Summit Treestands
A Bowsite Story - My First Elk Hunt
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
jordanathome 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 20-Sep-18
Old School 20-Sep-18
wkochevar 20-Sep-18
IdyllwildArcher 20-Sep-18
orionsbrother 20-Sep-18
orionsbrother 20-Sep-18
Medicinemann 20-Sep-18
Crusader dad 20-Sep-18
WV Mountaineer 20-Sep-18
HUNT MAN 20-Sep-18
dirtclod Az. 20-Sep-18
stick n string 21-Sep-18
bentshaft 21-Sep-18
NDN 21-Sep-18
YZF-88 21-Sep-18
bowhunter24 21-Sep-18
deerslayer 21-Sep-18
BULELK1 21-Sep-18
gottoohunt 21-Sep-18
Wv hillbilly 21-Sep-18
Scrappy 21-Sep-18
GotBowAz 21-Sep-18
Southern draw 21-Sep-18
APauls 21-Sep-18
Bwana 21-Sep-18
Inshart 21-Sep-18
patience2spare 21-Sep-18
Smtn10PT 21-Sep-18
Vonfoust 21-Sep-18
njbuck 21-Sep-18
jordanathome 21-Sep-18
benzy 21-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 21-Sep-18
Chasin Bugles 21-Sep-18
BOWNBIRDHNTR 21-Sep-18
Z Barebow 21-Sep-18
Bigfoot 21-Sep-18
bear bowman 21-Sep-18
Iowa_Archer 21-Sep-18
6x6 bull 21-Sep-18
jjs 21-Sep-18
drycreek 21-Sep-18
BigOk 21-Sep-18
TD 21-Sep-18
Treeline 21-Sep-18
Quinn @work 21-Sep-18
RutnStrut 22-Sep-18
Heat 22-Sep-18
Wapitiichaser 23-Sep-18
Wapitiichaser 23-Sep-18
BoggsBowhunts 23-Sep-18
wyobullshooter 23-Sep-18
Dooner 23-Sep-18
Paul@thefort 23-Sep-18
Rgiesey 23-Sep-18
Destroyer350 23-Sep-18
Lovehunt11 23-Sep-18
weekender21 24-Sep-18
lewis 24-Sep-18
otcWill 25-Sep-18
grossklw 25-Sep-18
Brotsky 25-Sep-18
elkmtngear 25-Sep-18
Slate 25-Sep-18
Schmitty78 25-Sep-18
Caddisflinger 26-Sep-18
OFFHNTN 26-Sep-18
t-roy 27-Sep-18
20-Sep-18
This year’s trip actually began long ago, in the summer of 2016. I was a 17 year old kid just getting into “adventure bowhunting” and had been browsing bowsite religiously for every bit of challenge and knowledge I could get my eyes on. I had also started getting an itch to start hunting whitetails with a recurve, so when I saw a post by “Chasin Bugles” I jumped all over it. A guy from Montana was giving away a recurve. At the time, that’s all I knew. I submitted my “application” via comment and before I knew it, a recurve was being sent to Missouri!

It turned out the post was made by Eric Bachofner, a guy from Montana that, little to my knowledge, was quite the adventure bowhunter himself. My dad got a call to make sure it was alright if I was sent the bow, and before long the conversation changed to discussing mountain goats. That fall I would make my first “adventure trip” to British Columbia to chase goats with Dustin Roe, as it turns out, Eric had quite the history with goats, killing the #2 archery goat in Montana a couple of years prior. The recurve giveaway soon turned into a friendship. After swinging by Kalispell to show off my (unfortunately, rifle killed) goat that fall, me and Eric continued to stay in touch through my high school days, sending trophy pics and swapping hunting stories. This spring, after discussing last season’s trips and discussing plans for this season, I got a text that changed this year’s plans altogether.

“You mentioned that you were gonna try and line up an elk or muley hunt this fall, is that still in the cards? If you can get a general elk tag in MT and get up here for a hunt I’d be happy to take you.” That was all I needed to hear. A week later and I was in the running for a MT elk tag.

20-Sep-18
A summer of waiting soon turned bittersweet. Turns out Eric drawed the best Muley tag in the state, and BOTH his dad and his brother drew the best Elk tag in the state. The hunting window for my general tag was beginning to shrink. Nevertheless, I was determined. Even if I only had a couple days to hunt, I wanted an elk tag in my pocket. We planned a small window between his muley hunt and his dad’s elk hunt and I was stoked. Let’s just say this summer crept by pretty slowly after I got my package from Montana FWP in the mail.

The wait was over. September 1st rolled around and I was on the road. The plan was I get to Montana the 3rd or so, and tag along on Eric’s muley hunt before heading to the elk woods a couple of days later. First stop, Casper Wyoming. Get to the pre-booked hotel room and show them my ID. First hiccup in the trip. Turns out Casper has a city ordinance that requires a person to be 21 to book a hotel room. Well, looks like I’m spending night #1 in my truck. Luckily, the sweet lady behind the desk at my unnamed hotel gave me some great news. “I know a place that might bend the rules a little. I’ll give them a call and let them know you’re heading their way.” Perfect. First hiccup in the trip and with a little local help I overcame it. To the room I go.

The next morning I wake up and start the drive to Bozeman. 20 minutes after I leave the hotel and I get a picture. Eric’s tag was filled the first day and it was a stomper. Don’t know if Eric wants the score out yet since it isn’t official for 60 days, but there’s a picture of it on the Muley Meatpole. Well, the trip took a turn. I wouldn’t be tagging along on a muley hunt but I could still chase some elk on a general tag and tag along on his dad’s LONG awaited tag. I spend a day in Bozeman visiting pretty much every outdoors store they have, and they have plenty!

