Four JS Outfitters
'08 DIY Public Land elk hunt- Story&Pics
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Scoot 29-Sep-08
Scoot 29-Sep-08
Scoot 29-Sep-08
ORARCHER 29-Sep-08
whitetailaddict 29-Sep-08
Scoot 30-Sep-08
Scoot 30-Sep-08
Scoot 30-Sep-08
Scoot 30-Sep-08
Scoot 30-Sep-08
Z Barebow 30-Sep-08
Scoot 01-Oct-08
Scoot 01-Oct-08
BB 02-Oct-08
Scoot 02-Oct-08
Scoot 02-Oct-08
Scoot 02-Oct-08
Scoot 02-Oct-08
Waterfowler 02-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
DonVathome 03-Oct-08
deflex 03-Oct-08
Z Barebow 03-Oct-08
HotLZ 03-Oct-08
Scoot 03-Oct-08
Beav 03-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
Scoot 06-Oct-08
midwest@work 06-Oct-08
WoodMoose 06-Oct-08
Elk Dog 06-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
midwest@work 07-Oct-08
Horn Donkey 07-Oct-08
Beav 07-Oct-08
nijimasu 07-Oct-08
whitetailaddict 07-Oct-08
bowhuntress 07-Oct-08
Scoot 07-Oct-08
whitetailaddict 07-Oct-08
LitlRiddle 07-Oct-08
Z Barebow 07-Oct-08
Gobblestopper 07-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
midwest@work 08-Oct-08
Gobblestopper 08-Oct-08
tom stapf 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Seminole 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
nijimasu 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
Scoot 08-Oct-08
COarcher 08-Oct-08
Horn Donkey 08-Oct-08
kota-man 08-Oct-08
gamedog 09-Oct-08
travis@work 09-Oct-08
Bluegillman 09-Oct-08
Elk Dog 09-Oct-08
Jasper 10-Oct-08
BB 10-Oct-08
Florida Mike 10-Oct-08
Cooper Nyah 10-Oct-08
GregE 14-Jul-09
Scoot 14-Jul-09
From: Scoot
29-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Hi Everyone,

I'm back with another elk hunting adventure from this Sep. After seeing some of the past posts from BB and StrikeratHome, I wanted to give a story another shot. I'm not the photographer or storyteller either of those gentlemen are, but I'll do my best to do our trip justice.

Some of you may remember last year's story, which featured my brother Rod, my buddy Steve (aka, Slevy), and me. This year the same three of us went back to WY, but we were happy to add our buddy Jon to the mix in our immediate group this year (he actually went out last year a couple weeks before us). Here's the link to last year's hunt, in case you forgot or didn't see it in the first place:

http://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=562851

Some of the pics don't seem to be working in last year's story, but that link will give you the basic idea.

Unlike last year's story, I plan to write this one up in sections, one day at a time. I'll give you the daily report and let you know what we did and saw each day. It should be fun for me to write up and hopefully it'll be fun for you to follow along. As you'll see, this year's hunt was filled with highs and lows, but overall, was an absolutely wonderful trip. Most importantly, the four of us got along really well, all enjoy each other's company, and had a blast hunting together. I couldn't imagine going on a hunt like this with three better guys that my brother and two great buddies. All of these guys are dang good hunters, do their share of work around camp and with a downed animal, and are people who I genuinely enjoy being with.

I’ll do my best to give you the details of each day in a way that gives you an idea of what it was like for us while we were there. One unfortunate side note- we had some camera problems this year. Rod and Slevy both ended up with dead batteries in their cameras, and that cost us a lot of great pictures that would have really helped paint the picture of our elk hunt. I’ll do my best to convey their experiences with words, but I’ll try my best to not get too wordy or “over the top” with my writing. I hope you enjoy the story. So… kick back, read along, and feel free to chime in if you’d like.

The start of the trip: Jon drove from the Twin Cities to my place in Fargo on Thurs, Sep. 11th. He got to Fargo around 2:00 or so. Rod showed up at my place soon after (he only lives a few minutes from my place). We then loaded up all our gear in Rod and Jon’s trucks and headed for Bismarck, to pick up Slevy. Before picking up Slevy, we had nine coolers (many of them with just ice, in hopes of filling them with elk meat), two bikes (some areas are “no motorized vehicle” areas and bikes can really make travel much more efficient), three five gallon water coolers, three bows, a block target, three large bags of camo, a solar camp shower, a too many more things to include here. After picking up Slevy, we officially had “everything but the kitchen sink”. We were loaded for bear (well… actually elk) and rip roarin’ to go. We drove all night and about 16 hours (give or take about few hours- we were getting a little delirious at that point), pulled into the area we’d call home for the next week-and-a-half. Last year we used Rod’s Cabela’s Guide Series tent, which was great for the three of us. This year, we were totally spoiled regarding accomidations: Slevy is now the President of the Mule Deer Foundation in Minot, ND and we were allowed to take their Cabela’s Alaknak II. Or, if you prefer, the Taj Mahal of tents! We jokingly called it the “perfect four man tent”. It was spacious, solid, and really nice. Here’s a pic of it.

From: Scoot
29-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 1 of the Hunt: After getting camp set up a little before noon, we quick grabbed some grub and teamed up. Jon and I headed one way and Rod and Slevy headed another. Jon and I headed to “Lookout West”, a rocky outcropping that gives a great view of some cuts and lower ground to the West. This spot is also known as “the spot Scoot lost his bugle last year”, for obvious reasons. Here’s part of what you can see from “Lookout West”.

From: Scoot
29-Sep-08
Our expectations weren’t too high given that it was early afternoon and not exactly prime time to be spotting elk by glassing. However, before long, Jon spotted two elk- both bulls. One was a 5 x 5 with a dark chocolate rack, but he didn’t see the other one very well. However, I got a good look at it- it was an ivory tipped 6 x 6 that probably would have scored in the 330 to 340 range. He was nice… We slinked our way down to try get in position for a set up on these bulls. It took nearly an hour to get where the bulls had been. We tried to cow call to them, but with no luck. They’d vamoosed outta there and were long gone or not at all interested. Jon and I did some snooping after that, generally heading back towards camp. We tried to find bulls using locator bugles, but to no avail. Finally, just as we got near camp I fired off one last locator bugle. It was immediately answered with a big ‘ol scream of a bugle back! However, the return call came right from our camp… Slevy, that dirty bugger was messing with us! I turned to Jon and said, “That came from camp- I’ll bet a beer it was Slevy”. Jon agreed and we plodded along back to camp. However, something was bugging both Jon and me- the bugle that we’d heard was returned really quickly- was Slevy just sitting there waiting to hear us? Maybe… Also, the bugle back sounded really good… almost too good. However, neither of us vocalized these thoughts and kept acting as if we “knew” it was Slevy. Just when we rounded the last corner towards camp IT happened. We looked ahead, expecting to see Rod and Slevy at camp , but instead were met with a stare-down with a 350 class bull! Grrrrrrrr… this was the exact scenario I’d been waiting all year for- a fired up bull that responded to a locator bugle with aggression and he was clearly looking for a fight. I wanted to go in screamin’ a fired up, ticked off bugle and get him coming at us doing the same. I’d literally dreamt of this scenario many times since we had it happen last year. Instead, we watched that stud 6 x 6 turn and sprint off. I called him to a stop, got him to turn around and look back at us through some pines, but the jig was up and he boogied outta there in a hurry. Jon and I were shocked, surprised, and totally ashamed of our stupidity. We’d definitely stew about that complete debacle for the next several days.

When we got back to camp we got the report from Rod and Slevy. They’d had a good day too. The moved in on a nice 5 point and got in a good position for a set up, with Rod calling and Slevy the shooter. Rod coaxed the 5 x 5 into 53 yards. Slevy ranged it—“53” on the range finder. He held his 50 yard pin a little high and let ‘er rip! His arrow sailed perfectly- it was headed just behind the shoulder, a little high, but dropping right into the “bread basket”. But… it didn’t drop enough- it literally skipped harmlessly off the elk’s back, taking only a small tuft of hair with it. The elk turned, and quickly became a brown blur down the draw. That encounter essentially ended their evening. After the elk ran off, Slevy ranged the shot again- “53” was what his range finder told him again. Rod then ranged it, but his range finder had an angle compensation feature that Slevy’s didn’t- true distance = 53 yards, but the distance Slevy should have shot it for, due to the sharp angle was only 40 yards. Bummer. Unlike Jon and me, they had done everything right, but just didn’t manage to connect. It was a very cool interaction and one that wouldn’t soon forget.

