Mathews Inc.
A September to Remember
Elk
Contributors to this thread:
Old School 21-Nov-22
Treeline 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Scoot 21-Nov-22
midwest 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Treeline 21-Nov-22
Scoot 21-Nov-22
cnelk 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Treeline 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
t-roy 21-Nov-22
HUNT MAN 21-Nov-22
bowhunt 21-Nov-22
[email protected] 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
Old School 21-Nov-22
BULELK1 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Scoot 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Scoot 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
APauls 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Bowfreak 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Ambush 22-Nov-22
LC Archer 22-Nov-22
RonP 22-Nov-22
JohnMC 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
T-rex 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Treeline 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Scoot 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
t-roy 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
JohnMC 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Treeline 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
cnelk 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
EmbryOklahoma 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Treeline 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Fields 22-Nov-22
BOWNBIRDHNTR 22-Nov-22
MA-PAdeerslayer 22-Nov-22
ND String Puller 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Bowboy 22-Nov-22
t-roy 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
hdaman 22-Nov-22
ND String Puller 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Treeline 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
ND String Puller 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
JohnMC 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Bowboy 22-Nov-22
t-roy 22-Nov-22
JohnMC 22-Nov-22
HUNT MAN 22-Nov-22
Treeline 22-Nov-22
Mule Power 22-Nov-22
labxtreme1. 22-Nov-22
cnelk 22-Nov-22
btnbuck 22-Nov-22
Whocares 22-Nov-22
Scoot 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 22-Nov-22
Bowfreak 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Old School 22-Nov-22
Inshart 22-Nov-22
BoggsBowhunts 22-Nov-22
JohnMC 22-Nov-22
Willieboat 22-Nov-22
arlone 22-Nov-22
bowhunt 23-Nov-22
[email protected] 23-Nov-22
EmbryOklahoma 23-Nov-22
BULELK1 23-Nov-22
brettpsu 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Treeline 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
RonP 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
BoggsBowhunts 23-Nov-22
BoggsBowhunts 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
LTG 11 23-Nov-22
Old School 23-Nov-22
elkmtngear 23-Nov-22
BoggsBowhunts 23-Nov-22
Scoot 23-Nov-22
Ambush 23-Nov-22
Treeline 23-Nov-22
drycreek 23-Nov-22
GhostBird 23-Nov-22
Bow Bullet 23-Nov-22
cnelk 23-Nov-22
buckeye 23-Nov-22
Helgermite 23-Nov-22
Bowfreak 23-Nov-22
Ron Niziolek 23-Nov-22
Bowfreak 23-Nov-22
ND String Puller 23-Nov-22
fastflight 23-Nov-22
molsonarcher 23-Nov-22
buckhammer 23-Nov-22
Dollar 23-Nov-22
Whocares 23-Nov-22
hdaman 23-Nov-22
JB 23-Nov-22
ElkNut1 23-Nov-22
EmbryOklahoma 23-Nov-22
Beav 23-Nov-22
Cazador 23-Nov-22
Fields 23-Nov-22
Grasshopper 23-Nov-22
Inshart 23-Nov-22
tacklebox 24-Nov-22
Old School 24-Nov-22
kscowboy 24-Nov-22
cnelk 24-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 24-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 24-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 24-Nov-22
Cheesehead Mike 24-Nov-22
Bearman 24-Nov-22
otcWill 24-Nov-22
bowhunt 24-Nov-22
Jaquomo 26-Nov-22
Jaquomo 26-Nov-22
From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Our last meal before leaving civilization- a Mexican send off
Old School's embedded Photo
Our last meal before leaving civilization- a Mexican send off
Have always enjoyed the hunting recaps that guys here have posted up through the years. We’ve got some great story tellers that also happen to be great archery elk hunters - Let’s be clear, I’m neither. Got to make sure we have the expectations set appropriately ;-)

Figured I’d “give back” just a very small portion of what I’ve received here and recap our elk hunt.

Last year I drew an elk tag and planned an archery hunt - my son and I planned to take 2 weeks and spend it in the mountains hunting - anticipation was high as we e-scouted and practiced with our bows. Two weeks before our departure my dad had some life changing, major health issues and my son and I made the decision to forgo our hunt and stay home. Disappointed, but awaiting 2022 when we would draw bull tags. 2022 rolls around and we do indeed draw bull tags - and we are planning another archery hunt for 2 weeks in mid Sept. We have archery hunted OTC in a couple states and every year we get closer to connecting, but just haven’t successfully killed an elk with our bows. Been oh so close, but never able to seal the deal.

This year a fellow bowsiter is going to hook up with us. Levi and I are stoked to say the least, we are going to go bowhunt elk with Cheesehead Mike. Mike would head West a couple weeks before us and be there for the month of Sept (the benefits of being retired….). Levi and I would join him in mid Sept.

Summer flew by and before we knew it, Sept was upon us. Mike was out there on opening day and had been sending inreach messages back and forth with me - he was camped 10 miles or so away from where we would hunt and it was hot and dry with minimal elk activity but he had already had a couple call ins.

We departed Missouri early Saturday morning and it was short sleeve weather. Half way thru Kansas and it was blowing rain and mid 40’s. Quite the weather change. We spent the night in Colorado, I preached for a friend of mine in Eastern Colorado Sunday morning and then we continued west that Sunday afternoon.

Sunday night we make it to a little mountain town and get checked in to the local motel. Would be the last night sleeping with the creature comforts for the next 11 days.

From: Treeline
21-Nov-22
Cool! Looking forward to it:-)

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
We get to the motel and catch a short night of sleep - anticipation is running high - I feel like a kid trying to sleep the Friday night before opening day of deer season.

Monday morning we wake up to picture perfect September elk weather. We cannot wait to get to camp.

Summer had been insanely busy - pastoring, working a job and helping with my parents, among many other things I won’t bore you with. We hadn’t archery elk hunted the past 2 years and I hadn’t practiced calling since then either - honestly no excuse for that, I just didn’t make it happen, I thought I’ll get to it later. I had thoughts of doing some practicing in the hotel parking lot that morning, but decided to just head to camp.

We hit the local gas station and I grab a cup of coffee for me and my son gets a box of donuts and some chocolate milk and we hit the road. It’s less than 30 miles to camp, how long can that take, right…

Scenery is beautiful as we leave town

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Didn’t think we would see antelope here. Nice surprise though.
Old School's embedded Photo
Didn’t think we would see antelope here. Nice surprise though.
A little over 3 hrs later and we are finally approaching camp - the road started out nice and smooth, but when it got rough, it got real rough. (About half way to camp I start smelling gasoline - we had 2 cans in the enclosed trailer. We pull over and yep - gas has slopped up and out of the spouts and is on multiple totes.)

(Pro tip, put your gas cans in contractor bags to prevent this type of incident).

Mike had moved his camp Sunday night and we are about there - we see a herd of antelope as we are getting close to camp. Life is good.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
We arrive at our designated camp spot and start unpacking and getting camp setup - our home for the next 11 days.

I inreach Mike and he drives his ATV over to our camp. Levi and I begin unpacking the trailer and setting up camp - taking time to soak it all in. We are in elk country in mid Sept and it’s picture perfect weather. Man this is good. Side note - Levi’s clothing totes smells a bit like gasoline. The first 2-3 pants and shirts he pulls out all reek of gas - this is not good but could make for an exciting time around the fire.

He finally finds a shirt and backup pair of pants to wear on the evening hunt.

We take a few minutes to shoot our bows and we are ready to hunt.

From: Scoot
21-Nov-22
Sweet stuff, Mitch! Good luck and thanks for sharing!

From: midwest
21-Nov-22
Diggin it!

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Mike says “not sure how much you know, so let’s cover some basics”. He goes over some shot angles with us - what is good and what is no good. Frontal shots - how much they can be quartering to and still give a good shot, etc…. We knew some of the info - but he also taught us some new things - for instance “it’s ok to take a quartering to you shot, but it’s got to be just right.” Went over shoulder bone structure, etc… some things we’d seen before but it was a great way to start the hunt. Only thing worse than not shooting an elk is making a bad shot on one - and wasting valuable days tracking a poorly hit elk.

We walk to the area we want to hunt that evening and there is a side by side parked there - well, there goes that plan, time for plan B - adapt and overcome, it’s the name of the game. We move maybe 1/2 mile away and step into the trees and Mike let’s out a bugle, Levi looks over at me with big eyes and says “he’s good”. I tell him - well, yeah he’s good, he’s an elk killing machine.

We covered a couple miles that night hunting and saw some beautiful scenery but didn’t see any elk - just heard a big herd of sheep bleating for the last hour of daylight. No elk seen or heard but a great place to be in mid Sept - hunting elk with a bow with your son. Doesn’t get much better than that. Time to walk back to camp and get ready for the morning. Expectations are sky high. Mike had an encounter with a great bull real close to camp Monday morning before we arrived so our plan is to go back to that area and see what happens. We are fully expecting a bugle fest tomorrow morning - not sure what is better, the anticipation and expectation or when it happens.

From: Treeline
21-Nov-22
You are definitely with a pro with Mike! Expect to see some blood on the ground soon!

From: Scoot
21-Nov-22
Yup, exactly what Treeline said-- you were in good hands this trip! Cheesy is a lock to get somethin dead!!!

From: cnelk
21-Nov-22
Looking forward to the detailed story Mitch! Wink! Wink!

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
We get back to camp and get a fire going in the stove, life is good. Eat a little supper and hit the sack. First 1/2 day in the books. Mike is a great guy and we are going to really enjoy this hunt.

Weather is supposed to move in Wed morning - rain. We’ve got a dry day tomorrow though so we are looking forward to that. Got to take advantage of the good days.

Mike is at camp well before light Tue AM and we get moving toward where we will start our hunt - it’s going to be about a 3 mile loop. We make our way into some broken timber with medium sized meadows in them - it’s just breaking light and he lets out a bugle - and man, it sounds just like a mature bull. His call goes silent and we wait - no response. Oh well, let’s get moving. We continue through these broken meadows - I mean it looks like they should be full of elk. He bugles every so often and we are getting no response. Odd… this is not how this is supposed to work. We sit down and eat some breakfast. Eating breakfast while sitting on a hillside watching nature wake up - sorry, I didn’t get a picture, but you guys can use your imagination. Peaceful and in awe - makes you feel pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Mike says - let’s move towards a couple bigger meadows back through the timber, so we head in that direction. We get there and can hear the crows/magpies going crazy about 100 yards back in the timber. Levi and I both have handguns with underwood hard cast ammo - bear stoppers. Mike says “you might want to have your guns ready, they are probably on a carcass and there might be a bear there as well”. We circle around upwind and approach the birds.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
This is close to where we wanted to hunt the previous night. The guy in the side by side had been here the previous night - and it was pretty obvious he was packing elk meat that night.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
There was a lot of elk sign all through the timber and mixed meadows but no elk. We did some cold calling setups but nothing responded. Bugled, squeals and cow talk - nothing was interested though.

Made our way through the woods and found an old tree stand at the edge of a clearing - I always wonder if those tree stands could talk - the stories they could tell. Who knows how long it had been there and if the owner still hunted elk or had passed on.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo

From: Treeline
21-Nov-22
Cool old stand. Probably in a good spot…

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
We hunted our way back to camp and made a plan for the evening hunt. Time for me to take a short nap, and eat some lunch - Levi went out and shot his bow some more. He was driving tacks out past 50 yards but continued shooting daily.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Here’s another one we found Tavis

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
We were both surprised that we hadn’t heard any bugles yet - it wasn’t due to the caller, that’s for sure. The elk were just quiet but there was sign everywhere we walked. We were looking forward to the evening hunt and hoping for a bugling bull. The plan was made - we were going to drive a little ways from camp and try another spot. Once again, anticipation is running high as to what we may see that evening. It’s like - we know it’s going to happen, it’s just the when that’s in question. Each hunt we anticipate it being “the hunt”.

From: t-roy
21-Nov-22
Good stuff, so far. I’m certain it’s gonna get even better! You’re certainly in good hands!

From: HUNT MAN
21-Nov-22
This is great. You guys are in good hands!!

From: bowhunt
21-Nov-22
Sweet!

21-Nov-22
I 'll read the ending of this when I get back, three days from now, after duck hunting.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
One of the real differences between how Mike hunts and how we had hunted in the past is that we really never hunted evenings - since I’ve had cataract surgery my evening vision isn’t very good the last 1/2 hr of light.

