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#7253446 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Eremicus]  
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One time when I was scouting at timberline in August. I came to this nice looking elky meadow. I decided to sit under a tree and have a snack.

About 100yds away a herd of 20-30 cows showed up. I froze in position with my mouth full of peanut butter sandwich. The lead cow spotted me right away, and starred me down. The rest of the cows could care less, and went about feeding. I tried to chew and swallow, but it was sticking in my throat. I really wanted to watch them, so I was trying to stay frozen. That lead cow never moved, and never stopped starring at me.

I was cramping up, and needed to move. I was also choking and needed a drink. I finally gave it, and made the slightest move to relieve the cramp.. She gave a fast chirp to the herd, and they were gone as fast as they appeared.

Lead cows are a bitch. Pretty hard to get the best of them.


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
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#7253517 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Mauser_Hunter]  
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saddlesore Online content
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If one shoots the lead cow they take away a lot of knowledge from the herd as to where to travel for migration etc.You might make it easier to kill the other elk in the herd,but you sure don't do much for the integrity of the herd.

There are thousands of elk hunters in CO that still sit on meadows thinking that is where the elk will come to.Now days, most elk leave open meadows before 1st light and don't move back out until dusk. Better succes is figuring out the routes they normally use and then fade back into the timber 100-200 yards


If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles
#7253587 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: saddlesore]  
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Originally Posted by saddlesore
If one shoots the lead cow they take away a lot of knowledge from the herd as to where to travel for migration etc.You might make it easier to kill the other elk in the herd,but you sure don't do much for the integrity of the herd.

There are thousands of elk hunters in CO that still sit on meadows thinking that is where the elk will come to.Now days, most elk leave open meadows before 1st light and don't move back out until dusk. Better succes is figuring out the routes they normally use and then fade back into the timber 100-200 yards


I agree in hunting seasons. Pre hunt seasons they're out much longer.

I don't hunt meadows. That's for non resident rifle hunters. I hunt the timber.


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
#7253772 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Mauser_Hunter]  
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After 30 yrs of whitetail and 8 years of elk hunting, my humble opinion is that whitetail outsmart you and elk outrun you. When they hear sounds that indicate the woods ain't what they used to be, the elk move their operations to another area and whitetails hunker down. This is a generality, not a firm rule. Elk will hunker and deer will move on occasion.

Here in AZ, I'm learning the key is when a sound is spooky and when it's not. Before the season, almost nothing is spooky. That changes at nightfall prior to opening day.

Many times I've been posted on a ridge at blackdark waiting for glassing light. Often elk have been audible kicking rocks, whacking horns or breaking sticks 1,000 yards away or more. It's just amazing how well sound travels in that cold, dry, high air before any wind is stirring. Then I ask myself, "If I hear this, what have they heard?" The answer is everything for the last hour, including my sneaking. In the tinder-dry thickets of manzanita and oak at mid-elevation Arizona, it is virtually impossible to move soundlessly at anything over 50 feet per hour. The elk I listen to in in the dark just happen to be out of range and they know it.

It's a game they win almost every time. At least against me ...


I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough. -- Col. Stonehill
#7253799 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Talus_in_Arizona]  
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A cow chirp will help if you can't be quiet walking while elk hunting. The elk are used to other elk being noisy.


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
Alpha

#7253809 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Mauser_Hunter]  
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Talus_in_Arizona Offline
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That might get you through the first step. But not the next thousand.


I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough. -- Col. Stonehill
#7253815 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Talus_in_Arizona]  
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Elk don't walk that far?


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
#7253857 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Mauser_Hunter]  
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I'm surely no expert on elk age, but we had an appaloosa elk, white spots all over it and a totally white ass in Temperance Creek. The outfitter and one of the grizzled wranglers swore that they saw the appy elk as a calf many years ago.

I tried like crazy to kill that ancient bitch, but she outsmarted me every time.

