9 days of my season (very long winded)

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,614
418
It started with a plan to check out a new area for the end of deer season. We left late on Thursday the 29th of October to hunt Friday and Saturday the 30th and 31st. We were up early the 30th to drive up a ways from camp and drop the truck off. From there we drove another 15 miles around to the top of the mountain in my buddy's side by side. The plan was to hunt down to the truck and then run back and get my quad to retrieve the side by side. We hadn't gone far before we heard elk bugling. A little further down the hill and we spotted 30-40 head of elk in the burnt timber. At this point my buddy had to relieve himself so I stayed glassing and spotted a pretty good buck chasing a doe. The problem was the deer was across a big saddle and between us and the buck was two groups of does and another small group of 4 elk with a spike bull. We sat tight waiting for the elk to cross the ridge and join the other large group when a few shots rang out. That pushed the elk out where we could see them better. There was closer to 60 total with 2 really nice 6pt bulls and another good 5 point bull. On top of the there was 7-8 smaller bulls. After the commotion we continued down the ridge to where the nice buck went over the ridge. We jumped a small buck and a doe before we got to the honey hole of deer. We got into about 30 deer with the one nice 24-25" buck and some smaller bucks. Several of the bucks were in the rut and really dumb. They did what the does did and didn't care much about anything else. We sat and glassed a bit before we spotted the biggest buck. It was 433yds and too far for my buddy to shoot so I got set up on my bipod with my 7-300wm and tried to get steady. The does were getting nervous and the buck was just about ready to head out so I rushed the shot and hit low. All the deer took off but didn't act super spooked. So we watched them run about 600yds and stop. The new plan was to sneak back up on the ridge, drop over the back side out of site, and sneak back over on top of the deer. It work like planned and we got withing about 300yds of the buck my buddy shot. At the shot the deer started going everywhere. In the heat of the moment I lost the biggest buck and ended up shooting a smaller buck. He was still a huge body deer and I ended up with about 80lbs of boned out meat.

As we were cutting up the deer we heard numerous shots and had two different groups of elk run withing a couple hundred yards of us. One group was so winded you could hear them breathing from over 200yds away. I included a picture of that group that had a spike bull and 7-8 cows. It rained and snowed all day and made it a bit miserable to bone out the deer but we got done and loaded up around 2:40 to head down off the mountain. We didn't get to the truck until 6:30. If you look at the picture of my deer you can get a feel for how steep the draws are and understand how it took so long to pack out 80lbs of deer along with our normal gear, the deer heads, and our guns. We saw another good group of elk and several small bucks and does on the way to the truck. By the time we got the deer loaded in the truck and got back to the camper it was close to 7:30. We ate a little bit and loaded up to go get the side by side off the top of the mountain. It was a long trip with plenty of HEAVY wind and snow up high on the mountain. By the time we got back to camp it was 10:00pm and we were spent. Rather than drive the 1.5 hours home we made some dinner and spent the night. We got home the next day and cleaned up our stuff just in time to take our kids Trick or Treating. BTW elk season didn't open until Nov. 1st where we were and we had elk tags for another area.

I didn't do much on Sunday as I was really sore packing that much weight with my day pack.

