Archive for September, 2018

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t budge. The sickness seemed to take hold and clench with all its might. I could barely function, even after sleeping in and getting up around 8:00 a.m. to eat some toast and eggs that Dad made for me. He didn’t go out because he was worn out after yesterday. Heck, that will happen to a 70-plus year old man every now and then.

Brian headed out bright and early as usual. He returned to the tent about an hour after he left because he forgot some stuff. When he returned tonight, he filled us in on everything that had happened. In the early morning, he saw a young Amish lad tucked into some brush on the edge of a meadow. The boy said his father was a ways away and had muzzleloading tags for bear and mule deer. Brian couldn’t figure that out since the guy was honking on a bugle tube like there was no tomorrow. That’s a head scratcher.

After putting them behind him, he crested a mountain that we haven’t been on yet. When he stopped for rest at the top of it, he saw movement in the bowl in front of him. He quickly walked toward the movement and saw that it was a guy dressing out a bull calf that he had just arrowed. As the man talked in circles, Brian caught him in a few lies, so in the end, it was hard to believe much of anything he said, even though he claimed to have wounded a big 6×6 the day before. The man was from Tennessee.  We’re not sure why he would have shot a calf if he had really been seeing all of the bulls he was seeing all sorts of bulls as he claimed.

This evening Dad and Alex headed back to the area where Dad missed the big bull. Once again, they were in amongst them and had a nice bull come into their calls. Unfortunately, they never got a shot. Dad knew if he had a teammate for the incident, someone would have gotten a shot. It’s hard to pull it off alone.

Brian also had action tonight in the same exact spot we spent the day the last day we hunted. He saw a giant bull at the end of a line of cows. They got a little nervous and scattered before he could get a shot.

On his way out he had about nine bulls bugling at him. I think we are going to give it a go in there in the morning. I actually got feeling much better today and went out for a few minutes close to camp. I know I can’t do too much, but I’d like to give it a shot. I guess I’ll have to see how I feel in the morning when I wake up. I’m hoping I continue in the right direction with the illness I’m battling. We will see what tomorrow brings. I think we are getting close, but only time will tell.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

I woke up this morning and couldn’t function. I haven’t been sick in four years, but this cold is a doozy. I’m hoping it gives me some relief in the next week. It feels like one of those that’s going to hit me and not let up for a good week or better. I’m definitely not feeling close to being able to head into the woods. I don’t have the energy and couldn’t if I had to.

Dad went out this morning and sat in the stand he set up over a water hole. Unfortunately, the solitude was quickly broken when three hunters walked by him shortly after daylight. We just can’t escape the people this year. I’m not sure if there are so many of them in here because of all of the fires in other areas. Maybe the fires pinched people out of their primary places and made them search for new areas to hunt. Having hunted here for almost 30 years, I can definitely tell them that there are much better places to hunt. We keep coming back because of our familiarity with the area, and we also know where the elk like to hide, even when they’re being pressured. Amazingly, we’ve even been seeing people in those areas. On our way back in the forest road today after going downtown to get some medication for my cold, we counted 12 camps or more with an average of four people per camp. You can do the math on that one. While I’m not a mathematical genius, I can figure out that there are a lot of people in the woods every day, and nine out of 10 of them feels the need to blow on their bugle tubes and cow calls all day.

When Dad was coming out of the woods this morning, he ran into a guy on the trail. The guy told him he was headed to the area where Dad had just come from. During their conversation, the guy told him he was from a place called Elkington, W.V., and asked if Dad had ever heard of the place. It’s pretty funny that we drove through the town last month while attending the IBO World Championship at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.  The guy was amazed. Every time we travel, we realize how very large — but small — the world is when it comes right down to it. As the conversation progressed and the man learned Dad was from the Adirondacks, he quickly perked up and referenced the legendary Bigfoot. He asked if Dad had ever seen a Bigfoot, but Dad shrugged it off and said he had never come across the creature in all of his years of being in the Adirondack Mountains. I guess our little area is known outside of our minds in some places. It’s funny where some conversations with strangers can take us.

I’m sitting in camp right now waiting on Brian to get back to see what kind of day he had in the woods. Whenever I don’t hunt with him, he seems to have better days than when I do hunt with him. I’m guessing that it’s because of the gap in our age, and I might slow him down a bit.

