Last week I had the opportunity to spend a week hunting Roosevelt Elk on Afognak Island, based from a friend's boat. The weather was excellent and we did quite a bit of hiking in search of the elusive animals. We saw elk every day, but usually in bowls far away from where we were glassing, too far to reach the same day. We had seven days of hiking a minimum of five miles and 2500 feet elevation gain each day and camped overnight two of those days - which means we were carrying heavy packs with camping gear at least four of the seven days. Although we were able to follow game trails much of the time, we did considerable bushwacking through salmonberry and alder. Since the elk hang out away from the coast in upper elevations, every day from the boat was an uphill hike from sea level. Finally on the seventh day we spotted a herd which we were able to stalk (although the term implies a slow, sneaky approach, much of it was actually running like hell to get around the mountain to head them off at the pass - literally!) Three of us had permits and two shot cows that morning. Then it was a long, long day of butchering and hauling meat; we staged our carries since we were almost two miles from our pickup point and our animals were on the wrong side of the mountain. We had to go up before we could go down and we were carrying camping gear since we had camped the night before. We reached the beach with the final load right at dark, around 8 pm. Predicted nasty weather meant we had to head back to Kodiak immediately and we arrived in the rain around 6 am Saturday morning.
It was a great hunt - excellent companions, comfortable base, superb weather, Kodiak Island Brewing Company beer, and spectacular scenery. More photos are here and more about the hunt is here. Here's a photo of us trimming and wrapping elk meat - two full days of work for four people.