Boise Real Estate Agent's
2016 Year In Review
2016 was a fabulous year filled with foibles, foul ups and snafu’s galore. The record cool tempratures that we experienced combined with the late labor day had the elk going pretty good for so early in the season. After making the switch to bow hunting in 1998 I have enjoyed a lot of great hunts hounding the screaming bulls of central Idaho. But this years hunt was the best. It seems like every time I turned around there was another 6 point standing there wanting to kick me bottom. There were a lot of bulls in 1998 and 1999 during the early phases of wolf reintroduction. We chased elk by the bushel full out of the meadows and onto the ridges, but they were mostly 4 or 5 points with an occasional big bull in the mix. Later when the wolves had taken their toll on the herds you were happy to just find an elk. Any elk. In the last few years either because of hunting or disease, or a combination there of, the elk are winning again. It is the norm to see elk tracks and I have not heard a howl for a year. Although the guys in the next drainage heard wolfs last weekend. Add that all up, throw in 3 llamas and a sleeping bag and I had some great bugling action.
Day 1- Saturday of Labor day weekend started off with a bang as my hunting partner and I found a bugling 6 point in hot pursuit of a cow within a mile of camp! He ran right into my honey hole which I had hoped to save for later in the year. Oh well, we chased, he took his cow and hid. After 6 miles, tired, sore and feeling old I turned in for the night.
Day 2- I loaded up my llamas and went to drop a spike camp for the next weekend. It was a bit of an experiment as one llama had never packed, my “best” llama had laid down on our only other hike. The third llama is only 2.5 and you can’t really load them till they are 3. So away we went, it was slow and laborious. I tied up and went back to get everybody around the worst spots and my untried “pack” llama laid down about a half a mile from camp. In the end after a lot of manipulation and coaxing the llamas and I arrived at the meadow 5 miles in, I thought it was an out of the way spot for a spike camp. It was so heavily burned around the meadow that I assumed the elk would be closer to green trees. Camping here would not mess up the hunting. I set the tent and gathered some wood. This left me just enough time before dark for a short hike down the trail to look for sign and do a little calling. The trail was closed, not by order of the Forest Service, but because about thirty 24 inch diameter trees had blown across it! I am still tired of climbing over deadfall. So I detoured up the hill to try and get around to the other side. I ended up climbing a little more than I had anticipated. As the shadows grew ever longer, I turned back for camp. As I neared the creek crossing I let out one last bugle and got punched in the ears by two responses. Both big bulls, both 200 yards away. I did not have much light and decided to just hang out till it got darker and sneak back to camp. About a minute after the first bugles, I realized my trigger was in camp..ekk. I have practiced without but am only confident to about 20 yards free handing it. About then I heard and saw the smaller of the two bulls slide through the trees about 70 yards below me, he had come down and crossed the creek and here he came. About this time number two came crashing through the brush. Number one turned and hightailed it back the way he had come. Long story short as so often happens, the big one never crossed the creek, kept his distance and disappeared.
Day 3- Being old and out of shape, sore and tired, plus very unsure about my llamas ability to climb back to the high camp where the truck was I decided to sleep in and then enjoy a leisurely hunt back up the trail. I awoke well after light and got up to get going, before I could even finish stretching a bull screamed about 200 yards away right above my tent. I dove back in a started pulling on clothes as fast as possible. Just as I stepped out of the tent a large 6 point stepped out of the only green there was for 300 yards. He was 100 yards away! As he stopped behind a tree I closed the distance to 70 yards using the topography to hide me as best I could. My tent which is big and white, and all 3 llamas where right there, but here he came any way. At 50 yards he stopped and I figured game over…. So I cow called to try and get him to make a mistake, he disappeared in the wrong direction. There was a small swale up in front of me and I was about to moved towards it hoping to have one last chance. Before I arrived, there he was 30 yards. Head and horns was all I could see! Apparently he went around a down log in order to get to the cow call! About this time he saw something, the llamas I think and this time he was gone! That’s what I call an Idaho back country alarm clock! The llamas made the truck no problem. I went Home Home Home to sell Boise real estate.
