Here are the elk hunting pictures
you’ve been waiting for I told you about. Even if you don’t want to see them.
But I promise there is nothing gross or bloody awaiting you. These are just the nice pictures.
Travis’ parents and brother arrived Thursday afternoon and did all the grocery shopping. When I got home, they were loading up the trucks, so while they did that, I packed my bag. I did fairly good this time and only forgot a flashlight. That’s not important when you’re camping, right? (It turned out okay because I didn’t go to the bathroom during the night once – haha!, and I borrowed a lantern anytime it was dark.)
Friday morning, I got up early to make monkey bread (a breakfast tradition with Travis’ family) and shower. We got on the road about 7:15, got up to Silverthorne around 8, and drove another hour and a half into the middle of nowhere to find our
mud pit camp spot.
You can’t really tell from this picture but 60 degrees, intense sun at 9750 feet, melting snow, and dirt ground = MAJOR MUD. Ew. It was only bad for the first day and the last day we were there though.
We decided on the spot for our tent (easier said than done since the whole campsite sloped one way or another) and started setting ‘er up.
Next orders of business were getting the kitchen set up, getting the tent and rainfly staked down, assembling the wood stove, chopping firewood and setting up our cots and sleeping bags. I tell you what, elk hunting is a lot of work. And I don’t even do any of the hunting!
The inside of our tent – close quarters! The stove isn’t in the pic but it’s to the left, right as you walk in the tent. (I unfortunately didn’t take a pic of it.) My cot is usually the middle one on the left (as this picture shows) but Beth and I ended up switching so I could be near the stove. Nice on cold nights but one night, I melted into a puddle because the stove was cranked so high! Holy cow. I actually got up and asked Travis to turn it down. (Now I know how, so I could just do it myself.)
You can also see the dogs’ kennel in the back left. Charlie slept in there and Katy (who sleeps like a rock) slept on Beth’s sleeping bag most nights. Last year, Katy got so cold sleeping in the tent that I let her sleep inside my sleeping bag. She crawled all the way down to the bottom (talk about not being claustrophobic!) of my mummy bag! This year, I switched sleeping bags with Travis to let her do the same thing, except in a square bag. Well, instead of being rated for 0 degrees, his is rated for -25 and Katy ended up overheating. She crawled back up to the top, panting, and ended up just sleeping the outside of the bag. Then I switched my sleeping bag back and she decided to sleep on Beth’s instead. Fine by me!
After we got everything set up, we just hung out.
I was pretty impressed at Travis’ and Matthew’s wood-splitting abilities (they chopped it after using the chainsaw). I’m pretty sure you don’t want me to ever use a hatchet or a splitting maul. Pretty much anything that involves hand-eye coordination, you want to keep far, far away from me.
Evening, morning, the First Day.
Saturday morning was Opener. Weehee! Beth seemingly bounded out of bed to cook pancakes and bacon (as she did every morning) and by 6:15, the men were off to slay themselves some elk. They were going to come back for lunch at noon, so we had some time to kill. Every day, we read our books while waiting for it to get light outside. Then we’d wash dishes and do various things – read, go on a walk, play a game, scrapbook. Saturday was the nicest day we had so I actually took a nap in the sun.
So did Charlie:
Noon rolled around, then 12:15, 12:30. The guys still hadn’t come back. Beth and I got into a conversation about Occupy Denver and pretty soon, it was 1:15. We decided to go ahead and eat, hoping that the men’s tardiness meant they had actually shot something. Since we were a lot closer to the hunting zone that year, we heard a lot of shots but obviously didn’t know if one of those had been our guys.
Finally, around 4, the guys came back, a nice big rack in the back of the pickup. They had shot it at 9:30 that morning after they heard the elk bugle over a ridge. Once they saw it, Done.
As you might know, elk are huge. Not as big as moose, perhaps, but still huge. They estimated this male elk weighed 750 lbs – once you butcher it, you end up with about 200 lbs of meat. That’s a lot of meat. Each hindquarter weighed 65 lbs just by itself. Travis and Matthew both made 2 trips, Al made one (really heavy) one, to get the elk to the truck. Some people use horses to bring their meat out – these guys just use backpacks. Big, external frame packs. Needless to say, after their haul (literally), they were wiped.
Since I promised no gross pictures, here’s just one of the rack. Aren’t I so lucky that Travis wants to hang that on our wall with the skull still attached?
We ate dinner – I can’t remember what it was that night exactly but over the course of the 5 days, we had chili, potroast with veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and stuffing. For breakfast, Beth cooked bacon or sausage with pancakes or french toast. And lunch was always sandwiches with a side of baby carrots, chips, trail mix, string cheese, mini candy bars, or granola bars. I tell you, we ate good out there. I also drank more Mountain Dews and ate more mini candy bars than I had since July’s Weeklong Eating Extravaganza.
The next day (Sunday), Beth and I drove into town for ice and a few other things. Because of the nasty, not-well-kept roads and the fact that we were camping in the middle of nowhere, it took us an hour and 15 minutes just one way. We were in town for about 40 minutes, then turned around and drove back. I was not asking to do that drive again anytime soon.
Monday, it snowed and we all stayed inside for the better part of the day.
Everything was freezing (literally) and the wind was blowing snow everywhere. Made it very challenging to do dishes. After the guys left, Beth and I played Bananagrams, scrapbooked, and read. We got checked out by the Division of Wildlife twice. We went on a walk in the snow.
Blaze orange is the new black. Even the dogs thought so, with their blaze orange bows. We didn’t want them to be mistaken for any baby elk, although I mentioned to Beth that the dogs wouldn’t ever stay still long enough to get shot.
Tuesday, it didn’t snow but it was decently cold so we stayed inside or by the fire. We went on a hike called South Fork Loop. Very muddy and destroyed by horse hooves. Grrr…
Wednesday, it warmed up just in time to pack everything up.
But the fun didn’t stop there! Once we got home, everyone immediately got to work unloading the truck, hauling stuff into the house, setting up the wall tent to dry, scrubbing the tent floor clean, etc. I unpacked all the food and went grocery shopping. Travis bought a new vacuum sealer (ours bit the dust – don’t get the Seal a Meal brand!). Finally, it was time for Buffalo Wild Wings – the guys split 50 wings between the 3 of them (they were a little full afterward). Beth and I split 12 boneless wings. I also got a Black Cherry Mojito and it was delicious! And only $5!
The next day, it was back to work and I’ve already told you my saga of what happened after work. I’m glad elk hunting is over – it’s fun and I like Travis’ family but it’s a crapton of work. And I’m ready for some relaxing weekends. (Even so, I’ve already been fighting off the temptation to schedule things “now that I have free weekends”!)
Any questions about elk camp?
Look like something you’d like to do?