Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Our 2013 Elk Scouting Report

Hello everyone!

I apologize for a long absence in writing, the 2013 fire season cam in with a fury about a month ago, and I have been burning up the road since.  From right here in our southern Utah backyard, to the western slope of the Colorado Rockies the last month has been pretty crazy.  It's nice to be back home, at least for a while, and I will try to get caught up with more frequent posts and information!

Before I begin however, I would like to take a moment to express our sorrow and heartache over the loss of the 19 wildland firefighters of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that perished in the flames of the Yarnell Hill fire just over a week ago in Arizona.  The news was quick to reach our fire camp of the West Fork Complex in Del Norte, Colorado the night of the incident.  With fellow brother and sister firefighters spread out all across the west at this time, I want to say how grateful I am to be a part of the firefighting community and for the bonds we share as such.  I know our wounds will take some time to heal, and I want to express to the families and friends of the fallen that our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

If you wish to donate to the families of the fallen, check out the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website for more details.  There are several options to show your support, and to help out the families of fallen wildland firefighters.

On a lighter note, I returned to Utah on July 3rd, a surprise for sure as I have never timed the 4th of July weekend off in nearly 12 years.  While it was to late to meet up with family that had camping trips planned, we quickly threw some things together and set out for the hills just 15 miles from our home.  That was far enough for me, just being out in the mountains I love was enough!  We were also fortunate to be joined by good family friends from town for a couple of days.  It was a relaxing weekend, one where it was nice to just sit back and watch the kids play!

Before I left, I was greeted with a piece of mail that I have waited 13 years to hold!  It doesn't get much more official than this, my 2013 Utah limited entry muzzleloader bull elk tag!  While I haven't placed much thought to it over the busy 3 weeks previous, now I find my thoughts consumed with a hunt that is still over two-and-a-half months away!  No doubt with my thoughts turned to the hunt I had to get out to check the one lone trail camera I was able to setup one month ago before fire season pulled me away.

Well, it turns out that one camera is all I needed to find a shooter!  I was thrilled to see the SD card filled with over 1,300 photos within just a month's time!  This is the best I've ever recorded in 3 years of setting a camera at this spot!  Immediately I was greeted with early-June photos that allowed me a look at bulls that showed promising sign.  There were definitely more small bulls than large, but 2 bulls had my attention.  One bull turned out to "stall" out a bit, a decent 6 point on the left side, a 4 point on the right.  However, bull number 2 just never stopped growing!  Two weeks in it became evident I had seen this bull before.  Two weeks later and it was obvious this bull is going to be a stud of a 6x7!  Then a photo from a friend confirmed, I had seen this bull, though it was not the one I thought it was.  It's sheds were found this spring, and they scored out at an impressive 368".  What's more, this bull has added more length to it's 3rds and 5ths, areas it was a bit weak in last year.  Now to see if he maintains the amazing main beam length from last year.  We are guessing he may approach the 380" mark this year!

On the flip side, a very impressive bull from last year that I was hoping to have a crack at this year has went downhill.  The massive, crazy looking 6 point still has the mass, but has lost so much of his main beam length that we will probably pass him up this year.  It's still an interesting looking bull!

Last year

Still, why put all your eggs in one basket?  After checking this camera, we set out to place a few more across the mountain in other spots that have been good in the past.  We actually need to find 2 bulls this year, as my brother's friend also has a tag on the same unit, for the early rifle hunt.  We are crossing our fingers that we can find a few shooter bulls to allow for some flexibility and backup plans.  We had a great time cruising the mountains on ATVs, and hiking through the hills in search of good spots.

From all of us here at Southern Utah Hunt and Fish, we hope you had a great 4th of July weekend!  Please feel free to share your photos of your outings and scouting with us here!  Email your photos and stories to suhuntandfish@gmail.com or post to our Facebook page!  Until next time!

Check out a few more of our trail cam photos: