lots of elk
I did the Jan 9-11th hunt this year,
I'm thinking of sitting down and writing a detailed account of what happened like a few other member's on here have done.it helped me out in my research and I appreciated it.
My wife and I were both drawn for Bull (decided to use our 7-year priority), prior to the hunt, I did my homework, I read everything I could find that google could spit out... I read every forum, blog, newspaper article, government study or youtube video possible.... OK you get the idea....
We had 2 trucks, 2 hunters, and three helpers total. We hunted as a team... most of us are very experienced hunters that routinely fill their tags (commonly with trophy's). 2 of the five people spent their late teens and 20's guiding thru BC and the Yukon... I'm only throwing that info to give you an idea of our combined experience.
I was there on the Dec 5th hunt and harvested a nice bull with my friend (who came on this hunt as well). Prior to both hunts, I spent the entire previous day spotting elk from the perimeter (months ago got permission from landowners).
We ran into herds 150-350 three to 6 times a day as well.... every day (sometimes a a couple times a day) we ran into the big herd (800-1500 animals). I passed up on 15+ OK bulls on my three-day hunt and took a small 4x4 last hour of the last day as a herd of 600-800 elk stampeded around us in every direction.
We had chances on many small herds. We had one great opportunity on a bachelor herd of 7 bulls, my wife had a chance on a nice 290 6x6... she missed by 3" (we all have a few of those under our belt!) The rest of the herd was decent 5x5's and a couple 4x4's, amazing part of the hunt!
We were looking for a Suffield giant on day one or two, they are getting much more rare.... between all of us no one saw anything that we would consider to be over 330.... lots of 220-290 bulls, a couple dozen in the 300 range... and few "oh man... that's a big bull!!".... but nothing over 330... I'm sure there is a few left tho... there has to be! The big herds were mostly spikers with the odd little 5 or 4 running around. the big boys were all solo or in bachelor herds of 10 or less and off the beaten path. that being said there was a couple in the low 300's in the middle of a few herds....
We spent lots of time with the spotting scope out and time stalking the hills, we were not afraid to pack out... even in the cold.... I think I was wearing 7 layers on my upper body, lol wind chill on the last day was -45.... but warmed up great by mid afternoon.
It's pretty damn hard to make a play on a decent bull in the big herds, just way too many elk moving around to get a good shot, especially if you have your eye on a bull mixed in... if a guy was good with any sized bull it's easy to pick off a straggler in back. Cow's would be easy too.... take the lead cow then grab one from the back...
If your still out there hunting do not give up! Those buggers can hide anywhere, you can't believe the number of times we were on herds no one else saw or drove past other trucks only to immediately see a herd.... they're tricky... when there is one or two... there is more!
One tip I can give you is that if you are looking at a few sqr miles of scrubland in one vista.... of rolling hills.... look closer! I'd bet 20bucks there is a herd in there somewhere.... often with 5 sets of bino's and experienced eyes it took 10min to find a herd, they can appear and disappear in a moment... like watching for sheep in a basin.... 4 hours of glassing later he suddenly appears in the middle of your view....
I had a fantastic time, got to see thousands of elk, and had some great times with good friends. It's a lot of work, fairly expensive (hotels, meals, beers, gas, randomness that accompanies 3-day trips etc). The easy elk are smart/gone.... I'll put in every year but won't burn up a priority tag over it....
The base in itself is a neat experience, not to mention the huge views of undisturbed native land.
It will be interesting to see what happens to this hunt in 10 years. If managed properly could become a really great hunt for a trophy animal!
The military was awesome, great group of extremely hard working and fantastic people. I was happy to see the caliber of men in the uniforms and how accommodating, helpful and just so damn friendly they are!!. I can't say enough good things about how the hunt is handled and organized now. The first few years took some learning but it's done very well these days, Cudos to them!!!! And thanks!!!
Good luck everyone