I spend the third night in Kalispell and woke up the next day ready to meet Eric and head to the woods. I sat down to some Biscuits and Bison Gravy at the coolest hotel in Kalispell when I got a text that read “Better eat a good breakfast, crossfit at noon.” Well, what a way to get acclimated! After storming full speed through the first leg of the workout, the altitude hit me. It’s no joke guys. I was smoked, but I only took one puke break, so I think that’s a win?

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
I go back to Eric’s house to get settle in and holy crap does this guy know how to stick stuff with arrows. A quick look at his trophy wall and I’m staring at a Pope and Young Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose, Elk, (and soon to be a muley) all killed in Montana, and this guy is only in his late-30s. More excited than ever, I get to sleep that night ready to wake up in the morning to chase elk.

We decided to make a quick run behind his dad’s house to see if we could get on the elk his dad had seen a couple weeks before while hiking. 15 yards up the mountain and I realize I wasn’t in Missouri anymore. Not only was I smoked at the 3,000 feet of elevation or so, I was smoked because this stuff was straight up and down (or was to me at the time, my perception of straight up and down would unfortunately change). Eric and his dad were acting like we were taking a sunday stroll down the sidewalk! Definitely a wake up call, and there was no chance I was asking to stop for a break, so I struggled up the trail. At the top, the photographer in me went crazy. A Montana sunrise over a mountain lake?! Yep, not in Missouri anymore. We put on a few miles that morning and I was met with the reality of early season elk hunting in general units. No bugles, but beautiful views. Even though my 5k time was around 20:00 in Missouri, I was smoked after a slow 3.2 miles and 1200 feet of elevation after that morning hunt. That would have to change, and change fast, whether it meant acclimating or just flat out forgetting about how much my legs burnt.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
We spent the next day butchering Eric’s mule deer, and I definitely needed a day of rest after hammering that crossfit and hiking up and down that mountain. After spending the day running errands around town and getting to know each other discussing everything from hunting to politics, we butchered the muley buck that evening. Definitely a learning experience for me, since my extent of butchering knowledge ended with field dressing deer, which I had plenty of knowledge at, and at the very most quartering a deer to take to a processing plant.

That Friday, we were Mountain bound. Eric had been running around these mountains his whole life, so we were met with some good problems. Which spot to go? Do we spend a half day backpacking in to a spot, or run and gun as many quick trails as possible? Hard to know the answer, but we decided our best chance to find elk was to hammer as many different spots as possible. After all, this was a learning trip, and the goal was to let me experience elk hunting, not necessarily kill one.

We take a lead from his buddy who had drawn a moose tag and consistently seen elk on his trail camera off a trail that happened to be fairly close to another favorite trail of Eric’s. We made it nearly to the top without getting a response to our bugles and decided that the best play was to head to the other trail of Eric’s that evening to try and locate some bulls for the next morning’s hunt. “Well, do ya wanna go back to the truck, or back to the trail?” Perfect, my first experience with trying to take a shortcut. (Unfortunately, I didn’t learn my lesson this time…) What seemed like a long ways through some straight downhill lodgepole timber and Eric turns around with a nervous look on his face. “Hey man, I think we’re gonna have to go back… This isn’t looking right.” Coming from the land where the farthest walk was a half mile to a deer stand, he had me hook, line, and sinker. I get a sort of uneasiness to me whenever he cracks a smile and takes one more step… right out to the trail a half mile from the truck… Very funny, Eric, very funny.

From: jordanathome
20-Sep-18
Go MO! Born and raised in Trenton, MO here. Thanks for posting!

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
Later that evening we arrived just before dark to hopefully locate some bulls for the next morning. This time I would be hiking with no bow and no pack, so I was determined to hang with him every step of the way. After darkness fell over the mountain, I was soon provided some extra motivation. Every rustling leaf off the trail soon became a pack of wolves or a mountain lion, or at worst, a grizzly. Lets just say I kept Eric within “Trip him and run” distance the entire hike!

We made it to the top and again, no bugles. Luckily, I believe I was starting to acclimate nicely. 7.2 miles between the two hikes that evening and I still felt fresh. After the first hunt Wednesday I was beginning to worry, I didn’t come all the way to Montana to wimp out and not be able to cover ground.

That Saturday morning we went on our furthest hike, and even though I was beginning to acclimate nicely, it was still a smokeshow. 6 miles total that morning, but I got some extra motivation near the top. There, laying 5 steps off the trail, was a moose shed. A freakin good one. Barely touched by the squirrels with great color on the bottom. We didn’t have those in Missouri, but there’s one here now!

Unfortunately, like a skipping record, no bulls. Lots of wolf sign, as well. I did get my first heart attack from a grouse though! We had 3 of them blow up about 3 yards from us, but being first thing in the morning, I didn’t want to have to pack one around all day, so we let them live to give a hunter a heart attack another day!

We stopped at a roadside burger joint that afternoon for some lunch and decided to fill up with gas before heading back out. We drive across the street to get gas and notice yellow bags covering all the nozzles… Out of Order. Eric went in to find out what the deal was and comes back out smiling. “Well, the station got struck by lightning and the computers are fried, but I got a guy to help us out.” Turns out, there sitting in the gas station, was a guy that Eric helped kill a 184” bighorn a couple years prior, and the guy just so happened to have a few gallons of gas laying around.

