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Author Topic: Hirshey's Hunts 2018  (Read 26138 times)

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #195 on: February 17, 2020, 04:45:44 PM »
As we crept within sight of our desired viewpoint, the skies cleared and the snow drumline faded. We slid into position to see the herd agitated and looking downslope and away from their resting positions. Too soon prior to us getting settled, they clustered tightly. We identified two legal bulls and waited for an opening in which they didn't have cows in front and behind them. I ranged them at 300 yards and waited. Before any reasonable opportunity presented itself, the herd started to run up their subridge. The bull was skylined at 350 yards broadside. Frustrated, I almost took my safety off and considered a shot, but better judgement prevailed. We regrouped and agreed on a strategy: I took Michael in pursuit of the herd and Jeff and Derrick took the ridgeline in hopes of gaining the highest peak and finding our prey. Each step was a struggle in sometimes thigh deep snow, but my body barely registered it above the desire to get back on the animals. I gained the elk's ridgeline and found what I thought to be their lowest set of tracks; unfortunately I found that to be a false notion, and potentially the reason we failed our stalk on the herd... two fresh sets of wolf tracks! DANG! I let my frustration fuel my legs up the snowy slope that was fighting against me at each step, and was soon in the last position I had seen the herd bull. Michael was a few hundred yards behind me and I knew he would be able to see me if I moved to the next fold across the slope, so I moved quickly to the next vista and glassed for our prey. One rust-colored body was disappearing into the next depression as I raised my binoculars. I looked back for Michael, and confirmed he had gained the last saddle and pressed on to the next ridge. We were on the waning end of the day and daylight was a precious resource. We continued in this dance for a few miles with no sight of the elk when I got an InReach message from Jeff. From the highest precipice surrounding us, they had spotted the herd... They were less than a half mile in front of me bedded on a ridge! I told Jeff I needed to wait for Michael and that he was struggling with the slope and snow before going on the pursuit. He told me to leave him; he would come for his friend and allow me the opportunity at my first bull. We were text-battling over this when I heard a panicked shout: "Kari!"...it came from Michael. I crow called, trying to be discreet since the elk were close enough to hear. The next shout seemed so urgent: "KAAARI!" I shouted back: "Yo! Michael!" as I started to hurry back in his direction, expecting the worst. I arrived to see him leaning against a tree. Was it a broken leg? A sprain? I approached and asked if he was okay. He looked at me and (looking back now it is funny) said with fatigue written all over his face "I fell a lot". Even though I had kept tabs on him across the hill and ensured he was nearby, in his struggles with the terrain I guess he hadn't seen me, and thought I'd left him for dead in the strange and unwelcoming terrain of Idaho. In his panic, he had assumed the worst. I texted Jeff that I would have to deliver Micheal to him prior to trying to get on the elk... that he could take one of the animals if he had the opportunity because gaining that much of the landscape's elevation to get to him would burn most of the day. He insisted I had time to pursue the animals, so Michael and I slowly gained the elevation as our most precious resource slipped from our grasp: the daylight. I was upset, discouraged and saddened when we finally met up with Jeff and Derrick, because we had only MOMENTS of usable light left. Jeff told Derrick to take me to the herd, but in the rush to get there in time for an opportunity and his unfamiliarity with the terrain, we took the wrong ridge and ended up on top of the animals in the last throws of daylight instead of the ridge opposing the herd... they disappeared into the increasing shadows and out of my life. The hike back to spike camp was a little more silent than most days as my stubbornness against the snowy slopes finally caught up with the realities of my fatiguing body. We took comfort in the fact that there was always tomorrow.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #196 on: February 17, 2020, 05:09:36 PM »
The next day, our aches were numbed by the same cold weather patterns we had seen in previous excursions, but nothing numbed our hearts quite light the sight of the herd we had pursued the day prior; from our vista they were only two aerial miles away. Sadly, to get to them would mean countless terrain miles, a large creek crossing and over 8,000 feet in elevation lost/gained in thigh to hip deep snow. Even with as hungry for an opportunity at those animals as we were, we knew they were out of our reach in their current location. We explored the farthest reaches of our arterial ridge that day but found no fresh evidence of the creatures we hoped to pursue. The day's endeavors had been the last of the elevation Michael could stand, so when we went back to our tipi that night we devised the strategy for the last efforts of our hunt. We settled on a daft notion we jokingly called Operation Slingshot; Derrick, Michael and Jeff would break down spike camp the next morning and I would leave as early as I could stand, resupply and drop items at base camp and make the huge effort to pursue the elk we watched the wolves disperse earlier in our trip. I made it back to base camp in the full light of day and quickly dropped off items from spike camp to lighten my daily load. It appeared I was gifted a rare bluebird day as I attacked the agonizingly steep and frozen slopes donning just a longsleeve shirt for the first time in weeks. After a few hours of toiling and much elevation won, I took the first opportunity to gaze upon the head of the basin we knew to be frequented by our four-legged friends. It took but two seconds before I dropped my binoculars and texted Jeff: "Operation Slingshot is a go!"
