2013 Archery Elk Hunting — First Week Of The Hunt

Cow and calf elk on Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

Two cows, two calves and a spike elk pass my ambush location one night when I wasn't there.


My ambush site for elk

Sitting in my ambush spot waiting for elk to pass by at 13 yards.


Leupold RX-100i Range Finder bow hunting

A Leupold RX-1000i range finder. I like this little range finder with a Bow mode and it fits perfectly on my Browning Bino Hub.


Browning Recon Force trail camera and trail camera mount wrapped around a cluster of small trees.

The only trees near this muddy spring was a cluster of really small ones. I was able to use the Browning trail camera mounting bracket and cinch it around several of these small trees and made a pretty darn solid location for the camera to watch the spring.


With the heat, lack of vacation time and the lack of elk that I have seen on the trail cameras the past couple of weeks, I decided it best to save my vacation to hunt when the elk are talking more. I only went out elk hunting on the opener and the following Friday and Saturday.

Friday and Saturday I decided to sit in an ambush site I had picked out while scouting. The 5x6 with shed velvet walked right past this ambush the day before opening day. The site provides a great place for me to shoot an elk as it walks past at 13 yards. Unfortunately nothing passed my ambush Friday night and Saturday morning while I sat for many hours each time.

Saturday around noon I started rounding up all the SDHC cards from all the cameras to see what activity had taken place the first week of the hunt. From reviewing the videos on the trail cameras there still wasn't much activity however there was a cow and calf the show up from time to time on the cameras. In fact Friday evening while I was sitting in my ambush location the cow and calf were captured on camera about 200 yards to the south of me. I would shoot a cow if she didn't have a calf with her.

After reviewing the trail camera video footage on the mountain on my Galaxy S3 phone I decided to move one of the cameras to watch a spring closer to the center of most of the elk activity. (read how I review the cameras photos and video with my S3 phone.)

I just love having the cameras to help me know what is and isn't in the area. Without the cameras watching the area I would be very discouraged with three days of hunting and not seeing or hearing a single elk. Now I would admit there aren't the elk in this area right now like there were in mid July. It's was crawling with elk in July and they all but vanished about the last week of July. I would go elsewhere but the elk in this area have moved into the local giant CWMU and unfortunately that's a no fly zone for average income hunters like myself. Anyways, I really enjoy the extra challenge and the trail cameras are giving me the faith that it will come together either with my archery tag or with Dallen's late September youth elk tag.


2013 Archery Elk Hunting Opening Day — Checking My Trail Cameras

5x6 Bull Elk on Browning Recon Force Trail Camera

This 5x6 bull walked by the camera the day before the opener with his velvet shed. Yes! The elk are still here and I highly dislike velvet.


Huge Wold Spider

I found this huge wolf spider the night before the archery opener. This critter is about the size of the palm of my hand.


Checking the Browning Trail Cameras

This camera captured the nice 3x4 mule deer buck I had the previous time out.


Lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.

It's nice to see lots of Ruff Grouse on the mountain this year.


Opening day of the archery elk season is finally here. After reviewing the patterns of where the elk had been all summer, thanks to my Browning Trail cameras, I was hopeful to get into some on opening day. Opening day also marked two weeks out from the last time checking my trail cameras so I pulled SDHC cards come mid-day.

The night before the opener found me driving up the mountain in my old Montero. I spent the night across the two front seats of the Montero and awoke early to hiking up into the area I have watched the highest concentration of elk over the summer.

After spending all morning in the baking heat not finding any elk or sign of them to speak of I started hiking to all of my trail cameras to pull the SDHC cards and see what activity was in the area over the past two weeks. As I suspected the elk had all but vanished. Where I had been getting daily elk activity on about three of the cameras there were only a couple of elk passing by in the past two weeks.

The five or more spike elk and the two 4&5 point bulls that had been in the area were not on a single camera. They were all gone. Although the cows and younger bulls had vanished the two largest bulls we had on camera made a couple passes by the cameras. Yes!

The bull that both Dallen and I want to shoot passed by one of my trail cameras the day before the opener with it's velvet already shed. This gave me needed encouragement to get back in there. If I didn't have the trail cameras to show me a little of what is going on in the area I might have completely given up on the area and hunted somewhere else. Thankfully the cameras work great at capturing the activity of the elk.

I'll be back soon.



Young Rubber Boa Snake

Resting in some cliffs while archery elk hunting

These snakes are so cool. This a a very young Rubber Boa. The third Rubber Boa I have found on this mountain while hunting over the years.


Taking a break in some cliffs after hunting the opening morning.


Real Tree Max-1 in black and white

Getting ready to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras

The Real Tree Max-1 looks really good in black and white. Walking up to check one of my Recon Force trail cameras.


