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Discussion Starter #1
Lol. Just "signing off" for a couple weeks as we're headed East for our yearly backcountry elk hunt. Hopefully we will be coming home with some antlers and "some great memories." =)

I wish all you guys the best of luck this year bagging your elk (or deer)!

-Conlan
 

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I wish you the best of luck too!!! We will be waiting to see pics! I hope I have some pics before you get back in a couple weeks :)
Colette
 

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Good luck Conlan!
I hope get the chance you have been waiting for ... and make good on it.
We were through Olympia yesterday - will have to plan that visit next time we are down.
BD
 

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Good Luck young man, you will do well! Hunt aggressive & good things happen, keep the wind in your face & above all else have fun & build those memories! (grin)

ElkNut1
 

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Conlan's friend here. We need more than luck to get there he drives like a menace. I took his phone so that we can get there a little more safely. I'm surprised he has let me take it for this long. So long as we do make it safe, we should have good luck. Thanks for the support and hopefully we can send some good photos when we get back to civilization.

1 hour out.
 

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id rather be hunting
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Good luck guys. Have fun, take a good one.
 

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Good luck Conlan :darkbeer:
 

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Good luck!
 

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His other apprentice is headed there on September 15th for 16 days and has every intention of killing his first elk. I basically have every volume memorized. Thats' what listening to it on an Ipod for four motnhs and logging about 600 miles on an eliptical and treadmill will do. be afraid, be very afraid. Thanks for everything Paul.
 

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Embrace the suck!
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Good luck Conlan and his friend.
 

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RJ
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Well, by now they should almost have their camp set up and getting ready for the evening hunt. Got a text from Conlan at 0536 this morning stating it was 37 degrees in MT and they were almost to their trail head. He's trying to keep me in the game (I don't leave for another week) but made me jealous just a bit :) It's been a long, long year's wait. Best of luck to Slim's team in the coming days! RJ
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, we got back from the hunt on Wednesday morning after driving all night and this is the first opportunity I have had to check in. I don't think our trip deserves a new thread (so many nice bulls showing up here) but I figured I would give an update here.

First off, thank you for the moral support guys! The thought of having to explain failure to you guys and my friends and family truly helped to keep me going when things were the worst. LOL.

This hunt was one of the most demoralizing and difficult hunts I have ever been on. I learned a lot about myself, about elk hunting, and my personal resolve in general. In the end the result still makes me happy, but things did not go as planned by any means.

As many of you may remember, I said many months in advance that I was done trophy hunting. Last year's hunt in the same basin, made me realize that the kill was more important than a set of huge antlers. I simply wanted to be successful this year and kill an average bull. If I killed one of the many big ones, then it would be a bonus. Oh geez. Well, that didn't happen. =)

For some odd reason I decided we should hunt the first two weeks of the season this year. My dad and buddy went along with the idea for some reason. Last year the elk were going crazy on the 4th and 5th and I figured it might be the same this year. Nope.

Well here's a “brief” overview and some pics...

Day one (September 2nd): It was the day before the opener. We left the truck at 10am and backpacked about 5 miles into our base camp location and started getting everything setup. After we were done around 4pm we did a little glassing on the South facing slope out of camp until dark. We watched a herd of about 30 elk. We spotted 3 bulls right off the bat with them. A 300” 6x6, a 270” 6x6 and a small raghorn. Then about 30 minutes before dark the big boy came over the top. I put him in the 350-370” range from about ½ mile away through my binos. We were pumped for the opener. My dad decided that he was going to do something very uncharacteristic. He was going to sit over an amazing wallow every day from 10am to 6pm until he killed his elk. He didn't think that a third guy would be conducive to nearly silent elk.

September 3-5th: Many miles walked between Scott and I. Mostly silent elk. Many elk blown out of their beds to my dismay.

A 330” bull trotted right through my dad's wallow opening day at 1pm. He figured it was coming in and by the time he cow called and stopped him, it was too late. The bull was in the thick stuff on the opposite side of the opening and there was no shot. On the 4th my dad shot a 320” 6x6 at 38 yards. He told me that the shot hit perfect. 4 inches behind the shoulder and about 12” down from the top of the back. The arrow only went in half way for some reason per him. The bull came into the wallow with a heavy horned 5x5 too. My dad looked for the elk for 3 hours before calling us. There wasn't a single drop of blood. Zero. We looked for the elk until dark covering grids out to about 400 yards. My dad returned every day until he left for home on the evening of the 11th looking for the elk. We figured we would smell him or see birds eventually. Nope. He kept telling me that every elk he had ever hit in that spot went 100 yards or less. His bull had no idea what had hit him too. My dad still doesn't know what to think and can't believe that he lost the bull. Not good.

September 6-7th: Packed out to try and get my vacation pushed back two weeks. That ended up being a no go, so we killed some defenseless does for some meat and caught some nice trout.

September 7-12th: The elk were talking a little but not very interested in cow talk. They would bugle on their own but shut down when you got in tight. (It was 100% different than last year late with the elk going nuts once we closed the gap to inside 100 yards) Things got better as the hunt progressed (obviously), but I learned that being in their before mid month is a waste of my vacation time.

On the 9th I missed a raghorn that snuck in quiet to 40 yards. My buddy had just come back to me from sneaking in on a 5x5 raking a tree and he just couldn't get a clear shot at 40 yards in the thick stuff. We were talking about what happened with the bull when and I looked downhill to see a goofy 4x3 bull sneaking in like a dog and looking at us. He wanted to know where the cows were. Lol. Just like I have a tenancy to do in the thick timber, I guessed the yardage at 50 and he was 40. Scott gave me a hard time for shooting at a small bull but I reminded him that I didn't care.

