September 20, 2020, 08:37:49 AM

Author Topic: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2  (Read 1199 times)

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Offline Z7Extreme

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2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« on: December 04, 2019, 09:33:07 PM »
Between work and time spent with the family it was going to be tough to get out before the next Friday. Luckily my son was feeling well enough to want to go try our luck. I took him out on Wednesday evening to where my buddy and I killed the bull in 2018. Unfortunately that evening was very windy, but we went anyways. We rode the quad in roughly 1.5 kilometers and walked in another kilometer. We spent the evening covering ground along the river valley, trying to locate a bull. But due to the wind our efforts were futile. Aside from that, we had fun spending the evening together, hiking, calling and teaching my son about elk.
     When Friday September 20th finally rolled around I was stoked! It had been a week since my meeting with Lucky and I was focused on trying to find him. Now with the extended range that rifle season had brought, my confidence had been rekindled. That evenings forecast called for a 4 km/h  wind from the South West. This would provide the perfect wind conditions for stalking through his bedroom from the North East. It was all or nothing, I half expected him to have gathered a harem of cows by now and was thinking he might be miles away. Regardless, I had to check.
    I religiously squeezed my wind checker bottle as I nervously began to skulk through his bedding area. As I moved along I cow chirped sporadically trying to mimic an estrous cow that desperately needed some attention. That magical last hour was nearing as I reached the approximate area I thought the bull might be holding to. My calls still hadnt provoked a bull to bugle. I sent out a locator bugle, which was met with silence as well. I felt deflated as I slowly pressed on, listening intently. When I reached the same trail I had left on the 13th to pursue Lucky there was still 30 minutes of legal hunting time remaining. I pondered what my next move was going to be. I decided to move East a little bit. Noticing three new rubs, all within the first 100 yards restored my optimism.
     I found a thick stick and proceeded to rub a willow bush. A few pauses and 5 minutes later I stopped to listen. But except for the chirps of a couple birds the forest was quiet. I pressed the bugle tube to my lips and threw out a location bugle. Nothing, I returned to raking the bush for a minute. This time when I stopped I followed my bugle with a few grunts. Almost immediately a bull sounded off from the South. Could it be Lucky? Without hesitation I leapt off the trail to pursue the bull. About 40 yards in, I bugled again. Almost immediately the bull responded, he was coming my way fast. I began searching for a spot to setup. The forest was moderately open aspen trees with sporadic pockets of spruce mixed in. Unfortunately, before I managed to make a decision I could hear the bulls footsteps as he advanced towards me. This was it, I had ran out of time to get myself setup in a good location. I was caught out in the open. The bull was able to stick to cover until he was about 50 yards away. This is where he decided to hang up.
     I desperately tried to entice the bull to step out. When all of a sudden I heard a stick break to the East. I glanced in that direction just in time to see a small 5x5 trying to sneak in. As soon as he caught the other bulls scent he turned South and never stopped. Daylight was fading fast, I checked my watch just as legal light was ending. I hadnt heard anything else from the bull that had hung up so I assumed he either seen me or just had enough of my terrible setup and silently vacated. I wheeled around and started picking my way out. After some distance I donned my headlamp and made my way back to the truck.
     I was still hopeful I would find Lucky but my optimism was beginning to fade. I still needed to provide some meat for my family and found myself trying to rationalize shooting the next legal bull. I spoke with my wife and she agreed to pick up my slack with the kids in the evenings to allow me to get out every second evening over the next week. It was going to be the peak of the rut and I felt like it was going to be now or never.
     I prepared to hunt the 21st. I headed out after supper just like I had all season. I had a South West wind and decided to hunt the same area as the previous evening. Only difference being, I was going to approach from the East. The days were beginning to grow shorter so I rode my quad in again and ditched it in the bushes a kilometer or so away. This evening was fairly uneventful, other than jumping a few moose I never seen or heard an elk. I looped around to the South and back to the East. I ended up walking right under a guy in his treestand. To me that only meant one thing, it was time to expand my search.
