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I'm guilty of reading and not posting. But I asked for advice on here and had some great feedback so I promised I'd report my success and some lessons learned.

I had a Spike Elk tag + a Buck Deer Tag. My goal was to get my 9 yr old son on the hunts more with me this year. He's obsessed and wants to be a hunting and fishing guide someday.

Spike elk hunt was first. We hunted our usual area, with my son in tow. It was a wet first part of the hunt and we hiked 7, 8, and 9 mile days while looking for elk. We were into elk each day but they were far off and we didn't see any spikes (we did see a few bucks, giant grouse, moose, and coyotes). After each day of not seeing much in teh way of elk he would still say it was an amazing day - I love that he appreciates hunting (& fishing) for the experience, and not necessarily just harvesting.

After several days of little success plus a change in the whether (more snow overnight) we decided to give him a break from the hiking and go to school and I'd do a solo hunt. As it always happens, that was the day I wished he was with me most. This was a morning I will never forget. The snow must have initiated something because the canyons they weren't in before they were all over. I was into 5 different elk herds each with spikes in them. I got a solid shot on a spike at the top of a knoll and (after an hour of bushwacking up the slipper slope) found the shot wasn't as good as I'd hoped. I'd injured the spike, found good blood at first, but then the blood slowed. Luckily, with snow on the ground I could track it. It must not have been mortally wounded because it continued uphill with the herd up to the top of a mountain. I tracked it for several hours up into some crazy country. I thought about giving up because it seems that elk was just fine (& I was solo hiking up higher and deeper into the woods than I wanted to be by myself). But I decided I needed to own that shot and track the spike until I couldn't track it anymore.

After several hours of hiking up 1400 ft of elevation, expecting any second to come up on a downed spike, I found myself sneaking up to the top of a knoll where I knew one of the herds had gone (and the blood trail led). I spent about 30 minutes creeping 20 yards up to the top of the knoll as I watched 30 elk about 75 yards above me. They were pretty focused on the timber below me and must have smelled me but weren't spooked enough to bolt. As I go to the top and was crouched down with my calves shaking, I am watching this herd and enjoying every second. Only problem was there were several spikes in this herd. So I couldn't just shoot the first spike I saw. I somehow had to figure out which one I had injured. I studied each one (saw 2) and neither looked to be limping or bleeding from what I could tell.

Just then, I hear a twig break behind me. I couldn't turn all the way around because I was crouched down. I barely could get my head around to see it was a huge cow elk about 10 yards behind me. I turned back around to the other herd where the spikes were to study them some more. As I did that, the cow busted and ran over the little knoll. Then all of the sudden that got the attention of two other elk on the same knoll 10 yards behind me. A spike and a cow. I turned again as far as my kneck would go without cramping. The blood trail led to that knoll, that was my spike. I waited for the cow to clear and was able to get a quick head shot on the spike and it dropped right there. Spike down.
Snow Fawn Plant Terrestrial animal Deer

I proceeded to walk the 10 yards to the spike, heard additional elk talking below me, walked over the top of the knoll and another couple dozen elk were below me with a spike in that group as well. They busted and ran in every direction surprised to see me, even after the shot. They were everywhere that day. As I spent the next many hours at the top of that mountain, with an amazing view, having had the experience i'd had that day, I was just grateful. For the rest of the afternoon the elk on both sides of me didn't spook very far. They kept talking throughout the day. In fact, as I was hanging quarters to come back the next day for the 2nd meat run, I had elk walk within 5 yards of me on several occasions. I will never understand how sometimes it seems like elk are so smart, then other times they seem a little less so...
Cloud Sky Jeans Mountain Snow

I wish my son could've been there. Who knows if the additional noise of another hunt would have changed anything. But it's a story I can tell to him and the younger ones as I ignite their imaginations with the possibilities.

Okay, deer hunt was next. This was another great hunt. I seem to understand elk pretty well, but I don't understand mule deer hunting. It was hard, we hunted several days and put in a lot of miles. Granted the unit I hunt deer is very popular and just when you think you're the craziest hiking the furthest, there's always someone else that goes higher and further than you. My 9 yr old hikes better and is quieter than most adults! He did great but we went out for quite a few hunts and saw just a few deer.

The last day we could go we decided to try a new area recommended by a friend. Us and probably 50 other hunters were there early that morning. My boy and I started our hunt and saw many does. Nothing had antlers so we continued to go higher up. We continued to see more does but still hadn't seen a single buck the entire buck season. The day went long and we kept going higher and higher into the mountains. Each time I'd ask my son if we should turn back or keep going he'd say, "Let's keep going". He even had a halloween party that evening and he still would rather be hunting!

By late afternoon we found ourselves at the end of the road at the top and hiking around the top of the mountain. We saw two does and thought nothing of it because they were two of more than 100 we'd seen that day. On our way back to the road we walked right past those two does and out popped a third deer, a little3x3 buck. My boy starts freaking out saying, "There's a buck! There's a buck!" then he starts voicing his concern for the loud noise of the gun as he watches me panic and scramble to get a shot off while plugging his ears. I miss the first shot and run after then hoping to get a better shooting lane. My next shot was fatal, a neck shot as it was heading the other direction. Buck Down.
Smile Sky People in nature Cloud Plant

The celebration together of success after a lot of hard hunting, early mornings, long hikes, hiking out of deep canyons in the dark, was soo great. You appreciate things more when you've put in the work. It doesn't always happen that we'll be successful, but he and I learned a lot of things on this journey together. He learned that the harder you work, the better the chances of you getting lucky. He learned that getting off the road seems to be the trick.

I learned that bucks seem to stay much higher longer even when the snow hits the week before.

I had an amazing elk hunt. But I learned that sharing the hunting experience with someone else is half the enjoyment of the hunt.
Hunting Working animal People in nature Plant Grass

Oh, and no comments about the pink stock - The wife's pink gun is a lucky one! :ROFLMAO:

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Good job tracking that spike. Based on the picture, it looks like the packout must have been pretty brutal.

I'm glad your kid was there for the deer. That will be a lifelong memory for both of you.

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All of it. Hiking is terrible without a gun or rod in my hands.
1,017 Posts
You're doing it right with your boy. If he gets it that it's the experience, then he's watching you. Great write up, and glad you connected with the spike you originally shot. Many would leave it. I may have missed it in the write up, but where did you originally hit the spike? Did the boy get to help pack meat out? What unit(s) were you on? Not specifics, because those are sacred, but I love to see other parts of the country.
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