Finally, the outfitter managed to kill her. She had no teeth, but was eating well ... probably because she could feed at the best places and on the best grass.

Anyway, the wrangler and the outfitter figgered she was forty. I cannot attest to that, but I actually saw her as anfull grown and fairly old adult fully twenty years before.

Wikipedia and all that [bleep] says that the maximum age for elk is 25 years. I would guess that also depends on the area and that Hell's canyon might be a special case.

Hell's Canyon is the ruggedest area I've ever hunted and it is the deepest canyon in North America ... Yep, deeper than the Grand Canyon by a significant amount.

The elk travel up and down the elevations, depending on feed, snow and temperature. It is quite possible for an elk to drop a whopping 5,632 feet in a few hours (Hat Point to Snake River).

I've seen it way below zero on top, at Warnock Corral, when I had a line of mules full of elk parts, and dropped down to our 3,500 foot camp and it's been +20º. Drop to Snake River and it's likely to be a roasting 40º.

Not many elk are killed on the Oregon side. The country is simply too danged rough. By the way, when killing there, the first thing a fella looks at is the possiblity of getting the elk out. I have passed on hundreds of elk over the years ... they were simply impossible to get out of a hole or canyon with no access.

Maybe tomorrow the elk would be where we could kill them ... or maybe we'll run into some more in the next drainage. Not getting greedy is a good attitude in rough country; I learned that the very hardest possible way.

Dominus vobiscum,

Steve



"God Loves Each Of Us As If There Were Only One Of Us"
Saint Augustine of Hippo - AD 397







#7253887 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: dogzapper]  
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Everybody seems to agree that a 20 year old elk is very old. I can't see double that happening.


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
#7253888 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: dogzapper]  
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Well DZ, how about posting a story about the 'very hardest possible way'? That sounds like a good one. I like the remote, tough country, too. Mostly because I don't want to see many people. It is different out there.




I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough. -- Col. Stonehill
Bravo

#7253982 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Talus_in_Arizona]  
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Originally Posted by Talus_in_Arizona
Well DZ, how about posting a story about the 'very hardest possible way'? That sounds like a good one. I like the remote, tough country, too. Mostly because I don't want to see many people. It is different out there.




Nobody would believe.

It was close to zero degrees. I killed a huge old cow and the top (probably 5,000 feet ASL) of whatever creek is to the north of Rush Creek. She fell and started sliding in the icy grass ... and down ... and down ... and over a five-hundred foot cliff ... and down ... and down ... over another cliff that almost killed me descending ... and slid maybe another two thousand vertical feet.

I will not say show far she slid, I actually know, but it was far.

I eventually got down to the old bitch and butchered her properly

It all started at nine in the morning and I had to descend to Snake River, walk up to Rush Creek and up the creek to our camp. I arrived way, way, way after dark.

I was tired to the bone, even in the finest physical shape of my life. BUT, I was alive.

Never get greedy, especially in hard country. That comment goes triple when guiding paid-hunters; they are normally of no practical use whatsoever.

Dominus vobuscum,

Steve



"God Loves Each Of Us As If There Were Only One Of Us"
Saint Augustine of Hippo - AD 397







#7254000 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: dogzapper]  
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DAMN!!


Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a hunting license and that's pretty close.
#7254465 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: dogzapper]  
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Gotcha.

Last edited by rl11; 01/01/13.
#7254737 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: rl11]  
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Not elk killing, but one wet year we were late and going down the trail from Warnock Corral to our 3,500 foot camp on Temperance Creek. We had golly knows how many horses and mules and we were carrying the whole camp with us ... plus some feed.

Anyway, it was a dark and rainy night and the mud was running down the horse trail like cement flowing down a chute. I was kinda in the middle and my horse was just following the pack horse in front of him.

