News - Sportsman's Box

I remember with absolute clarity the moment we found out we were expecting each of our children! I also remember, with absolute clarity the fear washing over me that I had no idea what was going to happen next, and truthfully, I still don’t. The adventure, and opportunity being dad has afforded me, I wouldn’t trade for anything!

 

This past fall I was sitting in my stand, the morning was quiet, the action was slow, with exception of 2 squirrels chasing each other to the east, then back to the west, then back to east, aaaand back to the west, I think you get the picture. I reached for my phone to check the time and there, staring back at me were the smiling faces of our daughter and 2 sons! Then my mind started to wander, as it often does, just ask my wife, following along with the randomness of my mind is what I imagine driving from Rhode Island to Oregon with a map of Germany would be like! I digress. My mind wanders and begins highlighting the similarities between hunting and parenthood. In both instances I’ve learned there’s no “one perfect way” At best, we’re all winging it and hoping for the best! Sounds terrible, I know, but stick with me on this one!

 

You’re gonna spend a lot of time in the dark!

Hunting: I mean literally it will be dark, whether it’s the wee morning hours, or calling it a day in the early moments of twilight, you are going to become familiar with darkness.

Parenting: We’ve all heard “there’s no book on how to raise kids!” Now, I know why. The print would be so small, and the book would be so thick, you wouldn’t read it. So get comfortable with the unknown, and living in left field! You’re going to feel lost, and you’re not going to have all the right answers!

 

It’s hard not to be slightly obsessed with gear!!

Hunting: there will ALWAYS be a new gun, or bow! There will always be better calls, new scents, improved blinds, more realistic camo patterns and decoys so real you’ll do a double take when you open your eyes if you happen to doze off. (Side note: This has happened to me while turkey hunting)! You name it there will be a better one next season! Sometimes these improvements, and the gear make life easier, sometimes it just makes us feel better! Trust me, I’m guilty too!!

Parenting: Good lord!! Baby books, Baby proofing, car seats expire?!? developmental toys, and diaper wipe warmers...I’m serious, that’s a thing. Much like your outdoor gear, some baby gear serves a valid purpose, and genuinely makes the art of keeping a tiny human alive, a little easier! However, just like the gear does not make the hunter, nor does it make one parent better than another. The more time we spend observing the woods, the wiser we become, and all our children really want is that, your time! Forget about spending time worrying about your gear, and spend more time just being in the moment!

Baby gear side note: You want a good laugh...look up baby neck floats. It’s an inner tube the goes around your child’s neck, keeping their head above water, like a chubby, toothless water lily.

 

 

 

I’m pretty sure we’re speaking the same language, why, aren’t, you, listening!!!

Hunting: admittedly I’m enthralled with the art of calling! To bear witness to a hunter that convinces ducks to come back after shooting at them, or convince turkeys to come running in completely convinced of what they’ve heard! The list goes on! Then there are those times that no matter how good we sound (or think we do) the critters just act like you’re not even there! How about when a deer, duck, or turkey makes a sound you’ve never heard them make, and you’re completely thrown off! Talking to wildlife is an exercise in observation and patience, and the best way to improve your efficiency is through listening to them in their natural environment and watching their reactions!

Parenting: No matter what language is spoken in the home, all parents can relate. Repeating yourself, repeating yourself louder, calling your child’s (children’s name) repeatedly in an attempt to gather their attention only to be met with “huh, I didn’t hear you...” ....you’re ten feet away. Communicating with kids is an exercise in patience and adaptation! The tone of conversations and the content varies based on age, and the child! The ways we explain things to our eldest is slightly different from our youngest, and again our middle child! Not because they don’t understand, but because they each learn and retain differently, surprise, they’re humans, and we’re not all the same!! Just like in the woods, I’ve learned to let the situation and the individual dictate the delivery and the tone of the conversation! So, relax, whether it’s children or wild game you’ll figure it out!!

 

Don’t shoot the squirrel, it’s only being a squirrel.

Hunting: You know what I’m talking about. You’re sitting in your stand or blind, and for the 5th time today you thought you heard a deer only to lock eyes with a bushy tailed nut monger! Then, there’s the squirrel who spots you, and starts alarming the rest of the woods to your presence! Don’t let temptation get the best of you...finger off the trigger, it’s just a squirrel being a squirrel, it’ll move on.

