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!
Saw no elk today, but did see deer tracks and beds in the morning on the school section #16, then back for lunch (Sally had it all laid out) and in the afternoon, we hunted the big meadow on Forest Way. There we saw elk tracks, beds, but unfortunately no elk in them. Weather was sunny and 32 in the a.m., getting to 50 by 2pm. Back at dark for pulled pork, a glass of wine and Sally's home baked brownies.
Up at cabin for maintenance work today. While I worked my tail off cooking their fish, serving hot buttered rum, making Eggs Benedict and caulking the siding, the ladies rested up from yesterday’s tough day of fishing.
Getting ready for the hunt. All the cooking is finally done (after a very late last night with Sally’s help). Rifles sighted, cartridges loaded, gear mostly packed!
The DOW game biologist, Mark Vierra says the weather is looking pretty good this year and elk have been sighted on the south end of North Middle Mountain. 1st season and the opening weekend of 2nd season produced a number of bulls (road over the pass is very difficult due to melting snow and mud, however). He also hears that they are migrating from the south across the Deadman switchbacks near FR 303. He had no info on Bull Mountain, but all-in-all, looks promising.
My friend Sam hunted 2nd season and has seen elk feeding in my old hunting meadow near Sand Creek Pass on Bull Mountain, they come down at night and leave in the early morning. Sam’s most productive spot was way up high in the deep timber of the School Section (south gate) – small herds of cows, some bull tracks but difficult to get a shot, let alone drag out, plus the roads were so muddy you can’t get your truck very close. Sam’s party got 2 deer, one near his cabin and one in the school section. They saw a few deer tracks on Boulder Ridge, but little elsewhere. Bull Mountain – Woo Hoo!
Here is Sally portioning out some Mole Chicken Chili and getting the rest of our yummy dishes (Bison Meatloaf, Pulled Pork and Bison Sloppy Joes) ready for the cabin.
Today, Sally heads up to the cabin with friend Lisa, and I follow tomorrow to do some work until Ben arrives on the 31st to do a final sight-in, some game scouting drives and final prep. There may possibly be some beer involved…….