Having a good pair of binoculars is essential on an elk hunt. Many people use a spotting scope and have a tripod, but we travel light. I can’t give you the time, but we spend a good deal of time glassing with those Sworovskis. I like to go high in the pre-dawn and let the sun catch up with us. We’ve seen elk come over the top of the ridge, about 600 feet above us and then meander down their trail to pass fairly close to us.
As the sun rises, the rocks and willows take on a rosy glow and those eight bucks seem to have “glow” butts! We stay up top and wait in silence and glass the willows and the valley below and hope. And hope. And hope. When it is getting on toward noon, we climb back down to our camp and heat some water for coffee or tea (not me!) and hydrate a bit, shed some of the warm clothes we don’t need between us and the elements anymore and decide what the plan for the rest of the hunting day will be.
It is difficult to stay in stealth mode when you have to take game trails through dry willows, but we do our best. We head down into the valley and split up. I like to skirt across the top of the valley and then head back around to the top again. We move from spot to spot through the afternoon, watching and waiting. Meeting back at camp in the late afternoon, we heat more water and enjoy a Mountain House meal with some fruit cups and chocolate-and more coffee. Improvising this trip, because I forgot to pack spoons, we used the empty fruit cups to pour the beef stroganoff into, and used our hunting knives to eat. It worked and we didn’t starve.
For the end of the day hunting, until sunset, we stick closer to camp and hunker down and wait. So, we hike and glass and wait and hope; sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. But, to be in such an amazing place, that our Creator God imagined and then put together, is always a blessing. I cannot fathom the imagination of God, but I can enjoy the fruits of it if I just look around.