Mike said that’s a big mistake - some of his best hunts were evening hunts. For me this hunt was about getting Levi an elk, but it was also about learning how to hunt from someone who has had repeated success so that in future years I could be successful on my own - I learn best by 1st hand experience - seeing it in action. Even though the first 2 hunts had been unproductive, we were still learning. And just being out there - never want to take that for granted. What a blessing to be able to be in the mountains with an elk tag in September.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22
Mike comes over to our camp and we get in our vehicle and start heading to the spot Mike had picked out on a map - he had never been there but said - “this spot looks like elk will be there and we are going to find out tonight.” Off we go, driving to this new spot. 30 minutes or so later we are piling out of the truck getting our packs on and heading to “the spot”. The walk there wasn’t really anything too special - heading to a high meadow. We walk a trail and peel off it and head through a little bit or timber heading to the meadow. The meadow is basically a scrub sage meadow - doesn’t look unique at all - then we hit the crest of it. Wow - breathtaking scenery. Mike says “This is a Kodak moment right here - and Levi, you probably don’t even know what that means.” We got a good chuckle out of that.

So we plan to sit in the meadow for an hour or so and then Mike plans to do some calling. The meadow slopes downward at probably 10 degrees and also slopes off each side - starting mild like but then runs into timber and gets pretty steep down to a creek - the distance from where the edge of the meadow goes down to a creek is about 50 yards.

Levi goes and sits down by a clump of big sage and Mike and I are talking quietly about 10 yards away. Levi starts pointing down below us and there are 3 nice mulies just standing there looking at us. They hop away and ease into the timber. Here’s scenery up there.

From: Old School
21-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
My pictures don’t remotely do the beauty justice.
Old School's embedded Photo
My pictures don’t remotely do the beauty justice.

From: BULELK1
22-Nov-22
Some of those landscape pix look familiar!

Happy for you and Levi,

Robb

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Levi and I take a seat next to some sage and Mike is sitting 20-30 yards away - we are basically killing some time waiting for the last hour of daylight. What a way to kill time - sitting on the mountainside taking in all the scenery. Felt like you could see 10 miles out in front - it was great. When we got out of the truck it was spitting rain so we all had our rain gear on. It spit rain on and off and it looked like it would hold off really raining till after dark.

Mike gets up and let’s loose with a bugle - nothing answers. He waits a little bit and bugles again - and boom, off to our right a bull screams back. Levi and I have our backcountry convenience store spread out around us - quest bars, snickers, payday, granola bars, Gatorade - Mike says “it’s go time, let’s go”. We are kind of lolly gagging around getting snacks put back into our packs, putting rain gear into our packs - you get the idea… We get up and start moving toward the edge of the timber - we were about 150 or so yards out in the meadow. We get over to Mike and start heading towards the timber. Mike says - when it’s go time, you guys need to bust it - get moving, no messing around, it can happen real quick - you guys took way too much time to get ready, if that bull commits he can be on top of you in no time. Point taken. I was thinking - he’s 300-400 yards away, we’ve got time. Mike says - it’s hard to say how far he is away - too many variables. Mike bugles again and the bull immediately responds - he’s about 200 yards away and closing, we need to get setup now. This is incredible and we can’t believe it’s about to happen.

3 hunts in and we’ve finally heard our first bugle. Mike hangs back in the meadow about 30 yards and gets Levi setup directly in front of him in the timber. The bull is bugling down in the bottom (the hill is so steep that the bull won’t be able to see up into the meadow where Mike is calling from). Adrenaline is running high - is this bull going to play or did he just respond twice and that will be it? I setup about 60 yards to the left of Levi slightly downslope of him. Directly in front of us the slope is probably 50 degrees and goes down to a creek - the timber is fairly thick and dark between us and the creek and it’s about 50 yards down to the creek.

We are setup and Mike lets loose with a classic bugle and the bull answers immediately and he is definitely closer. The hunt is definitely on at this point. Mike and the bull exchange multiple bugles and next thing you know branches are snapping and busting below us - he is coming in.

From: Scoot
22-Nov-22
Oh yeah! Cmon Levi!!!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Another bull directly in front of me starts screaming at us as well - he’s probably 300 yards away across the creek and in the other wooded hillside, but he is closing ground quickly as well. Then another bull much further away - 600-700 yards or so starts screaming and he has a whole different tone and attitude. He’s got a raspy, deep edge to his bugle. I don’t know elk speak, but I believe he was saying “don’t make me come up there kids”. He had a bugle that I could listen to forever - it was awesome. Man did I want to lay eyes on the bull making those bugles. Mike continues calling and I’m expecting to hear Levi’s bow go off at any time - the bull is bugling directly below him - and the thermals are right - sucking down from right to left. Everything about this setup is right and I’m making mental notes and thinking “we are packing meat tonight and it’s only the 2nd night.” The bull in front of me sounds like he’s now about 200 yards away and he definitely wants to join the elk party we’ve got going on. The bull further to my left has also gotten closer and Zowies, his bugle is just flat out mesmerizing. I want that guy to get here but don’t think he will make it before it gets dark - he’s kind of taking his sweet time while the other 2 have committed.

Suddenly the bull below Levi barks - what in the world? No way he caught scent, did he see some movement or what? Mike barks back at him - they go back and forth in a barking match for probably 5-10 minutes. The bull that was coming in directly in front of me has now hung up at about 200 yards. I obviously can’t see him but can tell he’s not moving. He’s still bugling every 30 seconds or so but he is no longer coming in. The bull to my left continues his slow progress our way and is bugling probably every minute. Let me just say, this was totally awesome. I felt like I was in a Will Primos video.

I was thinking - the bull in front of Levi isn’t coming in, but he’s not leaving either. I ought to take off and go shoot that bull that is 200 yards in front of me. I could simply sneak in on him and arrow him while he bugles back and forth with Mike and the barking bull. I hadn’t hunted with Mike before and didn’t quite know his style so I didn’t want to screw something up so I just stayed put.

Big McDaddy to my left continues to bugle and get closer but no way is he making it before dark. Mike gives a few cow chirps and it’s time for Levi and I to regather with Mike. We get up to Mike and Levi has eyes the size of saucers - “that was absolutely incredible” he says. He said the bull was right in front of him 40 yards but he never showed himself. I told Mike of my thoughts that I had about sneaking in on the other bull. Mike says, you should’ve popped back up in the meadow and given me a hand signal and took after him, that would’ve been a great plan. Stink! I should’ve just went with what I knew I should do, and I honestly believe that I would’ve killed that bull that night. You know what they say about hindsight…

The walk back to the Sequoia was great - we were coming back here in the morning for sure. I mean if it was this good tonight (best elk encounter I’d ever experienced for sure) how incredible would it be in the morning when they really talk and we won’t run out of shooting light.

To say expectations were through the roof would be a vast understatement. I was fully expecting to have at least one dead elk tomorrow morning. We drive back to camp, cook up some supper and crash for a short night of rest. The stars were incredible outside our tent - it was like you could reach out to the little and Big Dipper they were right there - and my pictures of it are worse than terrible.

What an incredible blessing and opportunity, sit right outside your tent and look out to that!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
This is the view from the tent door.
Old School's embedded Photo
This is the view from the tent door.

From: Scoot
22-Nov-22
Awesome! Time in elk country is such a blessing! Sounds like you guys were loving every second of it!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
It rains off and on through the night but we are still on for the morning hunt - it’s not raining at 4AM, so the hunt is a go. Eat a granola bar, Mike shows up to camp and we hop in the Sequoia. Everything is wet and the road is a little greasy but we are headed to the spot. Can’t wait to be in that meadow at first light and start chasing bugles. I feel like a coon dog on a leash.

We get to our designated pull off spot, and park the Sequoia - packs on, bows in hand and we are off. We haven’t walked more than 2-300 yards and an elk runs across the path. Man this is good. It wasn’t spooked, didn’t smell us, it’s just moving.

We get to the meadow and it is just getting light. Mike cranks out a signature bugle and we are expecting the mountains around us to light up with responses - and nothing…. Well that was surprising. He bugles again - and nothing. Throw in a few cow calls - nothing. Wait a few minutes and try again - nothing. I’m in total disbelief. This meadow/ draw was on fire last night with 3 screaming bulls and now nothing?????

We drop down where I was standing the previous night and make our way across the creek and head up to where the bull was directly in front of me - now I see the terrain over there and I’m really kicking myself for not executing that plan last night and sneaking in on that bull. It’s a hillside with a decent meadow that has small trees scattered throughout it - like perfect spot and stalk topography. We peel off and head down to the left where McDaddy was bugling - deer and elk trails abound. We start gaining elevation - side note, spring and summer workouts are paying off. Every hunt I have knee issues - I start out with McDavid neoprene knee sleeves and wear them every day, but my knees still bother me. But not this time. Leg, and core strength have really helped my knee issue and my knees aren’t barking at me. I’m liking this - my lungs on the other hand are screaming at me.

We get about 2/3 of the way up the slope and Mike says let’s sit down here - looks like a good spot to eat some breakfast. Light rain on and off, but man, this is the good life. There’s no dry place to sit down, but oh well, we are in the mountains in Sept chasing elk - smile and enjoy breakfast.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
View from my breakfast spot. Cold and rainy but still awesome.
Old School's embedded Photo
View from my breakfast spot. Cold and rainy but still awesome.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Mandatory boot picture with Cheesehead photobombing :-)

Lowa Caminos were great as usual - wet boots but dry feet thanks to them and my gaitors.

From: APauls
22-Nov-22
So awesome!

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo

From: Bowfreak
22-Nov-22
Following this one!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We finish breakfast and hunt back to the Sequoia - the rain is transitioning from a light rain to a steady rain - yuck x 1,000.

Time to get back to camp. We get in the Sequoia and start down the mountain heading for camp. I’m still in 2WD but the BFG KO2’s give plenty of traction - at least initially. We branch off on a different spur road and check out some close by country. I find a spot to pull off and get us turned back around to the road. We make our way back but start slipping in the grease and I get us stopped and into 4WD. Well, we are still slipping towards the edge of the road and the drop won’t be enough to kill us, but if we go off the edge, it’s going to hurt - it’s a ways to the bottom. Not a white knuckle moment but definitely not comfortable either when you’re slipping in the grease heading towards the lowest point which is off the edge.

I get us stopped again and Mike asks if we are in 4W low - I put it in low and we crawl the rest of the way back to camp under 10mph. No big deal - it is a steady rain and we listen to stories from the past about Mike’s elk hunts. This trip is everything and more than I thought it would be. We get back to camp - Mike rides his ATV back to his camp and Levi and I cook up some lunch. Mike says if the rain continues we won’t be hunting in it - it’s a steady cold rain. Dampens the spirit some, but there’s always something to be thankful for. We’ve got a tent with a wood stove. We’ve had it much worse. 4 years prior we were hunting with a Kodiak Canvas - great tent but no stove Jack. It rained/sleeted/snowed off and on for about 3 days and we had no wood stove, only a buddy heater. Instead of being cold and wet we were semi-warm and wet. Yuck. This time, we had a tent with a stove Jack and had a Colorado Cylinder Stove. It may be miserable outside but it was toasty warm inside. Time for a long afternoon nap. We went to sleep listening to the steady rain hitting the rain fly over the tent. Man life is so good. I’ve got my senses to feel the warm dry heat, ears to hear the rain and eyes to see it all - a blessed man for sure.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Overcast and rainy Wednesday afternoon - but a tent with a wood stove. Oh yeah!
Old School's embedded Photo
Overcast and rainy Wednesday afternoon - but a tent with a wood stove. Oh yeah!
Old School's embedded Photo
More clouds moving in -
Old School's embedded Photo
More clouds moving in -
Wednesday afternoon and the rain briefly lets up but then picks back up with more intensity - man, we will miss our first hunt due to weather. No evening hunt - get to bed early and get an early start in the morning if the weather cooperates.

From: Ambush
22-Nov-22
This is good, good stuff!!

From: LC Archer
22-Nov-22
Great storytelling!!

Didn’t think spikes are legal in CO??

From: RonP
22-Nov-22
very nice recap, i am enjoying it. thank you for sharing.

From: JohnMC
22-Nov-22
Not sure he said CO. However in CO they are not legal in OTC but are in most or all draw units.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We cook up some mountain house for dinner - First mountain house I’ve had and I’m not real impressed. Inreach with Mike and he says if it’s raining when we wake up - go back to sleep, we aren’t hunting in the rain.

We go to sleep with the steady pitter patter of rain hitting the rain fly. Wood stove is cranking and we have the windows slightly open for some airflow and temp regulation. Hoping that we will awaken to silence. Throughout the night I awake and it’s still raining. Alarm goes off and it’s still raining. Big fat bummer!!!! You only have so many days to hunt and now this will be the 2nd consecutive hunt that the rain has cancelled. Oh well, don’t fret about what you can’t control. Shut the alarm off and tell Levi - no hunt this morning, sleep in.

From: T-rex
22-Nov-22
Man - Great story telling

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We sleep in to what seems like forever - like 1/2 the day is wasted and gone. It’s 9:00.

We’ve got the stove down to a science - you know, the correct amount and type of wood with the damper set at the right position where it doesn’t roast you initially only to burn out before morning. We awaken to a warm tent and the stove is full of red embers.

I have a mountain house breakfast skillet for breakfast and I think “this is way better than what I had last night.” We had packed the mountain house meals just in case we did some spike camping - but it didn’t look like we would be doing that, so we’re eating some mountain house.

