2019 Alberta Elk Hunt

Discussion in 'Traditional Muzzleloader Hunting' started by Walkingeagle, Sep 2, 2019.

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  1. Sep 16, 2019 #21

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    32 Cal.

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    Location:
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    11 hours to expedition departure..
    This day started two hours before sunrise as preparations for the trip had to be adjusted, however the gear is now all repacked and reorganized since becoming informed the “covered wagon” wont survive the access route into the “remote” elk camp, was forced to reassess all pieces of equipment and food supplies as there is limited space and weight for the “pack mule.” Only absolute necessities were selected. As the local water is suspect, ample water supplies had priority, followed by (hopefully) enough food rations for the maximum trip duration of two weeks. Also decided on sticking to the original plan of taking the .50 GPH percussion and home cast 370gr Maxiballs from my Lyman mould. This rifle is yet unproven in making meat, so there is pressure on it to perform and earn a proper name before the expeditions end. Weather appears to be cooling down, and all signs indicate it should continue as such. This day ended with a good meal of turkey chowder and an early to bed. Soon we will be off...
    Walk
     
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  2. Sep 16, 2019 #22

    KTK458

    KTK458

    KTK458

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    Can't wait for the report. Good luck!
     
  3. Sep 17, 2019 #23

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Sept 16, day 1....

    Rose before sunrise to finish the final packing and managed to hit the trail roughly 3 hours after sunrise. Clear with just partial cloud, cool and heavy dew to start the day. Long trip for the mule but around mid afternoon finally arrived. The trail in is in-fact not really good and the wagon definitely would not have survived! Lots of excitement in camp with the last party member arriving at supper time. Plans are being made for who will be hunting where come the morning, and a few social drinks are being poured. This group does not indulge, and in fact myself and another not at all, so social is indeed the case. Supper was a nice chilli, so both wall tents should be wonderful tonight!! The evening ended with two bulls sounding off within a few hundred yards of camp.

    Bring on opening morning.

    Walk
     
  4. Sep 17, 2019 #24

    Oregononeshot

    Oregononeshot

    Oregononeshot

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    Good luck! Looking forward to reading your updates. My first elk hunt with a muzzloader starts October 12. Your story is going to keep me pumped until my season!
     
  5. Sep 17, 2019 #25

    Crane Senior

    Crane Senior

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    Best of luck, looking forward to the next installment.
     
  6. Sep 18, 2019 #26

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Sept 17, day 2 and season opener....

    Rough nights sleep, full moon shining and elk sounding off all around all night. We figure the closest was within 250yards. High hopes to start the morning for sure!

    Clear skies, light fog and a few degrees below freezing. Should be a good day.

    After my morning pill routine and chemo completed, we boiled water for tea and oatmeal breakfast then everyone departed. Son-in-law and I headed North out of camp then turned East on an old trail towards the direction we felt most of the previous nights activities had been taking place. Once we were about 600 yards from camp we stopped and I let go with my first bugle of the season. After about 10 minutes wait I let a second followed by a series of cow chirps. Almost instantly there was a response, just North and an estimated about 300 yards East. We jumped up and closed the ground by half, sent another bugle and received an instant response. We closed about 100 yards further, set up about 50 yards apart from each other, and I started cow calling. This bull started cranking the bugles and he was close!

    Now let me describe the terrain a little. This area is not the majestic western mountain meadows we all read about in the books or magazines, but rather dense boreal forest, with mixed pine, spruce, white/black poplar, birch, willow and alder. Lots of alder! Mix this with the 600’ high banks of a major historical river from the fur trade and it is exactly like our ancestors would have seen it. Thick and wild!

    Anyhow, this bull comes within 50 yards of my son-in-law but all he can see is alders moving as the bull continues my direction. He waits. At 25 yards I have a bull broadside, as the fog from the river settles in before I can ascertain if he is of legal size. Old eyes, fog, vegetation and as of yet poor light do not make a good mix. As all elk hunters know, they don’t stick around long and this was no different, but with my son-in-laws excitement showing the whole thing was worth it. He said “I’ve never had a bull literally screaming in my lap before!” This whole time there were two other bulls calling in the distance so he says “lets go after another,” and we’re off. Several locate calls later we are in some thick spruce with willow undergrowth when I hear a step. We freeze. Visibility is nil and I know we pushed in too close. So I tell him to go off quartering ahead till he finds an opening and I start cow calling. Bull answers and moves closer, son-in-law raises his rifle and holds. I can’t keep the bull long and finally he moves off. Son-in-law reports he “had him quartering towards but was not comfortable with the angle, I hoped he would shift a bit. He was a huge 6x6!” Excitement again, but still held his composure and didn’t try to force things. Gotta be proud of someone like that. By this time the sun is high enough the fog is burnt off. My guts were not good so we parted ways and I slowly headed back to camp to lay down.