Day 1 was in the books and we were hungry and tired. We quickly ate some grub and hit the rack.

From: ORARCHER
29-Sep-08
Cool sounds like a great time !!

29-Sep-08
I remember last years', can't wait to finish this years. Congrats on a good time!

From: Scoot
30-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 2

The alarm went off at 5:00 AM and we woke up to a cold, crisp morning. The stars were out and it was really beautiful at 8300’. Compared to Fargo at this time of year the moon looked like we could almost reach out and touch it. We got dressed pretty quickly, ate a breakfast of Nutragrain bars, Oatmeal-To-Go bars, and Poptarts, all washed down with a glass of milk. Then, we were off. We’d decided to start in roughly the same locale this morning. Rod and I were a team and Jon and Slevy joined forces, but the four of us all headed a couple miles West of camp together to glass from an area that offered a great vantage. Rod and Slevy had seen some elk in that area the night before, but they were too far to do anything about in the failing light of the evening. The four of us glassed for about 20 or 30 minutes, but saw nothing. Rod and Slevy were pretty surprised given the amount of activity they’d seen there the night before.

We decided to split up, with Jon and Slevy heading South and Rod and I would head North. Just after Jon and Slevy had left but before we left the area, I ripped off a locator bugle. We were greeted with a response from the draw below- it wasn’t far from us, but it was too thick and steep to see into the area where the bugle came from. We scurried down the draw and quickly got set up for a calling sequence. I bugled out to the bull and he responded quickly. Soon, it became apparent he wasn’t coming in, so we moved closer and tried again. This time, we had three different bulls firing back- the first one we were calling, a bull down the draw several hundred yards, and one up high, further down the ridge we’d just come from. We set up quickly and tried again. The bull responded, but he’d once again moved further down the draw from us. Rod and I quickly moved down the draw too, while listening to the bull up on the ridge. I followed Rod, as he was the shooter. Just as we tipped over a rise and were about to do a set, I saw Rod’s body posture go from intense and cautious to slumped and annoyed- he’d just crested the hill only to see the bull buckle, turn, and burn. He boogied outta there in a hurry! Weird… Rod said the bull wasn’t looking in his direction at all and the wind was perfect.

While we discussed what to do next I noticed something out of the corner of my eye- it was Jon and Slevy… they were standing in the same spot the bull had just ran from. What Rod and I didn’t know was that the “other bull” up on the ridge was Slevy calling. We peaked over the hill just in time to see the bull bolt away from our hunting companions! He hadn’t run from seeing or smelling Rod at all. We went over and talked to the boys to get the report. When we got there Slevy was all smiles and Jon looked a little shell shocked. They’d bugled this bull a total of three times, moving closer each time. After the last bugle, Slevy was just about to fire up his video camera, because the bull was pretty close. However, just as he tried to reach in his pack, he saw antler tips and had to stop. Jon, however, was totally ready. He saw the bull and prepared to draw. The bull came to 25 yards and stood broadside for quite a while. He looked intently for the other bull who was making all the racket, but couldn’t find him. Jon, after seeing the bull well, a respectable 5 x 5, decided to not shoot. It was the first full morning of the hunt, he’d already seen two big 6 x 6’s, and he knew what kind of bulls were in the area. He let the bull walk (run). Slevy, on the other hand, wanted to shoot this bull. Jon and Slevy had talked about it and Jon wasn’t going to shoot a 5 point, according to his “master plan”. Slevy had just had a perfect 35 yard broadside shot on the bull, but didn’t dare take it. Even though Jon said he wouldn’t shoot a 5 point, Slevy figured this was a pretty respectable 5 point bull and Jon might change his mind pretty quickly when it was 25 yards out and broadside- so Slevy didn’t shoot. I sure thought that was a kind and honorable gesture on Slevy’s part, but I wondered if both he and Jon would regret their decisions later… It was a great start to the day!

Here's a pic that Jon took of Slevy rippin' off a locator bugle- fitting given that he'd called in a nice 5 point for him with that very bugle not long before.

From: Scoot
30-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

The rest of this day was pretty tough sleddin’- Rod and I saw two raghorns across a draw mid-morning. They’d been quiet, but I cow called to them to see what they’d do. After the second mew the two bulls turned tail and trotted 180 degrees from us- they wanted no part of the cow that was calling out to them. That was it for us, except to get a couple shots of this guy:

From: Scoot
30-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
I literally took this picture from five feet away:

From: Scoot
30-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Slevy and Jon struggled too. They put on some pretty good miles, but didn’t see much. Late in the afternoon the weather turned goofy on us. A dense cold wind moved in from the North. A low lying cloud came in on us. Here’s a pic of what we saw- I tried to get a pic before the cloud set in initially, but it moved in too fast. Here’s the first pic of the cloud.

From: Scoot
30-Sep-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Here’s what it looked like five minutes later.

Five minutes after that you literally couldn’t see anything across the draw. In fact, our visibility was cut to about 50 yards. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in about 30 minutes, the air was really wet, and the wind was blowing around 25 or 30 mph. Not knowing quite what the weather was going to do to us, we hunted our way towards camp. We ended the night a little bit early, since the bulls had completely shut up and we were concerned the weather might deteriorate into something pretty nasty. It was really cold in the tent that night. I froze! Temps hit the mid-20’s and I’d brought a sleeping bag that’d let me deal with moderate to warm evenings more than cold evenings. I didn’t sleep a lot, but everyone else seemed pretty cozy in their nice and warm sleeping bags. The image of that bull near camp the first night really stuck in my craw still- I could see it plain as day and was still annoyed at my idiocy. I hoped Jon and I wouldn't have to eat tag soup because of that screw up.

From: Z Barebow
30-Sep-08
GREAT!

I was wondering when we would here about your trip.

Now, good luck to me getting any work done until I get the full story.!

From: Scoot
01-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 3

It was very cold and a little breezy when we woke up on Sun. The plan was for Rod and Jon to head for the area Jon had passed up the 5 point yesterday and Slevy and I were going to head “way down” NW of camp and work our way along the private/public boundary to the East. About 400 yards out of camp we heard a bull start bugling. He was right in Rod and Jon’s path, so they tried to move in on him. They had to wait for good light for a little bit, but the bull didn’t seem to be going anywhere and he pretty clearly wanted attention. He was whaling out this annoying whiney bugle that just seemed to beg, “Somebody, please come talk to me!” When they got enough light, Rod moved in. Rod got to inside of 100 yards of the bull, the wind was perfect, the bull hadn’t (couldn’t) seen Rod and Jon dropped a few soft cow calls to the bull. As Slevy and I walked towards our area, I thought, “I hope Jon tries to cow call that bull- he clearly is looking for company.” Well… apparently we were both dead wrong. The bulls response to the cow calls was to turn tail and run straight away from them. The only response heard to the cow calls was the sound of hooves beating the rocks in the other direction. Bummer. The rest of the day was really tough for Rod and Jon. The bulls were really quiet in their area and they didn’t see too much either.

Slevy and I burned some serious boot leather and built some blisters this day. We started a long ways from camp and skirted along the private/public land border. Our plan was to catch bulls that had wandered onto the public land from the private land. We’d get below them, taking advantage of the downhill morning wind. This would be much easier than trying to work our way towards bulls on private land and getting stuck at the property line. As we worked our way along the sharp hill, working East, we stopped at one point to admire the dark timber and really steep hill- the one we’d have to climb later to get back to camp. You can’t really appreciate the "steepness" of it from this picture, but here’s what it looked like- it would be pretty relevant to our hunt later.

From: Scoot
01-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Slevy and I continued East and made a blind set at a smallish park- nothing. As we left the park, I stumbled into what looked to be a beautiful wallow. It turned out to be a really great wallow- it had three smaller wallowing areas and it’d really been getting pounded. The smell of elk pee was strong in that wallow.

We sat on the wallow for an hour or so, but typical of us, we got bored. It always amazes me can sit on stand for hours when in MN and ND hunting whitetails, but when out in that country we always feel the need to keep on moving. We had moved about 400 yards when I ripped off a locator bugle. We got an immediate response from the private land (i.e., the wrong) side of the property line. We moved in right up to the property line and fired back another bugle. Unfortunately, the wind switched and as we got down there and the bull must have gotten a nose full of our scent (which was growing by the day, I might add).

