Idaho Elk Trip 2010: Day 7


Elk rub alarm clock

We were awakened this morning around 2am by a bull raking a tree 15 yards from my tent. This was a unique and exciting way to be woken up. Between the raking noise and the ground moving was enough to get the heart racing. This bull raked on his tree for at 15+ minutes, and all I could think of was if he is above me, don’t lose your balance! Then, all of sudden the raking stopped, all I could hear were hooves beating the ground and moving away. I thought maybe he winded us as he was so close to our camp. But, then he then gave a nervous grunt, elk generally won’t do this if they wind humans as they just flee the area.  He didn’t just give us one nervous grunt, he have us 16 nervous grunts over the period of 7 minutes as he walked in semi-circle around us and went to raking on a smaller tree 18 yard from the tent.
I heard Greg unzip his tent and get out as I think he had a new definition of “Nature Calls”! After lowering my heart rate and getting another cat nap in, we were up and at ‘em and headed to a high western facing ridge that divided the lake that I wanted to hunt and the basin we were in. We did a handful of setups calling in different directions with different scenarios and were at least ½ mile apart.

Looking down at the Lake

Around 10:30am we headed back to camp to eat some breakfast, to take some pictures of the elk damage near our camp. We also pulled out the maps and made a plan for the evening hunt. It has been a tough hunt for us as this country is not suited for glassing. So, it’s best to hunt them by vocalization and with the elk not being vocal we are playing hide-n-seek in their playground!

Planning the evening hunt

Tools I used for Mapping, Hunting GPS maps loaded on the Garmin

As the afternoon warmed up, we hiked back to the lake to replenish all of the water reservoirs. On our trek back, we saw the guys that had setup camp near the lake that I had planned to hunt. I told Greg we would go over say hello and introduce ourselves. As it turns out, they were not hunters or even hunting! They were a U.S. Forestry contractors (Northwest Youth Corp.) clearing all the trails in this area. They were clearing trails, removing snags and inputting traction items on hillside trails for better footing. They had arrived on Tuesday afternoon via mule train that took them from another trailhead 7-9 miles away. The good news was they were not hunting and the bad news was they were scheduled to be in there for at least 3 more weeks. There were 12 guys with axes, they were cutting trees, roots, slinging logs and all sorts of noise all day long. This may have caused the elk to move out of the country! They told us that they would be finished with the west side of the ridge back to our original trailhead later the next day and would be heading to our side of the mountain after that. So, Greg and I left those guys and finished our task of getting some water. On the way back to camp we discussed the plan of getting up in the morning, packing up camp and hunting westerly with camp on our backs.
For this evening’s hunt we setup on another lake and once again did not see or hear an elk. We have 3 more hunting sessions before we head home and we are not giving up! To help moral, I let Greg have a fire, as we would be vacating this area “o’ dark thirty” as the Forestry Contractor would be moving this way in the morning.

Idaho Elk Trip 2010: Day 6

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