Sunday, October 26, 2008
This season's Elk hunt began with the usual enthusiasm and energetic spirit. My friend John and I didn't draw our controlled hunt tags, so we hunted the Cascades general rifle season. Neither of us had heard any news regarding Elk numbers in the region, so we went about our business and put in our time.
We hunted in the same area as last year, so we are getting to know it better and better. We had permission to hunt private property adjacent to public land. We hunted the same season last year, so we were somewhat familiar with it. When it comes to Elk it pays to scout and get to know your hunt unit as best you can, and even then there is certainly no guarantee you'll be successful in harvesting an Elk. We had heard sightings of 2 bulls in the area the day before the season opened. One a 5 point and the other a 6 point. We never saw either of them, yet our hopes were high that we might get lucky. It seems that they know when the season opens and when it closes and make themselves able to evaporate in a moments notice.
The weather leading up to opening day had turned mild with cold nights and sunny days. No precipitation and a growing moon. This is your typical Indian Summer, yet not so welcomed when it's hunting season. Also known as bluebird weather by the waterfowlers. Anyhow we crunched our way through the timber and over hill and dale to no avail. We worked the low river bottoms covered with Willows and only once did John push a couple Elk out of their hidey hole. The cover was so thick that a shot was not possible. My heart raced with the sounds of antlers ticking through the willows and the hooves pounding along the edge of the stream. It is so darn frustrating to have adrenaline surging and yet unable to use it. It is like an invisible target that you can hear but not see. For such a large animal as Elk are to be able to hide themselves so well is truly amazing. Hiding in plain sight, the elusive obvious. I do wonder what I did not see and was I ever close enough for a shot? Those questions will remain unanswered, yet I give myself the benefit of the doubt and say nope, and repeat the question.
We were in the woods before daybreak and back to camp after dark every day and saw very few tracks. I never did find fresh droppings, not even close. The few tracks we did find were from night time movement or just before day break. No frost in the tracks, yet no Elk in the tracks either. The dirt was very dry and little moisture in the ground. Up in the woods was even tougher to track with the pine needles and no moisture. After 5 full days of hunting our optimism was seriously waining. We hadn't heard of many bulls being taken. Also with fewer hunters in the field it was tougher to get the Elk pushed out of their hiding spots. Just to much real estate to cover. We put in a solid 1/2 day on this past Thursday then called it. Neither John or myself throw in the towel easily and yet, we just didn't see enough fresh sign to convince us to go back out Friday for the last day of the season. The tracks we saw were only a handful of Elk at most, no large numbers. As John says "Elk are like gold, they're where you find them". Truer words were never spoken.
So we called her quits and broke camp all the while scratching our heads. We had a fun time none the less and saw River Otters, White headed Woodpecker, lots of Specs and other waterfowl. We groused (startled) a Grouse and he Groused us back and all the while figuring we'd have limits of Specs if only we had our shotguns with us. We ate like kings and queens, laughed and told stories and enjoyed our time together in the pursuits of the still elusive Wapiti. We are already discussing next years controlled hunt and the points that we have. Hopefully we will draw our tags and have something to put in the freezer when we return home. I guess ordering that half beef wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt