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Author Topic: Another Week in the Frank  (Read 1387 times)

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Another Week in the Frank
« on: November 14, 2019, 03:24:18 PM »
Early Season (September)
After the success we (my dad and I) had last September in the Frank Church (two whitetail bucks and my avatar bull), we decided to give it another try this year. However, rather than spend a full two weeks in September, like last year, we decided to push for a week in September and a week in November. The goal was to attempt to get our elk during the rut and then come back for the mule deer rut.

Little did we know that the early season would be a complete bust. We set up our bivy camp in the same spot as last year, but after two days of hitting it hard, it was apparent that the elk werenít there this year. We spent the rest of the week hunting different hell-holes and getting on elk just about daily. Problem was they started by coming in silent, then progressed to running away from calls and not leaving the thick nasty. Had a couple of bull close, but couldnít pull them out of the brush. Last year they were screaming in the same areas, but last year didnít present the volume of wolf kills that we found this season. After a painful week, we were sent home, licking our wounds and planning for the next trip.

Prior to November
After busting butt with over 80 miles of hiking in the steep/deep Frank during the early season and not having success, I wasnít too confident in the single day of muzzleloader westside WA elk that I had to hunt. But five minutes into my morning hike, I got on the herd and was able to seal the deal on a young cow. The pressure was off!
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 03:42:18 PM by CavemantheHunter »

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2019, 03:37:06 PM »
Back to the Frank
We (my dad and I) spent much of the week prior to leaving, prepping for our final week of hunting for the year. Having hunted the area once before in November, I understood the bipolar nature of the weather, so we packed twice as much as we ended up needing. We checked the weather reports daily and did all we could do to be prepared. We were planning on leaving at four in the morning to get over there by dark and get our gear situated for our first morning hunt. However, life had different plans. I ended up spending the entire night in the ER with my wife and did not get home until close to seven am. I was close to canceling my trip due to the circumstances, but my wife was adamant that she was fine and I needed to go. I knew better than to fight with her on this. So, after a sleepless night, we were on the road by nine and arrived a few hours later than we had planned. But we were there and we were itching to get out in the morning.

Day 1
With four tags in hand (2 elk/2 deer), to have any hope at filling all, we needed to get something knocked down quickly. We made a pact to shoot any mule deer bigger than a 3-point so we could have a chance to find the elk. I had an area that I knew held mule deer during the winter and rut, so our plan was to hike in there (2.5 mile hike) for the first couple days and see if we could score. We were running a little bit late on morning 1 since we did not have time to pack our food and our gear the night prior, but were still hopeful. We ended up getting into our spot around 9 am and I immediately spotted a doe. As I glassed the doe against the rock face, I spotted movement coming towards us. I moved my binos in and saw body and swollen neck just before it walked below a rock face that covered his path. I knew he had two potential exits: go left and come out into the open towards me or go right and over the next ridge. So I stayed put and glassed the area while my dad hopped up over the next ridge to see if he could catch him moving. The only deer I saw in my area were three does that had bedded. My dad radioed me saying he found the buck bedded. He was a big-bodied 3-point, but not very thick. He was bedded on a ridge about 225 yards away. My dad hesitated on shooting since it was day 1 and he was not a masher, but with an elk tag still in his pocket, decided to take the shot. His first shot rang true, but the buck didnít drop. To stop him from death-running 1000 yards down the hill into the canyon below, he put another one in him that put him down for good. I gathered my stuff and met him on the ridgeline and we traversed to the buck together. It was a big-bodied older buck that actually looked to have regressed, but it was a buck and we were stoked over it! Next, came a 2+ mile packout with about 1200 yards of elevation gain. We got to our rig right at dark, a little sore and tired after little sleep, and re-conditioning our lungs to the elevation and weight. One down, three to go!

