Contributors to this thread:
"Rocky Mountain elk are the ultimate representative of elk hunting and, in a broader sense, adventure bowhuting." -Tom Miranda, Adventure Bowhunter
Totally agree, Tom! At least I like to think that as I've never been after sheep or goat or leopard. I rely on you Bowsiters to give me that fix until I get lucky in the draws. I live to bowhunt My absolute favorite thing to chase is elk, in the nastiest terrain I can find. I'll admit, I often dream of the day I'll kill a "bomber" whitetail, but for now, what makes my heart pound the hardest, is bowhunting elk in the high country. It's where/when I feel most alive...
The following is the account of my favorite month, September, 2014. I'll attempt to get it completed as quickly as I can, but I won't be done today. I hope to finish by next Monday so if ya can't stand the cliff-hangers, wait until then to read.
Atta-boy! We need a great elk story! C
Will so true ! You did the best thing by leaving the east coast to head west . I only hope i can one day get to live in the mountains !!
Will i have been lucky enough to hunt sheep , and not to take away from the hunt but ,I find Elk hunting a lot more rewarding of a species to put on the ground with archery gear . If given only one species to chase it would be Rocky mountain ELK !!
Opening weekend, I almost always make a 4-6 day trip to one of my OTC areas here in Colorado. This year, my buddy could only do 3. Joe and I made the drive on Friday afternoon prior to the opener talking/debating/hashing out where we'd be in the grey of first light the following day. We decided on a secluded basin we'd found on a whim in 2013 after heading the drunken babble of a NR telling us of a great bull in there. We had high hopes of encountering the solid 320 bull with ivory tips and blackish antlers that we'd seen in the spot the previous year. The spot is tough to access and without trails and a likely spot for a bull to remain unmolested through the off-season. The pic is from a scouting trip. No roads leading here!
I've been waiting for this one!
I'll give it my best, Charlie!
Good to hear, Louis, cuz I'm so addicted I never think to plan for anything els!
We set up camp that afternoon and glassed a few hard to reach places which are visible from the road. Elk were around and had us second guessing our choice for opening morning, but we stuck with the plan. We had a few drinks and told some lies before attempting a few hours of sleep. I woke up several times to mews and chirps IN camp alongside a major road. This killed any chance I had of sleeping so I just sat there smiling, soaking it all in, waiting for our 4 am departure time. Life is Good
It's about friggin time Will! Been waiting for this one;) Can't wait to hear it through! I have to agree, if I could only hunt one animal with a bow, it would be rocky mountain elk! Nothing else like it!
Been waiting for this one x2!
The next morning we were up and on the trail a little early. It was about an hour to where we planned to wait and listen in the dark before making our final approach on the open basin. Not far up the trail and "You've got to be kidding me, another dang headlamp!" In 8 years of hunting this area we've never seen a single hunter in any of our "secret" spots. We caught up in short order. He was wheezing. I think he was trying to out-hike us. Good luck with that. We'd already decided to either change our plan or invite him with us as neither of us would shoot a cow or a rag on the first day. He wasn't too friendly and turned out he was heading in about a quarter of the distance were going so we wished him luck and zipped on by, plan intact.
Reaching the spine which surrounded the bowl-shaped basin we hoped old "Dark Horns" was feeding in, we slipped off our packs, checked our rigs/arrows, and waiting for light. When it got light enough to see our pins, we slipped down the ridge to get a good view of the basin as the sun eased into view, sparkling on frost in some of the most spectacular country I've seen.
As the basin came into view, this is what we saw; two bulls in good position for a stalk, wind steady in our faces. Only problem, they're dinks, both 4x5's and we've already committed to good bulls or nothing this early in the season. Easier said than done as its been a looooong off-season and I've got a serious case of itchy trigger finger ;)! I kept looking at them through my range finder, trying to turn em into bigger but no luck.
Them two little specks in the center of the frame, right of the basin, are the twin 4x5s.
zoomed in a bit. All these photos are taken with my phone so I can't provide the quality that Paul or BB do, but I'll try to post as many pics as possible because I love pic heavy threads.
We watched em for a bit, the whole while I'm lecturing myself, "you can't shoot a P&Y if you stick the first rag you see"!
Soon we spotted a cow at 40 yards feeding towards us. I was wishing we'd brought someone who wanted to shoot any elk. We never seem to see any good bulls until after Labor Day.
We ended up belly crawling across the basin with the two young bulls sparing behind us. There were a couple of secluded shoots that we may as well check out while we were back there. You can see the bulls in the background of this shot.
No elk, just the Rocky Mountains in all their splendor! We did see a great muley but my tag was for another unit. It was a great opening morning and a great day to be a bowhunter! This is one of my favorite shots of the year.
We sat and listened on some good trails for a few hours before hiking out with plans to hit one of the places we'd glassed herds the evening before. Here's where we saw the deer up high on the left side of the photo. Would have been an awesome and challenging stalk to say the least if one of us had a tag!
After a few bacon cheese elk burgers and a couple of bullseys we were in the Subaru heading to another spot about 10 miles away. There were some trucks there (obviously huntn rigs) to our dismay, but it was doubtful anyone was going where we were headed. We hit the trail around 2pm and not 1/2 mile in I look up and see a bull, a good one. He'd seen us and was more than likely already busted, as it was an odd place to see him at this time of day, so we kept moving. We had camp on our backs and we rarely change our original plans unless it involves avoiding other hunters.
We set u that evening and did some cold calling. Around 5:30 we heard something cracking some sticks but never saw what it was. More than likely, an elk had come in but had caught our scent with the swirling pm winds. I had no doubt the lucky CBA hat would come thru though!
We camped not far from our calling set up that night with plans to go in a few more miles in the morning. First light found us glassing/still hunting an aspen patch which always seems to have elk transitioning from feeding to bedding in the mornings. At 7:15 we spotted movement ahead. A group of 10-15 cows fed in front of us just behind a lil knob. We easily snuck within bow range of em hoping that a bull would swagger out. We never saw any antlers and, as they fed away, we decided I'd sneak back a bit and rip a softish bugle just in case. No luck, but still good action for opening weekend.
We packed up camp to bivy in to yet another spot for what would be our last evening hunt. We'd hunt there again in the morning before hitting the road.
Really enjoy your stories and pics Will. Looking forward to the rest.
Catch that dog chewed bugle? Its a deal closer :)
After hiking back to the car we drove to our next destination and made the nasty, slash covered, 3 mile hike to our camp sight. We decided to split up and sit some trails that evening as we hadn't seen much rut action at all. I sat that evening giving Thanks, happy to be in the mountains, bow in hand. Sign was great. Elk were close. Nothing showed.
Joe had a cow and calf come by at 30 yards. We hunted the same spots the following morning to no avail before still hunting our way out. We ran into fresh sign and blew up a heard not far into our route. I attempted to call em back as they didn't go far and became very vocal. No luck. They calmed down fast and we walked right back into them. This time we saw them first. We snuck within 15 yards and they actually bedded right in front of us. That didn't last long as it was 9:30 and the wind gave us up quickly. Good times! I'd be back in a week on Sept. 10th for the rest of the season.
Pretty good sign, wouldn't ya say?!
After the longest work week of my life (with some after work muley chasing mixed in), I had the "killer subi" packed and I hit the road solo after work Thursday night, Sept. 9th.
Here's a shot of some of the deer I was chasing, only steps over the line onto land I can't hunt. That stung! I better save the deer stories for later though.. Which one would you shoot?
