Elk Pack Out Made Easy With The e-Pack Wheel — 2018 General Elk Hunt

Elk Hunting with my boys

Dallen Elk Hunting with X-Bolt 300 WSM

Dallen with Spike Elk

Browning X-Bolt 300 WSM with Elk

e-Pack Wheel Elk Pack Out

Back to the Rubicon with the Elk on the e-Pack Wheel

This year I bought a combo elk tag hoping I would have time to get out and hunt elk again with my bow and for sure spend a few days hunting with my muzzleloader in November. 

The few times I was able to get out and check my trail cameras through the summer and into the fall I have noticed a very distinct change in the patterns of the elk in the area. The elk haven't been coming into the area nearly as much as they have in past years, not that there ever was a lot of elk but this year the cameras were showing a reduced number of elk.

There was one bright highlight to my trail camera footage and that was a nice looking six-point bull had been camped out in the area from July 23rd through August 5th. Unfortunately, he never returned but we sure hoped he would.

One bull and the only elk that was in the area during the hunting seasons was the Unicorn bull I had on camera last year. Funny thing is he was a unicorn again this year except he was a unicorn on his right side instead of his left. What a strange bull. How in the world did he get a unicorn G1 only rack again this year and on the opposite side?!?

Archery season came and went with me just not having the time to break away to get out and hunt at all. When rifle season came around it found me and my two youngest headed up the mountain for the opening weekend. We had a great time sleeping in the tent and enjoying a ride in my new to me 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon I bought as a replacement for my old Montero. I had a great run with my old Montero but she finally gave up the ghost this summer.

We spent the opening Saturday watching deer but never saw any sign of any elk. We tried boys, we tried. So we checked a few cameras and back home for church we went.

Midweek Dallen took a few days off work to hunt. He hiked over into a different area than where I took the younger boys on opening day. He stayed out all day his first day out moving around in an area of thick oak brush and maples, hunting small meadows in the trees. As the day was coming to a close and he was about to get up to start hiking back out he turned around and a spike with some cows had snuck in right behind him. His occasional cow calling had worked at bringing in some elk. 

Dallen's X-Bolt 300 WSM put the spike down and he was quickly on the phone to me asking if he should also fill his cow tag and ask for me to hike in to help him with an e-Pack Wheel. I was in the process of helping my kids at home with their evening activities when the call came in. No don't shoot a cow, we'll have plenty to deal with getting the spike out this late in the day. Dallen could have taken a cow as well but I was glad he didn't. 

By the time I dropped off Landen at a football game and made it up the mountain to meet up with Dallen it was midnight. Not a good thing for me because I didn't sleep well the night before. Anyhow, needless to say, I wasn't feeling well but we worked into the night boning out his elk. It wasn't one of the fastest deboning processes I've done but we got it boned out sometime in the middle of the night and all loaded on the e-Pack Wheel for the muddy pack out up the side of a canyon and about a mile back to my Jeep.

The pack out was a total dream! We loaded the whole elk up on the e-Pack Wheel (150 lbs. of meat and near 20 lb head) and up the mountain we went through the mud. I learned a few things on this pack out to improve the e-Pack Wheel design. Mainly, I wanted to lower the Mud Cutter on the e-Pack Wheel to clean the tire from mud even better than it already did. We didn't have any problems with it but I felt it could use some adjustment to keep mud from getting into the chain. What an amazingly cool system to haul an elk out with and not carry an ounce of weight out on your body. The e-Pack Wheel carries to load up or downhill without you carrying any weight or any pushing/pulling at all. The electric motor is geared to have tons of torque to climb, climb, climb. I love it!

Nice work solo hunting Dallen. This was his first elk harvest being out hunting by himself. After this hunt I feel Dallen is ready to go totally solo on the boning and pack out all on his own. Especially if he has an e-Pack Wheel with him.

After a day I was back out with Landen and KB hoping to find some elk on the second Friday evening and Saturday. And.... once again Dad couldn't find a single elk for my youngest boys. And that finished the extent of my elk hunting this year.

