Success – 2013 Elk hunt

Success - 2013 Elk hunt 001As my elk season comes to a close I would like to take a minute and reflect on the roller coaster ride this last month has been.  The first few days of the season resulted in not even seeing a single elk.  I was getting a little down in the mouth and then to top it off I had a big rain storm move through the area.

Defeated I packed things up and headed to the trail head.  By the time I got there I was soaking wet from head to toe.  I started to change out of my wet clothes when the sun peeked through the clouds so I decided you can’t shoot an elk sitting in the truck.  I poured the water out of my boots, slipped them back on and headed back up the trail.

I new a spot that the elk move through on their way to their feeding grounds.  I was hoping I would be able to find a herd and cut them off.  I made my way up the mountain and waited for a herd to show up.  Sitting there waiting I heard a far off bugle from up the canyon.  Pretty soon the bugles were getting closer.  I new the trail they were coming down so I quickly made my way to it.  I got set up and waited for the elk to show up.  Pretty soon I could make out elk filtering through the pine trees.  Things were going to work out just like it was scripted.  The cows moved pass me and I waited for the bull to show up.  Next thing I know the bull bugles from down the canyon.  He had split off from the cows and took a different trail.  At this point there was nothing I could do so I packed it up and headed for the truck.

I headed for home to let things dry out for a few days.  When I returned the temp had risen to the high 80’s.  I knew with these types of temps that the elk would be hitting the wallows to cool off.  I hit the trail intending to sit one of the wallows in the area.  I climbed in my stand and waited for what the evening would bring.  I was sitting watching a couple of squirrels go through their yearly ritual of gathering food for the winter when I heard a branch break.  I knew something was coming in so I grabbed my bow and got ready.

Slowly I started to see elk coming to the water.  My anticipation grew as the elk broke into the open, then I realized they were not the size of elk I wanted.  They were just small rag horns and not what I was looking to shoot.  I enjoyed watching them do what elk do.   They wallowed for
awhile then they started sparring with each other.  I did not shoot anything that night but it was still a successful evening.  Anytime you can be that close to animals and have them not know you are anywhere around is a success in my book.

We’ll guess what, after that another rain storm moved in.  It seems like every time I went hunting this past month I had a rain storm move through the area.  I can deal with getting wet every once in a while, but this was getting a little out of control.  Time to head home and dry out again.

I headed back to work for a few days and started to watch the weather report.  I got a break in the weather so I packed up again and headed out.  I had a good feeling about this trip. The temp had dropped about 20 degrees so I figured the elk would be fired up.  I pulled into the trail head around midnight and got out of the truck to listen.  I heard a couple of bugles from up the canyon which got me excited for the morning hunt.  I crawled into my sleeping bag to catch a few hours of sleep before it was time to get up.

The alarm went off at 4 am and I quickly got up and dressed and headed up the trail.  My destination was a rock outcropping that would give me a good glassing spot for the morning hunt.  I made it to the rock outcropping just as it was getting light.  I sat down and started to glass the opposite hillside.  Pretty soon I could hear a bull bulging while working his way up the canyon.  I knew the area that they would be going to bed down for the day so I packed up and headed up the hill.  I was hoping to get to the spot before the elk did.  I made it there before the elk and set up for a calling sequence. I let out a couple of cow calls and the bull answered me back.  I let out a few more calls and the bull called back only this time he was much closer.  I got ready and I started seeing cows filter through the timber.  Next thing I knew I was surrounded by the cows.  The bull was moving through further down the hill but I couldn’t move because of all the cows. A small gust of wind hit me in the back and I knew I was busted. The cows lifted their heads and then took off on a dead run taking the bull with them.  So close yet so far away.

The next day I was a little wore out from the hike the day before so I decided to sit one of my stands in the area.  I was working my way along a ridge line on my way to the stand when I noticed a bull bedded a couple hundred yards away.  He was bedded in a position that gave me a good chance for a stalk.  I worked my way around to get the wind in my favor and slowly started working down on the bull.  I worked my way into 35 yards and got ready for the bull to stand up.  Everything was going to work out the way it is supposed to.  I sat on my knees with an arrow nocked for about 20 minutes when I felt a slight breeze slap me in the back of the neck.  The bull quickly got up and hit the trail on a dead run.

Game over.

After my disappointing stalk I continued on towards my stand.  When I got there I noticed that a bull had recently been in and wallowed.  I pulled my card on my trail camera and climbed into my stand.  I pulled my camera out of my pack to check the pictures.  I just had to laugh, I had a 320 class bull come in and wallowed 20 minutes before I got there. That’s how my luck had gone up to this point.  What’s a guy to do?

I settled into the stand in hopes that another bull would show up.  It was a slow evening up to the last half hour of shooting light.  I could hear cows talking back and forth coming my direction.  This time of the season cows are very seldom without a bull.   I grabbed my bow and waited for the elk to show up.  The cows piled into the waterhole and started drinking.  For what ever reason the bull decided he was going to stay on the hill.  As the light faded I was covered up with cows but the bull didn’t show up.  I had to wait until about 30 minutes after dark until the last cow feed off with the rest of the group.  I didn’t shoot anything but it was still a successful evening hunt.  Anytime you can be that close to wild animals and watch them interact with each other I consider a success.

I knew from the evening before where I would be.  I had a good feeling about this day.  It had been hot and dry for about a week so I knew the elk would want to wallow.  I had high hopes of what the evening would bring.  I climbed into my stand and waited for what the evening would bring.

I had been in my stand for a couple of hours when I heard a far off bugle.

About 5 minutes later I heard the same bull bugle again only this time he was a little closer.   The bull bugled again and he was closer and still moving towards the wallow.  I grabbed my bow and got ready for the bull to show up.

The bull bugled one more time and I figured he was about 80 yards out.  Then the bull busted out into the small clearing bugled one more time and piled into the wallow.

I quickly counted six points per side and knew it was a bull I would be happy taking.  The only problem was the angle he was at his near shoulder was back covering part of his vitals.  I waited for him to take a step forward to expose his vitals to me.  He took that step forward and gave me a slightly quartering away shot.  I drew back and settled my pin on the spot I wanted my arrow to enter.  I slowly applied pressure to my trigger and my arrow was off.  My arrow slammed through him so fast I was uncertain if I had hit him.  He exploded out of the wallow and ran about 30 yards and stopped to look around.  I could see blood on the side of the bull and knew I had made a perfect shot.  He started to get a little shaky and then lay down.   A short time later he put his head down and I knew he was done for good.  The whole ordeal seem like it took forever but in reality it lasted less then a minute.  It always amazes me how fast a well placed arrow will take an animal.

I climbed out of the stand and made my way to the bull.  I took several pictures with the self timer on my camera and started the butchering process.  I quarter out the bull and got it hung in a tree to cool off for the night.  I loaded up my pack with one load and headed off the mountain.  As I was heading down the trail I couldn’t help but reflect on all my past hunts.  I have been blessed to harvest several big game animals with my bow.  This bull marks my 14th elk I have killed with my bow.  Out of those 14 elk I have been able to harvest 9 six points or better bulls.  I have been truly blessed.  Only 330 more days and I will be in the mountains again chasing these animals I have truly come to love.

I can’t wait, time to start preparing.  Thanks for taking the time to read.
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