Finish up breakfast and it’s still steady raining. Sit on my cot and spend some time reading my Bible. I’m telling you - this is the good life. It may be raining outside, but I’m still living in America, on an elk hunt in Sept with my son. God is good and I’m a content man. This will all work out.

From: Treeline
22-Nov-22
Rain is good. Washes away the hunter smells and the elk get frisky!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
I think it was sometime Monday afternoon or Tuesday afternoon that Levi went down the way from the tent and decided to check out a lake and climb a mountain. He came back and said there were some trout in the lake. Both he and Mike had brought fishing gear and Mike said we will hit that some day for trout.

The rain begins to letup just after lunch and Levi says let’s go try to catch some trout after lunch. We eat some lunch and Levi shoots his bow 20,30 or 500 times - he’s obsessed with being able to make the shot when the time comes. Levi only had 1 pair of boots and they were damp - even hanging them in the tent every night. Mike said he had a pair of Crispi’s in Levi’s size and they didn’t really fit him too well - they were basically brand new, and he said if we wanted them he would make us a deal. Levi put them on to try them out down at the mountain lake.

We are getting out and about outside camp and we hear an ATV coming. It’s Mike and he’s got his fly rod and gear. We tell him we were just getting ready to do the same thing - great minds think alike.

Levi has the Crispis on that he is basically taking for a “trial run” to see how they feel. I’ve got on my green rubber LaCrosse boots - the three of us start walking toward the lake.

We get down there and the couple of streams that feed it are pretty shallow and there’s a spot to cross but it involves jumping across and landing on a small somewhat muddy spot that’s in about 3-4” of water. Levi doesn’t want to do that just in case the boots don’t work out, kind of rude to hand back a pair of wet and muddy boots and say “they didn’t feel too good”. So he and Mike walk down where it’s dry and they can just walk around. I’m thinking “I’ve got on rubber boots that are like 16” tall, I’ve got this… Matter of fact I jump and in mid air I say to them “I’ll be fine as long as this isn’t a silty bottom”. About that time my left foot contacts the “mud” in 3” of water and I quickly realize this was a bad idea. In a fraction of a nano-second I feel the mud/water going past my calf, over my knee, mid thigh -oh yeah. I quickly propel myself and my momentum to literally fall/belly flop onto the land so that makes my leg pull out. All this in one graceful motion. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you need to get out more.

We all get a good laugh and I’m scraping mud off my pants and out of my boots. Well now that we got that out of the way, let’s catch some trout.

From: Scoot
22-Nov-22
"...this is the good life. It may be raining outside, but I’m still living in America, on an elk hunt in Sept with my son. God is good and I’m a content man. This will all work out."

Amen!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s first cast - boom!!
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s first cast - boom!!
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
What a creator!! I marvel at His handiwork
Old School's embedded Photo
What a creator!! I marvel at His handiwork
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi and Mike are fishing and I decide to climb the mountain behind the lake - I get half way up and turn around to this view - mercy!!!

From: t-roy
22-Nov-22
“We’ve got some great storytellers that also happen to be great archery elk hunters - let’s be clear, I’m neither”

I’d have to beg to differ with you, at least on the first part! Excellent write up so far, old school! Looking forward to the rest.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We finish the fishing trip and head back to camp around 3:00 and guess what it starts doing - yep, you guessed it, it’s steady raining again. At least we had a 3 hr break and got some fishing in. Always something to be thankful for. Sometimes you have to look a little harder, but there is always something to be thankful for. Mike puts on his rain gear, gets on his ATV and heads back to his camp - same message as yesterday “if you get up and it’s raining, we aren’t hunting”. Hoping that wouldn’t be the case we step into the tent. Gray and gloomy rain pauses for about 10 minutes each hour - but it doesn’t look good. Tonight’s hunt is already cancelled, and tomorrow morning, well, who knows, we will see what the night holds. Some wolf chili for supper, look over some on x maps, stoke up the stove, rehearse the blessings of the day together, count our blessings and go to sleep to the pitter patter of rain hitting the rain fly.

From: JohnMC
22-Nov-22
What his reason for not hunting in the rain? Enjoying the story!

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cutthroat on a dry fly

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
John - a couple things. First, this isn’t a sprinkle, it’s a steady rain - there would be no blood trail within a matter of seconds. Second - the roads were an absolute bus wreck when wet - greasy and dangerous. If you had an ATV, you could navigate them, but not in a vehicle.

From: Treeline
22-Nov-22
Those bug eating cutthroats in those high lakes are really good eating when camped out. Would definitely beat the Mountain House;-)

22-Nov-22
We weren't in Colorado.

It's one thing to hunt thru a rain shower, but it's another thing to hunt when it's been raining all night and forecast to rain all day. I choose not to hunt in those conditions but just to clarify, I don't think I said "we're not hunting". I believe I said "I'm not hunting". Mitch and Levi were free to hunt on their own if they chose to. However, at that point the roads were so greasy and treacherous that I don't think Mitch wanted to drive anywhere. I don't think I could have moved my camper if I wanted to. There was huntable ground within walking distance of camp and Mitch and Levi certainly had the option of hunting in the rain. I chose not to. I had my ATV to get around on the bad roads but we couldn't all ride on it.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
I wake up several times through the night and it’s steady raining. Alarm goes off, I awaken and yep - it’s full out raining. Tell Levi, sleep in, we aren’t hunting this morning. Once again we wake up around 9:00. I’ve got a drip hitting my sleeping bag - fix a slight roof issue and it stops leaking.

Mountain House breakfast skillet again for breakfast - not quite as good as I remembered from yesterday, but it’s ok. Levi warms up some water and eats about 4 packs of oatmeal, a couple cup of applesauce and who knows what else - he’s a human garbage disposal. Weren’t we all at 19.

This just feels like this is an all day rain - it’s completely grey outside and it’s alternating between steady rain and hard rain - the kind where you don’t leave the tent. We throw some more wood in the stove, read our Bibles, look over on x maps and inreach message with Mike - today looks to be a complete wash. Sitting in a tent all day will test your sanity - at least it does mine. We eat lunch and then nap - wake up and it’s still raining hard. At this point we know tomorrow we aren’t going to make it to our “spot” - roads will be a disaster. We will be relegated to hunting from camp by foot. Oh well, roll with the punches. It rains all afternoon and evening. We load up the wood stove and hit the sack fully prepared for another day in the tent - the weather forecast has a 50% chance of rain Saturday and so far it really didn’t matter what the % chance was - if there was any chance, it rained.

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Some elk sign close to camp.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
What Mike said - he wasn’t telling us we weren’t hunting - he was saying that he wasn’t hunting in the steady rain. And if Mike wasn’t hunting in it, I wasn’t going to either.

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
We found this the day we found the spike carcass. I thought it was pretty cool.

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
We also found these ancient remains of a bugle tube that day.

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
My camp was a little more comfortable on those rainy days...

From: cnelk
22-Nov-22
If you guys didn’t like the rain and being stuck in the tent, don’t go to Alaska moose hunting! lol

Great story Mitch ;)

22-Nov-22
I definitely was feeling frustrated by the weather and felt bad for Mitch and Levi with their limited number of days to hunt. My goal was to pass on some knowledge that they could build on for the future and hopefully help them have a successful hunt. I couldn't help feeling like I was letting them down a little even though realistically I had no control of the weather...

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
So when we went to bed Fri night we were fully expecting to wake up to a steady rain and have another full day in the tent. The alarm went off Saturday morning and we awoke to a strange phenomenon- silence outside. It wasn’t raining. We did a happy dance, ate a breakfast bar, threw the rain gear into our packs and out the tent door we went. No way could we drive on the roads, but we would make the most of the day. We walked down to where we went the very first night, where we heard all the sheep. I left out something from Thursday afternoon. After fishing and before it started raining we got back to camp and Mike asked about us calling. (I think I’ve got the day right, if not, it’s a minor, inconsequential detail). I say “I haven’t used my calls in 2 years”. I ask about bugling and he says - probably not a good idea, there may be elk around . No use educating them, or in my case running them into the next unit. We get out our cow calls - trinity wood game calls. I start blowing it upside down and it sounds shall we say a little different. I get back in the groove - at least my groove. Mike says - I think you’re holding that upside down, but if you can make it sound like a cow - go with it. My cow calling is not very good. Mike is kind enough to say - that’s good enough.

Anyway - back to Saturday morning. We get to our spot - it’s a steep north facing heavily wooded slope that goes down to a creek. We drop down about 1/2 way and hit a game trail that we follow for a ways. We stop and I let loose with my first bugle. No words needed to be said - Levi’s expression said it all - you sure don’t sound like Mike. Our eyes met and I said “well if that doesn’t make you miss Mike, nothing will.” I mean it was terrible - a bull wouldn’t bugle back at that but we may hear him chuckling - sorry, just couldn’t resist that one.

I think even Doug Flutie would’ve been looking at me sideways after that bugle attempt. We travel down the game trail and it’s really starting to disappear. Wet branches slapping on you - we are now both pretty wet, but who really cares, we’ve got bows in hand and we are out of the tent.

I stop and bugle again - much improved from the first attempt. We walk some more and are dropping in elevation down towards the creek - I let loose with a bugle and it actually sounds good - like a decent satellite bugle. I get an immediate response back behind us - where we just came from, but probably 200’ lower in elevation. The thermals are sucking down, so we quickly drop elevation and bugle again - he responds. This is unreal, we’ve got an elk within 200 yards and we are on the same elevation. Levi sets up in front of me and I cut loose with an even better sounding bugle. The bull responds but he is about 100’ feet above us. He bugles again - further up the mountain. We aren’t going to chase him. We drop down towards the creek and find tons of fresh sign. Like a large herd had hung out here for a couple days - but they aren’t here now.

We cross the creek and head up the opposite slope - it’s big and it’s steep. I want to scale it and cover some ground up top and head further to a huge northern facing slope - that slope is a little over 3 miles from camp. What a beautiful walk. Broken meadows, scattered aspens, big boulder strewn meadows. We walked through one that looked exactly like a spot BRO and Cory J hunted in one of their videos from 3-4 years ago. Who knows, maybe it was the spot. Doesn’t really matter, but man it looked elky. Mule Deer sign every where and we saw a few does, but no bulls would respond to my calling. I started second guessing taking this trek - maybe we should have trailed that bugling bull uphill first thing and tried to get him once he bedded. No use second guessing, we made a decision and needed to just roll with it.

Mike had got on his ATV and he was back over near our spot from Tue night. He had got on a herd that had the big bull in it and he followed them to bedding ground and was just going to hang out on the mountain with them till they got up for the evening. Levi and I were confident Mike would kill that herd bull and we would be packing meat that night

Back to our hunt. We finally make it to the big north facing slope - it’s huge and there’s probably 600’ of elevation down to the bottom of it. Heavily wooded and somewhat steep. I figure we will get a response here and it will be game on.

We drop down a little ways and start side hilling while occasionally stopping to bugle. I’m completely surprised that we get no responses. Total silence.

We start the huge loop back towards camp. Who knows, we could run into elk anywhere here - elk are where you find them and sometimes you find them in the strangest of places. Our spirits are a little low, but it’s ok.

22-Nov-22
I’m tuned in. :)

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Some Saturday morning scenery.
Old School's embedded Photo
Some Saturday morning scenery.
Old School's embedded Photo
Terrain on our way to the big north facing slope. It’s elky everywhere out there
Old School's embedded Photo
Terrain on our way to the big north facing slope. It’s elky everywhere out there
Old School's embedded Photo
We finally make it to the big north facing slope. Expecting a bugling bull at any moment.
Old School's embedded Photo
We finally make it to the big north facing slope. Expecting a bugling bull at any moment.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
8.5 miles walked that morning and 95 floors climbed - according to the iPhone. It did feel like we did a death march that morning. We circled back across the creek and headed up the steep hill back towards the trail. There’s sign absolutely everywhere in there. It’s thick with elk sign, but the elk aren’t there. We stop for a breather and turn around and look back to the meadow on the opposite side that we just crossed not 20 minutes ago. A black bear is running out across it and down towards the creek. That was a neat bonus right there. If we wouldn’t have stopped and turned around at that precise time, we would’ve missed it. We’ve seen antelope, mulies, black bear - now we just need to find an elk.

We walk back to camp and then eat lunch. I take a nap and Levi shoots his bow.

Saturday evening it’s spitting rain, but we are going to hunt. It’s not steady rain, just off and on drizzle. We walk down around the area that we hunted the first evening but drop off the other side and put together a make shift ground blind - there’s a meadow with a wallow in the middle of it and quite a bit of elk sign in the timber surrounding the meadow. My expectations aren’t super high, but we are in the woods and who knows when an elk will show up. I’m honestly just soaking up every moment spent out there with Levi - I’m a blessed man, elk or no elk. But I’m really wanting Levi to get an elk.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Make shift ground blind with a good view and very concealed. Now we just need an elk to cooperate.
Old School's embedded Photo
Make shift ground blind with a good view and very concealed. Now we just need an elk to cooperate.
Old School's embedded Photo
In the ground blind with Levi - he decides to put on some face paint, maybe it will bring in the elk.
Old School's embedded Photo
In the ground blind with Levi - he decides to put on some face paint, maybe it will bring in the elk.

