Well after spending over 120 days and nights sleeping in a sleeping bag between my summer pack trips and elk camp, I finally was able to hunt elk for myself on a tag a friend and I drew...It was well worth it, but I am no doubt ready to relax now that my season is finally over. After pulling our backcountry camp out of the hills in the beginning of November, my hunting partner and I began preparations for our own hunt and left on the 16th. With horses in tow, we set up camp and got ready all over again. The first day found us passing on a young 5x6 and plenty of cows and spikes. Granted our tags were type 1 which allowed us to shoot any elk, the thought of just finishing the season with a couple tasty cows definitely passed through our heads, but i had to talk my partner out of it. We drew this tag for bulls and I was dead set on leaving with one. The next few days found us in the lower country of the unit, which is still over 7000', but to no avail could we find any other branch antlered bulls worth going after. By the end of day 3 we had counted over 300 cows, spikes, and raghorns. So with a change of gameplan we decided to head to the snowbound high country.
It paid off big and I was able to harvest my 6x6 around 9600' in a wild blizzard. I have rarely elk hunted in such wild conditions as the wind gusts that day were topping 70mph up where we were and visibility would go from 300 feet to 0 on and off. Somehow everything aligned and I was able to sneak into 60 yards before making a shot. We were able to get him packed off the hill and headed down the mountain to get some rest. We took the next day (Thanksgiving) off to recover from some of our bruises and catch up on some rest.
Following T-day we headed back up high, knowing it was where we needed to be. I was able to spot a group of 6 bulls early on and the chase was on. They bedded high in a nasty avalanche shoot, and it took us a couple hours to get into position for a shot. Unfortunately due to the terrain not all the bulls were visible, but my friend decided to take the one he had a shot at anyway. He made a good shot at 350 yards, and an hour and a half later we were working on his bull. We didnt make it off the mountain with that bull till nearly 9pm. It was a fun but tough hunt. We now know how to hunt the area much better for the mature bulls, and cant wait to draw it again so we can hold out for the big ones that roam the unit.
I have to give a big thanks to huntWYODon from this forum for his willingness to share some of his experience in the past with me as it was a big help and great to get some more first hand insight before I began hunting the unit.