Landlocked Public Land – A Good Trade or Bad Trade?
When plans of a great hunt goes bad after doing your in depth homework on a hunting unit and finding it is too much work to make it fun and give up. The great State of Oregon, as well as other western states in CONUS has a great amount of public land, whether it is National Forest, State Lands, and Bureau of Land Management lands. Those that spend a great deal of their off time in the field hunting, fishing, hiking or whatever else takes them in to the field have found that there is a great deal landlocked public land that is very difficult to access.
In my younger days, with my hunting partners we challenged the access every year. Having worked with paper maps in my early stages of my hunting life, too figure out how to get into the public lands was very time consuming. Early on we would find the touching points and jump the line, though Wyoming was the first to make that illegal to do so. Unless the government changes the use of satellites’, I will trust the modern day GPS or mobile device and my mapping software 100% as many paper maps and some mapping software are not accurate with all the changes going on. How many still have 20+ year old National Forest maps and Rams maps? Funny I just threw way in my recycle container all of my paper maps from the last 40 years… That included the map of a certain hunt unit in Oregon that had more than 200 elk harvest from the circle of acquaintances’ over the years.
The other day after posting an old article about a land trade that was in the making back some years ago, I took some heavy hits from a rancher. I understand where he was coming from and his comments were well said. My feeling still did not wavier on the subject of that particular B.L.M. and private land trade, to free up B.L.M. that was encompassed with the private lands. Reading the government/private land proposal, I personally and others that opposed it, knew that much of the public land would still only be used few and the private sector would still get the better deal. The majority felt the only road into the new setup would be control by the private sector… That would have been by a very big organization and not the ranchers.
As I am writing this article, I venture up in the hills outside of Molalla, Oregon looking for Blacktails to do a photo op. I wanted to work around some old haunts in the upper area; low and behold I find that some of the BLM has been swapped out to a private timber company. Weyerhaeuser property touches some of the property and the companies warning signs were in full view. One has to love the BLM No Shooting Signs on posted on the BLM, and no residential structures in the area. I feel it is an attempt to keep hunters from even going on the BLM, since there is private and timber company properties close by.
If the public (outdoor enthusiast) would look at computer or mobile device with mapping software such as the best being onXmaps HUNT , you’re going to be very surprise to see how much public land that is tied up and almost impossible to have access to. The ranchers, farmers, and landowners have the access and it basically like an extension to their own land. With money one can find a way in, such as being dropped in by a helicopter, parachute or even an ultralight… You have to weigh the cost and still know you’re going to have to come back out the public landlocked land, without setting foot on private.
In this paragraph I am attaching number pictures of BLM land that the private land makes it basically landlocked. There is a BLM Right-Away, yet the public can’t use it. The land has caretakers or ranch hands that besides using it for their personnel use, act as if they own it, since the owner is not living on the property. There are always two sides to the story of course, giving access to the public on the Right-Away and the public take advantage of it using the private land as well as the public land. I do know that opposite side of the river in this attached map, the Right-Away is open for about 4 miles. For the most part the public does adhere to the only using the public land.
There was a major poaching problem as far as I am concerned in 2016 prior to the opening hunt for Oregon with local Natives being able to have access year round to hunt when it necessary to do so based on treaties, even if they are trespassing. It would not have been so bad if they had not cut the heads off and only took the backstraps only on the elk and deer they took on private land. In this case the Right-Away is problem since they can drive and kill on both the public and private lands… We have to remember that the land owners are not landlocked. They can have easements with the B.L.M., in many cases they have the lease on public land.
Many years ago I had open access to a parcel of land in eastern Oregon, what a great deal it was for archery deer and elk hunting. Most of the time in the gang, there were 4 of us. In those days working in the sporting goods business, to buy a 4 way rifle which was an inexpensive way to give a gratuity to a rancher. Many years later after the rancher sold-out, I went into the back country with my Garmin GPS and onXmaps HUNT software loaded on the GPS, low and behold much of the land that we travel through his fences to get to where all Federal lands (BLM/NF). To access this land all one had to do was travel on another access point on federal lands.