My dad and I drew doe antelope tags that started on Sunday Nov. 1st but being sore I put that hunt off until Tuesday the 3rd. So Tuesday morning we headed down near Mountain Home. The weather was really bad with 25+mph winds and rain. The forecast said the rain would clear off about 10 so we did some road hunting trying to spot a group of antelope. We didn't see any antelope in the places where my dad and I shot ours two years ago so we drove up near a hill a friend of mine shot his doe the year before and spotted a big group. I ranged the group right at 1760yds. The bad thing was the 25+mph side wind and almost no cover. We decided to give it a go and started walking towards them. There was a knob that looked to be about half way between them so we dropped down as low as we could and worked our way to the knob. As we did that the antelope moved away from us and by the time we got to the knob they were 1222yds away. There was almost no cover between us unless the group continued to move away the same direction they were walking. We had to make a new plan to parallel the antelope to try and get behind the only hill anywhere close to them. When we got to the new hill we were still 812yds from the closest doe but they were working their way out of site around the big hill they were on. The new plan was to drop back off the knob we were on and drop down in the little gully behind us to work our way up against the hill they were on and try to work around the edge to get within range. We got to within 513yds of 3 does and that would normally be close enough but not with the wind blowing 90 degrees to us. We sat and watched them for a bit until they walked out of site. Then we hiked up the side of the hill we saw them walk behind to try and get some elevation on them to make it easier to spot them. We ended up 199yds from 2 does but the hill made it hard to get a shot without belly crawling to them. My dad decided to stay put and crawl to where he could shoot while I back tracked and looped higher up to get a better view. When I peaked over the rocks I could see the whole heard had laid down and only 100-125yds away. There was a really nice 16" buck in the bunch of 35-40 antelope. It was a bit of a bummer to only have a doe tag being that close to a really nice buck. I got set up and picked the doe with her vitals the most exposed and shot her with my 7-300wm. My dad planned to shoot when they jumped up but they whole group bunched up and never stopped running. Luckily there was a road along the power lines about 300yds from where the doe died. So we hiked about 1.5 miles back to the truck, drove around to the power line road, and unload the atv to go retrieve the antelope.

My dad, my buddy, and I all shot cow elk in August and I talked my buddy into buying non-resident bull elk tags right after our cow hunt since they were a reduced price for the month of August. So we left the next night (Nov 4th) to drive up for our bull elk hunt. The season was only open until the 8th of Nov. so we'd have 4 days to hunt. We didn't leave town until after 10pm for what was LONG drive on some of the slowest highways in Idaho. We got about an hour into our drive and started seeing elk along the highway. By the time we got about 2 1/2 hours into our drive we had seen 4 or 5 groups of elk along the road and came across some kids in a blazer that were stranded from hitting a elk. We were the second car they had seen in 2+ hours and the first didn't even slow down. It was 21 degrees outside so we gave them a ride to the town they lived in 1 1/2 hours away. Along the way we saw another 4 or 5 groups of elk and a few deer along the road. We dropped them off and took off for our last 60 miles of our drive. That 60 miles took forever. We saw at least 12 groups of elk and 8 or 10 groups of deer on the highway so we didn't get where we were going until 3:30 am.

We over slept by an hour and didn't get up until 6:30 on the 5th. We headed up to a road a friend told me to check for track in the snow. I had never hunted this area before this year so I was relying on info from another friend who had hunted it several times. We drove my buddies side by side down the road and didn't see much for tracks but we did see some huge grizzly tracks in the snow. Those were the first grizzly tracks I've seen in Idaho. I've seen them numerous times in Alaska so I knew what they were immediately. The claw marks were 3-4 inches long. We headed back up and loaded up so we could drop some elevation and check another area. We did a couple mile power hike and saw some tracks from the morning but nothing super fresh. We had just enough light left to check another area before dark. We headed up to a area I hunted the first two days of the season by myself but didn't locate any elk. A quick call to my buddy and he said he'd talk to his friend and find out where he got his bull. He called my back a few minutes later and we had a new plan for the next day.

It had been snowing when we went to bed and by the time we woke up there was 4-5" of fresh snow on the truck the morning of the Friday the 6th. We weren't the first up the road to the canyon the friend of my friend shot his elk so we went to the next drainage to the west and drove up one of many logging roads until we crossed fresh elk track. We spotted a few cows across a huge canyon but we made a plan to try and catch up with the elk that made the tracks. Well those elk were on a mission and after 3 hours of hiking we got back down to the main logging road we started on and decided to give up. Just after we got to the road a dad and his son drove up in a truck and offered to give us a ride back up to the side by side. We were glad they did too as it was 6 miles on the road. They only had a standard cab truck so we rode in the back and by the time we got there my buddy and I looked like snow men. Their truck had wood racks on it and knocked the snow off of almost every tree we went by but the ride was worth it. It was late in the day so we drove around a bit looking for elk and spotted a few cows on top of a huge bluff above the highway.

