Idaho, 2008, DIY, Public Land
As the gray of the early morning darkness gave way to the light of a new day, I was thankful I had packed an extra layer of clothes. I was slightly chilled from the morning hike to my tree stand that overlooked an active wallow.
I was hunting with my Uncle Bracken, who was sitting in a stand adjacent from me. We had hiked in earlier that morning and gotten into our stands about an hour before shooting light. We were hoping that the extra time would allow for some of our scent to dissipate and let the area settle down.
We had been sitting in our stands for about an hour without much activity. I was occupying my time by watching squirrels perform their yearly ritual of gathering food in preparation of the upcoming winter. I was watching one squirrel in particular dropping cones from the top of a tree when I thought I heard a twig break. I turned to Bracken to see if he had heard the same thing. When I turned to Bracken, he had a wide-eyed look on his face and I knew he had seen elk. He had grabbed his bow and was preparing for what was about to happen. I turned back around and grabbed my bow off of my bow hook and prepared myself.
The first elk to come into the wallow were two cows with their calves. They moved to the head of the spring and began to drink. After they had their fill of water, they started to mill around the wallow. I could hear more elk on the hill above the wallow but couldn’t see them through the thick brush.
Then it happened; a bull stepped out into the open. He was huge, and my heart just about jumped out of my chest when I saw the first light of the day reflect off of a dozen bone-white antler tips.
He slowly made his way down the hill with that stiff-legged walk that mature bulls have. He worked his way down to a small rise that overlooked the head of the wallow and stood there for a minute overlooking the small group of cows that he had laid claim to. He continued his stiff-legged walk to the head of the spring, bumped the cows out of his way, and lowered his head for a drink. Normally, it would have been a perfect broadside shot, but one of the cows he had bumped out of his way was now standing ten yards away facing me.
For a full account of Tyler's adventure, go to page 32 in the September/October 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.