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #197 on: February 17, 2020, 05:10:35 PM »
Too far to pursue. A hard notion to digest.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #198 on: February 17, 2020, 05:15:20 PM »
At the head of the basin, there were multiple cows and at least three nice bulls grazing through the burned timber. I put my InReach away and excitedly donned my backpack as I felt a cold breeze rise at my back. I looked down drainage on an unwelcome sight; a wall of snow was approaching! NOT THIS AGAIN!  :bash:  I charged up the slope through the whiteout conditions... I made it about 1/2 mile of my 5 mile stalk before I realized I wouldn't make it to them by dark if I didn't pick up my pace. I set down my pack next to a prominent rock feature and took out only the necessities and marked the location with an InReach message to Jeff: "this is where my pack is". If they were to come on the assist and this actually worked out, they'd have to walk right past it to get up to me.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #199 on: February 17, 2020, 05:40:43 PM »
The weather was as fickle as a politician being courted by special interests, shifting from 30 MPH winds with whiteout conditions to stunning sunlight and calm every 45 minutes. I took each open opportunity while gaining the mountain to confirm my targets were keeping to their location. If I were going to be successful, I'd need to almost completely circumnavigate the peak they were under in order to get to a small rock feature offering perfect cover for a shot. Time and again the snow came through, and time and again it opened to show my progress on those beautiful bulls. The moment came when I could no longer see them due to my progress around the slope; it came in perfect concert with a message from Jeff and Derrick; they were down at the saddle I had initially spotted the elk with gear to overnight at an animal if this wacky tactic of ours actually panned out. They had perfect vantage of the elk, and confirmed their presence remained a constant while I worked through waist-high snow on the back side of the peak. With grouse as my only witnesses, I persisted through the onslaught of whiteout conditions on my efforts to get to that ONE rock. The next open weather window came right when I had eyes on my rock outcropping. Moments turned to minutes as I struggled to gain my last objective, while Jeff and Derrick assured me the elk had bedded just below. The visibility departed as I arrived at the rock which was my only shelter from the worst of the winds I'd experienced; it had to be at least 50 MPH as I hunkered next to the rock as my only shelter against the snow it tried to drive straight into my soul. When it finally receded, I was shaking... whether in excitement or cold or both, I truly don't know. I peeked over the ridge, sure my prey would be less than 150 yards below me, as they were for my entire journey. Shockingly, as I took in the landscape, I did not see a single elk... only beds hardly visible from the harsh conditions they had just endured. I crept down the slope to the beds that had been pounded by the wild winds to try to discern the direction of their occupants' exit, but the harsh conditions had almost swept away any evidence the elk had even existed there at all... it was almost like waking foggy-headed from a dream and trying to determine what in the moment was real. At the same time, Jeff and Derrick were able to see the basin again as well and had the sinking feeling they'd failed me as spotters, because although they were able to see miles in each direction from where the elk had been, there was no sign of them. Those sneaky buggers had absolutely ghosted me! I don't know whether the winds had delivered my scent to them, the conditions had finally bested them on the open slope, or something else entirely had happened, but my last chance to tag an elk had slipped through my fingers. The sun was setting on my last day to make it happen, but the views I possessed heading down the hillside in addition to the two people waiting for me miles below provided me such a comfort I could not possibly find disappointment in the moment. Their warming fire burning far below was my aim, and the two people sitting next to it held all my gratitude and love for the support they so willingly offer me in every wild plan we may concoct. I was (and am) SO blessed.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #200 on: February 17, 2020, 05:41:27 PM »
Last light on the last chance. First photo is looking back at where I'd already descended for the day. I needed to descend FAR into the valley below in that second photo to meet up with Jeff and Derrick, and get to the very bottom to get back to camp for the night.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #201 on: February 17, 2020, 05:51:59 PM »
While we didn't go home with elk that year, we ate beautifully on deer and other wild fare and enjoyed great company... the season's endeavors ended with two Washington deer, an Idaho deer, and an Idaho ram skull... We counted ourselves incredibly lucky for the adventures we live and friendships we continue to fortify!

