I've done some traveling to hunt with friends and such is the case when we took a trip to Idaho to try our luck at Elk hunting. I've always wanted to try this kind of a hunt because of the many times I've seen it on TV so through a person that I have known for a while named Jack who lives in Nampa,Idaho and regularly hunts Elk, was kind enough to invite me out for a hunt. We made plans to fly into Boise and he would pick us up at the airport and then travel to his camp site up in the Sawtooth mountain range. If you've never hunted in a place like that and always only hunted around one area like I have, believe me you'd want to go and try it.
I've hunted all my life and thought to myself that hunting is hunting, no matter where you go, "not true", which I found out on this trip. We made plans well in advance, purchasing round trip air fare, buying the license, Elk tag and even purchasing some new clothes just for the hunt. Being a first timer for this kind of hunt and with all the stories I've heard about Elk hunting, I wanted to be prepared so we packed a lot more than what we needed. But I tell you that if mother nature wanted to hit us with some nasty weather we would be well prepared.
I won't bother you with the flight details, which for me was the first time flying too and I was pretty nervous about that in itself but upon landing in Boise it turned out that as a great man who once said, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself". My wife had flown before and had to keep assuring me that everything was going to be alright. Well, it was and I would do it again.
We landed at Boise,Idaho airport and entered the area to pick up our luggage and Just as planned, Jack was there waiting and welcomed us. As we were picking up our luggage, Jack looked around and said, so, you staying for a year or what? I turned to my wife and said, see?, I told you!, you packed way to much, laughing as I said it trying to put the blame on her but in fact it was me that was responsible for doing it. After I rubbed the soreness out of my shoulder from the hit she gave me we loaded our things in Jack's truck and headed out.
Jack said that we needed to stop for supplies such as food etc. so we did our shopping and after we had enough, headed out for the mountains and to camp. The ride to camp took a couple hours and while driving up though those mountain passes we were chatting about what we were going to be doing. I was amazed at the sights we seen along the way having never seen anything like this before and couldn't stop saying to my wife, look at that, over and over again. The last leg of the ride took us up the side of a mountain which wound back and forth as we went higher and higher with each turn on the dirt road.
I would ask Jack many questions such as what to do if you did get one there? Man, I said, that's steep! He laughed, and said, we tie a rope to a tree, then to you and then you jump over and repel down, field dress it, then drag it down to the next road. I knew he was kidding of course and after we laughed he told me that where we'll be hunting is a lot flatter, man, did I breath a sigh of relief.
When we reached camp on top of the Mountain, there was two other couples there. Mike, Philomena and Randy and Janet were sitting around a camp fire under a big tent that was set up, the tent had an opened roof for the smoke to escape from. After Jack made the introductions we unloaded our supplies and stowed our things away in a big sheep herders tent that Jack had previously set up for us. Inside was a simple setting with two cots for us to sleep on, a wood stove for heat and a couple tables to use for our things.
After everything was set out and ready for the next day we joined the others at the camp fire and sat around getting acquainted and swapped stories of past hunts. After we got to know each other better, I was brave enough to tell the story of my black powder sighting in episode and as the laughter quieted down, the ice was broken. Mike, one of the hunters got such a kick out of that story that he told me later on through emails that he retold that story and was still laughing to this day about it.
Supper time rolled around and the wives' got together and prepared a great meal consisting of Elk meat, potatoes and side dishes. I can't remember when we had such a good feast at hunting camp and the same thing continued for the week we were there and I think I gained some weight also.
The wife and I retired to our tent around 9 pm and it didn't take long to fall fast asleep after the long day we had. I was awakened around 11 pm with the distant sound of a bugle from a bull elk coming from down the mountain side as well as the howling of wolves' or coyotes, I'm not sure which, coming from not to far away from the camp. The moon was full and with passing clouds that made dancing shadows on the ground like the movement of something walking past the tent, this made it hard to fall back to sleep but I managed.
