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Author Topic: Tag Soup Is Good For You  (Read 1808 times)

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Offline Ivar88

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Tag Soup Is Good For You
« on: October 29, 2017, 07:30:27 PM »
Tag Soup is good for you!
No, it doesnt fill your freezer or feed your family, but what it does do is teach you lessons and help you to better understand the way things work and who you are as a hunter.
New Mexico elk 2017 was a roller coaster for me to say the least. I found out I was going to get a tag transferred to me after I had already received an assignment to North Dakota. Now I have to drive across the country for my first rifle bull elk hunt. This doesnt pose a problem to me because, well, its an elk hunt. So, after a move, my wife getting her first job as a special education teacher, the struggle of finding childcare and buying our first home, this elk hunt was exactly what I needed! I have been chasing some white-tails and waterfowl up here in ND for the past few months, but I just could not get my mind right knowing that I have an elk hunt around the corner
The truck is packed up with all of the necessities to include the camper I recently bought. Yeah, it was made in 1966, but its light and water tight so Im not complaining. That is until I left my house in search of my first bull and one of the jacks on the side of the camper loses a gear and extends down to the road. Throwing sparks and making a noise compared to a bare rim on the road, I check my mirror and witness the situation. Before I could make a move, I run over the jack. Now the jack is attached to my pickup as well as underneath it. Not the best start to my 17 hour drive, but life goes on. I remedy the issue and continue on my way. About 15 miles outside of town Im noticing that the truck is acting slightly different in a way that it was not shifting into overdrive. This poses a problem because now Im getting 5 miles to the gallon (8.1lt 2500). Again, address, fix, and press. Now I am about 30 minutes outside Bismarck, ND when my driver window slips slightly out if its track and is now letting in a very intolerable air stream. Time to bust out the duct tape! Lastly, my oil pressure gauge stopped working once I got into Wyoming but I still had oil, so again, press.
I finally make it into New Mexico and get a fix on where I want to start my hunt. This unit is unlike any elk unit I have ever hunted in the sense that it is extremely congested. Well, at least where I hunted it was. Not a problem, I know people who have hunted this unit during the same season and have been extremely successful. I remember getting my truck parked and camp set up in a hurry because I wanted to use what was left of daylight to scout the local area. This is obviously the most important part for a guy who has never set foot in this area before.
Morning one was windy and cold. The wind didnt bother me much because it wasnt like I was going to throw lead over 100 yards and it helped cover sound. I pressed out to a tank that I know most folks wouldnt be at but wouldnt you know it, 4 wheeler tracks. Lessons Learned #1: Hunting a unit with lots of roads and access to 4-wheelers will in fact contain hunters on 4-wheelers, no matter how far away you think you get. I thought to myself as I eased my way into the opening which contained the tank that this wasnt a big deal. This is a big unit and these tracks dont look THAT new. After checking the tank for sign and deciding that there was literally nothing that convinced me enough to come back and sit, I pulled out my GPS and started mapping my route to plan B. Lesson Learned #2: Not all two-tracks are provided by Google Earth or onX Hunt maps, which it was ignorant to assume that they did. Next stop was getting into the thick and dark timber, so I chose my route and was on my way. This is the third season mind you so that is exactly where I would have assumed they would be. Not for a lack of hunting, but day 1 quickly came to end when the sun went down and there was no sign of elk.
Lessons Learned #3: Always have a book with you. I am a reader and typically enjoy silence, however, in the woods, when the sun goes down at 630pm, I would like to entertain myself. Like a dummy, I did not check for my book and removed my second book from my truck before I left because I was reading in my deer stand. I was then the victim of my own thoughts and for some of you, if youre anything like me, you question EVERYTHING. was that a gut feeling should I get to an area with less congestion for a cleaner shot should I sit water in the morning and evening and the list goes on. Needless to say, the first night was endless mental chatter followed by a text from my wife saying, just enjoy yourself. Sometimes thats all you need.
Days two and three were almost identical to day one. Lots of slow quiet miles followed lots of second guessing. Also, my coffee pot and heater stopped working so then I was swearing up a storm because thats why I brought the dang camper! Lessons learned #4: Comfort can make up for a lot of mental ache when dealing with an elk hunt. I give the excuse that I am getting old, but the reality is there is no reason to suffer if not needed. Now, as mentioned previously, days 2 and 3 were rough and I was basically over this hunt. I realize how selfish this sounds, but the slow and quiet walking as if any moment I could bump an elk and get a shot was not sitting well with me. Lessons Learned #5: elk hunting is not pheasant hunting. I will not take a pop shot at a running bull elk through thick timer using my rifle. It is not the type of hunter I am and I am certain that the biggest trophy bull elk could run through the trees in front of me and he would be safe from an itchy trigger finger. This lesson means the most to me from the experience I had. If I had done just a little more research and maybe called a biologist I could have more than likely set myself up for success. Not to say that the area I was hunting didnt hold elk, because there was sign everywhere. Just put a bow in my hand in September, not a rifle in October.
Sure, I sound like a whiney little brat, and thats fine, because this is hunting and as each of you should know, lessons are learned after each experience.
Pressing on to day four. I see my first elk! See and elk are the key words. I didnt not make out what the sex was nor did I raise my rifle. This was the exact scenario I feared of a bull running through timber and me not willing to try and shoot it.
This was the end of the hunt for me. I knew at that point that I would not make that shot and no matter where I found myself during the day, nothing seemed to be elky enough to keep me there. I sat tanks and fields, and I walked timber and dove into ravines. Things just did not seem to work out the way you expect them to when you picture your hunt.
Lessons learned #6: The ranchers. So, as in most units in NM, cattle roam through the unit for the leasing purpose to local ranchers. What I was completely unaware of is how often and when ranchers round up their cattle and push them out. For this particular situation, the answer is just a few days before this hunt started. Now, after speaking with locals I learned that the ranchers were up there for days at a time trying to round up their stock. The do this by way of 4-wheeler, horseback and pickup trucks, so for a week before arriving in the unit to hunt, the ranchers were making a ruckus about the aforementioned two tracks. I am not blaming that on my lack of seeing elk because I heard gun shots and know of success stories, but it did not help.
I spent 4 days of the 5 day hunt running around the mountains and trying my damndest to harvest my first elk. I am now 0 for 4 on elk hunts but I will proudly say that these hunts are the most fun I have and the most I learn about hunting comes from my time in the mountains chasing the majestic wapiti.

