Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It has been such a busy summer with rodeos and military duties that it was nice to have a free weekend to head north and hunt Wyoming.
Each year I get to take a hunting trip and I thought 2008 would be my year to harvest a Black Bear and Elk. This turns out to be a large undertaking as the bear and elk are two of the most elusive animals in the lower 48.
Wyoming is the perfect place to hunt…whether your goal is to hunt moose, elk, bear, mountain goat, big horn sheep, mountain lion or mule deer.
My good friend Cody Brinton and I headed into the Bridger-Teton National Forest in attempt to fulfill my 2008 hunting goals.
We headed west from Laramie on Thursday around 3pm and let the white lines pass by for 350+ miles. It was a pleasant drive across some of Wyoming’s most undisturbed land. Tourists are mostly familiar with Yellowstone, Devils Tower and the Grand Tetons, but what may go unknown is the fact that Wyoming has vast prairie lands as well. You have to really respect the hard work of ranchers in this area that make their living off the land, especially when winter months set in.
We arrived at our location in the Bridger-Teton National Forest around 10pm. Arriving at night and navigating our way up the mountain range on narrow gravel roads was difficult. I can honestly say I had no idea where I was…and still not too sure!
At daylight Friday morning, Cody and I were deep in the forest. As soon as we arrived Cody hit the elk call and we had immediate response. Five different bull elk were bugling at us as close as 200 yards. It was my first time to hear a Elk bugle and the adrenaline rush I got was similar to that of fighting bulls. My heart wanted to jump out of my chest!
Cody told me take cover under a tree and get ready as he would attempt to separate himself in order to call the Elk in closer. I found a sound spot under a Pine Tree towering above. With my shooting sticks in place, I was ready to harvest my first elk.
As Cody walked ahead he blew on the elk call and a bull elk came blazing through the forest breaking any and everything in its way. He stopped 25 yards or so from me allowing me to see only the back half of his body. Unfortunately, he winded (smelled) us never to be seen again. My goodness, are those animals smart.
From there we hiked into places that Jim Bridger himself would have been tempted not to venture into. We knew there were more elk up the mountain but to my dismay we didn’t spot any.
The hike was a challenge…an uphill battle to say the least. But what a pleasant day it was to be in the Wyoming wilderness. The temperature was below freezing but with all the walking we couldn’t shed our jackets quick enough.
There is a certain calmness found only in nature and never have I found a place that has more serenity than Wyoming. The pine trees were tall, strong and prideful. The river running below us was constant yet peaceful proving life to all the creatures of nature. And then the animals…their presence was evident as the elk bugled and the birds sang.
Despite all of the harmony with nature we opted to leave the forest and hunt black Bbar.
In Wyoming, it is legal to bait black bear. Cody registered his bait with the Wyoming Game and Fish and to date had been one of the more successful baits attracting multiple bears. The bait consisted of a 55-gallon drum filled with foods that only bears enjoy!
The blind I was hunting from was a mere 15 yards from the bait. Although it may sound easy trust me its not. First of all, the bears are smart and can wind (smell) you like no other animal. Then there is the fear factor…not everyone is willing to be in between a bear and its food.
Courage wasn’t the issue for me as I hunted the black bear on two different occasions this weekend staying until dark fell. I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous at times because trust me it can be nerve racking.
Again, I came up short…I didn’t even get to see a bear on my hunt.
I was hunting with a single shot 30-06 and I’m pretty confident in my shooting. I have to be since it’s only one shot! So perhaps the animals of the Wyoming forest heard about the Blogging Bullfighter and his dead aim single shot and took cover deep into the woods! That’s my theory at least.
Well, I must sign off for now. Do me a favor, explore Wyoming with or without a firearm. I can assure you the experience will be life changing.
Uncle Sam just called…I am off to Atlanta, Georgia for temporary duty. That seems to be the story of my year. Service before self…I remind myself of that daily.