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Elk camp done for the year.

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Trey Veston, Oct 12, 2019 at 8:14 PM.

  1. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

    Joined:
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    Since I live in Washington and my family is just over the border in Idaho, I will accompany my dad and brother on their yearly elk hunt, but I don't buy a tag or license. I'm not paying $700 for a non-resident tag and license when I can go and do everything but pull the trigger.

    I love hunting, and I get to do everything that they do except pull the trigger.

    Elk are difficult to hunt due to their nomadic nature. They are known to travel up to 30 miles in a single day in search of food and cover. In recent years, they have become even harder to hunt due to decreasing numbers due to increased predation by wolves and bears.

    We had a sweet spot we have been hunting the past ten years or so that was a wooded area of around 5k acres surrounded by wheat and soybean fields. The elderly landowner gave my dad and brother permission to hunt his land for free. The elk would move into the area just before hunting season due to pressure from public lands and they got some very nice bulls over the years.

    Then last year, he leased the area to a cattle rancher to run cows in and the guy is a total jerk and refused to let us hunt the property.

    So this year, we had to find an area on public land to hunt. My brother spoke to a few people and decided on an area about 50 miles from his house and about 15 miles off the nearest paved road.

    Most back country roads are gated off on October 1st, so you have to have an ATV 50" or less to get around the gate. We went and scouted the area about a month earlier and selected a camp spot about 5 miles past the last gate, figuring we'd be so far back in that there wouldn't be much hunting pressure.

    We planned on parking the rigs near the gate, and equipping my dad's little Honda ATV and my Honda Pioneer 500 UTV with trailers to haul all of the gear in to base camp.

    We left last Wednesday, the day before the season opened, and headed up into the mountains, which was getting a light dusting of snow...

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    We got to the gate, and it was open. Crap.

    We continued in with all of the vehicles and got to our spot and started setting up camp. My brother has a very nice canvas yurt/outfitter tent with a wood stove that stays warm in the coldest temps. Set up the cook shelter, port-a-potty, fire pit, and did some scouting.

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    Temps were in the mid-30's that first day setting up camp, and that night, they dipped into the teens. We awoke about an hour and a half before first light, got dressed, grabbed our gear and packs, and hiked about a mile to a site overlooking a giant area of clear cuts and small timber stands. Amazingly good elk habitat in an area well known to produce some nice bulls if you are willing to put in the work.

    The views from the hike in and our vantage point were breathtaking...

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    Amazingly, not a single critter was seen, other than a couple of whitetail does about 100yds from our camp.

    Over the next 3 days, we would pick a spot to sit while it got light in the morning, then go back to camp, eat lunch, then go out and scout a new area for the evening hunt, then go out and set up and wait for the animals to show up.

    We then figured that the elk were so pressured by the wolves, that they were staying deep in the timber. The last day I was there, we started going into the deep timber stands.

    The terrain in there is incredibly steep and difficult to navigate. But we finally started to see some fresh sign, and had a wolf run by us about 30yds away. All we saw was a flash of fur silently glide by us. Creepy as hell!

    I had to be back at work Sunday, so I left today. My dad and brother are staying another few days and hopefully they will have some success getting to the elk.

    I drove out of camp and back to the pavement and counted 13 hunting camps in 15 miles and not a single one had a critter hanging up on the meat rack. Seems everyone was having a rough season so far.

    My brother's rifle is a Christensen Arms Ridgline in 6.5 PRC that he has dialed in for up to 700yds for elk...

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    Dad uses a Kimber in 6.5 Creedmoore. I carry a Glock G29 in 10mm and a big ol' Ontario Rat 5 in custom Kydex sheath.

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  2. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

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    The area is vast with millions of acres of land. Elk "usually" love to come out and feed in the clear cut areas...

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    But pressure from predators is apparently keeping them in the deep timber, which is difficult to hunt in...

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  3. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    Tennessee
    Looks like you guys have an awesome setup :)
     
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  4. Shanghai McCoy

    Shanghai McCoy Member

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    The,sort of, Free state
    I love reading you guys stories about elk hunting. Thanks for sharing them with us. :thumbup:
     
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  5. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

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    Pics from the year before's successful hunt...

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  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    12,348
    Location:
    Georgia
    Those photos are inspirational. An elk is on my bucket list. I paid $700 for the tag and drive over 4000 miles round trip last October/November to hunt in Colorado. I didn't kill one, but that was mostly due to inexperience. I wasted the 1st 3 days in an area where there were no elk. When I moved one drainage over the ground looked like a barn yard with elk tracks and droppings. But by the time I got to that area they had migrated into an area where I couldn't hunt. Had I been in that spot initially I'd have at least had a chance. I just had too much going on and some other things I needed to spend money on this year so I'm not going back this year, but I'll be back in 2020.
     
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  7. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

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    Elk are very nomadic.

    Whitetail stay within a one square mile area, so they are easy to scout and plan a hunt for.

    Elk can move 30 miles in one day. We went up to the area a month earlier and scouted. Didn't see any elk or even sign, but my brother was betting that once the season opened, they would be moving into the remote area with lots of hiding spots due to heavy hunting pressure, supposedly like they do every year, according to a buddy of his. Nope.

    We should have done more scouting, but my brother just had a baby a few months ago and this was his first time in the woods, other than the one day we scouted a month ago.

    We were hunting in unit 8A, which last year had 1454 hunters in it going for an elk with a rifle or pistol. Out of those 1454 hunters, only 273 got their elk, which means an 18.1% success rate, which is pretty low for the state. Out of the 273, 200 were antlered, with only 22% of those being 6-point bulls or bigger.

    https://idfg.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner/stats/?season=general&game=elk
     
  8. Milt1

    Milt1 Member

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    Trey, my hat's off to you and family for the hard work that you put into your Elk hunts. I certainly hope that the reward is a couple of big Elk!
     
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