Well I wasn't able to begin to scout much till July 24th. I took Taylor with me to set out the cameras on what was probably her hardest horseback ride ever. She did pretty well going down to my honey hole from the 2008 hunt. We saw a mature bull across French Creek as we got near the "special place" though. We set a camera on the same tree as before and rode back to the truck through some Quakies that had some of the thickest, tallest undergrowth I've ever seen. I couldn't see the fallen logs and the horses had a heckuva time traipsing around in it. It turned into a burned out timber stand before we got out to the ridge. Hard to tell how many elk were around there when you can't see the ground. That was a great start to the scouting process.
I think the horses were really disappointed when we rode past the truck to the other canyon. We plunged over the side and went straight down to the bottom to a well used wallow that I saw last time. That spring was running pretty hard and will surely be a good wallow again. I set this camera where it could watch that spot as the rut gets closer come September. We rode up the middle of the little draw that we came down and finally made back to the truck. Bo and Fritz were happy enough to get in the trailer to come home.
After 7 1/2 miles of up, down and in and out, we had two of the cameras set and ready to spy.
The next week, dad and a couple of friends went with me to check the cameras and set up a ground blind that I borrowed from a friend. Thanks Shane. I thought we were going to have to build it from scratch. That would have been a long day. Coming up from camera #2, we ran into a decent 6 point bull. He was already a shooter on the last day of July. I would like to see him again now that the hunt has started.
After a couple of promising visits to the camera sites and seeing a bunch of cows and calves that came in and out for the first two weeks, things took a nasty dive. Sheep, the bane of hunters everywhere, with their accompanying dogs and herders, came through both places and mowed down the feed and stunk up the place in general. Then some batteries died prematurely. Add to that some videos of bears at the honey hole and big tracks by the #2 cam and we have a recipe for failure.
Since I hadn't seen bulls anywhere else nor had time to look elsewhere, I still decided that since elk were pretty habitual animals from year to year and the sheep had moved on for at least two weeks, I was going to sit in the blind anyway. There is no way for a person to sneak around quietly with all the drying out foliage that grew this year. I figured that sitting on water was a good idea. So I sat...from 6 am until 7 pm on opening day. Oh my knees and back! Given the state that those parts are in, that was a killer. I wasn't alone though. I had four small birds fly into the blind window and freak out. The chipmunks that were harvesting seeds all day attempted several times to jump into the "branches" that were in the camo pattern on the tent wall. I wish I could have watched them bounce off. That was pretty funny. I wonder how often they do that since the blind has been there for about three weeks. I did have a doe come in to drink and walked in front of my shooting window. I kept the boredom at bay with my phone apps and a book. That was fine and dandy till my battery died.
Evening came and went with no elk. I had a lot to think about on the hike out. What to do next week. It looks like it will get even hotter. There's actually water everywhere (so much for past habits). I hope that an idea comes my way, cuz I don't know where the bulls are hanging out. I thought it could be, hoped it would be, very similar to the last time. Not even close...
I will post some of the more interesting scouting vids soon.