If I was a private land owner; I would want all my lands in one parcel overall, as long as it has a good water source. Saying this there are the ranchers that have the summer range and the winter range and that is important to them, and rightly so. The public should never lose access to public land in any state, and we (public) should never give up or lose the river or water rights to private, unless private land is already deeded with their water source and have the land to the navigational line in the sand so to speak. The B.L.M., should never be allowed to take away land and the ranchers lose their water, a necessary commodity of life to a ranch. The trades need to be even as they can, so both the public and the private benefit from the trade.
Juniper is one of the premier Oregon Pronghorn Hunts
“I am also a long time subscriber to onXmaps and use it religiously.”
First off.. Thank you Frank for the tips… As many know the Juniper unit antelope hunt is an incredible opportunity. I was fortunate to have unexpectedly drawn the coveted tag with only a single preference point. The news came as a great surprise and the time to scout was severely limited with my prior commitments. This lead me to some online research and the discovery of the Bwana Bubba Adventurers. Upon contact with Frank, he sent me some places to look in search of antelope. This being my 5th Oregon antelope tag, I had set my sights on killing a high caliber animal. This is my story…..
On to the hunt… Due to previous commitments with my oldest son, I was unable to make the season opener and did not arrive in the unit until Monday afternoon. My son and I quickly setup camp, made a sandwich and headed out in search of our quarry. We immediately headed for a spot Frank had pinpointed for us. We weren’t 15 minutes from the trailer when I had spotted an animal apparently fleeing a waterhole that someone was driving into. It was immediately evident the animal was a billie antelope and we fought to get into a better position to see. We caught up with him 4-5 different times, but every time he was 750+ yards away and we just couldn’t make a good determination what caliber animal he was. Based on the glances of occasional clarity, he appeared to be a really solid billie with good height and prong length. This guy’s worth a second look… The adventure continued into the sage and a few hours passed before any antelope were spotted in some nearby fields. There were a few billies, but nothing worth watching to see if an exit from private was going to be a probability. The evening found us trekking across what seemed to be an endless plateau of sage in search of the billie we had encountered earlier in the day. As we hiked in search of our prey, the probability of killing an animal in 4-5’ tall sagebrush seemed a monumental task. As darkness overcame us, the billie had gave us the slip and was securely hidden in his native territory.
Day 2 – We awoke early and headed to another location marked by Frank that allowed us to glass in a Westerly direction. As the light slowly illuminated the desert floor, we patiently glassed a large bowl full of tall sage. We found one good representative billie in the 13” range with decent prongs managing a small group of nannies a little over 500 yards from our position. This was an easy pass and we moved on. The next few hours we drove, hiked and glassed numerous locations to only find a few nannies and two very young billies. Upon exiting the area we stopped to speak with another hunter whom was struggling to find any antelope in the area. With this information and what we had also encountered it was determined to mark this spot off the list of places to revisit. It was decided to head a little further South and explore during the heat of the day. The road that separates N. Juniper and S. Juniper seemed like a good choice. After a dusty 4 hour ride in the truck, we determined our choice was less than stellar… Not a single antelope had been found upon the stretch of road. We came out few miles North of the Narrows and made the decision to head further South. After traveling another hour South we made the turn back into the unit again. The next 10-12 miles were bumpy and dusty, but our hopes were high despite not locating any animals. Then, all of a sudden we located several animals. As we continued to glass, more and more of the tan and white creatures appeared scattered amongst the cattle in the area. The next several hours were spent locating and investigating billies. By the time the sun had set we had passed on 10-12 billies ranging in size from 8-13” all within a 3 mile radius. The drive back to camp was long and filled with discussion around our discovery and future prospects.
