There is one way not to start your first day of sophomore year in high school, that is going up to all your teachers and telling them you will be gone a week and a half starting tomorrow. I had just got off summer vacation and I was pumped, I was going to be hunting in Idaho for Elk. I was used to chasing whitetails in my home town of Rochester, Minnesota but had never been to the mountains to hunt anything. My dad’s friends Lance, Bryan, and Chad invited me on a trip that my dad had taken 4 years prior. His friends knew I was a young man who was as die hard about hunting as anyone. So I told all my teachers my first day of school that I would be gone for the first week and a half of school. Let me tell you I got some frustrated looks from several teachers and a few remarks wishing I would have contacted them earlier in the summer about my adventure. But let’s be honest in this week and a half running around in the mountains I would learn more then a whole month of school.
That night after school I checked the list that Bryan had given me. He had given me the list to make sure I had not forgotten a single thing. The list included several key items; from my elk tag, boots, to a bow and arrow. I was ready as I would ever could be.
We left that night and made the 23 hour drive to LO LO Pass where we would set up camp. Since I had my permit we changed drivers every so often. When it was my turn to get behind the wheel I wanted to impress the guys with my driving skills so I concentrated the whole time trying not to daze into elk heaven. After 5 hours of my driving we were in Montana and let me tell you I felt like an impressive driver! I didn’t hit the noise makers on the sides of the road once during those 5 hours.
We got some maps of our hunting area, stopped for a bite to eat and continued the drive which the guys said wasn’t much longer. The country was beautiful. While staring out the back window I could only imagine what a real live bull elk looked like in the wild crashing through the trees.
Finally we made it into elk country , the mountains seemed to tower over us for what seemed like miles to the top. We took the good old Chevy and headed up the mountain on some pretty freaky and nasty logging trails. At times while looking out the window all I saw were the tops of trees and looking down we were mere inches from having the truck fall off the road down to the forest floor. I told Brian I was never going to drive in the mountains, even though I stayed on the road the whole way to Montana. After an hour and a half driving on the dirt logging trails in the mountains we reached where Lance called home; a clearing at the very top of the mountain with just enough room for a canvas tent and fireplace. As day light faded on my first day in the Idaho mountains we set up camp and got the much needed rest for the next days hunt. The morning came quickly and I was up in off like a bat out of hell. It was a good thing I had Bryan because I may have been the first up and out ready to go running down the mountain. Bryan was there to say , “We need to have a plan on how to approach the day and stay focused on the map so we know where we are going.”
It was a whole new style of hunting then I was used to as far as really keeping track on where you have been and where you are going. We hunted all morning in some amazing spots which looked like elk hot spots. I got to see my first wallow and some huge elk rubs. Then at 10 a.m. I finally heard my first bugle break the silence of the woods. It sounded like it was right on top of us. Bryan pointed at a tree he wanted me at and I set off 30 yards to the tree.
Next thing I knew an elk was coming from the top of the mountain which I could see about 200 yards. My eyes got became huge with wonder and I could now feel my heart coming through my chest. The elk then disappeared into the woods. I waited for what seemed like forever. After about 15 minutes I looked back at Bryan and he just shook his hands to come towards him. We never did see the elk. Bryan said he thought the elk may have had some cows with him and never appeared. This encounter was the first of my Idaho Elk hunting excursion.