so my son (14) and I are going to stumble hopefully into the woods again this elk season (first rifle). I grew up in South Africa, where all the hunting is private and very expensive, so we have no useful experience of big game hunting.
We have tried twice before, documented here
Let me first say a fervent 'thank you' to exbiologist. I've learned more from his posts here than any dozen of the books I've read. We will probably return hungry and very-well-hunted again, but at least have a few more things to try this time.
We're going to make a spike camp in unit 28. I had not expected to draw this unit for him, so most scouting has been via Google Earth and the forums. The main reason for the spike camp is I don't have a 4wd, the minivan can't quite hack it on the kind of roads that lead near elk. Also I just plain like camping in the woods: my son would prefer something with a better chance of shooting action, but when he takes me hunting in a few years, he can make the plan.. I'm in fair shape from running, he's a competitive swimmer, so we should be OK in the unlikely event that we need to pack out a beast.
One hike in bow-hunting season found several bow-hunters, more water and general wetness than I'd expected, but no fresh sign either bottom (S Fork creek, to 5 miles from trailhead) or top (per report of some backpackers off Ptarmigan Peak). The Kinney Cr trail is heavily hiker-travelled, so did not seem very promising, nice cutts in Horseshoe lake though.
Here's my hunt plan. Please criticize it with any helpful suggestions..
day 0, Fri: leave after school 4pm, trailhead by 6pm, hike in and make camp in the dark. Camp will be on the N Fork a couple of miles in, back in the woods and well out of any meadows. I have a couple of spots on the GPS.
Q: should we rather try for an pre-dawn hike in on Sat, hoping to surprise someone in the meadows ?
Not sure if they would be as low as that, though.
morning: creep out predawn to sit above meadows further along on N Fork
midday: skulk through the woods to various benches/wet spots that I've internet-scouted only, hm, then linger hopefully nearby quietly. Will try 'lost cow' and calf calls (hoochie mama) for a few minutes every hour.
evening: climb high and glass for signs of life until dusk, next day's hunt based on what if anything observed.
following days: repeat pattern on different drainages
It's possible the elk will all have skedaddled into the Fraser Experimental Forest drainage, which is closed for the timber operations this year. Also I have a nasty suspicion the beasts turn nocturnal after a day or two, spending all day in the dark woods and moving only after dark. In that case the internet-scouting won't be very helpful, there are hundreds of acres of dark wood where they might be, and the time I didn't put in with boots on the ground will be sadly missed.
We may move operations to Strawberry Cr, but that is relatively close to the road, so may have been pounded out by the time we get there. I dunno..
Parenthetically, we're taking a bunch of Boy Scouts on a backpack into Eagle's Nest this weekend, will report back if anything interesting seen up there..