That was probably the most Northwest Montana thing I had ever experienced. Walk in to a gas station and see someone who you’ve helped on a sheep hunt? Yeah. That’s gotta take the cake.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
That evening we went to another one of his friend’s leads, this one a mountainside that had burnt over the summer. Apparently elk hadn’t transitioned to another water source yet, so they were still using the mountainside to get down to the lake. This evening my definition of steep would once again change. It was 1.5 miles to the top and we gained 1600 feet. That is flat out STEEP and was a calf-burner for this flatlander. We make it to the top and let out a bugle and holy crap. There it was. MY FIRST BUGLE! Now, it sounded like it was produced by an elk the size of a muley, and he was definitely NOT interested in coming up the mountain, he never bugled again. We start down some lodgepole timber on top of the burn and I grabbed a pinecone. I didn’t fight my way up 1600 feet to bring back nothing! This was shortlived, because the second we started down that straight-down burn I ditched the cone. I needed every ounce of focus I could muster. I managed to snap a picture of the burn, but of course the photo doesn’t do the topography an ounce of justice. That night we go up to a sure-thing spot for Eric and I manage to snap a couple long exposure shots on my camera. A first for me. We head out that morning and I was excited. This morning just had a different feel to it. After only a mile and a half Eric stops and bugles down into the basin. There it was. My second ever bugle! This one sounded a little growly and was definitely not a spike. We try to get him to respond but for him to, this was his only bugle. We decide to take the day off and rest up while watching some football to give this bull a chance to get fired up. We decide we would go back in on him Tuesday evening, before leaving wednesday to head to his dad’s unit on his hunt. Halfway back to the truck and we both freeze, grouse, right in the middle of the road. After being scared to death by them Saturday morning, I was out for vengeance as well as a meal! I pull back and remember Eric mentioning headshooting them. I guess them at 20 yards and let the arrow fly. Nothing?! What?! A 20 yard shot should have been a cakewalk, and here I was missing that? Turns out Grouse are harder to hit than I thought. I go retrieve my arrow and all of a sudden another grouse appears! This time in the brush at 3 yards! No way I can miss this one… All I’m saying is don’t use your 20 yard pin for a 3 yard shot…. You will be embarrassed… trust me… After eating at a Kalispell pizza shop and watching an insane Aaron Rodgers comeback, I text my friend from Missoula and tell him I have a couple of extra days. He was just back from a Colorado hunt and had a couple of days as well, so I decided to make the trip the next evening to see him.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
I leave early the next morning and decide to roadtrip up through Libby and down Highway 200 to try and see some Bighorn Sheep. I swing by Libby Sports Center to pick up some souvenirs for the family and go on look-out mode, stopping at every “Wildlife Viewing Area” I could find. On my second stop I notice something a lighter shade than anything else, and waaaaay up on top. 99% sure I was looking at a goat, I wanted to see it move before sending a text to Eric and my buddy from Missoula informing them of my find. 10 minutes of staring through Swarovski’s and finally the rascal decided to hop up onto the next rock. About time, now I gotta bust it to Missoula!

I get to Missoula at around 4:30 and meet my buddy, Garrett. Me and Garrett met last spring at Missouri State. I heard of a “Backcountry Hunters and Anglers” club being started at Mo State so I decided to drop by a meeting. Knowing it took a certain kind of crazy to have an itch for backcountry hunting, I went in with high hopes. It turns out Garrett was the one who started the Missouri State branch of BHA, and holy crap was it scary how similar we were. We instantly became great friends and after he graduated in May he moved to Missoula to volunteer for BHA. Turning down a 6 figure financial job to be in Montana is a bold move, but one he gladly did. This kid flatout loves the outdoors.

He decides to give me the full Montana experience, so after a quick “how have you been” convo we head to the National Bison Range. What. A. Trip. Bulls absolutely everywhere and screaming their heads off. Not to mention big muleys and countless bison. “Hey man, you think there’s any general units around Missoula?” After driving through the park we were flat out itching to chase bugles.

We get back to his apartment and start sifting through GoHunt. We find a trail he’s been on that looked elky and decided to go for it. Garrett stopped to point out a unit that he thought would be a honeyhole. “Dang I want to chase elk in there, that has GOTTA be loaded.” Not thinking any more of it, I agree and move on to browsing draw odds for moose, sheep and goat, pipedream tags.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
That next morning was another straight up and down day. 5.5 miles and 1700 feet up. Well, I couldn’t beat Eric up a mountain, but that’s understandable, he’s a Montana native after all. Garrett grew up just north of Kansas City, so I have no excuse to not be ahead of him up this trail! False. Unbeknownst to me, Garrett was a highschool football star on both sides of the ball including special teams, and had played a year of college ball at a private university before turning down his scholarship in order to be in the woods every fall. Again, I got smoked up the trail. We had a great time, and took this more of a catching up opportunity than an elk hunting one, chatting the entire way down with smiles on our faces. I had to beat it to Eric’s that evening to chase that bull that we had located Sunday morning, so I say my goodbyes and tell him I hope to see him soon. He leaves me with a “See ya soon” and plans for me to come back to hunt pheasants with him as soon as I was able to make another trip up.

20-Sep-18
I make it back to Kalispell and we head for the mountains. I was bound determined to get into some elk action, and with us leaving the following morning for Eric’s dad’s unit, this was our last shot. We make our way back to where the bull bugled and keep going, thinking we would get to the top and then hunt our way back down to him after we locate him. About halfway up there was a deadfall across the trail so we make our way over it as quietly as we can. I began down the backside when all of a sudden my world gets rocked. A bugle, a CLOSE bugle. He must have heard us making our way over the deadfall. Eric hops back over the log and tells me to get set up, this is it, and it is happening RIGHT NOW.

I get set up and Eric begins a calling sequence. No answer. Crap, we gave him 2 days of rest! I was anxious and was getting annoyed that this bull wouldn’t cooperate. We hear him bugle again, this time 100 yards beyond his previous bugle. We decide to close the distance, so we began up the trail when we hear branches break. Eric looks up above the trail, and I look down. Pretty sure it was below the trail, we turn our attention down hill. “There he is!” Eric says. “I’m pretty sure I can see him” I say as I try to focus through the alders surrounding the trail. “Alright, I’m gonna go back and try to make him follow me, get set up here.”

Knowing I couldn’t shoot through the wall of alders, I decide to inch my way through the wall of brush. Too antsy. I crossed the line of “aggressive” and ventured into “idiot” territory. I saw a wall of tan hide running away, catching a glimpse of a huge rack running through the trees on top of it. Crap. There was my chance. A big bull at less than 50 yards, and I blew it.

