The second scouting trip of 2013 happened on the last 2 days of April and was very productive. The training and exercise I had been doing up to this point was really starting to be noticeable. It seemed to take almost half the effort to hike up the mountain as compared to the last trip 10 days earlier. I decided to scout out a new area on this trip, a little bit lower in elevation than my last trip. On my last trip I was in the 7-8K range, this trip I was in the 6-7K range. I hit it just right, there were a lot of Deer in the area and I suspect the area is part of the transitional range. This is important to know for later in the hunting season when the higher areas are snowed in. I will have to go back in the summer to confirm if its transitional, but either way this spot holds Deer!
I saw a lot of Elk sign on the way in and a couple of bone piles that were from cows. This could be from winter kill, wolves, or hunters, I can’t really say for sure. I didn’t see any Wolf sign the entire time I was there, nor did I see any Elk.
I followed the creek bottom until I got to the ridge I wanted to hike up, then stopped to eat and top off my water supply. As is the case when scouting new terrain you don’t know if there will be water available up higher on the ridge top; So you want to pack enough water to get you through to the next morning or sometimes even longer.
Camping by the creek and day hiking or hunting up the ridge isn’t nearly as effective and efficient as hiking up on the ridge and camping where you are going to glass from. You will tire yourself out real fast making that hike every day and you simply can’t get as far in. In OTC public land areas the older age class animals have learned what the dayhunt range of a human is and stay beyond that as much as possible. I tend to find that 4-6 hour hikes will get you to where you start consistently seeing quality animals most of the time.
On the way up the ridge I came to a sort of bench and found this little Elk shed. It was fairly fresh and most likely from this year. I was at about 6200 feet which seems kind of high for an Elk to be when they are dropping their antlers. I assume the earlier than usual snow melt this year allowed the elk to get up higher earlier.
I got to the top and spent considerable time looking for a flat enough area to set up camp. It is important that I am laying flat, otherwise its really hard to sleep. I found a great area on the edge of the ridge that also offered a great vantage point for glassing. It was a little tight but I was able to make it work.
I then ate and kicked back for a while before the evening glassing session. I like to eat mid to late afternoon after I set up my shelter and before I glass. If I eat after my evening glassing session then I inevitably have to get up at midnight and pee. I also try not to drink to much the last hour of daylight for the same reason. Macaroni and cheese was on the menu that night.
Evening glassing turned up a few deer on the adjacent hillsides. I was able to get one pic through the spotting scope. I am not set up real well for digiscoping yet so picture quality will be lacking for the next few post If you look hard you can make out a deer feeding to the right of the tree. He had antler nubs starting and was in fact a buck.
The next morning was quite a bit more productive. I always see more deer in the mornings when I’m scouting and hunting. There was a big bodied deer on top of a nasty slope that I got a glimpse of but no picture. This is usually the case with big bucks, they feed aggressively and then get of sight, not posing for pictures very well. The smaller bucks and does are not near as camera shy.
There was 3 bucks in this group. The antler growth has just barley begun, but you can tell by the face that the one Buck is going to be decent. You can see fuzzy nubs if you look hard enough on the second photo.
The same group of deer further down the ridge on the way out.
It turned out to be a great trip. I found another spot to add to my library and it’s not a real tough hike to get in. I saw about a half dozen bucks and a dozen does and fawns all together on this trip. Best of all, I might have a transition area to hunt late this season!