Parenting: Whether it’s a crying infant, or a chatty pre-schooler fumbling their way through the uuummm most uuuhh exciiittiinngg stooorrrry they’ve ever, um told, and they, but they, um seem to, uh be building your an-an-anticipation, only to realize that, um, we’re arriving at the same plot ending as the first 4 times they told you!  Deep breath! A baby can’t talk, the only way they know how to communicate is smile = happy, crying = fix it. Toddlers and pre-schoolers are running commentary! No matter how many times you’ve heard the story, it’s just kids being kids! We will miss it one day. So again....don’t shoot the squirrel.

 

The little moments, are the biggest rewards!

Hunting: of course as hunters we all want to fill our tag, and have that moment of our hard work and preparation fulfilled. How about those cold mornings watching the rise through the trees, the distant gobbles and yelps of roosted turkeys waking up. The cracking antlers, of two bucks deciding who’s the boss. A honking flock geese heading to their feeding grounds. The screech of a red tailed hawk gliding over a clover field. The hoot of an owl as evening begins to cloak the woods. If moments like these, that you can only experience being a quiet observer in the elements don’t put a smile on your face, my friend, check your pulse.

Parenting: We all have long days, where we couldn’t possibly handle one more thing!! On those days, being met with those huge smiles, wide open arms followed by “HI DADDY!!” turns it all around! Then, the quiet moments, when they’re tired, (and not willing to admit it), they crawl into your lap and within minutes are passed out, looking so peaceful and sweet! If that doesn’t make you warm and fuzzy...I bet you don’t like puppies either!

 

 

 

Sleep, HA! Caffeine is the nectar of the gods!

Hunting: The season opens, we’re all wide awake well before our alarms sound because we’ve been waiting SO LONG, and it’s here!!! Enter mid season and the “I can sleep, 10 more minutes...” and if you’re anything like me, by the time you get to where your hunting your thermos is already empty, and you keep shaking the mug hoping to harness the power of wishful thinking and draw an extra few ounces of energy from thin air. However we wouldn’t trade those early mornings, and long late season days for anything!

Parenting: Ever watch Looney Tunes...? Watching Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner, the Road Runner never runs out of steam, and poor Mr. Coyote always seems to be 2 steps behind, it’s exactly like that. I believe one 3 year old posses enough energy to power 10 homes, and a town fair. If you’re not caffeinated, you will find yourself playing hide and seek, just to sneak a nap behind the couch! But knowing these moments are fleeting and will pass us by in a blink, I’ll take tired, any day!!

 

Most importantly, don’t take yourself to seriously. I don’t need to break this down, but I will leave you with this...parenting, and I’ve even found in hunting, more often than not you’re going to get the test before you get the lesson. Trust your instincts, make the best decision you can with information you have, and know that tomorrow is new a day!!

 

Stay wild!!

 

-Ryan

 

@itstheemoose

6 Essentials for Summer

1.  LuminAid Max 2 n 1 Phone Charger and Lantern

You are going to want to have the LuminAid Max on hand for the summer days ahead!  It is a solar powered phone charger and lantern, the lantern even floats! Easy to use, easy to charge & easy to store.  You won’t catch me on an adventure without it this year!
  
   

2.  Peet Odor Eliminator

The Peet Odor Eliminator is AMAZING. It keeps the mudroom smelling fresh and clean while eliminating the stench of sweaty feet. The struggle is real when it comes to stinky boots and tennis shoes this time of year making the Peet Odor Eliminator a mudroom essential!
  
   

3.  ThermaCell - Mosquito Repeller

Here in the south the mosquito can be a real problem when trying to enjoy the outdoors making the ThermaCell MR300 the perfect accessory.  This portable mosquito repeller provides a protection zone of 15 ft stopping those pesky bugs in their tracks! 
  
 

4.  Cablz Silicon

If you are like me you don’t go a day without your shades in the summertime.  The Cablz keep my sunglasses where they need to be leaving me worriless and my eyes happy while on the boat, in the car or by the pool!
     