Day 4 The next weekend. Because of a work snafu my friend Joe had to postpone his trip, so I needed to pull the spike camp. Accompanied by my friend Steve and his two boys we headed down on Friday night to see what we might hear. Steve and the boys were camped at the truck and headed back a little before dark. I made it about half way to the camp before it got dark and plopped down next to the trail. As I got the llamas unloaded a bull bugled right above camp! The next morning I followed the bulls tracks up, up and away! I expected to hear him at any minute the whole way up the hill, but as usual he was tucked in under the ridge way high. I got to wihin 200 yards and bugled, he answered, a big roaring bugle full of piss and vinegar. The next thing I new here he came. I saw he did not have a giant rack. But since the only other tag holder in the house has a bum knee I decided if he gave me a good shot I would take it. He did, I blew it. High and back….he ran…stopped, turned and just before I could get another shot off, he spun whirled and flew. He dissappeared and the world was silent. I weighed my options and waited…Eventually I came to the realization he had not gone to far because it had gone so quiet so fast. I thought he might be down and so I snuck over the 75 yards to where he had disappeared. As I peered down into the swale I thought he had disappeared into he spotted me and barked in annoyance. There he was only 30 yards above me. He was facing left and I could not see for sure that it was the same bull, but after a moment of contemplation decided that it had to be. The horns were about right. I let fly another arrow and held my breathe. He whizzed out of there and disappeared again on to the bench above me. Again not the best shot…… All of a sudden I heard him crashing around above me. That’s a good thing! Silence again….. I thought he was down for good And put the sneak on him… son of nature style, low and slow. As I arrived at the crash site, no bull..argggg. Tracking a wounded elk is not a lot of fun…… I started to look for blood and glanced up the hill and there he was trying to make his escape. He was hurt badly and could not climb the steeps…. I could taste the sausage already! I got on the radio and connected with Steve, Bryce and Brock to see if they were able to help. They had called in a 5 point but had failed to drive any arrows home. I went to work boning and awaited the arrival of my helpers. By 3 we were headed for the trail. Upon gaining the ridge top Bryce heard horses in the basin we had just entered. Which happens to be honey hole number 2. I immediately thought elk…I have mistaken rouge bugles for elk on occasion too over the years. We sat down to rest and the bulls started going mad. There were 6 or 7 bulls in the basin including two that sounded huge. Steve and I started calling and the bulls came a running. The first two got to Brock and saw him returning to the spot they had started. About this time a small bull appeared below us and the heard bull was getting close on our right. In the end everybody got nervous. The herd bull gathered his cows and beat it out of there. We went back to packing… We hit the trail at the llamas loaded them up and headed for the truck. Well after dark, cramping and in pain we arrived at the truck! That said I still had 50 pounds of meat on the hill and a spike camp to pull the next day. So this
Day 5- Sunday was for packing. I knew that the llamas would not be able to make it to both the elk and the camp and back out in one day, so my plan was to get the camp and get back as far as possible before the llamas pooped out and needed a rest. About 3 o’clock at mile 7.5 the llamas told me enough. I need a rest. Unsaddle and tied up I emptied my pack and headed up and away to get the last of my elk! As I climbed a beautiful grassy ridge I heard elk bugling both above and below! I love Idaho. I arrived back at the llamas just before dark. For the 3rd time this season my dinner would be a half bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. I just did not have the energy to cook.
Day 6- Monday found me at the truck and headed home, home, home. My friend Joe was scheduled to arrive the next weekend, and the road was set to be closed, so I left the spike camp at roads end so we would not have to pack it all up there.
Day 7- Sunday found Joe and I looking at a broken leaf spring… So off to get the other trailer, it is always something. We arrived at the trailhead with 3 hours of daylight determined to get as close to the high camp as possible. We made it over halfway to a creek crossing in which I had stashed some gear and beer! This area had been hunted hard for 3 weekends and we did not expect the elk had moved back in yet. The silence the next morning confirmed this.
