February/March 2012 EHJ (Issue 129) - I remember an article when I was younger about repeatedly hunting the same area and being consistent if you wanted a big deer. I’ve reflected on those words over the years and have tried to maintain that discipline. This season brought a mixed blessing. My good friend, Mike, drew the buck/bull tag in northern Utah and I only drew an elk tag and a deer tag. I had hoped for the combination because it is fun to hunt both species and potentially harvest both because we all know you always see big deer while elk hunting.
The elk hunt rolled around and it was not the weather we had hoped for. Dry and warm with no storms. Not ideal, but hunting is hunting and any excuse to get out in the mountains is a good one. The opening morning, Mike and his boy Colin went low around a ridge. I went high with my nephew and as luck would have it, we heard shots a few minutes after we spooked a small batch of elk. Mike was giddy with excitement, as he had taken a nice bull with a well-placed shot and another to make sure the big animal was down. Walking up to Mike, Colin and a big bull, I was excited. A few photos later came the other four-letter word that happens after the trigger is pulled: WORK, and a lot of it for an elk.
Lunch was a welcome end to the morning. A big bull was on the trailer and the meat was cooling as we relaxed and made plans for an afternoon hunt. I wanted a bull and was anxious to go back into the woods. I had seen several cows over a ridge and felt good about my chances. Walking through the woods and heading for the next ridge, I was startled by a bull in the trail. We both stared at each other and I quickly pulled up and with one shot, he was down. I was a little taken aback at the way it unfolded, but the prospect of a downed elk and more of that other four-letter word lay ahead.
Mike was excited and now we had a week and a half to chase a big deer. You can’t kill the big ones if you are cleaning the small ones. This old adage is very true. Although there are many years where you don’t pull the trigger, I prefer the taste of elk to deer. We watched the weather and hoped for something other than hazy and sunny, but you get what you get and that’s hunting. I tell my kids this all the time, but I wanted something to get the deer moving especially the big ones but you cannot change the weather.
Mike wanted to go early to hunt the next week, so we met at dark 30 and drove to our spot. We started to glass and walk a few ridges where we had seen bucks. Morning after morning we glassed and walked for a week and a half. Does and small bucks graced our spotting scopes and a few mid-size deer that I tempted Mike with, but he was resigned to a big deer, so we persisted and made the daily drive to our area.
For a full account of Ian's adventure, go to page 20 in the February/March 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.