“Elk” Call Inventory
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It’s not a surprise that my elk “call” inventory is a little unconventional. I’ve got a Hoochie Mama but have never carried it…too heavy. I’ve got the Primos high-domed diaphragm calls, but I can’t always make the perfect cow talk. I don’t use a high-volume open reed, but I don’t really need to. Pete has one and with partnered archery elk hunting, it becomes more a mid-range locator than a final 80 yards finisher. My elk bugle is just a 13″ section of tubing from the local hardware store. And my go-to elk calls – bottom row of diaphragm calls pictured below are actually turkey calls! HS Strut’s ‘Lil Strut’, ‘Double D’, and ‘Raspy Old Hen’.

Here’s some excerpts from HS Strut’s website.

Lil’ Strut – the Li’l Strut will produce consistent turkey vocalizations day after day. This is a hybrid cutter which delivers the realistic rasp you need without sacrificing the aggressive yelps and cuts. My paraphrased version – this incredible elk call can go from soft “mewing” cow talk to a high-pitched spike elk bugle just by manipulating the placement of your tongue on the call’s durable reed.

Double D – This line of calls produce all the authentic tones of a turkey, from the yelps of an old boss hen to raspy, seductive cackles. These calls utilize H.S. Strut’s new Infinity Latex for reeds that require less air pressure to run, giving hunters more realistic sounds. Both the tape and latex are moisture resistant for longer life. Top quality latex and tape along with H.S. Strut’s high manufacturing standards for consistent thickness and reed stretch ensure you get the best diaphragm calls ever produced. The Double D utilizes 2 thin reeds. My paraphrased version – Why hunters use heavier, bulkier, more cookie-cutter sounding calls like the Hoochie Mama and others is more than we’ll ever know. Get a call that is lightweight enough to be mistaken for a Wheat Thin, yet versatile enough to make mid-volume cow elk noises, transform a length of washing machine hose into a dominant bull’s bugle, yet always remain on your pallet to stop that DIY bull for the perfect shot at a moment’s notice. As an added bonus, it’s durable enough to survive 17 straight days of alternating slobber and damp pants pockets.

It’s what works for me. Hopefully, we can once again show that it works for the elk too!

OTC Either-Sex Archery Elk License – Signed, sealed, delivered…
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Just received my ticket to the high country.

Western hunting tags are definitely not cheap, but after a hunt, I’ve never once thought that a tag or license wasn’t a complete bargain. I can’t imagine that my perception will be any different this time.

Colorado Archery Elk 2014 – Gear List
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I suppose this is becoming one of the obligatory pre-hunt blog posts, but a lot has changed with this one. Maybe I should say, a lot has disappeared off this one. Pete and I are planning a massive loop that will take us deep into some remote wilderness basins. To make that possible, we need 2 things. 1) Time – 6-8 days probably. 2) Mobility – and by this I mean minimal gear lists and ultra-lightweight backpacks. We’ll be camping off our backs again which means no base camp and no spike camps, only carrying our entire wardrobe, shelter system, food, and weapons with us all day every day. A lot of guys will report pack weights, but fail to include what they’ll actually be wearing, the necessary allotment of water/food, or forget they’ll be carrying a 6 pound bow.

This is my bottom line – 38.9 pounds. That’s me naked plus everything. 7 days food, water, bow, boots, belt, camera, socks, and Bic lighter. Quite similar to past hunts, but leaving most of the backup clothes and sock/underwear changes at the truck. Also, no technological frills this time. No SPOT, no video camera, no tripod, no binos, just us and the mountains and the elk. Here’s the full rundown.

The only change I’m really considering is unscrewing the stabilizer off my Hoyt and putting a pair of Vortex binoculars around my neck. The country out there is wide open and we’re currently debating the potential usefulness of good optics for an archery hunt…decisions, decisions.

If you thought the gear reviews were good back in 2012, get ready for this round of comments. It’ll be real easy to get frustrated with gear items when no alternate options are readily available for recall and replacement. We’re feeling confident though with our setups. They’re proven, they’re lightweight, they’re rugged, and they’re efficient. Best of all – the whole package suits our preferred style of hunting! Aggressive, mobile, and (hopefully) lethal!

Beetle Kill – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly – RMEF Article
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“Red Tree Blues” is an article written by Christine Paige for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s magazine Bugle. It is a fantastic article and approaches the subject of beetle kill with a lot of tact. Hunters can be polarized by the issue and either love it (creates more deadfall to keep access difficult and opens up the canopy for ground vegetation to get more sunlight – this is my inkling) or hate it (kills the dark-timbered, north slopes dominated by conifers). The truth is that beetle kill is a very real thing, a very pervasive thing, and something that has been going on for a long time – just not in the scale we are currently witnessing. And yes, there are good sides to it and bad sides. Read it at this link.

I’m claiming permission through permission at The MeatEater Blog, hosted by Steven Rinella. While you are over there, check out some of his material. A great ambassador for hunting and outdoor recreation and a great writer as well. Honestly, one of the few TV personalities I can stomach anymore.


Colorado Preference Points – Future Hunt Plans…
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To break the flow of the bear hunt content, I got dad started on accumulating some elk preference points in Colorado that will likely be directed towards a September muzzleloader tag in a few years. It’s worth pointing out that some hunts can happen on “accident” but most require years of planning, preparation, and effort.