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2019, 03:37:52 PM »
Day 2
With one tag filled, our plan was to go back into the same spot and try to fill my tag. With no cell service, I wasnít positive that my phone would switch over to daylight savings time, so I did not adjust my alarm. But damn, it did! We were an hour late, again. We rushed around in the morning, and got back into our spot an hour after daylight. I immediately saw two does, but no buck pursuing. As I glassed the hillside, I saw a buck on a ridgetop with the sun shining off his antlers. He must have been 1300 yards, but at that range, he looked like a good buck. I told my dad I was going to make a play on him. He wasnít overly excited at the idea of adding an additional mile of steep terrain to a packout, but told me he would stay put and keep an eye on the buck, as I hiked over the adjacent ridge to be hidden during my sneak. I side-hilled and raced towards the buck, covered by the ridge. I popped up on top to get a glass on him, and was able to range him at 898. I had hoped to get within 450 yards and thought it was possible, so I dropped back down and continued my side-hilling. My dad kept me updated via radio that the buck hadnít moved. What must have been 20 minutes later, I popped up on the ridge above where I thought him to be. I immediately saw three bedded does looking at me as I popped over the top. They were 160 yards and the buck wasnít in sight. I could see the snag he had been under, but couldnít cut a good enough angle to get a sight on him without being busted by the does, so I dropped back down and backtracked to a higher vantage point. As I popped over the top, I found the buck. I ranged him at 260 yards. I noticed that he was not nearly as big as he looked from 1300 yards, with his rack being inside his ears and pretty spindly. I told my dad he wasnít very big and he suggested I hold off, but as the buck turned his head, I saw he was a 4-point, albeit a young one. I would never pass on a 4 in WA, unless it was on a draw tag, and with elk tags still in hand, I decided this would be no different. I steadied myself on the ridge and let one fly. My dad was able to see the impact before he heard the shot, and it single-lunged him due to the angle. He ended up running downhill and then bedding down. I saw that he was hurt and panting and did not want any more pain, so I put another one in him where he lay, ending him for good. My dad gathered his stuff to meet me, as I worked my way down to the buck. I had to chase the does off of his carcass, as they did not want to leave. As my dad worked his way towards me, he had a 170+ buck broadside at 100 yards. I watched the buck take off, pushing three does up the hill. Had I not been working my way up the backside of the ridge, I would have walked right into him! Bittersweet, but I could not complain with a buck down after an extremely fun spot and stalk. We had our work cut out for us with a 3.5 mile hike and 1600í of elevation gain, but I was confident we could do it. Once again, we made it out to the rig right at dark. Exhausted, but hopeful. Could we do this? Could we actually fill all four tags this week? We had a chance.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 03:43:38 PM by CavemantheHunter »

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2019, 03:39:06 PM »
Day 3
After two long pack-outs, we decided to take it a little easier today. Plus, we had only seen mule deer and had yet to find a decent amount of elk sign. Todayís goal was to find the elk. We were in 16Ē-2í of snow in most areas until we drop down in elevation, so cutting fresh-ish tracks shouldnít have been too difficult. First two areas found too much snow and not much tracks, elk must have migrated down. Third area, in the late afternoon had us finding fresh tracks. We hiked a ridge until we had an open view and were glassing ridges, when I saw a herd. The herd was four ridges over and almost 2 miles away as a crow flies. In that rough terrain, it seemed a pipe dream to try to make a play. I thought it was possible, but needed to work through my maps a bit to find a route through the snow and blow-downs to that ridge top. It definitely wasnít going to happen today, but it was worth a shot. Especially since there was a small bull in the group. As we hiked out at dusk, we had a herd cross in front of us at about 150 yards, but it was all cows and calves. Either way, with two herds spotted, today was a success!

Day 4
The plan for today was to hunt the same spot as the night before. There were bull tracks in there, even though that herd was all cows and calves. We got in before daylight and spent the entire day hiking, sitting, and hunting. Day 4 was fun, but no elk sightings occurred. We were halfway through our trip and still had two elk tags to fill. Pressure was starting to mount.

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2019, 03:39:32 PM »
If someone can help flop a picture, I would appreciate it!

