MORNING HUNT: Big Bull Meadow
Monday, August 27
On day three we visited big bull meadow again in the morning in hopes of a repeat from the day before... as far as getting into the elk - not endless tracking. Each hunter wanted a chance at the bulls we saw yesterday.
We arrived in the meadow just as daylight was breaking. A quick glimpse of two cows and a bull grazing through the meadow caused hearts to race and hopes to surge. We were relieved that after all the action yesterday and hanging around attempting to find Todd's bull, all of the elk weren't spooked off the mountain. Our hopes were high that an elk tag would be filled today!
As the sun crept higher in the sky and thermals began to rise, effectively shifting the wind, our scent slowly drifted up the mountainside. Rudy (otherwise known as the huntographer, hunting godfather, elk-caller-wanna-be, or whatever fun name you want to call him) and I sat patiently waiting. I think I even told him this morning where to hide in the pines behind me. You should have seen the look he gave me as he promptly said, "yes ma'am!" (Sorry, Rudy)
A cow and calf made their way across the top of the meadow, and I hoped they would wander down in front of us. They maybe got as close as 75 yards, but with our scent blowing straight up to them, the odds were not in our favor. I'm sure it didn't help that I had a 6'7"huntographer hiding in a pine tree behind me. That is a lot of stink!*
(I'm totally kidding Rudy - I know you aren't quite 6'7".)
As the noon hour approached, we gave in to our grumbling stomachs and decided to head back to camp, feed our bellies and get ready for the evening hunt. We stopped along the way to snap a few pictures of a great buck... which we promptly taunted Todd with since he was the only one with a buck tag, but it was already filled!
EVENING HUNT: Beaver Ponds
Tonight we decided to change things up a bit and hunt the other side of the mountain which we refer to as the "beaver ponds." Since we arrived early, we walked in slowly and decided to let out just a few cow calls. Allen was the furthest down the trail, Todd took the left side and Troy the right. That left me stuck in the middle. Rudy followed me up through some thick pines and we stopped in what seemed to be the only small clearing that offered a shooting lane. It would be a small window of opportunity if any elk decided to come by us on the way down to check out the "cows" below. I had a small grove of baby aspen trees sprinkled in front of my view. I guessed if a bull came down it would be to the opening on my left, presenting a perfect broadside shot. However, the elk didn't get the memo. (They usually don't)
After only 10-15 minutes of calling, I could hear them coming in. They didn't bugle or call, but I heard them making their way down the timber. When you are in a spot where a top pin shot is most likely, and it is early in the season, you better listen carefully. Most often the elk will come in quiet and your best chance to pull your bow back at the right time is by listening. At least that is true for the last two chances I had at a bull - one of them being tonight!
Two bulls came running in and since they missed my memo, they came running in straight at me! Ugh! Instead of the broadside shot I wanted, I had a head shot and I was busted. I had a direct view through the baby aspens, but no clear shot and I didn't get my bow pulled back in time. The bull in front gave me a great view of his antlers on one side. I proceeded to count and kept counting over and over... one, two, three. And then again. One, two, three. Okay, I don't feel so bad that I'm not at full draw. He's not legal... unless is that brow tine five inches? Wait. As he turned his head, I counted 4 tines. Legal bull! I then began playing head games. Can I draw without scaring them away? I knew if I could get my bow pulled back and if he turns broadside, I could be shooting my first bull.
This whole scene played out in probably under 2 minutes,
but it felt like a life-time.
The bull in back sniffed the air a couple times, the smaller bull in front turned broadside, and then left just as fast. I pulled my bow back partly out of frustration and partly just wishing I could rewind that moment in time. I'm left with the close encounter memory once again, and with the hopes of arrowing my first bull. It will happen at some point in time... this was not that moment.
*Note: I'm joking with Rudy because I know he can handle it. He actually was sporting FirstLight wool base layers and we were all impressed by how well it worked - we hiked him all over the place and I was brave enough to smell the sweaty armpits of his base layer. I couldn't smell a hint of stink! It was impressive!
From the Draw
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