Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Deer Hunting => Topic started by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:50:52 PM

Title: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:50:52 PM
A couple of weeks ago, as I was planning my annual trip to Idaho for elk, I found out that Little Pathfinder had the same two days off from high school that I usually take off for that hunt.  I have never taken him before, since the area we hunt is a bit brutal at times, with all of the hunting being done 3-plus miles from the road, in a pretty rugged area.  He isn’t real big for his age, and I was always worried that a pack would grind him down pretty quickly.  But this year he is running cross country, in very good shape, and this summer packed into the mountains on a 4 day backpacking trip, so I made a deal with him; get your geometry grade up to an A and I’ll take you to Idaho with me this year.  He fulfilled his end of the bargain, so last Wednesday night we loaded our gear after school and started our 7+ hour drive.  I found out that I could get him a mentored license and a deer tag (elk tags were all long gone).
For the next 3 days, Little Pathfinder got introduced to the mountain.  I was planning to sit in the same burn until an elk appeared.  This hunt required a 3 ½ mile hike in (all downhill), then a steep climb to the top of a wind-blasted rocky knob that overlooks the burn.  Then, at dark, the 3 ½ mile grind back up the hill to the truck.  Luckily CoryTDF had already set up camp the week before, so there was a wall tent and a stove at the end of each grind. 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:51:51 PM
The first two days LP proved that he was more than equal to the task.  The first night I noticed that he would get ahead of me and often stop and wait for me to catch up.  The first night we asked him what he thought of the hunt (expecting him to lament that long uphill trek), but he just grinned and said he was having the time of his life.
That first day we saw elk, but had no shot.  The second day we woke up to pouring rain/snow/sleet, so we waited for a break in the weather to lure us out of our tent, which it did around 10am.  Of course, the “break” broke just long enough to get us too far from the truck to turn around, and the sky opened back up on us again.  We pitched a tarp at our lookout point and suffered until dark without seeing an animal.  Then of course, the long, slow, mucky slog back up the mountain in the dark.  This time, I gave him the truck keys and told him to go at his own pace.  He beat me back to the truck by over 20 minutes. 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:52:43 PM
Day 3 began with weather only slightly better than the previous day.  We slopped our way to the burn, arriving just after first light.  We paused before climbing the rock knob and he whispered “Dad, if we see a deer, can I shoot him, even if it’s a small one?”  I figured at that point he had walked almost 18 mountain miles.  He kept saying how excited he was to pack something out on his back (he had been listening to tent stories for the last 3 days of all the miserable packouts we had done in that drainage over the years and he wanted to experience it).  I told him that if we saw a deer (we don’t usually – it’s much more an elk area than a deer area), he could decide if he wanted to fill his tag. 
10 minutes later we reached the top of the rocky knob.  We did not even have time to drop our packs and a small forky mulie busted out of the draw 100 yards to our left.  He ran up on the opposite side of the draw, less than 200 yards away and stopped.  A minute later LP had him in the crosshairs, putting a 7mm round through his shoulder. 
Almost immediately, I heard crashing on the ridge above us.  Looking up into the burned standing timber at the edge of the burn, I could see a herd of elk now headed in the opposite direction up the ridge away from us.  Shooting started up on the ridge, and I knew we had done someone a big favor (unbeknownst to me, one of the guys from our camp). 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:53:46 PM
We got down to the buck (who it turned out needed a finishing shot to the neck) and could still hear shooting up on the ridge.  Working quickly to break the buck down, I started considering options.  Once we had all of the boned meat in gamebags, I surveyed the scene.  One shoulder was nearly ruined, so we only got a few bits from it and the neck.  The remaining quarters, back straps and tenderloins fit in two game bags.  They felt to me like about 20 -25 lbs each. 
“Dad, you should be up on the knob” Little Pathfinder said.  “Let me pack him out.”
I thought about that.  He wouldn’t get lost, the trail was straight back to the truck.  Only one intersection and he had negotiated that the night before in the dark.  It was 9am so he had all day.  I helped him hoist his load and adjust it.  “Are you good?” I asked.  He grinned and nodded.  “Take a picture.” He said “It might be the last time I am smiling today.” 
And off he went.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 01:55:08 PM
I tied the remaining game bag to a tree limb next to the trail that I could see from the knob, and climbed back up to my perch.  I set up the tarp again and listened to the rain and snow patter on it as I glassed.  I couldn’t see the game bag from the tarp, but every once in a while I’d get up and check it.  Early in the afternoon, I noticed the bag was missing. 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 02:03:56 PM
About an hour before dark, I was an orange vest climbing the knob.  He had his 20 gauge and two grouse in his ruck.  He was grinning from ear to ear. 
“You could have stayed at the truck.” I said  “It’ll be dark in an hour.  You didn’t have to come all the way back here.”
“I didn’t want you to worry about me. “ He said “And I kept seeing grouse on the trail, so I came back.” 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 02:04:45 PM
By the time we hiked back out that night, he had put over 21 mountain miles on his boots in 12 hours.  We got back to the tent and I cooked up a tenderloin and some mashed potatoes.  Before the tenderloin was seared, he was dead asleep on his cot.  I woke him up to eat.  He rolled over and put the plate on the corner of his cot.  Taking a bite he rolled over on his back and chewed.  When I noticed that he had stopped chewing a couple of times, I had to wake him back up. 
With only another morning to hunt before breaking camp, when the alarm clock went off at 6am, he dragged himself out of his bag and started putting on his boots.
“You should just sleep in” I told him  “You had a long day yesterday.”
But he was having none of that. 
“Dad, I am not going to miss you getting your elk.”
So, we spent 4 more miserable hours together hiking a ridge in a brewing blizzard that was blowing snow sideways, trying to follow a ridge trail that kept disappearing on us in the drifts.  No elk.  But, as we got back in the truck to head back to camp to start breaking it down, a snowshoe hare ran across the road in front of us and into the brush.  Those rabbits had been haunting him the whole trip, but he was yet to get a shot at one.  That white rabbit hiding in the brush put the icing on the cake for him.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 26, 2021, 02:05:42 PM
We broke down camp in the snowstorm and headed down the mountain.  A steak dinner in town completed the ritual. 
I know that little mulie probably kept me from filling my elk tag this year.  When we shot him, the herd turned tail and ran up the ridge.  After the shooting stopped, two guys had harvested bulls (a spike and a 4 point). 
But how often does a 14 year old boy get the chance to prove that he is becoming a man?  How many chances do you have to pack your buck out on your back when you are a kid and know that you did it all yourself?  It’s the smallest buck he’s ever killed, but it was all 100% “his”. 


