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

Solo Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting with an e-Pack Wheel

DIY Hunter Solo Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting - The DIY Hunter Electric Pack Wheel

With Landen notching his deer tag it was time for me to get a little deeper into the backcountry to try and find a shooter buck for myself.

Tuesday morning rolled around and I was headed straight up 4,000 vertical feet with my electric powered Pack Wheel. I have been tweaking a new electric system on the Pack Wheel this year and had a different throttle and bar ends on the Pack Wheel to try out for this trip up the mountain. This e-Pack Wheel worked amazingly. I had somewhere around 100 pounds (I didn't weigh the load but I had an 8.5 lb mattress, 3 man tent, water for 4 days, 3-pound lithium camp battery, laptop computer etc...) loaded on the e-Pack Wheel and it climbed right up a very steep trail climbing 4,000 vertical feet in less than two miles. And I didn’t have to carry, pull or push any of that weight, the high torque motorized system was amazing at climbing right up the mountain. The bar ends and modified twist throttle really made the ergonomics of this climbing machine very nice.

After making it to the top of the mountain the 418 Watt-Hour 36v battery was still showing somewhere in the 25% of power was left. Just amazing. The next time I go into this area I will get a second battery unless I can figure out how to recharge a 36v battery with a solar panel. A second battery might be best anyway for quick extra power. However, from my muzzleloader deer hunting trip with Dallen I used the battery four days and went probably a combined 12 miles and still showed within the 50% level of battery after the hunt.

That evening I didn’t see any deer but the next morning I was finding plenty just nothing of any age past two. Midday I moved to watch another canyon but there wasn’t anything in it that I could find so for the evening I headed back to the area I watched the bunch of bucks that morning. Sure enough, I was finding lots of small bucks again but nothing of any size darn. Given where I was hunting and that two other guys were in the area as well when I got back to camp that night I loaded up the Pack Wheel and down the mountain, I went. I wanted to see what might have moved into the area Landen shot his buck a few days earlier.

Back at home I recharged the battery and the next morning I was heading into the area Landen and Dallen killed their bucks this year. With my 28 Nosler, I felt really confident with my longer shots and this property has some really wide open canyons where I could glass for long distances.

A couple of miles in I had in mind of a couple of good points where I wanted to set up and watch for the evening hunt. If it looked promising I would set up the tent and hunt the area in the morning as well, if not I would move further in and camp for the evening.

On the way in I watched a good number of does and one small buck out moving around in mid-day. By afternoon I had set up the spotting scope on a good vantage point to glass from, pulled out the binoculars and watched the show.

I found a number of does and then way down and across the canyon, I spotted a buck moving up to a small ridgeline. It was the first 4 point I had seen all year. His body looked pretty mature but not the size of his antlers. Hmm... I hadn’t seen anything of any size this year and I also hadn’t killed a buck since 2011 and I kind of wanted to break in the new rifle. 

I ranged the buck and he was within my zone of confidence (see shooting at 28 Nosler at Spirit Ridge). I could try to get closer but it would probably take me over an hour to drop to the bottom of the canyon then climb up the other side to get to where I would need to be to see him. Well to do that I would have to hope that the horse hunters that were riding a trail headed in his direction didn’t continue on that trail because even though they were much farther away. There would be no way that I could cross the canyon and be in position before the horse hunters passed within a couple hundred yards of this buck. Hmm... I decided to take the shot.

Oh, how I love my 28 Nosler X-Bolt. Down he went like a ton of bricks. As I was headed over to get him the horses ended up riding within 200 yards of him and easily beat me there by a half hour. I was glad I took the long shot and really glad I moved to a different mountain. 

The buck was missing one eye from what looks to be pink eye. I hate it when deer get that in their eyes, poor things. He didn’t have very big of antlers but he had one heck of a cool roman nose and should make for a great European skull mount.

After my quick photo shoot as the sun dropped behind the mountains, I was cutting away, getting the meat all boned out and into the Pack Wheel panniers ready for the trip off the mountain.

I was hoping to get some video of me hauling both the deer and all of my gear off the mountain on my e-Pack Wheel but given I was hunting solo I had no way to illuminate myself in the dark with a flashlight and set up a camera to film at the same time. I debated spending the night and hiking out in the morning just so I could get some footage but decided to just pack out in the dark and take a few night photos of the load.

