Prior to 2012 I had hunted Elk five times unsucessfully, three time with a bow and twice with a rifle. After batting zero in 2008 hunting Etolin wiht my bow I was determined to return using my rifle. Lucky for me the 2012 ADFG drawings delivered and I held a DE321 permit to head back. This isn't like a Tok or Delta permit, when you hold it you can almost feel the pain. Etolin is a beast of an island that holds beasty elk. My friend, and hunting partner for this trip, Jost, AKA Pacific23 here, said "The contour map has 100' intervals, on Etolin that hides alot of 99' cliffs." The dynamics of the forest and alpine are striking and I hope the photos that follow show some of that. We wore 6 point instep crampons for almost the whole trip.
I'm going to take a moment and just describe some of the hunt planning and logistics then get into some photos and story. My research included reading harvest reports, contacting Bio's, my previous boots on the ground intel, purchasing large scale maps, and coorespondance with other hunters. So I put my X on the map and decided how I would get there and how I would get an entire Rosevelt out. I needed a GREAT partner! A basketball team would have worked but I don't have a tent that big. Thats when I met Josh. He's a SE guy to the core. Just like other regions in Alaska, each region develops certain skill sets in it's outdoorsmen. After talking with Josh I just knew his core skill set was exceptional and I extended the invitation to join me for an Elk hunt. Fifty percent of the Bull would be his. Exactly 50! One half down the middle. Just last night I finalized my end of that deal and sent him home with a huge pile of the ground meat.
Of course I didn't think it humanly possible for two men to carry an entire Rosevelt Elk out of the Etolin Alpine so I contacted various air charters and found someone who could fly into an ajoining lake and coordinated Spot communications in the event we were successful would pick up our meat and fly it down to our waiting boat. So everything was set I was going Elk hunting again.
Sept 29 we boarded the ferry with my 19' Aluminum skiff and took the long ride to Wrangell. We got off early in the morning and just crashed in the back of the truck. When the lights came on the boat was launched and we started the roughly 40 mile run south to Etolin. Along the way we found some swimming Sitka deer
Soon we were at our landing spot and put some essentials on the beach in bear proof containers and anchored my skiff really solid. We used a packraft for ship-to-shore operations then broke it down to go up the hill with us. With machette and saw in hand we blazed a route up the mountain to a 1,500 lake. It took us a long time but having a route established is a huge mental relief and we were not sure if we would need to use it yet. So we stayed at the lake in a heavy downpour for the night in my SL5
Then the next morning we loaded up the packraft with gear and bucked a headwind down the lake
After the round trip in the packraft we set to climbing into the alpine.
At the top the snow started flying and I established communications with my pilot. They said the weather was moving to SE and we better get after it. So rather than relaxing I kinda just looked at Josh and said we gotta cover ground and find an Elk ASAP. Our weather window was closing. So we pushed deeper into the mountains glassing along.
That night didn't reveal an elk. We of course enjoyed some choice scenery.
The next morning we woke up early and got to work. We glassed and glassed. We found plenty of Black Bears and lots of deer. We even had a nice 4x3 right below us. We were looking for Elk. Then Josh and I decided to get our boots working again. So I said right and he said left. we both just kinda chuckled and I went with my good partners hunch. Thank God I did! We climbed a rock spire and while looking off it's flanks I spotted a light brown mass that didn't fit in among the thick dark green. We popped up the Binos and Swaro. Elk and a big huge bull at that!
Like a tactical team Josh was spotter and I shooter. We ranged the bull at 450 and well exposed at a steep downhill angle. The terrain was evaluated for any possible closer approach. We were cliffed out and I had to place this long shot or risk loosing the fine bull into the rainforest thickets. Soon I was steadied and ready to fire. Josh was on target with the spotter and the decision to fire was made. The first shot of my .416 Ruger shooting 300g TSX was on target and the bull lurged forward and I could see the front right leg out of commission. Jost called for an additional shot, so I obliged. The second shot knocked the bull down and against some trees exposed. Nice! We stayed on target until movement was stopped. Once we stood up and moved out of our shooting posistion a quick glass revealed the bull gone. The hike down the mountain was tense but when we arrived to the kill location a little tracking found our bull. I thought of other locations where these Etolin Elk had been killed and was very grateful to be in a nice gentle sloping waterway
Then we got to work. 5 hours of it.
Backstrap!The mane on this bull is amazing.
Then the pack out!
We ferried loads over the course of three days. It was fairly uneventful other than the pack of wolves roaming in and around our tent the first night. We thought for sure our meat was a gonner. After that we never went further than what we could move all the meat.
All the meat and trophy at the lake.
We waited a bit and the pilot came in with a Beaver and hauled us and the elk down to our awaiting boat. We motored back to Wrangell where I finalized my legal requirments with F&G and enjoyed a great evening of relaxing. What a great trip and I hope you enjoyed all the photos. It's the first time I've used the photobucket account so I hope they are not too big or anything like that. The meat is fabulous and I feel very grateful to take such a magnificent animal. Thanks Josh for your support through this entire hunt. I couldn't have done it without ya!