Once again, I’ve gotten caught up in the hustle of running a business and have lost track of time!! It’s been a few months since I’ve posted the newest happenings among all of us here at Hoback Peak, so………time to catch up!
First of all I want to send out a big thank-you to everyone who came out on pack trips with us this summer. We had some great people join us in the backcountry, we saw some beautiful territory, a few critters, and caught some great fish! For the third year in a row, Stewart Gordon brought out another great bunch of guys from North Carolina to do some fly fishing in the Buffalo River. The water was low, the fish were big, and they were hammering the hopper patterns! The guys caught brookies, cut-bows, rainbows, whitefish, and lots of native cutthroats……even a couple over 18 inches! There was lots of time spent relaxing around the firepit, telling stories, and having a beverage or two! See you guys next year!!
The summer season ran straight into the fall season, so there was very little time to do much scouting for elk and deer. We began setting up camp, and putting out trail cameras only a couple weeks before archery elk hunters were to arive. Amazingly…….in such a short period of time, we got some amazing pictures of some monster bulls in the area. (check in on the “Scouting” page for new Cuddeback pictures from this fall) The first hunt brought a group of archery elk hunters in from Michigan. These guys were very well prepared, and had spent a lot of time shooting, practicing, and getting into shape for the hunt. The first week was extremely warm, but the elk action was just as hot! It seemed everybody in camp was seeing, hearing, and getting into elk almost everyday! After some close encounters, blown chances, and near misses……we finally got a couple elk down on day 5. Tim and first-year guide Rodney, were into the elk hot and heavy just outside of camp. Rod was able to call a beautiful six point bull into close range and Tim let him have it. After the bull spun, and stopped, Tim was able to get a second arrow into the bull which sealed the deal. After a long tracking job, we finally recovered the bull! Congratulations Tim!! Also on the 5th day of the hunt, Bret had an exciting evening sitting on an active elk wallow. A couple deer came in for a drink, followed by a few cow elk, and Bret made a great shot at 40 yards on a nice mature cow. Congratulations Bret, you’ll be eating well this winter!! Although John didn’t get to let an arrow fly, we definitely were into the elk, and had a close encounter with a big 5 point bull at about 18 yards!! We were able to sneak in on him in his bedding area, did some calling and brought him into CLOSE range!! As the bull stood raking a tree and bugling at 20 yards…..the adrenaline started pumping. John drew his bow back but unfortunately, some tree branches and possibly nerves got in the way of releasing an arrow!! Sure was exciting though.
The next hunt was another hot and dry one and brought in archery elk hunters, rifle deer hunters, and a bear hunter. The elk activity seemed to slow down just a little, but we still managed to find herds of elk everyday. After spending the first few days concentrating on deer, we were able to get a couple nice bucks down. Pete, from deep in the heart of Queens, New York was able to make a good shot on a big 4 point buck sparing with another smaller buck. The next day, Tim from Brooklyn made a great one-shot kill on a nice buck in the same area. Way to go guys! On day 5 we got into a group of elk with a big bull bugling in the Timber. We made a good set-up, did some calling, and here he came! Pete was able to get a shot at the big bull at 36 yards but couldn’t connect. After a little more calling to calm the bull down, he slowly walked off and walked right in front of Tim. The bull was at long range, and a misjudgement in distance left Tim’s arrow falling just short. The bear hunting was slow for some reason this fall, and we saw several sows with cubs, but no mature boar. Although 17 year old Cougar from South Dakota didn’t kill a bear, he did some fine shooting on grouse with his recurve bow.
Imediately after the second archery hunt, 4 antelope hunters came into camp. The previous week I had spent a day down in the desert scouting our antelope areas, it was looking promising. Sure enough…..after a short drive, we hit the sage brush and started glassing. There were several big groups of antelope around, some with multiple bucks, and even a few smaller groups with bucks showing early signs of rut activity. The first group of speed goats we spotted was a big one, with more than 20 antelope! Art and I made a big stalk on the group and finally got within range. There were six bucks in the herd!! Art picked out the biggest of the 6, and made an incredible one shot kill at 300 yards!! Now all Art needs is his mountain lion and he will have completed his North American Grand Slam. Good luck Art!! Art’s two sons, Bill and George also made good shots on really nice bucks on the same day!! Later in the day after a couple misses, Art’s grandson Collin connected on the biggest antelope of the hunt, a massive 16 incher!! Nice job young man!! Four big bucks in one day…..whew!!!
