Mathews Inc.

Arizona Elk Live

September 14-23

Day 2

Morning Hunt

It was another 3:45AM wakeup. Steven wanted to hit the road early - we had an hour drive to get to the area he wanted to try. When we got there, we would stop along the road and listen for bugles. It was quiet at first, but we soon heard a couple of bulls screaming. We were making a plan when I spotted a headlamp moving down the hill. Another hunter was already headed in the direction of the bugles. Steven and I are respectful to other hunters, so we moved on to find another elk. It didn't take long before we heard one single bull. We headed after him.

We learned there were several bulls and they were starting to light up. We picked up the pace. An hour later (and light enough to shoot) we spotted our first elk, a cow. She was followed by a shooter bull. Game on.

We moved quickly, yet cautiously after the herd. This went on for hours. We never bumped them, and we were never more than 400 yards from the herd at any time. It was a grueling pace but necessary. And we loved it.

The herd began to slow down as it entered a thick, dark area. It was obvious they were getting close to bed. Steven spotted a good bull. He was not the herd bull - he was still bugling up the hill - this was a satellite - but he was a BIG satellite! We glassed him and put this bull at 330 inches. I decided I wanted him, but I didn't like the shot; 53 yards quartering away. I decided to pass. He was a great bull, but a sub-optimal shot - at least for me. We left him alone and watched him move out of sight. We continued after the herd bull.

I would have shot this bull but it was too far out of range for me at 53 yards. I like close shots!

Another 30 minutes later we were closing in on the herd bull when a bugle behind us got our attention. We were between that 330(?) bull and the herd, and he wanted to re-join them. Steven asked me if I wanted to try for him and I said "Yes - If I can get a good close shot." Those would be my famous last words.

The bull worked his way up the hill. We quickly got into position. It was not ideal, there was only a couple of trees for cover and he was coming fast. As he closed the distance it became obvious he was heading straight at us. I was ready, so was Steven.

When the bull got 40 yards he bugled right in our face. It was one of those hunting scenes you never forget and we got it all on 4K video! He kept coming right at us. The was going to be on top of us at any moment. I wanted a close shot, but this was going to be ridiculous - 15 feet! Since he was facing us I couldn't draw. At 20' he seemed to look right at us but continued on. I drew when his head went behind the pines. But he was too close. Despite our attempts to stop him his ran off before I could shoot. I blew it. Although I don't know if there was an other option with a bull that close.


Hindsight is 20/20. We're only on Day 2 and with lots of time left and more action than I can stand - I'm not too upset about not getting this bull. I may very well end up with a bigger one.

At 40 yards
He seemed to get us at 20 feet

We moved after the herd and got close one more time, but they were getting quiet. Steven decided it was a good time to try and call out the herd bull. Steven bugled , then cow called . He responded once, but would not respond again. We never did see what the herd bull looked like.

We had been pushing hard since before dawn and had been on the herd for hours. Steven looked at his GPS then shook his head. We were 3.9 miles (as the crow flies) from the truck. We had followed these elk for 5 miles. The walk back took 2.5 hours. When it was all said and done, we likely did 10 miles this morning. It felt great and we're ready for the PM hunt !



Afternoon Hunt

Steven and I went back to the same area. We parked the truck and bugled. Within seconds, a bull responded. He was close! We took off after him. An hour later we were surrounded by 4 different bulls. We worked them hard, and never bumped them, but none of them would come in. Not quite as exciting as the morning hunt, but damn fun nonetheless.

I can't wait until tomorrow.

Sitka Apex
  • Sitka Gear