Sweet pics and story Will! Keep 'em rolling!
I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be my last chance to mount an elk rack to the top of my Subaru. A full moon guided my drive and not a single car on the road through the mountains on my red eye “flight”. Hell hath no fury like that of an elk hunter on the way to camp!! I rolled in to what would be my first spot around 1:30am, threw the coolers on top of the car, and hopped in the back to attempt some sleep. 3:30am came in the blink of an eye and I was up and on the trail for the 3 mile, up, hike in. This spot is one you’ve seen before if you’ve caught any of my semi-lives. Terrain is “hands and feet” steep, elk almost always there, but killing one in “goat country” ain’t easy.
I climb to about 11,500ft before reaching my glassing spot. Within minutes of first light, I’ve spotted a cow or two feeding across a gnarly drainage. What would be a 500yd shot with a rifle takes almost 45 minutes to get across but when I arrive they are still there, feeding towards where I’d guessed they would with a small bull in tow. I knock an arrow and consider my options as they bare down on the 50 yard mark, than 40, and on they go. The bull was small, but I’d have certainly been happy to let him or one of the cows have it on the last few days of the season. If you ask me the old saying: “ Don’t pass up on the first day what you’d be happy with on the last”, is the BS of all BS! I took a few pics, said thanks for the opportunity to be doing what I love, and hiked out.
They came thru from up high and walked right over the knob in the center. I was waiting on the left edge of the timber.
I 110% agree with your BS of BS analogy on the first and last day.
Day 1: PM Hunt:
I grabbed a quick bite and headed to another access point about 6 miles away. When I rolled in to my camp spot, I was bummed to see two large camps and 8 kids (ages 17-21) shooting their bows and giving me the “I can’t believe dude got up here in a Subaru” stare. Turned out to be good guys and half of them were heading out in a day or two which would leave 5 of us to an infinite amount of public land. They’d been hunting for the last 10 days and had been almost across the whole state from their first spot to their current camp. We got along immediately and, after finding out where they were heading, I planned my afternoon hunt. It would be a good one!
I hit the trail around 2:30, taking my time on the 2.5 mile, 1,600 vertical foot, climb. Reaching the mouth of the basin, I dropped my pack, had a snack and soaked up some sun while wating for the afternoon winds to become more predictable. At about 4:30 I moved away from the creek drainage I was in to better hear the surrounding area in case a bull decided to announce his presence. Well, that’s exactly what happened. As soon as I cleared the basin and the noisy creek I fired off a locater and was answered mid bugle by a bull sounding only about 150 yds away. I knew it was risky moving in at this hour do to unpredictable winds but I was drooling for my first close encounter with a good bull this season. I moved quickly and quietly in the direction of the bugle. Not 2 minutes passed before he sounded off again, and again. The second bugle sounded above the first. Then another, below both the other two. Multiple bulls! This never gets old. I literally fall apart every season on my first good bugling encounter!
They were only 80-100 yards away, now singing back and forth to eachother almost constantly. I steadied my breathing (or tried) , knocked an arrow, and went into ninja mode, closing the distance on the closest bugle while keeping good cover.
Bugles were coming from not far into the dark timber on the left of this photo. I've got just enough cover to get across the drainage to them.
I’m taking a few slow steps at a time between long periods of scanning the area in front of me when I caught movement. Bull! Big bull! And he’s bedded! I whipped up my range finder and saw he was 42 yards, bedded behind a huge dead fall, giving me no shot. I hit the ground fast and thought about my options. He was on a little high spot and I could just see the top of his back, his neck and his 6x6 antlers, probably 270-280. He’s a sure thing shooter for me and most anybody on a Colorado OTC hunt. It appeared as though I could get closer without a problem and that I’d be able to see more and more of his body as I gained elevation. I began crawling one foot at a time pausing whenever he moved or perked his ears. He was looking directly away from me and I made quick work of closing the distance to 25 yards. Still, I could see only about to spine level on his body. There he was at point blank chewing his cud. My heart is pounding through my chest. I’m at chip shot range and I can’t shoot him. Intense? Hell yea!
I’m torn. Toss a rock? Cow call? Too close for that. Wait for him to catch my wind and maybe stop him? He’s still above me in elevation by about 8-10 feet and every yard I inch closer I can see more of what I want to shoot at. I sneak closer and before long I’m at 15, 10, 8 yards. Now I have the elevation on him and all I need to do is kneel up as high as I can and draw my bow. There’s one small 10 inch spruce between myself and the bull, still chewing his cud. I knelt up. I could see the spot I needed to put my arrow. I readied my bow and, just as I put tension on the string he tensed up. About a tenth of a second later he was out of there. I stopped him with a nervous grunt. I’m already drawn. He was about 30 yards when he stopped right behind a puffy fir. My first opportunity of the season to kill a nice bull, BLOWN!
The other bulls sounded off as he crashed away and I decided to leave em alone tonight in hopes they’d remain in the area in the following days. I still hunted my way back to camp with my tail between my legs. DANG!!
Time for a break. I'm going out to shoot my bow while the weather allows. I'll post more this afternoon. Maybe a bloody arrow?
Well done and much appreciated.
Good story man, keep it coming!
Good work man! Well done!
Awesome! I can't wait for the conclusion!
Day 2: AM Hunt
The next morning was a bust. I hunted a spot not too far from camp that had produced some great action in years past. There was plenty of sign but no elk and no bugles. I had a big breakfast of pronghorn bacon cheese burgers with eggs on top and took a nap in preparation for an afternoon hunt quite a bit further in. I’d quickly made friends with the kids camped next to me and decided to hunt with a couple of em with the hope of calling in a bull for one of em. For either, it’d be their first archery animal. We made the 5.5 mile hike starting early at 1:30 pm. It took about 2 hours with about 6,000 ft of elevation change, straight down and back up the other side of a large basin. When we started seeing relatively fresh sign we stopped for some candy bars and to wait for the wind to get a lil better.
Great writeup and photos! Thanks for sharing!
>>>>---- ;) ------>
At about 4:45 we moved up through the aspens to a bench close to a known bedding area ripe with fresh sign. The two kids went about 50-70 yards in front of me and about the same distance apart. I’d do the calling and they were instructed to make a few casual cow sounds sparingly. I told them before we parted ways that it was more than likely that a bull would come in and hang up just out of range wanting to see what was making all the noise. I pointed out that this is often the place that elk killers separate themselves from tag eaters and that if this were to occur they needed to close the deal. They drew sticks to determine who’d make the stalk if necessary. I started the calling with a wimpy locater. I didn’t even finish the bugle before I got cut off by a bull probably 150-200 yards away. I started rolling rocks, thrashing trees, throwing logs, and making some herd talk and the bull was obviously interested. He hammered bugles at almost every noise I made. This was gonna happen!
The bull had closed the distance to 100 yards in a few minutes. He came to about 70-80 of my shooters and held up. I could catch a glimpse of him every once in a while just stomping back and forth bugling back at me. Then I caught movement to his left and saw, Dane, the stalker, closing the distance. Perfect! I started ripping bugles, aggravated cow calls and whines while smashing everything in sight. I moved off to the right away from Dane to draw the bulls attention. I could just see where he was and when I panned to his left there was Dane, drawn and shaking badly :0. Whack!!