I think it was a fair trade, and I’d make it again any day.

Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Woodchuck on October 26, 2021, 02:13:13 PM
Awesome  :tup:
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: fishngamereaper on October 26, 2021, 02:13:40 PM
 :tup:

Good stuff man.. memories are forever..elk meat only lasts a few months...

The older I get the more I want my kid to be successful than myself....so your not alone.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: livin4fishin on October 26, 2021, 02:18:19 PM
Awesome write up. Tough young man. Congrats LP!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: pianoman9701 on October 26, 2021, 02:21:21 PM
Nicely told PF. Sounds like a wonderful elk hunt after all. :tup:
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Angry Perch on October 26, 2021, 02:31:47 PM
Pathfinder, it's always a toss up as to whom is luckier, you or your boys. Let's just say you're all doing in right!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: HUNT JR on October 26, 2021, 02:40:19 PM
Way to go!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Timberstalker on October 26, 2021, 02:43:18 PM
Awesome, thanks for taking us along.  Your posts are always top notch. :tup:
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: wannabhntr on October 26, 2021, 02:45:27 PM
That is one of the best write ups I have read on this site. I'm a sucker for successful kids hunts. I can remember everyone of my children's animals. Congratulations to both of you.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: bearhunter99 on October 26, 2021, 03:16:46 PM
What a great story and an experience he will have for a lifetime.  Well done dad!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Matth on October 26, 2021, 03:19:11 PM
Fantastic.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: HUNTINCOUPLE on October 26, 2021, 03:35:07 PM
Well played!!!! :tup:
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: deerhunter_98520 on October 26, 2021, 03:50:21 PM
Great story and thanks for sharing  :tup:
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Dan-o on October 26, 2021, 07:07:49 PM
Absolutely love it. 

I knew I'd cherish those days with my kids but I didn't know quite how much.   

Having children for hunting partners as you age is awesome.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: bigmacc on October 26, 2021, 07:08:24 PM
Great story and congrats to you and both the boys :tup:....a pretty darn good season.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: mburrows on October 26, 2021, 07:26:06 PM
Really enjoy reading your posts about you and your sons hunts together! Thanks for sharing, good work pathfinder clan!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Machias on October 26, 2021, 09:11:18 PM
Very cool!!!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: takethetime on October 27, 2021, 02:31:28 AM
Great right up and congratulations to both of you. Memories that will last forever!
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: brokentrail on October 27, 2021, 06:40:17 AM
My congrats to you on raising such a fine young man and to him for his success and experience.   He'll have that memory and story for a lifetime.  Awesome write up and ty for sharing.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Caseknife on October 27, 2021, 06:59:56 AM
Great story, and kudos for raising a wonderful son that has values that are hard to come by in todays youth. 
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: CoyoteCowboy on October 27, 2021, 07:38:15 AM
What a memorable adventure
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Ironhead on October 27, 2021, 08:33:09 AM
Great write up on a hunt both of you wont forget. Just goes to show all of us that there is more to it than just a kill.
Title: Re: Little Pathfinder's First Idaho Hunt
Post by: Pathfinder101 on October 27, 2021, 10:14:44 AM
Thank you for all the kind replies.  Looking forward to Little Pathfinder's late whitetail hunt next month.  :tup:
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