I met a couple during my first year or so in Elk County. They are dedicated outdoors people who love watching and photographing the elk. They were kind enough to e-mail me a report about their experiences of the first day of the 2009 elk season as they got to see it first hand.
They started the day by checking the parking lot at the end of Dewey Road and found 16 vehicles there. From this point I will go to their exact words: "Went to Gray Hill on top where the camps start on the left side of the road (about half way to apple orchard) there were 10 Bulls together around the camps but about 20 hunters and guides (so it seemed) NOT GOOD. No 47 (brown collar) which was the biggest bull in group, was there and we took last live pictures of him. We had stopped but was getting in their way. Anyway we left so they could carry out game plan, put hunter in front, then bulls walk right to them. No 47 went down and next biggest one. Not sure what it was. "
As I understand the hunting digest, this is Elk Hunt Zone 8 and should be all of the bulls allocated for Zone 8. I have no current photographs of bull 47, but he was featured in a post by Steve Friel on October 7, 2009. To see this photo visit Photos by Steve.
They also had news as to the dominant 9x8 bull that was seen almost daily at The Gilbert Viewing Area this fall. They had seen hunters walking a road toward game lands as they (my correspondents) were heading out in the morning. When they returned to the area after being on Gray Hill, they saw the 9x8 being hauled out on the back of a truck. This is in Elk Hunt Zone 2.
They then went to the check station from 12:30 until 3:00. There were 6 cows and 6 bulls checked by that time.
It is important to note that this is the situation as I understand it and as it was reported to me. It will be interesting to hear or read the accounts of these hunts from the perspective of those that participated in them.
Something I do know is that during the period from September 20, through October 2,2009, the 9x8, had no fear of humans. Absolutely none!
It is a difficult task for wildlife managers to arrive at a management policy that considers the concerns of hunters, tourists, property owners and other interested parties, while at the same time safeguarding the resource itself. Progress has been made in addressing some of the more critical problems, but it is time to strongly consider increasing the size of the No Hunt Zone to protect more of the large bulls.