Anyway, I can't see [bleep], it's just black and we hit a steep part of the down trail and I can feel my horse, Gus, lock his front legs stiff and rare back. He's sitting down on his back legs and we're skidding uncontrolled down the trail. Did I mention I couldn't see [bleep]? grin

Then, I hear a horse wreck in front of me. The outfitter was in front of me with maybe ten dallied horses and his horse absolutely COULD NOT negotiate the turn in the trail. The horse just plain went up and over and into a thicket and down into the creek.

Horses were screaming. The outfitter is yelling. Horses are thrashing around.

Then, I saw the outfitter's flashlite pop on.

[bleep], things are serious. All you horse hunters know that you NEVER light a flashlight in the dark. It kills your horses night vision for a time.

When the outfitter lit that light and I knew things were bad.

Then, I came closer to the light and I never had a chance. My horse went right off the end of the trail (the one flowing mud like [bleep] cement) and I'm off and into the slew of downed, thrashing and dicked-up tailed horses.

Gut hit the creek and I went over his head, right into four feet of Temperance Creek ... It was maybe 35º and the creek was prolly colder. Gus was thrashing around and my tailed mules were screaming, thrashing and mostly down & fighting.

The noise, the confusion, was unreal.

I never heard it when Karen came to the edge and somehow her horse made the corner and down the trail. She heard us, of course and the literal combat zone.

Not so, the outfitter's wife. Her horse almost made the corner, but slipped off and into the brush slightly further down. She also ended up in the creek. Her language and putting together of words we all know ... well, it was very inventive grin

That was it, three horse wrecks out of four bunches of tailed horses & mules.

The miracle was that nobody; no person, no horse, no mule was hurt. A couple of the mules had scrapes, but nobody died and there were no broken bones.

The outfitter's wife and I about froze to death on the way to camp and I ended up walking quite a bit, holding Gus' tail (he was GREAT that way) on the flats. Downhill or up, I mounted Gus and relied on his steadiness.

Anyway, it all ended well, but I surely thought we had some dead or horribly disabled horseflesh, not to mention our own safety.

Obviously, this is all first-draft and if I wrote it up for an article, it would probably double in size and, hopefully, be finer writing. But, it will never see print ... only right here.

Dominus vobiscum,

Steve



"God Loves Each Of Us As If There Were Only One Of Us"
Saint Augustine of Hippo - AD 397







#7255923 - 01/01/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: dogzapper]  
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Holy Moly dogzapper! It sounds like you have been blessed with that old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times". So far your stories look like material for a whole book with sequels!

I can't even come close to your tales! Back in CO, I once ran into what may have been a rogue cow who had retired as lead cow. I sure got some lessons from her. This was back when I was younger and my knee didn’t need replacing yet. I have never had the luck to hunt supported by riding stock, so my lot is to hunt shanks-mare. One day after more than a week of days of slogging up and down the mountain, postholing in the horse tracks along the access trails, and hunting blowdown criscrossed timber, I was a little worn down. Racing the horse hunters was just not working. So I decided to take an easier day and hunt a lower finger ridge where I had once seen a really nice mule deer buck. I was poking my way down the top of the ridge, tehoretically deer hunting, when I cut another hunter’s very fresh tracks coming from the opposite end, so I knew he had cleared off the ridgetop. Nevertheless, I continued down the ridge to see what tracks I might cut. Shortly I found a huge elk bed. Close inspection indicated that he had blown out an enormous cow who had been bedded solitary and securely in a very defensible position. Her leaps down off the ridge were impressive, Olympian, despite knee to crotch deep snow! Shortly I ran into the hunter and upon inquiry, not only was he unaware of the cow, but he had no intention of following.

Unfortunately I had a cow tag, and am apparently lousy at promising myself I won’t do something stupid. I had vowed not to undertake a marathon that morning, but here I was looking at fresh cow tracks leaping off the ridge, crossing the valley, and heading up the mountain. Sigh! I had to follow. She had a good head start. I hoped, foolishly, that she might have gotten over her fright, and relaxed, and even might bed down in the timber. I am a timber hunter, so that idea appealed greatly.

