"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson
With the season half over, we had feelings of both hope and desperation. Steve was back in camp and we decided to hunt upper texas where we seen the big bull on Tuesday. This time we got up a bit later and didn't roll out of camp until 5 am. As we rode toward alk basin some other hunters caught up with us and a few tried to pass. I guess they wanted to be first ;-)
I thought for sure that the trail in would be a piece of cake since we came out so nicely the previous evening. The trails in this area are weird though, we never took the same one twice. Steve was getting antsy to split up, so he decided to hunt back in the bowl above alk basin. Dalton and I went too high and had to cross a boulder field to get to our destination. Dalton paused to take a shit, and with our late launch he did it right in prime shooting time. Sure enough, we heard shots.
We got to an overlook and watched the valley for awhile, but we want to hunt that big bull so we preceded on. Then we heard shots close to us in valley, and I could see hunter walking through the middle, just where Dalton had hiked the day before. He was making good time, so I knew he was on to something.
Then I hear a rustling in the oak brush and out pops a spike bull not 20 yards from me. The young elk never even knew I was there. I watched him for awhile as he browsed and moved on. The day was looking better all the time.
Soon after I then spot a big bull on highest hill! Dalton is too far from me for me to tell him, so I decide to just take my best shot and hope he catches on. The bull was a good 400 yards away, so I crouched and braced myself against a tree. Pow! Miss. Pow! Miss. Dalton catches on and fires a few shots too, but the distance might be too much. We need to practice long shots more.
We then meet up with the hunter who was crossing the middle. He claims he had wounded a bull and that we were hunting his elk. We decide to hike up and see if we can spot any blood. Just then we see a rag horn topping the hill. The other guy asks if he can take a shot, so I say "Yes" and tell Dalton to shoot right after him. The guy misses, but Dalton can't find the elk on the hill. I guess he needed his glasses.
The hunter asks us what our plan is. I tell him we are going high to see if we might have hit that bull earlier. He decides to hunt around the middle more, since his buddies had another bull down below.
There was no sign of blood on the high hill and we were just scanning the area when I spotted a 5 point bull on the upper hill side! I tell Dalton, "There he is!" and I let Dalton take a shot. He misses. I take a shot. Miss. Dalton again. Me again. The bull is at full trot trying to climb this hill to safety. Finally, Dalton takes his time, draws a good bead, and makes a clean shot. Got him!! The bull turns once and collapses. We watch him for bit to make sure he is not getting up. If you click on the second picture you can see a small brown spot on the hillside: Dalton's elk.
I am so happy for Dalton and we celebrate with high fives. His first elk! We make our way over to the steep hillside. No wonder this bull was not moving faster, this stuff is steep and rough. Turns out this five point has a broken antler at the thickest part of the upper two tines. Never seen anything like it.
Now the work begins. Dalton dresses for 2 hours as I coach. We had no bone saw, so we decide to drag the hind quarters over a boulder field to the park below to see how hard it would be. It was tough. He isn't the biggest bull ever, but elk are just huge. We then decide to pack out the front shoulders and get Steve to help us. We take off the backstraps and pack them into the little backpack. Then each of us grabs a shoulder and hoofs it back to the atvs. There was a lot of sweat in that last sentence and it took us awhile.
Back at the road we meet up with Steve and the hunter we saw up above. The guy is very nice and loans us a bone saw. The three of us hike back in, quarter up the hinds and I talk Dalton into keeping the full head in case he wants to do a European mount. The hind quarters are much heavier than the front and Steve falls and tweaks his back on the first steep section. Dalton takes over for Steve and we hump the hinds down to the aspens. Still a mile to go and we are out of daylight. So we decide to hide the quarters there and return for them in the morning. If you ever find a "D5" carved in an aspen tree, you will have found the spot.
I packed the head the rest of the way and we took it all back to camp to hang. This turned out to be the best hunting day ever.