I was watching him through my rangefinder when he took the shot, arrow bouncing violently on his rest. The bull blew outta there. Dane disappeared and I quickly called to his buddy. The two of us stood there wondering what had happened when I hear a YEEEHAAW from just in front of us. Dane had hit the bull WAY back in the hind quarter from 35 yards. Seeing the bull was hurt he had tried to stay with it to get another shot in him when the bull just stopped and died! Sometimes you get lucky. This was one of those times for Dane. Lots of whooping and war cries ensued when we all got together.
First bull of the season, down! Also a young elk hunters first archery animal. He is hooked!
Good reading! Must have been very exciting to sneak up on a nice bull that close.
A nice little 5x. Shot was 35 yards broadside, hit was right in the ham. By no means where he was aiming but we were lucky and the elk died very fast. Time for some trophy photos. Smile says it all!!
A few pics for you CSI folks. Entrance. NAP Hellrazor. I'm guessing this is where the femoral is as the bull went 80 yards and was down in about a minute.
We had him cut up and were heading out by last light. They radioed their buddies and we got him out in one shot with just the head to get the next day; a 12 mile afternoon. Day 2 was in the books with one bull down. The smiles on both of their faces was the highlight of my season so far without a doubt.
Great story ...keep it coming.
Will, above and beyond the call of duty for sure.
This is to good, more please. Now! :)
Great story . . . I missed last season and not sure where I will end up this season . . . I am drooling! :)
The following day, I planned to put camp on my back and go to a spot only an idiot,or an elk addict, would go. I left the old camp at 2:30am to make the perilous hike to my spot before first light. I got there at about 5:00am and dropped my pack. I snuck into a secluded meadow, fresh with elk sign but it must have been a day old because the morning air was quiet save for the sound of the hummingbirds buzzing me. I was still basking in the success of the day before as I set up camp.
Nice write up Will. Makes me want to change my plans for this fall and hunt elk instead.. First year in many that I don't think I will be chasing elk.. Still doing a hunt just not elk.. It's alway nice to help out and them kids will remember you for ever.. Ed
I don't normally bring a tent as I'm an idiot, but weather forecasts predicted rain for this evening so I hauled a loaner tent with me. I was glad I did.
The evening hunt was uneventful except for one distant bugle. I guessed it to be back in the direction I'd snuck up on the bull a few days ago and I had a tough time deciding whether to get out tonight or the following morning. I still had 6 days to hunt solo before some friends were to arrive, but it'd be great if I could kill one before that. I'd be taking a back seat when my buddies arrived as I'm the caller of the group. I stayed and camped that night, but awoke early enough to get out and hike up another drainage the following morning, a six mile morning.
I know, brutal, but I live for this and train all year round to be able to do anything I want. What I wanted was to be where that bugle came from the following morning :)
Not long after I got up to the spot I thought the bugle came from the night before, what sounded like an absolute donkey of an elk sounded off! Needless to say, I was glad I made the grueling hike out of the last spot and up to this one that morning. This would be the most intense rut action I had ever seen in one little drainage.....At least until a few days later. GRIN! I crept within 100 yards of the elk even before it got light enough to see my pins. As it got light I was in near perfect position, wind in my face, herd moving across the drainage towards me. As it got light I could see them out in the open, an awesome bull following about 6-8 cows. I tried not to look much at his antlers but with 50+ inch main beams and a 20 inch kicker below his whales, I was absolutely mesmerized. This bull was easily 360 and by far the biggest I'd ever seen in a OTC unit and he was on course to pass within 50 yards of my current position! They were still 150 yards away and I had great cover so I began creeping up to where I thought they'd cross. As I got to the spot I wanted to be another bull ripped off not 60 yards below me, and then another from the same spot!!
This is a shot of the drainage both groups were congregating on. Two bulls basically where the pic was taken and the giant moving in on this opening from the left. (This pic was taken on another day)
Here's my view.
Seconds after the other two bulls made their presence known, I hear antlers cracking, not tickling antlers like in a whitetail video, sounds more like the forest is laying down!! I held steady as I knew I was in a good spot for the bull I'd seen, knowing that any moment the others could catch my wind fighting just below me. Cows started filtering in front of me 45 yards. Then the bull came. I drew and hit him with a nervous bark as he entered a lane. He kept right on going over a small knob before he stopped, bugled, and began to destroy a huge tree. I couldn't see the elk but I knew right where he was what with the 50ft tall spruce thrashing like it was being hit with gale force winds. I closed the distance and popped out my rangefinder. I could see he was less than 30 yards away be a straight line of sight, but still couldn't see him. As I eased closer the the spot I needed to be I could see antlers. I caught movement in my peripheral and looked over to see a doe muley. She stomped, snorted, and blew out right towards the elk. I imagine God must have had a chuckle at me as he saved this monarchs life! The elk trotted off to about 100 yards before looking nervously back. The elk below me had disappeared and the big guy walked into the timber on the oppossite side of the drainage. We had a bugling contest as I tried to coax him back my way, but it wasn't to be. I let them go as I knew they weren't busted and they'd be back that evening.
Here's a pic of the few who stayed around begging me to punch my tag with a healthy cow. I thought about it, but not yet..
Hard to see in the sun, but they're there
That evening I was back in the same spot. The elk had moved to the next drainage over. I could hear them bugling and I made it over to them (about 1.5 miles away and who knows what elevation change) with about 45 minutes left of shooting light. When I finally cleared the slash/dark timber I saw a great (300ish) bull chasing a lone cow around the steep ravine like a dog chasing a cat. It was a sight to see. They must have covered a mile in about 5 minutes running up and down the same 200 yards of terrain. I was at about 11,700 ft for this display and the wind can be terrible at these elevations save for about a half an hour each morning when it goes steady downhill. With that in mind, when they went silent I decided again to leave them. I hiked back to where I'd left my pack and out. An average day for me is between 10-15 miles. This one was closer to 20 as I reached camp that night.
More to come but now I better get to some "honey do's" before Mrs. Towle gets home from work!
Great Monday night read Will!
Great write up Will... well maybe, now I won't be able to sleep tonight thinking about September!!
"I think he was trying to out-hike us. Good luck with that!"
As someone who has hiked with Will that's no sh&$!
Some are probably thinking I'm being too cautious, but I've got time. My experience has been that lightly bumped elk won't go anywhere far while busted elk will cover some country. Also, I've noticed that they will allow you to bump em once without vacating an area while if you push your luck and bump them twice they'll clear out.
That said, I was determined to make something happen the following morning. I texted my good buddy and huntn partner, who couldn't make the trip from Illinois this season, on the walk out. Told him, wind was wrong and I guess he gets to live one more night. He said "Hunt like you do and kill that dude in the morning"!!
I was up well before first light and climbing the avalanche shoot that the I left the bull in the night before. I had hunted this shoot many times, but never killed one in it. Its so steep that locals laugh at me when they hear I've been hunting it. Practice makes perfect! I had their pattern dialed in. It was just a matter of closing the deal fast. I often comment that being in shape is important to me as an elk hunter not because I think you need to be in great shape to hunt elk, only in order to hunt elk where I do. When a bugle rang out above me at 6:20a.m., I knew I had about 45 minutes to close the distance before the wind switched or the elk cruised on and into the dark timber. I literally sprinted up the shoot using both my hands and feet for traction where necessary.
This photo was taken at another time. It does the slope no justice. This is the type of place where you roll to the bottom if you lose your footing.