However, after I got done calling I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a decent 5 point heading uphill back to our West- he was headed to the wallow. Slevy and I busted our butts back to the wallow as fast as we could. Of course, the bull could walk faster than we could run. When we got to within 80 yards of the wallow the bull caught our movement and busted out of there. Dang! If we’d just been a little more patient we’d have had a bull right in our lap at the wallow! Again, grrrrrrrrrr………… Here’s a picture of the wallow that eventually became known as “self-pity” (i.e., to wallow in self-pity: a lame play on words that you can blame/thank Rod for).

After that Slevy and I made the hellish trek back to camp- it seemed like it was straight uphill for the first half mile, then a little better for the next ¾ mile or so.. The bulls were dead quiet and we saw nothing after that on Day 3. Still no blood on any hands or arrows, despite several pretty close encounters…

From: BB
02-Oct-08
Great photos and detail Scott. I can't wait to see what happens.

But it looks like you guys are having a great bowhunt. BB

From: Scoot
02-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 4

In the morning Slevy decides to go to the “self-pity wallow”. Since Rod and I were due to team up, Jon decided to go to the wallow where he shot his bull last year. So, Slevy headed one way and Rod, Jon, and I headed another. Jon would walk with us for about 1 ½ miles before pealing off to the North to his lucky wallow. Despite the bulls being quiet as a mouse last night we heard a few bugles in the morning, however, nothing close. At the point where Jon was to leave us we stopped to glass for a while. This was very near where Jon had passed up the 5 point a couple days ago. Jon had already commented on how he was really starting to wonder if that was such a good idea and he again repeated the old adage, “never pass up a bull on the first day that you’d shoot on the last day.” He and I don’t actually adhere to that adage, but regardless, Jon was really starting to doubt his decision to not pull the trigger on that easy chip shot. While glassing, Rod spotted a pretty nice bull a loooong ways away. It was probably over 1 ½ miles from us, and getting to it would require dropping down into a sharp draw, walking the length of this draw, crossing some low open areas that were in pretty plain view of the elk, going past the elk 600 – 800 yards, up the mountain, then over a ridge. After all that, we’d just have to hope the elk was still there. Jon headed to his wallow and Rod and I started the 1 ½ hour hike to get somewhere near the bull. On the way, we bumped these two whitetails.

From: Scoot
02-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Here’s a pic of Rod with the area the bull was in behind him.

From: Scoot
02-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
The hill looked pretty tame from a distance, but was steep and rugged in spots. We took our time (had no choice) and finally made it up to the top. We crested over the ridge and Rod asked, “I’ll paper, rock, scissors you to see who gets to shoot?” Nope, Rod had spotted it and he would be the shooter. I was there as a “caller and hauler” if we needed either or both. However, we slowly searched the area we thought the bull was in and couldn’t see hide nor hair of him. Rod suggested I crest over the hill to the East and he’d make a pass a little lower, since that’s where he seemed to be headed. I crested over the hill to find a beautiful bench that served to connect the draw on one side of the ridge to the draw on the other side. It was really a prefect spot for a big ‘ol bull to spend his days unbothered by pests like us. I slowly crept along and got to a great spot to survey the entire bench, which was about the size of a football field or so. Nothing. Rod worked his area over and found nothing as well. Rod came over near me and we talked about what to do next. While we talked, we made some noise- I opened a pack “ZZZZIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPP”, and Rod opened the velcro of his GPS pouch. After we made a general plan to heads towards camp, I tried a locator bugle, just in case the bull was a little ways off, but within earshot still. Seconds after I ripped the bugle we heard him- he busted out of some brush not 80 yards from us, zipped up a rocky hillside, and was gone. We ran after him to see where he went, but he was gone. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr... Not sure if it was the zipper, velcro, our talking, or if he just didn’t want to respond to the bugle, but I’m inclined to believe we blew it on this one and he’d heard us. On the way back to camp we bumped a 6 x 6 out of his bed at 30 yards. Just as I smelled him, I tried to put my hand up to stop Rod. Before I could even get my hand all the way up I saw him stand up out of his bed and run away. Grrrrrrrr… Luck just didn’t seem to be in our favor.

Slevy got shut out at the wallow. Jon also laid an egg at his wallow. However, Jon was able to make a friend. This little guy slinked in on him while he was half-asleep at the wallow during the late morning. Anyone know what kind of snake that is?

From: Scoot
02-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
All four of us met back at camp in the early afternoon. The plan was for Rod and Slevy to go back to the wallow and for Jon and me to burn some more boot leather. Jon and I engaged two different bulls that afternoon/evening, but both times the wind would screw us as we got in close. We were about 150 yards from these two bulls, but that was all the wind would hold out for. I often hear the wind in the mountains is fickle. Well, I know people who have fickle in-laws. If those in-laws are fickle, the wind we dealt with each day was a real witch! We also got close on another bull, which we had inside of 100 yards. On this bull, Jon got to the edge of the property line between private and public land, but he couldn’t go any further. I have to admit, we were really tempted to move in that last 50 or so yards, but we made the obviously right call and backed out, leaving the hung up bull screaming at us and challenging us to come and fight him. That was tough.

On the way back to camp we saw a couple spikes down a draw, where we’d seen them a couple times already. They were located in “Spike Draw”, which was also known as “the draw where Slevy missed the 5 point on the first day”. For some reason, though, Slevy preferred the name, “Spike Draw”. Here’s a pic of the spikes.

We got back to camp that night right at dark. We found Rod and Slevy there, and they had good news- Slevy had hit a respectable 5 point while on the wallow! Awesome! We were all pumped to hear this. They’d been on the wallow for several hours with no action. Very suddenly, they heard a stick snap- a bull had moved into the wallow without so much as a sound. He was close and Slevy had to pick up his bow and draw in an instant. The bull quickly walked into the opening Slevy had, stopped for a half-second, but was obviously still on the move. Slevy felt a little rushed, but good about the shot. He quickly settled the pin in and let this arrow go. Slevy’s got white arrow wraps and fletchings on his arrows, and both Rod and Slevy saw the arrow enter the bulls chest very well. They described the hit as “not perfect, but one that should definitely do the job just fine”. According to Rod, the arrow had entered 4-5 inches back of a heart shot, and 2-3 inches lower than a top-of-the-heart shot. However, clearly lungs and definitely not bad, by any means. After a wait, they followed the blood for a while and found a great blood trail- big 2 foot x 2 foot pools of blood, with big bubbles in it. But the blood started to get less as they went, and with failing light, they didn’t want to push things. They headed for camp and we decided to wait until morning to go back. We were excited and the news looked promising for packing out meat in the morning. However, Slevy wasn’t feeling so happy about the deal, as anyone who’s ever had to wait overnight to track after they’ve hit an animal can relate to. Ironically, we ate my mom’s homemade BBQ’s that night- Slevy’s favorite food in the world. He ate a little, but just couldn’t get himself to eat. It would be a long, sleepless night for him for sure… But, given the solid hit, the great blood trail, and two good trackers (Jon and Slevy are good trackers, Rod and I are colorblind and pretty worthless when it comes to finding blood), the rest of us were pretty positive and encouraged about how things looked in the morning.

From: Waterfowler
02-Oct-08
and??????????

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 5

In the morning we all loaded up with frame packs and gear to take care of a downed elk, then headed to the self-pity wallow where Slevy had hit the elk. When we got there, things looked to me just like they’d been described- it was a blood trail even I could follow, and that takes a pretty nice blood trail! We followed the trail for about 120 yards or so, then found three very large pools of blood- each was about 2 feet in diameter and all three had lots of bubbles in them, indicating a lung hit. Things looked good. While we had followed the first 120 yards of the trail in about two minutes, the next 50 yards took us approximately an hour. It was incredible, after those three big spots, the dang thing just seemed to almost quit bleeding. We tracked it another 50 yards, then lost the blood completely. Back and forth we’d go looking for the next spot of blood, but to no avail. After the trail had completely evaded us, we did a systematic search for about 4 hours- we spread out 30 or so yards from each other and walked back and forth about ½ mile on each side of the last spot of blood, each pass covering higher or lower ground on the sharp breaking mountainside. Nothing. Slevy finally called off the search, thanking each of us for our efforts and feeling terrible for the loss of the animal. We all felt terrible.

