That made for a not so exciting thread. Hoping to have a more exciting season this year.
I’ll update with stories and pictures as time allows. We have around 20 days scheduled to hunt this year, so hopefully there will be pictures of 2 dead bulls along the way.
We threw our packs on and headed out on the hike to our favorite spike camp spot.
There were no other people up there, so we had a lot of area to ourselves.
The wind was consistently in my face or blowing straight down hill since I got to the top. Everything was looking good!
Close call, and a fun opening morning.
The bull never bugled again or snuck into our calls.
We hiked back to the tent. We have a soft dirt bank across the creek from the tent we can shoot into. Its nice mid day to get some shooting in. Its pretty nice being able to shoot our bows 20 to 60 yards way out in the middle of nowhere whenever we have time during daylight.
The sun set, and we made the hike back to the tent. We were exited to hit some of our other spots the next morning. So far so good, have seen elk or sign in the normal places.
About 30 minutes into this hunt my buddy Tim spotted a big bear around 150 yards away right when we got set up to do some cow calling. He came back and got me. The bear fed into a patch of timber that was about 25 yards wide, and 40 yard long. I nicked an arrow and made my way over to where he last saw the bear. With the wind blowing down hill I stayed a little bit high so I could see top side of the timber patch on the way over there. I didn’t see the bear. When I got to the patch of trees I dropped below it, and slowly worked my way around. I was looking through all the timber expecting a large bear to feed out in front of me at any second. I snuck around the bottom of the timber, then around the back side…no bear. He must have continued on a straight line out of this timber patch, through the grassy opening, and then into the timbered ridge top. That was the only way neither of us would have not been able to see it.
The rest of the morning hunt was uneventful. No elk seen or heard. There was elk sign scattered throughout everywhere we had hunted. Not tons of sign, but enuff. The hunt we did this morning is usually good after the 8-10 of September. Later around those dates there is almost always a herd bull that shows up and a few satellite bulls.
We headed over to them to talk so we could salvage the evening hunt. It was about 530pm so we had time to get out of there.
They have never hunted out here. They had hiked about .7 miles up the steep finger ridge we were hunting down from the bottom and set their tent up next to the start of a little creek. There is also a really good bedding area about a 100 yards from where they camped where I have called in two bulls that Tim has shot.
They looked to be about 25 and like they just got out of the military. Phelps game call mouth reed packs of every color, Hush and Born and Raised hats, and Go pro cameras mounted on the chest straps of their packs. They said they had the whole month off to hunt.
This area is screwed!
I asked them their plan for the evening, and made a plan B and hustled up the hill to head somewhere else before dark.
We moved a 100 yards closer and set up for me to call the bull into Tim. After a few cow calls I head branches breaking and could tell the bull was coming in really fast. Next thing I new the bull was already last time and circling me. It was really thick where I was calling from, and the bull never got anywhere I could get a shot.
After me and Tim met back up he said the bull ran through the couple spots he could shoot at full speed, then stopped at 60 yards. He just wasn’t feeling confident at that distance through the small shooting lane he had and passed on shooting.
That was one lucky bull, he was feet away from walking somewhere he could have got shot a few times but it didn’t pan out.
3 close calls in 3 days.
We’ll be heading back out Friday to Monday, so should have some more fun elk encounters to share next week.
With the really hot weather forecast for this trip I had planned to set up and call near thick bedding areas. I had all 4 days planned out. With them spending so much time in one of our go to spots we scratched that of the list.
We set up a few different times near ridges or benches that had fresh tracks/rubs, and did some cow calls hiking a bull would sneak in.
There was plenty of good sign around, but no elk were seen or heard.
There was sign scattered pretty much everywhere we went, but way less than what we expected in the basin. We ran into the same once we got over to the far ridge.
There were a few more fresh rubs on the ridge. We set up and called in multiple spots where we figured the bulls may be bedding. Just like yesterday no elk were seen or heard.
With temps well above 80 degrees we knew we were in for a tuff trip. We never see much daytime movement when it’s this hot.
That's the end of trip number two. Heading back out friday night-tuesday morning. Hopefully the basin with all the sign and rubs has a few active bulls when we head back.