Due to work demands this year I just wasn't able to get out and hunt with a muzzleloader for myself and the two Saturdays I was able to get out with my boys resulted in not finding any elk. I still loved spending time with Landen and KB but wished we could have seen some elk. Next year maybe and we all still have cow elk tags that go through January. 

Cow Elk Hunting — e-Pack Wheel

Sunrise Hunting Cow Elk with Electric Pack Wheel

Glassing for cow elk with Electric Pack Wheel

Cow Elk Hunters

Hunting Solo for Cow Elk with Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

Hunters on Cliff with Electric Pack Wheel

Bull Elk but no Cows

Gutless boning out cow elk

With just a couple days to spare my youngest KB turned twelve during 2017. This gave him the opportunity to hunt cow elk from his birthday through the end of January. This has been my most anticipated hunt of the year. Seeing his excitement as he has hunted with me and his brothers throughout the years has really got me excited to help him on his first ever big game hunt. He has been talking about the opportunity to hunt elk for many months now and this has been weighing heavy on my mind that I really wanted him to fill his tag.

Our family was fortunate enough to have all three of my sons and myself draw late season cow elk permits and with us eating tag soup on our bull elk hunts we needed at least two cows in the freezer to keep meat on the table until next winter.

This year has been the craziest year ever to find cow elk in the public and private areas I have access to hunt. The total lack of snow this winter I’m sure has been helpful to the elk and deer herds but it also has kept the elk far away from the areas that we can get into to hunt.

Every year I have had a cow elk permit I have filled the tag. Every time I have gone out hunting cow elk I have seen some and I can only remember having to go out more than once in a season to fill my tag. This year was a lot different. I went out hunting four days before I found any cows. I did find some bulls on two of my first trips but no cows. On one trip I hiked in over four miles to the back of some public property and down the other side of the mountain and couldn’t find cow one even on the adjacent private canyons. 

This year also has been the driest I can ever remember. There isn’t any snow. Yes, we have had a couple snow storms but for the most part, it has been very warm and dry with all of the south-facing slopes devoid of snow up to over 8,000 ft in elevation. 

My first priority was to help KB get his first elk and big game animal. I had him out a couple days but couldn’t find any elk. Dallen had work off one day and I decided to just take him since we hadn't been seeing any to see if we could locate some elk. I should have taken all of my boys that day. Dallen and I found a group of cows and filled our tags. 

The next day I went back in with Landen, KB and two friends of mine. We were able to locate the cows again thanks to some cow elk calling. I had the cows responding to my calls but they were located in the heavy oak brush where we couldn’t see them. With KB on my left and Landen on my right both setup on shooting sticks, I was able to call one out of the brush and it stopped at 95 yards looking right at us. All we could see was it’s head so I told KB to shoot it in the head. After what seemed like several seconds, boom went the rifle and down went the elk. I totally thought KB shot the cow but it actually was Landen. Landen waited as long as he thought he could for KB to shoot and made the right call in shooting before it ran off. Nice work Landen! On the other hand, KB was a little upset but a trooper about it. He had it in his scope he just hesitated with it being his first time hunting elk but KB was a good sport and supportive of his older brother. We had gone over bullet placement a lot but never in our discussions had we talked about head shots. This threw him off a bit.

With the cow down and plenty of daylight, it was a great opportunity for the boys to learn more about boning out elk. They both jumped in and were helping. It was a great memory for me to be there teaching them about the antimony of an elk.

KB and I went out one last time and hiked a bunch looking for some cows. We did find some but they were on the private ground we couldn’t hunt. We couldn’t even find any elk tracks at all on the ground we were hunting on. What a crazy cow elk hunting year.

Other than spending time with my boys the greatest pleasure I had while hunting with them for cow elk this winter was using the Electric Pack Wheel I have been perfecting. It worked amazing! We hauled our cows out so easily with it. KB was even using it hauling both his and my day pack around as we were hunting. I’m particularly tickled to death about how well this electric powered system has come together. I’ve spent many thousands of hours over the past decade perfecting the Pack Wheel and in particular a lot of time this past year tweaking an electric system by testing motors, batteries and frame design adjustments. The e-Pack Wheel makes packing heavy loads just about anywhere a total dream.