I’ll chime back in when he arrives so I can have a full daily account of what went on from start to finish.  I doubt if I will go out in the morning if I still feel like I feel right now. While the fever is currently gone, I feel like I got run over by a tractor towing a wagon full of hay bales. Things could change through the night, but I kind of doubt it from what my body is currently telling me. It’s unfortunate to have this happen after waiting all year for my vacation to do what I love. When the vacation finally arrives, I’m not able to do anything due to my health. I know I shouldn’t push it because I’m sure that won’t make things any better.

Brian put on a lot of miles today and didn’t have any luck at all. At last light on his walk out, he saw a 4×4 and a cow. They spooked and began running, so he grabbed his bugle and let one rip. Suddenly, another bull answered and was in his lap. They bugled back and forth for a bit, but the bull retreated into the darkness. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

The temperature is still a little on the hot side. I’m not sure if that is what is keeping the majority of the elk from being vocal or if it’s the number of people wandering around in the woods. In all of my experiences, I’d be willing to guess that it’s a combination of the two things.

This morning we decided to head up one of the 12,000-foot peaks to see what the action looked like up near the top. On our way up, we heard a few bulls bugling in the distance but not in an area we could get to before they bedded down for the day. We did see a lot of sign as we zigzagged across the mountain to get to the top. Once up there, we were a little disappointed to see that there wasn’t much sign.

Since we were at the highest point, we decided to hang out for the day and hope that a few bulls would sound off in the late afternoon. We would be able to work on them from above and have a distinct advantage.

We waited as long as possible and didn’t hear a thing. With a long way to go to get back to the tent, we started down the mountain at 6:00 p.m. We talked about it a few minutes, and I could tell that Brian wanted to hunt around the top rim of the  mountain because he hadn’t been on the other side since we got here. I wanted to go back down the mountain the same way we came up it because the elk had the area torn up.

As we began our journey around the rim, the sign remained bleak. It definitely wasn’t like it had been in past years. Instantly, I knew we should have stayed on the other side and hunted our way down the mountain.

We came upon a dead cow that didn’t have much left except the bones and a few pieces of dried up meat on the legs. As we got closer to it, it was easy to see that mountain lions and bears had trails leading to and from the carcass. Cow elk have ivory on the front of their upper jawbone, and I felt like I had won the lottery when I saw both ivories sitting firmly in the jawbone. I had to use the help of a rock to knock the first one loose, but I lost the second one when I smashed it against a rock and it shot into the air and landed in a brush pile. We searched for it for a few minutes but couldn’t locate it. Knowing it wasn’t a good idea to stay around the carcass at a prime feeding time, we beat feet and quickly got to a lower elevation.

When we got to the bench below us, a few bulls began bugling in the area that was torn up. My guess was right: we should have stayed on that side and hunted our way down the mountain on that side. It was highly disappointing. Two of them screamed at each other the entire time we spent descending the mountain, and a few others occasionally chimed in.  Sometimes you need to pay attention to your instincts and do what you know has the highest probability of leading to success.

When we got back to the tent, Dad was just arriving, too. He had a pretty good day, although it didn’t start off the best. On his way down the trail in the morning, he ran into a guy from Indiana. After a brief conversation, it was established that the guy was headed to the same water hole that my dad had put a tree stand on. Dad told him he had a tree stand there and was going to it, but it didn’t faze the guy, and he told him he was going there, too. I guess it shows the difference in people.

Since Dad didn’t want to put up with any type of interferences with his hunt, he decided to go elsewhere and sneak and peek for the entire day. He saw a fair amount of elk, and around 4:30, he found himself in the middle of a herd that was being dominated by a giant bull. The giant bugled like he owned the mountain, warning all challengers to stay away from him and his girls.

Without much cover, Dad ducked behind a few trees and waited patiently. He quickly ranged the distance to a tree that he thought the elk was going to pass, but the elk turned and ended up coming completely broadside to him. Settling the 50-yard pin behind the shoulder as the bull stopped in a hole, he released the arrow. Amazingly, he didn’t hear any type of noise at all, but he was sure he had sent an arrow through its ribcage.

A few minutes later, he realized that he had severely misjudged the distance after the elk turned and ended up broadside to him. The elk was only 33 yards from him when he released the arrow. A 13-yard mistake isn’t too forgiving with archery gear, even on a giant elk.

