Monday, September 24, 2012

Rifle Elk Hunt Part 2: Success at Last!

Vergean and I waiting for the elk to come in
Sometimes all the hard work of scouting and planning will just never pay off.  Maybe it's the weather, another hunter getting to your trophy first, or maybe you can never just seem to make it all come together for that short magic moment when it all lines up and you bring that trophy down.  For me, the 2012 Utah limited entry rifle elk hunt went anything but what was planned.  I was actually surprised that I was able to get a good mount of time in scouting for my cousin, Vergean Porter for a good bull for him.  With such great plans in place how could this hunt be hard?  Well, it was anything but easy.  If you missed it, check out the details of the beginning of our hunt in our previous post: http://www.suhuntandfish.com/2012/09/rifle-elk-hunt-part-1-discouragement.html.

Zach and Spenser glassing near a high country lake
So, I took you through the first few days of the hunt, let me break it down for you on how things ended up for us.  After a short break mid week I hit the hills with good friends Zach and Spenser Owens on Thursday to check a little spot where the Owen's boys have had great success in the past.  It was a great evening, started off with an hour ATV ride into the area.  Conditions were not the best, even though there was little wind, temperatures were quite high for early evening, and the elk were not cooperating with us.  The sign on the wallows told the story that there were a lot of elk in the area, however during our time in the area we were only able to catch a few distant bugles, and one very small bull coming off of the wallow.  Staying until well after dark, the dark night's silence was seldom broken by the sound of elk bugles.  This wasn't going to work, unless you waited all day to chance that they would come in during the heat of day to water.  The drive was considerably far from our camp, and we decided to scrap the idea.  What a great night enjoying the fall colors and crisp air!
What a view!

Friday afternoon Clint and Kevin were able to return, and met up with be back at camp with Vergean.  We quickly loaded up and headed for a new area where fellow hunters (and good friends) had directed us towards.  Keep an eye on the blog in the coming days as we highlight their bulls!

Heading into new territory I was skeptical that we would see anything as the roads seemed well traveled, and we actually saw other hunters in the area.  Coming out of the trees and into a large flat, we spotted a great bull, a little over 100 yards from us with a few cows.  The bull froze, giving us the perfect opportunity.  Unfortunately, looking directly into the sun Vergean was not able to get this awesome bull in his scope, and he made it into thick timber with his cows.

This may have seemed like a blow, but in fact was a great moral booster!  We were seeing more elk now!  Saturday morning brought more bugles, we just couldn't ever work out a good position to get on to them.  However we were seeing elk again, and we remained optimistic that we could get the job done.  The rest of the day was a great, relaxing day!  At camp we kicked back for a while telling stories, tall tales, you know, nothing but the truth!  The day was capped off with a fishing trip to a great high country lake where we were able to hook into a few nice rainbow trout.  Kevin was the lucky one of the day catching most of our fish, and Clint's grandson Jaxon was able to reel a few in for us.  I think we heard more stories from Jaxon throughout the day than Vergean!  Well, we can see where the boy gets his story telling abilities anyway.

The evening found us sitting on water waiting for the bulls to come in to a wallow, however the only thing we could find this night was a bull and a few cows nearly a mile away, across the lake from us.
 I was able to catch some great video of this bull chasing his cows!  My Vortex "Ranger 1000" (review to come!) was unable to range this bull, as he was over 1000 yards!  At my best guess using Google Earth he was at 1500-1600 yards!  This footage was shot using my Vortex Razor HD spotting scope, with my Sony HDR-CX160 Handycam, which I brought all together with my Tines Up camera adapter (http://www.tinesup.com/tustore.html).  The video is a bit rough, keep in mind there's a lot of magnification at work here, and it becomes extremely tough to film a moving target!



 At this point, I think we were all accepting the fact that the tag would not be filled.  You would think this would be a pretty somber feeling, but everyone was still in very good spirits, and we were all still going on and on about how much fun we had over the week.

The Last Day:  This was it, one last chance to hunt during the morning before we all had to head home.  We decided to head to a spot where we had been onto several bulls over the last few days, but without luck.  This time we would get in there a little bit earlier, and move a bit further north where we suspected the bulls to be.  Things started off slow, as we could not hear a bugle at all before daylight.  Shortly after sunup, the crisp morning air was pierced with the sound of a bugle a short distance away, and others further north.  Working into the closest bull, we were quickly surprised to find the bull less than 50 yards away, with cows closer.  After freezing in position, trying to see the bull, the bull picked up his cows and drove them away.

The crew posing with a hard won trophy!
As we waited to figure out what to do another bull bugled up the ridge.  Working towards the bull, we realized the he was coming right down the hill towards us!  Freezing in the edge of a small opening, the timber crashed above us, and 2 cows bolted out about 30 feet in front of us.  They never saw us, as they were being herded along by a bull screaming on their heels.  As the bull ran into the clearing, Vergean touched the shot off and the bull dropped right in his tracks as he entered the clearing, mid-bugle!  He was down with one shot, and going nowhere.  And the bonus?  A skid trail from a logging road was less than 20 feet away, this one was going to be cake!

L to R: Clint, Jaxon, Kevin, Vergean
What a thrill on the last day of the hunt, a great 6X6 to cap off a week of hard hunting, ups and downs, and great times shared with family!  Three generations (Vergean, Clint/Kevin, and Jaxon) were all present to enjoy the moment together, and I have trouble expressing my feelings of gratitude to be so privileged to share the experience with them.  It has also been a great honor to share our experience with you all here.  Thanks Vergean, Clint, Kevin, Kason, and Jaxon for such a great time.  I hope we can do it again soon!

When it's all said and done, remember that we call it "hunting", not "killing".  Hunting isn't easy.  I think a lot of us see how it all goes down on TV shows, or when we see successful friends, and we tend to think that it is easy.  What if it was?  Would the reward be as great?  I find myself sitting here tonight tired, sore, and just downright exhausted, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I have so many new memories to cherish, and that much more experience under my belt to use on other hunts down the road.  I've also realized that, at least with the last 2 elk hunts I've been a part of, the last day is the best!  My brother also tagged on the last day of his hunt last year.  Why rush?  Who wants to get back to work earlier than they have to?  That being said, this boy is one tired guy, and I wouldn't feel a bit bad tagging my buck early on in my hunt that begins Wednesday  As the temperature drops, and rain settles in tonight I'm feeling excitement build as I think mother nature has is it in the works of helping the 2012 Utah muzzle loader hunt be a great one! 

I'll be back on the mountain this week, but check back soon as the elk hunt stories have been pouring in, and I'm sure we will also have some great tales to share from the upcoming deer hunts.  Thanks so much to those that continue to submit photos and stories!

Remember you can submit yours to suhuntandfish@gmail.com