As I write this I can’t help but feel really bad that I let KB down by not getting him an elk. I like taking care of my kids and him not getting an elk hurts, probably the most distasteful tag soup I have ever had... no, my 2012 LE Archery elk hunt really stunk. On the bright side, he is really young and will have plenty of opportunities in the future.

Another bright note is that our family was very blessed with filling the freezer with elk meat. When I dropped off the meat to the butcher he said something along the line that the previous year they butcher 250 cow elk in January and this year only 10 so that made feel really fortunate that we were able to fill three out of the four tags.

You can bet I’ll be helping KB extra hard this coming fall on his first bull elk and mule deer hunts.

Hell's Canyon Speed Rifle with Rogue 36 Pack Wheel Cow Elk Hunting

Landen's Cow Elk with Electric Pack Wheel

Dallen's Cow Elk with Electric Pack Wheel

The DIY Hunter's Cow Elk With Electric Pack Wheel

Pack Out Electric Pack Wheel Cow Elk

Glassing for cow elk with Electric Pack Wheel

Dallen Pack Out Electric Pack Wheel Cow Elk

Landen Pack Out Electric Pack Wheel Cow Elk

X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed Rifle — Setup Lightweight and Long Range Ready

Lightweight Hunting Rifle - X-Bolt Hell's Canyon Speed 300 WSM

I often get asked what my favorite scopes are for my rifles. For my long range hunting rifles, my favorite scope has been the Vortex Optics HS-LR 4-16x50 with the generous 24 MOA per rotation elevation turret and a capped windage turret. In my 28 Nosler X-Bolt I can dial up shots waaaaay out there with this combination. So why did I break from Vortex and go with this Leupold scope for my Browning Hell's Canyon Speed X-Bolt?

I wanted to keep this rifle really lightweight. To do so I needed a short windage cap to make sure that the fat WSM shells cleared the turret on ejection. I also wanted to have the ability to dial up most of my shots and have a capped windage turret.  So here is my solution. I have went with a 4.5-14x40 VX-3i with 30mm tube (had to get 30mm tube to get an adjustable objective) and I had the Leupold custom shop place an Impact 32 MOA reticle in it. 

I really like the setup for keeping my rifle lightweight. If I had a Vortex, Nikon, Burris and many other brands of scopes I would have to put the scope up on a rail or use really high rings. With a scope up so high I would then have to build comb height adjustment into the buttstock.

What I have now is a lightweight long range hunting rifle that shoots Hornady 200 Gr ELD-X bullets sub 1/2 MOA. I have an awesome tree of 32 MOA of holdovers in the reticle, I can dial up 14 MOA on the turret (700+ yards) and I have a sticker on the top of the turret marked with yardages to dial set currently at 6,500 ft of elevation. I can always place another sticker on the cap and mark it for a different elevation and bullet combo.

This rifle as shown with a full magazine and a Clincher sling has a total carry weight of 8 lbs 1 oz.

 

 

My Vortex Viper HS Scope Is Not Tracking Correct — Solved

Vortex Viper HS Scope - Burris Signature Zee Rings

Burris Signature Zee Rings pinching a Vortex rifle scope tube.

I purchased a 2.5-10x44 rifle scope for my CVA Accura V2 muzzleloader this year. I had my favorite scope (4-16x50 Viper HS LR) on the muzzleloader last year but I moved that scope over to my 28 Nosler X-Bolt. After many trips to the range, I had just found that 300 yards was the extended range my muzzleloader, bullets and my abilities to ethically shoot were. With that knowledge, I felt a smaller scope was in order so I went with this 2.5-10x44 HS scope.

My only hunt with a muzzleloader this year was for elk here in Utah. After a number of trips to the range in preparation for the hunt, I kept getting poor accuracy with 300 Gr Aerolite bullets that have always shot really accurately for me in the past. I also noticed that vertically an adjustment of 2.5 inches up would change the point of impact by 5-6 inches at 100 yards. What was up with that? Then on two occasions, I noticed that when I went back to the range my zero had been lost and I would have to adjust the scope again. What the heck?!? None of my other Vortex scopes had ever acted this way.

