Sick all day Monday, so couldn't enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Better yesterday. I emptied the composting toilet, breaking the plastic drum catch in the process (no big deal, they will send me a new one for cost of shipping). I filled the water tanks – we were down to 25 gallons, and I emptied the grey water holding tank which was nearly half full. I estimated it had about 500 gallons of grey water which is nearly 1/2 of its 1,250 gallon capacity.
I Last pumped it out Sept 24th when Sal, Bill and I arrived to work at the cabin. According to the cabin calendar we have been up here a total of 25 days since last pump-out including Bill's visit, Sal with Lisa and recently Sal, Ben and I hunting. On average then, we use 20 gallons of water a day – hard to believe. Cross-checking, I last filled the water tanks when Bill was here and today added 525 gallons to the tanks, so the numbers tie out, given that Sal throws out the dishwater in the yard to feed the wild flowers.
Today I pack up and go home, tidying up in case Ray and Shirley are able to come to the cabin for Thanksgiving.
Elk hunt 2013 leaves many great memories. Maybe next year's hunt will also include bringing home the bacon (er……….Elk)!
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).
The sunrise was glorious!
Pretty fresh elk sign in my meadow.
The meadow was full of “skid marks” – elk sliding in the snow covered mud on their way down the mountain to feed last night.
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.
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!
Yesterday, we hiked in before light to the south school section ridge to see if the elk would repeat their performance. Yes and no. Elk showed up at a meadow, but not the one we we’re sitting on. 600 yards away, 50 elk were moving into the tree line. Ben decided to chase them, a gutsy move, requiring a sprint, ascending 1,00 or so feet in elevation. The elk dispersed into smaller groups to bed down and chew their cuds, Ben following a group of 8 or so, finding them bedded, but unable to determine if any legal bulls were present. Presently, they eluded him and he gave up the chase. David spotted a small band of cows and immature bulls, but again, was unable to determine sex.
In the afternoon, we hunted the north school section near Sand Creek. Ben saw some elk, but the light was failing and again could not determine sex.
Saturday, Sally and Ben left for town, while David hunted Lyle,s road turnoff. Unfortunately, the county road was still snowbound and at 6:30 am, David got stuck, high centering the truck and necessitating 90 minutes of shoveling. 2 trucks arrived nearby, but watched David shoveling for an hour, before offering to help pull him out (nice fellas). Hunting Lyle’s road, David found a zillion elk tracks, a fast moving deer and a couple moose. I met a Mr Marshall who related that he and family found a large herd the prior night and deciding not to disturb them (due to the late hour), located them in the same place in the morning and shot 2 cows and a bull. They camp every year at the cattle guard, just before you reach the Boulder Ridge turn, and hunt the area just east of their camp and north of the county road. They said that due to the wind, the elk, uncharacteristically, went to the south side, but moved north after the wind abated.
Evening hunt near Forest Service Circle, produced no elk, but a beautiful sunset.
Today we left for the school section, south gate at daylight in the chained-up truck, due to yesterday's drifting snow (didn't want to get stuck a 3rd time). Ben went high, David hiked the valley finding deer and moose tracks crossing the stream. Then, in the large, north most meadow appeared dozens of elk tracks! The elk had been feeding during the night in the big meadow, moved to an upper meadow and continued to feed (along with quite a few deer), then continued in a vast stream upward through an aspen grove and into the Douglas fir forest. From there I lost them, but Ben saw quite a number of cow elk……
Bens Personal Log: “Having a game plan I started up the hill, which turned in to two hills, and finally the meadow. It was of course empty. But I found through the woods a single trail of elk tracks which quickly turned into more than what my tracking sense can handle. I was on to a herd! I deviated from the original plan opting for a steep climb up Bull Mountain in hot pursuit. I found a steaming scat, urin soaked beds numbering more than fifteen, and my breath waning. I made it to 9,750 feet to a beautiful meadow overlooking the entire valley. Still no elk. I descended to meet what I thought would be a wide trail of tracks by found only scattered tracks of twos. I followed one and found a cow elk popping out her bed, darting a few feet and looked to see what startled her. I stood watching her motionless as she then laid back down chewing her cud. I snapped a few twigs after watching her to see what I would have to do to get her to pop up again. I was about a hundred feet away before that happened. She darted off and I followed more tracks, leading to elk inexplicably standing in them! Another one darted off. I kept crashing through the woods mimicking an elk and came upon a large brown rock with a dead tree trunk laying on top. I looked want it again and it had fur! Only a moment more and she, and her friend, also strode off. The last elk of the day bounded out of sight before I could flip the safety off. I didn't get my bull elk but I had a great time learning more about them and taking in the winter-wonderland views that is Colorado this time of year”.
High winds (25-30 mph) and drifting snow occasioned a trip to Laramie to replenish our gas cans, milk and have brunch (Ben's treat) at the Prairie Rose (a 60's style family owned breakfast restaurant with a lunch counter and tables frequented mainly by locals). The food is good, the coffee replenished continuously, and we are served by cute and friendly college girls (Laramie is the home of the University of Wyoming).
Back from Laramie (we didn't get stuck on the drifted-in county road) Ben and I geared up for the afternoon elk hunt. Unfortunately we did get stuck in the FJ (wind low drift had crusted over) and David had to walk back to the cabin the fetch the truck and pull us out.
Determined not to get stuck again, Ben and David chained up the truck for tomorrow's hunt.
Waking up to a snowy world! 11 degrees and 7″ of powdery new elk finding snow. It took us an hour and 10 minutes to make the 45 minute drive, due to snowy/ blowy conditions. We were pretty much the only truck on the road. At 6:40 we started hiking up our secret ridge off FR182. 7″ of snow, 11 degrees and sun just coming up.
The sun came up and our mountain became a world of pristine white covering the earth and trees, and a deep blue sky surrounding two orange clad guys.
After walking over a mile, we saw no tracks or animals, so we turned our tracks for home. Within a few minutes, while puzzling over some phantom tracks, there were genuine elk tracks with elk standing in them! First, a very dark colored cow appeard on the trail ahead. She had neither seen, smelled or heard us, so made her unhurried way down the side of the ravine. The boys quietly scrambled to bring their rifles to bear. Next another cow passed by, then a spike (illegal- too young) bull and finally another cow. We waited in vain for the Bull-of-Our-Dreams to show up, but he never did……
After lunch the wind came up and created a ground blizzard of blowing snow. Ben and I tried to drive to the school section on Bull Mountain, but the visibility was so poor and snow became so deep (on the uphill section of Mountain Ridge Rd), that David decided to turn back rather than potentially getting stuck and asking Sally to risk the poor roads after dark. So, we spent a quiet night at home, hoping for better weather in the morning.
Up at 4:30 am for the drive to State Land near Glendevy by sunrise (35 minutes via 80C). 45 minutes after sunrise, Ben saw two cow elk (we both have bull tags) and I saw 3-4 elk (legs and bodies – probably cows) a bit later before they escaped on to private property. Disappointed there was no bull, but seeing elk gets our adrenaline going!
Back for lunch, Ben takes Sally on an elk (and possibly lost map) hunt near the cabin.
After Ben and Sally's hike, Ben and I went on a scouting mission to find elk. We checked a spot at Vern's cabin road (LOTS of elk and deer tracks), and ELK RIDGE (BIG ELK TRACKS). But the highlight was mama and calf moose tracks with the moose standing in them!
Meanwhile, Sally inserted 22 wooden painted stakes (pictures coming) to keep us from falling into the ditch. Super Sally also prepared Bison Stroganoff for dinner! Ben: “Elk camp would not be the same without Sally”. David agrees!