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Western WA Elk- The Rumor Continues
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GregE
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:45 pm    Post subject: Western WA Elk- The Rumor Continues Reply with quote

There are few elk in W WA and those are spooked all the time. Besides it's too brushy, Waaaay too wet, crowded ...... so go the stories. Rolling Eyes


Finding elk in W WA is no easy matter- technically elk west of I-5 are Roosevelt and those east classified as Yellowstone- the elk don't know about such things and often they are blended. The terrain is rugged though elevations are not too high and the vegetation reflects the heavy rainfall that makes western WA and OR infamous. We call this region 'the wet side' and the torrential storms and flooding from the latest 'pineapple express' are not uncommon.

Douglas firs, hemlock, Western red cedar and alder abound and the under story is covered downed trees, limbs with salal and sword ferns making climbing treacherous.

This log shows the wear of many years of elk not quite jumping high enough along the elk trail I was following.



An overview of the timber company land I was hunting on one of the few dry, clear days we had. The patchwork pattern of many years of tree cutting gives lots of edges and young growth that the resident elk and blacktail deer love. The network of logging roads can be a boon but often just allow "tourist hunters" places to drive around.



My hunting partner and I spent the previous weekend trying to get into a hunting area I hunted 12 years ago but the snow and gates kept us from getting there. We only saw a few tracks and two BT deer.






This hunt was delayed for several reasons late season opened before Thanksgiving but I was retiring at the end of November and didn't have any leave remaining so had to wait for December. But, it took much longer to clear out 18+ years of 'stuff' from my office so I felt obligated to go back in Monday Dec 3 to finish sorting things and to get my computer access card and keys turned in. Then I-5 was closed to due to 10' of water that spilled over the highway from the swollen Chehalis River. Getting to the hunting area required a long detour through the back roads.

After a gas stop I couldn't find my wallet so after searching thoroughly we left the trailer in a campground and went back home to start the reports and card cancellations.

Finally......on Thursday we found a place to park the trailer and spent the last hours of daylight finding out that 'you can't get there from here' anymore. Many of the roads were gated or cut so foot or mountain bike were the only way to access the areas I knew and I hadn't hunted here for 13 years so had not planned ahead.



The few main roads that were open were clogged with 'road hunters' trying to find fresh sign or perhaps a stupid elk. I was walking down one of the closed roads about three miles one morning and just caught a small patch of brown about 600 yards across the valley in some 'reprod trees' (young trees often hand planted).

Moving to a better vantage to watch this elk I saw four cow elk at the bottom of the clear cut 298 yards below me. They were directly below the earlier elk so I surmised they were part of the same herd. After watching them feed for a while I backed up a couple hundred yards and went down the clear cut behind an intervening ridge.

I sneaked across the open ground using standing stumps to hide behind and saw that they were still feeding but it was too open to continue.



Backing off again I dropped down into the timbered fringe trees along the creek and carefully moved to ambush them.

Alas - they were gone when I got there but the heavy fresh tracks and droppings confirmed that the herd had been there and these stragglers were moving up the hill to join the others.


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GregE
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went further down the closed road the next day looking things over with my friend and hunting partner Judy. She's a hunter and salmon fisher but has taken her 7 elk and 4 deer with a rifle... Rolling Eyes but she says she can skin elk as fast as I can get 'em. Laughing Cool I just had to see that .....



The next day I had her drop me off above the place where the elk in the picture were going and dropped off a very steep slope to the bench near the bottom of the hill. That bench is shown in the first picture above as well and the sword ferns I have tucked into my camo to help brek up my outline.

Crossing a small feeder stream I was climbing the bank reminding myself to slow down and look carefully when a bedded cow jumped up and stopped 18 yards from me. There were sword ferns covering her vitals while she stood watching me as I loaded an arrow. Leaning left a bit to draw from behind an intervening tree I chose not to shoot until completly clear so tried to sidestep to get a clear line. The elk moved forward 10' and stopped looking back at me at too steep an angle then stopped again at 45 yards but the large tan butt was directly toward me as she craned her neck trying to figure me out. The sword fern camo and my quiet approach had apparently worked.

