I was on my way home from a week long family trip to Disneyland in mid May when I checked my credit card and was floored by what I found. There was a $285 charge for a Limited Entry elk tag, there was two $80 charges that were for archery and muzzleloader deer tags, and then there was a charge for $513!! What in the world was the $513 for? I immediately thought it had to be a Once in a Lifetime tag and I got excited but this cost $100 more than those tags that we put in for. I started to go through the different tag prices and saw $513 for a Premium Elk tag. I almost started to cry with excitement. My dad had draw the premium elk tag that I put him in for!! What could be the $285 charge then? I thought it was my Limited Entry elk tag that we were all expecting me to draw but I had put that on a different card with my wife's hunts. It had to be either my sister or brother and their elk tag! Anticipation was through the roof. I couldn't be there to tell my dad about his tag but I got to see it all on video chat and he couldn't believe it. So we waited another 10 long days to get results and here are the tags that we got confirmed in emails:
LE Elk Tags:
- Premium Fishlake for dad
- Archery Fishlake for me
- Late Rifle Wasatch for my brother
- 2 archery Fishlake tags for me and my brother
- 2 muzzleloader Fishlake tags for my dad and sister
- Dedicated hunter Fishlake for my wife
- 3 other family members drew rifle tags for Beaver
We were super excited! Well as if things couldn't get busier/better for the fall, my best friend called and told me he had drawn his Desert Sheep tag. After 17 years of waiting and being 72 years old, I gave him some statistical advice on where to put in for the sheep tag and even though it was still a long shot he drew it! Oh man, my fall hunting season just got booked solid from mid August to mid November!
Ok. Time to get scouting! First chance I got at the end of May, I headed down to Fishlake to do some hiking and some initial scouting. If you ever drive the highway down to Loa, you have to stop at the pass and take a look at this view out East over the desert towards the Henry Mountains.
I got a chance to try out some of my new gear and use some of my old gear on the trip. It always feels good to dust off your gear after the off season and put them back to use. I got my wife a Jetboil boiling system for Christmas. We got it for emergency situations and also to take and boil water when we are out camping or hunting for quick hot chocolate and dehydrated meals. It worked great. A couple minutes is all it took to get the water boiling and into my Mountain House for dinner.
My trusty optics go wherever I go.
The first night was short so I just did some glassing and camping down in the Tidwell slope area. Great country although we never really hunted it much last year. I have decided that there is enough elk sign and great country that I will spend more time exploring this wide open quaky paradise this year.
When it is just me, I tend to car camp and sleep in my truck a lot. It makes for quick camp take down as you just get up and go. I'm just a little bit too long for the back seat but I make it work for a night or two. I use a Marmot Helium light weight sleeping bag when I am out. It is super light weight so I can use it for backpacking but is also a sleeping bag I use all the time. If it is cold, it keeps me warm with just basketball shorts on and when it it warm outside, I just use it as a blanket so I can throw it on and off as I need to. A little bit expensive for a sleeping bag but has been worth every penny in my opinion.
I only had one day to spend on the trip so I drove around the unit a bunch just to see if there was animals moving and to check some old glassing spots from last year. I always seem to see a few deer up this road but the elk don't really appear for me until I drop over the other side.
Time for a lunch break.
Great view to enjoy while eating lunch.
Well after a long drive I finally got over to an area that I wanted to do some hiking in. I wasn't sure what I would find on the hike but that is the whole reason for hiking in new country.
I found a nice stream but is it runoff water or a full time spring fed stream. I'll have to check it later in the year and see.
There was some elk sign along the water so that is always a good sign. They could be resident elk or passing through so another reason to check out the area later this summer.
I found some light brown colored hair in the trail that the wind was blowing around. I think it is bear hair from a brown colored black bear but I can't be 100% sure.
Awe, fresh elk sign probably from last year. This is what I wanted to find on this exploratory hike!
I found more older elk rubs too which means the elk have been in here year after year.
I found some more openings and some water here and there but it is hard to know if the water is year round or runoff this time of the year.
This pond looks like it will probably be a decent water source for the year. There were some elk tracks around it in the mud too. There were a million mosquito larvae swimming around in it too which was kind of cool/disgusting.
I found a little clearing in the thick pines that looked to have a trail going through it and since I had packed around a trail camera for the last few hours, I decided I would place it on the trail and see if anything was using the trail.
Overall it was a good hike and we'll see if there are any animals in there that pass by my camera.