    Back at camp, and over lunch I hear that the son-in-law called in a spike bull to about 10 yards, one buddy had two bulls bugling but no visual, and another camp mate had a lone bull playing hide n’seek, but no bulls down. Good mood throughout camp. Very hot and flat calm afternoon though.

    Departed camp about 2.5 hours before end of legal hours, back into the same general area but we split up this time. I slowly ventured into things, cow chirping the whole time but to no avail. With only 15 minutes of legal time left I stumbled upon a small bull at 75 yards. Both of us were surprised, with his reaction time quicker than mine. Oh well. Wandered back into camp and found it had been quiet for everyone. Tired and sore its an early to bed.
     
  7. Sep 18, 2019 #27

    Crane Senior

    Crane Senior

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    Great commentary, you made the day come alive. Thanks.
     
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  8. Sep 18, 2019 #28

    Big Rviers

    Big Rviers

    Big Rviers

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    What a great story. Your first on my morning must read list.
     
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  9. Sep 18, 2019 #29

    QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    Excellent stuff, I can’t wait to read more!
     
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  10. Sep 18, 2019 #30

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

    jrmflintlock

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    Boy that sounds like a lot of fun, don't it!! Keep it coming! I am living vicariously through ya'lls stories since once again I drew no Tags!! Best of luck to you and your group!!
     
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  11. Sep 19, 2019 #31

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Sept 18, day 3...

    Clear star filled Alberta sky, hovering around freezing with a bit of a dewy frost. High fog that didn’t fully lift till almost noon, then another hot, calm afternoon. Great afternoon napping weather!


    Once again, morning pill routine (last day of chemo, for 2 weeks, yay!!) followed by tea and oatmeal then we’re off again. Son-in-law wanted to work a loop so I headed off in another direction. Quite a cool morning with the high fog, and geese. Flocks and flocks of geese! All heading South on their annual migration. More than I remember ever seeing this early in the year. A sure sign winter is just around the corner.

    I slowly worked a series of heavily used game trails, stopping often to look, listen, and just absorb it all. There is the scent of the soil turned by the hooves of the animals, the beautiful fall colors as the leaves change, the smell of the slowly decaying mushrooms and vegetative matter, and the ever present cranberry. I love the smell of those cranberries! That is the signal for hunting season...

    Calling every so often had not yielded anything when suddenly the silence is broken by a single rifle shot, with follow up shots coming a short time later. It appears to be coming from an area one of our party said they were going to try that morning. It is a great location for elk, but very tough to retrieve them as it is deep in the valley. I ponder if I should head back to camp and see if he shows up requesting help, however there have been many times when it wasn’t us at all, but rather hunters on the other side of the river. I decide to continue on my hunt. Besides what can I do to help, with all that muscle waste from the cancer.

    Hours later I have worked my way into the area I hunted last evening where I sit and rest a bit. Suddenly there is an elk bugling a few hundred meters directly North. I let a few cow chirps go and he gives a confirming response. Up and quickly I cover 200 yards, closing the distance somewhat, where I set up and cow chirp again. Before there is time for a response a whitetail bolts away on my right, goes roughly 50 yards and starts to blow, without stopping. I know the gig is up and the elk never makes another sound confirming that fact. Darn deer! After a short, stubborn wait I make the return journey back to camp. Lunch is calling, at least thats what my stomach says anyway.

    At camp I discover that the shot was indeed one of our party, and three of them had already completed the work. Not as much work as I anticipated in fact as he harvested it just outside of the “real work” area. They use of a modern “pony” to drag it right out. Its a very large bodied 7x7 bull, and his personal best. He is quite happy, as are all of us. He loaded it up and made the journey into town for the processor in attempt to beat the afternoon heat. (I have a picture, but it is on a modern wagon just prior to his departure, so not traditional.)

    After lunch its nap time for me to try and recharge some energy, then an early supper and back out for the evening.

    The evening remained clear and dead calm, with the temperature dropping in direct relation with the sun. I decided to head in a different direction for this hunt to just sit and cow chirp. This has worked before when they become call shy, and with it so quiet any walking would likely just spook game anyway. So I get to one of my favourite spots, which is a small rise above intersecting trapper trails, right on the edge of a bedding area, and start my patient routine. After an hour and a half there is an excellent little spike horn meat bull broadside at 51 paces, with an absolutely clear shooting lane. Unfortunately, spikes are not legal as this area must be 3 point or larger on one side. I snap a photo and he casually moves on. Completely unaware of his luck. Rest of the evening remained uneventful. Arriving back in camp, appears my spiker was the only elk seen.