Here are a few pics of the mountain in the area where we were in making pass after pass, looking for the elk. Obviously, it was tough and rugged dark timber with tons of places for a dead elk to be. Who knows, we may have walked right past it.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
FYI- I know telling this part of the story may set us up for getting flamed for hitting and not successfully taking an animal. We certainly don’t want to be the “idiots from MN or ND” who the residents of the West get frustrated with for this sort of thing. But, I’m telling it here because it happened, it can happen to anyone, and it was part of our experience. Almost anyone who’s hunted for a long time has lost an animal and can relate to this. As a group, we’ve had excellent success regarding recovery rate, but this one just didn’t happen. I was proud of the effort we put in trying to recover the animal and I was in agreement that it was time to “pull the plug” when we did. In the end, we made one final sweep on the line the bull was last traveling and headed back towards camp for a rest.

After some lunch and a little shooting at camp, we again split up. Despite all the comotion of the morning search near “self-pity”, Rod and Slevy were convinced another bull would come into that wallow. Also, 95% of the walking we’d done in the morning was well above the wallow, since the bull went straight uphill for the first 150 yards or so, and all of the bulls seemed to be accessing the wallow from below. Jon and I went “way down” to the NW of camp again.

After glassing for a while and seeing nothing, we moved to the West, again along the property line between private and public land. We stopped in a perfect looking park and did a blind set- nothing. We headed West out of the park, but stayed just in the timber along the edge of it. Just when we got to the far West end of the park, Jon stopped and looked back at me so we could formulate some sort of more specific plan. As we were taking, something caught my eye just over the top of his head- I’d seen a glint of light, then some movement. I focused past the leaves that were immediately behind Jon and saw one stud of a bull! He was a solid 340+ 6 x 6 and not far away- maybe 60 yards. I knocked an arrow and pulled out my range finder- 55 yards. Although the bull was in the relative open, I was blocked by some of the pines and junipers that were close to me. I slowly shuffled left and found a spot where I would have a more open shot. I ranged him and he was exactly 60 yards. Sixty yards may seem like a long shot, but it’s exactly the distance I had decided I’d shoot out to. I’ve got a sliding sight on my bow and I can very reliably shoot inside of a volleyball at 60 yards. I felt good about the situation- I slid my sight to 60 and drew. I settled the pin just on the back edge of his shoulder, leveled my level in my sight, relaxed… but I suddenly noticed a branch five yards in front of me that I was afraid I’d hit. I tried to kneel, but there was a lower branch that was then in the way. I stood half-way back up and tried to steady myself with knees half-bent. There, I found an opening I knew I could fit my arrow easily though. This whole process took about three seconds, but seemed like it was in slow motion. While I was doing the equivalent of jumping jacks, trying to find an opening, the bull had spotted movement. Now, I was standing with half-bent knees and with an alerted bull staring right at me from 60 yards. Finally, I settled my pin back behind his shoulder. I noticed the bend in my knees, a lot more waver in my pin, and I tried to calm and steady myself for the shot. I still thought I could send my arrow towards the point I wanted to, but I was really afraid the bull would jump the string- he was staring right at me and fully aware something wasn't right. At 60 yards with an alert bull, I was afraid I’d hit the bull poorly. I slowly let my draw down and let the stud 6 x 6 walk. Uuuuuuuggggghhhhh… that was so tough to do. Here’s a picture of me that Jon took after the encounter.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
After that, Jon and I got one more bulge response. We ended up dogging the bull for almost a mile, but he was gaining ground and didn’t seem to want to play with us. One interesting interaction that occurred during that call and chase session happened when Jon was running down a trail in front of me (it was his turn to be the shooter, so he was in front). While he trotted along in front of me, he suddenly snapped his head down to his right and started back/side-stepping around a bush. His eyes were nearly popping out of his head! I knew instantly what had happened, but listened to Jon tell about how he’d seen movement a few feet ahead of his quick steps and noticed a rattle snake on the path. Fortunately, the snake slithered into the bush along the trail and left Jon alone. One thing about Jon, he definitely seems to hang out with snakes!

We made the long trek back to camp, but stopped to admire the moon as we got near camp.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
When we got to camp, we found Rod and Slevy already there. They had one whale of a story to share with us… They’d gotten down to the wallow at almost 1:00. After they waited a whole 30 minutes (what patience they have!), the action started. Rod was the shooter and he was ready. Two elk came in- a cow and a bull, with the bull about 50 or so yards behind the cow. The cow came right into the wallow area, but the bull was reluctant to follow- he was an old, wily bull who’d been around a while. Although neither Rod or Slevy were certain, he was either a monster 6 x 6 or a very nice 7 x 7. Any way you slice it, he was a shooter bull by nearly anyone’s standards. The cow showed no reservations, and she walked right in to about 5 yards from the boys! The bull started to close the distance and was following his gal, just like he was supposed to. However, as is often the case in that darn country, one little swirl of the wind resulted in the cow getting a whiff of the fellas at the wallow (of course, the fact that she was a mere dozen or so feet away at that point didn’t help matters). She probably didn’t get a good whiff, but it was enough to get her to act a little weird, bobbing her head, and taking a couple of awkward steps away from the wallow. The bull picked up on this immediately and got nervous. He made a line for a route away from the wallow. However, he crossed an opening at a fast walk and Rod let ‘er rip! The arrow sailed perfectly towards the sweet spot in the elk’s ribcage. It would have smacked those ribs too, if it hadn’t been for a small stick, about the diameter of a nickel, that was positioned a few feet short of the bull. The arrow hit the stick and angled sharply downward. It caught a tuft of hair on the back of the bull’s front leg, but nothing more. The arrow had literally nicked some fur, but that was it. Fortunately, the boys had brought down the video camera and the whole thing was on tape! They watched it over and over and it pretty clearly showed that it was just the slightest of touches to his leg and the bull would be fine. Rod recovered his arrow- there were a couple hairs on it and no blood. There also wasn’t a single drop of blood on the trail.

While the boys talked about what had just unfolded, they repositioned themselves with Slevy as the shooter. The woods had just quieted down when another bull came strolling in to the wallow. They’d literally just waited 15 minutes since the last bull had left! This guy was a 5 x 5 and he came in fast. However, he hung up at about 30 yards, with no easy shot presenting itself. Soon, the bull worked his way across the sidehill and Slevy had an open shot. Also, the bull was right next to a tree he’d ranged earlier- he remembered the tree was 30 yards. He drew back and let the arrow go. It looked perfect, heading just behind the crease of the shoulder and ribs. Then… the arrow fell harmlessly to the earth, just under the bull. What?!? “What just happened?”, screamed through Slevy’s head. The elk had no idea what’d just happened, but he knew something was terribly wrong. He boogied out of there before Slevy could even reach for another arrow. Slevy looked carefully at his bow, everything was perfect. He looked at the spot the elk stood- he’s right by the “30 yard tree”. Then, in the foreground of Slevy’s view he saw a second “30 yard tree”. What he hadn’t seen when he was ranging the small juniper at 30 yards was that there was one just behind it at 48 yards that looked nearly identical. The bull was standing by the “wrong 30 yard tree”! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr………. Slevy was miffed, to say the least! It was a bad luck deal and again, fortune refused to smile on us. So close, but no meat to pack out and nothing to fill our freezers.

But… it was early (remember, I said they had a whale of a story). Each of the boys had missed due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, but it was again Rod’s turn and they were apparently in one serious hotbed of bull activity. This time it took serious patience from what that’d grown used to that day- the poor guys had to wait for nearly 45 minutes before another bull came in! This one didn’t just wander in though, Slevy had bugled him in from a long ways away. Slevy would fire off a bugle and this dude would rip one right back, at first from 1000 or more yards. This game continued for a while, with the bull bugling back and sounding worked up, but not coming closer. After ten minutes of this though, the bull got closer with each successive bugle- 800 yards, 600, 400, 200… he was comin’! Slevy fired off one last bugle and the bull fired back from about 100 yards. Seconds later they spotted him- he was a nice looking 6 x 6. His rack had long fronts, he was nice, and at that point there was no doubt he was a shooter. He turned broadside at 48 yards and Rod had a wide open shot. Slevy softly whispered “just be patient, he’ll come closer”. Rod’s response was unspoken, but clearly, “No way!”. Most here don’t know Rod, but the dude can flat out shoot and he had a bull broadside and unaware, at a range he felt totally comfortable at. He drew, settled the pin a little higher than usual (it was a pretty steep downhill shot and he wanted it to enter high and exit low), and let the arrow go. They not only watched the arrow bury right where it should, they got it on camera! The bull tore off down the hill and sounded like he plowed over and through every tree within 150 yards. On the video we watched at camp it literally sounds like a steam engine barrelling donw the hill! Rod and Slevy said it was clearly a “death run”. They gave him an hour and got on his trail. It didn’t take long- they found him 150 yards straight down the hill, all piled up in the dark timber. Yes!!! Rod and Slevy quartered his bull, cut the horns off, boned out one shoulder, and hauled out what they could. By the time they got back to camp that night it was getting late- too late to finish up with any light. So, they decided to get what was left in the morning. It’d be a 1 ½ mile haul up the hellishly steep dark timber I showed in a picture earlier, but it’d be the best kind of climb.

