Update is we are home and alive!!!
We left Friday Oct 11 with plans to shoot across S. Dakota...once we got down there the roads were ice covered so we headed down to Nebraska and across I-80 to Salt Lake City before heading north. We got a room, shower, and some dinner before heading up the mountain first thing Sunday morning. I've never been to Idaho and hadn't talk many folks that had, so we decided to use an outfitter this year for a drop camp. I can't say enough about the guy we used. Tents were setup....fully stocked. Wood split and even supplied our food and when I say food...he didn't hold back. Even had one night with ribeyes. We ate the like kings all week.
We threw our gear into the tents and headed out scouting for elk and maybe a little deer hunting along the way. We had 2 days to scout before elk season opened on Tuesday. We found elk right away...all cows and calves feeding out in the meadows. Our tents were at 7200 feet with the highest peaks around 8900. We scouted some also on Monday and found elk again. Monday night while sitting around the campfire, the wolves started howling. 2 different packs on the ridgelines all around us. I thought to myself this isn't good. Tuesday morning bright and early we found ourselves at the first spot I wanted to start. Got a beautiful picture of the sunrise coming up behind the peaks. We put on around 7 miles by lunch time and couldn't find any elk. We ate lunch and I drifted off for a few mins, when my son woke me up and said he just saw a bull go over a ridge. Not sure if he was pulling my leg we headed that direction and I let out a bugle. Not 30 secs later we got a response. We headed that direction but as we got closer the winds were swirling, so I said lets leave him for now and head back tomorrow morning. We hiked out got back to wear we parked out ATV's and my son's machine was dead. I grabbed the recoil and gave it a yank, only it decided to bite back and that's when my middle finger came out of place. Being the old army medic I am, I got it back into place shortly and made it back to camp where some Windsor and water took the pain away. Wed- We went back in the morning with good thermals, I brought my son and brother in law with, I left my gun at camp with a sore hand and bugling bull, I sent them in and stayed back with a good vantage point and called. He fired right up. Either one of those guys had heard a really fired up bull before so that was pretty cool. Had him chuckling and raking trees, but couldn't get eyes on him. That went on for a while before he decided he didn't wanted to show his face and he shut up took his cows farther down the drainage and out of our lives forever.
Thur-430am- we get woken up by wind and things hitting our tents- I looked at my buddy and said is that ice? He got up and went outside the tent and found gale force winds, almost tornado like whipping branches through the tree line. He stepped back in, zipped the tent up and said I hope a tree doesn't come down on us. Then we heard it..the snapping of a tree and everyone with a oh $^#* look on their face. I yelled get down, everyone bailed off there cots, I jumped onto my son and it came crashing down. Took the front third of our tent down. We grabbed our flashlights, checked everyone for injuries. A few bumps and bruised from hitting the ground, but nothing serious. We crawled out of the tent and found a 100 foot spruce with 31 inch diameter 11 feet up from the base came right out of the ground. If not for another downed tree and some luck on the path it took, I'm positive I wouldn't be writing this. 1 foot to right and we would of been in some bad shape. We jumped on our ATV's and headed down the mountain to get out of the wind. We headed to where the outfitter was operating. He came out of his tent along with one of his guides, wondering what we were doing. After explaining the situation around the campfire and some coffee, we all headed back to our tents with chains saws and anything else he thought we need for repairs. We worked until noon clearing logs and fixing the tent. We decided we probably would just hang around camp that day and gather our nerves. Plus I had already decided at that point to rest my sore hand. One of the guides came up with a fox pro that evening and took us out on a quick wolf hunt to see if we could get them going. They decided to not play that night and then the snow really cranked up. Between Thursday and Sunday morning it was hard to judge the snow depths with all the wind, but i'm guessing over 15 inches fell. Seemed to shut all the animals down or they moved to lower elevations to look for food. Saturday morning walking across a rock slide, I slipped twisted my ankle and banged my finger again, falling about 10 feet down the hill. Good grief...Idaho is not for the faint of heart. We decided Sunday morning when we got up and that is was time to head out. More snow was forecasted and we didn't want to risk anymore trees coming down... what are the odds? I don't know but we didn't want to find out. And boy were we glad we left. The 90 min drive in on sunday to the trail head took 5.5 hours on the way out. We hit the summit and rode the brakes in my truck all the way down. Idaho is cheap on guard rail and I thought a few times we were going to find out what lay at the bottom. We drove 8 hours that day, got a room and then hit the road at 5am. We had a pit stop to make at a taxidermist office in Ennis to get my buddy's bull from 2 years ago. Arrived back home Tuesday morning around 2am, I haven't hugged and kissed my family that much in a long time. What a trip. We didn't bring home any animals- and had an experience none of us will forget, but we still had a great time. The scenery was amazing, the group of friends became closer then before and our outfitter couldn't have been more helpful and supportive from a drop camp perspective. Plus we got to remind him daily about almost killing us and his camp selection needs to be revisited. Idaho 2019 one for the record books.