The trip off the mountain was nice. Even with all the hiking, I had done in the last couple days the pack out with all of my gear and a boned out mule deer was a dream. This is the kind of stuff that fuels me to continue to develop the Pack Wheel that I formally started working on over eleven years ago. I may never make a dime off selling them (they are really expensive to build on a handcrafted level that I do and make a profit) but at least I continue to help myself and others extend the distance and years we are able to continue to hunt solo in the backcountry.

It was nice to get a buck on the ground after a long dry spell going back to 2011 when I used an aluminum prototype Pack Wheel to pack a buck off the mountain. And the highlight of my hunt mule deer hunt this year was getting out with my two youngest boys and watching Landen get his buck

Next up my muzzleloader elk hunt.

2017 Mule Deer Solo Backcountry Mule Deer - Electric Pack Wheel

Solo Backcountry Mule Deer  Pack Out - Electric Pack Wheel

Landen's Second Buck — 2017 Rifle Deer Hunting in Northern Utah

Backcountry Mule Deer Hunting - Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

Coming off a rifle elk hunt for my boys where we didn't see any elk, we were hoping to have some success chasing the mule deer with rifles.

This year I actually had a rifle deer tag and was excited to get out and hunt with Landen and KB. Unfortunately for KB is still eleven for a couple more months so he couldn’t hunt deer but he does have a cow elk tag that coming up when he turns twelve in December.

Landen, KB and I were thinking of packing in the night before the opener but it was raining and we didn’t care to be hiking in the rain, mud and in the dark so we got up extra early the morning of the opener to hike in.

We were going to be hunting some great public ground but unfortunately some very heavily hunted public ground. I wanted to hunt the same area Dallen took his muzzleloader buck earlier this fall. Knowing where the deer were tending to hang around and the sea of orange that would be in the area I picked out a couple draws I wanted to focus on that were away from where I felt the bulk of orange was going to be located.

It was around 2 1/2 miles in and my young boys did great hiking in really early in the dark to get to where I wanted to get to just at shooting light. I let them set the pace and they pushed it pretty hard knowing how many vehicles were already packed in the parking lot and they didn’t want to get beat to the deer. I had to slow them down a bit so we didn’t puke as they were going a little too fast for the shape we were all in. LOL. They were excited and it was fun.

I wheeled a Rogue 36 Pack Wheel with us everywhere we went. The Rogue 36 Pack Wheel has become my favorite Pack Wheel size to use as it rolls so nice. When we were on the trail I placed my day back on it but once we got off-trail and in hunting mode, I put the pack on my back and wheeled it around empty as we hunted.

Right at first light, we were in the right spot to see deer but the ten or so deer in the draw we were watching were all does. We sat there for a while then decided to move around to the next ridgeline to glass from. As we got near the ridgeline there was a lot of shooting in the next draw we were about to look over into. As we looked over into the draw the shooting had stopped and we could see a couple hunters across the draw. They made some hand signals and when I finally looked through the binos and figured out where they were pointing we bailed back over the ridge and looked down the next draw. Sure enough, there were two bucks moving down in the draw.

Landen dropped to the ground and got all set up on shooting sticks all by himself as I pulled out the rangefinder and ranges 238 yards. Perfect, on the 270 WSM X-Bolt Landen was hunting with I keep the Vortex HS LR scope dialed up one MOA so that the max point blank range on a 7-inch target is out to around 300 yards with the 150 SST hand loads I have for this rifle.

In the process of getting out my rangefinder the larger of the two bucks bailed into the bottom of the draw and out of sight. Landen quickly got set up and I mean quickly. I was proud of how composed and quick he set up on his own. Anyhow, within seconds I had the buck ranged and told him to shot knowing we had very little time before it followed the other buck out of sight. Landen quickly fired and we were greeted with a whopping sound. Nice! The buck ran about a 100 yards and tipped over. Way to go Landen!

Landen had two goals for the buck he wanted this year. One was to be larger than Dallen’s buck and the second was that it was larger than the buck he got he got the year before. He accomplished both with a nice two-year-old 2x3 buck. We were all so excited.

Shortly after we shot the buck Ryan the other hunter that had been hand signaling us met up with us and we talked for a bit. I might have gone into sales mode explaining the Pack Wheel I was wheeling around to him. LOL. But thank you, Ryan, for pointing out where the bucks were at.

After some photos and of course an Instagram post by proud dad, we worked on boning out the deer and loading it up on the Pack Wheel.

On the trip out I wheeled the Pack Wheel up some of the steep off-trail terrain and the boys took turns wheeling out the deer the rest of the way on the trail for an ultra-easy 2 plus mile pack out back to the Montero.

