On Tuesday it was just me and my son. Dalton and I decided to hunt above Texas since the only shots we heard on Monday were from this area.
The alarm roused us at 4 AM and we jumped on the four wheelers for the hour long trip over the roughest and rockiest trail I know. Two years ago this trail bruised my wrist and it took until this summer to fully heal. We arrived at the end of the road just before light and we were the first in.
There are many trails through here, but the oak brush is also very thick and nasty. Once you cross two or three ridges you come to a nice spot which overlooks a large valley. Dalton and I found a spot and just watched for about 3 hours. There was one other hunter not far from us, and some walking the valley below. With the guys in the valley pushing, it seemed we were prime to spot any animals.
Alas the only game we saw was a nice buck with some does. I had forgotten to put in for a buck tag back in April and was kicking myself now. In fact, we were in the exact spot that Dalton shot his first buck two years ago. We even found his spent .270 cartridges.
Late morning we decided it was time to move on. We decided I would go high and Dalton would go through the middle. Dalton lost his glasses the day before, so I was to be the eagle eyes. The walk up high is literally a walk in the park. There is a nice bench extending for over a mile and I spooked another nice buck up there. As I watched the valley, I felt guilty about my easy hike as Dalton battled the oak brush and pinions below.
When Dalton had worked his way up to where I was, we spotted that same buck again. We decided to split again and meet high on the far ridge of Texas to look down into the gulch and the towers.
At the top the views of the back side aren't that great. There is alot of black timber and quakies up there and the views are obstructed. The picture to the left was taken here and it is my favorite. Kinda captures the essence, doesn't it?
We decided to work our way down the ridge to find a better view and have lunch. The views from the lower knob are much better and allow you to see both sides of the ridge pretty well. Don't go any lower, though the pinions get thick and the ridge flattens to obscure again.
Holy shit!! We had finished lunch and were just getting ready to head back having seen no elk, when crash! We heard something monstrous in the quakies just below us. I knew it was an elk so I took off running to find a better view. This may have been a mistake, but I get "buck" fever sometimes. Then there he was. A huge bull came over the ridge and shot down into the pinions. Dalton and I both had time only to release our safties, but no chance to get a shot.
We set out tracking him, but it became hard since there was no snow and the ground was very dry. There were numerous elk tracks in this area anyway, so it was very hard to know which he had just stomped. Bull elk are amazingly powerful creatures. We found a pinion tree he had run right through. He snapped a 5-inch tree trunk like a toothpick.
We hunted this bull for the rest of the day, but never did spot him again. Damn. Hours and hours of hunting for a split second opportunity. It sucks. Since this happened to me on opening morning as well, I was really getting discouraged. How do you hunt such situations? I also wonder how we didn't see that bull after spending an hour looking and glassing. I have got to become a better hunter.
On the other hand, at least we spotted elk again. We had burgers and soup over the campfire and decided to go hunt that bull again Wednesday.