   

5.  Princeton Tec - Clip Light

 Do you ever need a flash light and two hands to get the job done?  In these circumstances, more often then not, a helper is no where to be found that's what makes the Princeton Tec Light Clip so handy. The light clips to the brim of your hat giving you the hands and light necessary to get the job done. I keep one on the boat for when I'm checking the motor and one in my truck!
   
    

6.  Remington - Rip Zip Lip Balm

Sun protection is extremely important during these long summer days, and too often we forget to protect our lips.  Remington’s Rip Zip Lip Balm has SPF 15 and can be conveniently clipped to any bag or pocket with a retractable cord for easy access.
   

The sport of hunting is one rich in heritage and tradition.  I love seeing the old, grainy black and white photos from generations past showing family hunting camps, lots of wool and denim, and harvests gotten with gear much simpler than what we use today.  However, it often seems that the nostalgia of family traditions, and the refusal to stray from them, leads to outdated viewpoints and miseducation.  Simply doing something because “that’s how daddy did it” is not always the best.  Of course there is nothing wrong with holding to tradition if that practice and teaching is correct, instills ethics, and promotes the truth that hunting is conversation.  The following are a few clear examples of where traditional family teachings are incorrect and negatively impact the sport of hunting as a whole.

Where I grew up in eastern Oregon in the early 1980’s it was common practice to strap your kill across the hood or roof of the truck and drive all over around town displaying the trophy.  This was done with hide and head still attached no matter the season.  I still see it today but less common.  A game warden told me that he received calls about a hunter who had two bloody mountain lions strapped across his roof and was shopping in the liquor store.  Now managing lions is essential and going to a liquor store is not a problem, but when combined in an open blatant display it turned many people off, both hunters and non-hunters, who did not appreciate the lack of respect shown.  For some non-hunters it just reinforced their already negative images of hunters as slobs, drunks, and hicks.   Do these promote a positive image of hunters respecting the pursuit and harvest of their game?  Obviously not.  Additionally, it is an absolutely terrible way to handle the meat off of a kill and leads to much of the wrongly perceived notion that all wild meat tastes “gamey.”  Thankfully this was a practice never followed by my father and never a tradition that I had to get caught up in.  Unfortunately, many others did grow up this way and their earliest hunting days are not rooted on a foundation of ethics and respect.

A family friend of ours has two kids who were old enough to hunt big game here in Colorado a couple of years ago.  Both kids were always allowed in camp and welcome to tag along with dad on his hunts.  When his son wanted to hunt he did everything he could to get him outfitted and ready.  When his daughter wanted to hunt however, she was told that women in the family don’t get to hunt until they are 16.  The reasoning behind that?  It was family tradition.  So when his daughter turned 16, four years after she could first hunt, she had lost interest in a sport where she wasn’t welcome.  Another youth hunter was lost. 

Now for every story of bad hunting ethics there are equal stories of great ethics and youth being properly mentored.  I love the elk camp traditions that my family has and desire to share them with my children one day.  But I am always looking at how we hunt and analyzing it to see if that is the best way.  As sportsmen we should always be striving to increase our knowledge and advance our skillset.  This doesn’t always mean upgrading gear.  It means ensuring that our methods and practices are ethical, honor the pursuit of our quarry, and teach others that hunting is the truest form of conservation.  It can also mean changing the methods which were taught to us when we were young or distancing ourselves from friends who do not care about hunting ethics.  These changes can be hard but we owe it to ourselves and future generations to preserve our heritage at all costs.

Hunt hard, hunt often and be out in it.

 

Adam Oberheu

@roubideaulife

The Sportsman’s Box is proud to partner with outstanding organizations and companies that share the same important values in making a difference in the outdoors through conservation, education, and volunteer efforts. The Sportsman’s Box is proud to partner with one of those outstanding organizations, Trinity Oaks. Read More

   When it comes to guns, calibers, and scopes, the debate is never ending with many people taking an unwavering stance.  This article is not trying to prove anyone wrong in their belief, it is simply giving you some knowledge that might help for the next time you are in the field.  That being said, it is safe to say that the majority of rifle scopes used for hunting are not properly sighted in and just as many people have no justification for why they sight their rifle in the way that they do.  The following article regarding optimum rifle sight in applies to the vast majority of hunters – those who use a standard duplex reticle scope.  This is for normal hunting ranges (under 400 yards) and for either factory or hand loads.

