Most people might think I’m crazy for packing up at 4PM on a Wednesday to drive about 8 hours west to meet a couple of dudes I met on the internet to tag along on an elk hunt despite not having any tags of my own. It turns out that being crazy is a lot of fun. One of those ‘dudes’ was Mark from SoleAdventure.com and the other Jerud who I met through social media. For Mark’s version of this story check out his Part I of our Kentucky trip.
So after a lonely 8 hour drive from Richmond, Virginia to Pineville, Kentucky I met up with Jerud and Mark in a McDonald’s parking lot. We exchanged greetings quickly and hit the road to set up camp. Despite knowing Mark for about 3 years and Jerud for probably just shy of a year none of us had ever met in person. I meet a lot of people online and through this website all a part of the hunting community. I’ll have to say that far and away it’s a great community of people that are very similar in their love for hunting, outdoors and the camaraderie associated with it. Alright, so enough of the mushy stuff back to the rugged manly camping part!
We finally made it to where we intended to camp for the evening. I had driven my Dad’s Z71 Silverado and Mark and Jerud were in Mark’s Chrysler Town & Country. I will say I’ve never seen someone do what Mark did in a minivan. The road was rough, full of rocks and ruts and he made it a good ways until we reached a decent sized wash out. Only to find the next morning that we were in the entirely wrong place! So Mark punished that poor minivan for no reason and when we ran out of there the next morning we subjected the van to a little more punishment on the next property entrance!
The first full day of hunting started about 9:30AM on Thursday after relocating camp to the proper end of the property and quickly packing up. There was sign everywhere but zero elk. We covered several miles got a lay of the land and realized exactly how difficult this hunt was going to be. We were either in chest high grass and scrub brush or on a steep mountain side covered in leaves. There were very few areas where we could glass and if we could see any distance the glassing wasn’t very effective. For the amount of sign in the area I was completely surprised we hadn’t see any elk or bumped any as we walked around.
We returned to camp to grab rain gear and Mark and I went on a last ditch effort to find elk for the day hoping the cold air and rain would get them moving while Jerud stayed behind to get a good fire going before it got too wet. We again covered ground but ultimately found nothing but absurd amounts of tracks and poop! I came up with the theory that it was all just one elk running all over the property at night pooping everywhere. Fortunately, we’ll find evidence later to disprove this theory.
Back at camp Jerud had a roaring fire and I pulled out the grill and venison and got cooking. As I’m grilling the rain turns to sleet and back to rain a couple of times and it’s getting pretty cold. We huddle around some lanterns to eat the deer meat before it becomes cold from the dropping temperatures. It may have been the cold or the hunger but the venison tasted great. Unfortunately it was so good and the weather so cold that we ate in a bit of a hurry. Then ran over to huddle around the fire for a while before turning in for the night.
The mix of excitement and anxiety that goes along with a hunt combined with the exertion of walking miles creates a special kind of tired at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to provide a good night sleep. I lay awake thinking about the sign we saw, the geography and the distant barking and howling of coyotes. I finally get to sleep and then I’m awoken about 2AM by a distant scream. Wait, was than a bugle? I’ve never heard one in real life, here comes the adrenaline ,so much for sleep. Not much later I’m wide awake and again I hear it and it’s closer it’s definitely a bugle . . .
| READ PART II |