First solo elk hunt success

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by melvins, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. melvins

    melvins Fawn

    Sep 29, 2020
    las vegas
    Took one scouting trip in May and then another in August. We found lots of elk both times and were feeling pretty confident--no giants but in May we found 10 bulls in one spot and several had really nice fronts, and then in August we were in different spots and found 1 280ish 6x6 that I'd shoot. My goal was any legit 6x6, 270+, and I wouldn't pass a big 5x5 or a freak or something cool either.

    The season opened on a Tuesday so myself and two friends got several days of scouting in ahead of the hunt. We did a 15 mile loop in our primary location trying to find the 10 bulls again, but there was zero fresh sign. Also, not seeing any cows in there either time was concerning. We decided the lack of moisture probably had the elk really low feeding in private alfalfa fields, so we scratched that place off the list and moved to the other end of the unit. Two days before the opener we found a herd with bugling bulls and cows together. Nothing big but there was one bull that looked pretty cool. We also heard a party going on in the neighboring unit not far away. I love those late August early September elk parties.

    Opening morning we found another herd, 50 elk or so, with one good bull in it. We initially called him the 280 bull. We watched them bed in some thick timber and decided to stalk in in the middle of the day. The plan was to get close to some cows and then squat and wait for the bull to come around and check them. After a few hours of slow sloooow timber creeping they are coming towards us on the move. I fumbled getting an arrow out of my quiver and the opportunity at the bull dissolved quickly. But we dogged them for a couple hours, had two encounters with cows and spikes feeding literally yards from us. Like me on a knee in the wide open timber and cows feeding 3 yards from me without a care in the world. I literally got so amped I almost passed out, vision started closing in and I had to flex my abdominal muscles to force blood to my brain, nearly started gagging on diaphragm call in my mouth. Afterwards I told my friends that was worth the 5 points alone--I had never been that close to elk and for many minutes at a time.

    Got on the same herd as they headed to water that evening and I aggressively stalked in, blew out some elk I never saw as I was focused on the bull, and they headed to the next county. But, I glassed them up the next morning, maybe just a mile away from where I bumped them the night before. Then, for days, we hunted this group of elk in the same 200 acres of timber, bumping them all over damnation. In a patch that small we thought we could guess what they would do but they were always a step ahead. A new 6x6 bull we called the Chuckler came in a split the cows with the 280 bull, but after seeing the 280 bull next to a raggy 6x6 we decided he was much bigger, just huge body, tall and wide, 320 or so, he was renamed the Big 6.

    Day 4 we found the Chuckler and his cows in a wide creek bottom lined with willows. I stalked in. There was a 5x5 in there too, and my friend called him in. I passed on him at 20 yards or so with the Chuckler at 43 but heavy quartered to me. The 5x5 got to the spot my friends was, saw him, and came barreling down the hill towards me. I thought he was going to run me over and kill me, and I contemplated just jumping in the creek. All I was focused on was his knees and hooves thumping towards me and lethal speed. At the last second he veered and sailed over the creek just feet from me, and the Chuckler spooked behind the willows. I dogged him, ranged a spot where some cows were coming out at 56 yards, locked that yardage in my ballistic computer, and when he came out I stopped him and sent one, but it went high. He had come out on a trail much closer than the cows, and my brain did not account for it. I'm not an experienced archery killer, and I just melt during opportunities sometimes. I don't have the brain capacity to quickly recompute and adjust holdovers, and I kinda think opportunities are too fleeting to stop him, get a good range, then draw my bow and shoot. I welcome any feedback on that folks. I have missed two 150" deer like this too.

    The herd wasn't spooked too bad and fed up a slope. We gave them some time and waited for the thermals to get strong and we looped in above them. We quickly spotted some cows in the timber and I took off my boots and moved in. After a couple hours of sitting and waiting, watching cows feed, at about noon the bull shows up. At this point I have one cow to my left at 15 yards, one below me at 25 yards, several up and to the left I couldn't see but knew they were there getting close to my friends who were now dead ass asleep. The bull was on a cow 55 yards down and to my left, and as he came through he smelled and licked her and let out a really quiet groany bugle. My friends just 100 yards away never even heard it. The cow he was following came sidehilling below me and button hooked up into a clearing, just 40 yards perfectly broadside below me, perfect wide open shot. This was going to be a great opportunity. I clipped in and put a slight tension on my string, and I was going to draw the second I saw his snout come from behind some trees. Then, just a few seconds later, pure madness. The cows up and to my left had gotten high enough that a temporary crosswind got my scent to them, and they came barreling towards me. 6 or 8 cows in a tight bunch running at full speed right at me. I said a prayer and drew my bow, and they stopped literally inches from the end of my Quivalizer. They kinda paused, confused or embarrassed, and were stammering around me not sure what to do. The bull raced sidehilling below me and stopped in a window I guessed to be 40 yards away, and I took a shot, but he was gone before the arrow got there. I could see he never relaxed the tension in his muscles. We sat for an hour, dumbfounded and depressed. I couldn't tell if my friends were angry or frustrated or what, with me or the elk or the situation. I definitely felt like I let them down twice that morning, and we all knew the week was coming to an end soon.

    I did have some other close encounters. And then a winter storm chased us out of there, dumping 12" of snow in the high country the night we left.
  2. xbokilla

    xbokilla 12 pointer

    Jun 28, 2012
    Thanks for sharing. Just got to suck it up and go on. Sounds like an amazing trip regardless. I missed my elk last Fall and it crushed me but looking back I was thankful for safety, the experience, and that I got to treat my dad to a trip. Maybe he’ll be stay around long enough to see me get one...or vice versa.
    KYote-Krusher likes this.
  3. carnivore

    carnivore 12 pointer

    Nov 17, 2007
    What state?
  4. 1wildcatfan

    1wildcatfan 12 pointer

    Jan 2, 2009
    raised n Bullitt Co.
    Good experience.

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