December 10, 2019, 06:41:30 AM

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General Elk Hunting / Archery elk story
« Last post by md3 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.
General Elk Hunting / Re: 2019 Elk Story Contest!!!
« Last post by andyschaef on December 09, 2019, 10:15:04 PM »
Great stories so far! I'll go ahead and throw mine in...,9132.0.html
General Elk Hunting / My Colorado 2019 Elk Hunting Story
« Last post by andyschaef on December 09, 2019, 10:09:10 PM »
Keeping my feet planted helped me overcome greed and carelessness in the elk mountains.

Nock clipped on my bowstring. Tension on the release. Elk herd walking by at 8 yards. Snap bowstring on accident. Watch arrow pop off the nock. Grab new arrow. See nock still on bowstring. Get new arrow on. Draw back. Begin to settle pin on a cow. Get greedy in hopes the bull will follow. Watch as whole herd gets nervous, spooks and runs 70 yards away. Check watch to see shooting light ends in 3 minutes. Pick up arrow that popped off. Get pissed at my initial carelessness and then greed.

I was 15 minutes away from meeting my dad on the opening night of archery elk season when I caught this herd. Through all of my practice I had never snapped my bowstring...but with everything on the line I managed to make a silly mistake that cost me a chance at shooting an elk. I was beside myself, both angry and embarassed. Just a careless mistake that I should never make. Then to get greedy and “wait” for a bull when I could have shot a cow? Well that’s just silly. I know that opportunities of that magnitude don’t happen everyday during a season. Sometimes they never happen. I met up with my dad and gave him the play by play. “Well at least you had some excitement tonight.” My dad has been my hunting partner forever and he always knows what to say.

As our headlights lit up the overgrown trail and we hiked back to our tent, my thoughts went to the major goal I had for the season. Watch an elk fall over and die. Simple enough. Make a perfect killing shot and the hunt is over. But in practice that hadn’t been so easy for me. I had killed 2 bulls in my life, and while the meat ended up in my freezer that wasn’t always a given. Both of those bulls required tracking jobs and follow-up shots to end their life. To this day I have no idea how we found the first bull I ever killed. Through lots of walking and searching and blood trailing I was able to find and kill that bull. While it makes for a suspenseful story, it wasn’t ideal. This season was going to be different though…

This season I found a “side” trail that led to a small bedding area where I consistently ran into elk. One morning I drew back on a cow and waited but no shot. So I moved a few steps and another cow came out, again I drew back and waited but no shot. Oddly enough this same routine happened 2 more times over the course of 45 minutes. Had I just planted my feet and waited, one of those cows would have presented a clean shot. After my opening weekend debacle the wise words of my wife echoed in my mind “we need meat more than we need antlers.” I kept repeating that mantra during the interim between hunting trips.

As we were driving back to our spot on a Thursday afternoon I kept checking my watch and trying to calculate how many hours of hunting light we’d have. Just enough to hear a bugle I thought? Maybe enough to spot something and know where to go the next morning? After hurriedly setting up the tent and lightening our packs (which included leaving my camera...hey I wanted to go in light) we were both off in different directions. I hoped that no one had found my “honey hole” despite the other trucks at the trailhead. My pace was slow and deliberate but I wanted to get to the small bedding area. Then it hit me...the smell of elk. Just as quick as my nose stopped me, my ears and eyes confirmed it. 50 yards up the hill they were feeding.

I stopped. I nocked an arrow. I ranged a few trees. I dropped my pack. I reached for my cow call. But I never used it. I never moved.

I didn’t race up the hill to close the distance. I didn’t sneak around a tree for extra cover. I kept my feet planted and told myself “shoot the first elk that gives you a shot.” A cow and calf stared at me (or through me) for a few minutes but no shot. Then I moved my eyeballs as far in their socket as possible to see a bull coming.

Feet planted. Tension on my bowstring. Smooth draw.

It’s amazing how much time you have to think in these scenarios. His vitals barely cleared a tree. Wait for a few more steps? No. Settle my pin where I want my arrow to go and pull through the shot. Be confident in my ability. Keep my feet and mind planted.

“Did I miss?”
“Did I shoot over his back?”
“No possible way!”

In those seconds after releasing an arrow the mind tries to go everywhere. I was immediately taken back to those blood trails and follow-up shots and then the encouraging words of my dad “Oh I bet we’ll find him right over that hill...or in that timber.” But I was by myself. Through all the excitement and commotion I kept my eyes on where that bull stood and my mind in the present. With my feet still planted I peered through the thick aspen saplings only to see one set of perfectly still antlers rising from the ground.

Archery / Re: How heavy are your arrows for your trad bows?
« Last post by steelheadboy on December 09, 2019, 05:21:04 PM »
I shoot a 53 pound recurve bow with 28.5 inch long carbon arrows, 100 grain insert, 140 grain broadhead. My total weight is 530 grains.
General Elk Hunting / Re: First ever elk hunt ends with a goose egg!
« Last post by steelheadboy on December 09, 2019, 05:12:58 PM »
Nice work on your hunt in Wyoming. You saw and heard elk. Experienced first hand the rigors of elk hunting. Idaho does have quite a few OTC tags.
Their website has a lot of information on each unit. Idaho is a non-preference point state. Good fortune on your future elk hunts.
General Elk Hunting / Re: Anybody else get "Noted"
« Last post by grademan1 on December 09, 2019, 01:14:35 PM »
I did this year, i guess i blocked a two track with my truck that was a walk in only area. There was a note waiting on me when i got back to the truck that evening calling me a asshole. Come to find out a older gentlemen would drive back there a ways to save from walking and i blocked him from hunting there that night. We got to know each other some after that and became friends so it worked out fine.
General Elk Hunting / Re: My 2019 Elk Story
« Last post by cohunter14 on December 09, 2019, 07:48:28 AM »
Nice story Steven. Sounds like a great season even though you weren't able to punch a tag. Hope you are able to get the body feeling better ahead of next season!
General Elk Hunting / Re: 2019 Public land success
« Last post by cohunter14 on December 09, 2019, 07:20:33 AM »
What a cool story and awesome bull. Congrats on a hunt that you won't ever forget!
General Elk Hunting / Re: Close Encounters at Dusk
« Last post by cohunter14 on December 09, 2019, 07:07:57 AM »
Awesome story and encounter!
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Recent Posts

Re: 2019 Elk Story Contest!!! by md3
[December 09, 2019, 10:58:51 PM]

Archery elk story by md3
[December 09, 2019, 10:56:17 PM]

Re: 2019 Elk Story Contest!!! by andyschaef
[December 09, 2019, 10:15:04 PM]

My Colorado 2019 Elk Hunting Story by andyschaef
[December 09, 2019, 10:09:10 PM]

Re: How heavy are your arrows for your trad bows? by steelheadboy
[December 09, 2019, 05:21:04 PM]