Not gonna lie, that hurt, but there was still a lot of daylight left. We make our way to the top and thought we heard a bugle back towards the truck. We begin to creep through the timber but the bugle was a lone one, and we don’t hear any elk from then on out. About halfway back to the truck and I hear all sorts of commotion right in front of us. Elk! Not 40 yards away! They must have been bedded and heard us coming down the trail. We get set up and try to call them back in, but it wasn’t productive, apparently the elk knew we weren’t one of them! Getting dark in Grizzly country we figured the best bet was to make it back to the truck and head home, get some rest, and hit the road early for his dad’s hunt.

20-Sep-18
Failure. I hate Failure. The run in with that bull left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Yes, I had got in to elk, but they had beat me. I couldn’t settle knowing I had been bested by an elk. I get a wild hair of a thought.

What if there’s any general units between Eric’s dads tag and my way home? Then it hit me… Garretts unit! The one he insisted held elk! That wasn’t too far out of the way and seemed to have some good trail systems through it. The next morning I share the idea with Eric.

I don’t think he was thrilled with the idea of me running around on my own in Montana, but loved the fact that I was going to do everything I could to kill an elk. I show him the unit and he says “Yeah, ummm, I’m pretty sure dad’s friend worked the Forest Service in that unit… Let me give him a call.” Bingo. I was going to get to hunt Garrett’s unit and I was going to get from-the-ground-intel on it as well? This seemed too good to be true! Me and Garrett had been brainstorming some trails that looked good and I downloaded some OnX maps of the trails I was planning to focus. It just so happened our trails were almost directly where the Forest Service buddy of Eric’s dad told him would be a good spot!

Okay, so I might not be done chasing elk after all…

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
We make the drive that afternoon and squeeze in an evening hunt on his buddies ranch trying to find his dad a bull. Holy crap, we weren’t in Kalispell anymore…

Bulls bugling everywhere. Everywhere. We see probably 60-70 elk that evening and a couple of absolute stomper bulls… We get back to the lodge and Eric asks me the question I had been wondering all day… “You sure you wanna leave this to go chase elk on your own?”

To be honest, I wasn’t sure. Deep down I knew I had to. I couldn’t go home feeling good unless I knew I did absolutely everything I could to put a bull on the ground, even if it meant leaving screaming 300 inchers...

The next morning I follow him and his dad around for the last time, again, we see a couple of stomper bulls but none in a good enough spot to make a play on. We make it back to the lodge and here it was… Time to make a decision… Stay or go. I knew I had to go.

C’mon now. A 19 year old Missouri kid going out on his own to the elk woods of Montana, and did I mention the kid didn’t own a bugle tube until he came up with this idea?! That was beside the point, after all, I had 3 hours to practice my bugle before I would be at the trailhead me, Garrett, and Eric decided on. What a joke. I just put myself in the mentality of “C’mon Chase, you know you won’t kill anything, but you might atleast glass up some elk and atleast you will know you will have done everything in your power to get it done!” Off to the general unit I went, leaving Eric and the countless screaming 300 inch bulls I had seen the previous two outings…

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
I pull in off the highway and have 30 minutes of driving to do before I get to the trailhead, so I decide to get a feel for the place and look for some wildlife. Not 5 minutes after pulling off the road and I catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagle perched in the top of a tree. Oh snap. That’s GOTTA be a sign.

Now I’m on a mission. I can’t just get a good luck charm by seeing the most American of all the wildlife and not somehow pull off an elk! Still, I’m doubtful. I arrive at the previously agreed-upon trailhead and am now almost 100% sure I won’t get in elk… Campers and horse trailers are everywhere. Crap. It’s drizzling rain so I sat in my truck to brainstorm. “Well, this place is probably pressured like crazy, should I make the hour run south and hit the other spot we thought looked good? Or just forget about the other hunters and hunt this place anyway? Another truck pulls in with a four wheeler on the trailer and I figure thats another sign. Head south.

Well, maybe. There’s another trail that runs on the other side of this basin, and the trailhead is right around the corner form this one… the only difference is that the original trail I was going to hunt stayed at around 5800 feet of elevation, whereas this one ran up to 7380 at the top… Yikes…

I pull in the trailhead and there are no trucks… Okay, now time to take a more serious look at this thing… Looking at the topo map I notice a meadow up at the very top of the trail overlooking the whole basin.. Perfect, I’ll just make the 4.5 mile run up to that meadow, glass for a bit and get a feel for the bottom, and then come back to the truck for a dinner of Clif Bars and Huckleberry flavored water. Seems simple. I slowly make my way up the trail, after all, I figure being at the top by 6:30 will give me plenty of time to glass and be back to the truck just after dark.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
I get to the top after a few photo breaks and decide to sit down and glass the meadows that were scattered around the bottom… Right off the first trail I contemplated going down were two elk… Crap… If I would have taken that trail I would have been within 200 yards of them! What an idiot. WHY would I deviate from the original plans…

I remembered a interview with Rob O’Neill in which he talked about overpreparing as opposed to overplanning. You should always be able to roll with it whenever plans go wrong, plans went wrong and I went with the “new” trail. No excuses, gotta roll with it. I figured I would chalk this one up as experience and move to the other trail the next morning when all of a sudden I hear a bull scream.

He was right below me. I look down into the bottom. Holy crap, that is steep… the steepest terrain I have had to go down yet…. The topo said it was over 1000 feet down and he was at the very bottom. I shoot a text out to Garrett.

“This place is a good spot. Glassed two elk and hear one pretty close bugling. Gonna make a play.” “Heck Yeah Bro! Go for it!”

Looking back down at the canyon I remember how steep it was… I also sent a text to my best friend from Missouri. “Hey man, I’m being serious here. Don’t worry or anything, but this stuff is getting steep and I have a bull bugling. Going down to the bottom so I won’t have any service but if some freak deal happens then it’s been fun! Love ya bro.” Off I went at 6:40.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
I am not sure how fast I covered the 1000 feet down to the bottom, but I do know the next time I checked my watch it was 7:05.