I never saw another elk but she spent some time looking up the hill so there were probably others. This is what the area looked like.



My designated driver had the truck warmed up and we made our way up the snow and ice covered roads to my little trailer.



Last edited by GregE on Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
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GregE
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I gave that area a while to settle down again and spent the day checking out some other areas that I hadn't seen in many years. Not a hair was spotted.

While looking I came up with a plan and on Monday I had Judy walk with me a couple miles to where I had seen the elk by the creek. I had a radio and would advise if I could find a suitable spot to cross over to the other side near where I'd encountered the cow. Judy would then make the 22 mile drive to the other side of the valley and meet me in the same spot as before. Theory always sounds good!! Wink



I actually crossed further down stream from this spot and it was wide, deep and marshy so I ended up side stepping across a frosty log. Luckily I made it and kept dry.

Easing into the woods I hunted upstream into the down slope breeze and promised myself I'd see them before they saw me- keep it slow and look carefully was the plan for the next couple hours.

About 40 minutes into the hunt I saw a single elk at about 200 yards and moving away. It was moving slowly but deliberately. Had it seen me?!?!

I continued to move slowly and see if I could see it again then figure out a way to get close. Zigging around piles of downed limbs and brush I tried to keep the clumps of ice falling from the trees from getting down my neck. Thankfully I no longer wore glasses for distance vision and hadn't brought my binos so fogging wasn't a problem.


In years past I had puzzled over 'brown rocks' in the woods until I figured out they were curled up elk. I found myself 32 yards from another one of those brown rocks and finally saw one end had horns. This area was antlerless or 3 point or better so I looked carefully until I made out two brow tines and knew it wasn't a spike or two point forky. I already had an arrow nocked and it was laying broadside to me and not reacting so ....


I decided to take the shot right there. I slowly drew my PSE X Force 7 and found that I couldn't see the elk. Remember those sword ferns I had tucked into my pack straps?? One of them had popped up right in front of my face. Embarassed

When I let down and moved the fern the elk stood and walked forward about 10' then stopped -looking at me. Taking advantage I hurriedly drew again and put my 30 yard pin tight behind the shoulder.
*
*
*

W
H
A
C
K
!
!
*
*
My string hit my sleeve and I didn't see the arrow hit. I couldn't believe it as the elk limped off favoring his rear leg. How could I possibly miss that far?!?!?!? Sad

He walked directly away from me and I ranged him at 66 yards when he stopped, stood there for a while and then lay down. I ranged the spot where he had been bedded and it was 35 yards so my even though I hadn't take time to range him I knew my estimate was close enough.

If only I had kept my arm clear of the string!!

Mad


My attitude improved when I saw the elk arching his neck backwards and knew he was going to stay down. Very Happy



Not wanting to rush I waited another five minutes then carefully worked sideways to keep some trees and stumps between us. Backtracking around some ice covered limbs I found my arrow stuck 12 into the dirt and it was clean .... Looking more carefully I spotted blood on the vanes. 

What a jumble of emotions!!

The elk was stretched out in a slight depression, necked arched in death. The initial pictures I took while wearing my wool gloves were blurred but I'll post it anyway.







As they say, now the work starts--- but I had the self-proclaimed elk skinning master to help so after giving the bull a last bite and spending time in thanks I climbed the hill to the road and slipped along toward the meeting spot..

She wasn't there yet but drove up while I was stomping out a note in the snow. After stalling around for a while and eating the sandwiches she had stopped to make -I asked if she was ready to put up? And got a quick "let's go" answer after I confirmed I had got an elk. A few minutes later we were back at the elk with pack, bags, knives and energy - that's a good thing for a couple 62+ folks. Rolling Eyes



More to follow ....... Very Happy


Last edited by GregE on Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:48 am; edited 2 times in total
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GregE
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



Inspecting the elk we found the arrow had penetrated about 8" behind the shoulder catching liver and a little paunch but doing the job quickly. The exit is at the upper end of the hemlock twig. We also found a bullet wound in the rear 'knee' ( actually ankle) that had chipped the bone and was slightly festered. That explained the limping and perhaps why it didn't run further.



