California, 2008, DIY, Public Land
The draws were over and we were completely deflated; our luck was beyond abysmal. We were already making plans for over-the-counter hunting, forgetting about California draw results due to the overwhelming unlikelihood. Then one evening I came home late from a class with my daughter, and when I walked into the kitchen, my husband, Rich, and our son, Cameron, were acting a little strange. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was going on, but I knew something was up. As I started cleaning up the kitchen, I glanced and saw a letter from California Department of Fish and Game. I did a double-take and rushed over for a closer look. I soon saw my name next to the words “Archery Tule Elk” with the word “Successful” following. Oh my GOSH! I was in shock, but within seconds, Rich and I were hugging each other and going crazy with happiness! I was going to be hunting Tule elk!
The first call we made was to our good friend, Brandon Mojarro, who lives in the area where I’d be hunting. Brandon is one of the M’s in “3M Guide Service”, but since he’s our good friend, this would be more of a hunt amongst friends, not client and guide. I can’t state enough how grateful I am that we have Brandon as a friend. His help on this hunt cannot be overstated.
Five weeks before opening day, we scouted for three days and saw 40 bulls. They were all still in velvet, and a couple of them really stood out as good ones. Brandon was nearby to keep tabs on them as they started rubbing off their velvet and migrating toward the cows.
When all three of us were finally together the day before the opener, Rich and Brandon told me about a herd they had found that lived out on the flats in a marshy area. They had seen a tremendous bull in there that morning, and had seen and heard lots of other elk. The only problem was that this area was so full of water and cattails that we would have to buy waders to hunt it. So, we drove to town and started searching the flyfishing stores. We finally found a shop that had enough for all of us.
We were at our chosen location at 5 a.m., donned our waders and set off in search of bulls. We trudged through that swampy, mosquito infested muck for 45 minutes, hearing bugles all the way. There was one great sounding bull close to us, but we were behind him and couldn’t close the distance. We did get to within 150 yards, so we set up but he wouldn’t come in. I tried to get closer, but was hindered by some water that was too deep to cross. However, we did succeed in calling in two smaller bulls that we enjoyed watching.
By this time, it was 9 a.m. and getting mighty hot in those waders. This area was difficult to hunt with all that water to navigate through, plus there weren’t many trees for shade or cover. But even as we stood there contemplating our next move, Mr. Herd Bull bugled from 200 yards away. We now knew that he and his cows had found their bedding area for the day. The only problem was that he was in an area we couldn’t sneak into because of the almost unsurpassable tulie patch that surrounded him. We didn’t want to blow him out of there, but at the same time, we really didn’t want to leave. We had the entire day ahead of us; what were we going to do…walk away?
For a full account of Cindy's adventure, go to page 22 in the November/December 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.