• Aznealz

    Man, the wind in the vid looks hellacious! Almost impossible to work that. Are the still pics by Rudy or Phil? Either way, they’re remarkable.

    “I had to remind myself that all it takes is one second to turn a bad hunt into an epic one.”

    This, my friend, is invaluable. Difficult to remember at times but soooo important. It can all turn on a dime and the elk that is bedded mid day for heat or wind mitigation, can get up to stretch or change position. Right in front of you. More good work Mark.

    • SoleAdventure

      Phil took the vast majority of the photos that you’re seeing from this trip. He’s the man!

  • Jeff Kowell

    Not sure about “quakies”, but these are great photos and a good account! That wallow…if the water was cloudy, I would have setup nearby and watched it for a long while.

    • SoleAdventure

      I thought about it, Jeff. Maybe it could have paid off…

  • Tom Sorenson

    I love the honesty of your emotions. Trust me, every elk hunter has been there – it’s a frustrating adventure sometimes. I let it get me down too often – I’m glad you kept your mind strong…mental resilience is certainly key for elk hunters, and I imagine it is only more so for first time elk hunters.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Tom. I loved and savored the whole experience, including the frustrating moments.

  • Kevin

    Be careful about knocking those tennis shoes to much! :) some of the best mountain hunters I know who hunt almost solely above the treelike in some of the nastiest stuff around wear tennis shoes almost exclusively through everything until the snow gets deep. They save a lot of energy because weight on your feet adds up a lot faster than weight on your back, and they also keep your feet feeling fresher. Not to mention you can be much quieter and more agile in them. They definitely aren’t all bad.

    • SoleAdventure

      I’m not knocking tennis shoes at all, Kevin. In fact, I do a lot of hunting in trail running shoes. They are a great choice for some hunts.

  • Rob McConnell

    mental mental mental.. I wish i could say that i was immune. I might even admit to packing up and heading out after hearing what i later found out was a wounded rabbit. Course it was at 12:00 am, and it lasted for 30 min…getting closer and closer to my tent, until it was literally right outside. (Insert any stephen king book reference here) I yelled a few choice words, only to make it stop…leaving me to wonder where in the hell it was now! Yea, I’m not usually afraid of the dark in the woods.. but sometimes it just piles up and piles up until you can convince yourself of anything. Everything is harder out there..EVERYTHING. I am jealous that you got to hunt with friends.. i think that definately helped you hang in there. And i think its cool that you attributed that to them.

    Another thing that i am struck with is the amount of experience you are getting. You have so many more years of Elk hunting ahead of you, and every single min you are learning things that are going to make your future hunts THAT much easier and more successful! Cheers to you for putting yourself out there and to the great story telling, i am eating it up!

    • SoleAdventure

      Yeah, being solo makes all of the difference in the world. Been there and done that, especially with the creepy sounds in the middle of the night.

      You’re right about the learning experience! I may have come up with an empty cooler, but I didn’t come home without anything – I learned a TON, and continue to pick up things as I reflect back on situations. My goal with this trip wasn’t just to kill an elk, it was to start the journey of becoming an elk hunter, and in that regard I was successful.

  • Al Quackenbush

    Your story gets more interesting as it moves forward. Boy, hunting in the wind sucks, but you guys take the Gold Medal for sticking it out in that stuff. You can have all the training in the world, but one felled tree and it’s all over. Scary, but you guys persevered. Great photos, too. Beautiful and intimidating at the same time!

    I am hoping that int he next few years we all get an opportunity to hunt together. I hope your Kentucky trip is met with more success!

    • SoleAdventure

      We need to make that happen, Al!

  • Passinthru Outdoors

    I feel like I’m riding an emotional roller coaster with every day here. Can’t imagine how you felt but you obviously had it right when you said…

    “I had to remind myself that all it takes is one second to turn a bad hunt into an epic one.”

    My son and I have been talking about an Elk hunt when he graduates in 2015 but I’m only 3 days in to your adventure and I’m already second guessing that possibility.

    Looking forward to day 4.

    • SoleAdventure

      Don’t second-guess yourself. You guys can do it! You get to make your elk hunt whatever you want. Go guided, semi-guided, get a drop camp, etc. And if your set on going DIY, then you still have plenty of options regarding hunting closer to the road, going more remote, etc.

  • Jordan

    I’ve only been scared a couple times while elk hunting. The longest the feeling lasted was this fall with wind like you describe. Hunting in timber that is mostly dead freaks me out when the wind howls. Glad you were able to rise above. Finally figured out you must not of killed something…however, even if you had, you would have spent most of the time talking about the adventure you had in the mountains…not the part where you actually killed it (generally speaking)…therefore you did indeed come away with something bigger than just a rack or full cooler. Awesome!

    • SoleAdventure

      There were definitely some tense moments in the wind – especially at night. You’re right, kill or not, nothing would change about the way I’m telling this story. I’m trying to share the hunt, not just a single moment. We got into elk everyday for the rest of the hunt, but couldn’t close the deal, as you’ll see.

  • Wind sucks! There is no other way to describe the frustration – it sucks. However, elk live there and wind is part of their lives, just as snow, hail, rain, and heat. Sometimes wind will cause elk to move into open parks and meadows to enable better visibility of predators but sometimes they will bail into a ravine or canyon bottom. One thing’s for sure, they won’t be bothered by flies and biting insects!

    That wallow grabbed my attention. Did you spend any time set up on it? I’m a sucker for fresh wallows simply because I love the mental motivation they afford. Bulls come to them often, and that 11-3PM window can be very productive. I Iike a treestand set up best but I usually pack a stand when I know of wallows I want to hunt. Not the case on your hunt so a well constructed ground blind could pay off.

    Onward…

    • SoleAdventure

      I thought about sitting that wallow, but it was already late in the afternoon when we discovered it; combined with the swirling winds, we just decided to check out a new area with some other sign. We thought the wind might drive elk into the open areas, and there were some scattered meadows, but no really large parks in the area. A lot of the more “open” spots were still thick with oakbrush. I’m definitely still processing things from this hunt, and trying to piece together the puzzles of where elk might have been each day. Fun stuff… ;-)