Thursday, October 22, 2009


I drove up into the La Sal Mountains this morning, arriving at dawn. I hiked about 2 miles stillhunting up through the scrub oak and aspens. I jumped a bunch of does but wasn't seeing any bucks. I passed through a big alpine meadow and worked my way up the edge of a shallow draw. I saw a flash of something to my left going up the draw parallel with me through the trees. There was a clearing ahead, so I ran up to it and waited about 5 seconds for the deer to step into the 10 foot wide clearing. He stopped to look at me in the clearing. We were about 60 yards from each other. I could see he was a pretty nice buck, so I took him with one shot at about 9:30am. An hour to field dress him and bone out the meat, and then I loaded the entire animal and daypack on my packframe. Took me an hour to hike back to the truck. Conveniently, a 4-wheeler track was only 200 yards away, so I used that to get almost all the way back to my truck.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Elk Down Part III

My Dad connected on his elk yesterday - the last day of the hunt! He and my bro Dave were out together, spotted the herd bedding down around 9 am, and then spent several hours working Dad into position. He actually shot from the top of the ridge Dave's elk was on last Saturday. Dad sat on top of the ridge glassing down into the aspens for over an hour before getting a clear shot at around 2:30 pm. It was about 400 yards across a draw. The herd of cows took off and came up to within 10 yards of Dave who had been working his way up the ridge the elk were on. They were finally done field dressing around 7pm, and had a 4 hour hike out in the dark - kind of getting lost in the dark but working through crazy timber back to the road. Me, bro Daniel, and Dad hiked back in on an easy horse trail we discovered today to get the last bag of meat. Dave and Dad hiked out with about 80-90 lb. packs last night - crazy! Three tags filled this year!Dad pointing at the ridge he shot from. We're standing next to the elk.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elk Down Part II

My brother Dave got his first elk this morning. Dave, brother Eric, and I hiked out at 5:45 this morning about two miles. We spotted some elk early, and after getting Dave into position, he shot him at 9:00 am from 373 yards across a deep canyon. It was a great shot considering I was nervously shouting directions at him the whole time like an idiot. He ignored me and connected. He shot him in the nastiest possible location - across a deep ravine on a steep slope covered in oak brush. It was a chore for us to take care of the animal, and we finally finished our work at 1pm. Eric had to leave us from our hilltop right after the shot and go back a mile to pick up all three daypacks that we had left behind. Eric loaded all the daypacks and the rifle on his back, and Dave and I loaded the entire elk on our frame packs. We were all loaded down pretty good. It took us 4 hours to hike the 4 or so miles out. We topped out at 5pm. It was a great day!
Joe, Dave, and Eric.
A picture from the kill site. Dave shot from the top of the hill to the left - 373 yards.
Hiking down through the bottom of the ravine between the shot and the elk.
Dave and Joe loaded up with elk - I had a hindquarter and the backstraps and tenderloin, and Dave had a hindquarter and the two front quarters. We bone out the meat to reduce weight.
Taking a rest on the hike up and out - we had to climb about 1500-2000 feet.
Eric at the end of the hike. A little dehydrated.
Dave resting.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Elk Down

I drove up to hunt with Dad and Dave. We went to a new place today (new for me) up Mayfield Canyon. It was a crazy hunt because Dad had to work this morning, and we didn't get up into the mountains until about 10:30am. We poked around a little, and then headed for an area someone recommended to Dad. We drove back about 4 miles on some rough 4-wheeler/Jeep road way back up in the the high mountains (over 9,000 feet) in an area of high peaks, open meadows, and stands of pine and aspen. We parked at about 12 noon about 200 feet below the top of a ridge. I walked north on the ridge and picked up fresh tracks and sign. I worked to the north end of the ridge and it dropped off into a heavy stand of timber. At the edge of the timber, I could smell elk on the breeze coming up through the trees. So I began working down into the timber on game trails, carefully walking along very slowly looking for elk. I had just exited the timber about halfway down the ridgeline and reentered about halfway down on a game trail. About 15 feet in, I spotted the hind end of an elk and looked through my binoculars. I saw that it was a spike, and then he spooked down the ridgeline to the creek bottom below me. When he popped out below, I saw there were two spikes (we have spike elk tags). I knelt down, and propped my elbow on my knee and waited for them to stop. They crossed the creek 100 yards below me down a steep slope. They came to a stop in a thin stand of aspens and as luck would have it, they stopped in a perfect opening. I put the crosshairs right below the front elk's head and shot him in the neck. He dropped in his tracks. I finally got Dad and Dave on the radio and we got the animal quartered up. The cool thing was, we discovered a 4-wheeler trail that took us down off the ridge, around a small lake near the elk and right to a meadow. We pulled into the meadow and drove within 50 feet of the elk and parked. Easy loading! Great hunt, beautiful country, and good to be with fam!