Wyoming, 2008, DIY, Public Land
The adrenaline and excitement that was so prevalent at the beginning of my hunt had dwindled away and so far what I thought would be a slam dunk was falling far short of my expectations. In three days of searching for elk, I had only managed to find a lone raghorn bull and two other elk so far away I could barely tell they were elk.
The whole scenario just didn’t make sense. During previous research, key indicators were favorable so I gave it the go ahead on this area. Population surveys were good, harvest success was higher than average, the local biologist said there were some really big antlers in the unit, and I knew of giant bulls that had been taken there in previous years. It all seemingly added up to one dandy place to hunt.
Had I taken this place for granted? Maybe with all the good hunting reports, I thought it was just a matter of showing up. But it’s never that easy – especially on public land.
Finding that No Tellum Ridge or hunting unit that gives a hunter confidence is one thing, but what about overconfidence? My brother Dennis, his son Nate (Research Editor for Eastmans’), and I sometimes poke fun about finding new hunting areas that hold prospects of good hunting. “It’s just a matter of showing up,” we jokingly say.
Of course, in reality there is much more to the hunt, and looking back we’ve always had to work hard for every bull we’ve killed. I had to chuckle at myself; after all my years of hunting how could I think it was going to be easy?
The little talk with myself gave encouragement, and soon the hope of filling my tag was renewed. Besides, I hadn’t driven 18 hours to give up yet and I vowed to give this hunt my best effort.
It was mid September and I was there to take advantage of the peak rut. After all, everyone knows that the peak rut promises more bugling action. However, along with more bugling bulls, that time of year also brings more bugling hunters, and I just happened to arrive on the scene a few days after everybody else decided to go hunting there. Vehicles and four-wheelers patrolled the roads, hunters and horses traveled the trails, and the only bugle I heard was from a hunter I called in.
The elk around the roads and main trails had been heavily pressured and the few elk still there were reluctant to talk. The obvious change of plan was to strike out farther and go on all-day excursions. The new hunt was on!
For a full account of Jerry's adventure, go to page 44 in the September/October 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.