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400 Miles: A September Saga
“This isn’t normal, Bill”, my mother exclaimed to my father. “He’s OBSESSED!” They were watching their 9 year old son (me) sharpening the individual edges of the chisel tips on his Thunderhead 125s. I’d opted to do this in prep for deer season instead of going to soccer practice with my friends.
Nope, I’m definitely not normal, Mom; at least when it comes to bowhunting. I’m still that 9 year old kid.
To me bowhunting has become more of a religion than it is a sport or hobby. If there’s a place that one can get closer to God than in the high country, bow in hand, I have yet to find it. I love all hunting, but beyond the shadow of doubt, my absolute favorite is bowhunting elk.
I hunt and dream of it year round but right around June, as Sept. bears down on summer, I become overwhelmed with a kind of electricity. Anxious excitement gives way to a calm focus, a relentless determination. It’s a hard thing to put to words but I know quite a few of you understand this description perfectly. If you take hunting as seriously as anything in your life except family; if you prepare yourself and your gear much as a soldier preps for battle; than you share my passion. I spent close to a month in the mountains over the 2015 bow season hunting deer and elk. This is my story
Sweet, looking forward to it Will!
I ended up drawing my 4th choice (insert thumbs down) deer tag this season in a unit I’d never deer hunted. The unit consists mostly of dense ponderosa forest. Glassing for deer here is virtually impossible. After a bunch of summer scouting in an area I’d seen deer in the past I located a nice old strip cut which deer seemed to be feeding through on their way to/from bedding. There were some good trails through the cut with better sign than I was finding anywhere else so I decided to hunt here out of my climber on opening weekend. I scouted a few other areas over the summer but really wasn’t too excited about my odds. I’d hunt the opening two days before going back to work for 3 days. Then I would head to my OTC elk area for the rest of the season. This might require more than a little luck.
I know. It doesn't look like much but this is the only clear spot between private feeding grounds and dark timbered bedding. My stand would be in the shadowed tree on the right come opening day.
Woot woot! I've been waiting for this! I love your stories- your pros and passion are just great, Will. Thanks for taking the time to entertain us in the off season.
Awesome! Today is going to be a good day of "work."
A week prior to the opener I came back to clip some limbs, do a practice climb and set a blind for my good buddy to sit in as a spectator/videographer. I was pleasantly surprised when I checked the cards on the two cameras I’d left. It would be a long work week.
2:00am Aug 27. Up to make the 2 hour drive from home to meet my good buddy Bertin. He’s strictly a gun guy but we enjoy tagging along on hunts together. This would be no exception. My stand was only about 300 yards from our parking spot, a gentleman’s hunt compared to what I was in for throughout the rest of the season. I was 15 feet up at least an hour before legal light, plenty of time to relax and soak it all in.
“When a hunter is in a treestand….that hunter is 20 feet closer to God.” Fred Bear Sure feels that way, Fred!
I was hoping for one like this but, truth be told, I would take the first decent buck that gave me the chance.
A bugle tore through the perfect silence as dawn crept up on the Colorado archery opener. I snapped out of my daydream, heart pounding. This is living! As darkness turned to grey light I scanned my surroundings for movement, fully expecting to see elk, if anything. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!!” A nice buck was feeding my way, only 15 yards from Bertin when I spotted him. Bert’s blind was set about 60-70 yards from me. I checked my watch; legal, but still a little too dark to see my pins through my peep. Take your time, deer! I quickly ranged all the likely places he may cross while going through my pre-shot ritual in my head. “Aim small. Relax into the shot. Perfect release.” The deer was currently at 80 yards feeding slowly in my direction. Preseason scouting has paid off and this was shaping up to be a quick hunt. As he closed the distance I noticed he’s got a buddy, wider and probably 10 P&Y inches bigger. I made the quick decision not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I’d take the first quality shot I got. He was on course to cross by me at 40 yards. When he hit my lane I drew, anchored, and he turned straight at me still feeding. He took what seemed like forever to get to 25 yards, still feeding, now slightly quartered to me. At this point, I’d been holding for a good while (probably 2 minutes). I settled on a hair on his “shirt pocket” that’d put my arrow through all the good stuff and the bow went off. WHACK! The buck never even flinched. He tipped over backwards on impact and died as fast as any animal I’ve shot with an arrow. UNREAL! I was 10 minutes into opening day in a unit I was bummed to have drawn, never hunted deer in, with my buddy sipping coffee watching the whole deal! Life is Good!!
Awesome!! I love your stories. Thank you for taking the time to put them together for our enjoyment.
I took this crap pic, while still shaking, before getting out of the tree. The deer is laying dead directly behind the tree in the foreground.
Bertin and I exchanged a few backslaps and some punches, laughing and retelling the story, high on life. It doesn't get any better. This picture will be on my wall forever!
Not a giant by any means but a heck of a way to start the first few minutes of the Colorado archery season!
Sweet Will, congrats on a fine buck! Nothing like have a good friend along as well, he looks as happy as you!! (grin)
Good story,thanks for sharing
"Nope, I’m definitely not normal, Mom; at least when it comes to bowhunting. I’m still that 9 year old kid."
"Success is where preparation and perspiration meet"
Congrats! We are all ears!
Congrats! Always enjoy your stories. Hoping for more.
Thanks, friends! For all that Bowsite has done for me, this is the least I can do. And, yes, there will be MUCH more. A morning like this is the perfect excuse for a beer before 8:30am :) We got the deer cleaned up and on ice and stayed to camp and celebrate that night.
Very cool and look forward to the rest. By the way, your friend looks a lot like Ned Beatty in Deliverance in that picture. HA
Here's a pic for the autopsy guys. The 125g shuttle T shattered the vertebrae before passing through the front/top of the left lung and the center of the right exiting thru the stomach on the off side. Head was down at the shot which makes the entry pic look slightly off.
One more trophy pic and then lets go elk huntn!
Awesome job! Excited to hear more. I have refreshed this page prob 100 times to see if there is any updates! LOL
Fast forward through a painful, neverending work week and I was on the road. On Labor Day weekend I was set to meet my buddy Joe and another friend and first time bowhunter, Jeremy. I beat them to camp on Thursday and took a short walk with my bow not wanting to spoil any of our best spots before the team arrived. We had high hopes that Jeremy would have the chance to kill at least a cow in one of our "go to's" the following morning. It was a quiet evening and after a short mile hike out, I was having a drink with the guys and discussing the plan for the a.m. I had glassed some elk on a distant ridge that afternoon. After confirming that Jeremy was up for a brutal day, we decided on hunting one of our toughest spots; 6 miles in, about a mile of hunting and 6 miles back to camp.
Photo from first day's juant.
We left camp at 3:45am and made the hike in a downpoor. We were climbing, hands and feet, up a steep sloping aspen forest in grey light when we spotted our first elk of season. 35 yards. Jeremy could have shot her but we wanted to make sure there wasn't a good bull with her before whacking a cow in the first few minutes of our hunt. We held tight as a few more cows milled around. No sign of a bull and they were starting to get around us at which point they'd catch our wind. Well, that's exactly what happened while we were standing there debating whether Jeremy should shoot one or not. Oh well. That's bowhunting!
Keep it coming Will ! I have to go do my taxes now, ( groan ), but I'll be back for the rest of this.
