Since we had ran into elk on opening morning in our secret location #1, and since we had left them unspooked and happy, we decided to go back to the same spot and try again. We figured they wouldn’t be far, as they didn’t really have a reason to leave the area.
This time when we left the jeep, I was expecting to run into them again pretty quickly, but sadly they weren’t there. We had to walk another mile or two before my dad spotted them. They were down a ways below us, and the wind was shockingly in our favor. We saw a cow or two and a couple raghorns grazing. Dad figured he knew where the rest of the herd would be, since they’re creatures of habit. But of course, we would have to walk past the few elk we could see in the clearing to get over the next little ridge to the rest of the herd. So, we wait.
They finally did start heading in the direction Dad thought they would. We edge our way down to the clearing and take a gamble. We stealth-mode sprint across the clearing and pray nothing sees or hears us. Thankfully, we didn’t hear them crashing off into the timber, which was rather refreshing. (I have now begun to expect the worst in every situation.)
So we make it up the ridge and Dad apparently could see some elk butts up around these trees in another little clearing, but remember this is only my third time out. I am lucky to see the damn things when they’re 20 yds in front of me in a meadow, let alone spot them through the timber. We are trying to sneak along, but everything is just so damn crunchy. Every step I take I feel like I might as well be shouting “HEY!! WE’RE OVER HERE!! LOOK OUT!! WE’RE ARMED!” You know what I’m talking about.
I feel like my breathing alone is loud enough to spook them. And why exactly is it that when you need to be quiet is when you snap every last twig in the forest? We are walking on a game trail but it still seems like there is an ungodly amount of crispy pine needles and other crunchables on the path. We seriously need some moisture to help our cause.
Anyways, the coast is clear, and we are closing in on them. BUT WAIT! There was a stray cow that was far off to the right of the herd that saw us and ran off barking to the herd. UGH.
I hate cows. They never seem to shut up, and it seems like they are so much more alert than the bulls. If we could just find a few big bulls hanging out together on their own, that’d be great. I’ve only seen spikes and raghorns chillin’ without any ladies though. So the chase continues.
So even though the cow went trotting up to her friends running her loud mouth, they mostly stick around. But of course now they’re all on high alert, and it’s even more unlikely to get close enough to skewer one. They’re sort of leaving the scene, not really spooked, but just suddenly aware that it’s probably time for them to head back to their beds and take cover.
The elk move out, and of course, their beds are in a shithole. Dad says that since they aren’t that verbal yet, we aren’t going after them. It would be nearly impossible to come in on them where they’re bedded, and we probably wouldn’t be able to call in the big kahuna this early in the season anyways. One bull did answer dad’s location call from quite a distance away. But alas, he just wasn’t that interested in much else.
So, just as the day before, and the day before that, we gave ourselves a point for at least finding elk, but sadly started the hike back home empty handed.
This is about the point in time when I realize the extreme truth to this saying: “That’s why it’s called hunting and not killing.” Also. Imagine being a rifle hunter! How easy that must be. 😉