Winston unit help.

Posted by: steeliedrew

Winston unit help. - 11/25/12 08:27 PM

Well, I just got back from 2 1/2 days in Winston unit going after archery elk and deer. We stayed at a friends cabin on mayfield lake so it was easiest for us to go into the unit off of Winston creek road. We entered from the 2nd FS road you come to on the right off of Winston creek road. we didn't see any signs in there to tell us what FS road we were on. We do know that we were in the end of the unit closest to mayfield lake and the cowlitz river though.

On Friday we drove around for a bit til first light, found some good looking timber and dove in. We hunted a few spots we thought looked good throughout the day. Finally we found the hill side that was an elk highway! elk tracks, sh!t and beds everywhere. the main game trail going up the middle of the hill had clear elk tracks all the way up and elk sh!t every 10-20 feet. we got midway up the hillside and set up 20 yards off the trail in some ferns. no animals came.

Saturday morning we got to that hillside a little before first light and still hunted our way all the way to the top. we were on elk sign everywhere we went on that hill with deer sign mixed in here and there. half way up the hill there was a massive bench with trails galore and deer and elk sign everywhere. there's definitely a dominant buck up there too because we stumbled upon some really good rub lines on smaller saplings. After spending half the day on the hill without seeing an animal we walked back down to the rig. there was a fresh doe track in my boot print from the morning. b!tch gave us the slip!

We got back out onto Winston creek road and took a left into the mossyrock unit. We never got out of the truck in there because it was like a damn freeway in there with muzzleloader and archery hunters combined. so we bailed out mossyrock and went back into another part of Winston via Salmon Creek road. We got pretty far in there and hunted on a bunch of good deer sign but never saw a deer or an elk and didn't find any elk sign in that area.

This morning we went back in to our hill spot and hike pretty far in behind a closed gate. Nobody was back there but us. We ended up at a massive, flat clear cut that backs up to the other side of barrier dam. I've always wondered how to get over there to fish that side of the pool. Haha. Didn't see any elk or elk sign back there but there were trails and deer sign everywhere. saw a bunch of buck rubs back there too. I set up in a little pocket of ferns on the edge of some thick timber for a couple hours but nothing came through. My buddy went exploring in the clear cut and spotted a doe at 105 yards but he couldn't get to her. On his way back out there was a fresh pile of buck Sh!t right in one of his boot tracks near a fresh rub line. that buck gave him the slip big time.

So, long story short we hunted hard on foot away from traffic, behind closed gates, on good elk and deer travel routes and I personally never saw an animal. We didn't see a single gut pile or a single deer or elk in anybody's truck either. we also never spotted any animals from the truck while driving in and out of the unit. I know we barely scratched the surface of what the unit has to offer but I feel like we should have seen more than we did for the effort put in. guess that's what they call it hunting...

So, I have a couple more days ill be able to spend down there before the season ends. can somebody please send me a pm and tell me where abouts i can get on some cows? I know it's all about knowing where the animals go when they get pressured and that's what I need to know. wink

thanks for any help and thanks for listening to my sob story.

Posted by: bankbum

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/25/12 11:25 PM

Man sounds like you found a good spot. And from what I always hear, and from my buddies late archery season so far (8 elk in their group of 10 guys) the elk are running everywhere in that unit.
I have never hunted it. I planned on it this late season but couldn't find anyone to go with.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 12:34 AM

sounds like they're on them good! I'm fairly convinced we just didn't go deep enough even though we hunted away from roads, and never ran into other hunters in the timber. I'm thinking I need to dive into the thickest, dark timber in the bottom of a roadless canyon I can find or hike way, way up to find them...I'm fully open to suggestions though. smile
Posted by: bankbum

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 01:14 AM

Wish I had good advice. But it sounds like you have a solid plan. Strange you aren't running into a lot of hunters. That could be a hint you're not in the heavily populated elk area...even finding so much sign. It doesn't take many elk to make a lot of sign.