Oh, BTW, this was a time when an unfortunate thing happened- Rod busted out his camera where his bull went down only to find that the battery was stone dead. Slevy didn’t bring his because he knew Rod had one. Major bummer!!! So, despite our best efforts, we don’t have any pictures of Rod and his bull at the location where it went down. Here’s a nice shot of Rod when he got back to camp.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
We don’t drink much in hunting camp- maybe a beer or two at night, but that's typically about it. We go to hunt, not party. That night, though, we broke out a celebratory shot (or two) in honor of Rod’s bull. It was great! I shook my brother’s hand and honestly choked up a little bit- I was so happy for him. Everyone was happy for Rod, and Jon and I were envious that we’d missed out on the crazy action at the wallow!

The end of the trip was starting to come into view. I couldn’t help but continue to think about the bull Jon and I had botched that first night near camp. Jon dwelled on the 5 point he’d passed up the next morning. Slevy was still upset about the bull he’d lost. However, in spite of those thoughts we relished the success Rod had that day and really all felt as if the Team had been successful. It was great!

A little side note: at this point in the trip our feet, especially our heels, were taking a serious beating. I’ve got bone spurs on my heels, so they were really taking a whoopin’. Each night at camp I’d have to remove a blood soaked sock and wash off all the blood from my heels. Here’s a picture of my heel after I cleaned it up really good one night.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
But it wasn’t just me- we all had sore feet and legs and most of us had multiple hot spots on our feet. Each morning included the taping-of-the-feet ritual, where we’d do our best to prevent any further damage by covering all of the tender spots with medical or athletic tape. Most of us were using many feet of tape per foot by this time in the trip. Also, even though we were making use of a spike camp, we were getting pretty dang stinky by this point in the trip too. We could wash up a little each night at camp, but we’d all pretty much run out of clean camo and we were recycling sweaty clothes. One final related note, this was the day that some major chafing set in for at least a couple of us. I don’t think I need to comment on that any further…

A final pic showing the highlight of the day!

From: DonVathome
03-Oct-08
Great pics and story! Thanks!

From: deflex
03-Oct-08
Thanks, I really enjoyed your story!

From: Z Barebow
03-Oct-08
Keep in mind there are 4 in the party.

I think Paul Harvey will come back with "The Rest of The Story"!

From: HotLZ
03-Oct-08
It was an 8 day hunt boys. He's only done 5.

From: Scoot
03-Oct-08
FYI- that's HotLZ in the last pic I posted!

Yep, daily reports... more to come. Not sure if I'll get a chance to post over the weekend or not.

From: Beav
03-Oct-08
Great story and pics. I can't wait for the rest of it!

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 6

We spent a good part of the next morning boning and packing out Rod’s elk. We experienced a burn in our legs on the climb back that was incredible! But… the pack out want remarkably well. The first 1/2 - 3/4 mile was though the nasty dark and fallen timber I showed in the last post. We took our time, as we weren’t in a hurry, and took lots of stops. Up to this point Jon had been running everyone ragged up and down that mountain. However, Jon had the heaviest pack on this climb out and it really did a nice job to serve as an equalizer for the rest of us after that! I didn’t realize how heavy Jon’s pack was or I’d have taken some of it from him. However, the side effect of slowing him down a little after that was certainly welcome!!! Sorry Jon, but prior to that you were an absolute machine, after that, I was happy you couldn’t shift into 5th gear anymore!

After we got back to camp it was late morning. There was a bedding area with a nearby wallow not too far from camp that I thought might be good to check out while Rod boned out his elk. Jon and I headed towards that wallow and Slevy had stayed at the self-pity wallow for a while. Jon and I did a blind set a couple hundred yards North of the wallow. I did some soft cow calling, but dropped a few slightly whiney, somewhat pre-estrus mews in there too. We waited for what seemed like an eternity, which was probably close to ten minutes. I then walked up to Jon to talk about our next plan. When I got up to him and asked him what the plan was, a bull busted through the dark timber away from us. Grrrrrrrrrrrr…….. He’d come in completely silent and we hadn’t been patient enough. When he took off he was a mere 50 yards from us! If we’d just been a little more patient, I have no doubt Jon would have shot that bull. The wind was perfect, the bull seemed to be headed to the perfect spot for where Jon was set up, and I was in a great spot to see and call from. We couldn’t buy a break!

Next Jon and I plodded around looking for the wallow. It was in a slightly different location according to each of our GPSs, but after walking past it on the East side, we came back to it and found it. We got in a good spot with regard to the wind and set up. Jon was the shooter and I was the photographer/caller. Here’s a picture of the wallow from the view of our crude, makeshift little blind.

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
After nearly an hour of nothingness, WADD (Western Attention Deficit Disorder- I can’t sit still when I’m hunting out West) got the best of me. I asked Jon if he wanted me to rip off a bugle and he said, “Sure”. I shot out a pretty non-threatening, run of the mill locator bugle. The call had no sooner left the bugle when I call back came about 250 yards away, up the mountain from us. After a minute I called back only to hear a return call from 100 yards away! The bull was hot and ticked off! He came in grunting and growling and we even heard him glunk a few times. He fired a bugle back, but hung up at about 80 yards. Quickly, his next bugle came from 150 yards… he was moving away as soon as he’d come in. We quickly moved to action- we ran after him, being sure to go around the North side of the wallow, so the wind would be in our favor. We closed the distance and fired off another bugle. The bull screamed back and was about 150 yards from us again. We repeated this and now he wasn’t more than 100 yards away, although we couldn’t see him because of the dense timber. Regardless of visuals, we were closing in on him and he was coming towards us. We moved a little closer and I’m convinced we were about to seal the deal, when that stinkin’ fickle wind smacked me in the back of the neck. It turned 180 degrees on us and was now blowing right at the bull. We tried to take quick action and scream at him immediately, hoping to beat the wind with a quick call and response from him. However, the jig was up and he never responded to another bugle. Have I mentioned “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr………” yet??? We talked about it and what we think happened near the wallow is that he was coming right in when he crossed the path we’d walked when we hadn’t found the wallow immediately. That’s almost exactly where he’d turned tail and headed the other direction. If it wasn’t for bad luck, Jon and I wouldn’t have had any luck at all to that point! I’ll admit, we were getting somewhat frustrated, but we continued to have the time of our lives.

We went back to camp and ate some lunch. Jon and Rod decided to head to the wallow while Slevy and I decided to go “way down” again. Slevy and I had a busy evening together. Once we walked most of the way to “way down”, we got on a hot bull, but couldn’t close the distance. Next, we walked right up on a nice 5 point, which was right behind a juniper bush in a relatively open park. We walked to within 30 yards of him before he saw us and we saw him. Unfortunately, these two things happened at the exact same time and he was gone in a blink. Later, I fired off a locator bugle. We got a response from about 800 yards away, from an area that was over a rise where we couldn’t see. We scurried up a couple hundred yards ahead and climbed a small rocky area that gave us a better vantage point. I fired off another locator bugle, hoping to better pinpoint the bull that’d responded, now that we could see the country better. Suddenly, Slevy said, “Scoot, get down… he’s right there.” I ducked down and tried to knock an arrow. A completely different bull than had responded before had come charging out of his hidey hole to check us out. However, he didn’t go far before he crossed our wind and the it was over before it started- he turned 90 degrees and was gone before I ever even saw him. Her's a pictue I took of Slevy, not long after that encounter.

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
An hour later Slevy and I got on two bulls that were running together- one was an “unknown” bull and the other was a nice 6 x 6. Slevy got to within 80 yards of the nice 6. I, however, was behind him calling to the unknown bull, which was 100 yards behind the 6. I couldn’t see what was happening with Slevy, but I knew the unknown bull had hung up 100 – 150 yards out. Being the genius I am, I tried a “threat sequence” by imitating a pre-estrus cow that wants to go to the other bull (i.e., the one you’re hunting), but a spike bull is keeping her hooked out away from the other bull. The idea is the bull you’re hunting will take the stance of, “No way a little ‘ol spike is going to get that hot cow, I have to do something about this!) However, the nice 6 point heard this and promptly turned around and trotted off. I unknowingly had ruined Slevy’s stalk on the nice 6 x 6. I had no way of knowing what was happening, but I felt bad it’d worked out the way it did.

