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Toggo
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 7:54 am 
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Hiya!

I am new to the peninsula. I have been exploring the east side of the national park and forests over the past two years and am making my way to the west side.

I recently bought a 600mm lens and am looking to spend time with some bulls.

Here is some info I can provide: According to the hunting harvest data, Unit 615 (Clearwater) consistently yields the highest number of kills which suggests the greatest concentration of elk.

Question: Should I go high or stay low? I know elk need water at some point which suggests that river bottoms are likely locations for sighting elk. However, there are upland lakes and I know the bulls tend to climb higher than the cows.

My thinking is to seek upland meadows as the grasses and such offer abundant food. Particularly the lake just east of Slate creek that feeds into the south fork of Hoh river.

The South Fork Hoh Trail appears to be rather short (less than 5 miles). Has anyone on here ventured further? I am looking to take the ridge south of the slate creek lake toward the lakes inside the bend of Harlow Creek.  Is this area completely off trail? Is Harlow creek bottom navigable by foot or do you have to side hill?

Any way, any knowledge of the area connecting those lakes near Slate Creek and Harlow + Bob Creek would be helpful.  As well as tips to locating elk. Member danlauren's post about Pelton peak was helpful (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1126150). Any others like it?

Thanks.
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Bootpathguy
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 8:20 am 
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Not sure what the weather forecast is over there. No tolerance for heat. Will be bedded down in forest canopy, north facing slopes, unless of course, it's during the rut where they'll be active during the day. We are a few months from that activity though.

If you do find them, unfortunately it'll likely be low light conditions during dusk where they'll be moving out of the forest and into the meadows. You're photo shooting window will be short.

If you can find where they are bedded down during the day,  just sit a wait on the edge of a grassy field or forest opening. All the bulls over here in the Teanaway area, antlers are still in full velvet.

Bears. South and West facing slopes holding blueberries

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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 9:40 am 
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This is actually the "easy" route to the lakes.

Not sure what you mean by "Clearwater unit".

If you mean "West side of the Olympics between Quinault and Forks", you've got the right area.
Right now (at 10:40 am) they're up in the trees getting out of the heat.
At about 7:00 - 7:30 this evening they'll drop down and meander out through the alder flats and onto the gravel bars along the rivers for a drink. As noted above, light conditions will not be optimal.
As the days get shorter and the nights cooler and the bug populations dwindle, you'll see them during the day browsing under the canopy. But again, the light will be sketchy and unless you're really fast they'll be gone before you can figure out the right aperture opening.

You might check out a couple of the areas that another member just visited. There's a fairly good-sized herd that haunts one of those locales just after dawn. It's just a matter of the right timing.

Welcome to the site. Good luck in your search. wink.gif

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Grannyhiker
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 10:30 am 
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Unless you are scouting for future hunting possibilities, your best bet is within Olympic National Park, where the elk are much less shy (they know they're safe!).

Should you visit northern California, you can almost always spot elk at the south end of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  Back in June I spent almost half an hour watching a beautiful herd of magnificent bulls there.  Shiny coats and spectacular racks in velvet!  There must have been about 100 cars parked along the road, with attendant sightseers, and the bulls didn't seem to care.  I was glad I had my 10x monocular with me, because due to the crowd I had to park a fair distance from the bulls.

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Ski
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 12:55 pm 
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Redwood Creek - Redwood National Park 09/18/06

redwood-creek-091806-1
redwood-creek-091806-1

(I dropped that Nikon FG-20 on a gravel bar during a previous outing and didn't know there was a light leak in the camera body until I got the pictures back a month later.)

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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 1:01 pm 
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One more note regarding that area between Quinault and Forks:
Check WDFW hunting regulations.
Do not go anywhere near that area up there during hunting season without wearing orange.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Downhill
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 1:45 pm 
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A few miles east of Reedsport, OR is the Dean Creek Elk Preserve.  A family road trip a few years ago took us by this site once we left I-5 just south of Cottage Grove and drove west on Highway 38 toward the coast.  After passing through the town of Elkton (aptly named) we came to Dean Creek viewing area.  There were many hundreds (maybe >1000) of elk easy seen from the roadside.  I get that it's not the same as tracking them down in the wilderness, but a very cool sight just the same.  Also a very pretty drive along the Umpqua River.
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silence
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 2:08 pm 
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When? Bulls in the Hoh River campground and Hoh River trail (NP) Oct, 2017
https://www.flickr.com/photos/33792231@N00/albums/72157687713494741

Video
https://vimeo.com/channels/crestpictures/242860744

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Grannyhiker
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 2:16 pm 
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Oregon's Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area  (closer to WA than Reedsport) is a great place to watch Roosevelt elk in the winter.