From: Treeline
22-Nov-22
Beautiful country!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We walk back to camp in the dark - no elk seen or herd tonight. We won’t hunt tomorrow morning for sure - it’s Sunday morning, we will hop in the Sequoia and listen to a few preaching CD’s and then go from there.

We get back to camp, and it’s starting to lightly rain again. We get some more wood under the rain fly in the small entry way, fire up the jetboil and cook some dinner. Go thru the routine, stoke the stove and hit the sack.

It absolutely pours rain the entire night - like thunderstorm pours. It’s raining to beat the band out there all night long. We sleep in and wake up to bluebird skies. The rain has passed thru and it’s absolutely beautiful out.

I eat another mountain house breakfast skillet. My opinion has gone from “this is really good” to “this isn’t quite as good as yesterday” to “ I can’t believe people actually eat this stuff”. Levi eats his normal 3 packs of oatmeal along with a couple cups of applesauce and some cups of peanut butter. We finish up breakfast and head to the Sequoia for our mountain view church service.

Listen to 3 messages capped off by Paris Reidhead “10 shekels and a shirt”. Was a good morning spiritually being challenged by the preaching of God’s Word.

I cook up some lunch and get ready to take a nap. Levi grabs his bow and goes outside. I fall asleep to the sounds of a bow going off and an arrow thumping into a target.

I wake up and he is still shooting his bow. I go outside and ask him what he’s doing and he says I’m good at all my marked yardages but now I’m just walking around and shooting at random distances from different angles and from standing, sitting, quick release, holding for a minute or more - any combination of what you could ever imagine happening on an elk hunt. He is over prepared (if there can be such a thing).

I go back in the tent and start looking over on x. I’m tired of hunting around camp - lots of elk sign from before that spike was shot, but I think that guy pressured them a little too much and they’ve temporarily moved out.

I’m using previous years experience and also pointers that Mike has given as far as how he identifies elky spots. Mike has a gift - talent that he has honed that involves being able to look at a map and find where elk will be.

I study the map for a couple of hours and think I’ve identified a really good spot. Mike hasn’t said anything about it and we haven’t hunted around it either. We will just be “going in blind”.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
It’s around 5:00 and I tell Levi, let’s go drive and check out a new spot I’ve found on on x - see if we can get anything to bugle so we can have them marked for Monday morning. Monday and Tuesday are forecasted to be absolutely perfect Sept elk weather. Bluebird skies and cool.

Levi says “ok, are we hunting this evening”. I say “no we aren’t hunting” just going to see what this area looks like from the ground. We will drive this mountain road and see how it looks and if anything is talking before dark.

Levi says “should I throw my bow in the Sequoia”. I say “absolutely!!!! If we run into a bull with a death wish, I don’t want to disappoint him.” We load up and off we go. The road is a little greasy, but a full day of wind and bright sun has taken most of the grease off it.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
I’m in my green Duluth Trading pants, my LaCrosse rubber boots (my muddy trout fishing outfit). Levi has on sweat pants and tennis shoes. Off we go - hopeful to find out this spot is everything I think it might be. About a half hour later we are slow climbing the mountain in the Sequoia. One side of the road looks bad but the other looks really really good. We drive uphill for a couple miles and pull off the side of the road. We both get out and man it is absolutely perfect - early evening chill, the strong scent of pines and what a view. We walk up the road about 100 yards and I let out a bugle - no response. We walk another 100 yards and I let out another bugle and a bull immediately responds somewhere below us.

We think it came from down hill so we go back to the Sequoia and backup a ways and get out and bugle again - nothing. So we drive further up the mountain and get out and bugle - bam! The bull answers and he’s right below us like 500-600 yards but man is it a steep drop. Levi looks at me and I say “grab your bow, we are dropping in”. We scramble down the hill about 300 yards and I let out a bugle - the bull is on his feet but he’s heading downhill - there’s a big meadow at the base of the sidehill and it runs for about a mile heading downhill kind of following the road. We scramble back up the hill and man it is way steeper going up than it was going down. I stop a couple times and think I’m going to pass out, my heart is pounding. We get back to the Sequoia, throw his bow in the back and race down the hill probably 1/4 mile. Jump out, run down into the timber and bugle and he screams back at us, but he’s already past our location again - another sprint back up to the Sequoia. My 52 year old heart can’t take much more of this - I’m not used to sprinting up hill at high elevation. And the slope is probably 50 degrees or so. Super steep for me to be sprinting.

We jump in the Sequoia and this time we go about 1/2 mile downhill before we stop. There’s an old logging road that angles down into the timber and I tell Levi “ grab your bow, we are doing this one last time”. We do a fast walk down into the timber probably 300 yards or so on the old logging road and I cut loose with a bugle - no response. Oh well, at least we know where we are going tomorrow morning.

I say let’s drop down a little further and bugle one more time. We do that and boom he fires off a massive scream and oh yeah, we have dropped down far enough and he hasn’t got to us yet. I bugle and he screams again. He isn’t in the timber though - he’s another 300 yards down and he’s in the meadow walking down the drainage. No way we can drop down and intercept him - he’s moving way too fast but man is he fired up. He’s a mature bull and screaming every time I bugle.

All of a sudden another bull is bugling with him. We can tell that they are down in the meadow moving quickly but they continue to bugle at me. We’ve got 15 minutes of light left and suddenly another bull lights up big time - and he’s not in the meadow, he’s in the timber on our side and we are inbetween him and where he wants to go.

I bugle and he screams back - he’s well under 200 yards. I tell Levi “this dude is coming in, this is a fat boy heading to the evening buffet and he thinks we are taking the last seat.” We drop a little elevation and I bugle and he screams back - he’s under 100 yards and closing fast. We haven’t seen him but can tell there’s no doubt he is committed and coming in. The other 2-3 bulls down in the meadow are screaming their heads off - it’s like Tuesday night only on steroids.

After he screams from under 100 yards I tell Levi we need to run forward, drop some elevation and find a shooting lane and we’ve got 10 seconds to do it. I jump in front of him and say “follow me”. We sprint maybe20 yards to a fallen log with a root ball at the end of it. There’s a small clearing running down towards the meadow (its about 10 yards across). Will be an absolute perfect setup. He will hit that opening before can catch our thermals.

I’m not calling again - don’t want to give away our final position/setup. I don’t think we are there even 10 seconds and we hear major branches breaking like a bulldozer is running through a lumber yard. Sounds like 2x4’s are snapping like tooth picks. I’m actually starting to shake and I’m the caller, don’t even have my bow. All of a sudden I see legs coming thru the timber. He’s down below us and on a steady fast walk. I look over at Levi and he’s down on his knees and coming to full draw - this is the first time we’ve ever been drawn back on a bull. His eyes are huge - he says “dad, he’s coming in, he’s right there”. I tell him take a deep breath and get your head in the game. Get your face into that string, find him in your peep an execute your shot.

The bull comes to a stop about 5 yards from the clearing - he is 18 yards below us and quartering very hard to us. A frontal will be way risky, he’s not turned quite enough. I look down and Levi is absolutely locked in. I look back at the bull. He has absolutely no idea that we are there and the thermals are blowing a good 20 yards out in front of the bull. Unless the breeze switches or the bull gets nervous, this just might happen.

He stands for what seems to be an absolute eternity. I know it was well over a minute. I’m afraid to move and have him catch my movement so I’m not even turning my head an inch.

All of a sudden Levi’s bow goes off and the bull whirls and goes crashing back the direction from which he came.

I’m incomplete unbelief. I look down to ask him what happened. How come you waited over a minute and nothing changed about the bulls angle or body position. I was afraid he had got bull fever and just took a shot.

I look down and he has moved about 3’ - I’m thinking “what in the world”. I say what’s up. He says - I was at full draw and didn’t have a shot but I saw an opening to shoot through so I slowly slid on my knees (while at full draw) until I got there and then I made the shot. He says, I wasn’t shaking and was dead on. I shot him for just under 20 yards.

I walk down to where the bull was standing and Levi ranges me - 18 yards. There was no time for that before the shot. It happened way too fast.

From: Fields
22-Nov-22
Wow....

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
22-Nov-22
Your story telling skills are way better than you think! Enjoying every sentence!

22-Nov-22
Keep it comin!

22-Nov-22
Bowsite Gold right here !

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
I stand at the spot and wait for Levi to come down to me before we start looking for blood. He gets down there and says something to the effect of “I can’t believe it just happened, so this is what it’s like”. I’m pretty focused in on the shot and how good or bad it is. I’m assuming he made a crazy frontal shot - he says “no I shot him behind the shoulder”. My stomach churns immediately - the frontal would’ve been no good because it was quartering to just enough where a frontal would’ve totally missed the near lung - it would’ve caught far lung and exited. Basically like a really steep quartering away shot would do. I asked him “how tight to the shoulder were you”. He said “I put it where it had to just slip in behind the shoulder bone - it was as tight to the front shoulder as you could go without hitting it.” Levi knows elk anatomy and Mike had reaffirmed that on day one before we hunted anyway - so Levi already knew it and then had Mike repeat it - repetition is the mother of learning.

I felt a little better but still wondered about the shot - man, it would’ve had to have been a perfect shot under less than ideal circumstances. Extended holding at full draw, on your knees, changed position and leaning forward and turned slightly to the left to put the shot through the only hole that was there. From where I was standing there was no clear shot at all.

From: Bowboy
22-Nov-22
Awesome story keep it coming!

From: t-roy
22-Nov-22
C’mon! Put that Mountain House down and keep typing!!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We start looking for blood and boom - the sweet sight to a bow hunters eyes after he’s turned an arrow loose - red blood on the ground at point of impact. Light is fading fast, we might have 10 minutes of light left. I’ve got my iPhone and that’s it and it’s below 20% battery thanks to all the time I spend on OnX that afternoon finding this spot. We turn the flashlight on my phone on and start quiet as a mouse looking for blood. I don’t want to bump him, but I’d also like to see what we’ve got. We don’t make it but about 10 yards and I realize my battery is about to die - I need to mark some spots on OnX so I say “wait here, I’m going back to the Sequoia for our headlamps and the handgun.” I make the trip up there and it’s dark by the time I get back. We turn the lights on and begin a slow and silent track - drops and splashes of dark red blood - I’m thinking it’s liver blood from the exit hole if the arrow exited. We didn’t find an arrow at the spot of impact and the bull was probably 10’ below us elevation wise.

We got about 40 yards and Levi finds the front of the arrow - but the back 4” is missing basically snapped off right at the fletching - so we are missing 4” of arrow from the knock end. I’m a little puzzled by this.

We go about 2 more steps and both our headlamps start flashing and going into super dim battery save mode. Unbelievable!! Of course we have spare batteries in our packs back at camp. I say “maybe this is the Lord stopping us from going any further, I don’t know, but we’d be fools to press on right now.” Levi agrees and we silently back out. We hadn’t so much as snapped a twig and the pine duff and soft earth allowed you to track like an Indian.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
The arrow - deep red blood and has no gut smell to it at all. Montec G5 still intact and in good shape.
Old School's embedded Photo
The arrow - deep red blood and has no gut smell to it at all. Montec G5 still intact and in good shape.
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s outfit when he shot the bull - high dollar matching camo is an absolute necessity to kill an elk ;-)
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s outfit when he shot the bull - high dollar matching camo is an absolute necessity to kill an elk ;-)
Old School's embedded Photo
Blood trail - photo obviously taken the next morning.
Old School's embedded Photo
Blood trail - photo obviously taken the next morning.
Old School's embedded Photo
More blood
Old School's embedded Photo
More blood

From: hdaman
22-Nov-22
What a great story! Please continue!

22-Nov-22
Hitting refresh on my phone to find the next drops of blood !

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
We get back to the Sequoia and we are both stoked. What an evening and we believe we’ve killed our first elk - now to just find him in the morning.

I send Mike a quick inreach message saying Levi shot a bull. We then start driving back to camp. We hit our turnoff and I notice ATV lights coming from the opposite direction. We pull in and wait and sure enough Mike pulls up beside us. He hadn’t got the inreach message yet, so we tell him Levi shot a bull - show him pics of the arrow and he asks all the pertinent questions that a seasoned archer would ask. I ask Mike - should we wait till morning or go back now. Mike says “I think you’ve got a dead bull from everything you say and from the picture, let’s just wait till morning, it’s supposed to be plenty cold tonight.”

We both drive back to our camps and Mike says I’ll be over about 30 minutes before sunrise. You drive and I’ll follow you on my ATV.