Okay. Here’s the deal, Chase. You’re within 150 yards of this bull. You’re a 19 year old kid with basically no elk hunting experience besides what you’ve learned the past week. Even though Eric taught me a TON about elk hunting, THERES A 99% CHANCE THIS DOESNT WORK! But that leaves a 1% chance that it does... And that’s enough for me.

A creek ran through the bottom where I heard the bugle, one side was gently sloping lodgepole timber and one side was the steep open hillside I had just traversed, with conifers spread out incrementally. The bull has got to be on the lodgepole side, that just flat out made sense. I let out a bugle, my first bugle outside of my truck… somehow I didn’t completely mess it up. He answered immediately. Holy crap. This is happening. Ummm… Ummm… Okay… Bugle again? I let another one go and again, he answers right back… Crap, don’t forget the fundamentals. Check your freakin wind!

Uh oh… wind is blowing right to him.. Okay, so the only play I have is to somehow try to get deeper in the lodgepole timber and leapfrog him, then call him back down whenever I get the wind in my favor…. I start heading down around him when I catch a glimpse of tan out of the corner of my eye…

There’s a bull. HOLY CRAP THATS A BULL ELK RIGHT THERE. I see him walking on the other side of the creek, about 80 yards away on the open side. I got to make something happen, and I gotta make it happen fast. He moves behind a conifer and I cover as much ground as I can, as quickly as I can. Somehow, I made it almost to the creek bank. I get settled behind some brushy conifer as soon as he steps out from behind his tree.

Range him, he’s gotta be no farther than 25 yards, right? Turns out elk look a lot closer than deer do… 42 yards. Perfect, he was even giving me time to dial my single pin to the exact 42. I was confident out to 60, so this was well within the wheel house. He is 100% broadside and eating on some shrubs on the other side of him. Holy crap is this really happening right now?

Most of his vitals are blocked by the tree, but I had been studying elk vitals and knew that the “V” that their front shoulder makes can deceive you. I knew his heart had to be exposed where he was, but as calm as he was at the moment, I would draw, wait for him to take another step to open up more “kill space” and then let it fly. Perfect! How was this happening? I don’t know, but it was!

I slowly bring my bow back to full draw as the bull snaps to attention, he must have caught me drawing. Oh no…. The sure thing suddenly turned edgy. I had two options, and a split second decision to make… Either hope he somehow calmed back down and took another step, or trust my instinct that his “V” was true, and let an arrow fly right at his heart.

I decided that there was no way I could hold full draw steadily until he calmed back down to take another step, he was looking right at me and would bolt as soon as I inevitably had to let down. Well. Here it goes. My one shot… Man I really hope his front shoulder bone isn’t deceiving me… Put the pin right in the middle of that heart on the anatomy chart I had seen oh-so-many times on bowsite. Squeeeeeeze. There goes my arrow…

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
Holy crap, I just shot at a freaking bull elk!!!! Now, he wasn’t a thumper, in fact, the only thing I was looking for was a legal “branch antlered bull” so as soon as I saw that he wasn’t a spike I stopped looking, but holy crap! I just shot an elk! I mean… I think I shot an elk…

The arrow made no sound at all when it hit him, but it looked like it hit perfect? This made no sense… Turns out it was a perfect pass through heart shot. All of a sudden, not 15 seconds after the shot, I heard what I thought to be a crash…

Holy Crap… Was that him? Did I just kill a bull elk on my first solo hunt as a 19 year old? There’s no way this Missouri boy just got it done whenever he didn’t even own a bugle tube the day before…

It was starting to drizzle rain so I knew I had to find him fast, man I hope that was him crashing… I start up the other side and start looking for blood… I cant hardly see any since this vegetation was nothing like the crisp oak leaves I am used to looking for splatters on… Crap. How can their be no blood? I don’t see my arrow… Well, I guess I’ll just walk a little farther.

I turn the corner and holy crap.. THERES MY BULL. and holy crap… that thing is huge… Okay… so that whole scene played out in about 5 minutes, but it’s still getting late… I have an elk down 4.5 miles from the truck, and literally up and over a mountain… Crap is an understatement. I snap a quick selfie for proof and start working on the front shoulder. This is gonna be a long night… I get the front shoulder off and deboned just as darkness set in. I load it up and pull out a backstrap and start planning a route back to the truck.

Well shoot, theres a mountain between me and the truck… I check OnX and look at the topo… Okay, so I’m at about 6300 feet right here, That means I can side hill all the way around this thing and there’s no way I won’t run around into the trail. Perfect!

20-Sep-18
False. Big no no. What looked like gradual hills on my topo map were actually big flats with 15 ft. cliffs on each side. Each flat was full of alders and laydowns. I eventually made it to the bottom, where the creek I shot my bull over ran through. What I was expecting to be open lodgepole timber leading down to a creek was the farthest thing from reality. The lodgepole timber soon turned into a mess of laydowns, and the mess of laydowns was soon complimented by the same alders I was running into up above the creek.

Those 4 hours and 6ish miles back to the truck were probably the longest 6 miles I’ve covered in my life. My boots got wet almost instantly, which led to discomfort that stretched into the next day.

I kept thinking back to the text I sent my buddy from Missouri. Surely he was smart enough to not do something stupid like call search and rescue? I didn’t have any service down in the bottom, so all I could do is hope. Every plane that flew over made me cringe. “Well, if it is SAR, maybe they can help me pack this thing off this godforsaken mountain!”

Finally, I make it to the trail. I get back to the truck around 12:30, exhausted and my back screaming from not spending the time to cinch the pack down correctly, and I know that all I gotta do is make the 30 minute drive to cell service to let my friend know I’m good, and let Eric know I have a bull down.

