• Nice post. I think in the heat of the moment it is easy to get discouraged. I once had a good friend that said he loves seeing other hunters because he sits and let’s them push the elk to him. Can’t wait for the next part!

    • SoleAdventure

      It’s certainly possible to use hunting pressure to your advantage, either by targeting game escape routes, or simply determining where other hunters won’t be (and thus where elk WILL be). We had luck with the latter.

  • Rob McConnell

    Mental game is the toughest part of backcountry hunting for me. Nice job, cant wait to hear the rest!

    • SoleAdventure

      It absolutely is, and your destined to have some “low” moments on an extended hunt.

  • Doug Graver

    This is sounding great Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Doug!

  • Ty Dominguez

    Looking forward to the next post. This the first year in a while none of the regular guys I shoot with did not fill their tags. Hot weather one day, rain for days after but there is nothing like being in the backcountry with your bow. Thanks Mark, and keep up the good work.

    • SoleAdventure

      I have plenty of unfilled tags, but each one still has precious memories associated with it. Thanks, Ty!

  • Tucker

    What elevation were you at?

    • SoleAdventure

      Over the course of the hunt we were as low as 8,400′ and as high as 11,200′. The was either elk or active elk sign in all of those elevations. Cows, and bulls that started to herd cows were lower; solo bulls were higher.

      • Tucker

        Sounds good Mark. I’ll write you an email on my hunt. The good, bad and very bad.

  • Tom Ryle

    Sorry Mark, but I got a good laugh when I got to the part of about bite valves. Man, I’ve lost them, ripped them, even tried to make my own out of duct tape! They have been my nemesis on more than one occasion. The chart topper though is tossing my fully loaded pack into the bed of my truck only to find out a few hours later that I had squeezed the bite valve under the weight of my pack and emptied nearly 2 liters of water all over everything! Nothing betters than soaking wet shoulder straps and hip belt at 4AM…the stuff you face under the glow of a headlamp, I swear… Anyway, since those days I always pack a couple extra bite valves and insist on Platypus hydration systems – only the best! The Big Zip is a great rig and makes a great backcountry shower too.

    • SoleAdventure

      I’ve done the weighted pack on the bit valve maneuver more times than I care to admit, including a couple of times on this trip. LOL! Totally agree about the Playtpus systems! They’re the best I’ve seen.

  • stew

    Great post, Mark! I was hoping to read about somebody else’s success; my whole group of four struck out this year. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Stew. Were they pretty quite when you were out there?

      • stew

        That’s an understatement. I hunted hard for nine days from a dropcamp and saw three bulls and heard two bugles. I hunted between 10,500′ and 12,150′ the whole time and the country was dead. Same spot, same week last year I saw over 100 elk and probably 15 shooter bulls, 5 of them over 300″. Weird. Oh well, if it were easy then everybody would be doing it, right?

        • SoleAdventure

          Wow! Any guess as to what changed things? Of course, it could have been nothing more than natural movement. It’s like they say…elk are where they are.

          • stew

            My buddies and I discussed that very topic on the two-day drive back to West Virginia. We had a full moon this year, that probably didn’t help. There are some recently-burned areas nearby that have started to sprout some tender and tasty greenery; maybe that pulled them down. Sunspots, Martians, al Qaeda, bad chili beans, we covered every possible culprit, but in the end, they just weren’t where they weren’t.

          • Jerud Earnest

            I talked with a guy that had trouble finding the elk in his “hot spot”. He finally found them at the end of the hunt. It was so dry up high all of the elk had dropped in to the canyons for water and we’re staying downlow I them. He said they had found a spot with food, water, and shade for all but 2 hours everyday.

          • stew

            It was definitely drier this year than last year, but we still found wallows and springs up high. All the sign I found was down in the timber, but we were covered up with Shiras moose so some of that sign was probably from them. Not sure I can tell the difference. I hunted the timber hard for a couple days, heard one bugle but never saw an elk down there. Tough year.

  • Barry L.

    I thought I was the only one to have a “bite valve” episode. Ha ha ha Nice to know I’m not alone! Sounds only a couple hiccups that were overcome, so things were lookin good from the start. But come on, yer killin me, Smalls! Can’t you make each installment a bit longer, say 10 to 20 pages?!

    • SoleAdventure

      Longer? I figured most guys were already getting sick of my rambling, and are just ready to see a dead elk. ;-) Thanks for reading!

      • Barry L.

        Heck yeah! It’s true adventure, doin one of my favorite things! All the build up of anticipation; working your butt off to get everything ready, the entire journey, from start to finish, is something i don’t think i could live without. And to read someone else’s story, is just like reliving it through their eyes. Love it!!

      • Jerud Earnest

        You should show them my rambling!

  • Mike Thibodeau

    Mark,
    Sounds like we weren’t too far from each other; I was there 10-16 Sept GMU 28. Hunted high the beginning where my partners had scouted and saw lots of elk this past summer, but nothing was going on there at all and the sign was all about a week or two old; would have been a great 1st spot I think. We relocated lower in another drainage and got in to some elk and lots of fresh sign but only got one bugleand no shot opportunities. It was an amazing week an my first elk hunt…got the fever can’t wait to go back. Also, I too have had the bite valve issues in the past. No more though; check out Source Hydration bladders/systems. They have the zipper tops like Platypus, twist on/off valves that aren’t actually “bite” valves just twist on and suck, also the valves disconnect and there is an internal shut off at the connection, there is also a super convenient adaptor for filling your bladder from a water bottle/hose/faucet without taking the bladder out of your bag, and lastly with a sawyer adaptor kit you can add an inline filter or use the squeeze me system to add water without taking bladder
    out of your bag. I was looking for something other than the Camelback systems I was using that would be better and more convenient to fill, almost got the Platypus, but then found the Source; specifically their tactical line. Used them on my Elk hunt this year and really happy with their performance

    • SoleAdventure

      Welcome to the addiction! :-) Thanks for the heads-up on the Source bladders. I’ll be sure to check them out.

  • Jordan

    Can already tell this story is going to be a good one! Whenever I’m asked advice on elk or packing in for them, I tell people to check out your site! Interesting to read comments about tough seasons. I’d say this was my toughest of last five years in Wyoming, resulting in zero shot opportunities. Saw tons of fresh sign, but the elk in my area were less active, much quieter, and definitely more nocturnal than usual. Ironically, saw more mule deer bucks than previous years.

    • SoleAdventure

      I appreciate it, Jordan. Seems like a lot of folks have had a rough season this year. You’ll be back on ’em next year, I’m sure!

  • Kyle

    Does an outfitter have the right to run someone off of a campsite? In my mind it’s not right, but again it’s about getting along. Seems like they should cooperate like anyone else.

    • Jerud Earnest

      Outfitters have to have their campsites permitted. This was one of his permitted sites.

  • Neal Lauderman

    I know I am a little late to this but I am really enjoying this read… Out of curiosity, why couldn’t you camp at the old outfitter camp? Don’t you have just as much right as anyone else when it comes to public land?

    • Neal Lauderman.

      Nevermind, saw the info below about the permit. Thanks