Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The great elk hunt

We were at a wedding reception this past weekend and were talking with some friends, Chad and Cathy. Somewhere in the conversation we started talking about how Julie and I saw tons of deer and moose in Park City, but no elk. Turns out Chad is an elk hunter and it is almost elk season.

Today Chad took me on one of his pre-season explorations, trying to find out where all the elk are hanging out. We drove about an hour, to a location that must remain secret. From there we hiked around in search of some elk.

Chad stopped to take a hit off his bong, or so I thought. Actually it was his elk call. When the male elk start getting frisky, entering the rutting season, they start bugling. Chad was making a very nice (I thought) elk bugle to encourage the other males to call back or come see who we were.

We picked a glorious day, although it started at 27 degrees. As soon as the sun came up, it warmed up quickly.

Is this an elk? Nope. However, we saw seven moose! We started with 3 bulls and 2 cows (not all together). Then driving out at the end of our morning, we saw a cow and a calf. These moose tended to be much more skittish than the Park City moose, who will stand in front of your car and stare you down.

This must be an elk. Nope, just one of the dozens of mule deer we saw. If I was hunting from the window of the SUV, I could have been tagging these things left and right.

Look closely (double click if you have to). Are these elk? Nope. These are hundreds of free range sheep. They were chatting up a storm. We could hear them from a half mile away, over a ridge line. It was actually annoying when you are listening carefully for other animals.

Damn it! These must be elk. Nope just a few cows that were wandering around.

I give up. How can you see seven moose and not a single elk? As far as I can tell, elk are just allergic to me. The worst part was walking back to the SUV after a few hours of hiking around. Chad, as a hunter, always watches the ground for tracks. We couldn't be certain, but it really looked like an elk had followed us up the hill from where we parked. If so, I personally would like to hunt that one.

I decided to include these two pictures I took at Yellowstone to prove that, at least in Wyoming, I was able to get close enough to photograph an elk. Now I just need a Utah elk.

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