Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Elk Hunt 2012 Part 1 of 2

Saturday opening morning we hunted over to the end of the road on upper alkali basin.  Clark came with me, a first time hunter.  On the atv ride up we road double up the very cobby road from dry basin where we were camped.  There were many hunters over in this area, and we spent the morning trying to make our way to a place of our own.  Clark got to experience crawling through the oak brush and tip toeing across boulder fields.  In the end we walked right up on two hunters watching a meadow.  We walked on until we came to the long park where Dalton shot his bull elk. 

I left Clark on a high perch to watch as I walked down through the park to the far ridge.  I decided to hug the lip of the park so I could see down into the basin.  As I got 3/4 of the way, I spooked something in the bushes ahead of me.  It didn't sound like a deer, and it definitely wasn't an elk.  I made my way to a small hill to see, and surprise! a mountain lion!  Very cool to see her sleeking into the foliage away from me.  As I walked a bit further, I heard more rustling.  I got a bit spooked thinking I was the hunted this time.  It turned out to be deer this time, not mountain lion.

I hunted up around to the right of the high point on the far side of the park.  There isn't much visibility up here and is quite noisy with all the brush.  Sticking to the open face of the point works just as well.  As you get to the far side you can see down into the ajoining basin and onto some secluded parks.  I didn't spot anything and made my way back to Clark by early afternoon.

We hunted from the end of the lower road that evening.  We spooked a deer right as we came to the lookout point, but spotted no elk in the far basin.

mossy creek
The other boys in my hunting party said there were way too many hunters along the dough spoon road, so I decided to go to the end of the blue grouse trail.  I parked at the base of the mountain, just before bull and brown and hiked up the road to start.  I found a service atv road to the right, not open to the public, but legal to hike.  A perfect option to hunt quietly.  It was a very nice hunt, but alas no elk.  I met three hunters coming down from the top, so I know you can get there from the granbys.  I hiked out through a nice park back toward the ridge in order to make a big loop.  I seen a very nice 4x4 buck and we did a little dance.

arrow in tree
On Monday it was just Clark and me.  Dave and Steve had to work, and Chip was not feeling well.  I tried to set Clark on the point camp trail, but screwed up and sent him up the road to that camp.  I road my atv to the first open park almost to the top of the bull and brown.  I hiked out staying at the same elevation.  After about an hour of hiking through aspens and pines, I spooked a nice bull elk.  He ran straight away from me knocking his antlers on the aspens.  I couldn't get a shot.  Shortly after, I heard another hunting shoot four times.  I didn't know how to proceed with my hunt.  After half an hour I heard two more shots, then another half hour one last shot.  In the end I hunted by following a circle where I believe this other hunt went on.  It wasn't a winning strategy.  Later that day I did come upon fresh blood.  I followed it through the thick evergreens and eventually spooked a couple of elk.  With no snow, it was very hard to follow the blood and it seemed to disappear.

spot the hunter?
On Tuesday I got Clark on the proper point camp trail, and I again hunted the same place.  And again after about an hour of hiking, I spotted three cows.  I could just see their heads.  I came to a well traveled game trail and followed it.  It lead to the upper meadow where the b&b atv trail meets the greenwood trail.  In reality this hunt area isn't that far from atv trails.  I decided to try to enter the pines, but soon found myself in a boulder field.  I was meticulously making my way down the boulder field when I mistakenly stepped on a twig.  I heard an elk in the timber take off.  Damn!  Hunting elk is an exercise in staying alert.  One small mistake can ruin hours spent on a hunt.  But I did find a new way to hunt the dark timber on the Grand Mesa.  I tried to go as far out as possible and came to some huge meadows with many quakies.  Eventually I came to the place cattle make there way down the mountain.

Wednesday brought Steve, Justin and Dave back to camp.  We decided to give b&b one more try since I had seen elk both previous days. We all parked in the same meadow, but Steve and I went up the road to the large park on top.  Steve entered where I had come out on Tuesday, I went farther and it took awhile to find a way in without getting into the thick timber.   The area always looks different based on the exact small rolling meadow you are in.  I met up with Dave late morning and nobody had seen elk.  When we got back to the atvs, we found Steve napping.  Dave used his elk call, but Steve didn't budge.  Dave let out a huge bugle and Steve jumped up!  A good laugh was had by all.
see the porcupine?

Late in the day Steve and Justin went back down to pick up Clark who was hunting the low end of this area.  Dave went up the service road and I hiked down blue grouse trail.  I was about an hour in, when I spotted many deer.  The hunting got really good.  Finally I spooked some cow elk.  There was a bull with them!  A spike... damn.  At the same time, I seen a porcupine.  He waddled away up a small trail.

Stay tuned for part two!