We noticed two things on this day: 1) the aspens really started to turn color, and 2) the bulls seemed to be more serious in their responses to our calls. Maybe things were making a change in our favor...

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Jon and Rod got shut out at the wallow that afternoon/evening. Except for one thing, five minutes after they left a bull bugled from just below the wallow. Jon hustled back to the wallow, but never did see the bull. Jon said the wind was marginal at that point and he may have been smelled. Who knows… but no bull showed itself there. They left the wallow with some light left, hoping to stumble into a bull on the way back. Here's a pic Rod took of Jon on the walk back.

Day 6 was in the books. Rod was tagged out. Slevy had opportunities, but not been able to fill his tag. Jon had passed up a decent 5 point and joined me in the debacle near camp the first night. Besides messing up the bull the first night, I had drawn on a nice bull, but couldn't find a shot I felt comfortable with. The three of us had all come very close, but still had our tags in hand. Our time was starting to run a little short. Jon and I had talked about the likelihood of us all tagging out at this point. Jon said there's no way it could happen, simply due to the logistics of packing meat out. I remained slightly optimistic, thinking that maybe two of us could take a bull on the same day. I knew it wasn't realistic, but I remained hopeful...

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 7 (second to the last day)

The plan for Day 7 was for Rod and Slevy to head straight West of camp, past where Jon had passed on the five point on the second morning of the trip. Jon and I headed back to the wallow South of camp to start the day. Before we got there, we got a response to a locator bugle closer to camp. However, that bull vanished on us and we never heard him again. The wallow and the area around it was a complete bust for us that morning- we saw only a couple mule deer. Here’s a pic of a mulie doe we saw.

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
We decided to head back “way down” and sit wallows- I’d sit the wallow that was “way, way down” and Jon would sit on the wallow he’d shot his bull on last year, or one very near it. We spent several hours there, but it was remarkably quiet. I saw a 5 point cruising through the woods 70-80 yards from me at about 12:30, but he wasn’t headed my way and I couldn’t coax him closer with cow calls. Soon I noticed some nasty looking clouds to the SW of us. There was some lightening and it looked like it might rain hard on us. Since we were a long ways from camp, we decided to hunt back closer to camp in case the skies “opened up” us.

A side note- On the way back to camp, I stumbled into the rack of a nice bull when we were walking out of a little park. The bull looked to have been dead for a couple months, but his antlers were in good shape, minus some mice chewing on the 5th and 6th points on one side. I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to take it or not, so I left it. Later that night, I asked a local fella at the trailhead about it- he said I could only take it if I had permission from a WY Game and Fish rep. He gave me the phone number of a guy and I called and left a message, explaining where the bull was, that it was on public land, where we were camping at, etc. I asked if I could take the bull or not and if I’d have to tag it if I was allowed to take it. I didn’t know if I’d hear back, but after dinner I tried to call home and found a return message on my phone. The gentleman returned my call and gave me permission to take the rack. Cool!

At about 4:00 we got pretty close to camp and it looked like it’d really start to rain hard soon. Also, several lightening strikes had hit the mountain not too far from us and started small fires. Here’s a couple shots of the results of these lightening strikes.

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
06-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
With the dark timber in the area serving as a giant tinder box, we didn’t want to be far from the (illusion of the) safety of the trucks. So we headed right into camp for a while. When we got there we found Rod and Slevy at camp. We figured they’d been scared back to camp by the storm too. However, once we got there Slevy had a great surprise for us- he busted out the rack of the bull he’d taken late that morning! Awesome! Although Jon and I were tired, sore, and even a little bit jealous, we were happy as could be for Slevy. He’d stuck with it and gotten redemption! We settled in for some grub and listened to the story of how Slevy got his bull.

Mid-morning found Rod and Slevy in the general area we call “Moon Pie Flats”. Moon Pie Flats is a bench near the top of a peak that has the Rocky Mountain version of crop circles- large circles (five to 20 feet in diameter) that are cut down 6 – 12 inches into the rocks. We have no idea what the heck they are… Once past there, they glassed an area that looked like it “should” hold a bull. Soon, Slevy spotted one. However, after trying to get on it, they lost sight of it. They got to the spot they’d last seen it and figured it had to have taken one of two paths- one went up, one went down. They chose up. After a while, the trail split- one went left, one went right. They went right. 100 yards later, they crested over the top of a rock only to find a bull immediately below them! This was exactly the stroke of luck they needed! The bull was a 4 x 5, and given that it was the second-to-the-last day of the hunt, there was no doubt he was a shooter. Slevy quickly knocked an arrow, Rod ranged the slightly quartering away bull at 48 yards (compensating for any elevation drop), Slevy drew, settled his pin in on a tuft of hair, and released the arrow. Slevy didn’t see his arrow hit the bull, but he heard it hit rock- not exactly what he was hoping to see and hear. The bull bucked and took off like a bat outta you-know-where. Slevy said out loud, “Are you kiddin’ me? I missed.” They watched the bull run off 100 yards away. He then stopped, looked back at the area he’d just left, and stood there for a second. “Slevy asked Rod, “How’d I miss?” When suddenly, the bull wiggled, his back end wobbled, and dropped! Slevy hadn’t missed at all- in fact, his shot was absolutely perfect and Slevy heard his arrow hit rock after the pass-through. They boys went over to bull, busted out Slevy’s camera and discovered that the camera’s on/off switch had been bumped. Sadly, Slevy’s camera was just as stone dead as Rod’s was at his bull. Unbelievable! So… sorry, but we have no in-the-field pictures of Slevy with his bull either. Bummer. However, here’s a shot of Slevy at camp with his bull.

Rod and Slevy boned out the elk in the field and made two very long trips getting it back to camp. I think it was at that point that Rod started to realize that shooting the first bull of the trip essentially makes you a pack mule for the rest of the trip! He had become our “callin’ and haulin’” boy. After two trips on his bull and two trips on Slevy’s bull, he was one whipped pup! Not a word of whining or complaining came from him, or anyone else though. That’s one great thing about this group- nobody felt sorry for themselves during the trip, everyone had fun, and nobody complained. You gotta love it!

One day left. Rod and Slevy were tagged out. Jon and I had come sooo close, but couldn’t seal the deal. We were happy as could be for Rod and Slevy, but Jon and I wanted to fill our tags and we were keenly aware that was very unlikely at this point. I was of two minds at that point: on one hand, I couldn’t help but think 2/4 was pretty dang good, but on the other hand I couldn’t help but want to fill my tag. I felt that Jon and I would have to get it done in the AM tomorrow, or the odds would catch up with us and we’d eat tag soup. Still, I kept reminding myself that 2/4 was great and that we’d all played a major role in filling the two tags we’d made good on. I conceded that regardless of the happenings of tomorrow, the trip was a major success and we’d all had a blast. With that in mind, maybe tag soup wouldn’t taste so bad…

From: midwest@work
06-Oct-08
GREAT STORY!

From: WoodMoose
06-Oct-08
glad you guys had a good time, and congrast on the animals

From: Elk Dog
06-Oct-08
Great photos and story! Thank you for sharing your hunt with us. May the wind be in your face......

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Thanks guys. I was starting to wonder if anyone was reading this...

Day 8 (final day of the hunt)

We started the day off with Slevy and me going down to the NE of the self-pity wallow. Rod and Jon were headed back to the area where Slevy had shot his bull yesterday. After shooting the bull, they’d seen three other decent bulls in the area, so it seemed like a logical choice. After our standard breakfast, we split up and put on a few miles. The morning started interesting for Slevy and me. We went down a draw and quickly found an interested bull. He sounded big and mean, and he was pretty interested in our calling right away. We called back and forth with him, moving in tighter after each call. We finally came to a large park, about the size of a football field. We then called back and forth with this bull for 15 minutes. Slevy would bugle at him and he’d fire right back. However, it became apparent he wasn’t going to come any closer and we were in a tough spot- we couldn’t get at him to the East, because he’d wind us. We couldn’t go very far West, because the West side of the park was a steep rocky cliff that we couldn’t climb. Our only shot was to cross the open park and risk being seen by the bull- we had no other option. We carefully and quietly slinked our way across the park and set up in a likely looking spot, about 60 yards from where we thought the bull was bugling from. We hadn’t seen anything in the aspen stand he’d been, but that’s pretty typical- it’s thick and nasty in some of those spots, and you often don’t see the elk that are relatively close to you there. Slevy screamed a bugle at the bull, hoping to get him to respond aggressively to the intrusion in his living room… nothing. We waited a few minutes and he tried again. This time the bull responded from about 400 yards away. Just as we’d feared, it was a done deal- he’d spotted something fishy and boogered outta there when we were crossing the park.