We eat some supper and Levi is going through the whole scenario over and over - you know, just like you’d do if you were in his shoes. One thing he’s not budged on is this - “I know I made a good shot, I was rock solid and I know where I was aiming was the right spot”. Only thing bothered me was that he didn’t see the arrow impact - I was a little worried about a possible deflection. He was shooting thru a hole that was like 2’x2’.

We ate supper, loaded the stove and hit the sack. We laid there talking till after midnight - neither of us could sleep. It was like 2 kids on Christmas Eve. I’m telling you this, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Levi finally falls asleep sometime after 1:00. Last time I checked my phone it was around 3:30 and I was still wide awake. Couldn’t wait till morning.

From: Treeline
22-Nov-22
Awesome elk hunt right there!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Morning comes - alarm goes off and we are both out of bed like right now. Packs already in the Sequoia - fresh batteries, kill kit, pack frame, we are confident we are going to be packing meat today.

Mike arrives on his ATV and I show him where we were hunting - he laughs and shows me his phone, he’s got that spot marked as a place that we will “get to”. Man I feel good, I found a spot on my own and Mike had independently marked the same spot - he had taught well and I’d caught what he taught.

He says let’s go.

Levi and I get in the Sequoia and pray and ask God for wisdom in tracking and finding this bull. We pull out and head for the spot.

30 minutes later we pull in and all 3 of us have packs on and bows in hand and we are silently retracing our steps last night - starting right at the road. I don’t know the exact distance but it’s around 600 yards and we are to the spot. It’s breaking light and the 3 bulls from the night before are bugling like crazy. Heading back up the meadow - sounds like they will pass within 200 yards of us.

We get on the trail but then loose blood within 20-30 yards. It’s a horribly sickening feeling. You guys know, been there, done that, you feel like it’s a coin flip probability whether or not you find him - time for the dreaded grid search. Well, not quite yet.

Mike peels off left in case the bull has made a turn back towards where we shot him. Levi peels off right in case he stayed in the heavy timber heading back the direction he came from. I stay straight ahead and start dropping down into a much steeper area that goes down into the meadow.

I haven’t gone 20 yards, I’m faceful into some type of cedar like tree, I’m looking through it and see something very out of place something huge and tan shoved up into a tree. I can’t hardly focus on it, it’s like less than 10 yards ahead of me. I back out and go around the tree and am greeted by the most beautiful sight an elk hunter can see - a dead bull elk. This is unreal.

It’s a beautiful clear bluebird sky, the other 3 bulls are screaming like crazy and I’m standing over my sons bull. I start whistling trying not to spook the other bulls but still get Levi’s and Mike’s attention. They both come over and we start quietly celebrating. I tell Mike - go kill one of those bulls, Levi and I can take care of this.

Mike said “if they get close I might, but, no, I’m staying here. We’ve got an elk to butcher and pack out.”

22-Nov-22
Yes!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
There’s a lot left - pictures and we’ve still got a couple of days to hunt - I’ve got a Thanksgiving revival tonight at the church I pastor. I’ll post some more later tonight and wrap it up tomorrow.

From: JohnMC
22-Nov-22
One picture before you go!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
As we found him
Old School's embedded Photo
As we found him

From: Bowboy
22-Nov-22
Congrats to Levi and dad!

This is a great thread.

From: t-roy
22-Nov-22
Galatians 5: 22-23 is gonna be tested by a bunch of us!

From: JohnMC
22-Nov-22
That is awesome! Glad it worked out! Not sure how y'all know Cheesehead Mike it is cool of him to take the two of you under his wing even if you figured it out without him in the end. He taught you all just enough between rain storms. Fingers crossed there is a bonus elk in last two days!

From: HUNT MAN
22-Nov-22
Oh this is good. Real good like mashed potato’s at Thanksgiving good!!! Hunt

From: Treeline
22-Nov-22
Heck, that bull was grandma’s pumpkin pie!

From: Mule Power
22-Nov-22
I followed this story since yesterday. Super happy for you Mitch. You earned it starting several years ago. I can tell you this: once you kill the first one they come easier. You’re now armed with confidence knowing you can do it. Your mental game will be way more solid. God is great! Where to next?

From: labxtreme1.
22-Nov-22
What an adventure!

From: cnelk
22-Nov-22
What great story telling Mitch! (I knew the ending since you emailed pics late September)

From: btnbuck
22-Nov-22
This is awesome! This is why I quit buying the hunting magazines. Your storytelling is riveting. Congrats to you both and especially Levi for pulling off a great shot, and Keep it coming. It is so great that you have a mentor there to help you a little. Kudos to Mike for helping you both. This is what bowsite is all about.

From: Whocares
22-Nov-22
Congrats! Great story. Makes me feel like I'm there!

From: Scoot
22-Nov-22
Woot woot! Awesome! Many congrats guys!

22-Nov-22
I'm thinking maybe I was just getting in their way ;-)

I wish I would have been there when Levi killed his bull but I also think that Mitch and Levi getting it done on their own was a great confidence builder for them moving forward. And what a great bonding experience for father and son!

Mitch and I connected via Bowsite and have been exchanging messages for a few years. It worked out this year that we were able to connect on this hunt. They shared their points with me and I provided input on a hunting area and shared some mentoring. I don't have all the answers but hopefully what I shared helped them on this hunt and will continue to help them on future elk hunts.

22-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Levi's bull died on a steep slope laying on his back propped up against a tree. At first I thought it was going to be miserable cutting him up but as it turned out, the bull being propped up on his back actually made things easier than most that I've dealt with.

From: Bowfreak
22-Nov-22
Awesome recap. You guys did awesome and I can’t imagine how proud you are of Levi. I have loved every second of this!

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Proud moment for sure!
Old School's embedded Photo
Proud moment for sure!
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi attaching his tag to the bull - we’ve waited a long time for this moment - shot placement couldn’t get any tighter to the shoulder bone.
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi attaching his tag to the bull - we’ve waited a long time for this moment - shot placement couldn’t get any tighter to the shoulder bone.
Old School's embedded Photo
Euro mount
Old School's embedded Photo
Euro mount
Old School's embedded Photo
Last load out
Old School's embedded Photo
Last load out

From: Old School
22-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Meat packed out of the steep hole - hanging and waiting for Mike to come back with his game cart.
Old School's embedded Photo
Meat packed out of the steep hole - hanging and waiting for Mike to come back with his game cart.
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi packed all the meat up to the drop point while I worked on getting the head off and cleaning it up a little
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi packed all the meat up to the drop point while I worked on getting the head off and cleaning it up a little
Old School's embedded Photo
Back at the Sequoia
Old School's embedded Photo
Back at the Sequoia
Old School's embedded Photo
Back at camp - 4PM
Old School's embedded Photo
Back at camp - 4PM

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Enough pictures - time for a little more story.

We tag his bull and start evaluating how are we going to process this dude. I’ve never done the gutless method with hoofs up - going to have to skin from the belly to the back.

We start skinning and do the front shoulder first - let me just say this, when you’ve got 3 guys that know what they are doing processing an elk, it cuts the time dramatically. It’s sure handy to have 3 guys breaking down a bull.

We skin up to the front shoulder (entrance wound) and as I cut - there is the back 4” of arrow, completely under the hide and about half way into the shoulder. I pull/ cut the shoulder off the carcass and hand it to Mike. He’s got a big piece of plastic laid out on the only semi flat spot where he can do the deboning. We are both curious to see how close the entrance is to the big shoulder bone.

Mike cuts away while Levi and I continue skinning and Mike says - here it is, your shot entered 1” behind that big bone. That’s as close as you can get.

The other 3 bulls serenade us till well after 8:00. It was an incredible scene. Bluebird sky, processing an elk while bulls are screaming out in the meadow heading up to their bedding area.

Lots of big flys but zero yellowjackets - how nice is that!

We get it broke down and deboned and Mike goes and hops on the ATV to go back and get his game cart. Levi and I finish up and get the meat up to a somewhat flat spot where Mike will meet us.

We get it all loaded on the cart and up to the Sequoia we go. Being out of breath huffing and puffing up a mountain never felt so good.

From: Old School
22-Nov-22
Some random thoughts before I call it a night. (I promise to finish this whole recap tomorrow).

1. We took what we had learned the hard way on our first 4 elk hunts and combined that with what Mike taught us (both aspects were necessary).

2. Be decisive when you need to - Mikes kind, but serious comments on Tue night stuck with me - when you’ve got a bull coming in, there’s no time to mess around. We would’ve messed that bull up Sun night were it not for Mikes talk on Tue night.

3. Levi practiced till he literally shot out our target. I think he could’ve shot that bull while he was laying on the ground. You cannot be too prepared because you have no idea the only shot you may be presented with for your entire trip. You may get 1 chance and that’s it.

4. Turkey hunting and elk hunting are VERY different but share some similarities. If you get in between where a Turkey roosts and where he wants to go when he flies down - you don’t have to be an expert caller. Matter of fact you don’t even have to be average. We knew where the bulls were and where they were heading and made haste to get inbetween them. I don’t even know if I’m an average caller but when you are able to get between the elk and where they are heading, some timely calls work wonders. Almost makes you feel like an expert - lol. That bull came in on a string. It’s a lot easier that way than trying to call him away from where he is really wanting to go.

5. Mike is all that and then some. Some guys are indeed experts but their arrogance and demeanor is a complete turn off. Mike is an expert but has the character to also be humble and a good teacher. If you ask, he will tell you what he knows - and that’s invaluable.

Tomorrow I will start recapping the last couple days - there’s still more Chasing Bugles With Cheesehead.

Good night all - and thank you for your kind words.

From: Inshart
22-Nov-22
Holy smokes Mitch -- you sir are a great storyteller - on the edge of my chair the entire time. Oh, and Levi is a stud elk killer - outstanding for sure!

Now bring on the rest of the story and LOTS more pics, please?

22-Nov-22
Representing SWMO well! Good stuff!

From: JohnMC
22-Nov-22
Did I understand correctly, this elk was killed with Levi wearing sweat pants and tennis shoes? If so that hilarious and awesome as well.

From: Willieboat
22-Nov-22
Great stuff congrats

From: arlone
22-Nov-22
Congratulations to all involved and a special slap on the back to Levi and his first elk! Thank you for taking me along! Looking forward to the last few days of the hunt.

From: bowhunt
23-Nov-22
Awsome story

I was smiling reading the story just like I was there.

Thanks for sharing.

Hunting Incan be a great thing that can bring strangers together, really cool to read about some folks of bowsite nesting up and having success.

23-Nov-22
Great story! Congrats!

23-Nov-22
Bowsite needs more of this. Nice work fellas!

From: BULELK1
23-Nov-22
A dang good ending to a dang good elk hunting adventure--------->

Congrats across the board,

Robb

From: brettpsu
23-Nov-22
Congrats! Great story and looking forward to the rest

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
So we get all the meat loaded into the Sequoia, get Mike’s game cart broken down and loaded onto his 4 wheeler - it’s somewhere around 3:00 and we start the drive back to camp - we’ve still got 2 bull tags left to go.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Our view driving back to camp was pretty nice. The beauty is amazing.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We get back to camp and put all the game bags in Mike’s freezer so they can get at least semi-frozen in the next couple of days. I offer Mike some meat but he says he has plenty and it’s all mine, he’s not taking any.

It’s about 4:00 by now and Levi asks if Mike and I want to hunt tonight. Mike says he isn’t hunting and quite honestly I’m pretty whipped but man the weather is absolutely perfect. I make the decision to stay at camp, just can’t bring myself to pick up the bow and start an evening hunt. I decide to wash out a couple shirts in the creek out in front of camp. I’m at the creek washing shirts and look up to see Bullwinkle at 75 yards and closing - he is coming to my washing spot. I think “this is not good” and stand up. He now sees me and kind of cocks his head - I have no idea what he is thinking, but I’m thinking, there’s no tree within 150 yards of me - if this dude wants me, I’m toast.

Thoughts start flashing through my mind - what is it you’re supposed to do when you are surprised by a moose? It’s different depending on the species - bear, mt lion, griz. What about a moose - do you slowly back away from a moose or is it make yourself look big? Do I fall into the fetal position and cry for momma - is it red touching yellow will kill a fellow or is it yellow touching black step back. Forget all the rhymes and reasons, I’m trusting my gut instinct and my gut is saying - get out of this spot now.

I grab my shirts and start backing away - towards camp. I get about 20 yards and he starts walking toward me, so I pick up the pace a little. Before you know it, I feel like there is now an adequate distance between us where I’m not near as nervous.

Maybe I’m chicken little and maybe it’s a nervousness that wasn’t warranted - but who cares, either way, I was nervous.

I holler towards camp for Levi to step out of the tent and see a moose. He’s shocked that this moose is just standing there staring at us with not a concern in the world that we are people.

