I decided that now was better than ever to get out and try our hand at an overnight backpacking trip. I was fortunate enough to get my dad and my brother to join me on this learning adventure, which made it even better. Preparing for this trip was tough for me because it was my first overnight adventure and didn’t know how or what I should pack. It was a great learning experience knowing what I should have left and what I should have brought more of. But I’ll save the technicalities for another post.
We hiked about 4 miles or so back into the mountains until we found a great little spot that had plenty of flat ground, near the trees, and plenty of dead wood for firewood. After setting up out tents and unloading our stuff, we decided to head over to the ridge and glass for the remainder of the evening. Nothing beats a view like that with the last couple hours left of daylight in the mountains. As we were glassing we saw a herd of about 10 elk feeding around and we watched them for about an hour trying to come up with a plan for the next morning. It was definitely an unforgettable moment sitting on top of those rocks with my brother and dad watching elk feed.
We then headed back to camp and started a fire to enjoy while we cooked our meals. I have never tried any of the Mountain House products and I must say that I was very impressed. I had the beef stroganoff with noodles. For just needing to boil some water to pour into a pouch, the flavor and portion size sold me on the product. All three of us enjoyed dinner, swapped some stories, and came up with our plan to chase elk that next morning.
Snakes and Bugs
As we were enjoying dinner we noticed there were a bunch of tiny centipedes that were wandering around on the rocks we were sitting on. Come to find out they were crawling everywhere! It was crazy to see how many of them there were. We jokingly sent text messages back home to our wives saying they didn’t have to worry about bears because we were getting attacked by mini centipedes.
As we were joking about the centipedes we kept hearing something move in the brush next to my brother and we warned him of killer centipedes so he shown his light on the bush and saw a snake slither back into the bush. My dad mentioned that there were rattlesnakes around so we were curious to see if it was one and plus, we didn’t want one roaming around camp all night either. So my dad moved some of the twigs around and sure enough there was a little rattlesnake slithering around. We grabbed some sticks and my dad pinned it down while my brother held the light and I used one of my dad’s arrows to put an end to the snake. Needless to say that was quite the adventure knowing my brother had been sitting next to a rattlesnake during dinner. Now I know it isn't the biggest snake, but it was my first rattlesnake that I have seen in the wild. That night we heard cow elk in the canyon below us making it hard to sleep. We were like kids on Christmas Eve.
The Big Bull
The morning came and we booked it over to the glassing rock and saw that same herd of elk feeding around in no hurry. Unfortunately my dad’s back was acting up and he couldn’t walk very far without it giving him problems. He decided to stay on top of the rock to watch the elk as my brother and I went after them. We watched them for a little while longer to get our bearings. The elk were about 2 miles (as the crow flies) from our camp. My brother and I started down in the direction that we last saw the elk and got a text message from our dad saying that they had just bedded down in a bunch of trees near where we last saw them. This got my brother and I excited! So as we made our way down the canyon in their direction.
The set up was perfect. There was a slight breeze blowing in our face and they were in a thick grove of trees. My brother and I split up about 100 yards apart and started to sneak up on the group of trees that we thought they were in and I decided to let out a little cow call to see if the bull would respond. Sure enough he let out a bugle as he come running out of the trees TO MY LEFT! I froze as he came trotting out bugling. I could have sworn he had to have heard my heart beating. He was a nice 6 point with great tine length and good mass.Then my brother who was about 100 yards to my right let out a cow call and this got him all flustered. He started raking the trees and bugling. I was waiting for him to go behind this tree before I started to move and get set up to take the shot. As he went behind the tree, I snuck up a little further to close the distance and as I got up to the next tree he came out and bugled again towards my brother. I fumbled to get my range finder out and as I did, it read 58 yards. I thought to myself, “All right this is going to be perfect.” I then slowly put my range finder down, clipped my release onto my bow, and slowly looked back up and BUSTED! He was looking straight at me. I froze. He had me pegged and I couldn’t move. He then heard my brother cow call again and turned his head an bugled. I pulled back and just as I did he turned back and faced me. Now he was straight on facing me and I held tight, waiting for him to turn back at my brother, but instead he started walking straight at me. Bugled in my face at about 45 yards, then spun and was back into the trees, barked once and was gone. I just remembered him having long tines and lots of mass. If I had to guess he was probably a 315 class bull. He was definitely one of the biggest I have pulled back on. As disappointing as it was not getting a shot, nothing will be the experience of watching a bull elk bugle that close to you, rake the trees, and stare you down.
I met back up with my brother and we started to see if we could get back on the elk. After lots of walking and searching, no luck. We called back up to our dad and he said he heard some elk bugling above him so he went on a little walk trying to see if he could find them. So my brother and I headed over to a wallow that we knew was there. We sat the wallow for a couple of hours before we ate lunch and hiked back up to our dad.Unfortunately he never saw the elk he heard while he was on top and after we got there we were ready to just collapse. The weather was in the mid 80’s which caused for poor elk hunting and on top of that it was about that time to pack up and head back home. We got our stuff all packed up and headed out in the mid 80 degree weather with our heavy packs and the blaring sun. It was a great weekend and even though there were no arrows flung, it was a fun time and nothing beats getting screamed at by a large bull elk at 45 yards.