Elk Hunt Day 9

Sunrise over Boulder Ridge (10,100')

Feeling that I may have finally gotten the best of my bronchial crud, I endeavored to climb to my favorite meadow at 9,700 ft to watch the sun rise and hopefully catch elk feeding. The sun kept to it's appointed hour, however the elk were not so courteous. I heard cow elk calling to each other in the distance, but before I could locate the source, they moved off northwest toward the peak of Bull Mountain (10,082).

Sunrise touches the Rawah Mountains

The sunrise was glorious!

Boulder Ridge & Jimmy Creek Valley with Rawah Mtns in background
Elk like steep meadows @ 9,600'

Pretty fresh elk sign in my meadow.

Elk skid marks in snow overlaying mud

The meadow was full of “skid marks” – elk sliding in the snow covered mud on their way down the mountain to feed last night.

Ancient Limber Pine grasping a boulder in its roots
Mid-morning snack: orange, jalapeño cheese sticks and M&M's

On my way down the mountain, 4 deer (all does) sauntered onto the meadow only 30 yards away. They somehow must have known I only had a buck deer license. When they saw me, they picked up the pace a bit, but when I didn't try to immediately eat them, they slowed to a fast walk and moved toward the trees. Pretty girls!
My truck needs a bath!

My neighbors David & Janet Lochman stopped by to discuss our Wood Duck Introduction Project and mentioned that he had frequently been seeing a big bull elk with a small herd of cows feeding on the Big Meadow above his cabin. So, of course, the evening hunt was at the Big Meadow. The temp has climbed to 51 degrees and most of the deep, crusted, snowdrifts had melted a bit, so getting up there was no problem with the chained up truck.

I immediately found the tracks of a small herd of about a dozen, crossing and recrossing. The sign looked to be a few hours old, from this morning or thereabouts, so after tracking a while, I returned to the Big Meadow for the last 30 minutes of the hunt.

Elk tracks in the forest east of Big Meadow

The meadow smelled strongly of elk, however, they did not deign to appear, so I returned home to drown my sorrows in Thai Green Curry with Shrimp and Broccoli.

This years hunt was quite exciting, despite getting sick a couple days before the start. We saw lots of elk (maybe 75 or so – but no clearly identifiable 4point legal bulls), I saw a few deer, we had 2 lovely falls of tracking snow, 30 mph winds, calm days, and the temps ranged from a low of 11 to a high of 51 degrees, so we certainly had lots of variety. Son-in-law Ben displayed great endurance and enthusiasm in improving his hunting craft and was rewarded with a plenitude of elk sightings. He is a fine elk hunting partner.

We ate well, got lots of excercise and enjoyed the peace of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. Can't get much better than this!

Self portrait in sunrise hot light!



Author: David Willett

Worked at Agilent Technologies and Hewlett-Packard, attended University of Washington and Michigan State University, lived in the Netherlands, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, visited 36 countries, 11 of 13 Canadian Provinces and all 50 U.S. states, living in Fort Collins, CO, USA

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