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2019, 03:40:42 PM »
Day 5
After the failures of day 4, and after some map research, I talked my dad into coming in on top, hoping we could get down to where that elk herd was. It appeared to be a 2.5 mile hike with substantial elevation drop (2000í+) on the last mile. As we trudged our way through 2 feet of snow and blow-downs, we were wondering if we were making a mistake. But the immense amount of elk tracks (mixed with wolf) was encouraging. It took us a couple of hours, but we finally hit the ridge. It was a steep traverse down and we made a deal to only go down to the next bench, as a pack-out from any further may be impossible without horses. As we hit the next bench, my dad spots the herd. They are exactly where they were two days prior, only on the opposite face of the ridge. Theyíre currently at 690 yards and are sleeping in an old burn full of brush. We quietly check the wind and work our way down the ridge towards them. When we get to 540 yards, we are able to see the bull bedded above the herd. Only his head sticks out from behind a tree, but he is a bull. He appears to be really wide for a raghorn, but doesnít have a ton of points or length. Either way, we arenít picky this trip. We drop our packs off to lighten our stalk, and make our way down the ridge to try to cut an angle with less brush to shoot through. As we work our way down, a cow and a calf stand up from their beds. These elk are only 100 yards away and are a good 500 yards from the herd on the opposite ridge. They have us pinned so we remain still, praying they donít bust and blow out the entire herd. To our blessing, they stare us down for five minutes, then slowly walk down the other side of the ridge, away from us and away from the herd. Okay, the stalk is back on again! We close the distance to 360 yards, but it will be impossible to get any closer without being in plain view. The wind seems okay, though it can change at any moment. Since I shot the 6-point last year, itís my dadís turn to take a shot first. The bull is still bedded behind a tree and most of the rest of the herd is below him in the brush. We wait for what must have been half an hour before he gets up. He moves down to his left, exposing himself to a broadside shot from me, but my dad still has brush in the way. Finally, my dad has what appears to be an open lane and he takes the shot. The elk scatter but quickly congregate back in the brush. The bull is there and he doesnít seem hurt. Must have hit some limbs in the foreground! With all of the granite dust from our UTV rides in/out, my dadís gun has jammed. He canít get his shell out. As he is working to un-jam his gun, I can see the bull broadside through a small opening amongst the herd. Cows are walking in front and behind, so there isnít an ethical shot. Finally the cows clear, but his front half his blocked by a tree. As he turned his head back to lick his back, he gave me an opening and I took it. Down he went! The herd scatters, but donít go far. We wait awhile to see if he pops back up with the herd as they walk single file away, but heís not there. Heís definitely down! We hike the few hundred yards back up the hill to get our packs and then trudge back down through the brush to find the bull. I find him, jammed against a log. The bullet had went clean through his neck and into his shoulder, due to him turning his head. I canít complain! He is an interesting bull that almost has a mule deer rack. The work starts as it is afternoon and we are a long ways in and have a hellacious hike in front of us. We bone him out, opting to hang part of the meat in a tree and come back for tomorrow. Away we go. The hike is long, the hike is steep, the hike is mostly in the dark, but we made it. Back to the rig by 9 pm with a good portion of the meat. Plan is to hunt our way back in tomorrow morning, pack out the meat, and then hopefully fill the last tag! Itís possible!

Offline CavemantheHunter

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2019, 03:41:51 PM »
Day 6
We are back hiking in at daylight. As weíre hiking, we notice that the elk have been over our tracks from the night before. This spot is loaded with elk, but in 18Ē of crunch snow, itís impossible to sneak and we donít have time to sit. We work our way towards the bull, following our tracks from the night before. As we are working our way down, I spot another herd of elk on the next ridge over. It appears there is a small bull with them, but I left my spotting scope at camp to lighten my pack-out and theyíre too far away to know for sure. Theyíre also below a cliff, making getting down to them challenging. We get to my bull, the meat is cold and still there, have lunch, and load up. We keep tabs on that herd on the opposing ridge as we hike out. Theyíre still there, it may be worth a try tomorrow, if we can scale the cliff! Takes us almost until dark, but we have all of the meat out with only one tag remaining!