Day 3 – Again an early rise took us in search of the billie we saw that first day. Finding a decent vantage point, we set up and glassed the sea of sage in search of the elusive animal. As the sun rose and the temperature quickly climbed we decided our search was futile. No animals to be found…. While departing a billie was located off the side of the road seemingly careless of our presence. Luckily for him, we again were not interested in what he had to offer and we both moved on our separate ways. Arriving back at camp, we packed a healthy amount of supplies to ensure lunch and dinner were covered and pointed the truck South again. Arriving at our location early afternoon we quickly located several groups of antelope. One group had a dominant billie that was definitely coming into the rut and spent all his time head down checking the nannies. With the heat waves in full effect, it was quite challenging to judge him at over a mile but we again passed feeling he didn’t meet our standards. A couple miles further down the road another group was spotted over a mile away and we began closing the gap. Once within 900 yards we took another look from atop a small rise. It appeared there was a group of billies and one worth taking a closer look at. We geared up back at the vehicle and prepared to sneak in for a closer look. Due to the lack of terrain, we struggled to get within 600 yards of the group. Finally, by crawling on our hands and knees we closed the gap to 470 yards. This was when we were able to determine with confidence there was a billie in this group worth our precious tag. Unable to get into a prone position I was far from comfortable taking a shot at that distance. A small bunch of taller sage was 70 yards ahead and I felt I could get the needed elevation to setup for an ethical shot. As we crawled toward the sage two additional billies began running in from the East and gained the attention of the target group. This gave us the opportunity to quickly close the remaining gap and approach our target. I quickly began setting up for the shot on the bedded billie. Before I was able to settle in, the other two billies came into the targeted group and put them into alert. Before I could react the group had quickly traveled away and was now acting very nervous at 800+ yards away. A quick assessment found that we could access some tall sage and attempt to move close enough for a shot. As we progressed thru the tall sage the group again became anxious and didn’t let us get within 600 yards before moving off to a ridgeline where they again met up with yet another group of antelope. Our cover was good and were able to again move toward the group leveraging the tall sage. The antelope went over the rise and we picked up the pace. Looking up a single billie had turned back and was now staring us down at 300 yards. A quick assessment put him at about 13” so we waited for him to move off and we proceeded toward where the group had went. Just after cresting the ridgeline a group of antelope materialized on the opposing hillside. I snuck up to a shooting position and quickly picked out the largest billie. As the billie chases a few nannies It just didn’t look right to me. At 450 yards the billie just didn’t look right… I hesitated long enough for the billie to move out of range. Just as I sat up to scratch my head and figure out what happened, my other billie came out from under us. He had been over the roll of the hill and just out of site from our position. He and the others that were traveling with him now joined the other group that now totaled about 50 animals. The group seemed to be settling down and we backed off in attempt to parallel their position to get closer. When we felt we were close to parallel we eased to the edge using sage for cover. Our silhouettes didn’t even break the ridgeline before the large group began moving away again. We sat and glassed them as they traveled over the next rise… Quickly deliberating about our next move we noticed another single billie traveling in our direction. A quick assessment found him to be too small and we decided to give the group one more chance. The sun had set and light was quickly leaving as we pushed the half mile to the next vantage point. We crested the top to see them already 800+ yards away and still moving. We were unable to get within a ½ mile of them. Aborting the mission we would come back Thursday and try again…. It was a couple miles back to the truck in the dark and a couple hour drive back to camp that night.. It was decided while traveling back we would move camp in the morning in attempt to be closer to our quarry.
Day 4 – We woke early and immediately worked on breaking camp. On the road by 9:00 we headed to the Narrows. A quick check-in at the Narrows campground had us headed for our hunting grounds before lunch. We again saw a few groups of lopes on the way in and decided the billies were not what we were searching for. Pulling into the drainage we left the big billie in the night before we parked the truck, gathered our gear and went afoot. After cresting a rise just out of site of the truck we were immediately pinned by some nannies. The range was 300 yards as we squatted in the open terrain. Wouldn’t you know it, they were in curious mode and wanted to check us out. Not knowing what may be behind them we stayed put. The nannies came to 64 yards before deciding to lose interest in us. Unfortunately when they did spook, they went the same direction we were traveling. We rose up and went about 75 yards when we saw the original group of 8 billies from the day before standing 450 yards away. I saw the one billie that was noticeably larger than the other 7 and knew this was our group. I needed a better shooting position and found a mound of dirt 50 yards ahead. The nannies had now joined the group of billies and they were becoming increasingly anxious. I quickly got into a shooting position on the mound and my son began calling yardages. 350, 375, 400, 375…. The group was unsure on what direction to depart, I had to shoot quick. I identified the large billie thru the 95 degree heat shimmer and followed him until he momentarily stopped. At the report of the rifle the lope immediately dropped in his tracks. I rolled over and gave some high fives to my son as the remaining group galloped away in a dust storm. Gathering up our gear we headed over to claim our trophy. Approaching the billie, there was something wrong…. This was not the billie we had hunted the previous day. In my haste, after chasing him miles the day before and not being able to get within 800 yards of him, I had taken the wrong animal. The heat shimmer and my haste had resulted in harvesting the wrong animal. Although saddened by my actions, we were also very happy with having harvested a beautiful animal that is proving to be excellent table fare.