We continued on to our planned destenation, a strip clearing with high grass in an otherwise monotonous spruce/fir forest. As we neared the spot a gnarly bugle ripped through the rain, maybe 200 yards up. We definitely weren't expecting this (normally the first few weekends have little to no bugling) and a couple of seasoned elk killers turned to bug eyed newbies in a matter of seconds. We never really made a plan or designated a shooter. Huge mistake. We just moved up, FAST. Joe and I have been hunting elk together for years and make a heck of a team but something about this, first day suprprise action, had both of us comeing unglued. This encounter pretty much sums up why I love bowhunting elk.
Will, your season recap is the highlight of the bowsite off season!
Joe moved up and was gone in a flash. I moved down towards the bottom of the opening. I immediately wished I'd stopped Joe to find out exactly where he'd be. As I moved to the edge of the meadow, I saw a great bull dogging a single cow across the top of the opening. If he made it to the dark timber chances were he'd be tough or impossible to catch up to. I had to hope Joe was in position as I whipped out my bugle and fired my nastiest scream at him. He turned on a dime like one of them T.V. bulls and came right down the middle of the meadow towards me. He was on course to give me a chip shot. I ranged a few trees near where I thought he'd end up; 40 and 45. When he lumbered in he was a good 10-15 yards in front of the 40 yard tree. As I drew I heard "MEH" and knew immediately that Joe was ready to shoot. I held off and waited to see Joe's fletchings disspapear in the goods. WHIFF! Joe's arrow flew right over his back. The bull ran aobut 10-15 yards at the shot before I could stop him with a nervous grunt. At this point, I'm drawn but have some bows obstructing a clear shot so I stood up, bull staring right at me, and walked right out to clear my view. The bull just stood there. I'd never processed the 10+ yards that he ran when Joe shot. In the heat of the moment I'd gone into kill mode when I decided he was going to be at 30 yards and never thought beyond that. I centered my 30 pin in the V and pulled through. CRACK! I knew as soon as I saw the impact that it was a non lethal hit, low by at least 4-6 inches. I was overwhelmed with dissappointment as I stopped him again; 65 yards quartering to. I'd have put another one in him if I'd thought the first was going to kill him but, though I stopped him 2 or 3 times before he walked off, he never offered an angle/distance I liked. Oh yea, I forgot to mention he was a PIG, probably 320+ . OUCH!
We waited about an hour, going over our mistakes before splitting up. I'd still hunt/track the bull in hopes he'd bedded close. I knew this was unlikely as he looked relatively good walking away but wanted to follow up regardless. After a few hours of searching we grouped back up to hike out. On the way out, we spotted a cow feeding in a perfect position for a stalk, 30 yards behind a small knoll. Joe and I watched anxiously as Jeremy moved in to take his first shot at an amimal. Everything went great except for the shot :). The arrow flew harmlessly over her back. Within a few hours of the first day of the hunt we'd all 3 missed! Tails tucked, time to head back to camp and do some shooting. First a.m. hunt: just over 13 miles
We all shot our bows at camp prior to an eating contest and a nap. At 1:30 we were back at it, heading to another spot, probably our favorite. One day into what would be a 23 day hunt for me and we were getting pounded with rain. Everything we'd worn was soaked. We all had good boots as well as backups but if you've hunted in this much rain before you know that no boot will prevent blisters on soggy, swollen feet. The show must go on..
We made the 2 mile hike straight up to our favorite basin. The rain never let up that afternoon and we found ourselves tucked under the thickest spruce we could find at 11,000 ft waiting for the afternoon winds to become more predictable.
Might as well sit somewhere Elky!
After sitting for an hour or two we started sneaking our wa y through the bottom of the basin scanning for elk in some smaller avalanche shoots. First shoot: nothing. Second shoot: nothing. Third shoot: Bingo, 6 cows right on level with us. Jeremy would have second chance in his first day of bowhunting.
Here's a shot of where they were
They're 75 yards away at this point. You can lead a horse to water.....
I hung back hoping for the best and ready to call if signaled. At this point I was thinking this would at least result in a shot. Nope. Jeremy might have gotten a little too cautious at this point. Either way, they rolled out and left us behind.
The next morning we headed the 6 miles back to the same spot as the day before. As elk hunting can be it had gone from magic to mud over night. Not a peep. After a slow, wet morning and over 28 miles in the first 1.5 days, we decided to split up for the afternoon to try a few "easy" spots. At this point our stuff is all soaked and this is the best I could do to dry it.
Home, sweet home! This beats living in a Subaru. RIP old girl
What happened to me on the afternoon of Sept. 5 still haunts me. I decided I'd hunt a spot that has a ton of trails leading from bedding to some nice ponds and seeps. I picked a spot to sit where a couple of great trails came together but was really just hoping to hear a bugle to move on.
Saw this track on the way in. I already had a bear in the freezer thanks to good friends and Bowsite so it'd have to be a booner to catch an arrow, but still had a tag.
At 4:30 I ripped off a locator and the forest below me lit up. At least 4 bulls answered from below me, including one that sounded like a mix between a steer, a donkey, and an elk. They were all coming from straight down valley off what was nearly a cliff. So much for an easy afternoon.
This is a shot of where I was sitting. Its flat before dropping into some of the thickest stuff I've hunted elk in.
I checked the wind constantly for about a half hour before deciding it was safe to drop in on what was surely a bedding area. THICK. Any shot would be from spitting distance. The bulls never shut up after my first bugle. It was relatively easy to move into position. I focused on the scary big sounding bugle and after about 30 minutes of crawling through blow down, I was as close as I dared get; maybe 50 yards from the bull. This stuff was dang near impenetrable except for one muddied elk trail. Normally I might try to sneak all the way in for the shot but it was just too thick to do this silently. I'd need to either get lucky or bring him to me. I nocked an arrow, whipped out my old trusty dog chewed bugle tube, and waited for him to sound off.
At his next groan I ripped into him with my meanest challenge. Almost as soon as I began my bugle I caught an antler move and before I capped it off with a grunt I could see he was on his way. I saw a few other elk moving around (to thick to see what they were) as he dropped his head and began glunking his way towards me. GOOD LORD, he's HUGE, every bit of 340" if not closer to 350". He swaggered up the very trail I was on (the only place that offered any type of shot in any direction) knocking over small trees with what looked to be a spread near 50". 20yds. 15 yds. His head was blocked as he approached 10 yards. I drew. His current path would bring him around a blow down for a frontal at about 5 ft. He's still coming. 20ft, 15ft, 10ft; still no shot. I caught movement to my left, very close. A 5x has snuck right in to about 8 yards. The big bull whipped up his head, catching the same movement and smashed past me at about 10ft chasing the lil 5 point like a dog chasing a cat. Even at point blank I had no shot. I nervous grunted but he didn't even hear it. The two bulls crashed off leaving the herd nervous and sending them down the mountain. Man, what a bull! I still can't believe he's not in my freezer. If not for the poor timing of the smaller bull I'd be showing you pics of him right now instead of telling a story about "the one that got away". I stayed with the herd well after dark that night in order to have a good idea of where they'd be in the morning. It ended up being about an 8 mile evening and at about 10pm I headed back towards camp.
