Hunting Elk Part 1

December 12, 2014

Everest pioneers Tilman and Shipton once said that any expedition worth going on could be planned on a bar napkin.

I knew more vegans and vegetarians than I knew people that hunted. Hunting, it is just something I needed to do.

I’ve felt that way for years. Like most things, I read about it. I stared at the idea, and day dreamt about it. Came up with an idea of what I needed to do(incomplete obviously). I got a rifle, a backpack, and a pair of boots and I was out the door.

10-17-14 Day1 (1 day before season)


The Jeep crawled up a dry but rutted out dirt road in 4 hi. It contained my pack and freeze dried foods and snacks for 10 days, stored in Emily’s cute reusable grocery bags that never once got used to carry groceries. My pack (not show in the photo) was loaded to the top, and there was still more food to be brought down to camp.


Camp 1 was how I left it weeks ago when a friend and I scouted the area. The tipi tent was erected quickly, it was strange doing it alone when Emily had been with me every time it was set up.

Wood was taken from underneath where it was placed under pines to keep dry. I shaved a dry branch into dry thin flakes and feathers wadded the softball size mass up and struck a match to commence the expedition.


It got dark and the sun was a few fingers from descending behind the Maroon Bells in the distance. I ate a freeze dried dinner, sipping simple jasmine tea.

10-18-14 Day 2

I cut off the trail east into a more open part of the woods, pulled out a thin foam sitting pad and set my back to a tree. It was 5:30 and there was still 1 hour till sun up.

A few moments later I heard the high pitched chirp followed by some branches snapping. I tensed up and raised my rifle to port arms. My mind raced, if the elk were out there how could I shoot what I couldn’t even see? I sat as the Elk circled to down wind of my position. There was more crunching as it ran the hell out of there. I sighed. I sat and waited till sun rise, than till the full light of morning and the elk did not return.

2014-10-18 16.41.52

A few hours before dusk, I gently padded through the pine needles to 400 yard park above my camp. I waited for hours than returned to camp in the dark.


10-19-14 Day 3

I was coming to the realization that hunting alone, in the winter, was very very difficult. It wasn’t the mountain climbing or the cold, it was the solitude.


I head out that morning across the creek up the hill through Hunter Flats. As I sat down on my small foam pad and prepared for the light that would come in an hour. Again I heard a large creature in the woods, moving away from me. Eeeow! Eeow! There was the thump of hooves as the cow elk on guard duty alerted the herd and they all presumably moved into denser cover. I sighed, they probably saw my headlamp coming. I waited, rubbing my hands and wriggling my toes inside my mittens and boots.

Later that day Emily, Hannah and Zack come to join me for a night. Company at last!



We catch up that night, and do not hunt. I am glad to have humans to talk too, after not saying a word for days.

10-20-14 Day 4

That next morning Zack and I get up early and check out the clearing up Midway trail where on my first morning I spooked an elk at much to early. This time we arrive 30 min before shooting light, about 6am. We watch different smaller clearings till 9. We make a lot of noise to get in, and we see nothing.

We return to camp and relax and have a big brunch. We spend most of the morning goofing around a bit but we also spend some time putting a bit of oil on our guns.



A storm builds in the distance over the Maroon Bells. I get the gang to collect logs and process them. Zack does most of the work but he is camera shy so here are some pictures of Hannah and Emily.

2014-10-20 11.08.42_MG_4522


I walk my friends to the trail junction that leads back to the car, and part ways.

I sneak around in the dark timber noting trails and sign. I find a 300 yard park with a good view of the peaks and I sit and wait. I march back to camp by head lamp.

2014-10-21 09.13.21


After everyone left I thought about all the things I forgot to say to Zack, Hannah and Emily. Jokes, talking about eating, pooping, joking. A cold wind blew from the west.  Normally the cold and the silence of the forest and the mountains, is a joy to many adventurers, I thought about Muir and Daniel Boone, but I did not have their toughness at that moment.

To be Continued.

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