• Wilson

    Congrats on a great hunt and hard earned bull! I arrowed a bull in southern Colorado a few days after yours. My hunting buddy and I spent the day butchering him and hiking the meat back to camp a couple miles. The next day we hiked out 7 miles with all our gear and hired an outfitter to go back for the meat. Best $300 I’ve ever spent!

    • SoleAdventure

      Yeah, we’re looking either rent horses or have a packer lined-up next year. Not simply to avoid the work, but moreso to enable us to continue hunting for elk #2 after we get one down.

  • Rob McConnell

    130lbs???? DAM! I carried 92lbs Saturday and thought i was a stud.. NICE WORK! Got to be honest, i wasnt 100% bought in to the EXO pack, but after this weekends pack out, I’m KEEPING IT. 92lbs was VERY stable and gave me the confidence to do what i needed to do. Nice job Mark!

    • SoleAdventure

      That’s a guestimate from tallying up our meat yield and the slight amount of gear that we had with us. I’m not looking to repeat that kind of load anytime soon, but I’m definitely impressed with how the Exo handled it! Just watched the video of Maria’s buck…so happy for you guys!

  • Al Quackenbush

    Ah yes, the running out of water and being completely exhausted. I understand completely. Great storytelling and way to keep pushing. That is a LONG day! Cheers to both of you.

    • SoleAdventure

      Yeah, well over 12 hours and about 15 miles of hiking that day. Makes the meat taste that much better…even to this day!

  • Andy

    Thanks for sharing your stories. I have been enjoying the recent elk hunt and I appreciate the ‘how to’ and gear reviews.

    My hat’s off to you and Jerud. One bull, one trip, 6 miles – WOW!

    My buddy and I both arrowed bulls this year in central Colorado – both out of the same herd 5 minutes apart. Your restraint on not going after a second bull is to be commended and should be advice well heeded by your readers. We were extremely lucky to have been able to radio the 4 other buddies we shared a base camp with. Without their help, I am convinced that we would have had meat spoil. It was just too warm and it would have been physically impossible for just the two of us to pack it out in time. We will be looking into getting a packer lined up for next year.

    • SoleAdventure

      We were a split-second from harvesting bulls at the same time. If that would have happened, we would have been forced to find some help. We’re also looking at packers…primarily so that we can take care of more than one elk.

      • ChrisB

        I am solo and decided I would do a drop camp for that reason on my first elk hunt. I want that experience but its easy enough to load my frame out and let the mule haul the rest if I want to. The outfitter will put me by myself in one of 13 wilderness camps and I can bivy out of camp if I like.

    • SoleAdventure

      Forgot why I really wanted to comment back in the first place…


      • Andy

        Thanks. Like I am sure is the case with you, the memories of this hunt will keep me pumped up all year waiting for next year.

  • Branden

    Thanks for sharing Mark! I’ve enjoyed reading all 6!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for following along!

  • Ty Dominguez

    I’m thoroughly impressed, elk hunting here is never easy. I can’t sing praise enough for your drive and passion for the hunt. While we’re all reading your post there’s always the “I don’t know if I would have done that” moment, but also, I’ve learned so much. We learn from each other and I love talking to other big game hunters whenever possible. Great work guys, only 11 more months to get back to the high country.

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks, Ty. Even when we look back at this hunt, there are plenty of “Why did we do that?” moments. Every day in the field is a learning opportunity, and every hunt has its own challenges…which is one of the reasons that I love it so much!

  • ChrisB

    Unbelievable! I am sure I am far from the only one that feels like I was with you guys on that mountain. Great hunt! Great Storytelling! Great friendship!

    • SoleAdventure

      Thanks for following along, Chris!

  • Tom Sorenson

    That was a great recount of the emotions a person goes through while packing out an elk. I usually swear off of elk hunting forever at least 5 times during a typical pack. :) I once weighed my pack at 138 lbs. after packing out a bull with my cousin…but that was only a 1.5 mile pack and all downhill. I can’t even imagine trying that for nearly six miles with elevation gain! You guys are beastly! Before moving to Nebraska last year, I was seriously considering buying pack goats – someday, I still think I’ll do it.

    • SoleAdventure

      We’re not beastly, we’re dumb and inexperienced. LOL! It’s a lesson that we learned, and hope to avoid in the future. On the drive home we looked into what it takes to purchase and raise Alpacas. ;-)

      • Jerud Earnest

        I concur, we were not beastly. We were stubborn idiots. First lesson, always zoom in to full detail of topo on the gps when picking a route. Second, I should have strapped the head on better.
        The turning point for me was the creek. I noticed Mark was low the out of water and I stopped drinking to conserve whatever I had left. Once we came I across the stream, re-hydrated, and topped off water; I was ready to skip back to the truck. Fortunately, the pack was too heavy for skipping so I avoided the embarrassment.
        We got back to the truck and all I could think about (and still think about) was do we still have time to get Mark a bull. Time barely. Energy, nope. It was all I had to drive to the nearest Domino’s and Hotel 2 hours away.

  • Retired2Hunt

    Great story of the final trek out! Thanks for sharing fellow elk hunter!

  • Barry L.

    Congrats again, guys! Packing it out on your back IS the ultimate way to earn it, the first time!! Been there, done that, and at 51, I’m not as young as i was that first time. My love for elk hunting is just as strong though, so now I try to find ways to make it easier on myself, like the packing part. Horses can add a bit more “color” to the whole picture, in more ways than one! I had always wanted to go on a guided hunt with the big wall tent and horses, but now I’ve found ways to do that on my budget, on my terms, just like you guys have, and it works awesome!! Can’t wait till next year!!

  • sdf1344

    I appreciate the good writing and story.

    I am also a midwesterner. My first western hunt this fall was a successful trip to eastern MT for Muleys in exponentially easier terrain. I found this page while dreaming about future DIY western hunts.

    Impressed with the pack out story and curious…squat 1RM, deadlift 1RM?

    • SoleAdventure

      Congrats on the muley! That’s quite an accomplishment. I have no idea what my 1RM is for any movement. I don’t do any conventional lifts or spend any time in the gym. I trained my legs and lungs by trail running, and my dedicated strength training comes from body weight movements, kettle bells, and the like. Jerud might be able to weigh-in on his numbers. He’s a crossfit guy and I know that he “lifts” more than I do.

    • Jerud Earnest

      Congratulations on your mule deer. A 1RM on anything doesn’t really equate to the physical challenge of hunting all week and packing out an animal. Just pure strength training would have you falling far short of where you need to be. Muscle and lung endurance as well as quick recovery is more important. My thoughts on fitness requirements could be a whole other column.

      Last time I checked my back squat is 320 and deadlift is 445.

  • Kevin

    Thanks for sharing such a heart felt account of your experience. I really enjoyed reliving it vicariously thru your story. Kevin