Idaho Hat Trick

hat trick n. Sports
1. Three goals scored by one player in one game, as in ice hockey.
2. Three wickets taken in cricket by a bowler in three consecutive balls.
3. Three consecutive wins or outstanding accomplishments by the same individual, such as a jockey in horse racing.
4. Three big game animals taken by thee hunters in a 24 hour period of time.

OK, number four was added by myself but given the fact that the success rate of taking a single bull elk with an over the counter archery elk tag is just under 10% in Idaho, having three hunters take three bulls in 24 hours is a major accomplishment and should be added to the definition.

To say that Corey, Dave, and I planned to accomplish this feat would be foolish. We were just hoping that one of the bulls that we had stirred into a bugling frenzy the evening before would still be in the area the next morning and ready to once again respond to Corey’s bugles.

We had hiked back into the area before daylight and positioned ourselves on the edge of a mountain meadow, right at day light Corey let out a location bugle to let the elk know that we were ready to get the game started. That bugle was instantly echoed back by a bull less than 100 yards out and he was fired up! He must have had a night of restlessness trying to keep his cows in order and away from other bulls because his cows started heading our direction immediately with him chasing right after them. I positioned myself 30 yards out in front of Corey and Dave and the cows passed by at 50 yards, the bull closely following. He stopped to bugle and was interrupted and cut off by Corey’s challenge bugle which really fired him up and brought him in my direction. He wasn’t going to let another bull just come in and take those cows without a fight. I ranged a tree at 30 yards that he would emerge from behind and once he had cleared Corey let out the sexiest cow call imaginable and stopped him in his tracks allowing my arrow find its desired location in his vitals. The bull whirled and headed off in the direction the cows had gone and Corey once again bugled to persuade him to stay and play, that bugle was once again answered from 200 yards over a small rise in the direction the cows and the bull had gone. My bull had crashed just before going over the rise thankfully. Bull one down.

Bull number one

We weren’t finished yet. After a couple high fives and a short celebration dance the other bull bugled again and Dave was told to hand over the camera and get his bow ready. Dave and I moved around and positioned ourselves on the other edge of the rise and Corey stayed behind to entice the bull to come over. He too had cows that he had left behind to come fend off the bull that was challenging him for his cows. Little did he know that bull was already laying on the ground with an arrow in him. The bull came right at Dave through an open meadow and was bugling back and forth with Corey unaware of our presence. Dave was able to range the tree the bull was standing behind and once he stepped out into the open Dave came to full draw, let out a cow call to stop him and let his arrow fly. I heard that distinct sound an arrow makes when entering an animal and he bolted off back in the direction of his cows. I took notice of the time, 18 minutes had passed.

Corey, having heard the shot and hit, joined us and inquired how it had gone down. Looking disgusted with his head held low, Dave said sorry guys, I shot just under him. Corey and I looked at each other with confused expressions. In his adrenaline filled moment had he not we had heard? Did he see something that I hadn’t? After a call to the replay booth the tape was rewound and reviewed by the officials and the play on the field was confirmed, Dave had placed a solid hit on his first archery elk and it would soon be down! With the meadow now void of elk it was time for the work to begin.

We had quartered and packed my bull back to the truck and I headed to town to get the meat in a cooler while Corey and Dave would head back in and get Dave’s bull worked up. The bull Dave shot was one tough critter, he had managed to lead Corey and Dave nearly a mile around the meadow but thankfully for Corey’s tracking ability and a good blood trail they were able to find him taking his final resting place overlooking the meadow he once dominated. Bull two down.

Bull number two

We arrived at the truck with the final packframe full or meat at 10:00 pm and headed back to camp with thoughts of a good hot meal in our minds. With Corey still having a tag to fill the next morning came quickly and it was decided that we would head right back into the same area to see if the elk had returned.

Just under 24 hours later we arrived back at the edge of the meadow and stopped to let the sun rise. Standing in the same place I had shot my bull the morning before, Corey broke the morning silence with a soft cow call. To our surprise the meadow was once again filled with elk. Another mature bull had come in to take advantage of the fact that he was the only bull around with all those lonely cows. He came charging in at us bugling, he was only 60 yards from our position and we were hardly prepared to make a calling set up on him. It didn’t matter, he was all worked up and approaching fast. Corey barely had time to toss his bugle tube to the ground and pull his rangefinder up and range the tree just in front of us before the bull appeared. With all the training and shooting practice that we had done Corey’s instincts took over and his arrow was set in motion with a squeeze of a finger. The bull spun, retreated in the direction from which he had come, ran 40 yards, stumbled, got up and went another 10 yards and crashed. Bull three down.

Bull number three

The meadow came alive with cows running everywhere as Corey, Dave and I all looked at each other in disbelief. What just happened? As we each tried to replay the event that had just taken place, we were dumbfounded. I once again took notice of the time, less than two minutes under 24 hours had passed from the time that we had stood in the exact same place the day before and we had another nice bull on the ground all shot within 200 yards of each other.

All three back at camp

Three bulls, three hunters, 24 hours, coupled with lots of luck – an Idaho elk Hat Trick.