This hunt has really got me baffled. I mean, here it is “prime time” for the elk rut, and the bulls in this unit are showing little interest in cows. The only big bulls we have seen so far have been loners out cruising, and there have been few of those and they are always high in the mountains where they are virtually inaccessible. At dawn, if we hear any bugling, it is one or two quick shots right at daybreak, and that is it. In the evenings, same thing. The country is steep and thick, the grass is chest high in places, and there is water everywhere. The bulls are not wallowing yet even though in an adjacent unit we are getting reports of the bulls rolling in mud and screaming their heads off.
Today Scott Swensen, my outfitter and I take a 4-wheeler up into the low cedar and sagebrush country before dawn to glass for elk. We are trying to find the herd that had been coming into the alfalfa field we have permission to hunt but, mysteriously, have stopped doing so during daylight hours. It only takes me 20 minutes to glass them up from a half-mile away (love those Bushnell 10×43’s!) as they weave through the tall cedars and bed less than 30 minutes after the first hint of daylight. Unfortunately for us they are bedding on private ground which we cannot gain access to. And so we leave them.
At noon I hike back to my tree stand over the wallow where I sit until nearly 8:00 p.m. before hopping down and making the hour trek back to the truck. I do not see or hear a bull in all that time though I did have a very cool encounter with a small hawk that perched in my tree and kept me company for two hours.
Tomorrow, I decide, I will have Scott drop me off on the top of the mountain and work my way down, covering as much ground as I can trying to find a bull that wants to play.