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

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

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

Subcategories

Additional information