Archery Season - Day 4
Starting to hit a stride. Going to a well-known place was the ticket. Followed a twin track up high just a few miles from my house, and had a great day. Some deer sign, but no elk. Bear scat in a couple of places. Broke a couple of hand-made arrows chasing a covey of quail. Didn't connect, but it was nice to actually draw the string. Shame about the arrows, but totally worth it. I'll have 10 months to replace them once the season is over.
Starting a little late because I need to drop the baby off. 8am and already warming up. Stopped at a random gated area I'd never visited before (walk-in only) and headed up an old logging road. Almost immediately started to see signs of deer, tracks, scat and a rub. A little meadow through the roadside trees drew me in to investigate, and a movement to my left caught my eye. Had the arrow on the string when something made me hesitate on an easy shot: the ears and head of a deer quartering away, but small. She jumped up in that peculiar pronging style deer have, white tail flagging, and I recognized a fawn, barely out of spots. She might have been legal (females are allowed in this area, and anything with primitive equipment is a trophy) but I had to pass. Very encouraging, however. Spent a long day walking down likely spur roads. Saw the first elk sign of the season, tracks and scat. I'll definitely come back here tomorrow.
At the gate at dawn this morning. Headed in and within a mile found some very fresh elk sign. The tracks disappeared quickly after I found the scat, and I had to choose between two different paths, both grassy and likely to hide any prints. I figured downhill toward water would be the likely path and chose that direction.
One of the things I like about hunting is that I'm always learning something. Sometimes I learn the same thing more than once. Like "keep your nose in the wind." While it appeared from the tracks I found in a dusty area that I'd chosen the right path, my inattention to the fact that cold air sinks left the wind at my back, which I remembered the hard way when I was scented by a couple of deer from 400 yards away. Rather than stubbornly continue on and possibly scare the elk out of the area, I turned around and headed upwind, resolved to be more careful.
I eventually came across an old beaver pond that was mostly dry. It was fun looking at the tracks in the muddy banks, including a bear, whose recent droppings I found near by. (My sister-in-law is giving me a hard time for taking "pictures of poop?" She doesn't know a good thing when she sees it). A tree with claw marks and tracks in the mud (pictured) identified the area as a regular haunt. I have mixed feelings about hunting bears, as they have kind of been a totem animal for me since a full beard in college earned me the nickname Griz (after Grizzly Adams). The little black bears here in Oregon are so reclusive it is unlikely that I will see any without significantly changing my hunting style. I move too much, not liking to sit and glass the clear cuts which is how most people get them now that baiting and dogs have been banned (both of which I am generally okay with seeing go). Hard to know what I'd do if I crossed paths with one. Guess I'll see when the time comes.
The day ended without taking a shot, though I took a lot of photographs to show off to folks back home. I'm going to give this area a day to rest, then be back and a bit more focused on the promising spots that I have found.