September/October 2011 EBJ (Issue 67) - Everything was in place at last - the pre-hunt planning was done, the food and gear was checked, and everything was loaded in my truck. I was getting excited and anxious to get on the road, but still I questioned, "What the heck am I getting myself into?”
Just two years prior, I found myself at this same spot, with high hopes of a great elk hunt. However, many mistakes were made that led to a failed hunt. Talk of climbing a mountain is easy, but when the time comes to do it, are you ready? Can you do it? Some of the hunting party had not prepared well and were not in proper condition for the rigors of hunting in rugged terrain. Add to that some problems with the packhorses and after a few days it was time to face reality. I departed early, with only new lessons to take back with me. Pick your hunting partners wisely and be sure they clearly understand what is necessary for success. This was not to be an easy road hunt.
Even as we left that hunt two years ago, I knew I had to come back. I also promised never again to leave the fate of a hunt in the hands of others. I have dreamed of redemption in this area for the past two years, and now I was ready to return. I had ramped up my already strenuous running program and added mountain biking to the routine. I knew the demands of the terrain, and I knew that this time I would need someone to depend on - and that would be me. This time I would be hunting solo!
After eleven hours of driving, I arrived at the locked gate where "CLOSED TO ALL MOTORIZED VEHICLES” was posted - just the way I like it. The next 15 miles would be covered the hard way. I unloaded my mountain bike from my truck and hooked on my seriously overloaded bike trailer. It would be a full day of riding, pushing, pulling, and even dragging the bike and trailer over some extremely difficult terrain.
My planning for the worst case had paid off this time. The journey in had been more challenging than expected, but as I set up a comfortable base camp, the added weight of dragging that trailer seemed worth it. Another day gone and I was bone tired, but sleep didn’t come easy knowing that when morning came, it would finally be time to hunt.
This area is all about hard work, and I had been at it for days now. So far hunting had been top notch, with a handful of memorable encounters with some great bulls. I was confident that it was just a matter of time before I would find the bull I was looking for. Rut activity was increasing, and I was now making a stalk attempt on a good bull that was busy tending a small harem of cows.
For a full account of Mark's adventure, go to page 22 in the September/October 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.