Sunday, October 15, 2017
Full Count: Three Guys Four Animals, Three Days
"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right"
- Henry Ford
I believe that we are the sum of the five people we find ourselves in company with the most. Like attracts like, it's the same in the mountains. A good team knows what the other team members are thinking and they move as one, win and lose as one.
Like most backcountry hunters, we enjoy the beauty, solitude, and most of all the test. When I sold knives we used the Rockwell hardness test to know the hardness of a certain metal being used as a blade and how that metal would perform. Miles and miles of steep, rocky and unforgiving terrain, married with the rawness of the climate that can change within the blink of an eye, are good tests to find a person's metal.
2016 was a great year in the backcountry. The weatherman called for precip and we knew at the elevation we were going to hunt would summon snow, a good problem to have. I find a lot of people get turned away by inclement weather and do a lot of road hunting or RV sitting when it looks gloomy. Personally I get excited and make sure we're in the thick of it, I can't tell you how many times we have been in the thick of it and had a break and were right there when the animals come alive. This is what happened to us twice on this 3 day hunt.
It was pissing a rain/snow mix the night we made it to camp, all night we could hear it pounding the tent. We awoke to a winter wonderland of a heavy wet snow, first problem is it is very hard to keep your gear dry when it is that kind of snow and conditions. This was the year that my elk tracker boots had given up the ghost and so I found myself walking in wet boots for three days straight.
The plan was simple, we know the area, and had killed several bulls before with the elk in their post rut, and the bulls were chasing late cows.
Jared was the first to glass up the herd bull, there were several raghorns and satellites in this group. So we side hilled around to a ridge point hidden in the spruce and set up with a great vantage point above them. At 420 yds Jared and Dennis were kind enough to let me dial in on the big boy while Dennis elected to take a nice raggy next to the big boy. Jared decided to hold out and see if we couldn't find another mature bull, it was the first day and so we had some time.
Both bulls absorbed our first shots into their front shoulders and with a follow up were anchored on the hill. I can't tell you how nice it is to do the "hard work" of hunting when it comes to preparing, field dressing and packing off the mountain your animal when you work as a team that jumps in and works together, the work is actually fun and goes by fast. So Romeo and Jasper hauled my bull and Rider the big morgan equine packed Dennis's without any rodeo problems and in one trip. This conserves a lot of energy and has allowed us to hunt harder and longer. We saw several other raggys that night and another the next morning as we were packing our elk back to the truck, but were looking for a good six for Jared. We were going to go back to our base camp, dry off because everything we owned was soaked. Hit it hard in the morning and hopefully kill a deer or two in the half a day we had left before going home.
That night it snowed and the weather was bad, opening the tent door we were welcomed with very cold temps and fog. The trail out of camp and the trailhead was a ghost town as every hunter in the drainage was hunkering down in their tents. Once we got a ways down the trail we set up and on cue the fog lifted and the sun started to shine through the overcast. Right away we saw the small six pt bull we saw the day before with his cows on the other side of the drainage, and decided to pass. I let out a long wolf howl to see if any four legged elk killers were in the area, and nothing responded. A nice buck up the drainage didn't want anything to do with the howl and took off up the drainage. Then Dennis spotted two bucks going up the hillside to our right, both were small bucks, but we had but a few hours left before we were going to go home. I had drawn a tag down south and was waiting to go and hunt that unit and this would be the last time to hunt for Jared and Dennis, so we went for it, that and it was fun. Jared made a 500 yd shot with the 6.5-06 on the 3x4 and he went down hard with a high shoulder shot. Dennis ran over to the edge of the ridge and while the group of does with the other small buck was running to the top he saw movement below. This isn't the first time we have seen a big buck stay back and creep like a tom cat up the bottom of a draw thinking he was safe. I had the same experience in Salmon Idaho several years before with another smart buck. The buck started trotting once he saw Dennis and he made a quick moving shot that hit him a little far back. By this time I had caught up to Dennis and got the camera on him and he made a follow up shot. We were expecting a decent four pt when we walked up on the buck and were blown away when those antlers came out of the snow and there were two extra in lines on his right side, making him an6x4 and just a great general tag buck. Both bucks we put on Jasper and walked them out to one of the most beautiful days with the sun illuminating the clouds and antlers on the skyline!
at 6:41 PM