For our first full day we woke to pouring rain and sleet. While it bothered both of us we decided to wait till it quit. My experience with elk in heavy rain has been disappointment. They don't seem to bugle much in heavy rain and it's hard to hear them anyway. So we hung out in the tent for most of the morning.
Kent Jarnigan listening to the bugling elk - trying to find him
The weather broke around 2PM so Kent and I gathered our gear and headed out. We hiked a few miles until we heard two bugles. One of them was not far down the valley from camp while the other was very far. We set up and glassed the hillside where the bugles were coming from. Shortly around 6PM, I spotted the bull. He was a very heavy and mature 5pt and he was fired up. I called Kent over and gave him landmarks to find the bull in his binoculars. He was about 700 yards away and far up in a finger of trees just under a steep cliff. We strategized a bit as one cow and one calf came from the same area.
The bull then left them and headed to the South and into a different finger of trees. He had another cow in there and she came running out back to the first cow and calf. He was on her tail. It was time for us to move in for the kill.
The bull was up this chute under the cliff
Kent wanted me to get the first crack at him. We debated the merits of why he should go first but I ultimately agreed and told him we were going to take turns from this point forward. Both of us moved down the valley toward the elk. We were on the opposite hillside so we had to scurry down a steep gorge, cross a creek, and power up the steep hillside. What I didn't realize is the elk were on their way down and I almost bumped into the cow at 90 yards. She was staring right at us so we both froze. The cow was motionless and looking right at us. She then busted and took the rest of the group with her. The bull never knew what happened as he bugled his fat head off when the cows headed south. We set up quickly and tried to call him but he was gone. He was a nice bull that would have made PY as a 5pt. Oh well. At least we are finding elk and they are vocal.