I remember Eric didn’t have any phone service in the lodge, but he had wifi, which means he could get iMessages. I let him know the situation and tell him that he should feel free to hunt the next morning with his dad, and that I would be getting some long awaited sleep. I then give a call to my friend from MO who, luckily, was smart enough to not freak out over the last text I sent him. My last call was to my buddy from Missoula, Garrett Titus.

Miraculously, at 2:30 in the morning, he answered. “Bro, you’re not gonna believe this, but I just freakin shot a bull!” “No way, buddy! That’s freakin awesome! Im pumped for ya!” “Okay now I’m gonna pass out since I’ve been bushwacking for the past 4 hours. I don’t think I’ll need you to help pack, since Eric can come down tomorrow morning, but if I need ya I’ll call ya!”

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
The next morning I wake up to a text from Eric, saying to call him as soon as I woke up. Bittersweet news, his dad shot a freakin stomper of a bull, but they were gonna give it some time before taking up the trail. Once again, I was making a call to Missoula.

Garrett must’ve been anticipating the call because he picked up almost instantly. “Hey man, I really hate to ask this of you, but Eric’s dad shot a bull and I’m gonna need your help with mine…” “Dude, don’t worry about it at all, I’m stoked. I’ll be there in 3.5 hours.” Now THAT, is a solid friend, gentlemen!

We agree on a meeting place and I head to town to get some ice for the meat and something to eat. The past 24 hours had consisted of Clif Bars, Clif Bars, and more Clif Bars. The only thing he asked for was a can of Copenhagen Mint. Buddy, I would’ve bought him 100 cans of that stuff in the given moment, he was saving my trip.

He shows up and we start the 45 minute drive to the trailhead. As sore as I was the night before, I was feeling fresh and my body was used to putting on 7-8 miles a day at this point. We get to the trailhead and start the hike. What took me 2 hours the night of the hunt only took us an hour that afternoon, we were flat out ready to start this pack.

We make it to the top meadow and I start warning him. “Hey man, now I told you that this was down a steep canyon, but this thing is down a STEEP canyon.” We get to the edge and he looks over, “ummm, yeah, yeah that’s a steep canyon!”

What took me a matter of minutes the night before was going to be a little more planned out today. We look at OnX and see a bit of a finger going down just to our right, which lead straight to the bull. Perfect! About halfway down I realized just how stupid it was to run down this thing the day before, but, it paid off. Garrett, a little more fresh than me, beat me to the bull.

Holy crap, this thing is big. I didn’t realize how big bodied elk were until the day before, but seeing them in the mid-day light made it look even bigger. We snap a few pictures, since I wasn’t able to get any the day before, and went to work quartering and deboning.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
For a couple of flatlanders who had never quartered anything in the field before, we made good time. We got to the bull around 3:30 and I planned on being headed back up to the trail by 6:30, that would give us 2 hours to make it up to the trail and still be in daylight, then it was a smooth sailing 4.5 miles back down to the truck. Perfect.

This went almost exactly on schedule. We wanted to get about 30 minutes of rest before heading up the canyon, but by the time I got my skull cleaned up for a euro mount, we didn’t have a minute to spare. Garrett sat there laughing as I messed with removing the jaw and as much of the extra meat as I could. “Get that freakin jaw off and I’m throwing it over the mountain, that thing is screwing up our rest time!” He did, too.

Now, Garrett had been talking some confidence on the way up there, which made the hike go way smoother. He had been loading game bags while I worked on the skull. Turns out he only put a deboned hindquarter in my pack, along with the skull, whereas he was loaded down with a hindquarter, as well as the other backstrap and other front shoulder that I had packed out the night before. This guy was gonna earn his elk meat!

I had learned from last night’s mistake. This time we were gonna go right up the way we came down. About 200 feet up the canyon we realized our bodies weren’t as confident as we had been talking up the trail. Our legs were screaming, but we were bound and determined to get up there by dark. “Alright man, we’re not stopping until we make it to that rub.” Garrett would say. Me, with the lighter of the two loads, was ready for every bit of rest that Garrett would allow.

Step by step, we made it up the mountain. We got to the top in 2 very hard fought hours, and managed to get enough phone service to make some calls out. Garrett called his dad and let him know what a freakin smokeshow we just went through, and I called Eric. “Hey man, how are you doing?” I say lightheartedly. Luckily, he informed me that they had found his dad’s bull 200 yards from where the shot was. Perfect. He was stoked that my elk’s meat was still in good shape and that we got it all in one trip. I told him to tell his dad congrats and I headed on down the mountain.

After all, we still had 4.5 miles to cover before we could truly relax. About a mile down and we take another break. I look at Garrett and his legs are visibly shaking from fatigue. About delusional at this point, I almost died laughing. We HAD to be insane for doing this. “Dude, there isn’t a college football workout in the world that has pushed me close to what this has.” Nobody said backcountry elk hunting was easy! “Guess who has Cody Jinks’ newest album downloaded on his phone?” I ask Garrett, not to be outdone he responds with a smile and “Guess who has ALL of Cody Jinks’ albums on his phone?” Perfect.

We play some music and grind out the remaining 3.5 miles to the truck.

20-Sep-18

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
After we made it and dropped packs we literally laid on the ground for 10 minutes. Holy crap, did we actually just pull that off? Garrett had brought all the ingredients to make PB and J’s, but we were nearly too tired to make them.

After something like that, we made the call. There was no way we were eating Clif Bars and sleeping in our trucks. We’re driving to the nearest town and getting a hotel room and 2 pizzas. I think we had deserved that!

Back in town, I decided to add up all the miles I had put on since I had been in Montana. 51.3. FIFTY ONE POINT THREE MILES?! It didn’t seem possible, but it was. Let alone the 12,400+ feet of elevation I had climbed as well. And to think I was smoked after 30 steps of the first hunt. Anything is possible.

