Rifle Elk Hunting Season Starts Oct. 1

Rifle season for elk hunting starts tomorrow. The elk haven’t been seen around the area much for months. I’m not sure where the hunters plan on finding them but I can guarantee you’ll be able to find the hunters in the Hitchrail tonight and probably tomorrow for mid-morning breakfast after the first attempt at seeing any elk. The town’s been buzzing like a honeycomb today.
All the Forest Service roads we use to check cows, salt and water are scattered with campers, trailers, ATV’s and hunting gear and equipment and camo-clad hunters. I’ve passed numerous out of town/state plates over the past week. Most of the vehicles I met didn’t act like they knew where they were going or what they were doing.
I plan on making an unnecessary trip into Pringle tomorrow morning to see if any hunters did some extra credit and found an elk to harvest. My husband’s got a plan (we get a landowner’s tag every year), but he hasn’t spent a lot of time scouting out where the elk have been hiding.
This year’s been very unusual regarding elk herds. We usually have anywhere from 50-80 head happily grazing off our hay crop. First we get cows and calves in the summer then with bulls, and in the fall just bulls spoiling for a fight. They also drink out of our stock tank 100 yards from our house.
There have been weeks at a time in the past when cows and calves could be heard making their chirping sounds back and for to each other all night long in the summer. Last year for about two solid weeks in September, we had a bull that showed up every night 20 yards from our house bugling at another bull south of us. It was incessant bugle-bantering as though the two were arguing over who was bigger or tougher, all night long and they typically got started before we even got to bed. It was quite frustrating trying to get any sleep especially when the next day was anticipated to be busy. If their racket woke me up it was hard to find a quiet place in the house to try going back to sleep.
Trust me, the novelty of hearing elk bugle lasts a short while. By the fifth consecutive night of hearing them at three in the morning, it starts to get annoying.
When I hear elk bugling for the first time of the season I enjoy it and actually listen for a while but it wears off fast. The elk are so immune to us they’re unfazed by anything we do to run them off. And if we do, they tear up a fence really good. Even our dog gave up trying to bark them away.
It’s always interesting to see how opening day turns out; who got one, who missed one, who’s still tracking one and who got the biggest bull. The first few days of the season when I drive past Pringle, there’s a lot of orange gathered around outside the Hitchrail and guys looking into the backs of pickup boxes.
For a full report, of opening day, check back later…

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