With a missed shot on a nice bull and some bad luck during the bowhunt, we decided to head back to Wyoming one last time and hit it hard on the rifle hunt.
We headed up with plans to scout really hard the day before the opener to find the elk and get back on them opening morning. The first morning of scouting, we received 2-3 inches of snow & very cold temps. We had 2 main areas we wanted to check out as possible locations to be on opening morning. We covered 13 long miles & glassed a lot of country that first day.
In the first area we scouted, we found 5-6 cows right off the bat at first light. When we got to the ridge we really wanted to see, we heard a weak bugle & almost immediately spotted a good 6x6 with cows, a spike & a raghorn 5 point. This area was closer to our camp & more accessible to hunters, so we burned over to another more remote & rugged area. There we found the motherlode with a herd of about 35-40 elk, including a good 6 point, 5 point, 4 point & 7 spikes and a pile of cows. We made the decision to be back there at first light as we figured no sane person would hike into this area & guys on horses may avoid it as well. Sleep did not come easy that night as anticipation was very high!!
Opening morning we hiked up before light to the more rugged area where we had seen the large herd of elk the day before. In place of the elk we hoped to see, we found a group of hunters on horses riding right up through the drainage where all the elk had been previously. After the brutal hike into this area, it was like we had been punched in the gut. We watched for awhile to see if the hunters might stir up any elk, but that never happened, so we decided to cut our losses & head lower.
As we dropped some serious elevation feeling sorry for ourselves, Chad happened to spot a cow about 1,000 yards below us feeding through a small opening. We picked up our pace & moved towards the cow. As we watched the elk & Chad readied his gun, I caught some movement through my binos just as a nice 6x5 bull stepped out into Chad’s shooting lane. One well placed shot put the bull down & immediately our terrible morning turned into something pretty awesome!! It was a good lesson to never give up no matter the circumstances-you never know what might be around the next hill!!
The packout was pretty brutal as we were almost 4 miles back in where Chad shot the bull. We were able to get everything out in 2 trips.
Overall, 2017 was a great year full of a lot of scouting, hunting, and time in the woods which is always a good thing. I was fortunate to take a great bear with my bow and have some amazing experiences elk hunting, but the best memory of all was seeing my son take his first buck with his bow. Experiences like those stick with you forever!!
As a side note, I had my bear skull scored and he taped out at 19 8/16" just missing the B&C minimum by a 1/2 inch.
Here's to a great 2018 with hopefully some good tags in our future!!