Saturday, December 20, 2008

October 12th, National Wildlife Federation

On October 12th I headed out with my friend Ted. I wasn't going to be hunting this day but trying to help Ted get an elk. We both had secured permission for a special management hunt on land owned by the National Wildlife Federation. The property is considered winter range for elk, however wildlife managers feel that animals are heading on to the property too soon in the season and depleting the grasses, before Winter sets in. The NWF goal for allowing hunters on this property was to push elk off during hunting season and hopefully keep feed intact for when animals need it in the Winter months.The property is very close to town and while bordered by Forest Service on one side the other side is literally next to a subdivision.

During this hunt you are allowed to bring along a person. But the person is not allowed to hunt. I figured that I would head out and help Ted call to these elk or maybe push them into his direction. This was great because aside from helping Ted I would get to get familiar with the area before my schedule hunt time started on the 15th. I had permission to hunt this area for 5 days and I hit it as hard as possible for those five days.
Given the size of this property it was literally loaded with elk. Sunday morning while heading to the sign-in box with Ted,we spotted a few cows skylined on the ridge about 100 yards from us. We hunkered down and listened to a chorus of cow calls, chirps, and bugles. That day Ted and I tried to get closed to a small group of cows with no luck. Over the course of the five days that I hunted this property I tried a variety of different tactics to hunt this property. From ambush, calling and stalking techniques. The third day of my hunt ended up being the most memorable. I tried to put the stalk on a large group of cows. I got within about sixty yards before they started getting on edge. Eventually the herd busted along with their bull. I spent the next four hours staying on top of this herd. I botched a golden opportunity on a cow at twenty yards. I was moving to make sure that I would have a clear shot in some thick underbrush and was spotted by the cow before I reached full draw. I was most surprised by the bulls that were still bugling late in the season on this property. This almost played into my favor a few times as the bull that was with this herd was getting pretty worked up from me bugling and moving his herd around. The property is fairly open and the timber on it was thinned this summer. These conditions made difficult to stalk close to the elk, and the bull hesitant to fully come into my calling.
Neither of us ended up harvesting an elk out of here but what a hunt. I had many mornings of listening to multiple bulls bugling, and the nob in the picture was covered with elk most mornings. At one point I watched 75 head of elk head out single fill after another hunter pushed them off the property. I hope that FWP and NWF continue this hunt, and hunters will get to enjoy the large amount of animals that this property has to offer. After this hunt I will be doing more to help support this organization.

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