I finally got to the area July 11 to do some scouting for the first time. I wasnt really concerned with seeing any elk, I wanted to put boots on the ground, see some spots I had researched on GE and look at the intel I got from talking to people.
After Labor Day Weekend, it was only a couple days later I headed to the LE unit to start my hunt.
I arrive at my campsite after work on Wednesday Sept 4th, set up my wall tent that evening and began the preparation for the next 10 days of hunting. Deertick wasn’t scheduled to arrive until Friday evening so I would be hunting solo for a couple days.
Thursday evening was pretty uneventful. I heard some bugles way up on top so I followed them only find a cow bedded out in the open so I was pinned down from getting any closer. As the evening wore on, the elk moved off and I made a mental note in what direction.
So I backed out and I made my plan for Friday morning September 6th - the second morning of my hunt - and that was to go up where I heard the bugle the day before, and in the direction the elk went this evening. But I would hunt my way into the area from a different direction.
This is where I got to when I saw the cow bedded up in front of me
Before this hunt started, I had already decided that even tho this was a decent LE unit, if I had had a chance at a solid bull, I’d would take him. I wasn’t going to hold out for the biggest, because as we all know, there is always a bigger one.
He turned and kinda bolted but didn’t run. I immediately cow called a few times, then I didn’t see him momentarily as he went behind some trees, but he re-appeared across the meadow about 70yds away and he stopped. I could see the entry hole with a bit of blood, but it looked like the arrow may had broken off and come out. He then walked to edge of the trees and I lost sight of him.
A short video of right after the shot [may want to turn up the sound]
After about 15 minutes, I went to where he was standing when I shot him. I found his track when he bolted and I followed them a short ways. It was here I found my broken off arrow shaft. I already knew I had plenty of penetration with the Slick Trick but finding part of the arrow is always a plus.
As I mentioned in the video above, I thought I heard the bull crash after 10mins or so but I still waited for my typical 45min before venturing over to where I last saw him...
Another short video when I walked to where I last saw him across the meadow
It was about 11am by the time I got the first load back to camp. I sent out a few texts to Deertick and some other buddies, and was preparing to go back for a 2nd load when one of my Bowsite friends said he was in the area and would swing by to help me get the rest of the elk off the mountain.
I readily agreed! Especially since Deertick wasnt to arrive until late that evening.I really didn’t want Deertick have to pack meat on his first day of his hunt!
When my Bowsite friend showed up to help pack, he even brought another buddy so in one trip we went up and packed the rest of the bull off the mountain. It was raining again and we had to cross those damn willows.
They each took a hind quarter and I took the other front quarter and the head - another 80lb pack out.
We got everything back to camp about 6pm. After a couple cold beers and a bit of BSing, the 2 buddies took off and then it was time to relax and prepare for the next day's hunt with Deertick and to help him fill his tag.
Deertick arrived about 1030pm. I was sound asleep at that time but he made sure I was awake in short order.
Its now time for Deertick to add to the story.... :)
Thanks for taking us along Brad! By any chance could you post the video and instructions on how to make your hip waders agains. The white ones. Your creek crossing story reminded me that i still want to make those but forgot the details.
Below is the video I made about 5 years ago that show the DIY waders I made for stream crossings. In fact, after this hunt was over, I hunted my OTC units for another 10 days and I used them a few times to access a spot that beavers had dammed up the stream
Really enjoying these elk story recaps from you Fort Collins guys (Deertick included). You guys are the "real deal" elk hunters and story tellers. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.........badbull
The hunt from here was a great time ... I’ll summarize, as time is limited:
In spite of Cnelk’s experience, the elk were — overall — quiet that week, slowly getting more likely to bugle as the week went on.
We ran into plenty of elk, though.
Spikes were fun and plentiful. (Brad, you have that video?)
