E.D. or Elk Depression, is obviously more common in late fall. Plans are made, tags bought, dreams dreamed, high hopes abound, only to come crashing done around us.
I took up elk hunting a few years ago with my regular hunting partner. We watched videos, scoured hunting sites, bought calls and learned to use them. The first year we had some incredible encounters early on, then it went flat. Second year same place not near the action. So we scouted out a new location. Tons of rubs and no signs of hunters. Yes!! We will slay them! Nothing, nada, no love. A slight case of E.D. sets in.
Last year we went all in and scouted hard to find a hard to access spot with tons of sign. On opening day we we there and ready. We had bulls screaming at us right off the hop, but it was so thick, like a jungle, that even at twenty yards there was no shot opportunities. Several times this played out! We are restricted to six points, but that was not the issue. We called in several over our five days hunting. I believe we burnt the place out by over calling and it's nearly impossible to move far in the lush tangle. The season ends with a bit worse case of E.D.
I did snag a 3rd rifle cow tag for 421, so one last shot at redemption...
By late spring we had assembled a small but serviceable river boat to access our area fairly quickly. We hauled in cams and stands, hung them and cut shooting lanes. A long sweaty, bug filled day had the basics covered for the inevitable slaughter. Looking out from my stand, I could see exactly where a big 6X6 had stood, last season, showing only his head and ivory tipped antlers, his eyes squeezed shut as he bellowed at us. But now I could see his knees when he shows again!
After an anxious six weeks, we headed back up to check cams and look after a few more chores. It had been a super wet spring and summer so far. The trails looked good, but maybe not as good as before. One cam was on a spot that looked like it might be a wallow when its wet and it was flooded now. Another cam, a few miles away was on a pretty good trail. With giddy excitement, we pulled the cards. Hmm, the number of pics was not encouraging on either cam. Viewing showed a small bull, a few cows, some whitetail, a black bear and a small grizzly. That limp feeling started to take offer. E.D. was rearing its ugly head.
" Get a grip on yourself" we said to each other, but there wasn't much to hang on to. We finally shook it off by theorizing that "they just weren't here yet, the big bulls show up later, lots of time". With that in mind we aimed to be sitting in our stands on opening morning and we were!
The last six weeks had been extremely hot and dry and it stayed that way. We resisted the temptation to sneak in and pull the cards so as not to stink up the area. The creeping daylight found us perched and ready to strike from above with deadly precision. We had discussed just shooting the first legal bull that came in or hold out for a giant. We'd hold out to see what the cams said, was the decision. Morning came and went without a chirp or a hair! Slightly bewildered we pulled that cam card and retreated to camp to check the pics. Full on shock! Same as before basically. Where were the giant bulls? Heck, where were the not so giant bulls? We sat stands, we crawled through dense brush, we scouted further in and we called from hills. Not a peep. About the third day a good 5X5 snuck in close and quiet, busting out when he saw us. That was it for elk sightings in seven days. A boat load of full on E.D. weighed us down on the trip home.
But inspired by [email protected]'s endurance and patience, I decided to just grind it out in the stand for the next three and a half days. I set my tent on a big sand bar about fifteen feet from the river. I walked the sandy bank about four hundred yards to its end and saw tracks from elk, deer, moose, wolf, black and grizzly bear, plus birds and mink. I did notice that the bank was being slowly eroded away, with chunks of loose sand going "shlooosh" with regularity. "Should be fine" I thought to myself as I drifted off to the occasional "schluuump, splash".
In all seriousness my wife says i pout for about a month when I get back from my annual elk trip. It sure is addicting though. Im starting to get in WT mode now i guess. Good Thread...!!!!
The first morning of my solo hunt found me in my tree waiting for shooting light. I'll say right here that I'm not that good at bull calls, but pretty good on the cow talk. Right at shooting light I make a little cow/calf chatter then a lazy bugle, followed by a riff of half hearted chuckles, then a bit more from the cow choir. Within five minutes there's a bull! A big bull!! At eighty yards the bino's say it's a 6X6 with everything, tine and beam length and plenty of mass. Holy smokes, this could happen!!
The bull moves at an angle toward my stand and at fifty yards starts some raking. I can only see him from the neck up, but if he moves down the obvious trail, he'll pass by me at ten yards then give me a great quartering away shot at about twenty. Then he looks like he commits to that exact plan! I have my back against the big spruce I'm in, facing directly away from him now, bow in hand and just have to stay still and quiet. I wait. Then wait another couple minutes, then five. So far, I have resisted peaking my head around to check his progress, not wanting to blow it now. A couple more minutes and I break. Very slowly craning my head around, I find . . . . . . . nothing. What the . . .?!?!
I'm thinking, he snuck out, or back tracked. I slowly ease around the tree trying to find his miserable retreating carcass. I can't see anything back on the fringe. And then, DOH!!, he is standing twenty five yards behind my stand, right where I can't get a shot. He seems to be looking right at me, but not quite understanding why his cow would be in a tree and so damned ugly. After about thirty seconds , he goes back the way he came giving me no shot, just walking quickly, but not bolting and at a thick spot he barks. Once more he barks. I try a few cow calls aimed to the other side of me, but he just walks away. Another bull chuckles from the bush about eighty yards away and he's the only one of us that thinks the whole shit show is funny.
I'm let down, but not to bad. I think, wow only thirty minutes in to the first day and I've had a great bull in bow range! I swell a bit.
Had a great party planned in Arizona where the anticipation was high for plenty of targets of opportunity on smoking hot ones but got cock-blocked by the work thing and had to forgo the trip.
Relegated to the high pressure/low potential pursuit around the house. Tough to even think about when every potential has multiple guys already in there pounding away!
Definitely a Sausage fest!