I pride myself on staying positive no matter my situation but tonight I wanted to bang my head against a tree! Two opportunities in two days blown and I wouldn't have much time to hunt for myself this season with two friends heading out back to back.
At least there was whiskey in camp. I was gonna need it.
On a positive note I'd left them screaming in the dark. The next morning would be more of the same
We found them well before light the following day. His bugle was unmistakable. They had moving even further from camp and were leading us even deeper. We moved. They moved. We moved. They moved until they were getting dangerously close (maybe 200yds) from private, 7 miles from camp. As they slowed a bit, we had no choice but to set up and call, which I was sure wouldn't work on the big boy from outside 150 yds. Nevertheless, we might be able to call one of what sounded like 5-6 satellites. We set up, Joe and Jeremy out front 50 yards apart and myself 50 yards behind them. Right away I got a response to some whiney cow calling. It wasn't the herd bull but Jeremy wasn't picky. I kept calling as he approached bugling the whole way. I shut up when I figured he was about 100yds as it was relatively open. Like clockwork there he was walking straight at my shooters, 80 yards and closing. From what I could see, he appeared to be a young but legal bull. He came to within feet of Jeremy before stopping. I waited for the shot. Nothing. Quickly he busted and I stopped him again still well within bow range of the guys. This time I could see he was a 3x3 without brows; not a legal bull. Jeremy was pumped regardless and a bowhunter was surely born that weekend.
This is a shot of where the bull was taken from Jeremy's point of view. He stopped just on the other side of the downed trees
Took this shot later that morning while listening to a couple hundred bugles coming from "the other side of the fence". We came back that evening hoping they might follow the same route that led them there. No luck. 24.4 mile day
Jeremy and Joe had to take off after the morning hunt the following day. I had the Sept 8-10 to try to fill my tag before my good friend Dennis arrived from Jersey. At that point I'd take a backseat and do everything I could to put him on a bull. I didn't know whether I'd shoot the next elk taht gave me the chance, with limited time for "selfish" hunting.
That morning I made the climb into one of my favorite basins. The elk were there and moving high above treeline at first light. I didn't have time to catch them that day but I'd be there in the dark the following morning.
Truly spectacular country!
That afternoon I hiked the 6 miles (hopefully your starting to get the "400 Miles" and the "Saga") back into the drainage I was in a day before. I made a huge loop and heard a few faint bugles but never could get close.
Saw some cool stuff though. This was carved on a tree in the middle of nowhere
Loving it! I can almost hear the bugles and taste the Makers.
Too much blabbing, Will. Not enough pics of elk country
I'd be at the top of this the next morning. This shot is taken from half way up and does it no justice. The stuff that looks like a sloping putting green near the top is dangerously steep. The elk are bedded at the VERY top in the last little fir trees on the rt at treeline. How 'bout another 3:00am wake up?
Well, I made it up. I fell once hard before reaching the spot I'd been seeing the elk cross. It was tough to find a place flat enough to sit without sliding or falling. As elk huntn goes, I saw a few cows and a small bull cross about 500 vertical feet below me :). I took a few pics on my way out to show the stuff I climbed in the dark.
Could have used my safety harness!
Hang on to the trees! I ought to intsall a rope for this particular spot. No dudes up here. Just me
Hopped in the truck and hunted about 15 miles away that evening. Here's a few pics
Can't have too many quakie shots in an elk thread.
Saw some cows that evening but couldn't shoot; wanted to, but couldn't;)
This trail was about 3-4ft wide and torn up. I was a day late though as there wasn't much around. Looks like a great spot for you treestand elk hunters
Sun sets on another day in paradise. I love bowhuntn!
One of my favorite shots from this season
Will ... maybe I missed it early on, but is this the first week of the season you're hunting?
The next morning I'd sacrifice the a.m. hunt in order to do some glassing and have a good plan of attack when Dennis arrived. The first spot I checked was full of elk so I hopped in the car to glass another of my best spots 10 miles from the first. It was also loaded with two large groups, probably 70 head total. The only problem was a digicam clad dude with his Swaros on a tripod in MY secret glassing spot. I recognized him immediately as he has graced the covers of some of my favorite elk mags. He's an absolute killer of public land elk with a bunch of 330+ bulls under his belt as well as a 380" OTC giant. Little did I know they were all taken in the same unit I frequent. We hit it off immediately and talked huntn for well over an hour. He wasn't interested in the 280ish 5x which was the biggest we could see in the basins we were glassing so we exchanged numbers and I left with a new friend and a plan for that afternoon.
It all melts together a bit John , but I started the second week and stayed until about the 26? A marathon for sure
I slipped into town for a couple sausage egg and cheeses and the local gas station, loaded my pack for 2 days and hit the trail.
That's it for today. I'll try to update this a bit each morning before work this week but likely won't finish until next Monday as I'm out of town this weekend. Apologies for dragging it out but a month of hunting can't be paraphrased in a day. It'll be worth the wait. Strong finsh. Thanks for reading!
this is awesome!!! keep it rolling.... making my day!
Oh yeah!!!! Been waiting for this!
Thanks Will, I certainly admire the miles put in & your determination, good stuff!
Really cool! Enjoying this!
Great stuff as always! A late winter highlight for me! C
Following Will, keep it coming!!!
Really great stuff, Will!
Love the carved buck. All the aspen carvings in my area are XXX rated. I have a big collection of the
Awesome so far Will.
Dang, you told me you saw a 340... you didn't tell me you had him run by at spitting distance!
Great start. I'm looking forward to the rest of the morning read.
Great pictures and story. Thanks for sharing!
thank you for taking the time to put this together...
how do you not get lost in that stuff? id probably still be out there... lol
Obsessed is a good word for it. Only took me about 5 minutes to realize Will was the real deal and we could be twin brothers . Can't wait for the rest of the story. Great so far and what Bowsite needs. Thanks for posting. Hunt
Nice! I've been waiting for this. Perfect timing as I hope to find I drew a great WY elk tag Wednesday :)
Will, wonderful pictures and story. Puts us right there on the mountain with you.
Crazy good stuff Will! You are a master of the art of story telling telling!!!
We have time (but not much)!
Just caught up, good stuff ! This is the only way I'll ever elk hunt, so thanks to all you guys who do it and share your adventures with us wannabes.
Very cool! Thank you for sharing...
Awesome recap! Really appreciate you taking the time to tell your story and share pics. Great stuff.
Thanks for the pics and story Will always enjoy it. Hope you get one too and imagine you will with all the help you give others karma should come your way I hope anyway, thanks again.
Next Monday? I'm already suffering from elk hunt recap withdrawal....LOL!
Good stuff Will.
Awesome story! Thanks Will!
Pretty cool Will---
Thanks for sharing
Good luck, Robb
I made the 4 mile hike that afternoon with plenty of time to spare. Experience hunting this area told me the elk wouldn't move before about 5:00-5:30 so I set up where I had a good view to glass some of the best looking elk country there is. Here's a few pics of the climb to get there. I'm assuming this is the reason I have almost never seen anybody in any of my spots ;)
Careful. You might have to "pay to play".
I had "camp" (a sleeping bag and heavy duty garbage bags) set up in minutes and was glassing for only a few minutes when I spotted 3 absolute slammer bighorn rams touching the sky. I was supposed to be elk hunting but all I could do was dream about what a difficult, dangerous and amazingly rewarding task it'd be to bowhunt them in that terrain. One day......
