Elk hunting during the September rut is one of two things — a cacophony of bugling, cow squealing, and antler raking that stands the hair right up on the back of your neck. Or, it can be quiet as a church. So far on our hunt in central Utah, it has been the latter.
Outfitter Scott Swensen of Pines Ranch took me to glass some low country today that he said in past years always holds a fair number of elk and some really nice bulls. Out at dawn we began glassing lots of country but saw few elk, and heard zero bugling save for a couple of soar-throated hunters up on the public ground to the West.
Sitting up high I glasses hard into the low country looking for action.
Conditions this year are ideal, if you are an elk. Heavy rains have swollen local creeks and catch basins, and the grass in the open meadows is thigh high in many places. Even inside the dark timber, there is a lot of grass, meaning the elk have no reason to leave the tight cover.
In other words, this is going to be a real hunt, not one of those slam dunk, private and deals you see so often on the cable TV shows. Which, truth be known, is the way I prefer it.
In the afternoon I hiked an hour into the tree stand set over the wallow where clients in past years have seen a lot of elk, but nothing came in. However, there is another, smaller wallow about a quarter mile south of where I am at, and I can hear a couple of bulls bugle once or twice every afternoon, probably from there beds, not far from there. I am thinking of setting another tree stand there tomorrow at some point.