 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 01:03:48 AM by hirshey »
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #202 on: February 17, 2020, 05:52:57 PM »
 :)
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline jstone

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #203 on: February 17, 2020, 05:57:34 PM »
Great job.!!

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #204 on: February 17, 2020, 06:06:06 PM »
The day we arrived at our vehicles, we made the trek to our favorite diner for the traditional burger, fries and malt shake we normally enjoy... I had started to feel ill, so let the three fellas enjoy their meal without me while I tried to rest in the truck for the next step of our trip: getting my bighorn sheep skull pinned at the Fish and Game office so I could legally possess it. Derrick doesn't understand the notion of someone not wanting to eat, so he brought me a burger anyways. I stepped out of the vehicle to bid farewell to Michael and was relieved to smell the fresh air rather than the burger... still not feeling great, I sat back into the vehicle and was greeted very quickly with my morning's breakfast. Grasping at straws, I found a trash bag to deposit it into. Derrick opened the door to check on me and was shocked at my admission... so much so that he instinctually grabbed the bag and squeezed it to confirm.  :chuckle:  Sure enough, he was convinced. We drove to the Fish and Game office to get my sheep recorded, and the admission that the person who found it was in the car and was too ill to come inside made the officer in charge uncomfortable so he insisted I come inside to confirm. One look at me and he was assured of my ailment and the story and supported my return to the vehicle. I am convinced the reappearance of my breakfast was affirmation that I had left almost every part of my soul to Idaho that year... the only remaining portion given to that bag.  :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle: As sick as I was, I knew it would fade... but the memory of the pursuit never would.

Thanks to all who pursue those wild places with me... thanks to the game officers we see in there each season tirelessly committing to protect those lands and the creatures that inhabit it... thanks to the game official who pinned my sheep so I could take him home as a treasure gifted to me by the wilds. And thanks to YOU for your patience in allowing me the time to live for the right moment to finish putting this adventure to words.
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline elkoholic1

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #205 on: February 17, 2020, 06:12:56 PM »
 :tup: :tup:

Offline hirshey

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #206 on: February 17, 2020, 06:18:31 PM »
And after over a year and 14 pages, perhaps now it is understandable why what started as an elk hunt narrative and ended with one, it is in the deer hunting section.  :chuckle:
I am not opposed to golf, for I suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering deer.

Offline JakeLand

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #207 on: February 17, 2020, 08:57:17 PM »
Awesome read !!

Offline fishngamereaper

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #208 on: February 18, 2020, 06:12:48 AM »
 :tup: good job Kari and crew. Did I miss a 2019 story somewhere?

Offline C-Money

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Re: Hirshey's Hunts 2018
« Reply #209 on: February 18, 2020, 08:27:37 AM »
Very, very good stories!
I felt like a one legged cat trying to bury a terd on a frozen pond!

 


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