The sheep were dang near at the highest point in this pic.
I snuck as close as I dared to where I knew the elk were bedded at 4:30. At 4:45 I heard my first bugle of the evening. Upon investigation they were already on their feet, feeding out and up from the highest patch of spruce/fir on the mountain; probably at 12K and climbing. With little to no cover to work with, this was going to be tough. I was jacked! I began the ascent, hands and feet. A slip here could be my last. I LOVE this sh!#!!
The big 5x had about 30 or so cows and calves with him as well as well as a few smaller bulls. I was already wishing it was a group of 4-6 elk rather than a whole dang field full of 'em. This was my point of view only there were elk scattered all over this meadow. I closed the distance on my stomach holding grips of grass in one hand and my bow in the other, trying not to slip (again, its steeper than my pics relate). I made it into bow range of the closest members of the herd without stirring them up. I ranged a cow at 45yds and was very tempted to shoot her completing what had already been an awesome hunt. I nocked an arrow, still unsure of what I'd do. "Make up your mind, Will!".
The cows popped their heads up. I notice antlers coming over the knob above me. A small 4x5 comes trotting over to pester the cows and the big 5 screams his disapproval from just out of sight. Should I shoot the "bird in hand" now? Nope. At this point I'd followed the feeding elk up and was near the highest point in my last pic. I slithered to the last clump of fir on the mountain. This gave me about 7 more yards and very well would be as close as I could get. By this time legal light was fading fast. I checked my watch; 15 minutes left to finish this. If I'd been in the timber, it was already past seeing my pins.
I could now see the bull. He was running around frantically trying to keep track of all his cows and fend off 3 satellites. I ranged him a handful of times: 100, 90, 75, 80. I knew any calling in this wide open scenario would only result in putting them on edge. In the last few minutes of legal light I was still considering shooting a cow, just couldn't do it. I stayed put and slipped out in the cover of dark, bulls firing off at 12,000ft above me. The herd wasn't spooked. The morning hunt should be good. I slipped back to camp for some peanut butter, granola, and whiskey. Life is good
Good morning Will! I'm with ya. You might make me late for work posting this early!
As I eased into position predawn on Sept. 10 a bugle rang out just below me. My heart raced. This is living! I sprinted cautiously up the steep, dark timber covered ridge paralleling the herd. I knew the exact saddle they would cross. I just had to get there and get a little luck. I quickly reached the perfect ambush spot at the point of the last trees in the basin, wind steady. Perfect. As I got my first glimpse of the herd I realized that the two herds I'd glassed the morning before had become one. The good news: there were two more bulls I'd be glad to put my tag on. The bad news: there were at least 60-70 cows and calves. I'd never seen groups of this size in this area at this time of year. I was going to need more luck than I thought.
As I made the last few careful steps to where I needed to be I already had 20+ cows/calves and two scrapper bulls well within range, feeding my way. Still, I was haggling with myself over whether to end a spectacular hunt right here. Funny how I never really know what I'm going to do until I do it. What I did know is that I was absolutely dying to let an arrow fly!
I was sitting in the highest patch of fir at the top middle of this pic, covered up in elk. More coming.
Time for work
OH YEAH WILL! Nothing more enjoyable then walking into work and going onto Bowsite to reading your and my elk hunting adventure! AWESOME!
Absolutely awesome so far!
Will, good stuff! I love how you rest for half time here! (grin)
Great Thread. Keep it coming.
Sometimes it's good not to be working! Lol. Sounds like an uphill battle with so many eyes watching.
Is this a TV time out??!! :)
Keep em' coming!
Great stuff Will. Love your hunts!
Really enjoying this, Will...right there with you!
This is great OTC action! Thanks for taking us along sir.
Fantastic!!!! Waiting for more..........
Will, This is great! Keep it going!
Apparently otcWill has to work for a living. Dang it.
Keep it coming Will. We will be waiting!
Call in sick tomorrow and finish this! :)
Gotta LOVE IT
Cant wait till September
I want to know more about the aftermath of gas station sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches!
"I want to know more about the aftermath of gas station sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches!"
AKA roadside Russian roulette!
Old guys trick not to be constipated!
Great story so far. Thanks for taking the time share it.
Soon I had cows/calves within 15 yards, still coming. C'mon! Just walk on past, girls. No such luck. A couple of calves meandered right to me. One came to about 3-5ft. I was tucked down hoping for the best when she finally trotted out back to momma putting the whole herd on edge. The herd went alert and, after a long staring match, the lead cow turned and took back the way they'd come from. I did my best to sound like a cow being hooked by a smaller bull in hopes the big guy would turn and come looking but it was too little too late. They knew something wasn't right. DANG! Another close call. Time to go pick up Dennis at the airport
Dennis' flight was delayed twice but he finally arrived around 8pm on Sept. 10. We made the long drive back to camp high on life, expectations even higher. I'd glassed some elk in one of my "go to's" that morning. A plan was made over whiskey and lies. We were on the trail the next morning at 3am. This would give Den time for a leisurely hike in with lots of breaks. We arrived at the mouth of the basin in the dark and made our way to our glassing spot fully expecting to see elk near the top. No dice. We decided to check some smaller parks below the basin. This is what we saw
There were a few cows and a spike. Den quickly says, "No cows for me this year". Myself, with friends to help for the rest of the season, I'm thinking it might be in my freezer's best interest to take this opportunity. That and I absolutely love shooting stuff with my bow!
150 sneaky yards later I was in bow range, 50 yards, arrow nocked. Again, I decide to pass. There's just been too much action to kill a cow. I've said it before and I say it again, the old "don't pass up on the first day what you'd be happy with on the last" is the BS of all BS!
No sooner did I put my arrow back on the quiver, a bull rips off from near where I left Dennis. I eased that way and caught him in full ninja mode, arrow nocked, release on string. I gave a few soft mews. He's coming! I got my bugle ready and cut him off on his next scream. At this point the bull was maybe 75 yards away and just out of sight. I was about 30 yards behind Den hoping he'd stay put. This bull was committed and I tried to whisper to Den to hold up as he made his last few careful steps to where he wanted to be. Too late. CRACK! Bull busted! I stopped him with a bugle but no clear shot; just clear enough to see he was a perfect 6x around the 300" mark. SOB! Good first morning for Den
The bull got back with the other elk and calmed down a bit. We decided to leave them for the evening hunt. I told Den, its time to head down for some food and we'll head back in for the pm hunt. He looked at me like I had 3 heads and said, "You gotta be @#$%ing kidding me!! If I hike outta here there ain't no way in hell I'm coming back up this afternoon!" LOL! I left him on a good trail near a wallow and told him I'd be back in 3-4 hours with breakfast and lunch. I was back up by noon with antelope steaks, egg and cheeses, and plenty of candy. I also brought up some medical supplies to treat the nasty blisters Dennis already had. Dude's a beast, though and pain won't slow us down.
We ate well and talked about the afternoon plan before passing out in the sun for a well deserved nap. The lucky CBA hat doubles as sunscreen :)
Not a lot better than naps in the high country in the September sun!
