September 29, 2020, 07:56:07 AM

Author Topic: Archery elk story  (Read 343 times)

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Offline md3

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Archery elk story
« on: December 09, 2019, 10:56:17 PM »
Full story attached, about our group's first archery elk hunt
Morning 10: The last hunt before 2 days in hotels spiraling into boredom and depression (not really but I missed the woods)
The last morning I had the bright idea of going back to the West Creek. I knew where the elk were. The problem was it was Saturday of the last weekend of the season. So the pair that got setup near the cow bedding ended up listening to another hunter come down and bugle. Little did that lazy guy at the top of the ridge know, we had local boy down at the bottom of the valley egging him on with more bugles.  As it became apparent no other elk were in the area, local boy let out a bad trumpet sound with his call to signal his prowess. The other guy left. Meanwhile, I had been playing the morning thermals to stalk where the chuckler kept heading up to bed each evening. After easing through reprod and staying on elk sign, I neared the crest of a finger ridge. I came across an old overgrown 4x4 trail that would allow better stealth to circumnavigate the point of the finger, hopefully keeping me at the same elevation or below the elk. Knowing these were my last few hours, I was focused but also wanted to enjoy it a bit and take in my surroundings some more. I moved carefully, watched and listened. Suddenly I heard muffled hooves ahead, and saw two decent bulls starting to crest the finger 100 yards ahead of me.  I cow called and they stopped, calmed down, and resumed walking pace on top of the finger. Behind them were a bunch of cows, and a spike. They resumed walking pace as well, and split from the two bulls to maintain elevation and move to my right. I cow called and got the bulls to pause and think again. Imprinted in my memory is the image of the two larger bulls cresting the finger and looking my way, while the spike and cows headed to the right. I would have to choose which group to setup on quickly. Since the bigger bulls werent too curious in a lone cow call with so many others around, I chose to go for the spike, knowing all those extra cow eyes wouldnt help.
I slipped uphill after the 2 bulls vanished over the crest. Staying in cover I moved to intercept the spike and what I could now tell was about 9 cows and calves. I had to slow down due to 5 grouse that all decided they liked to hang out together 5 feet to the left of where I was walking. One almost blew up and busted me but I stopped in time to let my camo make me disappear again. The grouse went back to eating and cautiously walking generally away from me. I would take a couple steps, they would look up anxiously, ready to bust, and I would stop. This took a couple minutes and I finally squeezed by in time to get by a tree and watch the spike walk broadside 50 yards above me. Problem was, he was sandwiched by 2 cows, walking in step on each side of him. I waited until the single file line was far enough ahead for me to slip back downhill to the old 4x4 road. I could hear the elk breaking branches and it sounded like they were going back downhill too. I setup on the old trail with the best shooting lane in thick stuff you could ask for. Another 50 yard shot as the spike walked by, still with a cow on the side facing me. This cow and him were attached at the hip. I waited for the line of elk to disappear and quickly backed up, moved downhill and then up the other side of the draw, and waited to see them again. I figured they were going to bed in the reprod I had busted through earlier that morning. Sure enough, I started seeing steam rising from pockets in the reprod from across the draw. I knew it was the elks breath fogging up. Running out of time before I was told to be back at the truck, I had to make it happen now or wait till next year. Coming from above would be a great option once the thermals switched in the afternoon, but I didnt have that time. Stalking uphill through reprod would be the only option. I retraced where I had gone through early that morning, found the familiar dead logs, and the gap between baby pines that looked slightly larger than the gaps everywhere else. I slipped up through it, thinking there would be no way they wouldnt hear me. I made it towards a clearing in the reprod and poked my head out. Somehow, there was still a cow standing 20 yards away, looking at me. She trotted and I cow called, but it wouldnt work this time. One by one I heard the other bedded elk follow her lead. All I could do was watch as they galloped up and along the finger and then out of sight. Lesson learned, you can stalk through reprod, and if I had slowed way down and crawled it might have been possible.
Being stuck in a hotel that afternoon and the whole next day were tough to swallow. I watched TV for the first time in a while (I dont have one at home) and I thought about all that I had learned. I was ready for next year to start now. I knew I could take the lessons and hunt another state alone if I wanted, but it wouldnt be ideal without any prep. I didnt really even get to say farewell to a couple of the guys in camp, they kinda just left. I was glad to have had them there though. The others I made sure to thank for making the trip happen, but it was quick. None of us much for words I guess. All of us a bit frustrated and sleep deprived. As I came to accept the trip was over, I realized how grateful I was for the opportunity. I gave the best I could with what I had to work with, and for all of us being on a first ever archery elk hunt, it wasnt too bad. I realized how lucky I was to live in this country, and how amazing it was that I could get on an airplane, fly across the country, and get to chase elk on land that is open to us all. I was also incredibly grateful for the time and money that I was able to make and spend that allowed me to go on the trip at all. After thinking for so long that it was out of reach and so expensive, I had gone and done it, years ahead of schedule. I couldnt wait to tell my dad and brothers and friends that it was completely doable, that if they want to then dont wait! Start now. I was excited to help whoever wanted to come with next time get ready. I still cant wait to bring more people into the wilderness and help them experience all there is out there.

Offline cohunter14

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Re: Archery elk story
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2019, 08:36:26 AM »
Great story. Sounds like a successful first elk hunt even if you weren't able to punch a tag  :upthumb:


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