 

   While there is nothing wrong with sighting your rifle in at 100 yards or 200 yards, doing this fails to maximize your rifle’s dead-on hold.  The dead-on hold is where your reticle crosshairs are held on the center mass of the animal.  The proper way to make the most of your rifle’s dead center hold is to sight it in 3 inches high at 100 yds.  This gives the longest possible dead-on hold without shooting too high at close ranges and never adjusting your hold. 

   For example, look at a 7 MM Remington Magnum shooting a 150 grain Nosler Partition at 3100 fps, which is a very common factory load.  Sighted in 3 inches high at 100 yards and held dead-on, the bullet will be 4.4 inches high at 200 yards, almost dead center at 300 yards, and only 3.5 inches low at 350 yards.  By holding center mass on the vitals of any elk or deer, a hunter can be certain that the bullet will land directly in the vitals without ever raising the crosshairs up or down.  If you want to shoot at 400 yards, where the bullet drop is 9 inches, simply hold on the back.  Another common hunting setup is a 30-06 shooting a 165 Nosler AccuBond at 2850 fps.  With this configuration sighted in 3 inches high with a dead-on hold, the bullet will be 3.6 inches high at 200 yards, 1.9 inches low at 300 yards, and 7 inches low at 350 yards.  Again, this will allow a hunter using a straight duplex reticle to hit well within the vitals of any common big game species, specifically, whitetail deer, mule deer, and elk.   Shooting at 400 yards with the 30-06 yields a bullet drop of 14 inches, which will still result in a vital kill shot with a backbone hold. 

   Conversely, if the 7 MM set up was sighted in at 100 yards the bullet would land about 3 inches low at 200 yards, 10 inches low at 300 yards and over 24 inches low at 400 yards, with the 30-06 having even larger drops.  Using this method makes the hunter have to think about scope hold adjustments past 225 yards, losing vital time when a shot opportunity is presented.

   Now obviously there are situations where this technique does not apply, such as always hunting very thick cover with close shots, using scopes with BDC hash marks or mil-dots, or when using scopes where you dial to your range.  But for the vast majority of hunters utilizing this system will allow them safely and confidently extend their hunting range and make for simpler and quicker shots on game at close to extended ranges.  Regardless if you use this method or not, practice with your weapon as much as possible until you are confident in your shooting and know what your bullet is going to do at all distances. 

Hunt hard, hunt often and be out in it.

 
Adam Oberheu
@roubideaulife

 

According to Sportsman's Box Field Operative Joel Lickliter, anyone can be a “Home Cook” and in the same right, anyone can also be a Home Cookin’ Hunter!

Joel's missing is to reveal to the world that there is more to hunting than just the kill.

Joel said, "I want to show people that there is beauty and satisfaction in providing your family with the cleanest, tastiest meat you can find when taking an animal from hunt to harvest."

Joel explains that you don’t have to be a culinary chef to be able to make delicious, flavorful, punch your taste buds in the face good food! All it takes is a little bit of time, love, care, and attention and anyone can make a blow your socks off meal.

One part of the deer that many may toss instead of consider cooking is the heart.

Joel said, "I’ve hunted for over twenty years now. And I can’t tell you how many hundreds of deer hearts I’ve left to the buzzards and coyotes!"

However, Joel no longer tosses the heart; he now serves it up in a mighty delicious way! Joel reveals that is is very much a delicacy when prepared right. Tender and flavorful, Venison heart should never be tossed out again.

Watch Home Cookin' Hunter Joel Lickliter's preparation of a venison heart:

The Importance of Duck Banding

Have you ever shot a banded duck? If you have, count yourself as lucky because fewer than one out of 1,000 ducks wear “jewelry.” Duck bands are coveted by waterfowl enthusiasts. As tradition goes, most waterfowlers clamp the bands on their lanyard and proudly wear them on their future hunts. Maybe some wouldn’t admit it, but there is certainly some “sizing up” that goes on at duck camp when a hunter walks up with a lanyard full of duck bands—it can be intimidating.

Reporting Bands

Waterfowlers who harvest a banded duck and rightfully report the band information play a significant role in the conservation of waterfowl populations. Once reported, the band information provides important insights regarding the waterfowl harvested, and that data collected is crucial to the proper management of ducks and geese.

Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall explains how bird banding programs increase our understanding of waterfowl populations and their habitats:

From the Arctic Circle to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, tens of thousands of waterfowl are marked each year with bands. Depending upon the climate and season, when banding ducks, the method of capture differentiates. Baited traps, drive traps, nest boxes, net guns, floating mist nets, or rocket nets are the most popular methods of capturing ducks for banding.

Double Banded Ducks – Myths Debunked

Very rarely, waterfowlers harvest a duck with double bands. You’ll hear waterfowlers tell a multitude of stories on how the duck managed to be “double banded,” but usually, one band is a regular band while the other band is either a reward duck band or a special marker. Reward bands were implemented to encourage waterfowlers to call in their bands. The values vary, but the intent is to achieve a higher percentage of bands called in. 

Check out Ducks Unlimited TV Episode 4: Big Sky and Banding Part 1 to see an exciting and informative episode of both hunting and a duck banding project:

Learn more about conservation and how you can get involved at ducks.org.

 

 

 

Top 5 Do’s and Don'ts

for the beginner Turkey Hunter

Let me start by saying I’m no expert when it comes to turkey hunting, although I’ve had a lot of success over the years, I’ve walked away empty handed more times than not. So much so that I have noticed a pattern in success vs no success. Those patterns are highlighted in this handy top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for someone who is just starting out!

 

DO: Scout, and scout often!

  • I make it a point to “begin” my season as soon as those birds start stirring around and hitting open fields in the early days of spring. Now we all know of that one guy, or girl who went out the first day, picked a good spot and tagged out just after daylight. That is pretty lucky, but not the norm. If you want to increase your chances of success, put in the time. Ahhh...Time. Time seems to be harder to come by these days (at least for me), one way I’ve managed to squeeze in some scouting is to change up my commute home from work, and keep my binos and boots in the truck.

 

DON’T: Get aggressive to early.

  • I don't know if this is a proven fact, but turkeys respond to pressure just like deer. At least on the properties I hunt. I try to keep my distance, utilize my glass, and see as much from a far as possible. Treat them like deer, don't go busting into their bedroom! They will leave, and move somewhere they aren't being bothered. Unfortunately for you, that may be a place you can't go! Don't get to overzealous in your pre-season, it may turn your honey hole, into a wasteland!

 

DO: Invest in good calls!

  • As a beginner, I know you probably don’t want to drop a ton of cash on what may turn out to be a flop. (Ha) But trust me, the difference between a good quality call, and a cheap one, may mean the difference between you walking to the truck with a bird over your shoulder, or a pocket full of unfilled tags. While we are on the subject of calls, Youtube is a great place to learn how to call. Research and practice with the call you choose as much as possible. You'll thank me later. This brings me to my next don't.

 

DON’T: Overcall

  • Calling in a turkey is one of the most rewarding parts of hunting them, sometimes more than the kill! BUT improper calling is probably more responsible for unsuccessful hunts, than anything else (in my opinion.) When a tom gobbles, he fully expects the hen (you) to come to him. That is the way it's supposed to be, until we got the bright idea to expose his most vulnerable weakness during the spring. He wants to breed! If hes screaming “here I am” and you keep calling and never show up, he will get bored and move on. Expose his weakness, make him come to you. If he knows you’re there, but you're not talking much to him, he will get frustrated and come to you. Not so different than people when you think about it. So don’t be over aggressive in your calling, be appealing! Make him come to you, it’s better that way (Am I right ladies?!)

 

DO: Learn from your mistakes

  • Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not hoping you will fail, but it's inevitable, so instead of avoiding it, we may as well learn from it! Now I tend to be somewhat of a turkey maniac for a few months of the year (okay, all year) but! I have learned to write down everything. Take notes on what you saw, where, when, the weather etc. The more information you can gather about what you are chasing, the more effective you will be. The most important part of failure is the ability to apply that information the next time, so while you may feel defeated after an unsuccessful hunt, or like you'll never be as good as you want to be, stay positive and know that you are now more dangerous than you were that morning. From calling, to how you were set up, where they roosted that day, take notes, and turn all of that into the reason you end your season with meat in the freezer.