I did get lucky enough to get a small rise out of one, but got busted outside my range and no chance for penetration…
At least you are seeing elk! Loving your picture so I can remember what they look like!
Hopefully your just napping and haven’t forgot about us!
Nursing a bad case of the E. D. here and hoping you’ll be able to pull off that big climax!
Monster case of E.D. here! Spent 14 days in WY, couldn't get one to walk out from behind the trees, so I could try to get some penetration! Seeing/hearing them daily, just made it worse!
Never been one for "supplements", but I may be reduced to using a Muzzleloader, on a Private Land Cow hunt, to try to quell my E.D. this Year!
There is more story to come. This was Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, so family time. I spent today cleaning up after a bunch of vandal bears and hopefully thwarting their future exploits. The lone adults are not going to have to worry about finding a den site. I have one tag and I’ve rounded up a couple more youngsters with tags.
Have heard that the Asians do something with the bear parts to put the lead in the pencil….
Not a cure for E.D. But should at least get a little pep in the step!
So the big 6X6 faded into the jungle and the chuckling bull calmed his funny bone and there I sat alone again. I cow call about every twenty minutes hoping to entice any cruising bull that might be passing by in earshot. I sometimes use a small Phelps bugle tube to project the sound a bit further. The overstory is pretty much a mature spruce, birch mix and the understory is a mix of devils club, tangle alder, short brush and thick ferns about four feet high. You can't see from belly button down, so you kinda feel with your feet so you don't trip on hidden deadfall, which is plentiful. That's one reason sitting in a stand is appealing. That and you can see the sneaky buggers.
About 1:00 I headed out for some lunch and a stretch. I was sitting facing away from the blazing sun, eating my lunch, when I heard a splash. I figured it was one of the beavers I had seen or the slumping river bank, until it got loud. I looked out and there was a couple of cows just getting out of the river on the far side. There was a bull trotting across a shallow bar halfway across the river and he plunged into the deeper stuff trying to catch up to the cows. They had disappeared by the time he hit the far bank. As soon as he was out of the water, he moonwalked right back in and splashed around for half a minute before leaving and then repeating the whole procedure. Sufficiently refreshed, he made the bank, shook like a Lab and trotted off on the trail of love. The river is about one hundred and fifty yards wide at this point, but it was easy to see he only had two up top on a small rack. Time to head back to the stand for the afternoon/evening sit.
Later in the afternoon, I caught sight of a good sized set of antlers above the brush, basically copying the 6X6's route. At sixty yards, it looked like a good 5X5, so off my menu. I chirped a couple of times and he moved closer to stop behind a wall of brush so I could just see his antler tips raise and lower above the bushes as he raked. He then moved to about thirty yards behind a screen of big trees where I could only make out bits of his body. He knew exactly where those calls had come from but he was getting no sight confirmation so he just stood there for about five minutes. Then he left, just like he came, quietly and in no hurry. Well OK, two mature bulls in one day. Things are starting to firm up here. Darkness came with no other excitement.
often it can be over in seconds.... and sometimes it's really fast..... on occasion performance pressure leading to premature release.....
Especially for us guys with a long draw and heavier poundage :)
Maybe one of those little blue pills (or a glass of Canadian on the rocks), jump in the saddle and RIDE!
We’re dying to know if you got ‘er done or too quick on the release!
The big 6X6 jilted me and Chuckles wandered off looking for entertainment elsewhere. I keep to my routine of cow calling every twenty to thirty minutes. About noon I catch a glimpse of tan low in the brush in front of me and figure it's one of the whitetails coming through. And then out comes a cougar! He pads casually around the little puddle sniffing here and there then settles down to drink. Now my mind is racing around trying to remember if cougar is open!! We had that conversation a week prior, wondering if it was and not really thinking we'd see one in this landscape anyway. Obviously we didn't check. I have an app on my phone that has the seasons all loaded and now I'm franticly trying to find out! Look at phone, look at cat! Look at phone look at cat!! Look at phone, look at cat!! He's up now and slowly cruising down the trail angling past me . C'MON!!
"Season Open moron", yawns the screen. By now the cat is just out of sight, so bow in hand I'm chirping away like a lost and vulnerable calf elk. Working hard, getting a bit sweaty and desperate, but the shot won't come. No dice on the second chance. Now I have C.D. on top of E.D. I wish I smoked, I need a cigarette.
Late afternoon, about fifteen minutes after a calling sequence I catch the sight of antlers turning in the brush, again about eighty yards out. As the bull slowly makes his way angling slightly towards me, I get a good look as he passes through a small opening. 5X5. A good one but short one point! This bull follows the same path as the 6X6 and thrashes the same bushes and not a peep. For a few minutes, all I can see is his antlers going up and down, side to side, casually flirting with the thick bush. Then as if it was all quite boring, he just nonchalantly shuffled away. I played with the cow calls sparingly to watch his reaction. He would stop and look, a couple times he would turn around, but always end up farther away. Then poof, I'm alone again.
Later I realized he had a couple of inches of beam behind his fifth. He is in one of the above pics. So legal, not that I had a shot opportunity. But now I've seen two legal bulls from my stand on this trip. That was all the elk for the day and time for Mountain House or a Peak Refuel and of to bed. The Peak meals are actually pretty good and not as salty as the MH.
I forgot about the whitetail doe that came by about an hour after the cougar. She came from the direction the cougar went and seemed to follow his backtrack for about twenty yards. She drank from the same spot then went on her way. When she hit my cross trail, she sniffed my trail for a few feet in both directions, then satisfied that me, the cat and her were all heading different directions on she went.
I loaded up the boat and headed down river with my tail tucked between my legs again.
2- Bull tags and 1 cow tag.
Good luck, Robb