Mathews Inc.

Arizona Elk Live

September 14-23

Day 7

Morning Hunt

Before I report on day 7 let me explain how Steven and I are hunting.

We wake up at 3:30 AM and eat a breakfast, we are in the truck (typically) no later than 4:15 AM. We try to get into the area long before pink light and we sit and listen for bugles. We never call before light. When we hear bugles we move quickly in that direction and sometimes that distance can be up to a mile or more. From then on, we are working bugles. Sometimes we work a bull for hours, only to find out he's too small. And sometimes we simply walk into elk that are not talking. We are putting some serious miles on our feet. Today we did 12 miles, and Sunday we did 14. I track every morning and evening hunt on my OnX iPhone App and in the last 7 days we are now over 60 miles on foot.

The hunt is harder than I imagined. We are into elk every day and we are hearing bugling every day, but it's much hotter than usual. Even with our little weather change yesterday it was 78 degrees today. Only 7 degrees cooler than it was before the front moved in. And since it rained yesterday, it was humid today which made it (feel) worse than the 85 degree dry days.

The bulls are bugling, but they are not coming to the calls. When we call, they typically push their cows off - or they simply vanish. The rut is just not kicked in here, yet. We've run into several hunters and the story is similar from everyone.

Back to the lake this morning. We got there way before dark and sat and listened. Nothing. We hiked at least a mile and tried a couple of location bugles. Still nothing. The sun was way up in the sky at 8:00 AM and that's when we heard our first bugle. We moved on him but he was on the move with cows and moving fast. We stayed after him for 90 minutes and we finally caught up to them. The bull was decent, but not a shooter. He had a ton of cows and a couple dink bulls around him. We left him and looked for another bull. It took 30 minutes before we heard another bugle. They seemed close at one point but then the bugles got more distant. We spotted them 500 yards away moving up a hill. I never saw the herd bull, but Steve got a good look at him. He was a giant. Steven estimated him as a 370-380 class bull. So we went into overdrive and followed those damn elk for at least two miles. We never saw or heard him again and by the time we gave up, we were at least 4.5 miles away from the truck. We started back.

Steven and I are taking turns bugling. I consider myself an "OK" caller. My bugle is decent, but my chuckle sucks so I don't chuckle . Steven is better but he likes it when I bugle because I often get a response. We think it's because my calling has an East coast accent and that irritates these Arizona Elk! East coast vs West coast - I guess. He's Tupac and I'm Puff Daddy!

While we were half-way to the truck Steven asked me to bugle. I pulled out my single reed Carlton diaphragm and let it rip. Not 80 yards away a 5pt bull stands up. We froze. He was not a shooter but we played with him for 30 minutes and more bulls started to stand up. This confirmed our suspicions. The elk are just not talking butt they are here. We got back to the truck by 1 PM after doing 9 miles this morning.

After chasing bugles all morning I blind called to locate a bull and this 5x5 stood up 80 yards away


Afternoon Hunt

Steven and I went to an entirely new area. We are hunting all public ground and because the hunting is tough, there's a lot of people chasing bugles. We are trying hard to find pockets of ground that are not getting pressured. This new area looked like it was one of those pockets. As soon as I opened my door I heard a bugle. Game on.

We moved quickly in the direction of the bugling bull. We heard him two or three times and it didn't take us very long to get into the 'zone'. But the wind shifted and he quit bugling. We moved forward quietly and both of us knew he winded us. We continued on and the bull stood up. He was bedded quietly the whole time. He was a non-typical and I would have shot him, but he blew out with his cows and vanished.

We walked 3 miles tonight and never heard another bugle.

This was the bull we moved on, we bumped him and his cows and noticed he was a non-typical.



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