That evening we glassed the herd near last light. They were calm, feeding right back into the basin we'd expected them in. There was a great bull amongst them with 50"+ mains and a good spread. He was short on tine length but would likely go in the 315-325 range. They were way to high above us to get on that night with limited time so we planned to be back in the a.m. We were excited to say the least.
Another 3am wakeup the next morning and into the basin in the dark. The plan was to glass before light and Dennis would head up solo as soon as we confirmed the elk were up there. 45 minutes before shooting light I could see quite a few light spots in the top of the basin. I told Den where he needed to be soon after first light and wished him luck. The elk up here move fast at first light and bed around 8am. There would be a small time slot to get to the target destination before the wind goes sour. I would enjoy the show from the bottom as two people would only make an already very difficult stalk near impossible. There are a solid 25-30 elk in this photo. The target destination is just above the little rock outcropping on the right, 3/4 of the way to the top. This is a hands and feet climb. Most hunters could make it to the spot given they were in good shape and wanted it bad enough. Few could get there in the narrow timeslot available and without spooking the herd. It was going to be a "careful sprint". I love this stuff!
Dennis made it. (I'm proud of ya, brother!) He got to where he was pinned down and out of cover. He passed a cow at 15 yards. The big bulls just didn't quite cooperate. That's bowhunting. I can't get enough of it!
The elk never showed again that evening though I was pretty sure they never knew we were there. The following a.m. we stayed closer to camp as we both needed a break (a break in my mind is a 4-6 mile morning :)). We glassed a large group WAY up high in some avalanche shoots and made a plan to be there in the dark the following morning; easier said than done.
It took us 2.5 hours (in the dark) to get to the spot the elk had crossed the day before. The top was a heck of a lot steeper than it looked from the binos. It was difficult even to find a place to stand without slipping or rolling rocks. Dennis went about 80 yards above me. Wind was perfect. Here's a shot of my view up to where Den was set up.
I saw 2 cows cross below me but that was the extent of the elk action. At around 730 I caught something dark moving across from me, a black fox! I thought, "Oh, heck yea!" I'm gonna whack this dude." The more I watched him, the less I wanted to shoot him. I guess I've gone soft in my "old" age cuz I whipped squeaked him in to close range and only shot him with my camera. In all honesty, the fact that I didn't really have the money for a quality mount of such an awesome critter definitely played into my decision to pass. I got some great pics including what is probably the best one of my season.
My passion for high country adventure has left me with yet another "trophy". I'll have this picture on my wall forever
That afternoon we went for a long haul, over 6 miles one way with very few trail miles. We made a huge loop cold calling/bugling hoping for a bull that was ready to play. No luck. I believe this was the only hunt, morning or evening, which we didn't see elk while Den was out. No complaints. Dinner. Whiskey. Sleep. Ok, maybe it was whiskey, dinner, whiskey, whisky, sleep, but we deserved it. To put some of the hiking into perspective, we never did less than 11 miles any day and the most I got on my gps watch was 23.5 in a day. Joe was back down to join us that night.
Here's a shot of Den that afternoon. We were BEAT but still grinding
The next day we'd head into what had become one of our favorite spots though we'd yet to kill an elk in there. For those who've read my reports in past years, this is the spot the drunk Minnesotan told us about a few years ago. This bowl is as secluded and beautiful as country gets and we'd never once been in here without seeing elk. Also, we've never seen another hunter or even a boot track. The only negative is that its a 35 minute drive from camp which required about 45 minutes less sleep than most of our other spots. 2:45 wake up call, a bit of coffee (yes, even us "Sitka army Neanderthal" types enjoy some leisurely camp comforts:) and we were on the road.
It rained that morning; HARD. This wasn't in the plans. A half mile from the truck found us shopping for the best tree canopy to huddle under. The rain would let up to a steady drizzle, we'd get back to hiking only to have it start pooring moments later. This cat and mouse with the weather kept up until we were too wet for it to matter. We stomped out the rest of the hike in the rain making it to our observation point about 20 minutes before legal light. Just like every other time we've hunted this spot, there they were right in the middle of the bowl and heading, as usual, ti the dark timbered cliffs on the far side (left). There was a good bull amongst 10-12 cows. The bull was big bodied with less than average head gear, but a definite shooter. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was a very old bull, on his way downhill.
We knew immediately that this would be a sprint to get to where we needed to be in order to head off the herd. We were off on a dead run without hesitation. Joe and I were encouraging Dennis to keep running. Mind you, Dennis is in great shape and tough as anyone I know, but nothing can prepare an easterner for this type of race. Den was heaving. I told him a few times, "It's just pain. Let's go!". We scurried up the slope on the far side of the bowl just in time to see the bull and his cows moving above us into the timber at 75 yards. MAN! What a hunt! Nobody's dejected though we know how close we came. We live for this!
Time for work. If I was reading this I'd be ready to see some bloody arrows but all these close calls will help paint the picture of elk hunting at it's finest in my opinion. Hope you're enjoying and thanks for all the comments. Lots more bowhunting to come. And pics, Dennis just sent me 80 more
This is one thread I 100% look forward to reading every year. Incredibly inspirational and motivating! Can't wait to see how this plays out
Thank you, otcWill, this is a great read.
Great looking country just to be in ley alone hunt. And the Fox sighting would be worth the trip out west for me. I am anxiously waiting to here that I drew my Bighorn Elk tag. This thread is not helping cure the anxieties.
Will, your the best, enjoying the hunt, Many thanks.
Thanks for sharing. Your pics of elk country are just what I needed this month.
At first, I was ready to get to the meat of this story, but now, I'm not really wanting it to end. Good stuff !
Dang it all otc! You are making me want to elk hunt again!
Here's a few more pics. I just might get this done before the wknd.
Joe and I after the morning's chase. Drenched
Can't get pic to upload. Oh well
Will, I know of at least a couple different types of teases and being an "elk tease" is the second worst kind of tease! No fair offering pics that don't show up!!!
Great stuff, Will. I'm lovin' this! I predict one of you guys shoots an elk in the next two days of the hunt...
As if we hadn't had enough fun for one morning, on the way out a gnarly bugle rips off from less than 100 yards. Long story short: we came very close to killing a great bull. Dennis passed some cows again and the bull stayed a tree branch or two from riding home in our packs. I stayed back behind the guys and was able to bring him back but no shots. Unbelievable action and still no bloody arrows. We saw a few cows that evening and planned to go back to the basin we'd seen the 320ish bull two days prior for the next morning. Joe would go his own way as time was limited to fill his tag before our buddy Phil arrived from IL.
We found the big bull just after first light right in the same little slot meadow we'd last seen him in. He'd gone completely silent. He was about 150 yards away when we spotted him. I'd hang back and call only if necessary. Dennis removed his boots and made the stalk to the edge of the meadow, cows and a dink well within bow range already. This pic was taken after the fact from about where the cows were. The big bull was above and to the left. Dennis was straight across the meadow on line with him
I watched through my binos from about 75 yards behind Den. The bull already appeared to be within 50 yards of him to me but I knew I must be misjudging it. Den was pinned down where he was, cows all around him and not a shred of cover left. When I saw the bull following the majority of the herd into the timber I ripped off a groan followed some agitated cow sounds. He whipped around and closed the distance between us by about 15 yards. The bull stood straight upslope from Dennis at 68 yards, a shot he might have taken had his range finder had angle compensation (I ranged the spot after the fact to determine this). I rolled rocks, borke sticks, let out some whiney cow sounds and cut him off when he growled. He wouldn't budge. It was just not a scenario where he needed to come any closer. He stood in the open waiting for the challenger to show. He finally turned and went with his cows. We knew from experience not to push them any further in this particular area. They would bed very close to where we left them. If this hunt doesn't help people understand what kind of mental toughness is needed to do this day after day, I don't know what would.