Thanks again Frank for your aid in making this a fantastic trip!
Pronghorn from a previous hunt in Oregon
A new predator in the hood has taken a liking to
Pronghorns the Steens Mountains
The most frustrating hunt I have ever had! Left early Friday morning and after shredding a drive belt on the truck in Madras, Oregon made it to The Narrows south of Burns by 11:00 to start scouting. The plan was to ask landowners to hunt the pivots in Princeton. After talking to 3 owners I was informed that they had seen very few antelope this year, in the past there where 100’s and were considered pest.
They rack up the missing antelope to cougar problems. So that said went to 2nd spot Dry Lake just south. The lake was half full and had multiple camps around it. Talk to a few campers/hunters and said they too had seen only a few antelope in the area. My son and I only saw 1 herd of Lopes that were staying around the Round Barn in Diamond on private land with only a very small buck in the herd.
The week before I had talk to O.D.F.W. & B.L.M., Burns, Oregon and all had said the same thing, very good water year and the antelope were spread out everywhere making them difficult to find.
We moved south to New Moon Rd. Check out the waypoints I was given from Bwana Bubba based on using onXmaps HUNT and my Garmin GPS and did stop at all overlooks and canyons to spot. Saw nothing, 3 hours later we were at the end of the road at Fish Lake. Went to the top of Kiger Gorge and talked with a few camps that we set up on the road leaving the view point. Again no one had seen Antelope. Frustrated we headed back down and to the HHH road, above Fish Lake to get away from the main road. Had a very hard time finding a place to set a tent, thought we might have to set it on the edge of the road at one point. Found a meadow on a spring head right above Fish Lake on edge of private ground. With the lots of batches of Aspen trees were surprise at the lack of any animal signs. The Steens seems to be a dead zone with very little wildlife left…
Started opening morning glassing the open basins to no a fail, only a lonely doe across the Blitzen Canyon. Decide to break camp around 10:30, and headed back to main road. Came around the last corner and 20ft in front of the truck are 2 doe Lopes and seconds later 40 more crest the ridge in front of use. I jump out of the truck and go to the back of the truck and the Lopes all cross in front of use at 50ft away; there was 1 very nice buck in the middle of the herd. They see a fence in front of them and panic and turn around and pass us again, yet the buck is buried in the middle of the group. As they crest over the ridge he almost gives me a parting shot, but gone. We run up the road only to see they are circling the ridge above us heading back towards Fish Lake. We run up the road and rush to the ridge line were I get an open shot at 150yds, but cannot take it as I knew they were on the wrong side of the fence on private land. We watch the herds for over 10 minutes, traveling miles to the top of Kiger Gorge where they were fired on by the hunters camping on top.
Frustrated we went for gas in Frenchglen. Talking to other hunters, all had the same story can’t find Lopes. Decided to skip going back to New Moon Rd and opted to head to the South Loop Rd south of Frenchglen. Drove and glassed for a couple hours. Lots of water holes and all were still wet. Saw A few other hunters driving and glassing. After only seeing herds of horses and cattle heading back towards highway 207, our goal was to find small spur round to get off on our own. At a junction I saw a rancher unloading his quad and hay bales. Stop and talked to him and was informed he had seen a small group of Lopes every day for the past week right above us working the area. He suggested a hunt strategy and told us about water holes up the old road he was using. We did the hunt the spot, saw no Lopes only horses so decided to make camp in the area. The area was more deer country with juniper trees and draws with open plains in between.
Next morning were up glassing before daylight on the plains above camp looking out towards Hart Mtn. Saw nothing, around 7:30 I get a buzz from my son who has locate the group in a draw find a mile above camp. 20 mins later I’m in the same area hugger under a Juniper tree watching the group in the draw. Saw 2 does and 4 yearlings mixed through the Juniper trees at 400yds, after 5 min I see a buck moving in the trees. My son decided he would move down the draw cross it and get to the other side. I was afraid they would see him and move up the draw out of range. The buck was now at 375yds. I decided I better make the shot as I probably will not see him again. I was getting ready to make the shot when I saw the does; they were closing their distance, walking right towards me up the old road. Told my son to stay put and turned the radios off. The does and yearlings passed to my right just 40yds away the buck was trailing, so ended up taking the shot at 60yds, dropping him in his tracks. There was 10 minutes of per thrill as he closed the distance to me on the road, thought for sure something would go wrong or the does would see me. Took care of the Lope and broke camp, was on the road by 11:00AM with the Lope in the rear seat of the truck and A/C on high.