The alarm went off at 4 am as we crawled out of our warm cots and prepared for the day. After having some coffee and a light breakfast the three of us climbed into Jack's truck as it was now breaking light , and headed down one of the numerous logging roads which ran in all directions. These roads were not far from each other and always' criss-crossing and Jack said that we ride the roads here and try to catch the Elk as they cross during their morning movement. Everywhere you went you could see trails, some old, some new and as we drove we watched carefully, eager to catch an elk as they made their way around the many mountain tops.
We would stop often and scan the ravines and hill sides to catch a glimpse of one and with each stop we were taken back by the beauty which surround us. We took many pictures of the scenery for our scrap book as we traveled. A number of times we seen mule deer feeding along the sides of the hills and even an occasional white tail doe would appear. As we slowly drove along the roads Jack would point out different places to me that he said would be good areas to hunt the evenings. The morning turned out very warm as the sun rose higher in the sky and though we didn't catch sight of any elk moving we were in no way disappointed because of everything else we had seen.
We arrived back at camp around noon, met with the others who did the same as we did and related to each other if anyone had seen anything. No one had but it was only the first morning so we all had lunch and sat around idly talking. They would ask me questions of how it was like to hunt back East and I did the same with them here in the west. With each story they told of the elk they've taken in the past I was putting myself in their place and imagining what it would be like to take one of these magnificent creatures.
As the time neared to hunt the afternoon we each had a place picked out to go sit for the evening and after making sure we had everything, we headed out. The Wives' stayed in camp and would have a nice supper prepared for us by the time we got back just after dark. I had a spot picked out with a well used trail that lead up a hill side and onto a flat area and upon reaching the trail, I still hunted my way through the hemlocks until I came to a spot where two trails crossed each other and sat to watch while all the time listening for any sound of an approaching elk.
That first afternoon went by uneventful but I did see some of the most beautiful country I could ever imagine. The next two days would turn out the same and with each day I returned to the same spot, I could see more fresh foot prints where they had traveled through and just felt they were traveling at night because the days were so warm they had to have bedded down and not moved.
The forth afternoon I had chosen a different area and after reaching it I ascended a small hillside and stood watc. Just before dark I heard some twigs snapping just down from me about 50 yards and said to myself, here we go. I raised my rifle to my shoulder and stood motionless as a cow elk appeared onto the trail from the trees. She would stop and feed at the edge of the trail and as I watched I kept listening and watching her movements. She seemed tense and kept looking behind her which told me there was something else following her. As she took a few more steps I could see what it was that made her keep looking back, it was her calf that trailed her.
The calf stepped out from cover and stood still watching its mother as she slowly moved along and out of my sight. I watched this calf while listening for something else to be coming and all the time had a smile on my face to see this sight. The calf didn't move from its spot where it had first stepped out into the open. It was starting to get dark now and it wouldn't be long before I would have to head back to camp. I figured I had about 15 minutes left so I made a noise like a grunt just to try to make it move on but not enough to frighten into a dead run. This didn't work as it still stood in its spot so I took my flashlight from my pocket, aimed it at the calf and turned it on. Still, the calf stood its ground and now I was thinking that the only thing left I could do was to scare it which I didn't want to do in the first place. By now I had barely enough light to see and really had to leave so I could make it back to camp before they called out a search party to cmoe find me. I started walking towards the calf with flashlight in hand and making grunt sounds. The calf just kind of looked at me, not sure what I was then ran towards its mother which after the noise I was making, took off with calf in tow crashing through the woods and out of sight. I had to laugh at this event and couldn't wait to get back to camp and tell the others of what had just happened.
Well, the week seemed to fly by and it was time for us to return home. The weather was just to warm for the week and though none of us had gotten one, I was not disappointed in the least because I had seen more of God's beautiful creation and made some new friends along the way. Would I go back again?, yes, I would and maybe next time I'd get lucky enough to take home a nice elk.
I've always wanted to get an Elk, I think they're a magnificent creature. The closest place to me that has them is Pennsylvania. I've read stories on them and seen many pictures of hunters and the Elk they've taken. Someday I hope to get back out to Idaho or somewhere else that they inhabit and try my luck again but for now I'll have to settle with continueing my hunting here in the northeast for whitetail and also I hope to get drawn for a Moose tag which I apply for every year. I enjoy hunting a lot and as long as I have my health I'll be out there rather I get to take one home or not.