After taking pictures we got busy and it didn't take long for me to realize that this gal wasn't bragging- she was a ER trauma room/ surgical nurse and knew how to handle a knife. We used the gutless method to quickly get the quarters and major muscles off the carcass and hung up to cool. It was warming up in the bright sun and in a couple hours we had skinned the elk, removed all four quarters, backstrap, tenderloin, neck and flank meat and removed the head. Notice how clean the carcess and meat bags are with this method.






It took five trips to get the elk to the truck and as if I'd planned it the distance was only about 150 yards and there was an old cat logging road that really helped with our knee challenges. This was a moderate sized 2.5 y/o 4x3 bull with Roosevelt colored antlers. The rear quarter weighed 55#




Judy packed a front shoulder, then my gear and insisted that she was going "to haul this hide by myself" and then proceeded to do it. I have taken care of elk by myself but must admit having a willing, knowledgeable helper is certainly preferable. Very Happy We started working on the elk at 12:30 and had it in the truck heading back to camp at 4:00. Arrived at camp at 5:00 and were heading home by 6:15.




I've done two elk this year, son Jeff's 5x4 was a 25 yard downhill pack. This one was bit more of a physical challenge but- I must admit that it seems like I'm figuring this elk hunting stuff out. I can't wait until next fall.

But, truthfully I realize that "I can get by with a little ( lot of ) help from my friends"...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is really cool. I gotta get me one of those! Do they sell them ladies at Cabela's...Very Happy

You don't have to tell us, ya'll had a blast didn't ya!

Great story and pictures. Congrats. Wink

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg,

I really enjoy your Elk hunt stories and photos. Looks like you have a good hunting partner. I've got some 30 year old friends that wouldn't have been as helpful.

Give her my "thumbs up".... thumbs up

Looks like the KE in that X-force came in handy. Maybe a lighter setup might not have given you a pass through.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again Greg for the delightful story and pic's. Ya done good
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GregE
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks.
I've enjoyed writing it as well as remeniscing while doing so. Here's the picture I posted earlier.


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Elknut1
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got a chance to read your story there Greg, well done! Nice work on the elk too!! (grin)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a great story. I am glad that you showed all of those pictures. Congrats on a great bull.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg,
Congrats on a fine WA Bull. I sure miss the terrain from my home State. That was one of the biggest challenges movng here to CO, it seems like everything is either straight up or straight down here, and it is quite different with the Aspen groves and sage brush comparred to old growth timber, Alder choked creeks, and soaking wet ferns.

Congrats again, and it's nice to see you have such a great friend to help with the work.

JT

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GregE
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

J T, that's one of the reasons I try to go to Colorado when I can. Hope to make it back for this year - maybe NE Oregon on the way.... I

'm still figuring out this retired business ... Wink

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Up for an announcement.

Judy and I are planning a May wedding. Wink Cool

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congradulations to both of you and thanks for sharing the news Greg. Now let's see, where can you go hunting on your honeymoon. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations Greg! Smart move not letting her get away! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations, Greg!!! May the good Lord bless both of you on your new journey!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you coming to the seminar for your honeymoon? Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All ways enjoy your elk hunting trips. Hope some day when you are in Oregon to meet you. Congratulations on that fine Roosevelt and a fine looking lady.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You did well my friend, may your days together be filled with joy. A wife you can share hunting with, and a hunting partner to keep you warm on chilly nights, what more could a man ask for.

Good luck and may God bless you.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greg, Wow!!! Congrats to the two of you!! She a super young lady to boot. It was a pleasure to meet her in WA. Not sure what she sees in you???? (grin)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats Greg.

You deserve a great hunting and life partner.

I reiterate all my previous statements in this thread. Cool

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations Greg! I had a feeling this was going to happen sooner or later. LOL! You chased her until she caught you.

If you make it to Colorado this fall, give me a call, Me and Kathy will take you guys out as a belated wedding gift.

>>>---Bill---->

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats to you both thats Awesome
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well well congratulations!!!

Judy welcome to the Sage Creek Family!!!!!!!!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

congrats greg. and she agrees to go along to the woods with you too. that too good to let get away. she'll be better than any campfire to keep you warm. I expect to see more hunting reports from you two this fall. good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!
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