On the 11th after spiking out for two days in an adjacent basin, we dropped back into our basin only to find the large herd from day one living in the largest patch of timber on the South facing slope. They were talking a little bit and they were spread out quite a bit. After blowing them out and Scott going after them, I found a lone track in the soft dirt that looked very fresh. It was side-hilling 2/3 up the slope and moving to the headwall to bed. I followed the track for about 1/3 of a mile with an arrow nocked. As I rounded a meadow that led up into a narrow green chute I caught sight of an elk's nose and antlers at 40 yards. I immediately took a knee and figured that he hadn't seen me. My pack was about 40 lbs. and it was killing my balance on the steep narrow trail. For some odd reason, I figured I had enough time to remove the pack. I remember thinking to myself as I was doing it, “Are you an idiot? Who cares if you're uncomfortable. Just pull back the bow and cow call. It's 40 yards and if you call he's going to stand right up and die.” As the pack was almost off the bull stood up. I cow called immediately and as I drew my bow he was still and broadside. As the pin came up the bull turned and ran. As I dropped to the ground I felt like I was going to puke or cry. He was only a 5x5 but it would have been the easiest bull I have ever killed. All I had to do was just forget about the pack. This was the low point of the hunt.

On the 12th we spent the day sitting over the series of wallows in the treestand. Our “mission” was to move the upper treestand to a more active wallow up the creek about 200 yards. We figured we could use a day of relaxation and reading after so many days of killing ourselves. To our surprise, there were two bulls and some cows in the wallow bugling when we showed up at 8am. We tried to coyote in on them but it didn't work. We got to 75 yards but there was no shot, it was much too thick. From 10am to 7pm we sat. It was horrible but my book was good. Lol

The morning of the 13th we were out of base camp about 1 hour before first light. Our plan was to get to the mid-slope by shooting light and be ready to go after the bulls up high when they started bugling. At first light the bulls went off on cue but they were down about 200 feet in elevation from the creek bottom and about 1 mile east. We quickly dropped down to their elevation and sidehilled it east. As we closed in on the bugles and coming through an open patch of timber with tons of feed on the ground, we almost stepped on a bedded 320” 6x6 at 15 yards. He stopped outside of range for a sec after we immediately cow called and then was off.

We moved in on the two closest bugles to the NE. As we came over the ridge and looked for signs of elk, there they were, 80 yards and moving single file slowly through the timber working their way to a small meadow. Scott wanted to coyote in silent and I disagreed with him. There were too many eyes and I felt like the calling was finally going to get them riled up. I dropped back 40 yards and started with my “Elknut” cow calling sequence. I used my reed and Temptress to represent 4-5 cows that wanted some action. When I started calling the lower bull started destroying a 6' fir tree at about 120 yards. The upper bulls started screaming his head off. Within about 2 minutes we realized that they wanted us to come to them. I stayed 40 yards behind Scott and we moved in on cue. He snuck in to 40 yards of the lower bull and stuck him twice. Both times he had no idea what had happened. Once I got within 20 yards of Scott I watched him draw and let down thinking that the elk had blow out and it was over. He started cow calling rapidly and yelling at me to get my ***** up there. When I ran up to him I was shocked to see that he was missing arrows. He frantically told me that he had smoked his bull twice and asked if I wanted to shoot an elk. Huh? I turned to my right and there was a cow, calf and a spike at 60 yards. The other bull was staying in the timber. The elk were coming over to follow Scott's wounded bull. There was some quick pondering but then Scott said, “Don't you just want to kill something?” He was right, screw it. I ranged the spike at 60 yards and smoked him. He had no idea what had happened and walked to 80 or so. When he stopped, I smoked him again. He just walked off into the timber hardly able to walk. It was 8:00 and we were done hunting.

We spent the rest of the day boning out the elk and packing them back to base camp which was a little over two miles away. We got done with the last load about 30 minutes before dark. After some discussion we decided that we were going to take two ungodly heavy packs to the truck the next day and try to get everything out in two packs before dark. It is 5 miles one way and there is roughly 4,000 feet in elevation change, starting with a 1500' climb out of camp and only 1 mile to the top. Well, long story short, the Blue Widows did surprisingly well with 100 lb. packs but my body was a little beat down when it was all said and done. Scott took a fall with the first load on the way down and split open his knee, but somehow was okay. Thank the lord. We were done by 5pm and decided to drive all night to get home. At 6am we were trimming meat in his garage and a little loopy from the last 48 hours. =)

Here are some pics from the trip. Sorry for such a long post. It's not in my nature to be brief. Lol.

Thanks again for the support guys! Next year will be better. =)
 

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Embrace the suck!
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Dang guys it sounds like you had a long tough hunt. But you killed elk and that was your objective. What do you think happened with your dads bull? That sucks for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Dang guys it sounds like you had a long tough hunt. But you killed elk and that was your objective. What do you think happened with your dads bull? That sucks for him.
That's really all that matters now. The 100 or so miles walked are behind us now and I do love my elk meat. When I kill my cow in November my wife and I will be set for the year. =)

The only thing I can think of is that he actually hit it about 4-6" higher than he thought and it stuck in the lower spine. They don't always drop and that would explain the lack of penetration and death. Who knows? My dad has killed a lot of elk, I guess he just got unlucky.
 
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