Author Topic: 2012 Elk Hunt  (Read 18291 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
2012 Elk Hunt
« on: October 07, 2012, 12:11:14 am »
Here are some pictures from my 2012 elk hunt in the mountains of NE Oregon. My son Max came with me and since this was his first hunt and he is about to enter dental school I wanted to do it up right. I hired an outfitter to pack us into the wilderness area and we hunted for two weeks.  My regular hunting partner Chuck was the third member of our group.

We arrived at the pack station the night before and were treated to a wonderful home cooked meal at the lodge. Sleep did not come easily that night as we waited anxiously for morning to arrive – we were told that we were the first group of hunters to go into our chosen area this year.

Here is our gear in the staging area in preparation for being loaded onto the mules.



The mules after being loaded with our gear and ready to go.



This was Max’s first time on a horse. Needless to say after a few hours on the trail he was beginning to get a little saddle sore.





Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 12:12:56 am »
After a grueling six hour ride we finally arrive at the site of our base camp. The camp is situated at 7,000 feet at the site of an old glacial moraine. The scenery is breath taking and we can hardly believe that this spot will be our home for the next two weeks!



See you in two weeks!



That evening we take a hike around our camp and encounter a herd of elk at a watering hole near our camp. This is good karma!




Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2012, 12:14:31 am »
The next day we hunt on our side of the canyon, but we are unable to find the elk that we encountered the night before. We see lots of fresh sign, but no elk so we decide to hunt the other side on day three.

This is a picture from the other side. Our camp is situated across the canyon at timberline to the right of the picture.



We make the 3 mile hike to the other side in the dark on the morning of day three. As it gets light we are greeted with the sounds of three bulls bugling. We make several setups but despite the expert calling of my partner Chuck, none of the bulls shows interest and by mid-morning all is quiet. We break for an early lunch and I suggest to Chuck that we trek over to “Coral” basin to see if anything is happening over there.

Coral is probably my favorite spot to hunt elk in the world. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth and is some of the best elk habitat anywhere. Coral is a basin that is situated near the top of a mountain. It is impossible to see unless you are there or viewing if from the air. At the base lies a sub-alpine meadow that gives way to dark timber that climbs up the sides of the basin. The basin is rich with grass, water, wallows, timber and escape routes. It is nothing short of an elk paradise.


Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 12:17:23 am »
I’ve encountered many animals in this basin in past hunts so my expectations were high. When we arrived, we did not see or hear any direct activity but noticed that some of the wallows at the upper end of the meadow had been recently used. We did a few setups in and around the wallows hoping to draw something out of the timber, but nothing responded. After that we dropped back to the lower end of the meadow to quietly wait and see if something might reveal itself.  After about an hour of waiting and listening we heard a faint bugle in the timber to the right of us. We climbed into the timber about 50 yards and then setup to see if we could coax the bull to be a little more vocal. The bull obliged by bugling back at our cow calls imploring what he no doubt thought were lonely cows to come up and join his little party. After about 30 minutes of this back and forth, it became evident that this bull was not going to chance leaving the charms of his harem to come to us – we were going to have to go in after him.

And so we did. We closed in and then stumbled upon a group of cows which bolted in a panic. I figured that the gig was over but Chuck cow called and the bull responded with a bugle. He sounded close, probably no more than 40 yards. Chuck wanted to move in more but I convinced him that we should setup where we were otherwise we would likely blow him out. Max and I spread out and Chuck moved back 20 yards into a caller position. Chuck started with cow calls which elicited bugles from the bull, but no commitment to come our way. Finally Chuck bugled back at the bull which elicited a serious of hard thumping grunts from the bull. Clearly now Chuck had the bull’s attention.  Soon the void between us and the bull was filled with the high pitched sounds of the bull and Chuck screaming back at each other. Neither Chuck nor the bull was going to back down – something had to give.

You are never quite prepared when it happens. Usually you spot antlers first and then where a moment ago there was just timber the body of a mature bull elk materializes out of nowhere. You’ve visualized this moment so many times in your mind and now that it here in front of you, you can hardly believe it is really happening.

To be continued...
Gordon

Offline portlandfire

  • Member
  • Posts: 151
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 12:47:12 am »
   Fantastic Pictures!    OK    You've had your break, get back to the story........ ;)

Offline Adam

  • Member
  • Posts: 909
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2012, 08:48:48 am »
Wow!  Beautiful country!  That looks like an incredible time.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

Offline Little John

  • Member
  • Posts: 1605
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2012, 08:49:26 am »
you have me totally intrested, this is alreddy a great hunt. Cant wait for more of the story.
May all of your moments afield with bow in hand please and satisfy you.

Offline Sparrow

  • Member
  • Posts: 1985
  • Who shot cock robin ? I said the sparrow.
    • Dream Fish Charters
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 09:33:49 am »
O.K. What's the hold up ?  (Impatiently)  '  Frank
Frank (The Sparrow) Pataha, Washington

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 10:50:51 am »
The bull stands motionless at 40 yards and is looking right through me to the spot where Chuck is calling. He is quiet now, no longer verbally responding to Chuck’s taunting. But I’ve seen that look before and sense that this bull is coming in. I ease my bow up and point at an opening in front of me. If the bull comes through here and it seems likely it will, I will have a 15 yard broadside shot.

