What a morning!! The same broken record start to our day; Poured a large cup of coffee and headed out to listen in the dark. It was so silent. I waited for ten minutes and decided to head in and as I opened the door, I heard a chuckle. I wheeled around to pinpoint the sound. He wasn’t just close, he was right out the front door.
There’s a spring on the front of the property, which has been dug out as a water hole for the horses. This bull was drinking with his cows, maybe five hundred yards from where we slept. Keep in mind, this is not a high fence ranch. These are wild elk which sometimes come off the high mountains, right down into these lower meadows.
The big field has two fingers and we were waiting to see which way the herd would head as glow rising sun began to transform the horizon into a light orange haze. We hadn’t seen him yet, but he sounded big and mean. I cow called one time, just hoping he might lean in our direction. He didn’t answer, but we nearly got run over by a calf jogging right through the yard. Can you believe it.
Within a few minutes, the lead cow made up her mind and they made a swing North and turned towards the back of the lodge. We hopped the wooden fence and started easing down one of the logging roads. It took us no time at all to stalk down the wet, quiet road to get within a hundred yards of a dozen cows and one really nice six point bull.
They were grazing comfortably and didn’t act nervous in any way. The morning breeze was solidly blowing straight in our faces. The first cow crossed the dirt road in front of us at about eighty yards. We had the edge, but we still needed to get a bit closer to get a shot. The great thing about old forest roads is they’re easy to walk on and they’re quiet. However, they tend to lack cover and we really needed a way to sneak into range.
This was a great Colorado bull and a golden opportunity and we really needed to capitalize. So, we inched forward, pausing each time a cow or calf would cross the road. We were basically in the open and nearly every elk glanced at us and passed us off as “not anything threatening.” Obviously the three of us are somewhat prejudiced to Predator Camo, but it’s hard to argue with being virtually invisible to and entire herd of elk, at less than 100 yards.
The big ol’ bull finally crossed the road, behind his ladies, but he was somehow clever enough to do it much further away. As he stepped into the clear cut on the far side, he titled back and let it rip. Nearly all the hair on your neck comes to attention when you’re in that close. It’s those moments that make elk my favorite animal to hunt… hands down.
Soooo … we continued our sneak and had to line up groups of trees to make a small wall between us and the bull’s eyes. He had let the cows get quite a ways ahead of him and we pretty much only had to focus on him and not the other twenty eyeballs. Frank and I eased forward and I continued to refer to my rangefinder. On video, it looks like we were point blank and plain view of the elk. In fact we were more like sixty yards out and we could only see the bulls guts and rear.
He looked in our general direction several times. He was gazing near us. I assumed he was locked on Chris, filming about forty yards behind us. In fact, seven mule deer bucks were working up behind us and their movement was both drawing the elk’s attention and making our slight movement nearly unnoticeable.
“He’s fifty-three yards,” I whispered to Frank. The bull was broadside and in a nice lane. We’d been out shooting in the midday breaks and Frank was easily good at this yardage. Tension was put on the bowstring and arrow was about to cut loose. Murphy stepped in and had threw out some “insta-bad mojo.” Our trophy turned and slowly walked up the meadow. “Fifty seven, sixty one, sixty five, he’s too far,” I was stating as we watched our opportunity fade away.
Well close enough for to call it a good morning, right? Wrong! We hadn’t spooked anything and it was not even sunrise. We fell back and rounded the base of the hill. We walked briskly to another dirt road and used it to make another assault. It took us about half an hour to climb the mountain and gingerly stalk back into the zone. I had kicked it into high gear to try and eyes on fur ahead of Frank and Chris. By the time they caught up to me, I had the Montana Decoy back out and the bull at about a hundreds again.
Frank took position on the corner of the open field as Chris and camera setup behind. I took the second camera and my calls back another fifty to start the sequence. I tried every trick in the book, but I just couldn’t get this six-by to come into the call. I did however call another young bull, with tiny sixth tine splits, right past Frank. Chris did a great job of getting that on film. In the end, we were forced to let them go and hope to catch them again in the evening hunt.
A high pressure system was now moving into the state. In contrast to the snowy, dreary days of the first part of the hunt, the skies were now bluebell clear and the trees were swaying heavily. It was hard to hear anything but leaves and gusts cutting through the pines.
We decided to sit on a high point and hope to glass something in the open or catch a faint bugle in the distance. As we crested the hill, the stench of elk was obvious and strong. I eased forward and peeked down into the dark timber. There were several bulls walking up to the saddle. We’re not sure if they winded us or just changed their minds, but they turned before the ridge top and split up. We got pinned down by two spikes for quite awhile and decided to work up the valley and check another major crossing.
As we came around the bend, there was a cow and calf standing right in the open. They couldn’t have been a hundred yards in front of us and the wind was perfect. Frank nocked an arrow and we just sat down as they were moving straight to us. The lead cow moved through at about forty yards and bearing to our right. She was followed by two calves and a yearling. There was no bull. That snow sure had screwed up the natural order of things. Where had all the cows and big herd bulls gone to hide?
On the way in we saw really nice Muley grazing the open. It was nearly dark and there just seem like any way we could get a good shot on him before dark. Chris was struggling not to pull his hair out at this point.
Well, the pressure was on for the last day of the hunt. How many animals have been taken on the closing hour of the hunt? A good night’s sleep was in order and we were not giving up a full day left in prime country.
Predator - Fall Gray and Deception
Alpine Silverado Sabre
Alpen Apex 10x42
Rip-cord Dropaway Rest
Predator - Winter White & Deception
Bow Tech Admiral
Swarovski 10x42 ELs
Horn Hunter Main Beam XL Pack
Gold Tip Ultralight Pro
Hell Razor Broadhead
HHA Single Pin Sight
Rip-cord Dropaway Rest
Predator - Winter White & Deception
Swarovski 10x42 SLCs
Horn Hunter G2 Day Pack
Carlton Fightin' Cow Call
Quaker Boy Mouth Calls