Sitting in the tent, he began beating himself up. How can we shoot 3Ds all summer and still misjudge a target by 17 yards? How can you miss an elk at 33 yards? I guess this hasn’t been our year for elk, especially if anyone followed my 3D archery adventures this year and saw the elk issue I had at the IBO World Championship.  We are hoping that we can put the elk jinx behind us in the coming days.

I guess we can call today a productive day, even though not too terribly much happened. I’m coming down with a horrible cold. As we hit the sack tonight, I have a pretty high fever, and my head feels like it’s going to explode. I guess I’ll see what the morning brings. Since it’s so hot and there are so many people lurking around, I might have to see if I can let my body recuperate a little bit. I know the side effects of pushing my body to the limits at this elevation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Today was dead in the woods. I didn’t see a thing. When Brian and I split up, he saw a few mule deer and kicked some elk out. We both saw a lot of people this evening. Dad didn’t see anything today. It was really hot out for most of the day. It got a little chilly tonight. We will see what tomorrow brings. It’s supposed to be hot for the next two or three days. It’s amazing what one day’s time can do.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

We got an early start today and headed to the place where Brian had an encounter last night. Alex started in about an hour before us, and he made great time. Actually, he impressed me today. He kept up and did really well.

Around 8:30, we started hearing some bulls bugling. We quickly closed the distance and started cow calling. Within minutes there were five to six bulls bugling and all of them were close to us.

Brian backed away from Alex and me and started calling from random places, moving out and coming back.  It worked like a charm. Instantly, I could see some cows heading toward the noise. Something spooked them, but two bulls bugled just up the ridge from me. Peering into the thick stuff, I could see one of them coming. It was a small one, but it was a legal bull. I ranged him at 40 yards, but he stayed hidden behind a blowdown. Then, I could see another one behind that one, and another one a little to the left. The next few minutes sounded like a bugling festival. Waiting patiently for one of them to give me an opportunity, I couldn’t see any of them. Thinking they had disappeared, I peered around the tree and got caught. A high-racked 4×4 scurried back up the hill, and seconds later, all was quiet.

I couldn’t complain about my first few hours in the woods. It was exciting to be in amongst them. Maybe it won’t be that bad.  We made a day of it on the mountain and got pounded by a thunderstorm. As the rain started, we spotted something white a little ways away. When we went to investigate, we found three outfitter tents, so we ducked inside them to get out of the pounding rain. Nobody has been into the camp since it was set up, so I’m assuming it’s a rifle camp. It served its purpose. We even helped ourselves to a few bottles of water since Alex was out of water and we were miles from nowhere.

On our way out, the mountains erupted with bugles. Before long, it sounded like a chorus sounding off, and we kept walking in the darkness. It was as if they were taunting us and telling us to come back for more when we were ready.

So here’s the day: we left at 4:25 a.m. and got back to the tent at 10:00 p.m. If anyone out there thinks he is a badass give that a whirl at an average of 11,500 feet.  It definitely takes its toll on the human body. Dad didn’t see anything today, except people.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

We finally arrived in Colorado and got the tent set up. After getting things organized, we all headed out for an afternoon stroll. We figured we would check some places out and see what the sign looked like.

On our way in, we noticed a lot more camps than normal. It’s always disappointing when you see camps, but it’s even more disappointing when multiple camps have big horse trailers at them. That usually means people are way back in where we don’t normally see people.

After returning to the tent and talking about what we saw, we all came up with the same conclusion: there are way too many people in the area. There wasn’t a lot of elk sign, either.  Brian did see some elk and hear a few bugles, but he put on some serious miles. He called one in, but he couldn’t get a shot at it.  We are going to head back in there in the morning and give it a whirl.

Dad and I heard a few people bugling their heads off, and one guy sounded so bad that I would have been embarrassed to blow on my call if I made sounds like the ones that we heard. We also saw a guy a little bit before it got dark. He was muzzleloading. Brian ended up seeing eight guys, four of them from Michigan. They were all on off-road motorcycles and had bows on their backs. He also saw three guys muzzleloading and another bowhunter.

There are far too many people in here. All we can hope for is people to start filing out near the end of the week. That’s the only hope we have. This place goes in spells. Sometimes we don’t see another person and other years there are so many people you can’t find a place to get away from them. It appears that we are dealing with the latter this year.