Dallen's 2015 Rifle Elk Hunt

rain on opening day of elk hunt

Hanging out under our rain fly on opening morning.

fog lifting through pines

The clouds starting to clear out on opening morning.

Browning Powerhouse ground blind

KB and Dallen hanging out by the ground blind.

Elk rubs

KB and Dallen finding some elk rubs.

Bull elk in the distance

We watched this bull way off in the distance on opening day.

Bull elk on trail camera

Oh no! The trail cameras revealed that the bull we were calling to came in to where Dallen could have easily shot him but we left to soon to try another spot. No!!!

Montero stuck

I managed to slide the Montero off the trail and got it stuck real good.

Montero stuck

Another angle of the stuck Montero.

Cow elk in distance

A couple of cows we tried to catch up with.

A lady bug invasion inside of the ground blind

A lady bug invasion inside of the ground blind.

With the muzzleloader deer season coming to a close with me getting skunked and Dallen taking a nice buck, it was now time for Dallen to hunt elk with a rifle.

With a bull taking a 150 grain Accubond Long Range bullet last year by Dallen and getting away I wanted Dallen to use a different bullet this year. I was going to try a 150 Gr SST but didn't have time to work up a load in my 270 WSM X-Bolt. I also thought about trying the 150 Berger VLD that I love but also didn't have time to test it in my X-Bolt.

So with the lack of time to test bullets and work up loads I had Dallen carry my 300 Win Mag Model 1885 rifle with a 208 Gr A-Max load. This 208 A-Max load has been shooting great out to 1,000 yards with great accuracy.

I checked my trail cameras the day before the opener for what the elk activity looked like for the past month. Nil, Nil, Nil... not a single elk on any of my eight trail cameras. The elk had been in the area quite a bit around the last week in August but after the first couple days of September they completely dissapperared. Darn it.

The night before the opener Dallen, KB and I spent the night in a tent on the mountain. And it rained lightly off and on all night long.

Before light opening morning we set out hiking in the rain to one of my favorite places to watch from. Once we got there we setup a military poncho as a rain fly over top of us. As the fog and storm cleared we didn't see any elk at this location.

For the evening we hauled up my Browning Powerhouse ground blind to the location where Dallen shot Charlie One Horn in 2013. I wanted to have the ground blind there for us to get into whenever it rained and we were up there. I planned of just keeping it setup for a month so that during my muzzleloader elk hunt I would also be able to use it if I was hunting that area.

Not long after we got to this area we spotted a good looking bull feeding two canyons away from us. Whenever I would bugle this bull would lift up his head and look our way but other than that he appeared to pay us no mind and just continued to feed. This bull was way out there and across a steep and nasty thick canyon and after a while the bull feed out of sight.

We continued to call every 10 minutes or so to try and attract a bull into the canyon we were watching but nothing responded or showed up.

With a half hour of shooting light left we quickly moved to another spot. At this other location we spotted a cow elk briefly as it moved through a lane and into the thick maples and oak brush. We setup waiting for her or any other elk to move back out into the lane where we could get a shot but nothing ever did.

With the rain off and on during the day and the night before the roads were a greasy messy. I thought of spending the night and driving out in the morning but we wanted to get back so we could attend church first thing in the morning.

We made our way down the mountain in my old Montero and were in the process of trying to crawl over some large rocks while on a side incline the back of the montero slid off a bank and the front wheel dropped into a hole right behind a large rock. We were on a 23 degree incline from one side of the Montero to the other. Oops! We were stuck for the night.

At somewhere around 11pm we pulled our a tarp and some sleeping bags and slept on the ground next to the Montero. The next morning we were able to get chains on three of the wheels thanks to a handy man jack. We also dug out under the Montero clearing the rear axle and we dug a slot in front of both rear wheels and place a flat rock in front of both of them. Once we had this done the Montero crawled right out without any problem.

KB and Dallen will remember the night we got stuck well. I remained calm and discussed with them that everything would be just fine. We were prepared and would be able to get out in the morning. KB reminded me of one of his hunter's safety videos where a guy panics and takes off all his close and gets hypothermia. That's right KB, we remain calm and always try to be prepared to spend a night if we have to.