Ha! That old biddy crashed off the ridge, ran up the next ridge, got into some horrible deadfall, and then stopped – standing in the top of a deadfall of lodgepole with its needles still on. She had waited there for a long time. She must have seen me on her trail and left. She went through open talus in heavy snow, then through a bedding area where she stood in an elk bed and jumped uphill almost 15 feet into the tracks of other elk. That took a while to sort out, I have to admit. Then she took me through more tangle, always up lung-busting steep hillsides. She stood and waited in several places to see if I was still coming. Bye and bye, I knew I could not possibly get her, but I had to see what would happen. She doubled back, used other fresh elk tracks, reversed direction, and dragged me through several open areas of deep snow with talus or sage where she could easily watch for me. I finally saw her. After the last steep talus patch, when I was practically crawling, I spotted just her ears and eyes watching me from the other side of a ridge. She was standing in the gully on the far side, out of sight except up to the bottom of her eye sockets. It was maybe 60 yards. Our eyes met, and she was off again. I was a pawn. She made a monkey of me in the end. After many hours of that chase I was beat, but I sure got an education. I parted then, wishing her well, and hoping she had left behind a string of offspring with her wisdom. Given her size, she must have been amcient, and should have had a string of maybe 18 to 20 calves brought up. Hopefully they inherited her smarts. If wolves ever move down there, they will need all the smarts they can get.

#7275978 - 01/06/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Jaguar]  
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"and am apparently lousy at promising myself I won’t do something stupid."

I know the feeling.


I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough. -- Col. Stonehill
#7277498 - 01/06/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Talus_in_Arizona]  
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Rock Chuck Offline
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Early in the rut, you'll often see the lead cow galloping cross country with the other cows behind and the bull dragging his tongue trying to keep up. My theory is that it's her duty to find as many stray cows as possible for her bull and covering the max amount of distance is the way she does it.
One year I saw a herd about a dozen barreling down the side of a long, steep, bare slope. She stopped at the bottom in some trees. When the bull finally caught up, she took off again, right back up the same slope.
In Idaho, archery season opens just as the rut starts so bow hunters see some stuff like this that most rifle hunters don't. This early rut running seems to be fairly common around Labor Day and I've seen it many times.


Vegetables: the food my food eats
#7277593 - 01/06/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Rock Chuck]  
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Very interesting, RC. That almost sounds like a fitness test for the bull, administered by the lead cow. If he can't keep up with her, he is of inadequate fitness to sire the next generation. Huh. Facinating what tidbits show up in these forums.

#7277847 - 01/06/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Jaguar]  
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Rock Chuck Offline
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I don't know if it's for fitness testing or for finding cows, but they do do it. One year, we watched a herd of about 16 cows race over a ridge and off to one side of us. They were followed by a 4x4. We had to scratch our heads about how he got all those cows and concluded that he stole them when the herd bull was off fighting or something. Anyway, they were really covering the ground at that fast trot they have. We ran into them again 1/2 hr later. However, the little bull had just been reduced to satellite bull status by a nice 6x6. He was less than pleased about losing his harem.


Vegetables: the food my food eats
#7278091 - 01/06/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Rock Chuck]  
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I would bet they never really were "his". That may be why he wasn't keeping up. Possibly the original herd bull got whacked, and the little guy tried to become the big guy. I have watched that behavior in pronghorn. Any satellite buck or bull had better try to get his job done fast, 'cause he is not going to keep a harem long. When that happens with pronghorn - the herd buck being whacked - those does bust out pretty quick and make an escape. They are always followed by whatever satellite bucks are hanging around the edges.

Be an interesting study if one had enough time.

#7280394 - 01/07/13 Re: How smart are old bull elk ? [Re: Rock Chuck]  
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They often tell this as a joke, but it endures because is much truth in it. It has much wider applications.

The young bull says, "let's run down there and have our way with one of those cows."
The old bull replies, "let's walk down there slow and have our way with the whole herd."

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