900E-85D6F11BB064.jpeg
 

Bowmannate2000

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
249
Location
Princeton, MN
We got back into the head of the draw and true to form the 3 cows, 2 calves, and a spike are all spread out feeding their way up. I set up my tripod and pointed the spotter to the ground to create a good rest, and Gordo laid his rifle across it. 345 yards, steep uphill shot, and he sailed it over the lead cow’s back. They looked around a bit and went back to feeding, but Gordo was in the dumps. He kept saying “I’m shaking like a leaf, I’ve lost it, pack me up.” We watched them for another 15 minutes til they made their way up to the top of the ridge, and out of view.

We headed back to camp, and Gordo was down in the dumps. I frankly got a couple bars at camp, so I called home and got my oldest on the phone to cheer up “Grumpa.” Seemed to do the trick, we’re back at Lookout this morning, watched a group of 6 cows, 3 calves, a spike, a 3 point, and a 6 point most of the morning. None where Gordo will make a move, but just enjoying sitting in the sun watching elk. We do have a plan for this afternoon, hopefully this one works out.

Weather forecast is calling for it to turn cold/wet Saturday, and Gordo doesn’t want to be up here for it. So plan is to pack everything up Friday afternoon, then hit the road after the evening hunt. Meaning I’ve got 2.5 more days to get him into position and punch a tag for his last time out.

View attachment 245253
Good luck! Hope he can connect.
 
Top