We dropped down to the bottom of a main drainage, and headed a few miles to where we would camp for at least the first night. With not a lot of time, we decided to just hunt about a half mile section where some bulls should be coming down from bedding areas in a couple different ridges. We saw some fresh sign, but no elk encounters.
The next morning we hunted through the same area at first light, with no elk encounters again. We started up a steep finger ridge that is all pretty thick dark timber. About 1/2 a mile up we finally got a bull to respond quit a ways above us. We hustled up the ridge to close the distance, and hopefully call the bull in. He answered a couple more times, but never did come any closer. While trying to call him in, another bull bugled once further up the drainage in the next ridge over. We decided it seemed like the elk were in the top halves of the different drainages during daylight hours.
We needed to pack up camp and relocate. After packing up we headed up a 3 mile long ridge. We hoped to get something going on the way up, but he bulls were quiet, and nothing came in silent in the different areas we setup and called for a while. With the amount of rubs in this ridge we were surprised we couldn’t get anything going. The elk were here, so just a matter of being there at the right time.
We made it to camp spot #3 about an hour after dark and got situated. From this camp we can pretty easily access 5 different finger ridges that head north off a main ridge.
In the mornings we usually at least can get a response on one of the other ridges from this one. It’s pretty steep dropping down through the timber and blow down from the main ridge, to this finger. Then mellows out for quit a ways. About .6 miles out the finger a bull responded across from us about 1/3 of the way up the next ridge. The last couple times a bull answered from there, he was actually heading up and over the ridge to bed in the next drainage to the east. Before we bailed off this finger, we wanted to see if their was another bull closer. That first bull answered a cow call pretty fast from about 900 yards so we weren’t going to mess around much.
We quickly moved about 150 yards farther down the ridge where we have had bulls answer on both sides of this finger. I did a few loud cow and calf calls, and the bull across the drainage bugles pretty quick in response. I did some whiny estrous calls, and another bull came unglued 150-200 yards below us at the very most. It sounded like a good size bull. The way he screamed, I fully expected to call him in to Tim fast. I backed over the other side of the finger and started doing some cow calls, and milling around in a pile of dead sticks. I figured I would here Tim cow call to stop the bull for a shot within 10-15 seconds by the way that bull screamed the first time. The bull answered again finally, not fired up at all anymore? He did that one more time, and I went back over to Tim so we could try to sneak really close to this bull. Never heard a peep out of him again.
Not sure what happened. The first bull had also stopped bugling.
Tim set up to the right of the tall dead tree.
I went to the left side of the ridge to call, so the bull would have already walked in front of Tim before he could see where I was calling from.
The top of the ridge was big timber, with some large patches of really bad deadfall. The west side of the ridge gets really steep fast with a good mixture of big timber, deadfall, lodge pole pines , and grassy openings.
After about an hour of going through deadfall and thick crap we hit the first grassy opening. We spread out about 50 yards apart, and both did some calling for about 30. Nothing happened, so we headed a few hundred yards away.
It just felt like there should be a bull bedded in the timber right below us. I let out a loud fairly aggressive bugle, hoping to startle a close by bull that would respond.
Almost immediately I heard large sticks breaking about 60-80 yards off to our right and slightly below us. My instinct was right there was a bull here, just wasn’t where I thought.
In less than 5 seconds the bull jumped over a dead tree, and appeard 40 yards away. He was behind a small cluster of 6-8 ft tall trees. If he kept walking about 10 yards I would have a good broadside shot.
We moved a little further and stopped for a break.
If flattens out a lot, and we figured we would do some calling again here. Tim set up right where it dropped off really steep, and I was about 70 yards away on the back of a little rocky knob. We figured elk would be bedded right below where Tim was if they were here.
Within a minute of calling I heard a stick break and caught some movement off to my right. Two times in less then 3 hours we were set up wrong. A bull was heading through the lodge poles, and looked like it would step out At about 55 yards broadside if it continued on the path I saw it taking.
I let my bow down as the bull kept coming straight at me. At 40 he turned broadside and stopped. I pulled my bow back, settled my pin, and executed a great shot.