As I came to where I thougt I was 100 yards or so from them I slowed down, caught my breath, and waited for him to give up his position. I didn't wait long before he bugled again. It never fails to amaze me the physical charge I get when hearing a bull bugle from close range, a natural high to rival any I've experienced. He sounded good and was now probably 120 yards away and on the right side of the shoot. I knocked an arrow and carefully closed 40 yards bringing my chewed up 1980's bugle up, ready to cut him off. At his next bugle, I roared my own right over him. I was at about 80 yards and still couldn't see him. He got pretty worked up and began thrashing a spruce, giving up his exact position.
At this point or maybe prior I'd have normally put the calls away and tried to sneak right in on him but with the cover as thick as it was, I'd have more than likely been busted by unseen elk. This has happened to me quite a few times in this particular shoot.
I eased in to about 50 yards of the thrashing tree seeing cows moving around above me not 30 yards away. I decided I'd make a relatively risky maneuver and sneak another 20 yards putting me at 30 yards from the bull. I still hadn't so much ad caught a glimpse of him or his head gear.
This last shot is of my final approach. Don't slip!!
(7:00 oclock real time, gotta go to work)
:) We don't need any added suspense Will!
Awesome stuff! Get this bull killed!
Great story so far Will! All I can do is smile reading this knowing I'll be doing this exact same thing "Come September";) it's great being a Colorado resident! P.S. hurry up with the rest!
This is GREAT stuff Will!!!
Keep it coming when you can. I love these accounts of the hunt even better than magazine articles. Way more pictures and better details, make me feel I am right there with you.
Great story. I look forward to this every year. Keep it coming.
WTF... work will be there tomorrow... the hunt and the storytelling is awesome. .... Great job on helping people you never met and getting them a bull on top of it....... Anxiously awaiting more....
Good stuff Will! Can't wait for the rest!
I knew I shouldn't have opened this thread till it got to 150 posts.
Excellent thread, Will!
And, I appreciate the strategic pause...gives me more time to take it all in ;^)
Best of Luck, Jeff
Come on.....lets have it Will.
Hey Will, you burning those CO. points this year?? Great read as always.
Rick, I'm waiting until next year to burn em. My good buddy from Jersey is coming out and I've got to work with his schedule cuz he can't just hop a plain every year.
I get to 30 yards, bull's going ballistic, cows around me, still can't see hiim. I can see some cows filtering into the timber. Bad deal. Once they start moving, experience has taught me they move out fast. I tuck my bugle under my arm angling the sound down and away from myself and the bull screaming my best challenge over his next bugle. The bull absolutley came unglued! He double bugled before charging. I could hear him coming fast as I drew my bow, literally spitting my diaphragm on the ground. The first glimpse I got of him was just his antlers coming fast and on a course that would bring him by me at about 6ft. I'd hoped he'd come by just above me but as he got to about 10 yards (still no shot) he angled down towards me. He cleared the timber in front of me walking fast at 5 yards and immediately slowed almost still. I had been following his vitals with my pin since before I could see his body and when he slowed I was on his "shirt pocket" and squeezing before either of us knew what had happened. What just happened?!!
This is why we shoot all year, at all yardages, at moving targets; so that when it all comes together, its like breathing. The brain goes into auto pilot and the bow goes off as naturally as the sun rises.
In all honesty, I was so jacked I wasn't sure what had happened. He was at about 3-4 yards and moving, quartered to pretty hard when I shot. The only thing I saw was a spot on his shoulder about 6 inches behind the crease. I immediately thougt, "Oh, NO! Way to far back!" As I calmed myself I realized that was the exit. Ok, much better.
Here's my view from where I was standing when i shot him. This was taken minutes after I shot. He came blasting through them thick pines. YOu can see just how close he was to running me over. He was dead center frame when he popped out just to the left of the closest spruce. Man, it just don't get any better! If you haven't experienced this, DO IT!! After the shot he was gone in a flash. From the time I last bugled to the time I shot was less than 5 seconds.
All hell broke loose after the shot. I had grabbed my diaphragm off the ground and bugled at him just as subconciously as I'd shot my bow. I heard what could have been him going down but there were elk running all over now. I bugled a couple more times as loud as possible before looking at my watch, 6:55. It was an easy decision to wait 45 minutes before tracking. I've seen well hit bulls run off never to be seen again. After about 10 minutes I decided to very carefully and quietly look for my arrow being that it should be about 4 feet in front of me.
I took about 2 slow steps before I saw the arrow. Actually could have scanned and found it from where I shot if I wasn't so shook up. Bull elk bugling in your face will turn a cold blooded killer to jelly! This is exactly how I found the arrow, no blood really until the back 1/4 and the fletch.
490gr Goldtip with a 125gr Shuttle T for all you tech guys/BH junkies
I was happy with what I say on the fletching but still praying, not overly confindent; cautiously optimistic..
I took this pic as I knew it would convey exactly how I felt at the time :0 I know I look like an idiot but this oughta put ya'll right there with me
The next 35 minutes took forever. I ate a few snickers, drank some water, and texted my good buddy to see what he thougt of the arrow/kill some time. This is what I found right where the bull was hit, not 3 feet from the arrow. Take into mind he was moving at the shot and running immeiately after. Promising!
This was lung blood, I knew, but still didn't want to be overly optimistic. We've all been there. The blood was easy to follow. I tracked VERY slowly, analyzing every bit of sign, more confident the further I went.
5 yards in
This was lung blood, I knew, but still didn't want to be overly optimistic. We've all been there. The blood was easy to follow. I tracked VERY slowly, analyzing every bit of sign, more confident the further I went; arrow knocked..
5 yards in
15 yards. When I found this I knew I'd find my bull. I was just clearing the thick lil pines at this point when I spotted him.
He had gone maybe 30 yards and I'm guessing the crashing I'd heard about 3-5 seconds after the shot was him hitting the dirt!!
Lots more to come! Time for work
Great story and hunt . . . thanks for sharing!
Nicely done, I'm mentally ready for Sept
Awesome Will! Thanks for taking me along. I actually needed to step out of my office but delayed my appointment to read this. LOL!
Wow great bull Will. I love your story telling and the pictures you take. Looking forward to hearing the rest.
That was great of you to help the kids get an elk.
Well, I was hoping this story would end before I leave this morning to ice fish Lake Granby. Guess not.
Blood on the arrow and on the ground is a good indication but not the final indication of a well placed arrow. A dead elk on the ground is even better.
Good luck. Paul
Blood on arrow shaft. I have found that blood does not show up well on black shafts so I use a yellow or white rap under the fletching so the blood show up better. Helps a lot.
Well, I guessed wrong, NICE.
holy smokes !!!! what a hunt!!!!
Thanks for taking the time to share! Great hunt
Hopefully this will continue on through your buddies' hunts?
Wow! Glad I checked back in to catch more of this story.
Congrats on the bull. Kudos on the sportsmanship you displayed helping the other guys.
More props for a great combination of pics and write up.
Hoping that this thread will continue with your buddies' hunts.
Great story. Thanks for sharing and congrats on a fine bull.
Awesome job on the bull and the story.
UNFREAKINBELIEVABLE! What a hunt and a heck of a bull! Congrats Will!
Great story Will and what a great way to get us fired up! Thanks for sharing!
That look on your face is "drunk on adrenaline"! Nice work, Will! We need more trophy pics!
I don't get many good photos by myself. I took a few and the work began.
nice goin will hard to get photos when u are alone lots of work to be done
This is what a well-sharpened broadhead will do. I wish I too a pic with the head laying next to the wound. The hole is about 3-4x the size of the BH
One more. Yep, its absolutely back breaking cutting one of these up by yourself, leg over your neck, foot braced on other leg, trying not to lose footing or let the thing roll. Ring a bell for ya, Louis?!
