All About Elk · Elk Hunt

Muzzleloader Season 2016, Cow Elk – Day Three

Day Two of the Hunt found HERE.

A new day brought renewed hope.  While I had yet to fill my tag, I was seeing elk and already had a couple of excellent opportunities.

For my third day I decided to go along with two other friends.  The one had hunting the area for many years and so was familiar with the lay of the land and the other guy had a cow tag like me.

We headed back to the same general area where I had been the morning before.  Only today we went a bit lower down the hill and worked our way north across the mountain.  We hiked through some pretty thick brush and came across a fair amount of fresh sign, but didn’t see any elk.  We did hear a lone bugle at one point (one of the very few we heard that week) but it was off down on private land.

By about 8:00 am we found ourselves further back in than the day before and started to work our way up a creek.  Off on the left side of the creek I suddenly saw a couple elk trotting up towards the creek through a section of aspen.   We quickly decided for me to move over to the left side of the creek and work up towards the meadow ahead while the other two did the same on the right side.

As I moved over and worked my way up through the aspens I suddenly heard a loud crashing down in the willows along the creek.   A cow elk had been down in the thickets by the creek and we had unintentionally pushed her up the creek and into the meadow.  I watched with amazement as this cow ran out of the willows, went up over a beaver dam and jumped straight into a small little beaver pond right on the edge of the meadow.

I sprinted up the left side to the pond while the other two did the same thing on the right and suddenly we found ourselves in a very odd situation.   Here I was on one side of this beaver pond while my friends were on the other side….and in the middle of the pond there is a cow elk.

The entire pond was only about 20 yards across and so at this point we were yelling to each other and trying to make sure we stayed out of each other’s line of fire.   We weren’t going to shoot the elk while it was in the middle of the pond, but I knew that as soon as that elk got to the shore it would take off.  Both me and my friend had our guns ready to fire so that when it made a break for it, we were ready.

I could see the elk was confused.  It was surrounded and it couldn’t decide the best way to go.  It moved first to the left and then back to the right.  All this time, I was only about 10 yards from it.  Finally, it decided which way it thought was best and headed for the shore.   At this point we were both yelling to each other to get ready to fire.  But when the cow got to the bank, instead of taking off, it did exactly the opposite of what we expected and just stood there.  With it finally at the bank, my friend took the shot from the other side and hit it perfectly.  It fell back into the water and quickly expired.

First Time Fishing for Elk

What a hunt!  We Then had to do something I never imagined I would do….we went fishing for elk!  My friend took a log and tied it to the end of some rope and after a couple of really poor throws, finally managed to toss the log out over the body of the elk and pull it into shore.

As amazing as this crazy hunt was, we were not done being surprised!  When we pulled the elk out of the water, we realized why it had not taken off like we had expected.   This cow elk was the very elk I had shot at the other day.  While my shot the day before was low, I had shot it through both of its front legs and its front left leg was broken.   With its leg being broken, it was unable to run away.  More than likely it was down in the willows by the creek trying to recover and we happened to come upon it startle it out into the pond.

With this incredible situation, we had to decide who should put their tag on the elk.  I had clearly shot it first the day before, but my friend had fired the fatal shot.  While we both could have given a good argument of why the elk should have been ours, this is where hunting with friends is a huge benefit.  After we talked about it for a while, we decided to put my tag on the elk and then share the meat.  It was a great solution to a unique problem.

Successful Cow Elk hunt….with meat already cooling!

We quartered up the elk fairly quickly.  The meat was already quite cool from being out in the water and we packed all the meat into four game bags.  The pack-out was a fair amount of work….as it is with any elk.  With only three of us, we tried to get it all out in one trip with me carrying two of the bags.  But quickly it became apparent that it was too much.  We hung one bag in a tree and I marked its location on my OnX app.  With us shooting it at about 8:15 in the morning, we had all morning to get it out.  That afternoon I hiked back in and got the 4th bag back to camp.

With my tag filled, my hunt was over.   That evening I stayed back and camp and relaxed.  After packing out the elk with two trips, I was glad to just stick around camp and rest some.  To make the situation even better, right at sunset, my friend was able to fill his muley buck tag.   It was a perfect situation as it was only 200 yards out to the road and so I was able to help him get quarter it up and get everything back to camp before it was too late.  The next morning, we packed up camp and headed home.

This hunt was a unique and exciting experience.  Not only was I able to see a lot of elk during the hunt, but I got some great opportunities and even had the amazing experience to harvest an elk I thought I lost!   The amazing lows and highs of this hunt are ones that I will always remember.

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