Planning started in January for another Elk hunt into the mountains. I made two trips in the last two years to national forests without harvesting an elk.
It is called hunting not shooting. In each instance, I had a really great experience. Excellent guides, outstanding food, and great accommodations were experienced. Plus, on each trip the horses had a lot of trail experience. It was never a concern in handling one.
The first trip was two years ago with Wind River Outfitters in central Idaho. This was a fully guided trip, on horseback in the Gospel Hump Wilderness. If you want to camp out in big walled tents this is an excellent trip. The weather was hot for October, and the elk were not very active. This was some of the most magnificent country I had ever seen. Mike Branson and his wife went the extra mile in making sure I had a great outdoor experience. Unfortunately, I did not bag an elk.
|Sitting around the fire with Mike Branson, owner of Wind River Outfitters.|
|Heading out in the morning for a day of hunting.|
|The country was beautiful. We set up on the edge of a meadow that had a lot of elk signs.|
|My hunting partner got a shot in the meadow below. Small bull came out of the timber, looked around and headed back into the cover.|
Last fall I went with Bob Barlow of Barlow Outfitting. Bob really looks after his guests even to the point of taking them into his home if they have not shot anything. He works with them to get results. This was not a tent camp. Instead, I stayed in a lodge in Tetonia Idaho and hunted the western side of the tetons in Wyoming. I could look up and see the back side of the tetons.
|Looking toward the western side of the tetons. Jackson Hole is one the east side just beyond the peaks.|
A great advantage with Bob is that you hunt elk in the morning. Then late in the day after a nap, you head out and hunt black bear. You get two opportunities for the price of one. I had a really great time. The guides were excellent and worked really hard to put me on the animals.
|It is was warm again as evidenced by the guide. I peeled off clothes later.|
My good friend and long time duck hunting companion, Greg, was doing a lot of research on elk hunting and came up with an excellent suggestion. “Quit going to the National Forests” was what he believed would help me gain an extra edge. Hunting a high fence enclosure was not something I wanted to do, but it is out there if you go on the “net” and look. A member of our duck club had been hunting private ranches that held resident elk. Checking with Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures provided some excellent trips with guarantees for 95% to 100%. These are all fair chase and there are some really nice trips to New Mexico, but I wanted to get closer to home.
By searching the “net” a private ranch was found with a great price and excellent historical results. Smith Rancho is located north of Hayden Colorado, and west of Steamboat Springs. Hunting 50,000 acres of private ranch land with resident elk was the goal. The ranch has an excellent track record of success and posts references on line. The first thing I noticed was a reference from Cherokee, Iowa. Immediately, the call was made and the reference was excellent, plus there was a high record of success.
Guests stay right at the ranch and all meals are furnished. The reservation was made for October 29th through the 31st. This will work out perfectly for me since my wife and I will be getting back from a camera safari to Kenya and Tanzania. (http://www.smithrancho.com/index.html) Click on the link to learn more about Smith Rancho.