Day 7
Two days left and then weíre homeward bound, done for the year. The pressure is on, but we can do it! Today is the only day that we can afford to have a deep hike in, as tomorrow wonít provide us enough time to perform a two-day pack-out, so we would be relegated to maintaining decent proximity to our vehicle. It needs to happen today! Our plan is to work our way to the top of the ridge where we left the herd the afternoon before, and see if we could spot them and find a way down to them. They were a good 2500í from the top of the ridge. We get to a good vantage above them a couple hours after daylight, but theyíre not there. We spend the next hour and a half switching spots to glass that hill, but theyíre nowhere in-sight. This hillside is more than a 45 degree angle, as well with a cliff to be scaled. So with not spotting them, we decided to not take the chance of going down where they were and risking a hairy situation. Now, if we had spotted a bull down there, we would have moved heaven and earth to get to them. Having said that, we were really feeling the pressure and decided to head back to the top and still hunt the snow, in hopes that elk would cross in front of us. As weíre working our way from the ridge to the snow and blow-downs, we are starting to lose confidence to get our second elk. As we worked our way to a flat, my dad popped his head over the blow-down and spotted elk bedded 140 yards in front, in a blow-down filled ravine. I dropped down behind the deadfall to not blow them out and my dad did, as well. He dropped his pack and slowly popped his head up to glass. There was a herd in there and it had at least one bull with it! He slowly worked to gain a vantage point, as I stay completely blind to avoid blowing this for him. As Iím watching him, I know something is going to happen soon. The elk are up and moving right to left, I think the wind had swirled, and they knew something was up. I am finally able to see them, and Iím watching them walk single-file through the only small shooting window. Cow, cow, calf, cow, calf, calf, spike, calf, cow! The spike stops in the opening, but has a calf directly in front of him. Dang it! The calf moves, and as soon as she does, my dad fires. The spike jumps and the entire herd takes off to the left. They run out of sight, but then cut back to the right and run single-file up the hill, jumping over deadfall and blow-downs. I have my binos on them and see cow, cow, cow, calf, calf, calf, cow, calf. No spike! He must be down. We high-five, canít believe it, and work over to where they last were. The snowy ravine is littered with tracks and piss, but no blood. Uh oh, no blood. I know he ran left, so I go left, but still no blood. Below is a heavily timbered, deadfall riddled ravine. I go 100 yards down it, but donít see any sign, so I go back up. My dad is scouring the ground for blood, but not finding anything. I decide to work my way to the left, getting a little bit of panic build up with lack of blood, hoping it was not a gut shot. I make my way about 50 yards up when I find him piled up against a log. Not one drop of blood (the bullet did not make it past the hide on the exit side, which was the reason). We did it! Four tags filled in seven days, canít believe it. What a week! We only have ĺ of a mile to get this bull out through deadfall and 18Ē-2í of snow, but itís the last pack of the season, we can do it. We get out right at dark. What a trip, what a season. We have been blessed to fill 7 of 8 tags in this low-elk/deer density, wolf-filled, treacherous terrain that is known as the Frank.

Offline bowhunterforever

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2019, 03:50:56 PM »
Great story and hunt :tup:
You sure you know how to skin griz pilgram

Offline R2Rcoulee

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2019, 07:35:25 PM »
Wow!  All 4 tags filled, great work!

Offline fishngamereaper

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2019, 07:57:43 PM »
Impressive for the Frank... having packed animals in there before she will chew to you up and spit you out ..good job. :tup:

Offline lewy

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2019, 09:12:55 PM »
Thatís a rugged place, nice job filling some tags
Go hawks

Offline Dan-o

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2019, 10:39:59 PM »
GREAT share.   
Member:   Yakstrakgutp (or whatever we are)
I love the BFRO!!!
I wonder how many people will touch their nose to their screen trying to read this...

Offline 7mmfan

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2019, 10:14:34 AM »
Great hunt and story, thanks for sharing!
I hunt, therefore I am.... I fish, therefore I lie.

Offline Johnny Doe

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2019, 02:47:59 PM »
That last pic is my favorite! :tup:

Good work!!
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again!

Offline OutHouse

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Re: Another Week in the Frank
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2019, 03:44:12 PM »
Thanks for sharing when I first saw the bull I thought "that elk has a mule deer rack"!

 


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