We head to breakfast the next morning for a “last meal” before we each hit the road. Garrett laughs and says “Hey man, I know I said I would see you soon, but I didn’t really mean that you had to call me 3 days later needing me to pack elk!” To be honest, I didn’t even think I would need him to pack elk. I still don’t know how I pulled this off… I pay him with gas and elk meat and we head our separate ways. Volunteering for a 7 hour round trip drive to help pack elk. What a freakin guy.

I hit the road and it finally sets in. Holy crap. I did it. I didn’t kill a monster, but I killed an archery bull elk on a DIY hunt. That, my friends, is what I would call a success. I know I won’t be able to go back for atleast 4 years, and even then I might go 10 years without arrowing another bull, but this year everything worked out.

I can’t thank Eric (chasin bugles) enough for the opportunity to come out and the crazy amount of knowledge I gained from our short time hunting together, and I can’t think Garrett enough for not only starting a BHA club on his own, but also being crazy enough to volunteer for that smokeshow of a packout. This guy will without a doubt do huge things for conservation and the hunting community.

20-Sep-18
Thats my write up! Hope you guys enjoyed the story. Definitely a story I will remember my entire life! This would not have been possible if some guy in Montana didn’t decide to giveaway a recurve bow on bowsite a couple years ago. Hopefully this year I can have another thread on a buck with a recurve, who knows. Thanks for reading!

From: Old School
20-Sep-18
Chase - great writeup. Thanks for taking the time to document it all for us. Congrats on your hard earned bull!

-Mitch

From: wkochevar
20-Sep-18
nice job! Congrats!

20-Sep-18
Amazing story! You're stoked, you did it! It's been a while since a Bowsite write up gave me an adrenaline rush. My heart was thumping! Great job on the hunt and great job on the write up! Enough humility about the size of the bull too; you killed a nice bull on public land on a basically OTC NR tag your first elk hunt, solo. You nailed it. Grats! That's a lifetime of pride and memories, not to mention friendship, meat, and motivation for next time.

Orionsbro, you need to add this one to the Hall of Fame thread.

20-Sep-18
Congratulations !! Great story !!

20-Sep-18
Yep Ike. I agree.

From: Medicinemann
20-Sep-18
Thanks for sharing!!

From: Crusader dad
20-Sep-18
Great story. Congratulations and thanks for sharing.

20-Sep-18
I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome man and Congrats!!!!!

From: HUNT MAN
20-Sep-18
Cody jinks and packing elk. I like Your. Style . Hunt

From: dirtclod Az.
20-Sep-18
Great writeup and great bull,congrats.See you in 10yrs.

21-Sep-18
Friggin awesome. Loud thunder heavy rain......

From: bentshaft
21-Sep-18
Great hunt and good job with the story! Thanks for sharing.

From: NDN
21-Sep-18
Outstanding! Thanks for sharing your adventure.

From: YZF-88
21-Sep-18
That’s a solid experience right there! Nice work.

From: bowhunter24
21-Sep-18
Made this MO guy smile big at work way to go!

From: deerslayer
21-Sep-18
I remember when you first started posting here on the Bowsite. Always liked your enthusiasm! (You remind me a lot of myself at your age;)

When I clicked on the thread and saw your handle I got excited! This is one of the best write ups I’ve read on this forum. Getting a bull on Montana public land by yourself as a 19 yr old non-resident is an awesome accomplishment. Great job and big congrats to you man. I don’t even personally know you and I’m proud of you!

And Eric is a solid guy. Proud to live in the same state as him. Major props to your buddy Garrett as well. That’s a true friend. Treasure it, because those types of friendships are rare, and get more rare the older you get.

From: BULELK1
21-Sep-18
Hell of a good read!!

Thanks for sharing with us all

Congrats

Good luck, Robb

From: gottoohunt
21-Sep-18
Chase you are my new HERO, great hunt and write up. You did what many people dream of doing when they start hunting elk. Congratulations gottoohunt

21-Sep-18
Great story! Congratulations. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

From: Scrappy
21-Sep-18
Loved it, congrats man on an awesome accomplishment. Thanks for taking us along.

From: GotBowAz
21-Sep-18
Wow kid, you know how to write! This is a fantastic story. You should be very proud of yourself. Thanks for taking us along. Great story, great write up, great job! Hope to see some future stories from you.

21-Sep-18
Congrats ! Great story.

From: APauls
21-Sep-18
Ha ha awesome!!! You can only claim to be naiive the first time you do something stupid to get an animal. The next 20 times you do it - and you will you can't claim to be naiive ;) Congratulations on a GREAT experience! Great write-up and isn't it amazing how much help good friends can be?

From: Bwana
21-Sep-18
You have every right to be proud of what you accomplished young man!

Congrats and thanks for sharing your story!!

From: Inshart
21-Sep-18
Kick azz, "smok'n" story / adventure! Congratulations, big time.

21-Sep-18
Congrats Chase!!!! Every time you look at that euro mount you will be reminded of an amazing adventure and a couple of truly good friends! Super happy for you! Thanks for taking us along! Pete

Post up a pic of your euro when you get it finished!!!

From: Smtn10PT
21-Sep-18
Congrats on your success!

From: Vonfoust
21-Sep-18
That's awesome!

From: njbuck
21-Sep-18
Way to go, congrats!

From: jordanathome
21-Sep-18
Great story and very happy for you!!! I imagine you are still sore. LOL Way to represent MO!

From: benzy
21-Sep-18
Congrats and GREAT write up! Thanks for sharing...

21-Sep-18
Thanks for the support guys! Glad you guys enjoyed it! Definitely not my last elk hunt, I’ll put it that way, haha! Starting this spring I’ll be putting in for as many tags as I possibly can. Definitely the first of many western hunts for me! I will post a pic of the euro as soon as it gets back from the taxi and he gets it metal sprayed. Gonna build a stand for it soon as well to fuel the second hobby - woodworking

21-Sep-18
Solid writing Chase and congrats again on a heck of a bull. You sir are a heck of a young man and the pleasure was mine hunting with you last week. As I knew when I invited you up for the hunt, you are a solid representative towards the future of the sport/hobby/passion we all share together here on bowsite. The future of hunting would be in fine shape if they were all like you... I look forward to our next hunt together buddy.

