January 28, 2020, 06:43:53 PM

Author Topic: My 2019 Elk Story  (Read 255 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
My 2019 Elk Story
« on: December 08, 2019, 06:42:39 PM »
I don't know what I'm going to make of the 2019 elk season when I look back on it in a few years but for right now it's more like a bad dream that won't go away instead of a memory. After nervously applying as a party with a hunting buddy from Louisiana we drew our first choice first season archery in the heart of the Gila. I was as optimistic for 2019 as I had been in several years. My wife and I planned a vacation/scouting trip for late July. We would haul the camper out, investigate a few areas, put out a couple of cameras, and decide if Loye and I would hunt out of the camper or a tent.


   On the 9th of July while doing a wall run during a workout I felt a pop in the back of my left calf, I didn't think much of it, I actually looked around to make sure a snake hadn't crawled up and bit me. It was tight so I stretched it some and kept going through the workout. I worked out as normal a couple of more times that week and did several miles of cardio as well. The following Sunday after doing several miles of backpack cardio when I took my sock off I noticed bruising on my lower foot and swelling in my calf. It wasn't painful but I made a plan to visit my doctor the following day. When I went in I think he was calling to set up an MRI before I even had my sock all the way off.


   The mri result of torn calf with no tendon damage meant I could continue to work out but no running, no explosive movements, and no backpack cardio for at least a month. Dr Bailey being a hunter and knowing the tag I had made the suggestion of a taller stiffer boot and an active recovery method instead of the standard let it rest 3 months method, along with finding the flattest part of the unit I could to hunt in. I was stretching, flossing, icing it everyday. Things were looking up but the week wasn't over yet....


   During the summer I try to shoot my bow every morning before work, July 17 wasn't any different. Usually in the mornings I'll walk out and shoot 3 or 4 arrows at 60 and head in to work. My second shot that morning hit the ground about 15 yards in front of the target. My initial thought was I was a moron and forgot to engage my rest, AAE Prophecy, but as I started to put a little pressure in drawing it the 3rd time I heard a pop at the bottom of the limb and saw the break.


   Long story short my local shop sells bows, they don't do much work on them. I do most of my tuning myself but I dropped the bow off that morning and the next day Prime was shipping a new set of limbs my way. I'm still not positive what happened but the serving on the cable that attaches to the bottom limb was separated. Good thing I still have my old Mathews as a backup.


    As we headed to New Mexico that weekend I still wasn't supposed to be walking a whole lot but we know that's not possible when elk scouting. I focused my scouting on some lower elevation areas and would leave the campground 3-4 in the morning and be back around lunch to rest a bit and spend the afternoon with June doing "vacation" things. I did manage to find some sign and put a few cameras out before I left. I also found a good camping spot close and decided tent camping on the road was going to be our best bet.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2019, 06:47:50 PM by sjl2012 »

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2019, 06:51:34 PM »

The Hunt.....


  We arrived a couple of days early to set up camp, scout, and pull camera cards. We had decided the best plan for a 14 day hunt was to have a standing room tent and eat as well as possible. Being 40 miles/2 hours to the closest store we figured by day 8 we would need to make a trip out to get a few things. Once camp was set pulling camera cards was priority. We had multiple 6 points on camera so we were encouraged. We made a plan for the first morning to hunt the biggest 6 we had a picture of since he had been using the same area almost daily. We spent the next day not only scouting elk but where people were camped and parked as well.


   Loye and I have turkey hunted together for several years but this is only our second elk hunt together. We both killed bulls in Wyoming last year and have an agreement that if we hunt together we split the meat, whoever gets the first shot takes it, and don't pass big 5's or any 6 point unless we're hunting a specific bull. i tend to err to the side of patience and he is full speed all the time so we offset one another most of the time.






 An hour before daylight we were parked and listening on the ridge that led out into the flat the bull had been using. It wasn't long and we heard him about a half mile out the flat. Being the only truck there, no other tracks, I remember thinking this was perfect as we headed in towards him. We kept the wind right and got within 200 yards of him as daylight was beginning to break. As we began to set up to call I could hear horses coming from behind us, as I stepped out to try to get them to back out or go around one wearing blue jeans and a green t shirt said "hey there's guys already here" to which the one with longer black hair responded "f#@$ em, keep going". It wasn't but a minute later there were a few barks and all went silent. I know it's public land and open to everyone but out of 23 years elk hunting public land that was only my second experience like that with the other being 3 years ago in New Mexico. I'll just say I have new opinions about things that have been developed in the last couple of years. Later that morning we saw the same group down in a valley in what appeared to be an elk drive. We went back into the area 5 days later and 10 days later and there wasn't any fresh sign to be found.




