However, the background is my Wyoming elk hunt fit the 2020 theme almost to a T. I had a local connection so I ended up spending my 6 points for unit 34. From an elk hunting perspective it was the worst hunt of my life. In 7 days of hunting I had a single cow walk by me at 10 yards on my second day and jumped up a calf on my third. Heard maybe a half dozen bulls, all from considerable distances and none of them was interested in anything I had to say. That was it. I hunted hard. Covered lots of really good country and put my 30+ years of elk experience to work going to places that should have had animals. The really strange thing is the snow hit on the 7th and by the time I arrived on the 14th the mountain was bone dry. There was day old sign in places I thought would be good but then the rest of the time hunting I only found a couple piles of fresh scat. (And I covered many miles getting into the holes between roads and places that really should have held elk) However, in spite of the poor elk conditions, I had a great time and here is what made my trip great in spite of not getting into elk.
Sunday morning, I hiked 1.5 miles in the dark climbing 600+ feet of elevation. I was in an area I had found a couple days earlier where I found what I believe is the highest wet spot in this particular area. I figured if there were elk anywhere there would be some here, especially since it had been hot and dry for over a week.
I stopped because I was just below the seep and wanted to wait until it was light enough to hunt before I went any further. I had taken off my pack and was doing some usual cooling down from the hike and hoping to hear a bugle.
I had stood there in the pre-dawn darkness for a couple minutes when I started hearing a grunting sound above me. Grunt, grunt pause for 15 seconds or so and then another pair of grunts. This continued for a minute or two until I started hearing the sucking sound of his hooves pulling in and out of the mud. I realized the noise I was hearing was a bull moose calling for a cow. I had heard about it, maybe even seen it on a video before but never heard it in the wild so I thought it was pretty cool.
However, he continued down from the seep until he was about 8 yards to the side of me. He stopped and in the darkness, I could tell he had turned his head and was looking directly at me. I can only assume he had come down from his bed or a place very familiar to him and wondered what in the world I was as that bush/tree had never been there before. There was just enough light to catch a glimmer of antler but not enough to really see him.
I had my phone in my hand as I was looking at ON X when I started hearing him coming down. I had the brief thought of "He's close enough for a flash picture" which was quickly followed by the smarter thought of "Don't be an idiot. You want to startle a 1500# animal on a steep hillside in the dark with nothing to jump behind if he charges?"
He stood there for at least two minutes so I thought he might hang around long enough to get a picture. When he finally left, I was both relieved and disappointed as I wanted a pic. I also thought I wish I had recorded a video just for the sake of all the sounds he made.
Twenty minutes later, I was in a tight pinch point I had stumbled on and making a waypoint as their was a major highway (with lots of week old elk sign by the way) going through the middle. I was standing on that trail beside a tree when I heard a noise behind me.
When I turned around there was Bullwinkle (guessing the same one but no way to know) staring at me from 17 yards away. Having my phone in hand, I turned on the camera and started shooting video. It isn't perfect but I think it came out pretty well considering the fact I was holding my phone in one hand, my bow in the other and going back and forth from looking at him, my screen and what my escape possibilities would be if he decided to try to run me over or try to sharpen his antlers on me. I had decided my only hope if he charged was to try to play "Ring Around The Rosie" with the tree I was standing beside. Thankfully, as you will see in the video, (my attached link) he chose to slide 9 yards off the main trail instead of running me over.
I didn't really have time to be too afraid but I will admit one of the things I am most proud of is that the sound in the video is 100% Bullwinkle and 0% Darrell screaming "Oh _ _ _ _"
Enjoy the video. Turn up the sound its only a minute long. However, its a great example of how one minute can turn a crappy hunt into a pretty cool adventure even when the elk don't cooperate.
Had a similar bull moose encounter while elk hunting the Bighorns a few years ago. Following a game trail into a small meadow, I notice a bull moose giving me the stare down from across the meadow. I take a few pictures and then wonder if I can close the distance for some better photos. I get somewhere between 50-75 yards of the bull and he hasn't moved. Notice that he's standing on the same game trail I'm on...and begin to wonder if I'm just an obstacle in his path? I moved off the trail some 30 yards and the bull immediately resumes his morning march...right past the guy dressed in camo and holding a bow...as if he didn't have a care in the world. All he wanted was for me to give him the right of way!
I bumped one out of his bed last week up in Wyoming @ 15--20 yards till hunting elk thru the quakies
I don't know if he or if I was more started! haha
Good luck, Robb
2009 I killed a bull and I was field dressing/deboning. I was fatigued so my brain wasn’t firing as fast. I heard a “frog” croaking from the pond just over the rise. I thought “Bullfrogs at 8000’+ ft. Who knew?). (Apparently not me in my distorted state of mind!). I went back to task at hand. A couple of minutes later I hear noise and glimpse of antler and I think “Cool, a bull elk walking in to me”. He clears the tree and it is a bull moose. Still cool until thoughts of a love sick moose having his way with me entered my head. Bear spray is on ground with my pack 10 yards away. Luckily for me he just wandered off on his continued search for a girlfriend.
Z Barebow's Link
Cool video Darrell, glad you experienced a positive amid the tough hunt