This is only the second time I’ve ever had an elk jump the string.
It was just about to get dark. I was pretty upset, but nothing I could have done differently. I aimed and exicuted a good shot, the elk just wasn’t in the same spot when the arrow got there.
It was about a 3 mile hike back to camp. In the morning we had to head home.
I saw where the arrow hit at the shot, and a second visual confirmation when he stopped at 83 yards. On the way out to the truck in the morning we still did 3 miles of grid searching just to be through. Never found any blood, wich wasn’t surprising.
Ended this trip on a pretty low point, even though I couldn’t control the elk jumping my string.
Tim and I both were behind schedule to head out. We both got held up trying to wrap up stuff at work, and it was going be past 11pm by the time we could get out to our camp where we had our tent and sleeping bags from the trip before. We decided to grab a hotel and hit a local brewery!
We usually don’t mess around during elk season, but there was actually an area we wanted to check out not terribly far from where we would park to head out. So we wouldn’t be missing any hunting the next day.
Off we went.
We pulled up to a dead end road where we would park and threw our packs on to head out. It was a couple miles steep up hill, and then we started to drop off down into some small creek bottoms and small meadows. It didn’t take long and a bull answered a bugle. He was moving away, probably heading to bed so we followed. We were on a large bench, before a really really steep drop off down to a creek bottom.
The first bull we heard kept going wherever it was he was heading and we lost track of him. As we got to the edge of the steep drop off a different bull bugled, then another, then another, then other!
A couple of the bulls were getting pretty fired up, the rest were just answering the other bulls every once in a while. During all the different bulls sounding off, a couple more piped off on the next hillside across the creek. The closest bull sounded about 300 yards straight below us. By now it was getting pretty late in the morning, and we had a feeling these bulls would shut up at anytime now, but probably not until till they pulled us even further down the steep hill.
Like we figured all the bulls quit talking. It was almost 11 so we decided just to eat some food, and hang out for a hour or two.
We never did, and once we dropped off the bench and into the bottom we found a large horse camp with a couple wall tent. It was a cool looking area, but we decided to boogy up to our tent and get an evening hunt in up where we normally go.
The bulls first thing in the morning got us side tracked pretty good.
It was some really neat looking stuff, but you could tell it definitely attracted hunters. Lots of boot tracks and and found another camp that someone had recently used, and left some stuff indicating they would be back.
We tried some cow calls and bugles, but nothing ever did answer.
We knew the elk were here, so this would be our starting point Saturday morning.
I’m not sure why we almost always get something going on one of the fingers in the mornings, but the evenings are pretty spotty.
After working quite a ways down down the ridge a bull finally answered. He was a Looong ways away. It sounded like he was on the farthest ridge to our east.
Off we went.
When we got to the top of the next ridge over there we’re now 3 bulls all answering cow calls. I quit doing any bugles after the first bull answered.
A couple sounded pretty aggressive, and they were talking on their own. We got in close to where we had heard the last bugle and I cow called.
A completely new bull went ballistic a little bit over 100 yard away.
Tim nocked an arrow, and I backed off 30-40 yards behind a small ridge.
One again I figured this bull would be in front of Tim in no time by the way he bugled.
I did some different cow calls and some raking… nothing
We popped out of the steep thick timber to a small opening right where I killed a 6 point 3 years ago! We didn’t realize we had gone so far down this drainage until then. The bull actually went passed where we thought he was going and went to the up and over this ridge to bed on the back side on a small finger with a bench.
It was pretty odd how a couple of the bulls answered so aggressively, then stopped or completely changed to just a lazy bugle. Not sure what what going on, but up to this point they had us scratching our heads.
At least we were getting into elk, just need to catch the right one on the right day!
We decided to make our way out to the area where I shot the bull that jumped the string the week before.
About an hour before dark a bull bugled after I did some cow calls from a long ways off. I didn’t do any more calling and he bugled again closer. He pretty much made his way ti about 100 yards and hung up. I figured after coming all that ways ti cow calls he would come the rest of the way, especially being in the thick timber and blow down. A couple other bulls also started talking after all that first bulls bugles. Again we were surrounded by elk, and nothing.