Dallen was out of school on Thursday and Friday so we headed back up Wednesday evening. Thursday we hiked a long ways and hunted the whole day. We found a couple cow elk but were unable to close the distance and find them again.

Friday we hunted back around the area I have my trail cameras out. At mid day we checked the trail cameras. Thanks to the USB cable and SD card reader we were able to skim through some of the photos and video while we were out hunting on my Samsung phone. To our horror and surprise we learned from the cameras that had we have stayed put on the opening Saturday a six point bull had came in with just enough light to get him. Dallen could have easily shot the bull from where we were setup at 185 yards away from one of the cameras. NO! We're pretty sure it was the bull we had been trying to bring in that was across two canyons from us.

Having this bull come this far really taught us a lesson to stay put if you are in a good spot and the bull you see has disappeared.

After the bull showed up it spent from 7:00pm to 2:00am going up and down this small draw passing four of my trail cameras repeatedly in the dark. Probably looking for those other elk he could hear...

Saturday we decided to go into bow hunting mode. We knew where some elk had been hanging around and there was plenty of sign in the area but it was really thick with maples, oak brush and quaking aspens. So Saturday we slipped into this area and snuck around really quietly. At midday we took a nap and that afternoon started sneaking around again.

In one spot we sat down on a side of a hill in the maples watching an opening below us as I cow called. It wasn't long and Dallen swung the rifle around to a cow elk that had come in right to 10 yards right behind us. All Dallen could see was it's face before it took off into the thick trees. That was pretty cool as Dallen had never seen an elk up that close before.

We continued to sneak around and call from time to time that evening. We made one last setup on the edge of a small meadow and I sounded like four different cows and a bull making short mini bugles. That did the trick and a cow elk came sneaking around the corner of the meadow 75 yards from us. I told Dallen to wait to see if a bull was following but it didn't take long for the cow to stop and suspect something was wrong so Dallen placed a 208 Gr A-Max into her lungs. She started to run off spun and took a second round from Dallen and she fell. She was dead on the first shot but we wanted to make sure.

I didn't have a Pack Wheel with me so I left Dallen with the elk and I hiked back out and returned with one. We didn't get started boning out the elk until almost 11pm. I wasn't feeling the greatest so it took us until almost 4am before we had the elk all boned out. Dallen actually did a lot of the boning this time and did a great job. Being so late we decided to just sleep under a tree for a couple hours and hike out in the daylight.

The next morning we experimented with making a rope yoke for the Pack Wheel by tying a rope from the bottom corners of the meat panniers. This worked totally amazing for us to work together to haul the elk up and out of a canyon on mostly game trails. We found that it worked best if the guy pulling just pulled using one arm. In this fashion the puller's arm would take up the slack back and worth without the rope falling back into the wheel. The system worked great and neither operator had to work very hard to move the Pack Wheel up and out of the canyon.

Both Dallen and I didn't draw regular cow elk tags this year but we were able to purchase $30 cow tags that we could use in the area we were hunting during any big game hunt. I was glad that we did because we have been out of elk meat for many months.

Even though it wasn't a bull we were both tickled to get some more elk meat back in the freezer.

We did get out one more time but couldn't find any elk.

Nice work Dallen. Great memories!

So now I have just one big game hunt left, my muzzleloader elk hunt.



Dallen 2015 cow elk

Dallen with his 2015 cow elk.

Pack Wheel pulling

With some rope tied to the bottom of the meat panniers on our Pack Wheel we were able to easily work together hauling the cow elk meat up and out of the canyon on game trails. With one of us pushing and steering the Pack Wheel and the other pulling with just one arm to their side it made the trip uphill quite easy.

Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag with Vortex Viper PST scope

My Model 1885 in 300 Win Mag with Vortex Viper PST scope.

Dallen standing for a pose

Dallen posing wanting me to take his picture.

Dallen hauling out his cow elk on a Pack Wheel

Dallen hauling out his boned out cow elk meat on a 29er Pack Wheel game cart.

Back to the Montero

Back to the Montero.

Additional information