Where I hunt on the eastside there is always 5 to 10 elk hanging out around a swamp bottom. But it looks like 100+ elk should be in there. I have never in 15 years seen more then 10 elk in there throughout a single day.
I have been trying the westside that last 2 seasons. And found areas like you described. I just never see the elk.

To give you an idea on elk travel, which I'm sure you probably will already know as a normal elk routine. There is an elk herd by my house. They hangout in my neighbors property, then a day later they're two thirds of a mile away, then that same day they'll be another half mile away, then another half mile get the idea. Within 2 days they'll make a 1 to 2 mile loop at times. The sign always looks very fresh and you can tell where they spend time and where they just travel. I would try and find regular travel routes and hunt that, let them come to you. Trying to hunt feeding elk is tough cause they're always watching.

I practice hunting these elk...they're in the skok unit so I can't actually hunt them. But I use them to help me understand westside elk and how they go about their travels.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 08:39 AM

are you buddies hunting muzzleloader in mossyrock unit or are they bow hunting in Winston or mossyrock? Sounds like they're really on the elk out there.
Posted by: BroodBuster

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 10:10 AM

I too spent three days in Winston camped at the resort. Wish I had of known you where that close. Maybe next time we can hook up.

Anyhoo it looked to me like the 150 cow permits handed out to the rifle guys got their 150 cows. Seemed I could not walk or drive anywhere without tripping over an abandoned hide. I found six just in one camp alone.

I basically just deer hunted since my local buddies hadn't located a herd or seen one for several weeks.

I saw two does and zero elk frown

Probably wont be back this year unless my buddies who are down there all this week give me a report worth pursuing.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 11:11 AM

I bought a tree farm map on the way out. I'm thinking I need to check out some of the access around winters mountain where there's less roads. I guess the hoof rot issue is pretty bad in there. The people at the tackle shop on hwy 12 said a guy brought in a cow and had the Gammies bring him another tag. Apparently one whole side of his cow was all rotten and caved in cause hoof rot spreads throughout the body. I'm sure many already know but they're selling so many tags to thin the herd in all of those units down there. mossyrock, Winston, margret, toutle, coweeman, etc, etc. all that being said I'm gonna give it another couple days down there between deer hunts. I'll be happy just getting a chance to stalk one, but I need to spot a herd first...
Posted by: seastrike

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 11:34 AM

During the day the thermal is taking your scent uphill. You typically want to start at the top (first light) and work your way down.

Flick your bic and keep that wind in your face all day long.

Good luck out there. Fun game.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 11:41 AM

Dave, the mornings were very cold and the wind was in our face while we still hunted up the hill. Once the sun came up the wind shifted uphill as if on Q. I checked wind often with dead down wind powder.
Posted by: Met'lheadMatt

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 12:37 PM

Winston elk don't move much during the day unless pushed, Your best bet is to go high, find snow, cut tracks and live with them. If you are a good tracker and have a buddy that is the same, You can get on fresh elk tracks and walk them down, Once you bust them, if you don't see them first. the game begins. one stays on the tracks, and the other is out in front and about 50yds to one side or the other of the trail, quite as a church mouse as creeping along. He will probably get the op, as they will be watching thier back trail after being busted. I have hunted there since 84 and only have two years where I did not have a chance to harvest an elk. I have not shot a cow in 10 years, but had 13 straight before that. Now I put my friends in the position of the church mouse and let them wack the cows. Now if we see horns, it's a different story.... But think snow as the season progresses... Much easier game
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 12:46 PM

thank you. That's good Info. I'll hope for snow. where I was at I couldn't see any snow higher up. Maybe there is some snow in other parts of the unit?
Posted by: c&b

