Well, for whatever it is worth, I survived The Great Elk Hunt of 2008.
Sadly, at least for me, so did all of the elk.
We had a great weekend – the weather was fabulous, with mostly clear skies during the days, and highs in the 60’s, then clear, cold nights, lows around 20 or so. Weather-wise, the toughest parts were certainly the early-morning sessions. After spending all night in your nice cozy sleeping bag, waking up well before sunrise and then settling into a spot and sitting still for 3 hours as the skies lighten, waiting for potential animals to show their faces, can be, well, really freaking cold. You’re cold, and tired, and cold, and bored, and oh, did I mention cold?
There were lots of deer to be found in the area where we were, mostly does. In fact, a hunter who was wandering through stopped by our campsite one morning and actually spotted and shot a doe about 15 paces from our tent. Unfortunately, we only had elk licenses (next year – deer), and there were no elk to be found.
We ended up cutting the trip a half-day short. The original plan was to come out of the mountains Tuesday mid-day, but the weather on Monday started going a little haywire, varying from cloudy and windy to sunny to raining with lightning back to sunny and then to snowing lightly, all in the space of about 3 hours. Then, on the drive home, the weather continued to deteriorate, definitely peaking with a driving snowstorm on Vail pass, and accumulations of several inches on the roadside, which made us feel just fine about our decision to bail.
Additionally, on the hike down the mountain, we talked with some of the other hunters who were basing out of the lot where we had parked the car, and were told that, in fact, the elk appeared to have not yet made it onto the mountain. Apparently, entire herds of them could be spotted miles to the north of the mountain, off in private land owned by local ranchers, who were charging upwards of $500 apiece for the right to hunt them there.
So, at least that helped heal the sting of never even seeing an elk all weekend. In all, it was a great trip, and a wonderful time, and we do have some idea of some information that we need to try and pick up before next time, number 1 being ‘learn where the hell the elk are actually at instead of tromping around in the woods for 3 days, hoping for the best.’