Bowhunting Wyoming: Of Elk and Bears: Part 2

Part 2 of 3
With a great base camp set up, my wife Peg, dog Lulu and I settled into a daily routine – the girls, tending to camp, and I, searching for elk. As a matter of fact, it didn’t take long for the girls to get into more than enough excitement – bears prints were nearby….. this realism would keep them a’hoppin, for sure!

The author spotted a lot of elk before the season opened.
The author spotted a lot of elk before the season opened.

As for my endeavors, well, I was glassing good amounts of alpine elk on my first evening of backpacking into remote country. It was clear that the resource was plentiful, and that all I needed to do was to figure out how to harvest some of it; with 30-plus years of bowhunting for elk under my belt, I felt confident in my ability to do just that.

With nearly a week of hiking and scouting under my belt, opening morning neared. At this juncture, the only real dilemma that I faced was a good one – of all the groups of elk I’d found, which one would I hunt first. Settling on a small group of yet-bachelor bulls that resided in a small, secluded valley, I prepared my backpack for an overnight stay, and headed afield. It would be a four mile, moderately physical hike, and I wanted to reach my destination in plenty of time to make sure that my quarry was still present and accounted for. If such happened to be the case, I had big plans for an opening morning hunt.

Reaching my planned destination with the sun yet high in the sky, I quickly set up a sparse spike camp, grabbed my optics, and headed upward. After another 800 feet of elevation gain, I soon found myself breaking into an open, alpine environment. Picking a good vantage point, I settled in for the wait. Action was short in coming, as a bugle soon drifted to my ears – the objects of my affections were still here!

Glassing the surrounding country for the next few hours, over 30 head of elk were spotted. Clearly, a few cows had moved into the location, joining forces with the previously loner bulls. It was clear that the rut was beginning, with the previously amiable bulls now showing clear signs of disdain for each other. As the evening progressed, watching this intense social interaction among a herd of unbothered elk provided some great viewing action. It was clear that I was going to have my hands full come daylight of the next morning – let the party begin! Heading back to my spike camp as the sun settled behind western peaks, I was stoked for the hunt to come. Grabbing a few bites of granola, I slipped into my sleeping bag, with dreams of big-antlered bulls dancing in my head. Could I score on opening morning? In a few short hours, I would have my answer.

Here's a nice 5X5 bull that the author encountered<br> on his daily scouting junkets.
Here’s a nice 5X5 bull that the author encountered on his daily scouting junkets.

The ringing of the alarm clock in the cold, pre-dawn darkness wasn’t a welcome intrusion. Even though I knew excitement lay dead-ahead, my sleeping bag was warm, invitingly coaxing me to further indulgence. Sometimes, a man just has to do, what a man just has to do; climbing out into the frosty night air, I prepared for yet another opening morning, of yet another elk bow season – I was a blessed man indeed.

Heading uphill quickly, the blood was soon flowing fast and furious, bringing much desired warmth. With a plan in my head, I made my move of fate. Would this day bring the spilling of blood; the gathering of red meat; the attainment of trophy antlers? Maybe not….. yet it definitely would bring satisfaction inside my belly, and THAT was what mattered most. After all, the first hunt of a new season was upon me right now, and I couldn’t have felt better.

Follow along in the last part of this installment, Monday, August 25 to see how DIY Guy handles the cards he’s dealt.

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