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 02:10 PM

I just got back from 5 days down there, Partner got one opening day, I missed one on thanksgiving, the only day I was not in them was the day I went up, down and all around Winter's mountain. Keep at it, you will find them and get your stalk in just hope you shoot truer than me, I seem to always find a limb......
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 02:27 PM

did you spot them in cuts? We never spotted a single elk from the truck or from the timber.
Posted by: chromefish

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 03:41 PM

Well lets see? 440 antlerless permits equals no elk. I have hunted this unit since the mid 80's and this late season is the worst I have ever seen it. Three days and not one elk. My advice do like we are gunna do and find somewhere else.
Posted by: c&b

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 04:22 PM

No, did not see a single elk in any cuts we checked. We found them in the 20 -25 year old reprod and in the big timber.
We also probabbly had soome help from the 144 rifle hunters over in the Margaret unit stirring them up and sending them our way.
Posted by: Driftfishnw

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 04:38 PM

Bust out of the unit and find another.

I just returned from the first trip of my late hunt... Was on over 30 cows a day with a lot of spikes and a couple branched bulls mixed in...

Came very close to sticking one of the 4x4's but wouldn't present a shot.

All of our animals have been in the older timber and mostly using the river/creek bottoms for moving.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 06:47 PM

Must be nice. We did check out some creek bottoms. Maybe we should have spent more time in them. most have roads very close to them but we did find one creek bottom that was pretty sh!tty to get into.
Posted by: chromefish

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 09:34 PM

I can tell you I hike into an area where you will see nobody and hunt a big stand of timber and alder with a river bottom right below. We have had good success for many years but this year has been really bad. Last year was not great but saw lots of elk. Could have shot a really nice bull if it was legal but we always get our cows. I know its not just me and my buddy because I have a lot of other friends hunting up there and it has been really bad. Sucks to see a good thing come to an end because I really loved our spot.
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/26/12 09:56 PM

bummer man. hopefully the herd will bounce back. They're selling all the extra tags to thin the herd due to hoof rot and apparently starvation. from what I've read the elk aren't getting the browse they really need due to spraying the clear cuts, and they're filling up on vegetation that doesn't have much nutritional value. I'm not sure how much truth there is to that. just something I read.
Posted by: Ikissmykiss

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 01:13 AM

Well Drew, it sounds like you are putting in the valiant college effort that is required for archery hunting, but it just doesn't happen every time. Just like fishing, being a successful hunter is mostly about being in the right place at the right time. If you're an archery hunter, be prepared to eat tag soup every so often, that's just the way it is.

I too hunted last weekend for elk...finally made it up to the area I hunt for elk (Table Mountain), and, unsurprisingly, found that it was burnt to a crisp. I took some pics and will post them if I get some time. We hunted down lower, at the snowline, saw 4 big branched antlered bulls and no spikes or anterless elk, which are the only legal elk for that area. Still had fun though; saw alot of big mature mule deer (which we also couldn't shoot) running around willy nilly chasing does.

Posted by: BroodBuster

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 08:46 AM

So Ike are you guiding me around this weekend after, "big mature mule deer running around willy nilly chasing does?"

I've got gnarly new tires and chains so lets go get some!
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 11:24 AM

I'd love to see the pics Ike. As the elk season creeps to the end I'll be happy if I even get a chance to see one and hopefully attempt a stalk on it. So far I only stalked two deer in the early season and neither of those worked out but it sure was a rush! This work week can't end soon enough. Cant wait to melt back into the timber!
Posted by: deerlick

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 02:57 PM

at least youll have a good guide this time, lol
Posted by: steeliedrew

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 03:37 PM

haha. Yeah dude. I'm pumped.
Posted by: Ikissmykiss

Re: Winston unit help. - 11/28/12 09:41 PM

Originally Posted By: BroodBuster
So Ike are you guiding me around this weekend after, "big mature mule deer running around willy nilly chasing does?"

I've got gnarly new tires and chains so lets go get some!

Sweet! I'm game...hopefully I won't have to work Friday and we can leave early.