 

So that’s my list. I hope you are able to get on your first Spring Gobbler! If you're anything like me, it's a feeling  you will never forget! Before I go, there is one more piece of advice I have, and it's the most important DO that I can give you if you are just starting out.

Get out there! Good luck!

Stephen Elliott

Purchasing a subscription to the Sportsman’s Box enters you for a chance to win monthly prizes as well as an ATV Side By Side at the end of 2018.

You heard right! Every month you receive a box as a Sportsman’s Box member, you receive 1 (one) entry to win the Side by Side ATV at the end of 2018. To make matters more exciting, on top of that, each month you are entered to win a monthly prize worth up to $1,500!

Adam Whitehead, CEO of Sportsman’s Box, said, "Being able to partner up with great companies and outfitters to deliver even more fun and excitement with each monthly box for the members, yes please!"

How do I enter?

  1. Simply become a Sportsman's Box member and receive a monthly Sportsman's Box. For every month you receive a box you gain 1 (one) entry to both the monthly giveaway and grand prize - the ATV Side by Side.
  2. Want to double your chances? Easy, just share an image of your monthly box on Facebook, Instagram, or YUDU Outdoors and tag us @sportsmansbox!
  3. Increase your odds even more!Give as a gift and you get an additional entry. For every box you give to someone, we add an additional entry to your account!

Tell me about those prizes?

January’s prize is a Beretta A400 Xtreme and the winner will be announced on February 10, 2018. February’s prize will be a trip for two for a “Love Birds” eastern North Carolina Turkey Hunt, and the winner will be announced on March 10, 2018. March’s prize as well as following prizes will be announced at later dates, and the winner of each month’s prize will always be announced on the 10th of the following month.

Not familiar with the Sportsman’s Box?

If you are not familiar with Sportsman’s Box, no worries, we will get you up to speed; The Sportsman's Box delivers a totally new experience to your door that allows you to keep the mudroom stocked, while you discover new hunting and fishing gear for the Sportsman's lifestyle every month.  Every month that you are a member with the Sportsman's Box, depending on your membership, you will receive a box in the mail with items that have been tested and approved by our team of professional Sportsmen and Sportswomen!

Whether you have been an avid Sportsman for years or are just getting started, the Sportsman's Box is a necessity and a timesaver when it comes to discovering new products for your next pursuit.

Katelyn Edmondson, Marketing and Operations Manager at the Sportsman’s Box said, “This year is all about our members and we could not be more excited to celebrate them through our 2018 giveaway! From each monthly prize to the grand prize, just like the gear in our box it is selected with the sportsman and woman in mind.”

For more information or questions regarding the Sportsman’s Box monthly giveaway, please contact customer service at servingyou@sportsmansbox.com. Also, be sure to follow our social media platforms @sportsmansbox!

 

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A New Mexico Elk Hunt for the Ages

             Last year my good friend Steve had the great fortune to draw an excellent premium unit New Mexico bull elk tag.  When he called to ask if I would accompany him, I had no idea that I was going to experience something truly remarkable and unforgettable.

            Steve is a great friend of mine who did not grow up hunting and has only gotten into hunting the past three years.  He had been on one other elk hunt which was essentially a long and tiring hike with no elk seen and some very moody hunting companions.  Steve put in his due diligence for this hunt and spent a lot of time scouting the unit and talking to individuals with experience in that unit.  I decided it would be cost prohibitive to trailer my horses down across state lines, so Steve proposed that we use mountain bikes to access the hunting area.  That was a new one to me!  Steve is a very avid biker and rides almost every day on high end equipment.  I on the other hand…haven’t been on a bike in 10+ years and am used to riding Huffy specials! 

            We arrived at our camping area the afternoon prior to the hunt.  We set up camp and then immediately set off on the closed access road which only allowed foot, horse, and yes, bike access!  That evening we filmed over 10 branch antlered bulls and heard them all bugling non-stop.  I was quickly beginning to change my initial assessment of this hunt being over-hyped!  That night we were serenaded by bugling bulls all around our camp. 