Man is this awesome. I’m a blessed man. First we see antelope, then mule deer, then black bear, then elk and now a moose. All we are missing is a wolf and a griz - I’m hoping we don’t see a griz and Levi is hoping we see a wolf as he has his .300 prc and is lethal with that thing out past 1,000 yards.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
My iPhone just doesn’t capture the essence of what it really looked like - but here’s Bullwinkle
Old School's embedded Photo
My iPhone just doesn’t capture the essence of what it really looked like - but here’s Bullwinkle
Old School's embedded Photo
We walk out to the road that leads to camp - here’s the view. Mike was camped just a few hundred yards up and off the road from us.
Old School's embedded Photo
We walk out to the road that leads to camp - here’s the view. Mike was camped just a few hundred yards up and off the road from us.
Old School's embedded Photo
Another view close to camp
Old School's embedded Photo
Another view close to camp

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
Talk with Mike and the plan is we are going back in the morning to the spot where Levi killed his bull.

Bulls were in the area Sunday night and Monday morning. No reason they shouldn’t be there Tuesday morning, right…

I’m thinking there’s a real good chance we are packing meat again tomorrow.

Levi and I have some “cleanup” to do on the euro skull. I gouge out the eye balls and then get some water from the jacket on the wood stove, take the tent stake Mike gave us and start scrambling brains and pulling them out - due to CWD or something else, you’re supposed to have all that “cleaned” up before you transport it home. Amazing how many brains are in a elks head. Scramble with the tent stake, pour in super hot water, somewhat seal the hole, shake it up and pour it out - repeat as many times as necessary. We’ve finally got the skull pretty clean.

Don’t even remotely remember what we ate for supper that night - maybe thats when we ate some chicken fajita roll ups. Stoke the fire, count our blessings, rehash the day and God’s absolute goodness to us - it honestly seems surreal that we have killed an elk, processed it, packed it off the mountain and have it in a freezer. We shut off the propane lantern and go to bed - eager for what just may lie in store tomorrow.

Alarm goes off and we are up and attem. Tired from the days work before but amazingly not really too sore.

Mike has said be prepared to stay out on the mountain all day - if we can get in with the elk early we may just stay with them all day. Beats the walk in and walk out - twice.

From: Treeline
23-Nov-22
Extremely well done all the way around! This is what bowhunting is all about and why I hang out on the Bowsite! This story definitely captures the many blessings we have been given to be able to have this passion for the hunt!

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
Mike shows up on his ATV and we all pile into the Sequoia and off to Levi’s spot.

We pull in and it’s still 10-15 minutes before legal shooting light. We slowly work our way down the logging road and then peel off downhill into the timber. We are probably within 50-100 yards of where Levi shot his bull. Mike sounds off with a signature bugle - I mean it’s perfect. And guess what…

Surprise, surprise, surprise. A bull down in the meadow screams back at us. It’s still a little too dark to shoot back in the timber so we just slowly work down the steep edge towards the meadow.

We get within 50 or so yards of the meadow and Mike bugles again and bam - big bull answers back. This is honestly what I expected this entire hunt to be like, but due to whatever reason initially and then the rainy weather, it just hadn’t happened with the exception being Tuesday night and Sunday night. Although Monday while we were processing would have been a super day to be hunting them as they were bugling like crazy all on their own.

Anyway, where were we before I digressed and chased that rabbit. Oh yeah - we’ve got a herd bull screaming back at Mikes calls, how could I forget.

We drop down the steep slope and hit the meadows edge. I was fully expecting at least 1 if not 2 elk to be in sight somewhere. Nope - nothing. I’m thinking “where are they, they sounded like they were right there and they should be working their way back up the way they came down Sunday night.”

This also isn’t one smooth meadow that runs downhill - as you look across it slopes down from the right to the left. But as you look across it there is a decent hill/mountain on the other side and there’s a big “spine” you’ve got to go up and over to get there - the bulls were obviously up on that spine and dropped off the other side instead of dropping into our side. Oh well, just means we are going to be chasing them rather than being inbetween them and where they want to go. Our chances have just gone down some, but man, the bull is still screaming.

We cross a creek and go up this little “spine” - (it’s not so little when you’re climbing it.). We stop to catch our breath a couple of times - it’s pretty chilly this morning and the cold air and pine scent are what Elktember is made of.

We traverse down the backside of the spine and now have another creek to cross before we head up the side of the mountain. No real good place to cross but we find the best case and across we go.

We get into the timber and Mike bugles again - the bull is a good 300’ of elevation above us and has started working around the face of the mountain - there’s a little bench up there on the NW side and that’s where he is obviously heading. We are coming up from the south(ish). The bull bugles back at us - he is still super vocal.

We get up to his elevation and it really flattens out (flat is a relative term here). Instead of thick timber, it’s thinned out a little and there’s a bunch of deadfall. Mike says - you want to call for me? I’m thinking - are you nuts? Have you heard me call? So, I tell him, “you really want me to call for you?” Mike says “you were good enough to call in Levi’s bull, you can call.” He hands Levi a hoochie mama push type call (I can see BigDan rolling over in his grave) and says (Levi, use this while your dad is calling). I’m really hoping I can contribute even in a small way to Mike killing this bull. Mike takes off into some real thick pines heading towards the bull.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
I let loose with a bugle and man oh man, the bull hammers a bugle back at me. I’m guessing we are maybe 150ish yards from him. I pick up a big dead branch and start thrashing a pine/spruce in front of me - it’s sounds realistic to me and Levi is making some cow sounds as I’m thrashing this tree. Levi calls some more and I scream at him trying to paint the picture in the bulls mind that there is a little bull over there with a few cows and I’m doing everything I can to keep those cows from heading over to join him.

The bull bugles, Levi cow calls back at him and I give my best “girls, you are staying right here with me bugle.” I continue thrashing trees - I’m a little out of breath doing this whole routine. Actually I’m a lot out of breath to be quite honest. I’m putting everything I’ve got into this calling routine.

Suddenly we hear Mikes bugle join in the party - they’ve moved a little further away, so we pick up and move with them continuing our sequence. The bull is responding to everything and I am 100% expecting Mike is killing this bull. I bugle, the bull bugles and then Mike bugles - over and over and over this routine happens and you can tell from his bugles that Mike is right on top of this bull. We obviously can’t see them but they are only 100ish yards up in front of us.

Levi and I are still moving forward and calling but the bull has suddenly gone silent - I’m thinking, oh yeah, dead bulls don’t bugle. I’m pretty confident we are going to find Mike with an arrow missing from his quiver.

We hear Mike give a turkey yelp - we start making our way through the brush to him.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We are climbing over deadfall and making our way through some super thick stuff - shorter pines/spruce like regrowth. We can finally see Mike and he doesn’t have much expression on his face and I’m thinking - either he has no emotions at all after killing a stud bull, or he’s got his poker face on, or he didn’t get a shot.

We finally get up to him and sure enough he was dancing with the herd bull but just couldn’t get a shot off - just too thick and he had cows all around him.

Well that’s elk hunting for you - highs and lows. Tue morning is about past and we don’t have an elk on the ground. We start making our way around this mountain to the north. We go about 300 yards or so and we hit a chute/valley/draw. Whatever you call it from where you’re from.

It’s a lush draw and there are some elk trails in it. We turn and start gaining elevation while working up this draw. We get almost to the head of it and we hit a wallow. Man, this thing has been hammered by elk in the early season, but it doesn’t look like they are using it now. This would be an absolute primo spot early in Sept. Tucked in on the north side of a mountain with thick reprod/regrowth all around it.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
I think there may be a few bulls hanging out in the area
Old School's embedded Photo
I think there may be a few bulls hanging out in the area

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We move up above the draw, out of the meadowish area and into some reprod/regrowth that was a little thinner. We are going to eat breakfast, take a nap and hang out for the day. We get breakfast eaten get comfortable and guess what happens - you guessed it, it starts raining. Initially spitting rain but then it start coming heavier and it’s blowing a lot colder. There was like a 1% chance of rain that day. Doesn’t matter what the % was, fact is it’s raining a very cold rain.

We all get in our rain gear and think - we are toughing this thing out. After about 30 minutes Mike asks if we want to ride it out or head back - he said it’s one thing to hang out with the elk rather than walk in and out twice, it’s another thing to just sit out in the rain all day. We decide to start slowly heading for the Sequoia.

We are up above where we had all the action earlier in the morning and we start side hilling towards the south where we can then drop down. It’s so thick and has so much blow down junk it’s going to be a long long process if we continue. And there’s not a lot more fun than going through deadfall/blowdowns when it’s wet and your boots are wet. No thanks. Not real safe either and none of us want to risk injury. Mike charts a new course and we gain elevation to get around the junk. We’ve been going for about a half an hour and the rain stops.

We are now all the way around to the south side - but we’re a little bit higher than where we came up initially and turned NW.

We poke out into another chute/meadow that traverses all the way down to the creek - by the “spine”. Talk about a view…. And there is a monster wallow down there. Mike says “let’s move down on to that knob and sit for the day if you want to”. I’m doing whatever Mike is doing - that’s my position/opinion.

We get comfortable and after a little bit a moose comes out below us and walks up the spine at a 45 degree angle, obviously following a game trail. That moose made it look like Childs play, a walk in the park, a piece of cake - and I needed to stop twice while climbing that spine.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
The wallow down below us in the chute. You can also see the spine/ridge just the other side of the creek.
Old School's embedded Photo
The wallow down below us in the chute. You can also see the spine/ridge just the other side of the creek.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
I know I haven’t come across a prettier wallow scene - and how great it will be to just chill out here for the afternoon - maybe the herd will make its way back across here this evening. We are going to wait and find out. Game on.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Moose heading up the spine ridge. You can somewhat tell the size and steepness of it - kind of but not really.
Old School's embedded Photo
Moose heading up the spine ridge. You can somewhat tell the size and steepness of it - kind of but not really.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We sit all afternoon and nap and tell stories. I’m just soaking this entire experience in. Don’t want to take for granted that I’ll be back - never know what tomorrow holds. Enjoy life every day and I’m thoroughly enjoying this day. I’ve eaten all my snacks by about 4:00 and Levi has obliterated his roaming wilderness convenience store as well.

We sit till almost dark and no bugles, no nothing. Maybe they peeled off the north side of the mountain today - who knows, but they didn’t come to the south - at least not while it was light.

We pack up and head down the mountain, cross the creek and take the moose trail up the spine. We get up top and Mike bugles - no responses. We were really thinking something would answer somewhere but nope - silence. He calls a few more times and we get no responses. Dropping off the backside of the spine -facing the timber where Levi shot his bull, is pretty close to straight down. We work our way further west and then bisect the slope on the way down so we don’t trip and roll to the bottom.

We hit the bottom and cross the last creek and make our way to the Treeline where Levi shot his bull. Before we get going Mike bugles and a bull way back where we came from sounds off.

Mike looks on OnX and finds the most terrain friendly spot to climb this mountain up to the logging road. It’s thick, dark and steep - man, this is the epitome of elk hunting. We’ve hunted hard, put some miles on the boots, stayed till past dark and now we navigate some thick, nasty steep stuff in the dark before we get out. Life is good. I stop to peel off my Core4 Element hoody and my longjohns - I’m absolutely roasting. We finally hit the logging road and I strip off the rest of my layers. I’m about to get sick, I’m so hot.

Off to the Sequoia we go and in about 15 minutes on the logging road, we are there.

We’re driving back and Mike asks about splitting up tomorrow to increase our chances of success. If we hunt together, there’s only one shooter. If we go separate we increase our odds - we all agree that we will hunt separate areas tomorrow. Mike is going back to the area we hunted Tue PM and Wed and Levi and I are coming back here.

We get back to camp, cook some late supper, stoke the wood stove and hit the sack. Weather is iffy the next few days so we’ve got to make tomorrow morning count.

Propane lantern is turned out - time to reflect on the blessing of the day. I’m telling you, it doesn’t get much better than this. I’m trying to kill a bull, but honestly, I’ve already checked every box that mattered on this hunt. Whether or not I kill a bull has no impact on how I view this hunt.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
I awake in the middle of the night to a mature bull bugling and I can tell it came from the meadows out where we went Tue morning. I dose off but get awakened by another of his bugles - he’s between our camp and Mikes.

A little while later he bugles and it sounds like he has passed us and is back by the pond. This is unreal. This dude has an awesome bugle. Deep and throaty.

This goes on literally all night and Levi sleeps through it all. The alarm goes off and I reset it for 45 minutes later. Levi is perplexed and says “what are you doing, we can’t be late this morning.” I say we aren’t driving to hunt - we are hunting by camp. Levi doesn’t agree with this. He knows what we’ve got over by where he killed his bull.

I tell him about the events of the night and almost right on que the bull sounds off. Levi says “man, he is really close”. Yeah, he’s close, like within 200 yards of camp kind of close.

I say, we aren’t leaving a bugling herd bull right outside our tent to drive 30 minutes with the hope of finding a bugling herd bull. Levi agrees and we lay there for a little while longer. Ok. Time to get up. This bull has bugled and bugled. I later ask Mike if he heard any of it and he says no - he doesn’t hear anything from inside his camper.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We get breakfast eaten, get our packs on and bows in hand and walk out the door - it’s 15 minutes till shooting light and the bull is screaming over in the meadow not 300 yards from camp.