That is a dandy bull for sure. Thanks again for sharing.
I got to work and had him cut up in relatively short order, no injuries :), just a sore back. I hauled him about 50 yards into the dark timber and layed meat on this log right over a seep, should be good all day here if necc., but I'd be back in a few. I loaded the loins, straps, and a hind in my pack and started the "home run trot" back to camp.
Fitting. There was a wallow right where I put the meat
My new friends were in camp and offered to help me get the rest. I wasn't gonna turn that down. Took a few pics and had an easy second trip.
Wow Fantastic Read! Congrats! What a story!
Wow Fantastic Read! Congrats! What a story!
I had him hung and was eating "brunch" over my hibachi by 11:30am. I was tagged out on day 5 (no bear tag this year as I didn't really have the $ to do anything with it if I shot one) of an 18 day trip. I still had glorious days to enjoy/scout before my buddies would arrive. By this time, I'd become buddies with the young guys I was camped next to. Why sit around when there were still tags to be filled?! We planned to head out that evening to a place they'd been getting into some action. No rest for an elk addict ;) We hit the trail around 1:30 that afternoon
We made the 3 mile hike in to a spot above this pond, probably 3 miles from camp, before stopping to make a plan and have a snack. There were 4 of us, myself and three brothers, Jeff (21) and his two younger identical twin brothers whom they referred to as "Twinners". All these guys were great dudes and VERY hard working hunters.
We planned to creep up a bit higher to a spot not far from where Dane, their buddy, had killed the bull I'd called in 3 days earlier. When we arrived I ripped a locater and BAM, a response. This is TOO easy! I didn't really think that but, MAN, I'd had one heck of a 5 day trip so far.
The bugle sounded pretty distant so we cruised fast in that direction. It was probably around 4:00 when we stopped again to locate him. Again, he fired back immediately, this time from less than 500 yards above us. I told the guys to set up in a triangle in front of me when we came to a small steep slope below a bench, a perfect spot to set up. I guessed we were 100-150 yards from the bull and had the guys sneak up near the crest of the hill on the edge of the bench. I probably should have given them better instructions on closing the deal if a bull hung up just out of range but I was PUMPED and was thinking this is a done deal at the time.
Great Story!! Thanks for taking us along Will.
My next bugle was cut off on cue by the bull above us. I then proceeded to crack some sticks, rake, and make some whiney aggitated cow sounds. My settup was a perfect place to roll rocks as I was on a steep slope 80 yards behind my shooters. The bull lost it and came in on a fast walk. I glassed up to see the guys looking VERY serious, range finders out, releases attached. I knew they could see him, but no view for me. I continued making my spectacle of noise waiting to hear a bow go off. After a few more minutes of thrashing and bugling back and forth with the bull I glassed up to the boys again. This time I see Jeff is drawn and one of the twins, about 20 yards from Jeff, pulls up and draws as well! I could just barely see the antlers of a good bull about 20 yards in front and to the left of Jeff, less from his younger brother, both of them drawn and aiming. HOLY &*%#! SHOOT! SHOOT! The bull is facing the younger brother at less than 15 yards when he looks back over his shoulder at another bull thats come to all the commotion, also bugling his head off. I can't believe my eyes when one of the Twinners lets down and whips out his rangefinder. WHAT!!? He told me later that he was waiting for Jeff to shoot and that the bull was at 11 yards according to his rangefinder. We were able to laugh about it later but I was about punching myself in the face at this point!
The bull knew something wasn't right, turned and left only to have his place taken by another bull. At this point there were at least 3 bulls hammering away. They were all close! I glassed around again and caught movement in front of the other twin. I watch antlers come into view right in front of him and he gets ready to draw. I know! This is unbelievable, the single best day I've ever seen in all my time in the woods in September! The bull caught him going for his rangefinder and busted. No worries though, now we've got at least 3-5 bugling in front of us and another coming from behind. Light was fading fast as I slithered up to tell them they needed to be aggressive. None of them had so much as taken a step forward since we set up :). By the end of the next half hour of light I'd we'd had at least 6, if not 8, different bulls come within 60-80 yards of my calling and not one arrow fired. The good news, we all had HUGE smiles on our faces on the walk out. We had high hopes for the following day.
Time for work. Teaser- tmro one of these kids will run out of arrows :0
Nice story! Thanks for sharing.
"I was about punching myself in the face at this point!"-Lmao
Great story Will! Your a gentlemen and a killer ;) Awesome job helping this group of guys get into some elk. They will never forget this trip!
great job Will!!!
I suppose it is easier to laugh about those that got away when your tag is filled.....OK waiting for the next day for sure!
This is a fantastic pictorial and write up. Thanks Will.
Yeah getting the exact range at 11 yds is critical lol!
I would have probably torn my hair out Will. Kudos to you for offering your expertise to these guys. More, please!
Best of Luck, Jeff
Sounds like I need to run into will on the mountain.
Wow what a night you all had!
Great job Will.
For writing this great elk story Bowsite is pleased to award you with one drink chit good for a cold beer at the Phoenix Bowsite Meet & Greet. Congrats! C
well done thanks for sharing.
and proving that a great elk story does not need to include details about peeing in a bottle while driving to the mountains.
Great thread and hunt will!! Thanks for sharing.
"and proving that a great elk story does not need to include details about peeing in a bottle while driving to the mountains."
Great, I had my 2014 story all written up and now I have to take out all those diaper jokes.
I figured I had that Depends Prostaff gig all but wrapped up.
That's a great bull Will!!!!
Love the shot, right down the ol' centrifuge. Whoops, I forgot the frontal isn't supposed to work though??? LOL....
Can't wait for the rest!
Talk about 'value for money'...not only do we get the tale of how Will helps the young guys to kill a bull to start with...AND THEN...tells us all about his own successful hunt...AND THEN...we've even more hunting!!!
Good man yourself Will...keep it comin'!!
[PS I see that you slipped the arrow inside of the nearside shoulder blade and through the plumbing, seeing as how you were so close at the shot...but...I didn't quite get the 'shirt pocket' reference??]
Come on Will....no power here in KY....13" of snow and stuck at home with my kids. How about an update? :)
Glad y'all are enjoying. thanks for the illustration, Nick.
I still had 4 days to enjoy before my two friends were to arrive, but with all the in/out of the past few, I needed a break. I have some places that are really easy to access for days like this and I offered to take on of the brothers to a small spot (2 square miles) that was about a 10 mile drive from our camp for the following a.m. hunt. This would allow us to "sleep in".
We were pulling up to the spot at about 6:00am and heard our first bugles before we even got our stuff out of the car. It was a short 1/4 mile to where the bulls were sounding off, at least 2 bulls. By the time it was getting light we were practically in the herd. We had already gone over our strategy which would involve more of what went down last night only Jeff would be more aggressive and hopefully get a shot. Maybe 5 minutes into legal light we've got cows milling around about 50 yards in front (no shot yet) when a lil 4x comes prancing right in silent. I hadn't even hit a call yet. He stops at maybe 40 yards and, WHACK!, Jeff sends one over his back. Bull trots off, not spooked too bad. The herd is still there, still a couple bugling not far off, maybe 80 yards. One sounds BIG.
