We found last nights' big 5 point bull at sunrise, it would take a hike and we had to get there fast before he bedded. It took about 30 minutes at a fast clip to make it to the area. When we got to that location Wes did a series of soft bugles. We waited a good while and then kept working the wind. Unfortunately, a 6pt bull was working his way quietly toward us and we bumped into him. We hit the ground fast and froze for 30 minutes. We had a staring contest for the first 15 and the bull relaxed over the next 15 before he bedded back down. By this time the wind was becoming difficult so we decided to back off. I would have shot him, but given he was on guard and given the unstable wind we backed out. We will be back this afternoon.
We started the long trek back to the truck. At the halfway mark we heard our first bugle. It was to the West, way up the top of the mountain. Wes gave me a smile. Game on. We humped up to the top of that mountain which challenged my 300 ft elevation eastern lungs.
Once there Wes and I set up and then bugled. The bull did not respond to our subtle calling. We bugled again and then I saw a bull approaching down the hill. He walked by at 80 - too far. He was a shooter for me, but just as we started to devise a plan a much louder, raspier bugled blasted out above us. A Different bull! And another decision point...go after the lone satellite or the bugling bull? A Good dilemma to have! We opted for the bugling bull.
I set up 60 yards upwind from Wes who started through a series of bugles and cow calls. The bull on the hill could hear them, but he was not reacting. It took a while but eventually we saw the bull pushing a herd of 25 cows to the North - and out of sight. When we finally did lay eyes on the herd bull he was just "OK" and probably a bit smaller than the satellite we passed up. Wes thought he was 250 and had put the other bull at 260.
We continued to the north, hoping to intercept them. I was the first to spot them 400 yards through the trees. We clearly saw elk bedded. We worked toward them carefully. Unfortunately, we bumped into the herd bull and his 25 cows which were directly above us. It turns out we were moving on a different group of elk! It was an easy mistake. Who would think there were two distinct groups up there? After the herd blew out we carefully glassed the bedded elk. It was a bachelor herd and one of them started screaming. The wind was terrible so we decided to play it safe. We now have three options for this afternoon and if the wind is consistent we are confident we can make something happen. Damn close today and very happy the elk are starting to talk.
Holy crap! We were into elk tonight. From the first 30 minutes to the last 30 minutes. We started at the top of the mountain and there were elk everywhere. We saw a herd of 18 satellite bulls, then we saw a few cows and bulls scattered around in small groups, then we spotted a big herd with a nice herd bull trailing them. We went for the big herd first. It meant moving uphill for a half mile very quickly (for me) however I later confirmed that Wes was moving slower than usual - according to Wes. I kept up as best as I could and we hit it right. The herd was just over the hill in front of us but something happened and they went up and over the top.
We then worked the top of the mountain moving North. We had a decent wind so we headed after the two bulls we bedded this morning. We never got to them. On the way there we bumped into the herd of 18 bulls. We weren't sure if there may be a good bull in there so we gave it a shot. We ended up calling all 18 bulls including a spike that walked by me at 10 yards.
They got nervous but they never blew out. We pretty much confirmed there was no shooter so we had a little fun. At one point one of the bugles we did was so bad that we broke into a giggle-fit and couldn't stop laughing. We composed ourselves and tried stalking the elk. We pulled that off and got within 50 yards. I was sent here on a mission from my lovely bride to bring home the meat - but I just couldn't get myself to shoot one of these young dink bulls. Especially now that we're into the elk and we have two full days left. These bulls will be in trouble on Day 5!
We had an absolute blast tonight. We hunted hard and we had fun. Does it get any better than that?