If you’ve read my About Me section, you know that I am a hunter. I’m very proud to be one and I will never apologize for it. So this year when I drew THREE hunting tags for mule deer, cow elk and bull elk, I was beyond ecstatic. I was stoked to be going on my first bull elk hunt. A thrill of a lifetime.
I ended up having to turn in my mule deer and cow elk tags for bonus points because I didn’t have enough vacation time. So I prepped myself for my bull elk hunt. November 5th couldn’t come soon enough. I was going with my dad (my trusty hunting buddy) and my boyfriend was coming along as well (his first time on a big game hunt)!
My hunt was all the way in the northeast corner of the state, north of a small, podunk town called Montello.
We got to our camping location and got all set up. Next, it was time to go scouting until the sun fell. We didn’t want to disturb any of the animals if they were out there, so we just stayed on the top of a lookout area and glassed the hills.
The full moon was rising over the mountains to the east and the sun was setting to the west. An absolutely gorgeous experience of day and night.
We spent 4 days of hiking and glassing and driving around trying to find elk. Not a single one. I could have had plenty of beautiful mule deer bucks. But we just kept pushing on. Tired. Losing faith. Feeling hopeless.
After not seeing anything for 4 days, we decided to move locations to a spot where a friend told us he had seen elk during archery season. We packed up our trailer and drove the 50ish miles to the west. The next morning we went on up to the location and hiked through thick junipers seeing plenty of sign, but no animals. It was wearing me down. I started losing even more faith. At some points I even wanted to cry. My first bull elk hunt and I was sure to come up empty handed.
After that morning hike, we went back to camp and hung out. I couldn’t sit still, so I grabbed my camera and started walking toward the ranch we camped by.
As I walked further down the road towards the ranch, I noticed a creek running through that you couldn’t see because the sagebrush was tall enough to block it.
More exploring lead me to find old parts of buildings, vehicles and just really cool, rustic pieces of history. So I just snapped away, fascinated that the stuff was still around.
That evening, we went out again, driving all over to see absolutely nothing. Just rundown homes and trailers in the middle of nowhere. Living compounds that were trashed and raided. When we got back to camp, a truck came flying up to our camp. It was a truck full of guys we had met earlier in the week. They were looking for us to tell us about a bull that their friend had shot. Another truck pulled up and you could see the antlers in the back. It was large and beautiful. I was definitely jealous of it. They told us to come over the next morning and that they’d take us out to go get a bull. I was beyond ecstatic.
The next morning I was running on pure adrenaline. I was really quiet and antsy. I was praying to the hunting gods that this would be my chance. We got to their camp and scouted from a hill right next to it. Lone and behold, a herd of elk were up on a hill about a mile away. It was time to go.
There were nine of us going to help me out. We spotted the elk and made the trek up and around the side of the hill. Myself and one of the guys creeped to the top, trying not to spook anything. Unfortunately, two mule deer does spotted us. They didn’t take off, but they were cautious of us. We got to a tree and could see elk coming out of the junipers and down the hill. I couldn’t get a clean shot because there were too many dead branches in the way. We went back down to catch up to the group. The last elk in the group was a spike. I rushed to get into position to shoot. Wham! Too high. I was already shooting at 300 yards, so after it took off, I wasn’t confident in shooting any further.
We waited for the elk to get to the top of the hill before we started moving. As we walked down the hill, they came back to the edge and watched as my dad walked to the truck. Me and Matt stayed frozen in our tracks until they walked away from the edge. We booked it up the draw. I found a two point shed on the way up. We got to the top and there were no elk to be found. I had screwed up my only chance. I was devastated. Heartbroken. Just broken in general.
We went back to the guy’s group camp and hung out for a little bit. I was able to take a photo with the guy’s antlers and was happy that someone was successful. My boyfriend was in the photos with me. We wanted to kid and say that it was my elk, but it would’ve just been too depressing knowing it wasn’t mine.
We decided to go home that day. It was supposed to snow the next day and I wasn’t sure that I could handle anymore upsets. All in all, it was a beautiful and new experience. I had gotten a shot off, more than my other two elk hunts. And I got to spend the time with my two favorite guys. We came out with a couple sheds as well, so at least we didn’t go home empty handed!
Until my next hunt (of any kind), more adventures of the outdoors shall be pursued!