    Over the next 6 days we saw and heard multiple bulls, had some great encounters but none that came to end with an arrow being put into flight. It became apparent that in that low rolling open country we were either going to have to change our style of hunting or find thicker country that played into our hands more. We did the latter on day 7 and it paid off. We had spotted a bull the day before in some rugged country and decided to move in on him on the following day. The hike began 2 hours before daylight as we were going around a valley that a couple of older gentlemen were hunting in. Really nice guys that were physically limited to the area they could hunt. About 10 that morning we finally got a response and spotted the bull and cows on the next ridge over heading away from us. After exchanging bugles for a few minutes we decided to have lunch and then try to circle the ridge and set up to try to make a mid afternoon play on him.

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2019, 06:55:37 PM »



  As we were unpacking packs to get lunch out I heard the tell tale word freeze from Loye. That's the word that usually means you're about to see what would've happened if you had chosen plan B instead of plan A. Somewhere between the elk stick in my hand and the brim of my hat I saw movement in the bottom 150 yards below us and quickly identified it as a bull walking to us. As he disappeared I let out a few cow calls that he responded to with a low bugle and started angling toward us. As we both scrambled to get our bows ready he was steadily walking toward us. Since I was on the lower side of the tree I knew I would have first shot. I ranged a few trees and then hooked my release. As the bull broke up the hill he was angling toward us and passed between two of the trees I had ranged at 40 and 55 yards. I put my 50 yard pin above his heart and sent it to watch it fly over the top of his back. As he took a few steps forward I was cow calling and trying to knock another arrow Loye's arrow hit its mark and we watched him turn and go back down the hill. Both shots were taken sitting squarely on our butts. There wasn't anytime to stand, kneel, or anything.


 We heard him crash and knew from all the are we could see he didn't make it out of the bottom. We finished lunch and started the tracking job since we were approaching the warmest part of a 90 degree day. 




  After a little celebration and photos we knew we needed to get to work quickly with the bull laying in the sun. It wasn't long after the first cut was made we heard the thunder of the typical New Mexico afternoon thunderstorm approaching. The hope that it would go around us was quickly diminished as lightening started popping around us. The mood quickly went from celebration to one of I hope we make it off this mountain alive as the hair was standing on our necks with multiple strikes within a 250 yard radius of us. All we could smell was smoldering Ponderosa. Twice while squatted between trees I watched a flash of light and saw bark and splinters fly off trees. All we could do was pray and wait for it to pass.




  After packing the bull off the mountain that day we decided to give the area a few days off before going back in after our target bull. On the way out we talked to the older gentlemen there and they told us to park at their camp and walk in the next time if we wanted, we told them we appreciated it and would keep it in mind.

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2019, 06:59:42 PM »



The end of a season....


   When I left the house headed on this trip I left a 15 year old friend whose hunting days had long passed. She was enjoying her last few years with a little sister living in the house. On the morning of the 9th I got a message on my inreach from June that she needed to tell me about Blossom. She had been carrying her in and out to go to the bathroom, she wasn't eating, and she thought it was time but she didn't want to do that without talking to me first. We messaged back and forth our options and decided that her and our son would take Blossom that afternoon. I didn't want to hunt that afternoon but I didn't want to sit at camp either so I wound up sitting at a waterhole by myself not far from camp waiting on the message to come through thinking about life. It was a long afternoon with a beautiful sunset.


 What just happened?


  On the morning of the 10th we decided to go back in after the bull we were on when Loye shot his bull. We took the offer up to park at the camp in the valley only to get there and find they had packed up. As we were getting our gear together we heard a bull sound off not 300 yards up the canyon from us. We only went a little distance from the truck and decided to wait for daylight before pushing in. As it was breaking light I let out a few soft cow calls to see where the bull had moved to only to have him answer back 150 yards to our right with another bull cutting him off 100 yards in front of us. As I was knocking and arrow I could hear something walking to us from our left and looked over to see two bulls walking down a trail to us. I ranged a tree at 32 yards and got ready. The second bull was the larger one so as the first one passed I drew on the second. I cow called to stop him and as I settled my 30 yard pin just above his heart and sent the arrow. He bolted, I cow called and he went about 50 yards and stopped. I pulled the binos up and could see blood but it looked low. As he walked off I didn't have a great feeling.


