Sunday - September 14, 2014
This morning we let ourselves sleep in. We wore ourselves yesterday chasing after the elk herds yesterday. With two full weeks of hunting ahead of us, one morning of recuperation doesn't hurt anything. We woke up late, had egg and cheese bagels, sat in the sun, repacked our back packs ... water and food were depleted from the day before.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife guys stopped by our camp and checked our tags and bows. It was nice to see them on the mountain, and we told them we appreciated them being in the area (we haven't seen them many of the years hunting here). We chatted with them for about an hour discussing ...
We slowly began our hike. The spot we were headed to was a couple miles in. The temperature was warmer than optimal for elk hunting; therefore, we took our time, making sure not to work up a sweat. As we rounded the first section of timber, and made our way across an open track, I noticed birds circling above and thought maybe there was a carcass in the area. Sure enough, I looked up and saw two bears take off through the woods, a mere 50 yards above us. We crossed a wallow and made our way up to check out what had the bears attention. It was a young calf - really young. The front quarters were gone and the back quarters still partially in tact. Either someone shot the calf and took only a portion of the meat (hoping that's not the case), or someone shot it's mom and left the young calf to defend itself against the bears. Either option didn't fair well for the calf.
Again, bears are not our priority, so we continued down the trail, another mile to go until arriving at a wallow. Troy settled in on one side of a drainage, and I crossed over to set up directly across a trail, hoping to get a 20 yard shot. As the sun sank further down on the horizon, the temperatures finally began to decrease slightly and we were hopeful that a bull would make an appearance soon. Then I heard a twig snap. I quickly motioned to Troy that I heard something and scanned the thick brush, trying to see through it as best I could. There he was! Coming down the trail, but it was the WRONG trail! He was headed straight for me, headed down the trail I was sitting on. You might be asking at this point, "What's the problem with that?" Let me tell you ... This "trail" is not a trail as in a hiking trail, but a game trail surrounded by thick brush. The kind where you have to push through it, moving branches out of the way so it doesn't smack anyone following you in the face. So .... as he got closer and closer, then stopped at 7 yards away, I found myself drawing my bow back when he looked the other way. It would have to be timed perfectly and I'd have to find an opening through the branches. At this point he was still above me and I actually had a broadside shot, if it wasn't for all of the stinking branches. However, if he decided that he wanted to continue down the trail, he would take a 90 degree turn and walk over top of me. After a minute that felt like an eternity, he finally decided something wasn't right, did a 180 turn and disappeared into the brush. I now know what it feels like to be eyeball to eyeball with a bull elk.
I looked over at Troy, and he shrugged his shoulders, making a gesture indicating he didn't know what happened. I think from his vantage point, what played out moments ago must have looked a little strange.
Since we didn't spook the bull off, we assumed he was still in the area. Troy let out a bugle, and the bull responded back. Then two other bulls from below chimed in, and we could tell they were getting closer. We were about to be surrounded by three, maybe four bulls! Troy began cow calling and the bulls proceeded to "scream" back and forth at each other. It seemed like a stand off of sorts. We waited, ready to take aim at whichever one decided to commit. The young bull up above came in again, but nothing materialized. What an experience! It is moments like this that leave a grin permanently planted on your face all evening.
As we were walking out, one of the screamer bulls had made his way to the meadow to the east of our path. Troy spotted him in the tree line at roughly sixty yards out. I couldn't see him unfortunately, so Troy backed up hoping to suck him down the path towards me. Either he spotted Troy or winded us because I heard him take off.
The bulls continued bugling to us as we made our way out that night. We were sad to leave the party, but daylight had given into the approaching darkness. It was time to leave. Oh, yah ... and the bears were feeding on the calf again. There was just enough light to make out a black blob on the hillside, forty yards above us. We could literally hear them ripping into the carcass. Troy got out his Hawke binoculars and confirmed what we already knew. BIG bear happily feasting away, reminding me that my stomach is also empty ... time to get back to camp, fill our bellies and crawl into our sleeping bags. Another adventure is waiting for us tomorrow.
From the Draw
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