Tuesday - September 2, 2014
Before heading out today, a few chores around camp had to be done ... Troy fixed the leak on the top of the camper, then drained gas out of the old generator into the new generator, while I sewed a rip in Troy's First Lite pants. A quick breakfast of burritos consisting of eggs, wild hog, potatoes and cheese were consumed. I could get used to living like this!
Once our morning chores were completed and bellies filled up, we were excited to get back out there and see if the elk were ready to play. So far, there hasn't been much talking, and I was ready for some bugling action!
Since we had missed out on a hunt this morning, we left a little bit early and drove to the top of the mountain with the hopes of catching some grouse before it was time to play with the elk. We had seen lots of birds in the same area on Saturday, but Murhpy's law struck and now that we were prepared with blunts on the end of arrows, the birds didn't want to cooperate. However, we soon found out that a bull had his game face on and was ready for the afternoon action to begin. Game on!
Around 2:30 PM we dropped down to the first tier on the mountain and sat there for thirty to forty minutes until dropping further down onto the lower aspen ledge. After sitting for another hour or so, we heard something ... cow calls! If you can hear cow calls, then you are close to elk! They were awake and hopefully grazing our way. We let out a few cow calls and then Troy ripped off a bugle. A bull answered back immediately. He did NOT like that another bull was close to his cows. This was the first bugle that we heard this year and we got excited! It seems like each year when that first bugle is heard, remembering how to respond to the challenge gets blurred by the adrenaline rush threatening to overtake your senses. Should you keep calling and sit tight? Move closer and put the pressure on, but risk getting spotted? Bugle or just cow call? It is definitely a challenge!
Since it was still early in the game, we decided to stay put, hoping they would come to us. We called, patiently waited and listened. Eventually we could tell that they moved just below us. Each response from the bull gave his location away, and we noticed a pattern. He was moving up and down the mountain with no commitment to come all the way up to our location, so we decided it was time to put some pressure on this bull. We dropped down a tier and continued to bugle. Troy raked a tree. The bull responded back immediately, giving us the opportunity to close the distance a little more. Back and forth this went all evening. We made it to within 100 yards of this bull, just above his bedroom, but never caught a glimpse of him. I nicknamed this bull "Mr. T." since he teased us all evening, staying just out of sight.
I left the mountain that night with one thought in my head ...
"I know where you live Mr. T!"
Watch the video version of this Elk Journal entry: