Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Elk Hunt Success, Garner's take.

Garner's take on the elk hunt....

We camped at "Possible Camp 2"

We got one, and this is how it all went down.

We left Vegas at 5pm on Friday evening after a long work week at school .  The weather forecast said that there would be significant thunderstorms in the area north of town.  We headed out anyway with a fully loaded truck and our hearts set on a successful elk hunt.  This would be our last weekend up in Ely for elk, as the tag would expire in 2 days.

The drive up was full of excitement.  Luckily, we got out of town without too much delay.  Once we hit the open road north of town, a lurking storm cloud hung in the distance.  For the rest of the drive to Ely we had a rainstorm combined with a lighting show that followed us the whole way.  At times, the lighting was so intense we could see the surroundings like it was daylight.  Off the left side of the car I even caught a glimpse of a bolt hitting the ground and casting off a bright orange fiery light.

We heard from Alan and Garth  that they were about 20-30 minutes ahead of us and we planned to meet in Ely at the supermarket.  Little did we know, they got caught in a police road stop due to flash flooding and were held back.  Unknowingly, we ended up passing them and kept driving to Ely as they were in a gas station.  Oops. 

The supermarket stop was quick and simple; just ice and lunch sandwiches were added to the cooler.  Alan’s Jeep wasn’t in the lot, so we assumed  they had already continued on to the camp.  We decided to head out towards McGill, Nevada, just north of Ely, without waiting around any longer as it was still raining and the temps were dropping. 

Our  pre-arranged camp location was in the north section of the permitted area, just north of the last irrigation pivot.  We took the county line road for about a mile and then headed north on East Goshute Lake trail.  The entire area was flat with many puddles forming from the rain.  We set up in the first area that was cleared with spaces for tents.  To our benefit, the rain stopped for just a moment and we set up the tent, got in, and secured ourselves for the next big dump of rain.  It was all good until a monster storm came over with lightning strikes next to us.  We decided to jump into the truck to ride out the storm.  For 45 minutes we watched the lighting hit around the truck.  Once back in the tent, we slept in until 6:30am.  With the heavy cloud cover the desert was still dark at this time.

Waking up was a little difficult since we only got a couple hours of sleep.  When it finally stopped raining, we donned the rain gear and headed out.  It was beautiful!  There was a clear view down the entire Steptoe Valley with a low lying cloud in the foreground.  

The rain looked like it was letting up for awhile, so we prepped the hunting gear in the truck and I went to the back to get the rifle ready.  As I was getting the rifle ready, I hear Katherine say, “There are elk coming right at us!”  No way, I thought, and sure enough, there was a cow elk running right for the camp.  It was being chased by a bull and traveling at a full sprint.  I took the rifle to the front of the H3 and plopped it on the hood and said, “Katherine, what’s the distance?”  She had the binoculars with the rangefinder, but couldn’t get a good reading since they were sprinting.  By now they were close, but running from my right to left making a difficult shot, especially since the sagebrush was so high.  I shouted, “I’m going to put one out in the dirt to startle them so they stop.” I did, and it did nothing.  They just kept running and then headed over the berm, out of sight.  They ended up getting about 150 yards from us, and I didn’t take a shot.  This was the closest we had been to them in the entire hunt, if you don’t count almost running them over with the truck on the highway early one morning.

After the excitement, we headed out in the H3 in the general direction the two elk were running: a north on the East Goshute Lake Trail. We never saw them again, as they probably crossed the highway to the elk resort.  Whatever is across the street must be nice since every elk we see pretty much bee lines there out of our hunting zone.  There is probably free ice cream for them or something!

At this point, we headed to the connection with the highway, went north to the intersection with the Nevada Northern Railway, and came back to the county line road.  We were doing some spotting along the pivots and saw Alan and Garth in the white Jeep, so we headed back to camp.  We talked about the crazy drive up from Las Vegas and how we missed each other.  Oh well, now the group was together and we headed out in pursuit of elk.

There had been no rain for hours and we could see up and down the valley.  Nothing.  We decided to take what we call the “diagonal road” across the lake bed.  I thought this was a bad idea since the place was dumped with rain for hours on end.  It was a sloppy mess.  We made it across, but only after thinking we were going to get stuck 50 times.   It made for some good pictures once we made it.  After driving around for a couple hours and seeing no elk, we decided to go back to camp.

Back at camp, we planned the next morning.  Wake up would be at 5am, putting us in location a few minutes before the legal sunrise time.   After some great chicken chili that Tammy made for us, and a pasta dish Garth brought, we turned in for the night.  The next day was Sunday and it was to be our last effort for elk in the area.  Awesome things were about to happen.

The alarm went off soon enough and we packed up our gear inside the tent.   I was surprised that the night never got that cold.  There was no breeze and only a few clouds.  A group of clouds was directly east, hopefully staying there to prolong the morning blast of sun.  I wanted to get into position quickly and listen for calls.  The other tent woke up quickly form their snoring slumber and got their things together.  We could hear elk bugles in the distance if we were really quiet.  We scanned around the perimeter of the camp for possible elk and saw nothing. Off to the pivots.

We took the East Goshute Lake Trail to the County Line road.  At this point we were at the NW point of the irrigation pivot arms.  Typically, this has been a great place to spot, so we go out and gave it a try.  Engines were off and all binoculars were up.  BOOM!  There they were.  Three elk in the distance to the Southwest and 3 more off to their left.  Now, were they dudes, or chics?  We have experienced this same problem before, following the bulls around looking for antlerless elk.

Garth and I grabbed our field bags, rifles and radios and headed out towards the elk on foot. Katherine and Alan stayed with the trucks. It seemed that the elk were 800 – 1200 yards out as we began, and we would not be able to tell if there were any antlers on them until we got closer.  We walked a few hundred yards from the trucks and started using the calls.  The first one I used was the “cow estrus” call and it worked marvelously.   The bulls started walking straight towards us, and then went into a full run for a moment. They seemed amped for love!  We moved a bit farther into the field, sneaking behind the sagebrush as we went.  We got into a good location, about 200 yards from the animals, and saw only antlers, and they were HUGE!  Two of the bulls came within 100 yards  from us and we got a little spooked.  Too close for me, and Garth agreed.  We started talking at a normal volume and stood up a bit.  Once the elk saw us, it seemed that they got a little embarrassed that we were not their true love, so they bolted to the north, out of here. 

The whole time we were in radio contact with the trucks, and Alan thought he saw some more out in the distance to the Southwest.  Garth and I kept looking for them, but never saw anything, and there was no way we were going to just go for a 2-3 mile stroll.  We crouched down and thought about this for a minute.  I scanned the area again with the binoculars and saw 2 other hunting parties on the perimeter of the irrigation pivots south of our vehicles.  The other hunters had their binoculars up and were looking west into the valley.   As I was talking to Garth, Katherine radioed to me, “Guys there is an elk running right at you!”  No way, I thought.  We slowly stuck our heads above the sage brush, and sure enough, there was a little one running right at us, but kind of far away.  I decided to use the distressed calf call and see what would happen.  The elk stopped, redirected itself to the call, and came right at us.  Cool!  I said to Garth, “You feel good at 300-400 yards?”  He said, “Sure.”  I was to the left of him and a little in front of his rifle’s muzzle.  I tried to scoot to the left and back up a bit, but could only do so much within the tight bushes. The elk came within 100-150 yards, still walking and he took a shot.  He missed.  Now the elk took a turn to our left, putting me in the way of Garth’s rifle.  He said, “You’re in the way, now it’s your turn.”

         I quickly threw the rifle on my knee, put the crosshairs on the elk, saw no antlers, and fired.  It went over on it’s right side to the dirt below.  We both jumped up and ran over to it.  It took another shot to end it quickly and respectfully.  What laid in front of us a was a beautiful young elk that the 5 of us, over the course of 4 weekends, had been trying to hunt.  Now, it was time for a few pictures, moment of respect, and to radio the trucks for more gear.  We just gave the other hunting parties a little show as well.  I felt a bump over my right eye and had blood in my eyebrow.  Ouch!

The shot was made at about 60 yards and I hit it high in the center of the back.  Unfortunately, this is where some of the best meat is.  I’ll take it though.

Alan and Katherine were there soon enough and the field dressing began.  It went by really quick, or at least it seemed to.  The elk was quartered and the four of us loaded it up on our backs to carry to the trucks. From there, we made it to the campsite in just a few minutes and got all the meat on ice and packed up the camp.  We were now heading home.

The day was overloaded with excitement and the hunt finally was at it’s end.  I just wish that the other guys got lucky and we could all have more meat in the freezer.  The drive home was a relaxing five hour drive back to Las Vegas.  We took the meat to the processor and in a week we would have perfectly wrapped and prepared cuts.   I can’t wait to get the hunting party together at my place to cook up a feast.  Those pictures will have to be posted.

I will surely try for elk permits again in the next season.  Our state is a beautiful place to hunt and take advantage of the outdoors.  Deer season is coming up for me in the same area.  Let’s see what happens.   After my October deer tag is up, Jason has a deer tag for the Mesquite area where Alan and I got one a couple of years ago.  Bring it!!!

This is the Sous Vide machine cooking our first sampling of the elk.  

Salt, pepper, and a little rosemary sprig.

This masterpiece was cooked for 2 hours. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Elk hunting in review

Garner, Katherine, Garth, Jager and I headed up to Ely for one last shot at an Elk. The Friday drive turned into a monsoon! We were not able to connect at the prescribed camp site until Sat morning, but it all worked out. Saturday was a lot of scouting and driving through mud. Sunday morning yielded an immediate spotting of the herd. Garth and Garner set out on foot, used the calls and in came 3 magnificent Bull Elk. After letting them pass, in comes what we thought was a small Cow elk. It was a young bull.  The tag is "antlerless" so all was good.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Trip info

1)  Last chance for Cow Elk - Depart for Ely Friday, Sept 26th, return Sunday evening Sept 28th. Sage Grouse in season.

2)  Start of Mule deer (Garner & Garth) Depart for Ely Saturday morning, October 4th, possible grouse hunt in the evening, Deer season starts Sunday morning Oct 5th.  Possibly depart Friday evening Oct 3rd in order to Grouse hunt Sat morning.

3) Saturday October 11th, start of Quail/Chukar season. Kane Springs? Gold Butte?

4) Mule deer continued 2nd and 3rd weekends of October possibly in Ely. Chukkar also?

5) Mule deer for Jason Virgin Peak November

I'm in for all of these, so let me know.


Monday, September 8, 2014

....and that is why it is called hunting

It's hunting, not harvesting indeed.

10 days and 9 nights. It was a lot of work both in prep and in action. More lessons learned. Here's a brief recap more photo's to come, these were just on my phone.

Tammy, Jager and I arrived in Ely late Friday night, set up camp at the Prospector Casino RV park.  Saturday the larger group arrived and we went to the range for the predetermined practice session.

Sunday, we set up camp, scouted a bit and of course stayed up way too late. Monday was a long day and Garner, Katherine, Andrew, Tammy, Jason, Mirvate, Dan & Mitch all headed back to Las Vegas. Garth observed that it felt like we had a giant house party and now everybody was gone. Jager, Garth and I had a few days alone as Ryan was delayed.

Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of stalking tracks and logging countless hours hiking the upper steptoe valley.

Where are these "Elk" you speak of?

Garth to Jager "yeah I'm ready for bird hunting also."
Jager to Ryan "it's 95 degrees! Where's my beer?"

Jager to Alan "Elk hunting sucks!"
We shifted from stalking the bedding down spots over to let's just go hang out by the fence where we at least know we'll see some Bulls. Yup, the gang of 13 was raising hell just as we had been told.  13 beautiful trophy sized Bull Elk. Almost all 6x6, maybe a 5x5 but no 7x7's that I could confirm. These teenagers are the reason for the depredation hunt. They tear up anything and everything in their path. They are not the Alpha though. He was lurking about and Garth even mistook him for a truck running in the distance! He's a big ol beast and possibly a 7x7. He's not yet gathered up his Harem, but I think he will get it done in a month or so. Maybe if we go back the end of the month the cow's will be around. We did spot a few cow's here and there, but never got close enough for a shot. They seem to be scattered, if around at all.

Jager and I did get to witness a great chase scene with some Pronghorn. Pardon the terrible phone photo's but this was a definitely Alpha male vs a wannabe.

I'd run from those horns also!
They came at us at full speed, which given this is the 2nd fastest land animal on the planet, this whole scene played out very quickly.

This is about 20 yards in front of us
The bigger faster male caught the other at the end of these hay bales, knocked him down then they took off back towards us again, with the bigger male poking him the whole way. By this time (10 seconds into it) Jager took note and let them know he was there (barking, which he rarely does).

Jager to strange very fast unknown creatures "HEY why do you keep poking him in the butt?"
Motivation to run faster?
It was a good time. More posts to come, and lots of hunting left to be had. Send me your photo's and post your own view of the hunt when you get a chance!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Last Last Minute prep

Packing the trailer tonight. Updated plans are this:

Tammy, Jager and I leaving Friday night, driving slow, probably staying at the RV park at the Prospector Casino which is on the north side of Ely. 
Garner, Katherine & Andrew leaving Las Vegas at 7am, getting to Ely at 11am ish, staying at Hotel Nevada.
Jason & Mirvate also leaving Sat morning.
Mitch Johnson & Dan Kalutkiewicz who work with Jason and I at IBM are also joining us Saturday in Ely and will help scout Sunday and Monday. 
Garth is coming up Sunday and will go straight to camp.
Ryan is coming Monday and will go straight to camp. 
Of note, we'll be on 2-way radio channel 7-10 and for Garth and Ryan I will send GPS coordinates as soon as we make camp. If you don't have a radio, please let me know, we have plenty to share. 

Decided to not buy any more coolers. I think we have enough. Jason has a medium size for his ice blocks, Garner has a medium Yeti. Garth has a 110. I have 2 ARB freezers plus the fridge in the camper, then we have these 6 for a total of 9 coolers and 3 powered freezers:
The weather looks great so far, but don't trust the forecast, be prepared for at least a little bit of rain and mud. For your vehicles, plan to buy a gallon of windshield washer fluid when you fill up with gas somewhere along the way, probably in Ely, and fill it up. If it isn't raining and muddy, it will be dusty. Either way, you'll want to use it extensively. Alternatively, fill it up now, then refill the jug with water for an additional cooling brick!
Updated meal plans while camping:
Cold breakfast & lunches on your own.
Tammy and/or I will cook dinner every night.
Sunday night - hamburgers - 10 people
Monday  - Alan, Garth & Ryan (pre made re heat on campfire stuff)
Tuesday - Alan, Garth, Ryan
Wednesday - Alan, Garth, Ryan
Thursday - Jason (plus guest?), Tammy, Alan, Garth, Ryan
Friday - Garner, Katherine, Andrew, Other Brother, Jason, Tammy, Alan, Garth, Ryan (9) 
Sat - same
Sun - all go home, if not sooner

Obviously, plans will change, but this is it as of today. 

Lots of questions surrounding "processing." I will send that out in an email for you to print, study & discuss. 

If you forgot something, no worries, just go to the sporting goods store in Ely. As always, just ask if questions! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jager is ready, but are we?

Jager has graduated from finally. He went from 51 pounds down to 44 and grew about 1/2" taller. It's been great working with Jared Moss of He has two litters available if anybody is up for it. I highly recommend it!  Jager will be up in Ely the whole time, hanging back with me. After he figures out the Elk hunt routine, I'll move up closer with him. We'll also plan to hit the edge of the mountains where the blue grouse hang out. We got Jager a Garmin Alpha for graduation. It's an amazing piece of technology.

Went to the Range with Garth last night, dialed in his 30-06 and new scope.  Did a tune up on the .243 and my .338-06. The downside is I'm low on .338-06 ammo, so I've ordered more and will dial it in on Sat morning at 6am.

338-06 100 yards

Jager holding point on a bobwhite quail while Jared discusses the training. Jager is sporting his new Garmin Alpha. I have the controler/GPS off camera and usage of the training apparatus is what we are discussing.

Jager holding point, looking back wondering why we are talking and taking photo's instead of letting him flush the bobwhite quail.

Jager retrieving the bobwhite quail

Jared working with Jager

Monday, August 18, 2014

last minute equipment?

Here are some last minute suggestions:

add it to your phone, turns it into a great GPS complete with our hunting area info including private land etc... It will work outside of cell signal. There's a trick to using it in that you need to "cache" in the maps by zooming in all of the areas you want ahead of time. I can work with you on it but I do recommend a GPS device of some kind.  Cost is $30, available for both IOS and Android. I plan to add it to my iPad.
Ap store has a "free" ap which then takes you through the marketing and purchase process. It's a subscription, so it is only good for this hunting season.  Not so bad because you get new maps every year.

Game bags. Don't worry about getting the expensive heavy canvas Elk ones. The cheap cheese cloth deer ones are fine, but you need at least 5 of them.

Cooler bricks. Don't spend a lot of money on this. If you can't find them at Walmart or Target, just freeze a case of bottled water as cold as possible (zero or colder) then pack them tightly together in an ice chest. For everybody coming up several days early, this won't work very well, but we'll figure it out by rotating them into the 2 freezers I have. If anything, it will be great to have plenty of cold water to drink at camp! "The plan" is for my freezers to be running at all times in the jeeps and always be full of bricks at zero degrees so that we are ready to go at a moments notice to retrieve 2 elk at the same time.

Here's how this could play out:

You and your scout down an elk. You radio back to camp or the trailing scout your exact GPS location. The 3rd person jumps in what ever vehicle is back at camp, then heads out getting as close as possible to the downed location. Using your maps and GPS, you will see the roads and terrain and know exactly the best way to get there. It may be that you can not drive all the way to the game down position. The hunter and the scout during this time will use the small tarp you are carrying as well as the game bags and tools in your pack to "process" the elk and bag the meat to shield it from insects and sun. If you have questions on "processing" just ask me. I'll put together step by step suggestions for you to carry with you upon request. If by chance the jeep/truck can't make it to the down position, the 3 people will saddle up with straps and carry it. Good times!
These are just suggestions, this is your hunt, have fun and do what you think is best.  Sleep late, wait for one to walk across the road in front of you - just as likely to happen as any other scenario!

Jagermeister should be back in Beaver tonight from his "study abroad" in Montana. We did finally get a couple of photos:

Jager with trainer in Montana

Jager on point in Montana
I'm not sure how they were able to not only get to Montana but all the way back to 1974 but I bet this is the truck they are driving!

1974 International Scout

Friday, August 15, 2014

August Meeting and Range Time

Alan, good plan on the food and schedule.  Thanks for typing all that up.  Below is a little report from me.

Meeting on Wednesday was a success for sure.  You can't beat happy hour deals at SAGOs!  It was also great to see everyone at one time that is going to part of this hunt.  Well, everyone except Jager, Jonathan, and Andrew!

This guys somehow knows what's going on.  Hard to believe, I know.

It must be noted that Ryan got a super sweet radio install in his truck.  It's the same Yaesu 857-D that I have with 2 batteries, but a little different installation arrangement.  I like it.  He likes it.  This is for some boom boom radio communication within our hunting party as well as communicating back to Vegas while we are out.  Cell phones don't work up there.  I have someone in Vegas to relay messages we send from the field to all others in town.  Pretty cool.  We will be active on 2 meters, 80M and 40M.  I can't wait to try this all out.

Nice dash control mount job.  Perfectly in reach.

Wiring with isolator and charge controller.

Ryan with the amazing tool box.  Battery inside and 3, yes I said 3 antenna mounts.  He has the auto adjustable Yaesu screwdriver, 2M antenna, and a stand alone 80M stick.  Yes, he just outdid me.  I wont believe it until I communicate with the guys midweek while I am back in Vegas.  Unbelievable.

Second battery.  Air compressor.  TP.  Nice.

How did this get in here?  Oh yeah, I got the H3 from the dealer for a brake flush and parked the cavi next to this ride.  Is it time to trade in the cavi for something a little quicker?  Can you fit an elk in the back?

Now for the range time today.

We all met at Desert Sportsman's range outside of Las Vegas on Charleston.  I was surprised to see others there at 6am, but there were.  This place is only 15 min from home and I should have pursued it long ago.  Ryan is a member and he got us all in to shoot.  As you can see, the weather was perfect.  No clouds or wind, and about 75 deg.

Green Bus, Black Mamba, and Snow White.

Ryan's .338 WinMag on top with Alan's .338-06 on the bottom.  Big boy rounds compared to my .308.

My first group was the AE FMJ 150gr rounds.  I sprayed them in a 6" group and cried for a little bit at 100yds.  OK.... More coffee.  I chilled out and tried again with much better results with the same ammo.  But, the second group with the Sierra Matchking was a different story.  The 175gr bullet grouped in less than half the area.  Now we were talking.  I was also getting used to this new Geisselle trigger.  I went to 200yds and then out to 300yds.  

After a few range "hot" sessions, I went for the gong at 300 yds.  Ding!!!! Ok, then I did it again.  So it thought, let's got for the one at 400yds.  My first shot hit in the dirt lifting a giant dust cloud.  Let me try that again, I thought.  The second shot.... Ding!!!!  400yds!  I have never even shot at 400yds before.  I used the distance crosshairs in the scope for about 350yds and kept hitting it.  Then Katherine took a try.... Ding!!!  Yeah!  Then Ryan.... Ding!  The SCAR was making everyone happy, but will it bring home the elk in a few weeks?  I would like to keep the animal within 300yds, but I will not be shooting off of a concrete table.  Ideally, I will be in the laying down "prone" position with the bipod legs in the sand.  With the high sagebrush that might not be possible and I will have to use a tripod like the pics below.  

The range showed all of us things we need to work on and check.  Another session will have to happen next week.  Also, I need to run the actual hunting ammo I will be using.  Today, I just fired 2 rounds of the 180gr bullets with success.  They act very similar to the Sierra Matchking rounds.  

Alan and Gman

Ryan testing out his skills on the tripod.

The crater in the back holds the 400yd gong.

Range Officer Katherine on duty.

200yd group with the SCAR

Inspecting the 300yd gong.

View looking back from the 400yd location.  Beautiful desert for sure.