And we played with a Heads-up decoy a bit ... which helped Cnelk get a couple selfies with calves. (Brad ... hint, hint on the photos ... I don’t have on this machine)
Brad/Cnelk left to take his bull down to cold storage for a day, and I was able to call in a 6x7 to 30 yards. Wind held good, and I saw the lane he needed to get to. But a rag got behind me, and winded me. So close! (It was the largest elk I’d ever called in to range.)
And I then caught a big 5x5 out grazing at 6 pm ... he seemed to be ambling in a direction that would take him near me ... I rushed to get to a spot I knew I’d have a shot but missed getting there by no more than 30 seconds ... the bull beat me there, and ... winded again.
There were chances and there were chances over the week, but “third down conversions” were few, and “punting” became the logical thing to do more often, with so much time left on the clock.
So, we had heard a bull in the night, coming off a hill near camp .
And the thought was to try to catch him on that hill as he came down the next night.
There was an “obvious” spot for his descent ... but the window of agreeable wind would be narrow. We thought if we did it right, we may not need to call at all.
We found what we thought was his trail ... the trail they were using. Now, anyone who hunts knows that that is a big assumption.... but ... we were right !
After sitting for no more than twenty minutes, “Elk!”.
Just a rag horn following a cow, but they closed the distance quickly.
Thirty yards and ... “I think he’s going to be broadside” was my thought.
How could it be? But this was the third “no-call” bull of the trip that would be in range — and the smallest ... eh, no matter ... it was the early part of the fourth quarter of the game and I needed points on the board, or so I thought.
He turned broadside and I shot ... angling the arrow through a narrow window (instead of waiting for nerves to settle and trees to get out of the way) ... the arrow looked good, and then ... as Cnelk called it (like a football ref): “No good, wide left”.
The disappointment of a kicker missing a field goal in the 4th quarter is never easy to watch ... or experience.
But we were having fun ... and my MAIN GOAL of the trip — Learning — was going pretty well!
Cnelk ... post some of your photos as I go...
Anyway, I was glad that I’d been getting in shape. High elevation and vertical country and chasing Cnelk and elk was testing my fitness, but I felt good. CrossFit four times a week at 7200’ for a year paid off well.
The fourth quarter, though, was winding down. On our last morning, we knew we had one last chance to take a shot at the end zone. It would be tough, but we had been in the red zone all week. It had to happen soon.
Each day we were into elk. It was a total blast. It was a daily grind tho. Side hilling and climbing steep slopes for 5-6 miles each day. On Friday, Sept 13th. Deertick decided it was going to be his last morning to hunt.
So we made a plan, went and hiked up to 11,000' again and we called in another bull.
Deertick will tell you his point of view about this particular morning’s hunt ??
Like we said ... fourth quarter ... time for one last drive.
But the defense was playing well. We set up, called, and after 20 minutes heard hooves ... thump thump thump ... coming in. The defense was making a mistake ... then ... “cow”. She came first, ahead of the bugle. Cnelk hadn’t heard him, but he was there, and after finding us, she returned to him ....
At that point, we had time for “One more play.” It was end-zone or bust. No trick plays now ... just good hard-nosed hunting. Cow calling in deep timber ... the go-to power play.
At 20 minutes, a rag horn emerged at 18 yards in front of me. How do they do that?
Nervous, he turned to go.
I stopped him at an even 40.
Calmly, I shot for the end zone.
A field goal — I mean rag horn — would win ... but ... a damn nest of spruce branches “tipped the ball” ... defense wins again.
Great job, both of you! John, thanks for mentioning the "hunt softly" concept. If more bowhunters had the patience and discipline to do that, a lot more elk would be killed and the hunting would be better for everyone.
That "run and gun, spook 'em and find some more" strategy sounds really macho and cool on social media. But the guys who kill big bulls on a regular basis these days virtually all hunt "softly"and surgically.
HuntinHabit ... I am pretty sure it's illegal to wait that long between elk hunts, so I don't know that I would post that on the internet ... heh. Hopefully that means you're just too busy with those big NE whitetails.