I purchased what will be mule deer preference point #3. I don’t foresee a reason to bail on our OTC archery elk honey holes anytime soon, but I am in point gathering mode to cash in on an early season high country mule deer hunt in another 3 or 4 years. Maybe archery, maybe rifle in some of the alpine wilderness units.

A big velvet muley is definitely on my long-term wishlist!

Gaiters – Outdoor Research Crocodiles
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One of the only new items to make it onto my gear list was a pair of Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters. I spent a lot of time researching best models, dimensions, weights, and reviews. Because I wear some pricey boots (Salomon 4D GTX Cosmics) and extremely minimalist pants (Target C9’s), the gaiters will offer protection to both the costly investment of my boots and the vulnerable nature of my pants, shins, and skin. Also, it’s not a likelihood or even a probability that we’ll be logging miles in the snow during the upcoming MT bear hunt – it’s a guarantee. Keeping that moisture at bay will definitely be in my best interest.

Heavy morning dew in a high country meadow during September is also particularly aggravating, and soaked feet might also be avoided using the gaiters. Once the landscape is dried out, I imagine that I would lash them inside my backpack.

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Here’s a couple links to REI and Campmor. The reviews are overwhelmingly favorable and the picture is actually snagged off one of the posted reviews from a National Parks volunteer.

I’ll be taking a 9 ounce hit on the pack weight, but I think it will be justified. After all, most people are adding a set of Wiggy’s Waders to their spring bear hunting packs to aid in crossing streams and creeks. I’m going to opt for the “take boots off and roll pants up” approach. I did this throughout Ohio’s deer season this year and I’ve decided it takes all the potentially disastrous variables out of the equation – e.g., “that water was a bit deeper than I thought it was!”

Extreme Elk Magazine – Spring ’14 Issue
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One of the 2012 Colorado elk team submitted some photographs and a short write-up about our wilderness OTC archery hunt. Extreme Elk Magazine picked it up and ran a 3-page blurb on our hunt. I thought it turned out pretty cool. Those pictures really bring back some sweet memories!

Sawyer MINI Water Filter and Upcoming Hunt Plans
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As a break in the last half-dozen or so deer hunt updates from my 2013 season, I figured I’d make a quick post about a new piece of backcountry hunting gear I picked up with some Christmas money.

If you followed the gear reviews, physical preparation, and execution of my DIY Colorado elk hunt in 2012, then you’ll probably remember some of the disgusting water that was consumed via the Sawyer filtering system. On that trip, 2 of the guys were armed with Sawyer filters and the other 2 simply had filter-less bladders that we filled twice daily. It worked but we also wasted a solid 20-30 minutes daily just filtering water for each other. The alternative is to splice in a Sawyer filter directly into your bladder’s water line and drink as needed. Unscrew the lid on your bladder, fill with stream, pond, seep, or elk wallow water, screw the lid back on, and start walking again.

Previously, you had to purchase a water bottle kit and pilfer the filter from the rest of the equipment and it ran about $40. Now, there is a new Sawyer MINI that runs only $20. The flow rate is SLIGHTLY less and the need to back-flush becomes a SLIGHTLY more regular necessity, but this water filter is the real deal and has some neat features that allows you extreme versatility. Splice into a water bladder line, screw onto the top of a water bottle, attach a straw (included) and drink directly from a creek or pond, the list goes on.

I adapted mine into the Badlands water bladder that has served me well over a couple trips now and am so far extremely impressed. Same exact functionality of the filters that I was originally excited about, now at half the cost.

While I don’t have exact dates and commitments on the books yet, I’ll tease you with my long-term 2 year outlook on hunt plans. This September, I hope to spend 7-10 days chasing elk back in Colorado. Next spring, I’ve been planning a spring black bear hunt to a wilderness area in northwest Montana. For fall 2015, Kodiak Island, Alaska for Sitka black-tailed deer is high on the priority list. I’ll also have accumulated enough Wyoming antelope preference points to take a trip to one of the more premier hunt units in 2015 as well. I’ll continue my point accumulation for other species in other states, and there is always the near-certainty of an annual white-tailed deer hunt in the mix as well.

Again, just a teaser of what might be around the corner. The preparation, planning, and anticipation is honestly half the fun of planning annual “once-in-a-lifetime” trips. Hours spent pouring over maps, hunting forums, aerial images, gear lists – all part of the passion that drives me.

Alright, enough dreamy talk – back to deer hunt updates in the next post.

1 Year Anniversary for 1st Bull Elk – 9 Days to Go
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It’s been exactly one year to the day since Pete and I doubled on bull elk in the high country of Colorado. I’ve been daydreaming about the sound of bugles, the damp dank scent of big timber, and the burning of muscles after a big vertical push to chase elk. Unfortunately, all my daydreaming doesn’t change the fact that an elk hunt is not in the cards for this fall. Hopefully, hopefully, that will not be the case next year.

For the sake of old times, hit up a couple of these links and check out last year’s elk hunt if you haven’t before. I spent a couple hours going through my picture album from that hunt last night and watched a bunch of the video footage too. Ah, memories…

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New Mexico Success! – 19 Days to Go
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I apologize that I got sidetracked again with elk. Common thing these days with most archery seasons open out West. My buddy from Kansas was able to connect on his first bull after pulling a great early season tag in New Mexico. Far from the biggest one he saw, but this one is no slouch either. Congratulations pal!

Infolinks 2013