The summer of 2013 found me anxiously preparing for a Do It Yourself bowhunt for elk in a destination that would be totally new to me – northwestern Wyoming. Though I’d been through the country on family vacations many times over the years, I’d never actually put a foot on much of the backcountry near Yellowstone Park. Having always loved the area, and having always been fascinated by the lore surrounding the famous elk hunting destination of Cody, I was eager to spend a few weeks in the country, hopefully forming a bond of my own with the awesome area.
As my wife Peg and I slowly made our provision lists – and checked them twice – anticipation built. By September of each year, the Claypool clan was always in dire need of a respite from a brutal Oklahoma summer – the high country was calling! There were trout streams to be fished, mountains to be climbed, and elk to be bowhunted. And maybe, just maybe, there would even be a grizzly bear to be encountered?…. this would certainly add a new dimension to the elk hunting experience! Little did I know, but this possibility, would become a very much of a reality, before this trip was over.
Rolling into Cody in late August, Peg and I were excited to be away from the rat-race for a while. Taking a day to simply be “tourists,” we made our way down the streets of Cody, taking in the historic sights of a town richly steeped in Western lore. Museums offered history lessons, saloons offered mock western street gunfights, and a great variety of stores offered great shopping opportunities. Having an outdoor dinner as the sun set behind the rugged mountains to the west, Peg and I wondered what the next day would bring. Would we find a good campsite in my hunting unit? Would the weather cooperate, offering an enjoyable few weeks afield? Would I find good elk hunting at my disposal? All these questions, and many others, floated through our heads as we enjoyed the cool evening that settled around us. Putting all the speculation behind us for the moment, we reveled in the fact that life was good — it was simply great to be alive!
The following morning found us making our way down a primitive two-track road, looking for a secluded campsite in the national forest — totally self-sufficient, we were prepared to drop off the map for a few weeks. Slowly winding down the dirt trail, a beautiful spot grabbed our attention on a nearby ridge. Following an almost non-existent road that headed toward the nearby ridge, we we’re both thrilled to find ourselves coming upon the “perfect” campsite. Wheeling our small camping trailer onto the spot, we were soon deployed – even our dog Lulu seemed thrilled with the choice of location. With a small stream gurgling nearby – and view to kill for – the campsite offered everything we’d hope for. Great elk country stood at our doorstep, and we couldn’t have been happier with our good fortune at finding such a remote, beautiful campsite – this trip was certainly off to a good start!
With the bow opener yet a few days away, I was going to take the opportunity to start exploring this vast country as soon as possible. With a little luck, possibly I could have a good bull lined up for the opener? If not, there was always the rut to look forward to in the next week or so. One way or the other, this was going to be an excellent adventure – actually, much more of an adventure than I had bargained for. But that is another story – follow along next Monday, August 18 in Part 2, as I tell you about it.
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