I wait for the bull to make his move. Chuck’s calling has stopped – perhaps he thinks that the bull’s sudden unresponsiveness indicates lost interest. The sound of a log crashing into a tree startles me and I whip my head around toward Chuck to see what is happening. Again and again the log is slammed into a tree followed by heavy pounding and racking of branches. What on earth is Chuck doing I wonder in a panic. I can’t believe it; he is going to drive this bull away before I even get a chance! The log finally splinters and I look back where the bull was standing fully expecting it to be gone. Instead I am greeted with the sounds of pounding hoofs and breaking branches. My God, the bull is charging us!
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 07:06:08 pm by Gordon »
Gordon

Offline nclonghunter

  • Member
  • Posts: 1775
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2012, 02:59:46 pm »
Damn it man, SHOOT!

Sorry, got caught up in the moment....continue please
There are no bad knappers, only bad flakes

Offline hedgeapple

  • Member
  • Posts: 1835
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 03:26:29 pm »
gotta see how this story ends
Dave   Richmond, KY
26" draw

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 04:47:35 pm »
In an instant my draw arm is back and the arrow is away. The wood shaft buries itself into the bull’s body, but the hit is further back than I like. The bull’s charge comes to a crashing halt and it spins around and runs back from where it came. Unaware of what just happened, Chuck begins bugling again. The bull stops 80 yards in some timber, turns around and watches us. I’m not happy with the hit and I regret having taken such a risky shot. But recriminations come easy in hindsight. Actions taken in the heat of the moment come as much from instinct as from reason and one is never totally in control - that is the nature of hunting. I’m certain that the wound will prove fatal, but I know recovering the bull is going to be difficult. I am committed to this now – however it turns out.

After several minutes the bull is still watching us and does not seem alarmed. I am hopeful that if I can maintain contact with the bull I will have an easier time of tracking it to its death bed. Chuck’s calling is becoming increasingly frantic and I have no way to signal him to back off. Suddenly Chuck bursts from cover and he is racing forward to close the gap. Chuck has no idea that I have put an arrow into the bull and he doesn’t see me waving my arms at him trying to get him to stop until it’s too late; the bull has finally had enough and vanishes into the timber.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 07:07:35 pm by Gordon »
Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 04:49:57 pm »
It is early afternoon and we decide to wait several hours before attempting to track the bull. We back away a couple of hundred yards and lay up in nice grassy area near some water and take a long nap. After 4 hours we return to the spot where I last saw the bull. We search the area thoroughly and don’t find any blood or my arrow – not a good sign. There are only a couple of hours of light remaining so we concentrate on searching areas where we think a mortally wounded elk might hunker down.  Darkness finally forces us to regroup. Camp is a long way off through rough country and none of us is keen on being out here long after dark.   We decide to call off the search and head grimly back toward camp.

Losing an animal is probably the hardest thing that a bow hunter has to deal with. And when coupled with a questionable shot it can drive you to despair. I make dinner and we eat in silence. Later by the campfire I quietly ask Chuck what he thinks our chances are of recovering the bull. Chuck is an experienced hunter with several elk to his name and he gamely responds he thinks our chances are okay. But Chuck’s eyes give him away and I can see that the optimism that he had earlier has drained away.
Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 04:54:13 pm »
The night is long and sleep comes in fits and starts when it comes at all. The temperature drops below freezing. I’m certain that the bull is by now lying dead somewhere and I am grateful that the cold air will help cool the carcass; if only I can find it. I’m up at 4 am unable to wait any longer. I wake the others and fix breakfast. Chuck and Max wolf down the oatmeal and coffee but I can barely touch it – I feel sick.

We head off in darkness and arrive in Coral basin just after light. I suggest that we perform a systematic grid search with a radius of 300 yards from the last known position of the elk. Chuck looks at me like I’m an alien from another planet. He says that Max and I are welcome to do that, but that he is going to find the bull by using his gut. I don’t argue with him. Chuck is an amazing hunter. He never uses a map, gps, or compass and he seems to have a sixth sense about animals. If anyone can find my bull, he can. I bid him good luck and he is off like a blood hound on a trail.

Max and I go about our grid search. It is slow going because the terrain is so rough and uneven. Partway through the search we take a break and Max calls in his first elk while practicing his calling technique; a small branch bull. When I see the bull coming in I slide behind some cover and attempt to bring him in closer with a couple of cow calls. Something is wrong with the reed and the call sounds like a dying cat and the bull leaves. Max looks at me and calmly says “Dad, next time don’t help”. Pricless…
Gordon

Offline Gordon

  • Member
  • Posts: 3149
Re: 2012 Elk Hunt
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 04:56:27 pm »
About two hours into the search, we hear a faint bugle coming from above. I tell Max that it could be a bull or Chuck trying to get our attention. Either way, I figure we best investigate. When we get closer I pull out my tube and rip off a bugle. A bugle from above is immediately returned and then I think I hear the sound of a human voice faintly in the distance. We follow the bugles until we can hear Chuck yelling in a very excited manner. Max looks at me and says I think he found something. I’m thinking there is no way…

I bugle once to let Chuck know where we are and he is on us immediately. He is excited and the words are tumbling out of his mouth. I ask him if he found the bull and he tells me he has something to show us – just follow him.  And he leads us to a sight that I could have scarcely imagined only an hour before – my beautiful bull!


« Last Edit: October 07, 2012, 05:01:27 pm by Gordon »
Gordon