 

           

          The next morning, we arose and set off on our 4.5-mile bike ride into the unit.  We quickly began passing up the other 9 lucky tag holders who were on foot or horseback.  Even though the seat was killing me, I was extremely glad Steve had decided to use the bikes.  While we were riding in we heard nothing but bugles from all around us but especially from one area.  Multiple elk were bugling every minute on the minute.  Once the sky started to gray with the morning light we saw a herd of about 200 elk with multiple herd bulls in it chasing cows and dozens of satellite bulls.  It was pure chaos and I had never seen anything like it on public land before!  We stashed the bikes and took off.  The herd stayed ahead of us with the growing light, going farther up the mountain into the dark timer and aspens.  There the herd bulls all split off into different areas.  We spent the next few hours working in on different bulls and passing each in hopes of a bigger one.  Now remember Steve had never killed an animal before this, so it was killing him to pass on branch-antlered bulls less than 40 yards from us!  But we had a goal and I wasn’t going to let him settle for less in a special unit like this.

          After lunch and short nap, a storm rolled in with some steady rain and heavy winds.  The elk became vocal again and we were back to chasing bugles in the timber.  After a couple of close calls with some big bulls in timber we were down to the last hour of daylight.  Steve pointed out some elk in a meadow about 2 miles away.  We quickly set up the spotting scope and saw that there was a really nice shooter bull in them.  We hustled toward them and belly crawled across a grass hillside to a small knob about 400 yards from them.  This bull was a solid 6x6 and a shooter in Steve’s book.  As we were watching the herd, more elk were filtering down out of the aspens above us and multiple herd bulls were screaming their heads off just out of sight.  Steve then asked me about a bull off to our left that had just appeared.  His antlers dwarfed is body size!  He was the biggest bull in sight and quickly became our focus.  While he slowly fed away from us Steve practiced dry firing to calm his nerves.  The bull then turned broadside, I called the range to Steve, and he shot…and missed!  The elk were all on alert now and Steve’s nerves were through the roof!  I spoke to him calmly to help him resettle for the next shot.  Steve did his part and made a good shot on the bull that put him down.  We could tell that the bull was down but not dead, so Steve worked his way toward the bull and put a finishing round in him.

 

           

          After a much-deserved celebration and picture session we settled in to break down the elk.  I told Steve to get out his knives and saw.  He informed me that he left them in another pack back at the bikes…over 2 miles away! I was shocked but not worried because I had a knife with me.  I then told Steve to get his game bags and rope out, to which he replied that those also were at the bikes…over 2 miles away!  When I picked my jaw up off the ground for the second time, I asked him to get his headlamp out so that he could help me gut the elk.  He again responded that his lights were at the bikes…over 2 miles away!  At this point my shock turned to frustration which eventually turned to humor.  You couldn’t have scripted this worse!  Needless to say, Steve got a crash course in breaking down an elk in the gutless method with one knife, one light, and barely enough rope to hang uncovered quarters in a tree.  Thankfully it was cold enough that the flies were not an issue.  Even though Steve felt terrible for leaving all of his equipment, I know he learned in many ways what not to do next time. 

         That night we rode back to camp in the pitch-dark night, startling herds of elk and deer, whose eyes looked like floating orbs in our headlamps.  It was another sight I have never seen and may never see again.  We got back to camp at 3 AM, crashed, and got up at 7 AM to retrieve the bull.  We had to ride in 3 miles on bike, hike 1.5 to the bull, and then repeat twice coming out with quarters.  Riding out with the heavy elk quarters going uphill and rocketing downhill with their momentum was an experience and quite a sight!  After logging 45 miles on our legs, in 36 hours, of hiking and riding we were finally done and thoroughly exhausted!  Never have I have experienced such a unique elk hunt and I will never forget it.  We used mountain bikes to gain access to hundreds of elk, heard over 500 elk bugles in one day, captured amazing elk footage, shot a great DIY, public land bull, and earned every part of it.

 

           

           Keep this hunt in mind when you are planning your next Western venture.  Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to accessing areas or retrieving game.  Bikes, game carts, llama or horse rentals, pack goats, drop camps, and horse packers are just a few of the options out there.  Also, don’t forget to diversify where you apply.  Don’t make every application for a premium unit or you might only get to hunt the West a couple of times.  Hunt general units so when you draw a premium tag you will be more experienced to get that trophy.  Western hunting always beats sitting at home.

 

 

Hunt hard, hunt often and be out in it.
 
Adam Oberheu
@roubideaulife
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