Elk have been a nemesis for me for many years now. I'm not sure what is going on. I have been working my rear off to find them year after year... Since I killed my spike elk in 2014 I have only seen a couple of elk. Yes, you heard correct while hunting multiple seasons per year and also hunting with my boys for the past seven years I have only seen a couple of elk total.
In 2020 I hunted a total of nine days for elk and never saw a single elk. This year I personally hunted 10 days for elk. I had the three-season combo tag again this year in my pocket and figured this was the year for me to fill the freezer... I was wrong.
I was super excited that the DWR extended the general archery elk season this year. The Archery elk hunt this year ended five days after it usually closed here in Utah. The season actually ended on the 22nd of September... the furthest into September ever.
My QuikSpin vanes on my Series 22 (original heavy version) arrow shafts archery elk hunting in Uinta mountains.
Waking up to snow while archery elk hunting in Uinta mountains.
My favorite hunting treat - Swedish Fish.
One of many, many wallows I found in the Uinta mountains while archery elk hunting.
Wearing blaze orange while archery elk hunting in Uinta mountains because the season overlapped with the rifle youth elk hunt.
For archery season headed to the North Slope of the Uinta mountains. I then packed in three miles and set up camp. For the following three days I hiked in another three miles in different directions hunting for elk. I found a lot of fresh sign and heard and saw a couple of hunters but could never find an elk.
One day hunting my way slowly back to camp I found a spike elk that had been shot in the hindquarters with an arrow from what looked to be about a week prior.
I found a lot of cool wallows in the area but none of them really looked to have been recently used. I really only believe I heard one valid elk call during the 4 days I archery hunted, it was a bugle in response to my cow calls as I was hiking in with my camp.
I did enjoy the peace of being on the mountain by myself for a few days and I was really pumped that my knee held out with me putting in six-plus miles on them a couple of the days. Both of my knees are in bad shape with them having seven surgeries to date. My right knee has really been bothering me this year and a trip to my knee surgeon was not very comforting... "you're basically bone on bone and the only surgery that is going to help you is a replacement."
I really enjoyed getting out on the mountain exploring new areas but Archery season didn't go so well... at least at finding any elk. Hopefully rifle and muzzleloader seasons would go better.
Rifle season rolled around a few weeks later and two of my boys opted to join me in the Uintas for four days of sub-freezing temps in a tent. We had a lot of fun together putting in six-plus miles every day looking for elk. We were ever so close on many occasions as we found really fresh beds and tracks in the fresh snow. On one day Kaden spotted three cow elk and if one had been a bull Kaden was set up just in time to shoot it before they ran back into the thick pines.
This rifle hunt was some of the coldest hunting I have ever experienced. We stayed warm and camped at the trailhead in my little four-man Browning tent. I had a blast spending time with my boys. I only wish Landen would have joined us for the hunt. And my knees held out again putting a lot of miles each day on them.
Next up was rifle deer season and then it was my turn again for elk, this time with my Paramount 45 cal muzzleloader.
My plan for the muzzleloader elk hunt was for me to head back to the Uinta mountains and hunt solo again lower down the mountain than where I had previously hunted. I was planning to sleep in the front seats of my Jeep and explore different areas to hunt. As the hunt approached my Jeep started leaking antifreeze from somewhere on the back of the engine. I purchased a borescope camera and traced it to what I believe was an intake manifold gasket leak. I was right a couple of weeks later when I got in into Precision Auto in Morgan to have it fixed.
I took this selfie on the 11.3 mile hike looking for elk with my Paramount muzzleloader. This hike destroyed my knee.
Anyhow, with the leaking antifreeze, I wasn't comfortable driving it the long distance to the Uintas to hunt so I decided to hunt more locally. At four in the morning, I made the half-hour drive to the trailhead of the local public land and off I went into the darkness of morning hiking up the mountain. I had one heck of a hike. Looking at OnX Maps I hiked 11.3 miles as the crow flys this day. I was in some great areas for elk but I didn't see any elk, cut any tracks or hear a single elk. One thing I did find out from this hunt was 11.3 miles was way too much for my right knee. It did this knee in bad. Month's later my right knee is still in pain and not functioning well. I'm going to try and lose some weight to try and help it but I may need to break down and get it replaced.
And so my elk finding slump continues. Maybe 2022 will be better.
Here are some of the critters we saw while hunting.
We had the Canada Jays eating from our hands but we couldn't find any elk.
Dallen spotted this good mule deer buck one day while we were hunting in the Uinta Mountains.