I didn’t have much time to up and scout before the season, so I decided to go do some light hunting/scouting in late August. I figured I would go up with my wife and dad, check the area out, and maybe put up some trail cameras.
Well, that’s when shit started to go south. For starters, my dad hurt his back somehow and bowed out of the trip. Then, four days before I was supposed to go up, I passed a kidney stone…a bad one. As the days went on, I felt like I could go up the mountain as the pain was starting to subside. That was a bad choice.
My wife and I went up, set up camp and did an evening hunt at a spot that was alive last year, this year, it was completely different. There wasn’t very much sign of elk plus it had a different vibe than last year. No big deal, I had a pocketful of other choices. The next morning we’d get up early and hit a spot that I liked. Well, that night the train carrying the shit toward the fan left the station. I couldn’t sleep a wink and my kidney was killing me.
When morning came, I was feeling a bit better, so we decided to go check out the spot. We were a little late getting going because I couldn’t sleep until 0430, but it was better than nothing. On the way up I saw an elk through the trees but couldn’t range it and get a shot off before it was gone. Then we spooked another one as we were hiking to a spot. Overall, pretty good. On the way back, my kidneys started really hurting me. All the hiking with the pack was taking its toll. When we got back to camp, I laid down, but it was only making it worse. After some thinking, I decided to pack it up, which was a good call because on the way down the mountain the pain was getting worse. We ended up spending the night in Vernal. I think the shower and soft bed worked wonders because, after that day, the pain never came back.
Fast forward a couple weeks and it was time for the proper hunt. It would be me and my friend Page going up. The plan would be to head up Friday, hunt that evening and come back three to five days later depending on how things panned out. The fact that I saw one and spooked another gave me hope that they were up and moving around the area. Oh, how wrong I was.
Page and I hunted all over, hitting all my good spots and some we had heard about. We saw no elk and very little sign in the area that they were even there. The best we found was a few scat piles that looked like they could be a day or two old. They weren’t responsive to our calls, and we couldn’t ever hear them. This tells me that they just weren’t in the area other than the few rogue elk passing through. It was very frustrating, to say the least. The spots we were hitting were ideal for elk, and old sign said they had been through there before, but they just weren’t there now.
At one point I think I may have been talking with another cow elk. I’d hit my call and it would answer, but when I tried to move closer, it got quiet and never started up again. Perhaps it was my mind playing tricks or even another hunter.
Now don’t get me wrong, even though the hunt was a bust, I still had a great time. It was great to come up and spend a night with my wife in the wild for the earlier portion, and it was awesome spending some time up here with Page roaming the mountains. It would have been wonderful to harvest an elk, but Fate deemed it wouldn’t happen this time around. I did find a couple more spots that could be promising for future hunts, especially a rifle hunt. Perhaps next year I’ll do rifle for the elk. We’ll see. In either case, being up in the mountains and the trees has helped relieve a lot of stress and refresh my mind, making it worth it.