Offline DTP

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Re: Tag Soup Is Good For You
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 04:19:33 AM »
It sounds like you definitely had "one of those trips."
I'll tell you what, I can handle jacks falling, I can handle trucks oil pressure going bonkers.... but that window dropping and making that tiny noise would have driven me CRAZY the whole trip ha ha!


What also grinds my gears is what you ran into up in your unit as far as ATVs go.
Close road? People don't care....
No road? People don't care....


Offline cohunter14

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Re: Tag Soup Is Good For You
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 07:58:14 AM »
Sounds like a rough hunt, but you have the right mindset. Chalk it up as a learning experience and make sure to utilize those lessons that were learned in the future.

Offline Ivar88

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Re: Tag Soup Is Good For You
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 01:35:20 PM »
It sounds like you definitely had "one of those trips."
I'll tell you what, I can handle jacks falling, I can handle trucks oil pressure going bonkers.... but that window dropping and making that tiny noise would have driven me CRAZY the whole trip ha ha!


What also grinds my gears is what you ran into up in your unit as far as ATVs go.
Close road? People don't care....
No road? People don't care....

At one point I had a thought that a conservation officer could really get some work done in this unit during third season rifle. People aren't seeing the numbers they would expect so naturally, because humans are lazy by nature, they will do dumb things that ruin hunts for other people.

Offline Ivar88

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Re: Tag Soup Is Good For You
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 01:36:46 PM »
Sounds like a rough hunt, but you have the right mindset. Chalk it up as a learning experience and make sure to utilize those lessons that were learned in the future.

You know, looking back I would give anything to have hunted that last day, but in the moment, my heart wasn't in it and it didn't seem right to stay. Learning lesson this was FOR SURE and I hope this story shares lessons for others to benefit from as well.

 

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