We head to where we started this adventure Tue morning. To the same spot Mike took us the 1st morning. This herd bull is screaming in the predawn light and there is just nothing like it. He’s less than 100 yards away, we can’t see him and we’ve still got 10 minutes before we can shoot.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Some of the terrain close to camp where we chased the herd bull Wed morning.
Old School's embedded Photo
Some of the terrain close to camp where we chased the herd bull Wed morning.

From: RonP
23-Nov-22
never met you or talked to you but i am certain your garage, tool box, and closets are neatly organized, and you accomplish a lot in a workday.

this is beyond good stuff. very happy to see your son get his first bull.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We are sitting in complete silence. No way are we calling when the last time we heard the herd bull he was less than 100 yards away. No way I want him coming in closer until it’s shooting light. He get suspiciously quiet for the 10 minutes before shooting light. Shooting light comes and I let loose with my signature bugle - lol. The bull screams back at me but he’s like 300+ yards away. That dirty rascal - go silent and slip away before it gets light.

Levi and I start busting it trying to close the distance. We go about 200 yards and I bugle again and he responds and he’s not more than 100 yards away. We start to scramble for a setup spot. We get situated quickly and I bugle - no response. Cow call - no response, but a satellite to the left and a satellite ahead and to the right both bugle. This is absolutely the way a hunt needs to end - in the middle of a bugle fest.

Levi looks at me like “which one are we going after?” About that time I see the satellite off to my right and he’s moving away on the edge of a small rise - he’s in hot pursuit of a cow.

I’m thinking to myself, we’ve already got an elk down - I’m killing that herd bull or will strike out trying. If Levi didn’t already have a bull, we would’ve peeled off and tried to call a satellite.

The herd bull bugles again and he’s 3-400 yards away. This guy is a knucklehead and needs to be shot. You know the routine, Levi and I bust a move and are sucking wind as we try to sprint around him and cut him off.

I believe he is headed for the area where we found the tree stands - it’s thick, and choked with elk sign. No doubt this was their bedding area before the spike killer got in there.

I’m thinking “they left for a week and now they are back”. I really think we’ve got a legit shot at getting in close on this bull - but I’m not calling to him until I think we are right on top of him.

You can see the terrain in the above pic - not huge mountains to climb but still some serious country to cover with elevation gains and losses.

We’ve been in the mountains for 10 days now and we have our mountain legs and lungs - we are absolutely killing it trying to run around them - basically they are taking a big lazy arc to the area and we are cutting the angle and running to the spot to beat them there.

If you’re 19 this isn’t near as big a deal as when you’re 52. I’m sucking the wind off the mountains. I think I was breathing so hard that I was affecting the thermals in the immediate vicinity.

We get into the edge of the timber and I’m doubled over sucking wind and a little light headed. Suddenly he screams and he is right over the cusp of the the hill. He is exactly where we thought they’d be and we are ahead of him. He’s on a slope that actually borders a road and it’s a killer elevation drop to the road and then back up to the other side. On evening Mike, Levi and I saw a cow and calf across there - it may only be 800 yards straight across but wow would it be a trek down and up to get there.

Surely this bull doesn’t have that in mind and he’s just going to mosey into the thick stuff right here 50 yards away from him where we lie in wait.

I’m trying to get my breath so I could remotely pull off a decent shot. He is silent, so I bugle and he sounds off but he’s sounds to be a little bit further than he was before. I cut him off with a challenge bugle hoping he will want to come in and whoop my scrawny little satellite rear end.

He goes silent for about 1 minute. Next time he bugles he is across the road at the same elevation I am. Dirty dog. I absolutely did not see this coming. He is just inside the timber edge with his herd of cows and he is bugling like every 30 seconds at me. I think he wants me to March out into the open side and chase him - just so he can verify that I’m a human. I tell Levi “I’m not giving that bull the satisfaction of seeing us, we need to haul it back to camp, get in the Sequoia and drive over there.” He had bugled probably 20 times from the spot and he wasn’t really moving anymore. It was a somewhat small patch of north facing timber on a little knoll.

Let’s get moving - we look at OnX and start making our way back to camp - alternating between fast walking and walking. Man oh man it was beautiful that morning - sun is out bright and bulls bugling. Don’t know where the little bulls went - never saw or herd them once we started chasing the herd bull. Maybe we would bump into them on the way back thru. Nope, nothing but beautiful scenery on our way back to camp.

We chug down a gatorade, eat a protein bar and hop in the Sequoia. It’s now approaching 11:00.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
We drove quickly over to that spot, park the Sequoia and begin a walk around that north facing knoll - it’s thick timber and I have no doubt he is bedded there. Probably 2/3 of the way up it.

We circle and approach from the south - we are above them with the wind in our face and the thermals are sucking up - we have everything in our favor. And there is a wide and clear trail all along the top of this edge. This is unbelievable- I mean you couldn’t set this up any better. We’ve come in completely silent, haven’t made a peep. I believe we are pretty close to being right above them - and man is the timber short and thick down in there. Like you can’t see 5 yards thick. Yep - they are in there without a doubt.

Levi and I stop and I hand motion that we are going to pause and then slip down into the timber. No words are said.

We hadn’t been stopped for 30 seconds when the mountain side erupts - branches snapping hoofs smacking stuff - all the stinking cows were beside us like 10 yards away. All of a sudden the bull chuckles. He’s probably 75 yards down in the thick stuff and all he knows is that his cows are running everywhere. I let out a bugle hoping he thinks I’m a satellite coming in to steal cows.

No response. Hindsight is always 20/20 when things don’t go as planned. Looking back I wish I would’ve just charged down into there when the cows were busting. Maybe I could have crashed into him and got a close shot off - probably not though as it was insanely thick.

The herd travels north and about 10 minutes later I bugle and he bugles back at me from 1,000+ yards away on the opposite hillside. He’s still moving away.

Levi and I head back to the Sequoia and to camp. I tell him - this hunt is over, this is how it was supposed to end chasing a herd bull and matching wits with him.

I was a little letdown in that we got outclassed by that herd bull, but they were doing the same to Mike, so I took some comfort in that. If Mike wasn’t having success with the herd bulls, something was going to have to go really right for me to succeed.

We head back to camp and Levi is talking me into hunting tonight. I’m telling him “Levi, we are pulling out in the morning, I don’t want to kill and elk tonight, butcher him in the dark and pack elk meat all night, get back to camp without any sleep, break down camp and start the drive home - there is nothing about that scenario that appeals to me. Levi has his bull and we’ve had the adventure of a lifetime.

I finally persuaded him that I wasn’t going. He was convinced I’d be kicking myself later for not hunting one last time. He had reason for this - all previous elk hunts we bailed a day early because we were just worn down to the nubbs. Then within a week I was kicking myself for not sticking it out 1 more day. Honestly, it still bothers me.

I told him - this is not like that. I’m not quitting a day early because I’m whipped. I’m forgoing the last hunt because we’ve already been wildly successful.

We get a bunch of misc stuff packed up that afternoon - there’s a slight chance of rain that night and a very slight chance for Thursday around noon. The roads are in pretty decent shape so I’m hoping the rain holds off.

Mike comes back from his hunt and he had an opportunity but couldn’t quite close the deal. We get the meat from his freezer, shake hands and say our goodbyes.

Mike was everything I hoped he would be. A real decent human being and an absolute mountain man woodsman. He put up with our deficiencies and didn’t complain, rather he helped. I’d hunt with him again in a heartbeat.

We hunted as much apart as we did together but that was ok. That was part of the plan. Mike would show us to ropes and then we would just take it day by day. The weather just threw a massive monkey wrench into the whole hunt. Felt like it cancelled 40% of our hunts - or forced us to hunt around camp.

While we were packing Levi made the comment that he was glad we didn’t kill a bull on Saturday over 3 miles away from camp - and that it happened where it did. Told him - yep, there’s a reason for everything and how thankful I was that it worked out like it did.

I’ll attach a few more misc pictures. The last will be a diner in Nebraska. I’ve never had a better breakfast - then again maybe it was all the mountain house breakfast skillets that had drastically lowered my standards.

Enjoy every hunt like it’s your last because one day it will be and none of us know when that day will be. My dad had 2 major strokes last year and will in all likelihood never hunt again. He’s the reason I love hunting, he took me when I was a kid and we hunted all our lives together. I’ve killed 2 bulls with a rifle and dad was on both of those hunts - one in the panhandle of Idaho and one in Montana at the southern tip of “The Bob”. Memories burned down deep in my mind.

This hunt I hope I did the same for Levi - burned down deep in his mind - this is what dads and sons do. He’s a great kid and really not a kid anymore. Mike made the statement “how many 19 year olds do you know that have killed a branch antlered bull with a bow - probably not many”

He wants to antelope hunt next year and we’ve got 7 Wyoming points each to burn - archery for a few days and then rifle just to make sure…. We will see, plans may change before then, but I’m up for a change of pace for a year if that’s what he wants.

Fellas - what a life. I’m a saved man, get to pastor great people, living in America with a great family and get to enjoy the great outdoors - What.A.Life.

Till next time - Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for following along - I’ve had a blast reliving the experience.

23-Nov-22

23-Nov-22

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Last morning scenery
Old School's embedded Photo
Last morning scenery
Old School's embedded Photo
Camp fire Wed night. Only night we had a fire. Last night camp fire.
Old School's embedded Photo
Camp fire Wed night. Only night we had a fire. Last night camp fire.
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Old School's embedded Photo
Guess what it did all Wed night - poured rain. Lightning lit up the sky like it was daylight time and time again. Getting out with a trailer was a real adventure shall we say - drove thru some hail
Old School's embedded Photo
Guess what it did all Wed night - poured rain. Lightning lit up the sky like it was daylight time and time again. Getting out with a trailer was a real adventure shall we say - drove thru some hail

From: Old School
23-Nov-22

Old School's embedded Photo
Best breakfast ever - especially after a regular diet of mountain house.
Old School's embedded Photo
Best breakfast ever - especially after a regular diet of mountain house.
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s coat is for every occasion - paired with sweat pants and tennis shoes for killing elk and also for eating breakfast out.
Old School's embedded Photo
Levi’s coat is for every occasion - paired with sweat pants and tennis shoes for killing elk and also for eating breakfast out.

From: LTG 11
23-Nov-22
What a great hunt! Thanks for taking us along. Helluva shot by Levi.

From: Old School
23-Nov-22
That’s it fellas - thanks to everyone who has helped me along on this elk hunting journey. I certainly didn’t get here on my own.

Big Mike - feel free to chime in and add commentary or pics if you so desire.

From: elkmtngear
23-Nov-22
Epic Recap...you are a Master Storyteller, Mitch!

Big Congrats to Levi, have a Blessed Thanksgiving!~

23-Nov-22
Nice to see another young SWMO boy gettin after it with a bow! Great job and great write up!

From: Scoot
23-Nov-22
Wow- what a truly great adventure! You and your son... doesn't get any better!!! Many congrats to you both.

From: Ambush
23-Nov-22
First, a huge congrats to Levi! You and Mike got him there, but his dedication sealed the deal.

Congrats to Mike for his part in this amazing journey! I’ve no doubt your selfless giving will inspire Levi to become the same type of hunter.

And congrats to you Old School, on the journey and adventure. On your thankfulness for the journey and on your desire to share it with us in such a humble and captivating way.

They say there is an exception to every rule, in this case the adage that “A picture is worth a thousand words” has been turned around. You’ve painted such a vivid picture that no picture could do it justice. I’ve had a bit of a rough season, but I’ve just been smiling the whole time since your saga started!!

Just a great, great story!

From: Treeline
23-Nov-22
Spectacular tale! Thank you for taking the time and effort! Yet another truly epic Bowsite elk story that you cannot get anywhere else!

From: drycreek
23-Nov-22
I’m nowhere near as eloquent as you are Old School, but your story takes a backseat to none ! It was superb !

From: GhostBird
23-Nov-22
Thanks for taking us along... great write up. A big congratulations to you guys...

From: Bow Bullet
23-Nov-22
Memories of a lifetime created right there! What an adventure. Congratulations Levi!! Kudos to you Mitch for your great writing and being a great father, and to Mike for your selfless giving.

From: cnelk
23-Nov-22
Two Big Thumbs Up!!!

From: buckeye
23-Nov-22
I'm thankful for the time you took to share that story. Well told. Congratulations to Levi on his first bull! I hope it's the first of many for him.

From: Helgermite
23-Nov-22
Thanks for sharing! I felt like I was right there with you during the whole story. You definitely ignited the spark in me for elk hunting. Congrats to Levi!

From: Bowfreak
23-Nov-22
It was a phenomenal recap to an amazing hunt. Thanks for taking me along.

From: Ron Niziolek
23-Nov-22
Mitch, you did a fantastic job with your story. Levi's dedication to practicing for the moment of truth paid off. I'd say you both have much to be proud of.