After a couple phone calls and emails with Vortex. They very nicely let me know that they felt I had over torqued my rings and I was convinced that this couldn't be the problem. I use a Wheeler torque driver and originally torqued the screws to 18 inch pounds. After talking with Vortex I cleaned the loctite off the screws and torqued them to 16 inch pounds and back to the range I went. And once again the scope was changing the point of impact by double the amount I was adjusting. Ha, I was right or was I???

So back I went to Vortex convinced as ever that there had to be a problem with the scope. I had lost all confidence in the scope and wanted another one. It was at this point that I was just about ready to send it in when I had a great conversation with Adam at Vortex. Adam explained how the scope worked and why overly tightened rings could cause issues exactly like I was experiencing. Thank you Adam! Being a DIY kind of guy I wanted to figure out what was going on myself to make extra sure that is was or wasn't the scope before going to the trouble of sending it back to Vortex.

In discussing how the scope operates with Adam I learned that when a scopes rings get torqued too high it creates extra tension that makes any adjustment change the point of impact by more than it is supposed to, that is until over time the scope settles back to where it was "really" adjusted too. As I thought about it this was exactly what was happening to me. Adjusting the scope would move the point of impact twice as far as it was supposed to change. When I would go back to the range another day my zero would be off by half of the distance from what I adjusted the time before. And because it was in the process of settling to the right position my groups would be less than stellar.

So what was causing the extra tension on the scope tube? I figured the first thing that I would do would be to try some different rings. Before I ordered some rings I decided to give the setup a really good inspection. Had I messed up placing the wrong corresponding MOA shims in my Burris Signature Zee rings or something else? So before I pulled the scope off I looked it all over closely and I found what I believed could be the problem.

Becuase this scope was on a slow shooting muzzleloader I wanted to tip the scope down 10 MOA in the front to keep the reticle centered closer to the center of adjustment. So, I set the front rings with a minus 10 MOA on the bottom and a plus 10 MOA plastic insert on the top and on the back ring just two "0" MOA plastic inserts. In this manner, I would tip the front of the scope down for a 10 MOA incline. What I couldn't see was because of the 10 MOA incline the self-aligning plastic insert on the bottom rear ring was sticking out from the ring just ever so slightly and it was putting pressure on the tapered incline of the rear of the scope tube. This happened because I had set the scope as far forward as possible. When mounting the scope originally I was looking down from the top and could see that I had clearance from the ring to the taper of the back of the scope tube but I didn't realize that the insert was sticking out on the bottom and was applying pressure to the taper of the scope tube scope.

So, was this the problem? Yes, it sure was. I mounted the scope an 1/8th of an inch further back giving it plenty of clearance and headed back to the range. The scope is now tracking perfectly and my accuracy has returned. Awesome! Confidence restored and I didn't have to look like a novice shooter to the Vortex team by sending it back to find nothing wrong with it. :)

Vortex, thank you for your patience, help and for making great products!

 

2017 Solo Muzzleloader Elk Hunt — e-Pack Wheeling into the Backcountry

Alps Chaos Tent Elk Camp

CVA Accura V2 with Vortex Viper Scope Elk Hunting

e-Pack Wheel panniers at sunset elk hunting

Ruffed Grouse Elk Hunting

Mule Deer Buck and Doe

Mule Deer Buck

With a very rewarding rifle deer season hunting with my boys and harvesting a nice buck myself, I was excited to go out after elk with my muzzleloader. I was also really excited to use my prototype e-Pack Wheel to get me as far into the backcountry as I needed to hunt. The e-Pack Wheel was amazing on Dallen's muzzleloader deer hunt and on my rifle deer hunt allowing me to carry crazy amounts of gear and water with ease. I made a couple of changes to the design of this prototype for trying on this backcountry hunt and the design is getting really close to having my confidence in the design to take it to market.

I haven’t been having a lot of success the last couple of years with my muzzleloader. I was hopeful that would change this year.

With not having a lot of saved up vacation I was only able to take the last three days of the hunt off to pack into the backcountry. I loaded up the e-Pack Wheel and up the mountain, I cruised. 

I glassed and glassed on the way in but was unable to locate any elk. I did see a number of decent mule deer buck. Hmm…. I might have to put in for the general limited entry late season muzzleloader tag next year. 