     The evening of the 23rd rolled around and I was torn between going to the other side of the drainage where I passed on the young 6x6, or hike in on the other side of the road where I had been charged by a grizzly on the last day of archery season in 2018. Due to the hunting pressure inflicted by myself and others, I decided I should check out the other side of the road. That evening I walked in at an accelerated pace. My plan was to circle the area to look for fresh sign and throw out some bugles in hopes of locating a bull. I was excited to see a familiar spot where the elk had frequented in the past was tore up with sign once again. I must have counted ten plus rubs with me standing in one spot!        Although I never had a bull respond to my calls that evening, the sign was plentiful and heck I even smelled elk a couple times. Most definitely I was going to return to this spot to hunt it more thoroughly on my next outing.
     The 25th was supposed to be my next chance to get out. But my wife asked me if I would stay home to help her with the kids. Our toddler had gotten a cold and was miserable. Although I always put family first it was difficult to stay home, knowing where the elk were and that the conditions were perfect to hunt them. I had a great evening at home playing with the children and helping my wife, but I couldnt stop myself from thinking about what the elk were doing, where they were and if they were vocal or not. I was growing very enthusiastic about my next outing. I had decided our freezer was empty enough and I scoffed at the thought of buying beef throughout the next year. My mind was made up, I have had a great season so far. Lucky or not I was going to shoot the next legal bull that presented me with an opportunity.
     My thoughts were consumed by elk for the next two days. I was feeling confident that an opportunity would present itself either the next outing or the one after that. When I left the house after supper on the 27th I assertively told my wife that I was going to kill a bull! She replied by saying Ok sweetie, just dont take all night packing him out. We have to go to town in the morning and you booked that massage for my birthday. Shoot! I had forgotten all about her massage. I hastily packed up and made the short drive out to where I would unload the quad and ride in.
     As I parked the quad some 50 yards from the road, I couldnt help but feel nervous, I was a few hundred yards from where I had encountered the grizzly bear last year. My senses were on high alert as I began to venture down the same trail the bear had charged me on. I knew he wouldnt likely be anywhere in the area but my 300 WM provided a little reassurance anyways. I travelled East and then South, the wind was out of the west again so I needed to get around the area and hunt my way back. Somehow as I made my way off the trail I had a good feeling about how the next few hours were about to unfold.
    I passed through a marshy area that usually holds a moose or two and I could tell by the rubs on the trees that this year had been no exception. I knew this area well and was just preparing myself to bugle, when all of a sudden a bugle erupted from the North West. My heart raced as I trotted East up a small hill to vocalize my response. But when I bugled back I got a weary feeling that he did not want to hear another competitor.
     All was silent as I surveyed my surroundings. I quickly headed west to distance myself from where I had just bugled from. When I was certain I had gotten at least 100 yards from my last location I cow called. Almost instantaneously the bull replied but he sounded a little further away. I scrambled towards him, picking my way over deadfall. Not long into my pursuit he bugled again, it sounded as though I hadnt gained on him at all. I cow called again, using emotion to convey to the bull I wanted him to wait for me. He responded, but sounded farther yet again.
    The bull and I called back and forth as I desperately tried to keep up with him. About a kilometer into the chase it sounded like he had finally held up. I checked the wind to ensure I would approach him from the right direction, and softened my steps. I began to narrow in on him and as I approached to within 100 yards of the bull I could tell he definitely had the advantage here. If I continued towards him he would most likely see me coming before I could see him. I did the only thing I could think of. Try to beat him at his own game! I held up and did my best imitation of a desperate, frustrated cow, attempting to lure the bull into my setup. The bull responded to each of my calls with a plea of his own but would not budge.
    I grew anxious, the sun was just beginning to dip below the treetops and I was running out of time. I decided to try a non aggressive bugle, but heard only silence in return. I began to wonder if I had just blew it. After a minute passed I cow called again. The bull responded back within seconds, this time from a few hundred yards away. Without a moment to lose, I continued the chase and had made it no more than 40 yards, when I caught movement to my left. Standing there on high alert was a young cow. She was staring straight at me as I hesitated for a moment. If I continued on was she going to blow out of the area taking a whole heard of unseen elk with her? I pondered for a second. But with the end of legal light drawing closer by the second and nothing to lose, I decided to resume my chase. Within a couple steps the cow bolted, I had expected that and cow called to calm her. She slowed and began to parallel me heading in the same direction roughly 80 yards away. The bull continued to call back and forth with me, leading me to who knows where.