As for Mike, good on him for mentoring. You honestly couldn't have asked for a more qualified elk killer giving you advice. Well done, all of you. Congrats

From: Bowfreak
23-Nov-22
I should mention I am not surprised at all about Mike’s character. Bowsite has a bunch of great guys that are willing to help others. He’s definitely one of them.

23-Nov-22
Excellent write up Mitch! Congrats to you all, looking forward to more of your adventures! Kudos to Mike, for helping with this hunt. September (unfortunately) comes once a year and being willing to share it shows what kind of guy he is. Bowsite Rules....minus the political bs!

From: fastflight
23-Nov-22
The elk killimg part is just the bonus to the most important part which is time spent with yours on. I could tell from your write up that you realize that. Thanks for sharing.

From: molsonarcher
23-Nov-22
Wow! Fantastic write up and super congrats to Levi. Im positive that neither of you will ever forget this adventure, and i hope you and your son get to enjoy many more.,

From: buckhammer
23-Nov-22
What a great story. Congratulations and thanks for sharing

From: Dollar
23-Nov-22
Awesome job telling story Congratulations As much as I want the story to go on I appreciate the fact that you were rather speedy from start to finish. Happy Thanksgiving

From: Whocares
23-Nov-22
Again, great and well told story! Felt like I was right there! And very nice of Mike to spend the time with you and Levi. Must be a pretty nice guy. Oh, guess we should have known a preacher would be great with words and tell a good story!! :))

From: hdaman
23-Nov-22
That was thoroughly enjoyable! Thank you for sharing it with us!

From: JB
23-Nov-22
Great write up! Details were magnificent!!! Thank you for taking us along. Congrats to Levi for pulling off a perfect shot!!! Practice makes the difference. And you are a fabulous story teller! And good on you Mike for passing along knowledge. You are a good man.

From: ElkNut1
23-Nov-22
One Hell of a story & outcome! I thoroughly enjoyed it sir! -- So cool Mike was on the hunt with you guys for a good spell!

Congrats on a great elk hunt!!!!

ElkNut

23-Nov-22
Really good! Thanks for the write up, Mitch.

From: Beav
23-Nov-22
Great blob of recapping the hunt! Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on a great adventure.

From: Cazador
23-Nov-22
Beauty! it's stories like this that I wish I would never had stopped until I had a son!

@ Mike from what I've seen over the years, I wouldn't have expected any less.

From: Fields
23-Nov-22
That was one great read!!!! Thanks and congrats!!!

From: Grasshopper
23-Nov-22
Awesome story and hunt! Hallelujah, Amen

From: Inshart
23-Nov-22
I can't add to what's already been said other than to absolutely agree, YOU are a great wordsmith and would be a hoot around a campfire telling stories!!!!!!!!!!!

From: tacklebox
24-Nov-22
Awesome! Thank you for taking the time to share and congrats all around.

From: Old School
24-Nov-22
A couple more notes on this hunt

We (me and my 2 sons) hunted Colorado OTC and Idaho for 4 years - DIY archery and we never even drew our bows - we averaged over 60 miles of walking each year on those hunts. The hunts were enjoyable, but frustrating all at the same time.

Hunter pressure, lack of vocal bulls and a tent with no stove can be a real damper on a hunt - but I had a few here on bowsite years ago that gave me this advice - go hunt OTC in Colorado and hunt Idaho so you can learn the ropes while building points - then draw a tag somewhere else and you’ll have gained invaluable experience before you just waste your points learning the “basics” on a hunt that takes years to draw. This was sound advice.

In the 4 years of “no success” we learned a lot first hand - our goal was to kill an elk but it was also to learn more and get better every year and man did it pay off.

Hunt every year you can and build points somewhere for that “special” hunt.

One of the key things the OTC hunts give you (if you’ll let them) is grit - every hunt there are dozens of reasons to get down, discouraged and disappointed and cause you to quit - if you’ll tough through it, it gives you the mental toughness that is necessary to succeed. This hunt epitomized that - the weather was terrible and we had waited 5 years for this hunt. You can whine and gripe and mope or you can be thankful for what you’ve got and push through and take advantage of the opportunity when it comes.

Comparing this hunt to a Colorado OTC hunt is like comparing a watermelon and a kiwi. If you hunted Colorado OTC this year and didn’t have an experience like this - it’s not because you stink and I’m good - it’s because of where we hunted. Take heart, keep at it - learn every year and one day it will all come together.

Take care and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

-Mitch

From: kscowboy
24-Nov-22
Mountain House is like a 2:00 AM college pizza joint. You'll swear up and down that it's the best ever and then you eat it sober...

From: cnelk
24-Nov-22
Question for Cheesehead Mike -

How did you end up doing after Mitch and Levi left?

24-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
One of the bulls I passed.
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
One of the bulls I passed.
Thanks guys for your kind words. Mitch did such a great job of telling the story that I don't know if there's much I can add except maybe a little back story info.

I arrived in the general area a couple days before the September 1 opener and got my camp setup. I hunted solo until Mitch and Levi arrived. This was the 3rd time I had hunted this area and had killed 2 good 6x6's in the previous 2 hunts. I was familiar with much of the unit(s) and had a good idea of where to find elk. This hunt had some challenges that made it somewhat different than the previous 2 hunts in the area.

The first week or so of my hunt was unseasonably warm which affected daytime elk movement. Regardless, I was into elk and heard bugles every day but most action was limited to the first couple hours in the morning and the last hour of light in the evening. On the second day I called a 300" 6x6 in to 15 yards. He approached in such a way that I saw the shadow cast by his antlers before I actually saw him. It was very cool. He stopped head on and completely thrashed a tree at 15 yards. I had tension on the string and he just needed to take one step either direction and I would have had a shot. He turned and left with the tree obstructing any shot. I continued to dog him for a while and got close a couple more times but it didn't happen.

A couple days later I called a good 6x6 about 280" in to 30 yards and I thought it was going to happen but he circled and got my wind.

During those first 10 days I had 8 shooter bulls within 40 yards but it just didn't come together. Some of those close calls that didn't pan out were due to the disadvantages of calling and hunting solo. But that's just the way it goes sometimes. I also chose to pass shots on 3 smaller bulls since it was early in the hunt.

I was giving Mitch updates via Inreach and based on the action I was having I was very optimistic for what was to come once the rut cranked up a little more.

24-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Muley I saw first afternoon at new camp
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Muley I saw first afternoon at new camp
Mitch and I had been talking about this hunt for several months. During that time I was a getting a feel for his expectations, the type of hunt he wanted and the type of terrain that would be best suited for the hunt considering all of the factors. I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that I felt a little pressure for this all coming together successfully and for Mitch and Levi having a hunt that lived up to their expectations.

My friend Les Welch from Wisconsin and my friends Wyatt and Jake from Texas had also drawn tags and would be arriving around the 10th and would be hunting the drainages in the area around my first week base camp. Based on that fact together with a consideration of Mitch's hunt expectations and the terrain in that area I thought it would be best for Mitch and Levi to hunt a different portion of the unit 5-10 miles away.

Mitch and I had both been doing a lot of E-scouting and had a location picked out where we would meet and set up our base camps. A few days before Mitch and Levi arrived I did some scouting and decided that a different area a few miles from the original chosen location would be better for their hunt. I informed Mitch of the change of plans and sent him map info on the new camp location. I can imagine that this probably caused some anxiety for Mitch. Here he was heading out after considerable planning, driving half way across the country to hunt with a guy he had never met, already having plans to hunt and camp in a specific area and at the last minute I was calling an audible. In hindsight I believe it was the right decision.

I broke camp and moved to the new base camp location a couple days before Mitch and Levi's arrival. The first afternoon there I did a short scouting hunt and didn't get into any elk but I saw a small herd of antelope and a decent muley buck.

The following morning I hunted out from camp in a different direction. As soon as it was light enough to shoot I threw out a bugle and it was answered immediately. I made my way toward the bull through some of the best elk sign I had ever seen in my elk hunting career. I was exchanging bugles with the bull and closing the distance when I came to the edge of a small meadow about 150 yards across. It was quick decision time, I don't like to try and call bulls across an open meadow if I'm close to the opposite edge because they usually hang up on their side because they can see across and see that there are no elk on the other side. If I was going to cross the meadow I had to do it quickly before the bull got to the edge on the other side. There was a large bushy evergreen tree blocking my view of part of the meadow. In hindsight I should have taken a few seconds to slowly step past and peek around the tree but instead with the adrenalin pumping and a sense of urgency to get to the other side, I stepped out and there he was already out in the meadow, a beautiful 330 class 6x6, 100 yards away coming straight at me! Busted! It should have been a done deal, he had totally committed but he was coming a lot faster than I realized.

I continued the morning hunt and chased a couple other bugling bulls and saw a few cows. I've had enough close calls and blown bull encounters in my life that I don't let it ruin my day anymore. It's just part of the deal. The good news is I was into elk, a big bull and great sign within a half mile walk from camp over relatively easy terrain.

I relayed the events of the morning to Mitch and hopefully that helped relieve any anxiety he may have been feeling about the last minute change in location.

24-Nov-22
Mitch and Levi's arrival coincided approximately with the full moon. I've observed the full moon affecting elk movement in the past. At times I've adjusted tactics and at times I haven't needed to. I've also killed some good bulls during the full moon period. I normally don't adjust my hunt dates based on the moon but I'll adjust hunting tactics if necessary. However this year, I believe the moon had a larger than normal impact on daytime elk activity. I'm not sure if it was compounded due to the warmer than normal temperatures the previous week and the rut was somewhat subdued or what it was.

Just about the time the full moon was waning and I was expecting daytime elk activity to pick up, the rain moved in. And these weren't your typical afternoon pop-up showers common in the mountains. These were totally socked in all day and all night heavy rain showers intermixed with hail and occasional snow and a fair amount of thunder and lightning.

I was definitely frustrated by the weather and the amount of non hunting time but trying to hunt in those conditions would be miserable at best and actually could be pretty dangerous.

Between the warm weather, full moon, heavy rain and not to mention, substantial hunting pressure; I think the hunt went about as well as could be expected. Although it would have been great if Mitch would have filled his tag too.

24-Nov-22

Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
Cheesehead Mike's embedded Photo
To answer Cnelk's question:

After Mitch and Levi pulled out I broke camp and headed back to the area of my original base camp. The roads were still a mess and it was slow going but they had dried out enough that they were not quite as treacherous.

Les had been hunting that area and had killed a bull. My friend Wyatt from Texas had also killed a bull and he and Jake were still at it trying to fill Jake's tag.

I hunted for a couple days and got into bugling bulls each day. One evening I was in a triangle between 3 different bulls all bugling their heads off, I'm sure I heard a couple hundred bugles all within 200 yards. Even though the bulls were extremely vocal it was like I had a force field around me and they just would not break through and come into bow range. It was very exciting but frustrating and exhausting at the same time. In the excitement I let the bulls pull me farther and farther away from my truck. I knew I needed to give up and start heading out but each time I turned to leave one of the bulls would follow me and continue to bugle causing me to turn back and go after him thinking maybe this time he'll commit. Each time he/they would pull me farther around the mountain. I didn't get back to my truck until 11:30 PM, totally exhausted. If I would have had some food and water with me I think I would have just slept up on the mountain.

After Les finished packing his bull out he broke camp and came and joined me and was my caller for a few days. Again we were into bulls every day and some times had multiple bulls bugling from different directions and had to decide which bull to go after. We got very close a couple times but the shot opportunity never happened. The bulls were extremely vocal with hundreds of bugles but they were very reluctant to commit and come into bow range, even with Les doing the calling 100 yards or more behind me.

Wyatt and Jake were also experiencing the same frustrations with extremely vocal bulls but reluctance to commit and were unable to get Jake a bull.

So add reluctant bulls to the list of weather and full moon challenges and it was an odd year.

That being said, between the 6 of us we went 3 for 6 which still isn't bad. I saw numerous bulls, hundreds of elk, heard thousands of bugles, had an arrow nocked at least a dozen times and was at full draw a few times. So even without a shot opportunity or a notched tag, it was a very exciting and rewarding month in the mountains. I had killed 5 good bulls in 4 different states in the previous 5 years so I was probably due for some tag soup and some humble pie :-)

From: Bearman
24-Nov-22
I could read this stuff all day. Very ??.

From: otcWill
24-Nov-22
Congrats to you and your boy Mitch! No doubt you were in good hands with Mike. Enjoyed it. Thanks for posting

From: bowhunt
24-Nov-22
Great recap

Very gracious of you to help guys out Mike.

Sounds like you did some sacrificing and made a hunt of a lifetime for some others!

From: Jaquomo
26-Nov-22
Really great stuff, guys! Mike, that was very generous of you to help Mitch and Levi like you did. Thanks for sharing this excellent story!

From: Jaquomo
26-Nov-22
Bowsite double post gremlins

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