We were back up there that afternoon. Crickets....
Still enjoying your story Will. Don't stop.
With only one more day to hunt, Dennis wanted to go to the place he killed his first elk years ago, the same place I was after the big 5x. The area was torn up but sign was a day old. It wasn't to be on this trip for my friend. We had a heck of a hunt and left it all on the field. I'm proud of him for passing a bunch of cows and for having the mental and physical stamina to keep after it day after day. We spent our last evening giving Thanks while watching the same 3 giant bighorns I'd glassed earlier in the hunt. We couldn't ask for much more.
Dennis barely broke stride when this happened after a slip in steep rocky country. He just shrugged it off, center punched a little pine bow at 50yds, and kept hunting. The guy is a trooper and a pleasure to hunt with.
The guys I hunt with are like brothers to me
wrong pic but I don't mind another plug for the CBA
This goes with the last caption
My buddy Phil and his pops would arrive from IL the following afternoon. I spent the next day taking Dennis to the airport, driving almost back to camp, and then all the way back to the airport when I heard he missed his flight :); the things we do for good friends. He bought me dinner and caught a later flight. Truthfully, I was ok with taking a day off, the only rest I got in 24 days straight. Back to camp, tank near empty....
One last try posting the pic of Dennis' mishap
What a great thread Will. Well written for sure.
Very much enjoyed the part about throwing rocks and all the calling sequences....fantastic!
Thanks for taking the time.
When I got back to camp Phil and his dad were there. We spent the evening catching up, talking of big bucks and bulls. In the morning we'd take Phil Sr. about 1/4 mile from camp to a treestand we'd hung for him earlier. He was done chasing these lunatics around in the mountains and was happy to enjoy camp and sitting in a tree. Once he was settled we'd head up into one of the basins. When we got to our glassing point we saw at least a dozen elk with one good bull moving right to left (looker's left). Just another 500 vertical feet to climb and we'd be in perfect position. I took Phil up left and Joe went to hunt some of the parks below the basin.
As Phil and I eased up the avalanche chute the elk were feeding in things looked promising. I've hunted this spot enough to know exactly where these elk were heading to and where they'd cross. We were just about to the spot we needed to be when a couple of spikes bumped from in front of us and trotted back to the herd. This was just enough disturbance to turn them. They slowly fed up and out of the opposite side of the basin. All these "almosts" are getting old. Phil and I still hunted a bit doing a few cold calling setups to no avail. The elk just weren't responding much to calling this season for whatever reason. I've killed almost all of my elk via calling but this season would be different.
Here's a shot of our approach that a.m.
When I told Phil it was time to head down for breakfast he had the same reaction that Dennis had. Ha! I went down to cook up some eats, leaving him on a good trail. When I got down to camp Joe was already there. I found out that he'd stalked to 55 yards of the same bull we'd been seeing up there and shot under him. WHAT?! In all the years I've hunted with Joe and all the critters I've seen him shoot (dozens), he has missed very few shots. We were both bummed. It happens.
That evening was slow. We heard a few bugles but had no real action. Over the next few days, Phil had a few close calls, a coin flip away from letting one fly. One afternoon we had 2 cows and a 4x5 come by at 40yds. Phil was draw and ready to stick one but nothing we threw at them would slow them down. Another morning we were right on top of a good sounding bull. Everything seemed perfect until he went silent and disappeared. Wind, I suspect. If I had $1 for every time the wind killed an elk hunt I'd be a rich man.
After a few days of chasing us around, Phil would take the next morning off to go get a shower and some food from town. Joe and I planned to head to the "Drunk Minnesotan Bowl". We were up and in my brand new truck (first new vehicle I've ever owned) cruising to our spot when, out of nowhere, a muley doe jumped right in front of us. I barely had time to hit the brakes (swerving was not an option on this particular road) before hitting her square with the front bumper. This hunt is kicking my ass!
We hopped out to assess the damage, just a cracked bumper. I'm not too vane. I can handle it. We were back on the road. Once parked, we flew up the ridge the 2 miles to our listening spot well before light. We decided to make a big circle to approach the bowl as every time we'd been in here they exited the same way. It was a bit of a debacle. The way around was a slash covered cliff. We made a ton of noise in the dark and went WAY further than we needed to. When we popped out, there they were. We had the same sprint to make that we'd made with Dennis a few days ago. We charged up the mountain making it to the ambush point in minutes.
We scanned for movement. Nothing.......
CRACK!! CRASH!! There he was, 20 yards away raking a tree. It was the same we'd been close to the other day. We'd decided earlier that a.m. that I'd be the shooter that day. Joe looked at me and said, "It's your turn brother". I had an arrow on the string in a flash. The bull sauntered right out at 25 yards. I was already drawn when he stopped in the only spot I couldn't shoot him, a small fir tree blocking his vitals. H was staring right at us. I held forever thinking about flinging one through the thin branches, knowing better. Finally he took a step. I had to crouch and cant the bow to shoot under some downed trees. I centered the pin on the V. Whack! The bow went off just as he was going to take a step. His on-side front leg moved back just as I released. I knew right away it was a shoulder hit, good penetration nonetheless. He stumbled 30 yards. I had another arrow nocked without a thought. I drew and centered my 50 high guessing him at 55yds. He stumbled and died with me at full draw.
I was overwhelmed. Never in my life have I hunted so hard.
I took this right after the shot. He's laying dead in the back left. The bull didn't make 35 yards
Humbled. Stunned. Blessed.
Awesome, Will!!!! Great story, now comes the work.
Hopefully you had a little whiskey left in camp.
"High on life.." Yeah, that's Boulder talk for ya! ;-)
Thanks, "Uncle Louie", plenty more whiskey!
This ain't over yet. More tmro
Awesome story Will............
Wahoo! Success is sweet my friend! Hard earned & well deserved, congrats on a fine warrior there!
What a great thread to read while eating dinner and enjoying an adult beverage. You made my night!!!
Love this thread! Stay the course! To cover that much ground day after day you are in great shape. Before you end the thread let us know your training you did for this hunt.
Awesome, I think I feel blisters forming on my feet just reading this! Keep it coming. Kevin
Flipping sheep hunt for elk! Nice!
Great story and bull congrats Will
Great stuff Will. Glad we got to meet you finally.. Birds of a feather buddy. Some people are into it and some people are all about it. Great bull and hunt I'm really enjoying the story. Drew and I hunt like you all.. Easy visioning being there.
Will, only one thing to say, relentless pursuit. outstanding!
Wow! Keep it coming! Love it!
Man Will that was a great way to burn some time while I wait for draw results. Thanks and congratulations.
Great thread Will! It's always a highlight of the off season. Only 6 months, 2 days and 8 hours till Colo archery season opens--not that I'm counting!
Will, you are the man! What a great hunt.
