You couldn’t ask for more of a variety in weather while hunting for the elusive black bear and elk. From snowfall and sunshine to rain and fog, we experienced it all. Sounds like too much of a variety, huh? Nah, the diverse weather contributed to an ideal all-in-one hunting experience.

Onto the details!

On day one we got ourselves a blue grouse and boy was he good eatin’ pan fried with butter, garlic, onion, and lemon powder! Mountain chickens are a delicious snack, if only Washington State had spruce grouse.

Let’s get to the more important details, whether or not our bear and elk tags were filled! Well, one person in our party encountered the black bear I’ve dreamed of harvesting for some tasty tacos and a beautiful shoulder head mount. Unfortunately, the opportunity to cross paths with my desired trophy did not present itself.

Following fresh elk tracks for two miles led us to a central location with multiple travel routes along the mountain. There was a handful of meadows varying in sizes from small to large. Here the elk would bed down after feasting on a rich food source of grasses and belch up their food, chewing their cuds to process it more. Judging by how open this area was leads me to believe this is where the elk would frequently go at night since secure cover is not as important as it is during the day.

We heard an aggressive, yet majestic, bugle and chuckle down below us as two hunters appeared from the burnt timber. High tailing it across the snowy mountain side, the hunters were attempting to head him off. Was this a satellite bull or was the rut over and this bull elk was traveling alone, pressured to move on to a distant location from it’s higher elevation, thus changing it’s habits and patterns.

After hunkering down in a blind surrounded by sparse trees for a couple hours, we were greeted with the only spike elk seen during our trip. He wasn’t too young since there were no cows around. He was most likely searching for snack plots while traveling to his evening destination. Within 50 yards he posed in a motionless, broadside position which would only result in a clean kill. It was the perfect scenario, almost. Looking through the binoculars, there it was… an antler with a two inch branch. He was not a true spike bull. Tough to swallow, the unwavering watched the bull continue on thinking, if only.

Curiosity littered the forest because not a single day went by without seeing one to four mule deer. Rabbit tracks crisscrossed the trails, ground squirrels and yellow-pine chipmunks scurried up tree trunks looking upon us on the tree’s limbs, and raven calls echoed sounds of trickery. All in all, it was an adventure of a lifetime, one that cannot go easily forgotten. Yeah, we didn’t harvest a bear or elk, but there’s so much more to takeaway from what we experienced that truly makes this a successful and rewarding hunting trip as a whole.

Tiffany’s Hunting Trip Takeaways

  • Mastering cow and bull calls takes time. Regardless, knowing the type of call to use, how aggressive you should sound, and not calling too much are all factors that contribute to an unsuccessful or successful hunt.
  • Even though you hear a terrible bugle and think it’s a hunter, it’s extremely possible it’s a bull communicating something specific. There’s advertising bugles, warning and challenge bugles, nervous grunts and warning barks, and glunking which shows dominance and worthiness. Bulls also use the lip bawl bugle to communicate to cows. These are only a few of the different bugles bulls used to communicate.
  • Human signs speak volumes. A combination of camps, harvest elk remains, gear, ribbons and other hunters in the area suggest looking elsewhere as the elk may have been pushed to another area.
  • Time can be maximized while hunting by scouting and pattering the elk’s behavior.
  • Elk’s priorities go from needing cover, food, then water during the day to needing food, water, then cover in the evening.
  • Hunting on public land is definitely challenging, but seeking unfathomable triumph is an awarding experience itself.

Tiffany’s Top Products

Below are the highly recommended and most used products during my adventures hunting elk and black bear.

Using Dead Down Wind – Wind Detector allowed us to always have the advantage point by knowing which way the wind was blowing. My Horn Hunter (large) harness held my binoculars and range finder and were accessible when ever I needed them. There was even room to hold my Dead Down Wind – Wind Detector! And when it came to glassing the land or waiting for our harvest to appear, the Hunters Specialties Bunsaver Seat Cushion lived up to it’s name, saving my bum! It is extremely comfortable and easy to inflate. When I’m not using it, it folds up nicely and fits in my backpack.