Day 8- Monday One of the best days elk hunting I have ever had! We climbed to high camp and reloaded for an overnight hunt out to the honey hole near where I shot my elk. Arrived at camp about 3 miles from the high camp and got all set up and relaxed.
Day 9- One of the best days elk hunting I have ever had! We did not get a super early start the next morning, but we were camped right in the middle of them so no worries. We climbed up and around towards the intended but the wind kept forcing us up so our scent did not arrive at the elk prior to our arrow. We ended up on the ridge top around and above the “honey hole”. As we arrived at the ridge top and looked down into the draw next door I let out a long mean intimidating bugle… bing, bang boom. First one, then another…there were 4 or 5 bulls all wound up and close. We hustled to get Joe set up and before we knew it a nice 5 point was within 20 yards with another bigger bull in tow. They saw or scented us and blew out. We relocated and set up again just 80 or 100 yards above what sounded like the largest bull. A 4 point ghosted by at 70 yards, scented. The wind was bad shifting this way and that, making a close easy shot tough to get. Here came two cows one came to 20 yards before she figured us out and was gone. The big bull was not playing our game. We moved to the edge of the canyon and screamed again, he answered but was now on the move. We chased he ran. Finally we were really close again he bugle just above and around. The wind was our problem, if he came back around our way he would definitely smell us. All of a sudden the other “big” bull
tting an arrow nocked he finally figured us out….gone, silence again. Plan B…. back to the bulls that were screaming earlier. It was starting to get late by bugling standards and things had cooled of a little in the hole, the occasional bugle drifted our way. We got the wind in our favor and headed down. The elk were ghosty and it seemed like the elk that were bugling while we rested kept dropping further down the draw. Finally we got within 300 yards of one bull and settled in to see what he was going to do. We did not have to wait long, here he came. At 70 yards, as per standard elk practices, he switched directions and moved to approach from the downwind side. Joe had to execute a spin move. I had still not seen this bull, then all of a sudden the bull appeared at 30 yards through the trees and brush I could see he was a respectable 6 point. No shot to much brush. After 5 long minutes he either saw or scented us, barked, he spun and ran. They look so cool with their giant racks and move without making a sound. It was surreal. Before he could get out of the basin he bugled 2 or 3 more times. About this time with the bull at about 200 yards, another bulled cut loose back the other way. Switch gears…..we worked that way and called to him but he disappeared, he must have seen us on the sneak. After a couple of hours of trying to fire up another bull we sat down on the ridge overlooking the basin and watched as the bull we had called into 60 yards walked across the hill side in front of us. Very cool, nice big bull… he smelled us and bugled goodbye as he left the basin. Back to camp…..We decided to go down and catch the trail back. Just above the trail I looked up and there was another bull. A 4 point whose rack was broken off on one side. He saw us but just stood there. We called and coaxed him. It took about 20 minutes but he eventually walked the 50 yards and came out broad side at 20 yards! Really cool. You have never seen an elk jump and run like he did when he finally realized what we were! What a day….
Day 10 and 11 where spent heading back to the truck. We had a bull in camp in the middle of the night, but only heard two bugle on the last morning of the hunt and they disappeared quickly. We were back on the heavily hunted side of the hill!
2016 was a blast. The llamas are good enough to actually call them pack llamas, the elk where thick and bugling and my freezer is loaded with sausage, burger, roasts and steaks to go with all those morels! Now it is chukar charge! By the way, we are renting the llamas out. They need miles at this point, so if you are planning an October elk hunt, or want to do an overnighter to a high mountain lake, they will haul the meat or the ice and steaks. A weekend with the trailer included and 2 llamas is $200. For a week with trailer is $475. They will haul 90 pounds for 4 or 5 miles if it is not straight up.
Mike Carr is a fourth generation Idahoan, a Boise real estate agent and outdoor enthusiast who loves Idaho's rivers, mountains, mushrooms, hot springs, chukar hunting and all the other great things that Idaho has to offer. If you are considering moving to Idaho, or buying or selling real estate in Idaho, Give Mike or Erica a call today and they will help you get lined out on a great deal on your new home!