Good question TBM. Will never kills elk so maybe that is what he is doing wrong.....
Steepness never shows well in pictures. These pics look steep, so it must be REALLY steep!
Excellent morning read!
Bighurt, If we were hunting while covering ground, I'd say yes, we are going too fast. We don't look for elk. We know where they are so we simply fly in, hunt em, and then walk out. Yea, we bust em coming in/out sometimes but we've got these areas dialed pretty well. Once we get to an area we want to hunt. We hunt slow and quiet. Joe and I have it down to a science to the point our feet hit the ground at the same time.
Ben, I'll post some workout stuff that nobody will want to read :)
He was a big bodied bull, but not much for head gear; weird antler configuration with single brows which I've never seen in this area. He's actually my smallest bull and also the one I'm most proud of. Its the journey and effort along the way that defines the trophy for me. This guy was special.
Couple more trophy pics and we got to work
Shot was right in the shoulder. It bounced back off the opposite side leg after passing through near the top of the leg bone right where in connects with the shoulder. I try to prepare for the worst but I just missed this one. I suspect I lost my anchor while bending and tilting my bow to get a clear shot. Either way, it was a crappy shot at least 4" in front of where I wanted to hit him
Upon inspection the broadhead had absolutely destroyed the thickest part of the leg bone. There was barely any bone left. It looked like a dang grenade went off inside it. The only thing holding the leg on was the hide and a bit of meat. I'm not big on debating BHs but I doubt I'll ever change mine.
72# Hoyt Nitrum 34, 30.5" draw, 125g shuttle T, 492g total arrow weight, flying about 287fps
Time for some work. We quartered and deboned him, debating the whole time how much we should take on the first trip. The more I packed in the Kifaru, the more apparent it became that there wouldn't be a second trip. Here's a shot of me with well over half a bull in my Mountain Warrior. I wore this pack for over 400 miles in 25 days and shot my bull wearing it. Honestly, I forget I'm wearing the thing while hunting. I have no affiliation whatsoever with this company but I can't say enough about this thing. My old pack would have exploded with this amount of weight in it. I had to roll over on my knees to stand up. Time for the homerun trot
I wouldn't recommend this. We were in so much pain coming out, we couldn't help but laugh. This was our climb out. After we got to the top we had a bunch of blow downs to get over. At one point Joe got slightly off center. It looked like the worlds strongest magnet pulled him, pack first, to the ground. He was laying there arms and legs flailing like a turtle that got turned on its shell. We laughed hard about this but in retrospect we should have probably taken two trips :). Good times!
We met Phil back at camp around 1pm and made plans for the evening hunt within 1.5 miles of camp. No rest for the weary....
That night we glassed some elk in the top of some avalanche chutes. I couldn't believe it when Joe said he didn't have it in him to go up there. Ok, then lets go celebrate! Its been a long day. Our friend Chase made it down that afternoon for the last few days of the season.
The following morning I'd go back for my bull's rack and the rest of the group would hunt together. Clock is running out
Totally awesome, Will! You are definitely capturing the spirit of archery elk hunting with the story and pictures! Keep it coming...
That was a hard earned bull. Congrats!
Thanks for taking the time during your hunt and after the hunt to capture your adventures for the rest of us. I really enjoy tagging along via bowsite. Just reading about those daily hikes in the mountains makes me tired. Congrats!
Good read and pics buddy!
You're right, that was a saga!
You've outdone yourself with this years hunt recap. Thanks for bringing us along.
Awesome story Will. Great bull too. Mike
Congrats on a very well deserved bull!
Truly awesome story! Congratulations on a very hard earned bull. Thanks for taking us along.
Nice write up Will, thanks for sharing the adventure. congrats on another elk in the freezer.
Thanks Will. Victory is sweet when you earn it, and you earned that bull tenfold!
Congrats on a great Season, and thanks for the timely entertainment.
Best of Luck, Jeff
Haven't posted in some time but if EVER there was a thread to post about...its this one.
Great pictures and re-cap...thoroughly enjoyed it. Couldn't wait for the next days posts. Thank You and congratulations.
Man that is awesome. I'm amazed at the amount of ground you covered daily. But, like I've read on here a ton of times, it sucks packing camp into an area and committing 100% just to realize the elk are gone. Your write up is an inspiration.
Cool story Will! Congrats on your bull!
Thanks guys! This still ain't over. Here's a few more pics. I'll wrap it up tmro.
I can't imagine a prettier place to hunt
Great stuff Will!! Congrats on the hard earned bull!!
Tmro is the last day. It would be a good one....
I thought "Beast Mode" was that guy from the Seattle Seahawks....He has nothing on you,very impressive to say the least!!
I don't know how you do it, but you do it ! Great write-up and a well deserved reward ! Thanks again for sharing this with us flatlanders.
This is an awesome story I have never checked a thread so much, thank you for taking the time to do this will!
Holy crap Will! That last photo is beautiful! Gets the blood pumpin for sure.
Jesus, I kill elk every year it seems, but I hunt the ugliest place in Colorado. That is a hell of a photo!
Hey, Will, it is hard to mask the pain with that half-ass smile.
We get it!
Nice. Your goose hunting friend, Paul
Will is hunting on top of the world!
A few more pics and then I'll lay this saga to rest
'Carlsberg don't do elk hunt write-ups...but if they did...they probably wouldn't be as good as OTCWill's...'
Thanks for sharing...great reading and learnt a lot
Good luck and good hunting...September is only 4416 hours away ;-)
I could have shot a bear right here one afternoon. Hiking in, I caught a flash of brown in my peripheral. I looked up to see a decent bear coming full speed right at me. He was down the opposite side of the drainage and up my side barely giving me time to get an arrow nocked and draw. I actually thought he was attacking me for a second. He stopped at about 5 yards when he finally saw me. I thought about it but, as my buddy HUNT would say, it was "just a bear". He got the pass
That evening Phil, Joe and I hopped in the truck and hunted a new spot 20 miles away. It was good. We were on bugling bulls but, again, couldn't quite close the deal. I had suggested to Chase that he check out the spot I killed a good bull solo in 2013. At about 6:15 I got a text from Chase. He'd shot a nice bull but was losing the blood trail after about 75 yards. I asked him a few questions about the shot before telling him to back out. I'd go back with him in the morning to help him track.
After a long night, we hiked in and were waiting in the dark below where Chase shot the bull the night before. Joe headed WAY up above us to try to fill his own tag. Chase, Phil, and I would see if we heard anything for Phil to go after before going to track the bull. Well before light a bull screamed from not 300 yards away. We eased towards him in the dark with a perfect wind. The idea was to be on top of him with the cover of predawn and surprise him at first light. We got within 100yds and split up, sending Phil up a steep embankment. Chase and I went down about 60 yards and waited until we thought sure Phil would be able to see his pins before starting in on some calling. The two of us ran around cracking sticks and stomping while giving our best rendition of "drama amongst the herd". I cut the bull off a couple times and hit some pleading cow calls. Chase did some raking and some excited herd talk. The bull lost it. He came well within bow range before hanging up behind some brush. We had a bugling match for 10 minutes over which we gave him the kitchen sink. He just wasn't going to leave his girls for another. He was a step away from getting his lungs punched but finally turned and moved off with the herd. I can't believe how many times we almost killed bulls this season. SO close to filling all our tags. That's bowhunting at its best! Lets go find this bull
The story was that Chase had gotten in close to a couple of bulls bugling and gotten a 30 yard shot. He said he thought the shot looked good. We'd brought him to this area about 5 seasons ago. He'd been hunting hard but this was the first time he'd drawn his bow on an elk. Chase and I left Phil to still hunt some dark timber, wanting to be as quiet as possible in case the bull was alive. Chase is color blind, but if there's one thing I'm good at when it comes to bowhunting, its blood trailing. If he was dead, I'd find him.