It was cute to see Landen so proud to wheel his deer back into the packed parking lot with other hunters admiring his buck. Another fun proud dad moment for the books.

Now that Landen had his deer tag filled it was time for me to get a little deeper into the backcountry to try and find a shooter for myself.

Mule Deer Pack Out Backcountry Hunting - Rogue 36 Pack Wheel

Landen and Dallen's 2017 Rifle Elk Hunt

 

It's #trailcamtuesday!

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Right on the heels of helping Dallen with his muzzleloader mule deer hunt and it’s the rifle elk hunt. Landen and Dallen had tags this year but we also didn’t have a lot of time to go so we had to hunt fairly close to home.

The night before the opener KB, Landen and I were cooking Mountain House Chicken and Dumpling in the tent. Unfortunately, Big D had to work the morning of the opener. The morning of the opener we starting out hiking in the dark headed for our favorite place to hunt. 

All that morning it was pretty dead. In fact, I think we only heard one shot on the mountain that could have been elk hunters. Around midday, we decided to check the trail cameras I have in the area. The cameras showed that the last elk a few days before the opener and only a couple of cows. 

That afternoon Dallen came up to hunt with us but we still were unable to find any elk. The boys were a little sad.

So back to work and school. Except Dallen had some time off and went up the mountain by himself. He did find some cow elk on the neighboring CWMU but a couple days of hunting and he was pretty discouraged at not finding any elk.

The following Saturday given our lack of seeing anything the boys weren’t excited to spend a Saturday hiking around not seeing anything again so we went to their comp basketball games instead. This was a mistake as I later found out thanks to my trail cameras that a six-point bull was in our hunting area and bugling on that very Saturday at 10:30 am. Ahh!!!!

We did get out one more time but it proved to just be more exercise and no elk. Darn it. We talked about doing a deep backcountry elk hunt next year in the Uinta mountains. We’ll have to see if we can fit that in next year.

Next up is Landen and my Utah rifle deer hunt.

Dallen's 2017 Muzzleloader Mule Deer Hunt

Motorized Pack Wheel and Rogue 36 Pack Wheel Mule Deer Hunting

We packed another couple miles up the mountain this day with the Rogue 36 and Motorized Pack Wheel. We were hopeful to find some deer in some of these higher canyons.

 

While we haven't been posting about it lately, we have been very busy testing the motorized Pack Wheel on our family's hunts this fall. This video is from September going in five miles with enough water/Powerade for two people to last 5 days. @diyhntr has tweaked the design from what is seen here but the basic design is the same. And we can report that this system is absolutely amazing! With the ultra-high torque this system has it will climb like no other. You will have to hike yourself up the mountain but not the gear on the Pack Wheel. You only need to steer and operate the throttle as the motor will do all the work. Watch for more info to come. Available to purchase in January 2018. #goinheavy #motorizedpackwheel #climbingmachine #packwheel #hunting #whatgetsyououtdoors #hiking #outdoorlife #backcountryhunting #backpacking

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The end of July I broke my scaphoid bone in my right wrist while helping the scouts (Landen and KB) on their 50 mile bike ride for their biking merit badge. For a silly little bone, I had no idea how painful and extremely long it takes for this bone to heal. And yes, I finished the remaining 15 miles of the ride one armed. I felt I earned the merit badge.

Given my wrist was broke I was glad that I drew a rifle deer tag and I picked up a muzzleloader elk tag. These two hunts are Utah's latest big game hunts in the fall giving my wrist time to heal the most before my hunts.

Dallen drew a muzzleloader deer tag and wanted to pack in for a few days to hunt the area he rifle hunted last year. We loaded up the Pack Wheels with a bunch of Power Aid, water to last for a week and headed into the backcountry.

As it worked out a couple days before the hunt was my 8th week since I broke my wrist and the doctor removed the cast and upgraded me to a wrist brace just in time for the hunt making it so I could operate the Pack Wheel fairly well.

