We got to the Mesa the Thursday night before the Saturday opener for 2nd rifle season. This was our home for the first few days.
The view wasn’t too bad….
We scouted the area on Friday and put about 9 miles and 1100 feet of elevation change on our boots.
We had good sign and a plan for opening day.
We watched this area for elk on the move when the shooting started and with hunters moving in the woods..
No luck there so we dropped over the face of the Mesa to try and catch a bull moving up or down the face.
This was the typical slope we were traversing over the faces.
ON day two we hunted several open parks like we would a white tail deer.
We actually saw a large number of decent sized Mule deer during the hunt. And a porcupine and coyotes and a bunch of birds I had never seen or heard before.
The crows were mimicking the sounds of other birds too.
There was enough hunting pressure in the open areas that we pushed deep into the off trail areas looking for the bachelor bulls on the third day.
We packed up the tent and moved a couple of miles deeper into the Mesa.
We started using the ATV to get us some more distance up the trail before dropping off and into the thick stuff.
Much of what we were in was the aspens and pine blowdowns or dark timber.
We would get up early and have a hot breakfast courtesy of a
Jet Boil and Mountain Home freeze dried foods.
Then get about 2-3 miles in away from the trails. John has the ON-X hunting app and we used that to point us to the less traveled areas. Always arriving well before sunrise. Venus was still visible and bright as could be.
Hunting with a Marine Infantry Captain I learned how to hump quickly and quietly and how to dress as not to sweat and chill.
It took me a couple of days as he was always moving faster than I was used to but I finally landed on : Base layer un-tucked, wind shell un-zipped, 45 pound pack with all other layers inside – Go!...
This was the only way I would not get sweaty and then chilled moving into the hunting spot for the day.
We would stay out all day and snack on trail mix, cliff bars and Jerky. A 2 liter Camelback with water and a Nalgene bottle with electrolyte replacement fluids kept us hydrated.
We would head back in the dark getting to camp about 2000 most nights.
Another Mountain home meal and into the sleeping bag to do it all again the next day.
We covered quite a bit of territory and found a couple of groups of elk cows and spike bulls but never got on the bachelor bull group.
We saw a lot of bear scat and this paw in the mud too.
Another cool discovery was walking up on a beaver pond.
There were two lodges on this one.
We had a blast together and I think I even gained some respect in the kid’s eyes as I was able to hang with him all week and was not the reason we ever slowed down. This was the weekly total on my Garmin watch app and does not include the 9 miles we did scouting on Thursday prior.
You cant say we did not try to find the bachelor group.. 64 miles in 8 days..
As the trip reached its sunset we were already talking about next year and what to do differently. - like have a cow tag and a mule deer tag in our pockets too since that is what we saw the most of.
Thanks to all of you who chimed in with tips and advice. We were well prepared, knew what to expect and all of the gear performed as expected. Until next year....