Scouting more than 200 miles for Pronghorn
Thanks a lot for directions that you sent me. I scouted from Wednesday to Friday and cover more than 200+ miles. Majority of the scouting was in my Ford truck in 4wd low range. I found a dandy buck on Tuesday morning on the south side of the Mahogany’s running off three other bucks from his 6 doe harem, between water and the bedding area. This I know, because I had spotted him and the doe’s the day before just as they entered the brush at 10AM. I camped in my Ford FX4 truck high above them that night and would hunt down in the morning.
The next morning I worked myself out on the bluff I figured I could find him. I found him, ranged him in at 350 yards with my Bushnell rangefinder and made the 1 shot kill with my Browning A-Bolt in a 7mm Remington Mag, topped with a Leupold V-3 4.5×14 50MM Gold Ring scope. Other items in my bag to make the hunt successful were my Garmin GPS with onXmaps HUNT Oregon chip and GIS hunt map.
“One of the greatest times in Life is RVing!”
What a great time to be in the RV business, seeing so many RV’s on the road and in the RV Parks! Now in 7th year with B Young RV, it only gets better. B Young RV has now move into being in the 10 Ten in the North America in the sales of Tiffin Motorhomes.
The company has expanded with a distribution center in another location. Inbound RV’s will go there first to get a Preliminary Pre-Delivery Inspection and any minor repairs that are needed from the travel time from the factories. We also have extra storage at the location that only has only technicians working there. A very important expansion as we do not have enough space at our main location for all the RV’s we have in inventory. We also have a full RV Body Repair and Paint facility at the location. Here at B Young RV, we are the RV Dealer to get all your needs taken care of.
Just after our June Expo show the wife and I hit the road with the intention to traveling into California along Hwy 101, I wanted to do photo ops on Roosevelt Elk. We headed down I-5 with the first stop being Seven Feathers RV Resort, spending a night and the next morning hitting Mac’s Diner in Shady Cove, Oregon, ordering the best Country Fried Steak, Eggs over medium and hash browns in the state.
Well plans changed and the wife asked me if I wanted to go to eastern Oregon and do some scouting… It does not take me more than 5 seconds to say are you sure about this and yes was my answer! So off we head towards the east, with the first stop at Collier State Park, capturing the last spot there. With not real direction and letting the motorhome take to where ever, we many side trips and even into the Owyhee’s in search of Pronghorns and Mule deer.
We stayed a couple nights that Crane Crystal Crane Hot Springs RV Park. The weather turned from warm sunny days to snow and freezing weather. As we did not have a set course to take, we headed back towards Seven Feathers RV Park, with it being full, though I know the management there; we were out of luck… Off the cuff, we did find another park after hitting the Oregon Coast at Bandon, Oregon. Just a note, the Oregon State Parks were full, my suggestion with the Oregon State Parks, is to use Reserve America and get your spot reserved. We stayed at Bandon by the Sea RV Park, a small RV Park that does have permanent residents and allows weary travelers to stay. It is very clean park to stay at. I was very fortunate that Bruce Young, allowed me to take the extended two weeks during the summer… P.S. We did go into California and saw Elk, in a spot that I have seen them every time we go that way. Interesting that we went through the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. Hmm! Big and Dry Camping only. No one on the west coast beats Oregon State Parks…
Since my last RV Newsletter, B Young RV has added some new product lines to our inventory with Winnebago Travel Trailers (Micro Minnie – Hot small trailer) and Thor Class A motorhomes (Windsport) and Class C motorhomes (Quantum). The highly styled Dynamax Istata 3 Class B+ has been a top seller with it options and just overall great appearance.