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
After that we worked our way to the West and closer to the self-pity wallow. We didn’t intercept anything the least bit close, so we settled into a wallow sit for a while. We tucked into the “lucky spot” at self-pity and waited. We really weren’t sure how long we’d stay there or what our plan was. While sitting there, we could hear a couple bears fighting over the carcass of Rod’s elk, not 150 yards below us. It was fun to listen to them growl at and try intimidate each other. But the more we thought about it, the more we started to wonder if we should stay there. The elk were all coming to the wallow from below. There were two load and mad bears very near the trail that they took coming up to the wallow. Plus, there’d been a whole lot of human activity by us at that wallow over the past several days. It was noon, time was running out quickly, and I wanted to get over to the area where that dead elk was so I could pick up his rack if it worked out. We decided it was time to move. We’d work our way West and see what we could see. On the way West, we heard what can only be described as a “rut fest” on the private land below us. There were at least ten bulls screamin’ and yellin’ at each other down there. We could hear the satellite bulls screeching and screaming and you could hear one old heard bull grunting and growling at them, trying to keep the away from his harem. It was great fun listening to them, but time was short and we clearly couldn’t go after them due to the fact that they were at least 600 yards onto private land. So, we left that entertainment and kept working West. At about 2:30 in the afternoon we found the rack of the bull we’d discovered previously. Given that we now had permission from a G & F officer, we cleaned it up, strapped it on my pack, and went on our merry way. It was at that point in the trip that I finally realized that I almost certainly wouldn’t shoot an elk. The only real reason I decided to take the rack then was that I knew I wouldn’t have another rack to carry back. Slevy and I considered the find of this dead bull a trophy in itself and I really came to peace with the idea of taking this trophy home, instead of a bull that I’d actually shot. Here's a shot of me with it on my back.

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
We talked about it for a while, and decided to end the trip in the area of the “way, way down wallow”. That was in the area where I’d screwed up Slevy’s stalk on the nice 6 X 6 with my “expert calling”. After bouncing around a bit, trying to decide the best spot to settle in at, we finally hid in a grassy spot near a large aspen tree. Here's the view we had from our little hidey hole.

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
We sat there quietly, occasionally talking about the trip, reflecting on our adventures, dropping a few soft cow calls once in a while, and generally enjoying the moment. It was great- it was one of only a truely relaxing, care-free sorts of moments in the trip where I wasn’t intensely focused on a goal or endpoint of some sort. After 45 minutes, I mentioned to Steve I wanted to rip off a bugle and see if anything would answer. I hit a locator bugle and got an immediate response from about 200 yards away. I waited a minute or so and was just about to fire off another bugle, to see if the bull was coming near us or going away from us, when the bull started grunting wickedly from 100 yards. He was extremely fired up and coming at us on a string! I saw antler tips first, then I saw the bull- he wasn’t huge, but I knew with great certainty I’d try take him if I could. Slevy held the range finder at the ready and softly whispered repeatedly, “He’s nice, he’s really nice”. Not the most settling words I’d ever heard in the field! The bull walked around a blow-down and stood facing us at 48 yards (Slevy had ranged him and whispered the distance). He didn’t know it, but the decision he was about to make would likely determine his fate- if he went to the small wallowing area to his left, I had only a tiny window to get a shot, which would likely not happen. If he went to the wallow to his right, he’d be in a perfect spot for me to get a shot. He literally looked right, looked left, stepped left, stepped right, then finally chose left! Uuuuuggghhhh, can you believe it?!? I did have one small window though, so as his head passed behind three aspen trees, I started to draw. At that exact moment, something happened- I’m certain the bull didn’t see us, but I believe he caught the slightest hint of our scent. He raised and lowered his head while turning back to look in our general direction. I was at half draw and had to stop instantly. He looked our way for about 30 seconds, all of which I remained at almost exactly half-draw- no easy feat considering I’m pulling almost 70 lbs. Just as I really started to shake with fatigue in my arms, the bull turned 180 degrees and casually walked back the way he’d just come. However, he wasn’t leaving, he was simply changing his mind and going the wallow I needed him to be at for a shot. Apparently he’d caught the slightest of whiffs of us, but smelled nothing else and settled back down. It was an incredible stroke of luck, to say the least! He again went behind the three aspens and I drew. I then heard Slevy whisper, “29, 29, 28, 28, 28”… He’d stopped nearly broadside at 28 yards. With the goofy wind in that area, I figured I wouldn’t get a better chance than that, so I settled my 30 yard pin in on the back edge of his shoulder and squeezed the release. WHACK! The bull tore off in a brown blur. Slevy saw my arrow on the opposite side of the bull- it’d passed through, with the exception of the fletchings apparently catching in the exit hole. We gave him 45 minutes and decided we couldn’t afford to wait any longer- storms appeared to be coming in and we didn’t want to lose a blood trail to rain. Although there wasn’t much blood for the first 50 yards, Slevy found blood soon after and we found him piled up 150 yards down the trail. Although not exactly huge, he was a 6 x 7 and I was and am extremely proud to have taken him. Here’s a shot right where we found him.

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08
Daylight was burning and we quickly got to work quartering him and boning what we would be able to get back to camp that night. Since I already had a rack on my pack, I left his rack and carried the other one out. I’d have to get his headgear tomorrow. We made it back to the well beaten path we’d taken many times before that week just in time to need to turn on our headlamps. It got dark quickly that night, with the waning moon at about ¾ full, but the 1 ¼ mile we had left was an easy and gradual climb back to camp and we knew it well. We talked about Jon and how we hoped he’d lucked into an opportunity too. I commented that at least with the rack I found he’d a rack to pose with for pictures!

As we got to the bottom of the last hill, we noticed two headlamps coming from the North- it had to be Rod and Jon. Hmmm… it was late, too late to be getting back to camp, unless something delayed them. I couldn't help but be hopeful, but I also I had the pessimistic thought, “They must have stuck it out to the bitter end, given that it was the last day.” We met them at the bottom of the hill and they immediately knew we’d shot an elk (not sure if it was the ear-to-ear grin or the big ol’ rack on my back). We asked for their report and they told us that at 1:00 or so they went to the self-pity wallow. We’d not been gone for an hour when they showed up, but they had no idea where we were or that we’d even been there. It was all quiet until mid-afternoon. Then, Jon told us a lone cow wandered into the wallowing area. Given it was the last day and with extremely limited time, Jon shot her at 15 yards. They were making the final trip out with the last of the meat. Wonderful! We congratulated Jon and there were smiles around. Miraculously, we’d all tagged out, with two of us filling our tags in the final afternoon! I showed the boys a picture of the bull I shot and asked to see a picture of Jon’s cow. Unfortunately, they told us that in their haste to get their work on the animal done, they hadn’t even bothered to take a picture. Again… bummer. But, not matter- we’d all tagged out and we cracked a celebratory shot out to acknowledge the accomplishment, as well as celebrate the conclusion of a wonderful hunt.

You’d think that’s the end of the story, wouldn’t you? However, it isn’t. In fact, what happened after that was pretty incredible! While we were sitting around the tent enjoying a celebratory drink…

From: midwest@work
07-Oct-08
This better not wait 'till tomorrow! That's just plain cruel!

From: Horn Donkey
07-Oct-08
Out with it man!

Great story and pics, I've really enjoyed the read.

From: Beav
07-Oct-08
I can't take it!

From: nijimasu
07-Oct-08
AAAAUGH!

I CAN"T WAIT. POST IT! POST IT! POST IT!

07-Oct-08
Scoot, you no good *&^%&$*^(&^()&*-I been waiting a week for the ending of this story. I'm excited you got an elk, but "Now, for the rest of the story!"

From: bowhuntress
07-Oct-08
Scoot,

I have been glued to your posts everyday! You are one great story teller! Congratulations to all of you for your super success. May the elk gods continue to smile upon you and your friends.

bowhuntress

From: Scoot
07-Oct-08
Oh, did I mention that I saved the best for last?...