This was the scene of the crime. I thought sure we'd find him when I saw this. Looks like liver maybe?
After about 300 yards I wasn't feeling as confident. the trail went quickly to pin drops. It was taking me at least half an hour between drops. It was beginning to look hopeless. I questioned whether the hit was where he thought it was. A well hit elk couldn't possibly go this far. Could it?
The trail was every bit the "saga" that this hunt has been. After about 3 hours and well over half a mile, I found the last drop. We had low expectations when we split up to start grid searches. We'd comb the area for a few more hours before meeting up with Joe and Phil and continueing the search. Ten minutes later as I was picking my way through some slash, I heard Chase peel off a "war cry". We got him!! Chase had killed his first elk! YEEHAW
Happy dude with a great bull. What a great way to end my season seeing a good friend with his first elk. Not bad for a first bull. Well done, Chase; proud of ya, kid.
Smile says it all...
I took a bunch of pics for him and more than half of them show him looking at the rack. LOL! Good times. Chase has been running around for 5 seasons trying to help his old man get an elk, sacrificing his own success. Never has a bull been more well deserved!
This archery elk hunting is one humbling pursuit...
We bugled Joe and Phil in and made quick work of the cleanup. Having 4 guys is pretty nice for breaking down an elk; first time I've experienced this luxury.
Shot of Phil getting cleaning up the skull
I still can't believe this bull went over a half mile and hadn't been dead long when we found him, another testament to just how tough these critters are.
Awesome! Way to go Will and crew!
One happy guy! The rack was dang near as tall as Chase
Congratulations to Chase!!! Nice bull! Fun story!
An easy pack out and the cherry on top of a spectacular hunt
Great write up! Im curious as to what organs were hit on that bull at the end. Looks like the shot may have been a touch low possibly going behind the heart and below the lungs.
Great thread Will! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
Great write up Will! I think guys looking into OTC elk hunts should look at this thread. This is a very real experience other than hiking 400 miles. That is just nuts.
If you look at the weeks broken down even though they are in elk every day it seems as if the shooter only has one opportunity with bulls in range. I have always believed in a week of OTC elk hunting you are going to get one opportunity if you hunt hard. The guys that are successful make good on that chance.
Well done as always Will.
My best, Paul
Nice post. So how does that Mountain Warrior handle as a day pack?
I remember this all like it was yesterday!! I don't think anyone could have beaten the smiles off our faces on that mountain!! I don't think you will ever understand how blessed I feel that I met you and Joe and Chase years ago at that trail head!!! Looking forward to many more pack outs with you guys!!!
Bravo! Off the hook.
Even as a vicarious experience it's exhausting enough that I need to lie down and have a beer.
Thanks for taking the time to put that together and let us experience it through your words and awesome pics!! Well done
Hahahaha! What a great hunt!
Congratulations! Great adventure. Well written. Exhausted from just reading it.
Thanks, Will...that was worth the wait!
Congratulations on a great season. Thanks for sharing and getting us excited for September.
Congrats on a great season! Thank you for taking the time to bring us along.
Awesome story. Congrats on 2 great bulls and great memories. For most of us it sounds like a hunt of a lifetime but I have a feeling there will be a sequel coming out next year!
Congrats ! Great pictures ! Thanks for sharing !
What an epic September! Simply beyond comprehension for most of us. Congratulations and thanks so much for taking the time to bring us along.
It sure has made it tough for me though. For the first time in many years I probably won't be elk hunting this year. I'm expecting a great mulie tag and then have a moose hunt scheduled. Just can't figure out how to squeeze elk in between. Reading this just drove home what I am going to be missing.
Best dang read in a long time. Hunting by the real deal hunters. Great stuff and Congratulations to you all. God Bless
Awesome hunts! Definitely done the "Right way". Very cool. You guys are welcome in my camp anytime...
Thanks for the time and effort you put in sending this story. Guys like me who will never be able to do this really appreciate it. Will if you don't mind I would like to know what bow and broad heads you use and were you in Co. Thanks again. McDeer
Great job my friend! Can't wait for our next adventure ! And congrats on your next adventure . Huny
As always, great thread Will!
Grats to you guys - some great memories there.
Absolutely amazing! And a beautiful write up.
Big Thanks to all! These threads are the best thing about Bowsite. I hope I've inspired at least one other hunter to post their story. I may not be able to post my escapades next season as Meredith and I are expecting our first child in May. But, the word is 2017 will be one to remember ;) Thanks again
Smtn10pt, not sure what vitals it hit. We do the gutless and I don't do any autopsies. I'd guess it hit some vital "connection" between the heart and lungs
McDeer, I shoot a Hoyt Nitrum 34, TT shuttle T 125 broadheads
Amazing story. I didn't get to it until now. I'm glad I didn't have to wait and that I could read it in one shot! I'm still a bit in awe as to how many miles you put in. That's unreal. I would be curious to see how much you train in the off season as well. Thanks again for sharing your story and congrats again on your success!
Will - 1) Congratulations to Chase!; 2) is it possible that the shot was quartering "to", so the arrow angled rearward?
I would guess liver hit as well. Congrats to Chase hope to get my first these year as well. You really do a great job with the story and pics thanks again congrats on that baby maybe something good will happen where you can get out for a few days if not watch out 2017 maybe 500 miles!
Curve, Shot was dead broadside. Pic is actually of the exit. The blood sign was arterial I believe. I'd never have guessed that he could have gone that far unmolested.
Awesome will! Is it September yet? ;-/ great write up and great pics! Thanks for the thread!
Such a great write-up!!! Can't hardly believe that you are in OTC Colorado close to the truck and have no other hunters around you. Best of luck with your first born. That will be your greatest adventure!
Bumping to the top so a friend can find and read this great story more easily.
Great story thanks for sharing the hunt!!!
Will thanks for a great read. Really enjoyed it and the pics.
Will, not sure how I missed this.....but glad I found it!
Congratulations on an amazing hunt and well earned success. Big admiration!
I missed this earlier also. Great story and incredible effort. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Only problem is now I'm all jacked up and still have almost 4 months to wait. Congrats on the upcoming baby!
OtcWill; Fabulous...just fabulous!!!
Had to bump this to the top to make it easier for a friend to find and read this story.
Gonna do this on one leg with limited time and a baby at home this year :) Good luck to all and thanks again for all the kind words!
Careful out there and good luck!
A fabulous story...just fabulous!
Great read. Like the way you hunt. Well done and thanks for posting.
Bump for a new hunter to read
Ty orion. What a great read!
Wonderful.... Great read for a rainy day. Thank you. Ed F
Good stuff Will. One of Bowsite's best. Congrats
I wish there was a way to recover the pics. Still a great thread. Will’s pics are a treat though.