The next morning, Saturday the 7th and day 9, we made a plan to check out more of the area further to the west of where we were the day before. As we were driving up the canyon we spotted 2 cows and a calf. When we stopped to glass another area the same father and son came up and said hi again. They said they had seen numerous elk the day before but they were in bad places. So they proceeded to show us the first crappy hole where there were several groups of elk but we didn't make out any bulls and the only way to get them out was to cross the river below. We were without a boat or waders so that wasn't a good plan. The said they saw even more elk and a lot of bulls on the other side of the mountain. So off we went to take a peek. Low and behold there were close to 200 elk spread out in 6-7 groups along a huge ridge across a deep draw. All of which was lacking roads or trails and that would be the reason why the elk were there. The son had never shot a bull and really want to shoot one. He had shot 5 cows previously but never a bull. I knew it would be a real pain to hike over to them let alone pack them out. My buddy is a type A person and is go go going all the time. So he was set on going after them as well. I figured we would be lucky to get one let alone two or three so I reluctantly agreed to go after them. The dad had a heart problem so he was out but agreed to drive the 45-50 miles around and pick up us on the road after the 8 mile hike to get there. The 3 of us drove to the top, where we were the day before, and took off hiking. That was 11:30am. It took an hour to get to the ridge they were on and we spotted elk right away but they were way down the ridge and the ridge was devoid of cover. It was a bare sage brush covered ridge. So we had to hike through rock slides on the back side of ridge to close the distance. After another 2 hours we got to the top of the knob across from where we saw the elk. As we peaked over the ridge we saw elk everywhere. There was a bull at 260yds, 424yds, and 533yds that we could see. Since the son had never shot a bull we gave him first shot and the closest bull. My buddy was to shoot the 424yd bull and I would take the 533yd bull. Once set I gave the son the OK and the shooting started. The bull I was to shoot at stood up and as I started to shoot he moved down the hill. I over shot him twice as he made his way down the hill. He stopped and I dropped him with my 7-300wm. I looked over and there weren't any other elk down. Some of the elk went through the saddle and over the hill and the rest ran down in the draw below us but out of sight. A couple seconds later the group that went over the hill came back for some reason and the son shot the branched bull in the bunch with his 6mm Rem. I was a little worried about him using the small caliber so I put a anchoring shot in him and we had 2 bulls down. My buddy and I were laying next to each other and we stood up. I asked what happened and he said he missed :lol: . We dropped down over the ridge to see where the rest of the elk went and we saw them drop over a finger ridge. My buddy took off after them and dropped his bull about 600yds from where our bulls were. Now we had 3 bulls down at 2:30pm 3+ miles from a road and it gets dark at 5:30pm. There were 4 branched bulls and 3-4 spike/2 point bulls in the bunch along with 30+ cows.

And the work begins......we spent the next 3 hours boning out the sons bull, quartering and semi-boning mine, and gutting my buddies bull. We left with a quarter each right at dark and finally at 8:30pm we got to the dad's truck. We foolishly left the pack frames in the truck so we used our day packs again. You would of though I'd learn my lesson after the deer pack. By the time we retrieved our truck it was 9:45 and too late to go get the side by side off the mountain. The son was going to recruit help to pack for the next day and we set up a time to meet. By the time we got to our hotel it was 10:30 and nothing was open for food. So we were stuck with gas station food.

We did have a really good breakfast the morning of the 8th which would help greatly for the pack. We finally got up to where we left the day before at the same 11:30am as the day before. The two friends were in tow and didn't realize what they were in for. We got to the elk at 1:30 and began cutting the other two elk up. The birds got to my buddies elk and it had bird poop all over it. I'd never seen that before. As I was boning out the quarters my buddy was cutting the hair off the skull to saw the horns off and slipped. He stuck his knife in his quad, right above his knee, all the way to his femur. Things got a little stressful at that point. The cut was crazy deep but didn't bleed. All I had was toilet paper and electrical tape so I bandaged it up and it took him awhile to stop feeling light headed. He shot his bull through the front quarter and I only got half of the quarter that wasn't blood shot. My buddy insisted on taking some meat so I gave him half of a front shoulder :mrgreen: . BTW the guy who was with his girlfriend and hit the elk is one of the two "friends" who were helping us pack out the elk. Well the other "friend" said his ankle hurt and ditched his meat along the way. My buddy took his meat the whole way with a knife hole in his leg. I hauled 1/2 of his elk and the other guy we helped out took a quarter. We didn't get to the truck until 5:30pm. The adrenaline was wearing off and my buddy was feeling some pain. The 14 miles of rocky dirt road didn't help any but he dealt with it better than I would of. He is pretty accident prone but he is also into pretty intense stuff. He has broken his back before dirt bike racing and was on the US Olympic ski team. About 6 weeks ago he crashed his bike and broke a bone in his hand. There is rarely a dull moment around him :lol: . We got back to our truck and I gave the quarter, the non worthless friend, packed out to him. We headed to town to get my buddy stitched up but he insisted on eating before the restaurant closed and then going to the hospital. It was another long night and we didn't get to sleep until after midnight again.