After the first couple hunts, it was time to hang up the bows and break out the big guns for rifle elk season. Jake Silva from Hawaii is a 2011 graduate of our Guide School and came out to Wyoming and worked for us for the month of September. He also had an elk tag in his pocket! Rod and Jake were able to get into a big herd of elk on opening morning. There were elk bugling everywhere, and as they moved in, Jake had an oportunity at a nice 6 point bull at extremely close range. Jake decided to pass on the nice bull and time would tell if it would be a mistake or not. Luckily…..just a few minutes later, they heard a bugle that sounded really good, and sure enough, out walked a monster 6 point at 60 yards!! Jake made a great shot, and the bull was dead on his feet. Turned out to be a good move passing on the first bull, this one is a Daddy at 53 inches wide! Way to go buddy! Also in camp were a couple fun guys from the great state of Nebraska, go big red!! Again on opening morning, we were in the middle of bugling elk everywhere!! After a missed oportunity at a big bull in the timber, Rick and I spotted two nice bulls sparing up on a hillside. Rick was able to get a nice rest, picked out the nicer of the two, and “lit him up” at about 110 yards! After a big day of packing elk meat and antlers back to camp, Mark and I were able to go out for a quick evening hunt. We didn’t get far from camp when I spotted a nice 6 point bull skylined at the top of a ridge. Mark made an amazing off hand shot, the bull went less than 100 yards and piled up in the trees. What a day, three bulls on opening day!!!
The next hunt was another rifle elk hunt, bringing more hunters from Husker-land, and another New Yorker. It finally got cold this week. After three weeks of extremely warm temperatures, the thermometer finally droped into the teens and the elk “woke-up”! On the first evening Rod and Jeff spotted a big herd of elk in a tough spot, but it seemed there were several bulls in the group, and with them still bugling, they would make a move on em in the morning. The next morning only 15 minutes into shooting light, they were able to get close to a nice 5×6 bugling in a clearing. Jeffrey made a perfect shot, and the bull didn’t go 100yds! Congratulations Jeff on your first bull elk!! After several days of tough hunting, and seeing only cows and calves, Stan and I got into another nice herd of elk with a couple bulls in it. We got set up on a smaller bull bugling in the aspens, Stan decided to pass on the younger bull, and just minutes later, a beautiful 6×6 came bugling into an opening above us. After raining lead at the bull on a difficult uphill shot, Stan connected and the deal was done!! The same morning Mike and Rod set up on a nice meadow just outside of camp. Within 30 minutes of daylight a group of elk began moving across the top of the meadow. Mike, settled in on his shooting sticks and made a great uphill shot at over 200 yards on a nice 5×5 bull! Way to go guys!! 100% success on rifle elk, rifle antelope, and rifle deer this fall!!
Coming up in the next couple weeks we have the privelage of guiding a gentleman on his long awaited archery Moose hunt. We also have a hunter coming to dry-ground lion hunt the last week of October, and several lion hunts scheduled during the winter months, should be exciting! Keep checking in from time to time for updates and photos. I’ll be gathering success photos along with scouting photos and posting them on the site in the next couple days. Also want to mention that after years of fighting and waiting, we now have an open season on wolves. Although the quota is small for our area, and wolves haven’t showed up in big numbers yet, there’s no reason why every hunter that comes out shouldn’t have a wolf tag in their pocket…..just in case. Ok..enough for now, thanks to everyone who’s been into hunting camp thus far, and congratulations to all the hunters and guides on not having any wounded anmials, or un-recoverd animals this fall!!
See ya in the hills, JR