I looked at Jeff and said, "Call down, focus. There's still bulls in here and we're gonna kill one. Next time wait for me call out the range or get it yourself." He wasn't bummed at all. I was impressed with all these kids' mental toughness and tenacity. They will all be great elk hunters one day. I sent him up about 30 yards in front and cut the big guy off next time he screams. You guessed it, he comes loafing on in like a cow to hay, 340 easy!! If I had this on video you'd swear I was on private. This particular spot is wedged between private on 3 sides and there is a small window to kill one before they go back to the private. Jeff (now with 3 arrows) is crouched in perfect position, bow drawn, when the big guy steps into a lane. I stop him with a cow call. TWANG, over his back. Bull trots off a lil ways. I bugle. He turns and comes back the 15 yards he'd just ran away! TWANG, just under his armpit; one arrow left. I'm just standing there in absolute disbelief, 1: at the incredible hunting I've experienced over the past 5 days and 2: We aren't watching this bull tip over!
This spot ain't far from where this pandemonium went down. This place smelled so much you can probably smell it through your PC!
The big bull moved on afer having the second arrow flung at him. Jeff only has one arrow left. Now he is bummed. Elk are moving fast towards private. The big guy has already crossed with most of the cows and is just a memory for us though he's still only 100 yards away. We decide to sit and do some calling in hopes that a satellite will get curious. Not long after we set up, we heard a whiney bugle and here comes a lil 4x5. At 50 yards he wheels, appearing to have caught our wind. I watch Jeff range, draw, and shoot. THUMP! The telltale sound of an animal being hit by an arrow! I couldn't see the hit myself and he tells me it was about dead center of the elk.
We knew we'd have to give him time and hope for the best on this. We saw him run about 80 yards or so parrallell to the private, probably 150 yards from the line.
In hind sight, this may have been a bad place to bring an inexperienced bowhunter as making a good shot here is particularly vital as close to private as it is. But, I guess, where is making a great shot not vital in bowhunting? I felt a little guilty, but we'd give the recovery our best.
We hiked back to the car and I used the next few hours to run my elk to the processor before meeting the guys back at camp
Man I hope those guys realize how lucky they are to be able to tag along with you. They got about 5 years worth of encounters in a day and a half!
To make a long story short, we looked all day to no avail. We never found the arrow and there was VERY little blood. This shot was at about 7:45 and we took up the trail at about 1:00pm and did grids until dark. The guys had only one more day until they had to head back to WA. Two went looking for the elk and two went out for one last hunt the following morning. It was a crappy ending but we'd had a great couple days and these guys were all hooked on bowhunting elk. We still keep in touch and I'm sure we'll hunt together in years to come.
I spent the next couple days glassing in the mornings/evenings and fishing in the middle of the day. I'd met the owner of a huge piece of private near camp and he'd invited me to come fish his stocked ponds. I could sit there catching fatty rainbows and listening to bugles almost all day on this private ranch. Sound good?! It had been the best 5 days of elk hunting I've ever had, hands down.
I saw elk in all my favorite glassing spots including one great bull. My friends were in for a good hunt without a doubt!
A couple more pics of my scouting the next few days. An elk story ain't an elk story without wallow pics :)
I've got a busy weekend but will try to finish this up on Monday if I can.
This thread (and other similar) is the reason I come to bowsite. Thank you so much for sharing. Hope I run into guys like you this fall.
Awesome thread Will! Were your 5 best days of hunting the week before muzzleloader season?
Well written! Very nice! You are only missing a picture of the famous Subaru. :0) TODDY
Thanks for taking us a long! This is one of the best threads I have ever read! Can't wait for the rest:)
Yep what Back Straps said!! This is awsome!
Awesome hunts and write up! Thank you so much for putting in all the efforts in both cases.
Awesome thread! Thanks for sharing!
Will, this is really great stuff. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us all.
Outstanding read so far Will! Good on you for helping the other guys out.
Great thread.. Thanks for posti g!!!!
Oh THAT shirt pocket ;-) I echo the previous posts about why we visit Bowsite
Your just a tease Will...lol
Outstanding thread!!! Looking forward to the rest of it.
One of the best reads I have ever read!Bob.
Really great reading Will! Thx!
Great read. And its great to take those guys under your wing, I"ll bet those guys were like sponges soaking up the information. You ought to look into becoming a outdoor writer.
Great thread Will. Thanks for sharing.
You know a man tells a good story when you feel like you are right behind him or better yet holding his bow!!! thank you
You can't buy stories this good with a magazine subscription. Looking forward to the rest of the story.
Chief, I hope you meant "can'T". ;) just sayin...
Will, this is great.. well worth the wait!
Thanks a bunch guys, glad you're enjoying it! I'm reliving it myself in the telling.
JDECK, Best five days right in muzzy Toddy, the subaru will make an appearance
My glassing turned up elk almost everywhere I looked. One secluded basin a few miles away from camp had a group of elk with one that appeared nearly twice the size of the rest and did a good deal of running around. I was pretty sure this was a bull though I couldn't see any antlers through my old loaner scope. My friend Joe arrived the following afternoon. Although I'd glassed a bunch of elk and likely bulls, I was pushing to go back to the spot I called all the bulls in for the 3 brothers a few nights prior to Joe's arrival. We made the 3 mile hike that afternoon. There was sign everywhere but it seemed the elk had moved on recently. We heard one bugle on the way back to camp. Slow evening. We had a few drinks that night in camp, relived some of our past adventures, and made a plan to hit one of the places I'd glassed the following morning.
The next day (like day 11 for me and 1 for my friends hunt) brought clear skies and bugling at first light as we arrived at our destination, another 2 mile hike straight up in the dark. I'd left my binos in camp and was stuck using Joe's crap, garage sale pair. It was grey light. We could see the elk clearly in the open basin, but we could barely see antlers through the garbage glass at less than 350 yards. We stuck to our position below them, trying to get a fix on where they'd head. As the sun brightened things up, the bull that we weren't sure was worth going after turned into the biggest we'd ever seen OTC. He was the same 6x7 with the 20 inch kicker that had his life saved by a muley doe earlier in my solo hunt. Our eyes went from squinting to see antlers to bulging out of our heads!!
I've been waiting for this all weekend. Great read. Keep it coming.
As the sun came up it became clear that the cows were going to take the bull from right to left. We'd seen them do this before and basically knew right where their path would take them. We quickly backtracked. down and around to the next shoot just over a rocky spine, to where they were hopefully heading. This photo is our view as we came around in attempt to head them off. There were already cows moving across the scree when we arrived here. This point of trees would give us just enough cover to get within 50 yards of the crossing bull. At this point the bull is to the right and below us, climbing to where the lead cows were (straight in front of us and about 80-90 yards up). We hadn't so much as rolled a rock or broken a stick; wind is perfect. We crept towards the top of a steep, timbered knob expecting to be near bow range when we got to the top.
You can see the intensity of Joe's face in this pick. He's likely thinking, "Put the dang phone away, you idiot!".
As we get to the top, there he is, 90 yards away. For reasons unknown to me, the bull turned around, hooked about 4 of his cows, and headed straight down and back the way they came. At this point I thought we should hold our ground and bugle at him but Joe is more of a spot and stalk guy so he opted to swing back around and attempt, yet again, to get in front of them. I decided to stay put so that he would be as stealthy as possible in his approach.
Not long after we parted ways the bull began to go straight down and then circled back right towards me. I got this picture just before he turned and came my way. You really can't tell by the photo but this is a GIANT by CO otc standards!
I tried to zoom and save. The huge dagger on his left main is actually the extra point. It lays right next to his whale tail on that side.
