For me, opening day of hunting season is like Christmas morning for a child. This year my co-worker and friend Yan went along for his first hunt (photo 1).
Day one: Dave and Justin hiked to the bowl. Yan and I watched the bowl briefly then hiked above Dalton's rock. We crossed the thick oak brush into the upper parks and heard a couple of shots. This area has a lot of bear shit and sign, but we didn't see a bear. From the upper parks we hiked down to the Well's Gulch road making for a long day.
Day two: We decided to go up the Delta Airport Road. Steve and Yan went over to the Dough Spoons. Dave, Justin, and I went up to Alkalai Basin. Just as we approached the end of the road Dave spotted a group of cows. We each took two shots. We then spotted a few does lower down. There was a nice two-point with long tines so Dave dropped him. As Dave dressed out the deer, I hiked up to see if we were successful in our cow shots. I found one dead cow and started dressing it out. We found no others, so I decided to continue my hunt toward the upper park. By staying high I came out above the parks, so I watched for awhile (photo 2).
Day three: Ron showed up and he wanted to hike up to Indian Point. Yan and I decided to watch the bowl all morning. After no luck in the morning, I sent Yan up the ridge to Dalton's Rock and I hiked through the lower parks hoping to spook something. No luck this day, no sightings. (photo 3)
Day four: Yan and I hiked to the top again. We seen a bull high above the parks with 600 yards of oak brush separating us. I convinced Yan to take a long shot. He got settled and took aim, but the shot was too long. The bull didn't flinch. We decided to try and get closer. Climbing the boulders provided a quiet way to approach him. I made my way to the top of the boulders and tried crossing over to where the bull was located. Yan radioed and said he was lost, so I called of my hunt and returned to try and find him. Yan made his way to Dalton's Rock and saved himself. As long as you can get back on the ridge, you are fairly safe (photo 4).
Day five: Ron wanted to go over to the cabin, so we headed that direction. Yan went home. I hiked from the cabin over to the fence. I seen many deer but no elk. Can you spot the deer in photo 5? There were a few elk tracks which I followed until the snow covered them. This is a very nice hike through meadows and I would like to do it again. Just down from the road I spotted a nice three point buck. From the road I was to hike down to the stock pond. I met a few other hunters who were stalking a nice big buck. Once back at my atv, a guy said he knew where a bull elk was. From his directions I hiked down the hill on the other side of the stock pond from where we used to camp. As I approached the meadow I couldn't scope the bull. Then I heard a giant crash and I found that I was on same the ridge with the bull. I had my chance, but forgot the fundamentals. Always go slow, stop and look in EVERY direction. Had I looked to my left at the right moment maybe I would have spotted the bull sleeping. After following his tracks to a ridge I searched for him on the next. Turns out he was three ridges over and no time to shoot. With the snow I decided to follow his tracks. There was some blood in the tracks but not much. A couple of times I spooked him again, but never saw him. I called off the hunt as the sun was waning and it was a long hike back up to the road. My GPS shows that he took me on a three mile hike.
Day six: With the snow still fresh enough, we decided to go back up Dirty George Creek. I was to hike from Bull and Brown over to Point Camp. Steve would hunt Point Camp. As I ascended the hill I came upon six beds and many elk tracks. I tracked the elk in the exact opposite direction from where I was supposed to be heading, but never caught them. After an hour of tracking I called it off and started toward Point Camp. I came upon more tracks and spotted four cows heading down. They were moving like they were spooked. I followed the cows all the way back to the road. I crossed the road and followed them all the way down to private ground and called off the hunt. Dave picked me up and we went back to get Steve who was hiking from Point Camp to Bull and Brown. We had fun doing doughnuts in the snow.
As we returned to get Steve's ATV, we spotted many deer. I spotted a nice buck near the lake, but wasn't sure he had antlers. We went up and got the ATV and returned to see he was still there. Now he was lying down facing us. Steve couldn't spot him so gave me the go ahead. I dropped the three-point buck with a pretty nice 300 yard shot. We got the ATV down close so we didn't have to drag him too far.
Day seven: Rather than hunt the bowl and commit the whole day to a drag, we decided to pick up camp. Steve, Dave, and I were heading to Phoenix for the weekend for NASCAR. We got camp picked up, cut up some meat, then napped in prep for an all night drive to Arizona.