Yesterday, the 9th, the son and I get hauled to the top of the mountain to haul the 1/2 of my elk that was left up on the mountain and the quarter that was dropped in the creek bottom by the not so useful friend. We got a much earlier start and the two of us got down with the elk at 1:30pm. After warming up around the fire, it snowed on us all day, we got packed up and headed home. Along the way we saw tons of deer, a couple groups of bighorns, and some turkeys. We should have got home at 7:30 but about 30 miles from town we hit a rock in the middle of the road that wasn't visible because of the down pour of rain. It destroyed the tire on the trailer and dented the rim. Someone else hit the rock as well and was changing their tire on the side of the road. We didn't have a spare because my buddy just blew the same tire a couple weeks earlier and ordered a new one. The tire was out of stock and didn't show up before we left. Well a call to a friend and several hours later we finally got home. I gave 1/2 my elk to the father and son for all of their help and their family needed it much worse then I did. I already had a full freezer from the cow.

Well it was more like 11 day but only 9 days of it were in hunting season. It was a hunting season I won't forget for a long time. My dad still has a doe antelope tag and I'm hoping for a little less adventure and a few less miles walking. Not a bad season though. 2 elk, a deer, and a antelope for me. My buddy got two elk and a deer.
 

Attachments

  • 2015deer.jpg
    2015deer.jpg
    186.9 KB · Views: 224
  • 2015doeantelope.jpg
    2015doeantelope.jpg
    203 KB · Views: 224
  • 2015elksmall.jpg
    2015elksmall.jpg
    160.6 KB · Views: 224
More pictures
 

Attachments

  • 2015elkhuntingpic.jpg
    2015elkhuntingpic.jpg
    120.8 KB · Views: 224
  • Christiansdeer2015.jpg
    Christiansdeer2015.jpg
    243.4 KB · Views: 224
  • Christians2015elk.jpg
    Christians2015elk.jpg
    171.9 KB · Views: 224
  • DJselk2015.jpg
    DJselk2015.jpg
    179.6 KB · Views: 224
The rest of the pictures.
 

Attachments

  • bighornram.jpg
    bighornram.jpg
    63.7 KB · Views: 225
  • bighornram2.jpg
    bighornram2.jpg
    59.3 KB · Views: 224
  • blowntireelkhunting.jpg
    blowntireelkhunting.jpg
    121.3 KB · Views: 225
  • elkfromdeerhunting2015.jpg
    elkfromdeerhunting2015.jpg
    77.4 KB · Views: 225
Wow! Walk about an eventful hunt! Congratulations to each of the successful hunters. I'm breathless reading about the exploits. Good work, though. Some fine looking animals. Again, congratulations.
 
Whew! That wore me out just reading about it. You guys are studs!
Excellent story and sounds like a heckuva season.
Thanks!
 
One thing I forgot to mention is the first bull the son shot at was the same bull my buddy shot. The son shot the bull through the right side horn and it looks almost like he blew the second tine off.

It was a pretty epic adventure. Next year I'm going to put in for a extra elk tag like my buddy drew for and see if I can get 3 elk in one year. He broke a bone in his hand on his dirt bike and couldn't hold up his gun so he didn't get anymore hunting in before his season ended.
 
We also saw a really nice buck as we got to my elk to finish packing the meat out on the last day. He was in the high 20's for spread and nice deep forks.
 
Man oh man what a season!! Thank you for the stories & great photos!!
I am worn out just thinking of the great times you had (y).

Blessings,
Dan
 
Back
Top