Didn't work. Huh?
Have to agree with the look on Joe's face, but I'm guessing he was thinking more than "put the phone away" lol.
This is the best read in a long time!
Good read. Let's hear more Will.
They led him right towards me and before I knew it I was staring at his rack only 40 yards away. I held tight and wasn't sure what happened as they ducked under the spine and out of sight. I stayed put for a solid hour before easing my way back towards where Joe and I had dropped our packs. Turns out the elk must have gotten my wind because they had eventually made it over to where Joe had gone. He circled all the way back to where we started and sat on a trail that he'd guessed they might use. Well, after sitting for about 45 minutes without hearing/seeing a thing, he decided to move a bit. As soon as he took a step, he caught movement 20 yards in front as some cows trotted off and up, big 6x7 in tow. Had Joe held tight for another few minutes they'd have come by him at less than 20 yards. DANG! They didn't bust bad and we left em for the evening hunt
That afternoon, my good buddy, Andy, showed up. We had a good lunch and developed a game plan for that evening. We'd head right back in to the same general area only hit a patch of dark timber probably 1/2 mile from where we were that morning. We hiked in plenty early and sat in the sun resting, waiting for the wind to become more predictable.
At about 4:30 we moved a little closer to the timber/bedding area we planned on hunting and, right on cue, heard a bugle then another! Oh yea! We moved in fast and before long we were on em. A good bull was just out in one of the alpine shoots and bugling every few minutes. I stayed behind a ways and the guys were able to get close to bow range in short order
Here's a shot of Joe, arrow nocked, ranging the 5x out in this shoot. He was in range but never provided a shot as he moved up hill and into the dark timber. No shots fired that evening, but surely some serious heart-pounding action for the first few days of my friends' hunt!
We were back in the same area the following morning. I just about stepped on this dude on the way in. Never heard a peep until about 8:00 (that's pretty late in my areas as the elk are usually bedded by 8:30 or so) when the woods below us came alive with multiple bugles. They were a good ways away and my buddies tore off after them leaving me to wait, fingers crossed. 20 minutes after we parted ways, a bull screamed not 100 yards below me, than closer! He came right up and around me at about 60 yards, a good bull, close to 300 inches. Figures. with my luck so far this season, we joked on the way out that morning that everybody should just stand next to me and they were both sure to tag out :).
Joe had gotten VERY close to killing a great bull that morning and, just as he was about to draw his bow, some cows busted the herd. The "almosts" were piling
That evening we headed back in. I'd never hunted the same spot so many times in a row before. Actually the previous year, we only hunted this area a few times and never saw an elk anywhere. A wise man once said, "elk are where you find them". This year, we found em in the same spots day after day.
After waiting for the wind to get right, we slipped into the area we guessed the bulls from the a.m. would have bedded. I ripped a locator and two bulls fired back immediately. We had a bit of a debate about where exactly they were and how to proceed before deciding to split up and try flanking them from two sides. Andy and I ran downhill when it became evident they were moving. We quickly got below them, keeping tabs on em with a locator every once in a while. Once we knew we were about 100 yards away I signaled Andy to move ahead and around them. I'd hang back just out of sight and attempt to bugle him into range. This is my view at the time. The bull is right above me in this steep meadow. Andy is on the right side and Joe is on the left. This bull will have to get very lucky to survive this!
I belly crawled to about 80 yards and cut the bull off. He would come back about 20 yards or so but somehow managed to stay JUST out of range of my two shooters. I couldn't see what they could see but I thought sure somebody was gonna shoot him any second. No dice! He slipped out following the lead cow in about the only place they could go that would put them just out of reach of Joe and Andy. SOB! This is getting ridiculous! This photo was taken from about where the bull stood just about 80-90 yards from all three of us.
Break time. I'll be back at it this afternoon
A nice wallow with a view right near where this bull gave us the slip.
The next day we split up and gave this particular area a rest. It was a quiet morning with a few bugles and no sightings. Andy and I decided to jump in the car and drive to another spot that I'd seen elk in while glassing a few days earlier while Joe would try a new spot a few miles away from where we had been hunting.
We hiked into a spot that afternoon that is the absolute opitome of "elk hunting in sheep country". Most of it is above or at treeline and some of the prettiest country I've been in.
Sun soaked aspens. It just doesn't get much better!
There weren't any elk in the basin I'd hoped they'd be in. We did glass what looked to be a great bull on an adjacent mountain in a place where you'd need climbing gear to get to him.
Is this steep enough for ya? You won't catch any out of shape hunters up here.
These basins are usually loaded up with elk. It was plain to see they had been there in the last few days.
We sat until nearly dark and turned to walk out about a half our before last legal shooting light. Within a quarter mile of hitting the trail we walked right into a group of elk with a decent 5x in it. We got to about 80 yards or so but were busted before we had a chance. They'd gotten our wind before we even saw them and they were gone with the first rock we crunched in attempt to close the distance. The following morning we went back into the spot where I had all the action with the boys from Washington state. It rained pretty good and it seemed to keep the elk quiet. We covered a ton of ground only hearing a few distant bugles. As it got late in the morning we set up and I did some calling. After about 30 minutes of silence we started hiking out and bumped right into a small bull who I'm sure was coming in to the calling. Overall a slow morning. Things seemed to be cooling off in terms of rut action.
That afternoon, we got an offer from one of my local buddies to take us WAY in to a place we'd never been. He'd been getting into bulls every time he went there so he didn't need to twist our arms ;). The hike was absolutely brutal. I can't remember what the elevation change was (maybe Andy will chime in) but our two day mileage total was 30. I know of some elk hunts that can be done without being in good shape. This ain't one of em!
After climbing, hands and feet, for what seemed like forever, we reached an area fresh with sign. We hit a few locators without a response, tried some calling sequences, and finally ended up still hunting. After another ladder climb we Joe and I spotted some cows above us and signaled Josh (local buddy) and Andy. They hadn't spotted us and were about 100 yards straight up. If we were to pull this off, it'd be a miracle if the elk didn't end up at the bottom of the mountain!
Here's a shot of Andy trying to close the deal. If this shot doesn't put you right there with us, nothing could ;) Don't slip or you won't be hunting elk tmro.... or the next day.
The elk are just on the other side of the timber in the top of the pic. It was Cow:30 for both Joe and Andy at this point in the hunt. They both made it up there quick and quiet but the elk had disappeared. Elk tend to do this quite often!
The next morning we went back into the basin I'd snuck up on the bedded bull on Day 2. Joe opted to go to another spot as the pressure was on with only a few more days to hunt. Andy and I were into bugles right away after making the hike in just before light. A great bull, probably 310-320 was tearing it up right where we'd expected him to be. We made a quick plan and decided Andy would just try to sneak right up to him and maybe I could bring him a little ways back once he was in position. 20 minutes later I could see Andy coming to the point of the timber in the next pic. The bull was raking spruces, completely oblivious to Andy's approach.
I've highlighted both the bull and Andy in the pic. At this point I thought, "Done DEal!".
He was maybe 100-120 yards away and closing. The bull had no idea. I heard something to my left and here comes 3 elk! They crossed right in front of me at 40 yards. Andy had disappeared into the woods now and the bull was moving that way as well. Here's my view while I cross my fingers that a bull will run out into the basin and tip over any moment.
Probably hard to see but there are a few elk in this photo just after they walked right in front of me. Turned out that it was super noisy on Andy's final approach and the bull caught on and disappeared. There were still a few cows in the basin when we left so we planned to come back the following morning.