07-Oct-08
Everything is going through my head. You all, already have elk. There is no way you could get more tags. The only better thing, the SWEDISH bikini team had to show up somehow?

From: LitlRiddle
07-Oct-08
Oh come on this just isn't right....spill it! By the way congrats to all of you. Now finish the thing....lol

From: Z Barebow
07-Oct-08
whitetailaddict

I am picturing the bus of Hawaiian Tropic women from "Dumb and Dumber"!

Since both Scoot and his brother Rod are married, I hope they refuse the job offer as "oil boys", and just give the ladies directions!

07-Oct-08
You're rotten.............what a great story with consistent postings and now you hang us out there.....not right man, not right.

BTW: Congrats on such a great hunt and greater story for us. Can't wait to read the final.

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Day 8 (continued) We hadn’t been at camp long when Slevy and I told the whole story of our day’s happenings to Rod and Jon. They had lots of questions and were clearly happy for us. Once we finished with our story, we asked Jon to give us more details about the cow he’d shot earlier in the afternoon. He was just about to start the story, when he excused himself to use the rest room (any old location behind the tent) first. I saw his headlamp quickly returning, but he was shining his light right in my eyes- I couldn’t see a thing. Suddenly, he turned the light away from us and showed us the rack of this bull! That lying bugger hadn’t shot a cow at all- he’d shot a HUGE 5 x 5. This thing is a monster! Our camp went from happy as could be to completely ecstatic! Here’s a picture of the bull he’d shot…

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
Apparently his “cow story” was mostly true- Rod and Jon had put on a ton of miles by noon and hadn’t seen a thing. They then showed up at the self-pity wallow about an hour after Slevy and I left. Again, they had no idea we had even been there at the time. After a couple hours of quiet time, they started to hear some activity below them. There were a number of cows, some satellite bulls, and a big bull coming in! The big bull made only one noise the entire time he came in- he was glunking, and doing it loudly. He glunked his way into the wallow for over 100 yards, dropping glunk after glunk after glunk- very cool!

As the bull approached to about 15 yards, Jon drew- a shot appeared just seconds away. However, the bull stopped and ate some grass and a cow moved in to 6 yards. The cow was facing right at Jon, which wouldn’t have been much of a problem, if she hadn’t done it from inside of 20 feet and looking in Jon’s direction for three straight minutes. Jon didn’t dare move or he’d be busted and it’d be over in a heartbeat. He held his draw, then he held it some more. Finally, he started to shake, the he shook some more. Finally, the cow put her head down for a second and Jon let his draw down. The bull moved in tighter and was now at about 12 yards. However, Jon had absolutely no shot. Rod was a couple yards to Jon’s right and he had a wide open view/shot to the bull, but Rod wasn’t the shooter! Rod finally couldn’t take it… he very softly whispered, “Find a shot.” Jon responded with, “I have no shot”, as he had two trees right in front of him. But Rod would have none of it and replied, “MAKE a shot”. Finally, the bull walked a few yards to the East, Rod’s general direction- exactly what Jon needed. Jon slowly and carefully tried to move his bow to his right so he could draw and shoot. But, Jon was so focused on the bull he didn’t see his broadhead headed for the tree immediately in front of him- “SSSSSSCCCRRRAAAAAAAPPPPPPPEEEE”, went the arrow on the tree. Things were apparently meant to be, though, and neither the cow at 6 yards nor the bull at 11 yards even batted an eyelash. Jon drew and got his pin on the bull’s ribs in one motion. Rod wasn’t really in the way, but leaned back to be 100% sure he was completely clear of Jon’s arrow. “ZIP” went the arrow, then all heck broke loose! Elk were flying everywhere! It all happened so fast that Jon wasn’t even sure he had hit the bull, let alone made a good shot. It was only 11 yards, so he felt good about it, but he somehow hadn’t seen the arrow enter the bull’s side. Rod wasn’t sure either, because he was staring at the bull’s rack the entire time! Soon they found Jon’s arrow covered in bright red blood and soon after that they found the bull. Here’s a few more pics of the monster 5 x 5.

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
… and that’s the end of our hunting story. I hope you have enjoyed it half as much as we did! I’ve also really enjoyed writing up the story. I hope my writing hasn’t been too over the top and I really hope nobody interprets me telling the story as bragging or being grandiose- that’s certainly not my motivation or intention. I enjoy writing up hunting stories like this and I’ve been lucky enough to read write ups of others who have written similar stories. I loved their stories and I hope everyone has enjoyed ours.

A few other notes about the trip: My dad, mom, and uncle all considered joining us at camp this year, but it didn’t work out for a handful of reasons. I wish they could have come, but, but maybe next time. I think we’d all really like that.

Sorry if the pictures seemed biased towards Jon and me, but that's due to Rod and Slevy's cameras crapping out on them- not due to any bias on my part.

Thanks to Steve Foss for help with the pictures- he's a genius with his keen eyes and a master with the software he uses.

Thanks again to Rod, Jon, and Slevy- I’ve never shared a hunting camp with finer fellas and I hope we can do it again and again for many years to come.

Here are a few final pics from our trip. Here's a shot of Jon and me hauling out the final load of meat for the trip.

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: midwest@work
08-Oct-08
That was great! Thanks for the surprise ending!

08-Oct-08
An ending worth waiting for........awesome. In the top three for stories I've read on the bowsite. Thanks again!!

From: tom stapf
08-Oct-08
Awesome hunt! Good story teller and pictures too... now tell us exactly where you were so we can avoid the place. There obviously isn't a bull left in that area for next year!!! Sounds like I need to sit on wallows a little more...

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08
Thanks much! It's really fun to write up our hunts like this.

I'm having a tough time getting the 'puter to take the final few pics. I'll keep trying...

From: Seminole
08-Oct-08
Great hunt and story Scoot!

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo
FYI- this pic is with the bull I found, not the one I shot. I'm not trying to fool anyone with this. However, when we did pictures Jon and I still had one trip left to haul out the remainder of the meat and carry back the rack. So, I used what I had available...

From: nijimasu
08-Oct-08
Scoot-

Congratulations on your beasts, but more importantly on a great hunt with good friends. Reading your story has been perfect to get me really wound up to pester some elk- I leave for an Arizona archery elk hunt in 2 days. Though my tag won't allow me the luxury of whacking big'uns like you guys did, I doubt I'll be able to sleep between now and then- and your story didn't help a bit.

Thanks for taking the trouble to write this up. I can't believe I got to read it for free- I hope you publish the pics and stories someday.

Hunt safe!

Dale

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: Scoot
08-Oct-08

Scoot's embedded Photo
Scoot's embedded Photo

From: COarcher
08-Oct-08
That last picture is bad A$$

Congrats on a successful hunt.

From: Horn Donkey
08-Oct-08
I second that COarcher....That last picture is what dreams are made of...

I'd have that sumbitch framed and name it, "THE PERFECT TRIP"

From: kota-man
08-Oct-08
awesome story...awesome pics.

From: gamedog
09-Oct-08
great story and i wish i could of followed you guys just to watch all the stares you got from other cars passing by. congrats!

From: travis@work
09-Oct-08
Great stuff....can`t wait to go next season!!!!!!!!

From: Bluegillman
09-Oct-08
Hey Scoot, good story and wish I was with you guys! OOOHHH that sore on your and buddy's heels I came across some kind of socks from Covert Threads over at Archerytalk.com. I have one and haven't tried them yet for cold weather. Thought those would help you guys on the soreness...check them out.

From: Elk Dog
09-Oct-08
Great story and photos! Thanks for sharing you season with us. May the wind(continue)to be in your face............

From: Jasper
10-Oct-08
Scoot,

This is one of the best stories I've read in awhile. Thanks very much for sharing and taking us along with you. Great job! Looking forward to next year..........

From: BB
10-Oct-08
Scoot, what a great story and what fine photos, but more importantly to you, what great, documented memories, of what has to be a trip and hunt of a lifetime.

Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing and letting us come along. You did an outstanding job in the field and here at the Bowsite!

Best wishes and may you and your friends have many more great bow hunts. BB

From: Florida Mike
10-Oct-08
Great story, thanks for sharing your memories. MWS.

From: Cooper Nyah
10-Oct-08
Truely inspiring, that all.

From: GregE
14-Jul-09
Let's get this back to the top.

WEll done!!!

From: Scoot
14-Jul-09
Well... there's a blast from the past! It was fun for me to look back through these pics...

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