Our lineup of Little Guy teardrop style T@B’s, T@G’s, T@G XL’s and regular Little Guys do not hang around very long. What a phenomena of who are buying these vintage perspective of the mind… It is simply amazing how many are sold and the fact we run out at a moment’s notice!
Recently, such as July 7th, we had a visit from Bob Tiffin, the owner of Tiffin Motorhomes. A man that believes in his company and the family he gains with customers that buy Tiffin. It is all about service and a long time relationship. It was very enlightening to have a round table discussion with Bob in the 36UA Bunkhouse Allegro Open Road motorhome, a number of us were able to make a few suggestions. Bob, pulled out folded over paper and made notes of the comments. Rest assured when he gets back to Red Bay, Alabama, he will review and make some small changes… Bob brought up the new Phaeton 44OH on the Powerglide Chassis and how it will be the new change in how RV’s will be built. The Phaeton 44OH has a flat floor throughout the motorhome. It is all about how the floor is built and how the walls are set. Come by B Young RV and learn all about it if you are interested why Tiffin leads the way!
Interesting thing about RV’s, they all have one thing in common to me, and that is to use to escape from the daily grind and the cluster of life. So, many like to hunt, fish, hike, explore unknown places and even venture to where just maybe no one has ever stepped foot before, so I am going to give you all a link to onXmaps HUNT. Just touch the following logo and let your mind take it all in. The product can be used on mobile devices, Garmin GPS’s (handheld or vehicle). It is not all about HUNT, but that is where it started, but it is an adventurer into the mountains, desert, beach, and life.
Wildlife or Bird of the Month
iHUNT by RUGER
I am always amazed by the advancement of technology and what can be done, so mentioning that fact; I am introducing a new mobile App from iHUNT by RUGER, that I have had the privilege to use and entertain myself (plus the crew at work) with the new App from iHUNT by RUGER. The App is free to load and some of the features are free.
The iHUNT by RUGER App is primarily a game call device that you can use with all IOS and Android mobile devices.
It has a number of other superb features such as Solunar Times for hunting, Weather, Compass, Ruger Handguns-Ruger Long Guns (Opens in your search engine), you can shop for Ruger products (Opens in your search engine) , Activity Log and a Place for User photos (Photos that are upload from all users).
As for Hunting Calls (they need to be purchased) the list is so long, it almost unbelievable.
Alright I will give you the list, not the full content of the calls within the within the call! Alligators-Crocs, Bears, Birds, Bobcats, Buffalo-Bison, Chickens, Chipmunks, Cows, Coyotes, Crows-Ravens, Deer, Donkeys, Ducks, Elk, Foxes, Geese, Goats, Hawks-Eagles, Jackal, Mice-Rats, Moose, Owls, Pheasants, Prairie Dogs, Quail, Rabbit-Hare, Raccoon, Sheep-Lambs, Snipe Birds, Squirrels, Turkeys, Wild Boar-Pigs, Wildebeest and Zebra. Quite the list to have! Not that we are going to use them all, but to know the sounds is amazing.
Just listen to the sampler sounds:
Top = Crow Distress Middle = Fallow Buck Bottom = Tom Gobble
Besides being able to use iHUNT by RUGER in the field, it is astonishing learning tool this App can be for the hunter to learn and understand the sounds that game animals, birds, and non-mammals make. I would check with your State, Province or Country that you can use an electronic call for game you wish to pursue. Quick and easy to use, it can also be used by children to randomly go through the long list. Can you imagine sitting by a creek side with you daughter or son, even a grandchildren and have them tell you that is a Raccoon or the allusive Snipe making the noise you’re all are hearing.
There are a number of options items that you can also purchase to your game calling experience even better.
Entertain the experience and download the iHUNT by RUGER App to your mobile device and gain proficiency in the art of calling in game or knowing the calls of the wild.
Thoughts from Bwana Bubba!
Chasing down Elk from afar!
Thoughts go back to my early days of hunting elk with a rifle and bow. I would rifle hunt in the eastern part of Oregon for Rocky Mountain bulls, while bow hunting was in the western part of Oregon for Roosevelt bulls. So those early hunts to the east were about going into the timber and waiting for elk to come by within shooting range. One thing I never did was to build a fire to keep warm, but my uncles all did it. I remember on one hunt Uncle Floyd was deep into the pines up near Texas Butte. You could hear him cough, as he was a smoker, plus he had his fire going. That was something that his sons and I would never do. Low and behold a nice respectable 5X5 came by his fire and he put him down… So in the western part of the state, we would go into our favorite spot and walk pockets listening for elk movement and try to get in close enough to get shot. They never seem to do the calling like Rocky Mtn. elk would do. This process of hunting worked for us in those days.