Dallen was using a Rogue 36” Pack Wheel and I was testing the motorized Pack Wheel I had been working on before my bike wreck. After this hunting trip, I can say the huge 36” wheeled Rogue is my favorite non-motorized Pack Wheel. It rolls really well uphill and over obstacles. However, when it comes to sheer climbing the motorized Pack Wheel is just amazing. With use, I have learned to change a few things with the way I operate the Pack Wheel. For instance, this summer before I broke my wrist I was operating the Pack Wheel similar to how I operate a non-motorized version. What I found is that having the weight rocked back to bump over obstacles just increased the load in my arms from the torque of the motor. To get all of the weight and torque of the motor to carry the load I learned to tip the Pack Wheel forward with your arms raised up in the air similar to riding a tall handled chopper motorbike. I would tip the Pack Wheel forward to the point that it almost wants to tip over forward and then use the variable speed throttle to pull the Pack Wheel forward. It works awesome. You don’t have to carry any of the weight, just balance, steer and operate the throttle. I have geared the system to have very high torque and slow walking speed travel. It with crawl barely even moving up to around three miles per hour and will not bog down even with the heaviest of loads and steepest of trails. It's just amazing.

To operate the Pack Wheel in the uphill climbing position I have since added bar ends and a different throttle than what I used on this particular hunt these changes have made the uphill travel so very comfortable.

Before this hunt, I checked and made sure I had permission to use the Motorized Pack Wheel on this public land. Hunting e-bikes are getting more and more popular and are in kind of a grey area for motorized vehicle restrictions. Are e-bikes a motorized vehicle, as they are definitely a vehicle with a motor? The Motorized Pack Wheel is quiet and does not carry the operator (aka not a vehicle) giving the Pack Wheel potentially a greater number of areas than an e-bike where it can be used without restrictions.

Another thing to note is that on this trip I used the motor to climb some pretty good elevation over four days of use and the battery still showed half power remaining at the end of the trip.

The night before the opener we headed in going a mile or more past where Dallen shot his buck “First Try” last year. We setup the tent in the dark and enjoyed a chicken and dumplings Mountain House meal.

The next morning we were in a great position to view a lot of country and glass and glass we did but we couldn’t turn up a deer one. Not good. Come afternoon we caught a glimpse of a single doe and that was it. So we hiked back to camp and moved another mile and a half or so up the mountain that afternoon. Again that evening watching other areas we didn’t find a single deer.

The next morning as we headed out we quickly spotted a couple 18 inch wide bucks moving out down a canyon. We swung around trying to get a better look and they made it past us into the heavy oak brush. Dallen was able to pick them up again later that morning and we confirmed that it was a 2 and 3 point in the 18 inch wide variety. Not what Dallen was after for now.

We spent the rest of the day hiking and glassing only turning up a few does in the distance.

The following morning we took off early and hiked into the very back of the property and down into some beautiful canyons only to find a single doe. Most likely one that we had found the day before. Chalk up another four miles of hiking on the feet. Thank goodness I found that trail running shoes make for the best hunting shoes as long as the weather is good so my feet did just fine carrying my heavy butt around the mountain.

That evening we met up with some friends on horseback and tried to locate the two bucks from the day before for their youth hunter but we couldn’t find the bucks again. Darn it.

That night we broke camp again and moved further to the north in the dark to hunt some different canyons the next day.

This move proved good. The next morning we found some deer. We ended up finding four small bucks and a number of does. We tried to outsmart a really tall narrow three point but somehow he gave us the slip. I thought we had a brilliant plan to trick the buck but the buck vanished. Who got tricked? LOL

That afternoon we packed up camp and started wheeling off the mountain stopping to glass along the way. We found a small two point and a spike. Dallen was ready to shoot the two point and I think I talked him out of it. So back to work we both had to go for a few days.

After work one night Dallen headed up alone to look for deer. Just before dark, I got a call that he had one down. I loaded up a Rogue 36 Pack Wheel and a minimal amount of gear and headed up the mountain to help him. He was about two and a half miles in and by the time I found him he had completely boned out one side of his buck. Incidentally, it turned out to be the same two point he passed on when he was with me the week before. Too funny.

We flipped the deer over and was able to take some photos without you knowing the other side of the deer was a skeleton.

Even though this was Dallen’s smallest buck he has ever shot I was most proud of him going out and doing it by himself. Nice job hunting solo Dallen. The pack out on the Rogue 36 Pack Wheel was an absolute breeze. 

The next day my two youngest boys wanted to go look for deer. Landen had a rifle tag and in Utah a youth can use his rifle tag for all of the seasons, so up the mountain we went. We found a great bull elk with a bunch of cows across on the private side of the fence and we also found some good bucks on the wrong side of the fence. We did find three small bucks that were the size of Dallen’s but Landen wanted to shoot something bigger than Dallen’s. Too funny.

Landen knew he still had the rifle hunt in about a month so we weren’t too worried about passing on the little bucks.

More great memories with my boys. 

So next up is the rifle elk season with Landen and Dallen both having tags. Blog entry coming soon.

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