A Black Bear on Video! Mounting Trail Cameras to Get The Best View.

Black Bear on a Range Ops Trail Camera

One frame from the video of the Black Bear on the Range Ops trail camera.


Browning Recon Force Trail Camera Canted on Tree

Canting the trail camera to match the incline of the trail it is recording gets the animal better framed in the images and video.

The Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount makes it easy to point the camera the way you need it.

I placed this new camera out today on a trail leading up into the pines.


Red Squirrel Eating Pine Nuts

This Red Squirrel munched on pine nuts next to me while checking the trail cameras. They can rip through a pine cone in blazing speed.


Browning AA Trail Camera Batteries

The Browning AA trail camera batteries look really cool. I'm giving them a try for the first time. (Dec. 2013: These are good batteries and you can view favorite batteries for my trail cameras.)


I got the black bear on video! I have twice had a black bear get captured at night with IR black and white images in weeks past. Two weeks ago I even ran into a bear at 30 yards when I was on my way in checking my cameras. It was a cool and exciting experience. Especially cool because bears are unheard of in this area.

After using the trail cameras for about a month I was sold on the video that the browning trail cameras capture. With every encounter you get you capture so much more with the video than you do with the images. I had hopes that I had captured the bear on one of the cameras two weeks ago but didn't. After setting all my cameras to capture video I had yet to get the bear on the cameras until now.

After reviewing the footage of the black bear it would appear that he smells something he doesn't like. As the bear comes into frame he starts to get more and more nervous, then he eventually turns around (during the 5 second delay between captures) then bolts away running directly away from the camera. He smelled something he didn't like. I just don't see how it could have been the camera. Who knows???

As I spend more and more time working with the trail cameras I have found that I like to rotate the camera to be on the same plain as the trail that the camera is watching. Often my cameras are setup watching a trail that is on an incline. If I set the camera level watching a inclined trail, animals are not in full frame as they cross through the viewing area. On one side I get chopped off legs and on the other side, chopped off antlers. Rotating the camera to be on the same angle as the trail gives me video and images with the animal fully framed all the way across the viewing area.

When the trail cameras are canted on the tree they sure look like they are mounted incorrectly but they capture great footage with the animals fully framed in the viewing area. Unless I mentioned that the image is canted you would never know that the video or image has been canted to match the incline.

With the Browning trail camera tree mounts I have found a couple of different ways that I can mount them on the tree. 1. You can do the typical two straps around the tree. 2. There are two holes in the mounting plate where two quarter inch lag bolts can be used to secure it to the tree. I recommend using the sharp grabbing screw of a tree stand foot peg to bore a pilot hole to use to get the lag bolts to screw into the tree. The lag bolts do not have the sharpest point and are a little difficult to get to start into the tree unless you have a pilot hole to get them started. 3. I have also found using the mounts great for use on small diameter trees by placing the mount sideways across the tree.

I picked up a couple more Recon Force Browning trail cams this week and set them out while checking the others cameras. One new camera I placed on a trail on the edge of heavy dark pines. I would figure that the elk would use this area to transition into the cool bedding areas of the pines. It didn't see any elk sign in the area where I set the camera at. Plenty of deer tracks and some cattle. We'll see in two weeks what is using the trail.

I set the second new Recon force trail camera back in the original location I had a camera along a well used trail in the heavy maple trees. The new location I moved the camera too two weeks ago produced beautiful video of elk and mule deer in the early morning light although I didn't get a lot of elk and deer passing by it. In fact for that matter I got the least number of critters on camera since I started putting them out this summer. I'm not sure what might be changing their habits. Heat, human traffic on the adjacent property, bears???

In two weeks I'll be back out checking the cameras and I will be carrying my bow. :) Hopefully a good bull is hanging around.

Mule Deer Buck Skull

Browning Trail Camera Mount with Lag Bolts

I found this partial piece of a mule deer skull. This was a pretty good buck that died with it's antlers. Lion kill, wounded by a hunter? The highly zigzagging sutures in the skull show this was an older buck.


Here's the Browning Trail Camera Tree Mount securely mounted using 1/4 x 2" lag bolts.


Spike Elk with Recon Force Trail Camera

Cow and calf elk on Recon Force trail camera

Here's a spike elk walking past one of my a Recon Force trail cameras.

This location makes for making beautiful photos in the early morning light.

Here's a cow and calf elk walking past the trail cam.

Mule Deer Buck on Recon Force Trail Camera

Bull Elk on Recon Force trail camera

The best mule deer buck that we have had on the trail cameras. Looks like a big 3x4 with eye guards. This bull elk isn't to shabby. He has really small g5 points budding. If they are long enough or grow more he'll be a 6x6. This might be the same bull  I got on video the last time I checked the camera.



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