     I pushed on for roughly another 500 yards and eventually the bull led me to a black spruce oasis. The kind of muskeg where the moss on the forest floor is up to a foot deep and the little spruce trees are densely packed. I glanced at my watch, 20 minutes left to work this bull. I was beginning to doubt if I would even lay eyes on him, but I wasnt about to throw in the towel now.
    I was showered with spruce needles as I ducked under the first limb. I cautiously advanced. I knew that I had to limit my calls because the bull was going to hear me coming through the thick spruce anyways. I did my best to squeeze through the trees without allowing my synthetic rifle stock to clack off any branches. The bull continued to bugle at me as I made my way toward him. I was gaining on him, this was it, it was now or never. I closed in on the bull as he bugled quietly, not more than 100 yards away. I began watching the tree tops hoping he was waiting in an opening. I kept low and slowed my approach. I was about 15 yards from the tree line when I realized he was standing in a meadow. 5 yards later I could see him through the trees, he was standing broadside focused intently on my direction. I had 10 more yards to go until I would clear the treeline. If I could stay low enough the meadow grass would provide some cover for me. I dropped my bugle tube and began to belly crawl to the meadows edge.
    Once I got there, I pondered how I was going to raise my rifle above the tall grass without being seen. I glanced over my shoulder behind me, there was a small mound of moss covered roots. Perfect I thought as I scooted my butt backwards to sit on the hump. Slowly but deliberately I raised my rifle so my elbows rested on my knees and found the bull in my scope. I steadied the crosshairs behind his shoulder and with the report of my rifle I seen his hide ripple on impact. The bull lurched forward and started running towards the opposite side of the meadow. Immediately I cow called to calm him and he began slowing down. He walked slowly towards the treeline and tipped over right at the meadows edge. Bull down!!
     Immediately I pulled out my phone to check the time. It was exactly one minute before legal light ended. Talk about cutting it close. I backtracked to grab my bugle tube before making my way to the downed bull. I forgot to landmark where he fell over but as I got closer there was no mistaking his sweet aroma. I followed my nose right to him. As I lifted his antlers out of the grass I couldnt wipe the smile off my face. Although he wasnt Lucky, he was a beautiful 6x6 with dark antlers and also my biggest bull to date. I knelt beside him and proceeded to give thanks for such a magnificent animal and also the meat that he would provide for my family. I was ecstatic to say the least!
     Now what? I promised my wife that I wouldnt stay out all night extracting an elk. So I called a couple friends and they graciously agreed to meet me at my truck to come help quarter him up and get him out. But where had the bull led me to? A quick look at google maps indicated that the meadow was actually an abandoned oil lease 1 kilometer from the road and had an old access trail leading into it. After a few kilometers walk back to the quad I was on my way to meet my friends.
     After my friends arrived and had unloaded their quads, we rode in together. We were able to ride right up to the downed bull. Which made me happy because It wasnt going to take all night to pack him out and I would get at least a few hours of sleep before heading to town that morning. After a few pictures, it took the three of us a couple hours to work up the bull. We portioned the loads up between the three of us and headed out.
    The ride out was one I wont soon forget. It was a calm, clear night and the aurora bourealis was dancing across the northern sky. It was the perfect culmination to an already incredible season that I almost never had. I couldnt wipe the smile from my face as I slowly rode back to my truck. What a season I had and what a bull I had been blessed with. I learned some tough lessons and had some great interactions with vocal bulls. And even though my bull wasnt Lucky, he was a great bull that provided me with a challenging hunt. I look forward to the 2020 season, maybe I can find Lucky again and maybe, just maybe I will be the lucky one next time.

Offline Z7Extreme

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Re: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 09:38:47 PM »
Z7Extreme's 2019 elk hunt pics

Offline Z7Extreme

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Re: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 09:46:27 PM »
Z7Extreme's 2019 elk hunt pics

Offline Bowhunter1

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Re: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 08:30:13 AM »
Great story  and congrats on a nice bull.
"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - but the size of the fight in the dog. "

Offline cohunter14

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Re: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2019, 05:19:14 PM »
Awesome story and fantastic bull, congratulations!

Offline Z7Extreme

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Re: 2019 Elk Hunting Story Contest Part 2
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2019, 06:28:44 AM »
Thanks guys!

 

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