Gunshots echoed across the mountainside this morning, which makes sense; it is opening day for grouse.
The plan was to hunt directly behind camp. I had heard a bull lightly bugle the morning before. I had a hunch they were coming up the drainage right next to our camp, so we decided to explore the territory just beyond it. Wouldn't that be awesome to shoot a bull just below camp?? As soon as we wandered a hundred yards behind camp, it opened up into an old "road." We followed it down for a bit until the thick timber diverted us to a steep ledge. Taking the lead from those who know the area well, we continued down a game trail along the edge until it opened up, giving us a view of a valley below and clear shooting lanes.
We sat down, leaned into a tree just off the trail, and listened. An amazing thing happens when you listen to the silence of the forest. Initially everything seems quiet; however, as you begin to take it in, your senses awaken and the "silence" opens up ... water flows over rocks in the stream below, the flurry of wings slice through the air above as a bird glides overhead, claws scurry up a tree, and a pine cone drops to the floor with a thud. Out of the silence a chorus erupts and the melody of the forest flows together effortlessly. I could easily fall asleep, but then I remember we are here to hunt and the morning is still young.
After a while we ventured a bit further and sat down to do some calling. Nothing answered. The flow of the stream below peaked our curiosity. Holding onto branches along the slope, we made our way down. After crossing the stream, we settled in under a huge pine that stood proudly in an open meadow. Breakfast seemed like a good idea ... Mmm... peanut M&Ms and coffee!
It was now late morning and we had a decision to make - continue exploring this territory behind camp, or climb back up, load the four wheeler up and head to an area we were familiar with. We landed on the latter option since we hadn't seen / heard anything and it looked like if we moved further down the mountain, it would get more treacherous.
Upon arriving back at camp, we took a leisurely ride on the four wheeler to check out the other camps in the area. We were curious how many hunters were down the road from us. So far, it appeared the odds were in our favor. Most of the campers were truly that - campers. We reached the trail that Troy, Rudy and I headed down last year and shot 2 bulls in the bottom. Glassing the area brought back good memories and I was anxious to get back down there again. However, we made a decision that we would let it sit for awhile and wait to go down in the "hole" until the elk started bugling. There is no sense going down there unless we knew the elk were there!
Tonight we hunted the beaver ponds (middle section). We were hoping to run into the elk we had seen the day before. This time, we continued down the trail to the crossroads. Evidenced by all the moisture this summer, the growth along the trail concealed the path, now making it a secret to only those who have previously traveled its course. When we reached the marshy area where we've seen previous wallows, we lost the trail momentarily. Upon reaching the crossroads, we sat down and waited. Nothing materialized, so we decided to head back to the open area we saw elk yesterday. In order to get there in time, we had to make tracks! Unfortunately we went to fast, and as we made our way around a downed tree, Troy looked back at me. "Shooter bull," he quickly announced. A 5x5 was 40 yards in the timber and we weren't ready. We tried to skirt in front of him and quickly set up the decoy, but he was on to us and never made another appearance.
One more set up was attempted before we called it quits tonight. I was reluctant to head back. We were getting closer! I'm ready to draw back on a shooter bull. It's just a matter of time.
Upon reaching camp, Troy decided to cruise down the road and see if the other hunters nearby were back in camp. We chatted with the CO boys briefly and talked whitetail hunting, then went down to the next camp to check in with the PA boys. They about talked our ears off! We hit it off with these guys and the stories flowed easily. However, at around 9:30 I had to nudge Troy. It takes a few days before you get used to eating dinner well past dark, and I had burned enough calories today to eat two plates full. Pointing to my now growling stomach, and giving my best puppy dog eyes, I announced, "I'm HUNGRY! Let's go get dinner started before my stomach eats my backbone."
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.