My son, Sam, and I got camp set up on Friday night and hiked in to check out the trail camera. Lots of pictures, but not the big bull I was hoping to see! Sam did awesome and demanded that he hike the entire distance…about 1/2 mile. Saturday, I met my wife and she took Sam back home. Donnie showed up that evening and got his side of camp all squared away and ready for the adventure. The sky lit up at dark with an impressive lightning storm that was followed by a good, heavy rain.
I took opening morning off and drove into town for Church. On the way, I pulled off the side of the road and let out a bugle…just hoping to hear the first bugle of the season. What I heard sounded like a mix between an alarm bark and a shrill squeal. It wasn’t wolves, but it didn’t sound anything like an elk either. I cow called a few times, and was greeted with a few cow mews in return. I grabbed the binoculars from the truck and began glassing the hillside across the creek. After 30 seconds of glassing, I found a spike bull running straight at me, probably 400 yards away. I cow called again and received cow calls in return…there must be a couple cows with him, so I continued glassing. I lost him for a few seconds in some thick brush so I let out a bugle…he responded with that same sick squeal I had heard the first time. The poor thing wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be trying to bugle or cow call…but he knew he was supposed to be coming to me quickly!
He crossed the creek, then began lunging up the hill tpwards me. I ran back to the truck and exchanged the binos for a camera. I crept back to the edge of the road and he was at 50 yards, moving to my right.
I gave him a soft cow call and he turned and came back to the left, angling right up towards me. At 25 yards he stopped head on…I have to believe at this point he could see the top of the truck just 5 yards behind me.
He looked for a few seconds, then continued up the hill, still coming straight up to the road. At 15 yards, he decided the shiny silver truck he was looking at didn’t resemble an elk, but it did take him a good 20 seconds to come to that conclusion. He crashed off…still alive and maybe a little wiser. I had yet to hear my first “real” bugle of the season.
That evening Donnie and I met up to head to the area we will be hunting the next 2 days. It’s an area that we’ve been able to find a few bulls early in the season in years past. In fact, it’s where I shot my bull on opening morning last year. Mother Nature wasn’t quite finished moisturizing the hillsides, however, and we took cover in Donnie’s suburban for 3 hours until the downpour let up.
The rains eventually subsided and we headed out for an evening hunt. I grabbed the video camera and Donnie grabbed his bow and we headed up the mountain. Unfortunately, we didn’t see or hear an elk. We didn’t even find enough sign to make us think the elk were anywhere around. We decided we were too low on the mountain and headed back to the truck to head up higher for the morning hunt. We pulled off the road and followed a two-track for 100 yards to a dead end and nice camping spot. Before getting set for the evening, I grabbed my bugle tube…intent on hearing a bugle!
With the evening’s thunder clouds creating an awesome sunset on the mountains behind us, it happened. My bugle was answered by the long, clear bugle of a bull elk. There was no doubt now…it was hunting season! We watched the bull rake a small tree across the draw 500 yards away as the last daylight faded into darkness. He was a mature bull…a 5-point, possibly a 6-point…definitely a shooter and he definitely got our spirits soaring for the next morning! After a dinner of cold, fried chicken, we crawled into the sleeping bags and drifted off to sleep.
Click here for updates from Day 2!