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey
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Toggo
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 4:57 pm 
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silence wrote:
When? Bulls in the Hoh River campground and Hoh River trail (NP) Oct, 2017

Wow, thanks for sharing Silence. That is really beautiful work.

Of course, I want to catch the rut and the salmon run. But, I don't have too high hopes. The main thing is to learn the lay of the land, behavior of the animals so that in years following I can get a routine down and increase my shooting time.

Thanks for sharing your work. I really enjoyed it!
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Toggo
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 4:58 pm 
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Thanks all for the great feedback.
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Toggo
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 5:32 pm 
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Ski wrote:
At about 7:00 - 7:30 this evening they'll drop down and meander out through the alder flats and onto the gravel bars along the rivers for a drink.

Thanks Ski. One question though: Are the "alder flats" a specific stand of alders or are you just referring in general to any river or creek bottoms where alders grow?
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PostTue Aug 13, 2019 7:43 pm 
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you'll find the alders grow in profusion along any stretch of gravel bar. after the willow, the alders are the next species to pioneer on the open stretches of gravel bars - in some cases so thick you can barely work your way through them.
the elk like to hide out in the cover of those thickets. you'll see them wander out just before twilight along the rivers. usually it will be just one or two cows, and they will spook easily and the entire herd will move if an alert is sounded.
remain motionless, and they'll wander right by you without even noticing you're there.

we were camped out above Bob Creek one trip. way up the valley. right next to the river under a couple big maples.
I'd just turned off the stove after making a cup of tea and we were sitting there watching the river go by and the bats coming out.
a line of cows came out of the alders about 70-80 yards west-southwest of us, on the other side of the river, and started crossing right in front of us - about 50 feet away - just above a riffle that broke over the rocks into a pool.
we just sat there and watched - frozen - until a young bull got about halfway across the channel and caught a whiff of us.
he turned his head and looked at us and started huffing and puffing. we were very quietly discussing which tree might be suitable to jump up into if he took a mind to coming our direction.
fortunately, after about a 6 or 8 minute display of his physical prowess, he moved on, with the rest of the herd - probably a total of 30-40 - following dutifully.
finally the big bulls came out at the tail end of the bunch - sporting big racks. they didn't seem to mind that we were there watching them.
the light was pretty much gone by the time that event began, so the camera was packed away in the tent.

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Gregory
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PostWed Aug 14, 2019 5:19 am 
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You can go for an easy ten miles, past the trail, up the South fork as long as you are prepared to do a little wading. One of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion. There are bear and elk up there in good numbers. An evening walk along the flats could be very productive.

I am surprised to see those lakes on the inner webz. Ok, not that surprised.Good luck finding elk up there.

Believe it or not, the state land at the SF trailhead is an excellent spot to find Elk. The spur road just before the real trail head goes down to a beautiful spring creek and meadows. Often they are on the opposite side of the river. Do some exploring and you might figure it out. Like Ski says the area gets busy during hunting season and the state has opened a special permit hunt early on the SF. Add to that the Hoh tribe loves to hunt the described area and they are not bound by our regulations. If you here a cow call it is most likely Rick, not an elk. lol

The main stem Hoh has a herd that hangs out around the store and such. Ask around up there and they may be able to point you right to them. Probably the most photographed elk in the Olympics. They like it when you say "cheese"

There is another heard that that lives up the A road on the Calawah that is generally easy to find but most likely they will be staring at you from a clear cut.

There is another heard that lives between Cedar Creek and the Hoh. The fletcher creek area between 101 and the Hoh is a good spot to find them this time of year.

Nick who owns Allen bar these days protects a small heard that love his property during hunting season. They used to love the property behind the old mill site down on the river.

I could go on and on as I too used to chase the herds around for the fun of it. Think early morning and cool moist spots this time of year. GOOD LUCK!
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Mikey
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PostThu Aug 15, 2019 5:05 am 
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Human scent can spook elk so try to have the wind blowing into your face.  I have gotten very close to elk herds, both in the summer and during hunting season. During the elk rut (Sept.), the elk act different (crazy ?) and will run round during the night, make untypical noises.  My observation is that the elk herd leader (not during rut) is a old large cow.  This old cow will periodically look around surveying the situation.  When she issues an "order", the entire herd will run like the dickens.  Elk herds run like a herd of horses.
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