Chasin

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
21-Sep-18
Congratulations. Awesome write up and thanks for sharing it with us!

From: Z Barebow
21-Sep-18
Great hunt and writing was excellent. Congrats on your bull. No elk will EVER taste better than that one. Somehow the combination of your first elk, the country they live in and sweat generates flavors like no other!

From: Bigfoot
21-Sep-18
The story takes me back, not so many years ago (although maybe more than I'd like to admit!), to when I was a young guy filled with enthusiasm for wild places, wild animals, a longing for adventure and not much knowledge about how to do it or where to go! It's all still in me, although the newness and "discomfort" of trying to find those things has disappeared with experience. Really great to see the same desire and respect in a young guy on a great adventure. Thanks for sharing your experience. Really enjoyed the read.

From: bear bowman
21-Sep-18
Thanks for the great story and congratulations!

From: Iowa_Archer
21-Sep-18
Fantastic adventure and a very nice story too! Congratulations young man, you deserve a big pat on the back. Thanks for sharing your adventure and enjoy your hard earned success!!

From: 6x6 bull
21-Sep-18
Way to represent for all of us MO guys! Congrats and great story!!!

From: jjs
21-Sep-18
Congrats, enjoy your youth it goes bye real fast, too much to hunt in so-little time.

From: drycreek
21-Sep-18
Great write-up Chase ! Thanks for sharing that with us. Especially us other flatlanders. :-)

From: BigOk
21-Sep-18
Great read!! Congrats.

From: TD
21-Sep-18
Congrats and thanks for an awesome story! From "Wow. did that just happen?" to "OMG.... what have I gotten myself into...." Makes ya smile for sure.

I've been asked before, "how do you start doing that?" That's how you do it....... you just DO it....... figure it out later....

From: Treeline
21-Sep-18
Excellent adventure! Congratulations on a great hunt and a great bull!

From: Quinn @work
21-Sep-18
Great story! Your perseverance to kill an elk is commendable. Most kids your age are sitting behind an xbox. Love hearing about your willingness to do what it takes and your Montana buddy deserves kudos too for taking the time to help you along.

From: RutnStrut
22-Sep-18
Awesome adventure and great job.

From: Heat
22-Sep-18
Great story man! Congratulations on your successful hunt! I know you worked hard to earn it. Thanks for sharing.

23-Sep-18
Chase great piece of writing here, I hope you keep working on your writing because you sure can tell a great story. Congratulations on your harvest, your adventure and your fearlessness. I sure do regret I was not able to come over and cut that mule deer with you and Eric, I would have really enjoyed getting to meet you. Next time. Eric (chasin bugles) is a stand up guy and a great ambassador for all hunters. And an overall heck-of-a-guy, I know this to be a fact because there are not many guys in this world who would give up 9 days of their life and time away from family, for free to help a friend chase elk around. That is exactly what he did for me last year. I drew one of the State's best elk tags due to guidance from Eric and next thing you know, I was spending 11 days hunting elk with Eric. And when I pulled the bone headed move of shooting a "stomper" bull at 35 yards broadside with a Montec G5 preseason broad-head on the 3rd day of our hunt, Eric never once made me feel bad about it or griped about it. He just sat about helping me chase bulls for six more days and then helping me pack a nice bull out of some tough country. He is good people and it sure sounds like you are too. You should be so proud of this accomplishment and I agree no-more modesty, you had the spirit and mental make up to go out by yourself and then drop down into the unknown to create the adventure of a lifetime. This was one of the best hunting adventures I have read in forever, keep it up and I am sure we will meet up and hunt together with Eric in the future,

23-Sep-18

23-Sep-18
I would’ve liked to have met you, Preseason! ;) This bull got some G5 Montec vengeance, as it’s my broadhead of choice as well. Eric told me the preseason story, and I can see how it could easily be done. Needs to be some packaging changes on G5’s part I believe. Luckily from your story I made sure and double and triple check that I was shooting the real deal’s. Next time I’m up in Montana chasing stuff with a Eric (as soon as possible) you will have to join as well

23-Sep-18
Great bull, great memories, great story! Congrats

From: Dooner
23-Sep-18
Congratulations! Great write up!

From: Paul@thefort
23-Sep-18
Chase, Oh to be 19 years old and elk crazy again. Nicely done. I am sure this will not be your last hunt for the mountain beast. by best, Paul

From: Rgiesey
23-Sep-18

From: Destroyer350
23-Sep-18
Amazing story! Congrats!

23-Sep-18
Congratulations, great story.

From: weekender21
24-Sep-18
Congrats!!!

From: lewis
24-Sep-18
Congrats and thanks for sharing really enjoyed it brought back some memories of days gone by Lewis

From: otcWill
25-Sep-18
Well done! Enjoyed it

From: grossklw
25-Sep-18
Excellent thread. Nice work!

From: Brotsky
25-Sep-18
Way to go Chase! Absolutely awesome story that was extremely well told! Congrats on your bull! To have that drive and determination to get it done at 19 is a true blessing and will serve you well in life! Thanks for sharing it with us!

From: elkmtngear
25-Sep-18
Congrats, Chase!

Very nicely written, you did well, young man! Welcome to the addiction, that will last you a lifetime!

From: Slate
25-Sep-18
Congrats thanks for sharing

From: Schmitty78
25-Sep-18
Man that was one heck of a good write up!!! You had my heart pounding! I hope this MO Hunter gets to chase me an elk much sooner than later! Congrats on an awesome hunt and your first elk!

26-Sep-18
Way to go, man!! Congrats on your bull!!

From: OFFHNTN
26-Sep-18
Great hunt and story! Congrats!

From: t-roy
27-Sep-18
A big congrats on the bull and a great story as well!

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