First light the next day found us back up in the same area, a few bulls bugling. It was hard to believe they were still here after all the time we'd been pestering them. Though, like I mentioned, we never busted them bad. That morning brought us more close calls, but the bulls were pretty locked down now and not wanting to come to any calling. We got close but opted to let them bed as the wind got bad later in the morning.
After another hike in/out we were on them that evening near last light. I had them going nuts bugling back at me but just couldn't get a bull to commit. This was getting frustrating!
Here's a shot of Joe and Andy moving in that morning. We're about 100 yards from them at this time
It was getting down to the wire with only a couple more days in the season. We drowned our frustration in some whiskey that evening in camp, discussing how we'd better kill SOMETHING the next morning. We planned to go back to the basin. If they were there, Andy and Joe would get up to where they needed to be and sit in waiting. We'd watched these elk move enough now to have an exact location on where they would head come sunup. The boys would be there in the grey of dawn.
The elk cooperated. They were right where we wanted them. September was coming to an end as was our sanity after being given the slip time and again over the last 9 days. There were at least 15 elk in the basin and several bulls including one good one. The light specks are elk. Joe and Andy are in the strip of timber to the right of the basin. The elk are meandering that way. This is gonna work!
I held tight waiting in anticipation for the herd to freak out and start running uphill. The big bull was up too high and I guessed he was out of danger though I didn't know exactly where the guys were. There was one satellite moving towards the timber much lower than the rest of the herd and I knew this guy was in trouble. I saw some of the cows pop up their heads and act nervous. Oh, Hell Yea!! This was my cue to start bugling my head off. No sooner did I start my uproar than my phone vibrated. Joe had shot the satellite!! I kept up my calling for about 5 minutes while the rest of the elk filed up and headed up and out of the basin. Then I snuck carefully over to where I knew the guys were. We went over the shot/reaction while killing a half hour prior to taking up the trail. Shot was 35 yards broadside and looked good.
This was the first sign we found, about 20 yards from the impact. The blood trail was extremely sparse, basically pin drops every 5 yards or so.
This is what you get if you don't sharpen your broadheads. Pin drops even on a perfect shot. After losing blood we split up and eventually found him. It would have been a bit easier and saved some anxiety if he'd been shot with a sharp head ;). Either way we were pumped!
A couple "trophy" pics and more work.
I have seen a lot of those deep and isolated basins above tree line and miles from no-where on Google Earth.
Come on Will, we all know you used a chopper to get in there! Very easy for sure:)
My legs hurt just reading this.
My best, Paul
You can see the entrance is tiny compared to what a sharp head will do. Glad we got him! He went about 80 yards before piling up.
Blood on digital camo; life is good!
We made had him cleaned up in no time. He was the 3rd I'd done in 2 weeks and Andy is really good with a knife as well. In about an hour we were loaded up with a deboned bull and heading out.
Deboning is much easier with two guys than solo ;)
Possibly the last time I'd have to use this old pack. She's been good to me!
Andy and I gave it one last shot the next day and again got close, but couldn't quite seal the deal. It had been the best elk season I've ever had. I was already counting the days until next September. The subaru prepared for the "homerun trot"!
Thanks for following! This isn't the last day but its the perfect end to the thread. This photo reminds me of everything that elk hunting is to me. I hope you enjoyed and that you felt like you were right there with us..
Great thread, enjoyed it thoroughly. Your last shot looks like a painting, breathtaking.
Great job, Will! Thanks for taking the time!
That last pic is awesome! congrats on a great season
That was great Will! Thanks.
Good job on the thread Will, thanx for that - that's a lot of work.
September can't come soon enough :)
That last pic really captures it. Great job!
I may have missed something but why was it the last elk rack for the Subaru?
WOW! Thank you will that was really great writing and so glad you had so much to write about. My hair stood up numerous times very exciting. Thank you for taking us along!
One of the best I read. Thanks..
Epic Season! Wore me out reading this thread Will...you guys really worked hard for those bulls!
Best of Luck, Jeff
Very kind of you to help so many other bowhunters Will. Also, great story telling.
Makes it feel like I'm right there with you with all the pics. I'll let you know where I'm camped on my OTC hunt next year so you can make another new friend, haha.
Great thread! I really enjoyed it.
Awesome! Thanks for sharing, that oughtta get everyone worked up for September!
I am speechless.
there is nothing I can say. It is an awesome account. Thank you Mr. Towle
Great hunting, glad you took us along . . .
Great story telling and an even better season!
Congrats! Thanks for bringing us along.
Very nicely done! Thanks for sharing!
Heck that was a great read! After having lived in Colorado for 9 years in the '90's I can appreciate the hiking, landscape and all. Brought back a bunch of memories, smells, sights and sounds I haven't thought about in some time.
Thanks for taking the time to put it all down!
AAAAMMMMAAAAZZZIINNNGGG!!!!! Tread. I am so disappointed you did this so far from the season. I won't sleep for a week. Thanks for all your work doing this.
Great thread will. You sure know what your doing up on the mountain as well as at home behind the computer.
Thank you for sharing.
All kinds of awesome!!! Thank you for sharing.
Fantastic read and photos Will!
Thanks for sharing!
Cracking read from start to finish...
'Carlsberg don't do epic elk hunting threads, but if they did...'
If I'm having an off day, I'll re-read this for sure
What a truly amazing journey that you have shared with those of us who love to bowhunt. Your efforts and excitement come through your writing and inspire so many of us to attempt to achieve similar experiences. You have personally got this older bowhunter to go again to the mountains in pursuit of similar sights and memories. Well done and thank you.
Great thread! You've got me fully stoked for September- time to go work out! Thanks for ale the effort you put into bringing us along.
That was the best hunt I have ever been on....FANTASTIC, thanks for taking us along.
Great read will. I enjoyed it. I can't get enough elk hunting stories.
Incredible job with the story and pics. A lot of fun to check out here in the beginning of March. I might return to this again right before the season.
Thanks again for putting it together.
Will, Excellent story telling and photos. Reading this just gets me stoked once again, September in MT can't come quick enough for me.
Awesome read! Thank you, Will, for taking the time to write it up and share it!
Thanks Will. I hope you have a great season this year.
Thanks Will. You had me from the very first picture. I'd been needing a dose of elk country, and you more than scratched the itch!
Thanks again for all the kind words. Makes it all worth the effort knowing so many have enjoyed
fubar, the subaru has a piston nocking, gonna cost more to fix than she's worth. I just bought a new huntn rig. This may have been the sub's last hunt, a december WYO lope
Thanks for sharing, Will. Makes for a great motivator to train! It's easy to forget just how steep the mountains are, and how thin the air is!
Well done sir, great thread
Fantastic Read. Im heading to CO this September, for my first Elk bow hunt, and this has me charged up. Thanks for taking the time to post.
Awesome thread and thanks for taking us along. It makes me look forward to returning to one of my favorite OTC units this year since we didn't draw WY and probably won't draw anything else...
That was great! Thanks for sharing. Just curious, what broadhead did your buddy use that cut such a small hole? That looks like a bullet hole, or a mech that didnt open.
Absolutely incredible!!! Hunt, story telling, photos...like I was right there with you. September can't get here soon enough. Will you wore out that Subaru hauling critters!
Awesome ! Thank you for the entertainment!
For Orion's brothers friend.
This is a classic from one of my favorites. Hunt