This was shaping up to be an odd feeling year. Typically I can feel out a bull pretty well and do what I need to to call him in. This year I was feeling about like the first year I archery elk hunted.
The sun went down and there was still one bull bugle below us. With so many active bulls we figured this would be a good spot to hit in the morning before we had to hike out to the truck and head home for a couple days. We didn’t spook any of the elk, so they should be in the general area.
Half way back to camp we spotted a huge bull track in the trail. It looked like a big boy was moving in to gather some cows.
It seems like things we really starting to get going right when we had to head home.
Our last trip over would be Thursday as soon as we could get off work.
Tim and I were both going nuts having to come home for work, right when the switch was seeming to switch. All I could think about was fired up bulls going crazy while we were gone.
We weren’t going tho make it over for a Thursday hunt. I ended up not being able to get back to my house until 1pm to head out. We were going to drive most of the way, then do the last hour and a half or 2 hours early in the am hoping to arrive where we park an hour before day light.
We had a really steep climb for a mile and a half, then it flattens out. Shortly after that is where the bull bugled at is on the way out the previous Monday, and where we got on a couple bulls the Friday before that.
The plan was to be there right at shooting light and drop down from the top about a 1/4 or half mile, then hunt our way a couple miles towards camp.
We would be hunting the east side of a couple mile long bench right where it breaks really steep down to the creek bottom below.
We were hoping to catch elk up on the bench before they headed to the steep fingers to bed.
I did some pretty whiny cow calls, and the bull immediately roared back. Almost straight below us. We hauled butt down the hill and veered slightly to the right to keep the wind good. I wanted to drop down about 300 yard, and then cow call to see if we were good to set up to call the bull in. On the way down the bull screamed several times, probably reacting to the sound of sticks breaking as we were heading down.
We got to a spot where there were actually some good shooting lanes where you could see 30-40 yards. You would see the whole elk, but definitely had a good chance of stopping one with a clear view of vitals.
I backed off 50-60 yards, and started cow calling. One bull answered very close, but sounded different then the one we came down after. Then another aggressively screamed a little further away. Then another large sounding bull screamed a few hundred yards away, then another even further off.
There were 4 bulls bugling between 100 and 500 yards. I hadn’t bugled at all since the very first bugle at first light. These bulls were really liking the cow calls, and just bulging at each other.
The closer bull bugled again, but sounded like he may not go through the small gap Tim could shoot. I quickly moved straight down the hill a little bit and began cow calling.
Next I heard Tim cow call, then the sound of a broadhead hitting the chest cavity of an elk!
I could hear the bull go crashing down the hill as it ran off.
I couldn’t see any of what had just transpired, but had a good idea based off what I had heard.
We just shot 2 bulls in under two minutes!
His bull spooked a little at when he pulled his bow back. He cow called and it stopped to look back giving him a hard quartering away shot.
Unbelievable, this bull was pouring blood out. We backed up to Tim’s bull and figured out we both left all our game bags at the tent when we went home on the last trip. It was right at 32 degrees that morning, we figured it was just best to get out of thier, get our game bags, and drop all the extra food and clothes we had off at camp. It would take about two hours to get there and back.
After getting back from camp to Tim’s bull we began skimming and getting it boned out.
Somehow he was still alive and made a final 50 yard dash and piled up when we bumped him in the morning.
After both bulls were hung up we headed to camp.
Our plan was to sleep, get up at 4am, pack up, and start getting everything out to the truck.
On Saturday we got camp, all the meat, and both heads packed out to truck. We were completely exhausted, but started the very long drive home.
We always process everything from our hunts at my house, and wanted to get back as soon as possible since we had 2 decent sized bulls to deal with.
Sunday we got all the steaks cut and vacuum sealed. We also got everything else trimmed, cubed up, and ready to grind.
Got done just in time for me Tim, and my 2 year old daughter to have some fresh elk burgers for lunch.
Rock We killed two bulls, so there are two in the truck. Not sure how you are seeing an extra antler.