There was a little snow when I got about four miles in but not much. I really needed a good amount of snow to really push the elk into this location but you never know what might be in there until you go look. One of the things I did like not seeing was any other hunters. Last year in the general area there were 10 horse hunters the spooked the six-point bull back onto the private ground before I could get into position for a shot.

As I got ready to crawl into my Alps Chaos tent I heard the distinct sound of antlers sparring and lots of elk mewing within a couple hundred yards of my tent. Awesome!

Talk about one dang cold night. I should have grabbed my really extra heavyweight sleeping bag. It’s not like it would have been any harder for the e-Pack Wheel to carrying it up the mountain. I'll be having the e-Pack Wheel carry a much heavier sleeping bag out the next November hunt I do that's for sure.

So at first light the next morning as I was crawling out of my tent I heard the antlers and mewing again. This time even closer to my tent on the opposite side of the ridge. So I set out slowly going over the ridge looking into the distance when all of the sudden I realized they were right in front of me, a 5x6 and 5x5 bull elk. The 5x5 was quartering away from me and the 5x6 was broadside behind a little scrub brush. I have never taken a 6 point so I opted to wait out the 5x6 to offer a better shot. As the bull walked forward around the brush all of the sudden he stopped and stared right at me. Well, the gig was up so I centered the crosshairs on the front edge of his shoulder and sent a 300 Gr Aerolite his way.

As the smoke cleared both bulls ran off around the ridge and out of sight. I calmly reloaded my muzzleloader and started following the path the 5x6 had taken. And I followed and I followed but there was no elk to be found. Nor was there even a drop of blood. What the heck just happened? It was a 45 yard shot The angle wasn’t perfect but I was shooting a 300-grain bullet. Well, long story short I hiked all over looking for him that day with no sign at all. The thought of hitting a bull and it getting away just made me sick.

To try and find closer I hiked all the way back in there a week later and hiked all over the place looking for birds and still nothing to be found.

So what happened? I would like to hope that I missed but that just likely isn't the case. Here’s what I think happened and what I am going to do about it for the future. Using 120 Grains of loose FFG Triple Seven powder I believe the 300 Gr Aerolite bullet just blew up in his shoulder. The 300 Gr Aerolite bullets shoot so very accurate in both Dallen’s and my CVA muzzleloaders but I’m finding out that although they are 300 Grains they come apart rather easily at high velocities. 

When I went back and reviewed what happened with the young mule deer that Dallen shot this year with his muzzleloader at 80 yards I found that the bullet made it to the opposite side of the deer but it didn’t exit and it was just a pile of small lead fragments. My elk was much closer and I was shooting into the front edge of the shoulder of a large bull elk. I think the bullet didn’t penetrate and just exploded on the shoulder. I can only pray that he survived and maybe waiting for me next year.

Looks like I better find a tougher bullet for elk hunting in the future. I have a number of new bullets to try including Triple Shocks, 338 Platinum and 348 Copper bullets.

I did see a few bucks during this hunt. I'll include a few photos in this blog entry of some bucks I saw while out on this hunt.

This hunt really upset me, so much so that I have sat on publishing this article for many months now. I don't like having animals get away. This was also a great opportunity to test my prototype e-Pack Wheel out by packing out a nice sized bull elk. And to top it off this would have been my very first six-point bull elk. I'll be better prepared with a better bullet next time. Maybe next year I'll find a six point.

e-Pack Wheel loaded with elk camp headed up the mountain

e-Pack Wheel loaded with elk camp

Subcategories

  • Big Game Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting mule deer, elk and whitetail deer.  You'll find hunts with 243 WSSM and 270 WSM rifles to muzzleloader and archery hunts.

  • General Hunting and Shooting

    Journal entries covering general information related to hunting and shooting. Many of these journal entries are from shooting on the rifle or archery range. There are also entries related to my experiences with the 243 WSSM, rifles, optics and other equipment and products I use.

  • Varmint Hunting

    Journal entries from hunting coyotes, rock chucks, prairie dogs and the like with 243 WSSM and 223 Rem. rifles.

  • Backpacking and Camping

    Backpacking, Pack Wheel camping and other camping adventures.

Additional information