Posted 18 September 2009 - 07:18 PM
Just returned to Minnesota from my Wasatch archery hunt. I'd been working hard since April climbing hills and shooting the bows almost daily all summer. Put alot of work into this one and it showed. Lost 25 lbs since April. I had a great experience but was more disappointed in myself than had anything to do with the hunt.
I spent a week out in Utah working from our office out there and after getting many suggestions about areas to hunt, chose one that was suggested by a friend of a local. Setup camp on the road up Diamond Fork canyon and that afternoon I headed up the mountainside above camp to check it out. I hiked about 2.5 hours up and then started moving across the hillside. I was just looking for sign and listening as evening progressed. Found an old road and followed it along and then swung down to head back to camp. Figured I'd get the carlton fightin cow call out and give it a few blasts. The calls were met with a sharp bugle quartering down the hill. Sounded like a mature bull and I didn't expect that so soon. I slide over to a pine tree and kneeled under it where I could get a good shot at anything coming across in front of me. I heard branches snapping and then saw a cow come up into the opening and walk past at about 15 yards. She was still in sight when the bull appeared so I hadn't draw yet. My mistake there. He bugled again and there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to take him. He wasn't the biggest elk in those mountains but he was larger than anything I'd had the opportunity to arrow. He proceeded forward and I had one chance to draw when he was partially behind a pine in front of me and stretched out to bugle. I pulled back and he busted me jumping back up the trail. He turned and looked back at me. I adjusted my aim and focused on the ribs behind the front shoulder. I released the arrow and when it hit I thought "Good hit" as he ran off. I marked the spot of impact and sat to wait 30 minutes. I went down to start following the blood trail and didn't find any for the first 50 yards and then it was spraying the brush and was easy to follow. As I went along it became a spot here and there. Then started clotting up and then nothing. He moved into this thick oakbrush and I lost both his tracks and any blood trail as well. I spent that evening and the next day scouring that hillside up, down, and across but found nothing. It definitely put a damper on the hunt and I contemplated calling it a hunt and heading back to MN. A friend who was camping there while I was hunting finally snapped me out of it.
I continued on my hunt and after the morning sessions were over I'd go back there and look in different locations along the hillside but nothing was found. The next day I had several bugling but nothing seemed to be coming to call. I quickly figured out that this was going to be a game of follow the bugle or sit water and wait them out. One bull that morning continued to bugle and bugle. He was on a thick mess of a hillside and I figured I'd approach along the hillside parallel to him as the wind started switching. He'd bugle and I'd move. I was getting pretty close to him when he quit bugling. It was getting to be bedding time so I figured I'd see where he was at. I called once and he bugled really close. I thought about moving up but he was so close I didn't want to take the chance. I nocked an arrow and got ready. I heard branches and footsteps. The first cow came around a pine and then she was looking at me thru another pine at about 20 feet. I knew the gig was up as I felt the wind on the back of my neck and she bolted along with another cow to my right. Then I caught a good look at the bull running up thru the pines. All I can say is "WOW". This bull had a towering inferno on his head. I knew he was big but it's hard for me to judge elk so I didn't have a clue but he was the biggest elk I'd ever seen in the wild. Horns swept up wide and really tall. I ran into a local later who mentioned that some friends had a trail cam on that hillside and had pix of him. They figured he was close to 400. What amazed me was that these elk weren't running for the next county like they are on OTC Colorado hunts. He simply ran up the hill and started bugling again to gather his cows back in. I tried to slide across hill and up and around to get close again but it didn't happen that day.
I had several more encounters with this bull. One day he was on same hillside and worked up above a road straight up from where I was. I snuck up to the road and since he was moving along the hillside paralleling the road I used it to attempt to get ahead of him. I was sprinting down that road as fast as I could. then stopped to grab wind and took off a a dead run again. I slowed to come around a corner that would put me in prime position and ran right into two cows. They bolted over the hill just as he bugled. I'd missed him by about 20 seconds. He had crossed the road already and I was only 20 yards from those cows. Another morning he and his cows were heading up on top and I figured they might be heading for a water hole over the top. I tried to come in behind him but the cows would always bust me. I made a beeline for the water hole but arrived as they were leaving. I was about 50 yards from him but he was behind a bunch of pines and I didn't want to push it at that point. One the last day, I had him bugling above that road where it was more open. I called to locate and he bugled close. I heard branches cracking and could here him coming. Then nothing. I sat and waited. Then he bugled down the hillside farther away from me. So I snuck along that road to see if I could get closer and figure out where he was going. I bumped him and another smaller bull but no cows with him. The smaller bull ran up in an opening and he followed. I later ranged a bush at 91 yards that he'd passed. Rifle in my hands...dead elk!! I followed his bugles and ran for the water hole as I figured he was heading there. Wrong. Never did get close to him again.
Over the course of two weeks, I had other bulls that I passed up including two that came into my calls on a more open hillside. One of them came directly below me at about 20 yards and proceeded to re-arrange the trees for about 15 minutes. He was doing that gurgling thing they do and the other bull off to my left was thrashing the trees too. Finally the one below me winded me and ran off barking. That was cool to see. On Thursday evening I heard one bugling above that same water hole and slipped into the woods from a huge meadow. Called to him and he bugled back. Heard branches snapping and he was coming. He came in above me but just couldn't get a shot at vitals. He had a beautiful, dark chocolate rack with white tips. Really nice bull but he moved above me and out to edge of meadow where he bugled once. Then the wind switched and that was it. Sorry for the long winded message. Altough I didn't tag an animal, I had alot of fun chasing them. Looking back on it, my best bet being that it was so hot was to sit water. I found a waterhole early in the hunt and if I'd have had more patience to sit there that is where the big bull came to water at around 8am that one morning with his cows. As I said, I am disappointed about losing that bull and will use it to work harder on shooting my bow in prep for next year. Saturday morning when I was loading the trailer, I heard one rifle shot on that same hillside I chased that bull these past weeks. Figured someone dusted him with the rifle. He was something else....
Posted 18 September 2009 - 08:19 PM
Posted 19 September 2009 - 07:12 PM
Thanks for sharing with us all
Posted 22 September 2009 - 12:04 AM
Now, I need to go change my underwear. Dude, how great it was to be you! Awesome write up, and as Marty said, "good memories"! Now you have more elk dots in that game of connect the dots. Good on you!
Lurking in McDonalds near you!
Confidence makes the hunter, PSE makes the bow.
Posted 22 September 2009 - 04:51 AM
What an awesome experience you had. Posts like these are why I so much enjoy Hunting Resources....its about the adventure not the harvest!
Posted 22 September 2009 - 08:35 AM
Posted 22 September 2009 - 09:36 PM
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