    Wonderful trip so far..
     

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  12. Sep 19, 2019 #32

    Big Rviers

    Big Rviers

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    The saga continues and it's an incredible journey. Thanks for taking the time to keep us in the loop. Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm checking the forum a dozen times a day looking for your story. Awesome.
     
  13. Sep 19, 2019 #33

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Thanks everyone, I do hope its enjoyed. Service here is spotty so I only upload the days event at the end of the day. The journal is maintained in Notes on my phone throughout the day, then copied and pasted here. I have to leave camp for one spot with service. Fyi, all discussions about leaving camp are done by boot leather. Our vehicles dont move for the entire trip. I decided I would show the photo of my buddies elk. Hope nobody minds.
    Walk
     

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  14. Sep 19, 2019 #34

    Patrick Thomas

    Patrick Thomas

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    Nice! Congratulations to your party. Wonderful stories. And you’re a tough nut doing all that while still taking chemo therapy.
     
  15. Sep 19, 2019 #35

    Ames

    Ames

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    The horned toad says we should go to Mexico.
    I second that nut!
     
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  16. Sep 19, 2019 #36

    Phillip McDonald

    Phillip McDonald

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    very much enjoying this sir.
     
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  17. Sep 19, 2019 #37

    poker

    poker

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    Walk, I absolutely love the stories. Keep em coming. Oh and thats a dandy bull sofar.
     
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  18. Sep 19, 2019 #38

    Atticus69

    Atticus69

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    Really enjoying your reports!!! Wish I was there living them with you, as I'm sure we all do!
     
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  19. Sep 19, 2019 #39

    wiksmo

    wiksmo

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    This is the first hunting season that I've been a member of this Forum. I could not ask for more pleasurable chronicles read than your 25th Annual Elk Hunt, Walkingeagle.

    With appreciation and anticipation each day.
     
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  20. Sep 20, 2019 #40

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

    Walkingeagle

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    Sept 19, day 4....

    Woke to the alarm clock a full hour past the previous mornings thanks to the routine change. Still didn’t want to get up though , lol. Exited the tent to find clear skies once again, but a light wind which meant not quite as cool. No frost nor dew this morning. A quick breakfast of a handful of raisins and two granola bars, then off on the hunt once again...

    This morning I decided to head back into the area we were at on opening day. On the walk there is a rifle shot West-North West of me, followed by two quick shots. Not one of us. Someone’s day just became work! Came into my area from a different angle however, and set myself up for a calling session. An hour later, nothing, so I decide to move a few hundred yards deeper in and set up again. Another hour passes with nothing, then finally a lone bugle but with the slight breeze I cannot tell from where. It takes 45 more minutes before I hear a second bugle, and it sounds like its coming from my original location. I start to slowly work back to that spot, cow chirping periodically, nothing. Suddenly I glance downward and there they are, a little patch of plump and juicy blueberries. I know I shouldn’t as my digestive system does not do well with them, but I gotta try a few. Mmmm, they are good!! After I’ve had some I think its best not to push my luck, so I grab my .50 GPH and start on my quest again.

    The wind starts to pick up a bit so I decided it might be time to slowly hunt my way back to camp, after all thats the direction the wind is from now so things might just work out. Alas, still nothing.

    Arriving back at camp I find I’m the first one back, huh?? Thats unusual? I did not hear any shots recently? Oh well, wait and see I guess. Lunch of turkey sausage and eggs, and tea. Gotta love it. Finally son-in-law walks in and reports he only seen a bull and cow moose, but heard an elk bugle off in the distance. Then a third member arrives and also reports of only moose sightings, bull and cow with calf. He does have a very large mule deer shed in hand for me though. He says “picked this up for you to make your buttons and measures and whatever other muzzleloader stuff you make!” Lol, I thank him and accept the gift. The last two members don’t arrive in camp until well into the afternoon. It seems as though the fellow who got the elk yesterday decided to try for a bear. Oh ya, I should mention that in discussions with the group regarding my plan of trying bear meat and rendered bear fat to regain some weight (I read somewhere that bear meat and fat are actually better for people with digestive issues) that four members of the party came equipped with bear tags. So... it turns out he manages to harvest an old black bear, roughly 200lbs in size. Very nice bear with a great coat and lots of fat. So now nobody but myself has ever dealt with a bear, so I hold a skinning school, followed by fat collection and lastly the meat breakdown. I am also lucky in that he wants to run both the hide and meat back into his place before anything spoils. God its good to have friends!

    Well, now the rest of my day, and evening, is spent slowly rendering bear fat and canning it into a dozen jars. Should be lots to try and see if it works for sure, and if not, well I got TONS of patch lube!!

    Hopefully more success to report tomorrow...
     

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