Getting to the basis of this article about chasing elk down as I would put it came about some years later when we were bowhunting the rimrock, juniper and sagebrush of central Oregon for big mule deer bucks on the B.L.M., National Forest that was bordered and encompassed with private land. One particular deer scouting trip prior to the opening archery season, glassing at a mile into a basin we could see from our observation point while looking for the famous bucks of the Big Muddy, we spotted elk, not just one elk, but about 12 bulls, all being branch bulls.
This launched our elk hunting in this country for more than 20 years and still to this day when I have time. Spotting elk from distance does give you an advantage; this has led to least at 85% average of getting elk this way for me, partners and others within the hunting circles. I will say that in the early days, GPS and mapping (software) was nil. Most of the guys I hunted with were all past military and few of us still in the military, so venturing into the so call unknown and reading the land was pretty easy going.
I have found glassing ridges, hillsides, shaded areas and even into basins on an afternoon after the average hunter has headed back to camp and settle down for the late afternoon and evening happens to be my favorite time to glass for elk. The country is vast with B.L.M. and National Forest for miles in all directions. You have been glassing for about 30 minutes and you spot a group of elk which you feel is about 2 miles away. You can see with your binoculars there are some pretty good bulls in the herd. They are just grazing, with a few bedded down. It is said by most that we have probably harvest more elk in the afternoon after 1PM, than ever in the morning hours.
It is now to setup a plan to get onto these elk, as it is about 1400 or 2PM in the afternoon with visibility of at least a mile.
Getting this plan underway in the 21st century is so much easier with Garmin GPS’s and onXmaps HUNT mapping software and being able to dial in the lay of the land with precision accuracy, sort of like getting 10X’s on a target during a shooting tournament…
First off, I would have my Garmin GPS, with the Montana being my favorite which is loaded with my onXmaps HUNT PLAT map. Seeing that there is a peak off in the distance between the elk and myself, I can judge the precise distance to the elk with the mapping and GPS. The maps are up to date and show the private, federal lands, state lands and other.
The second thing I am going to do is install a number of waypoints, such as the peak and the proximity of elk as I see it on the map.
Now I take a look at the topo aspect of the terrain with my GPS and my eyes, working on a quick plan to cover the distance to within a ¼ mile of the elk. The elk appear to be very comfortable were they are and I feel they will settle down in the area for part of the evening.
Personally I have always felt to cover the ground quickly, whether I am running, sliding down a hill, but always slowly down coming up on a rise. Many times I personally feel that mistakes are made by taking too much time getting in the zone of the elk.
During my pursuit I am mentally thinking how I am going ambush the elk. I also assume that the elk will be close to where I had made sight of them. If rifle hunting, the thought of the ambush will be different than if I am bowhunting the elk as to how close I close the distance. I am a loner, but if I have a partner, he is going to be in my shadows normally, but under the same game plan. I am in combat mode when working this scenario during the hunt.
Along the way I have checked my GPS and even put more waypoints, which gives me a mental picture, plus I have setup estimated time to get to my final observation point, whether a vantage point above or even level eyesight.
Now if I am rifle hunting, I will be on the ready and try to have a vantage point within my comfortable shooting distance. A great deal of time that doesn’t always happen, but I have set this stalk up the way it works for me. I know my weapon or rifle of choice that I use on elk and I also know the capabilities of its shooting distance and putting the elk down.
When it comes to archery, I am more of a stalker of elk too within shooting range, a great deal depends with the elk, being in the rut or not, but I always have cow call and a bugle if I am going to work the herd and bring a try bull in.
With the technology of GPS (Garmin) and onXmaps HUNT mapping software, the hunter can pinpoint the game. As said before, my thoughts have always been to move fast and not worry about being careful about foot noise, until I am within a ¼ mile. In reality this is one of the funniest ways to hunt down an elk in my opinion! My partners and I have taken many bulls over the years by hunting this way.
#onxmaps #teamhunt #huntsmarter