   We sat there about 30 minutes waiting. As the other elk worked away from us I was conflicted with what had just happened. It didn't take long to find blood and the first 150 yards were easy tracking but we were going straight up the mountain. The trail gradually got thinner to the point we were circling looking for blood and tracks. Eventually we went up and over that mountain and shortly after lunch as we were following tracks and the occasional blood droplet the afternoon monsoon hit and it became a grid search instead of a tracking job. That afternoon we decided it probably wasn't a fatal shot. I didn't punch my tag, the evidence and my gut told me I had pulled my shot low and left and either hit all muscle in the brisket or in just the leg. That was my second blown shot in 4 days. To that I have no answer.

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2019, 07:04:28 PM »

The next 3 days we chased bulls in the open rolling hills but never got the deal closed.  On the last day of the season I went back into the area I last found blood and looked/listened for birds or coyotes while grid searching the area. Needless to say I didn't find anything. It was more for peace of mind than me thinking I would find him. That pushed my total miles for the trip to about 148. It was hard to believe we had walked that many miles and seen that many elk and only had 1 on the ground.


  All in all it was a great trip. Being my first trip hunting elk in low elevation areas I did figure out that hunting elk in that type of country is different. Several times if I would have adjusted my strategy on the fly I believe I would have been successful, but that's always the case looking back. I'll definitely have some different tactics in my back pocket if I draw that particular tag again. We had 5 bulls within 100 yards and only killed 1. Disappointing but I have high expectations every Fall. The scenery, the wildlife, and the hummingbirds, the hummingbirds were a daily experience that was incredible and fun. No telling how many times a nap or a set up was thrown into laughter with a hummingbird experience.  It was a great experience but my elk season wasn't over yet.






   I had a week at home before I was supposed to go to Colorado OTC for the last 8 days of elk season there. After getting home I went back to my Chiropractor for an adjustment and to see why my back/right hip were giving me so much trouble. His response was I had overcompensated for my calf by "leaning" on my right side more. I should probably get an MRI on my hip after Colorado. I was hoping the pain would subside before I was supposed to leave on Saturday but it didn't. I ended up delaying leaving until the following Wednesday and even then it was a matter of me going because it was elk season and I wanted to see some Aspens. Southern New Mexico was beautiful but there weren't any Aspens where we were hunting. I mean what is September without walking through an Aspen grove?

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2019, 07:07:33 PM »

 With the short time frame and trying to avoid driving a day and a half I picked a new area within a days drive that looked nasty enough I could get away from people. I packed in 4 miles to an area that looked promising on Onx and set up camp. Thursday morning I was hot on the trail of a small herd. Although I never caught up to the bull or got him into bow range that day it was a small victory of vindication for me. Friday was windy and uneventful, I covered several miles and explored a couple of canyons for future hunts. I only lasted 3 nights in CO before I ran out of advil and the bursitis in my right hip wouldn't let me sleep. I packed up and headed home Saturday morning. Some will say what a waste of time and money but I went into a new area and found elk. That's a win in my book. I have a few more waypoints that may lead to a future successful hunt and that was worth it.






Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2019, 07:11:15 PM »
  As I sit here typing this up I'm entering my third month of little to no activity other than lifting weights, no explosive movements. No cardio other than a seated bicycle. Doctors orders. I have a laundry list of things wrong they say, I need to slow down, we'll see. Torn labrum, mild bursitis, gluteal tendinopathy, multiple bulging discs, a couple of bone spurs, developing arthritis, general ageing wear and tear, etc. I'm trying to use mobility exercises, stretching and different therapies to put off surgery as long as possible. Elk hunting can be a grind, 2019 was one of those years for me, I'll put it behind me and start imagining the encounters I'll create in September 2020 as I'm researching draws and schedules for next season and plan on hunting two states again. Stay positive and embrace the suck.

Offline sjl2012

  • Raghorn
  • **
  • Posts: 103
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2019, 07:12:37 PM »
I'm not sure how to edit the pictures to get them upright. They were all upright when I attached them.

Offline cohunter14

  • Global Moderator
  • Herd Bull
  • *****
  • Posts: 5065
    • View Profile
Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2019, 07:48:28 AM »
Nice story Steven. Sounds like a great season even though you weren't able to punch a tag. Hope you are able to get the body feeling better ahead of next season!

 

Recent Posts

Re: New knife by Cinerary
[Today at 05:22:06 AM]


Re: RMEF Video on Wolves in Colorado by WW
[January 26, 2020, 10:32:53 AM]


Re: RMEF Video on Wolves in Colorado by cohunter14
[January 25, 2020, 02:28:15 PM]


Re: RMEF Video on Wolves in Colorado by Rdub
[January 25, 2020, 09:11:07 AM]


Re: RMEF Video on Wolves in Colorado by cohunter14
[January 25, 2020, 07:34:37 AM]