An Unexpected Encounter

By Mike Tanner

An Unexpected EncounterMike Tanner
Oregon, 2009, DIY, Public Land


I normally pass time at camp shooting my bow while my son is chasing squirrels with his. However, this time I had decided to take a quick cat nap; in seconds I was sawing logs.

The next thing I know, Brandon was yelling at me. “I just heard a bugle!” It took me a couple of seconds to decide if he was pulling my leg or not, but his silver-dollar-sized eyeballs had me convinced I had better check it out.

I have always told my son, who turned 16 this year, “A bad day can turn into a good day very quickly.” He had experienced that firsthand on his mule deer hunt just weeks prior. Brandon had taken his first buck with archery equipment and it had lit a fire that I hoped nothing would be able to put out.

Now it was late September. I had a general season archery elk tag and Brandon and I were excited to be on our way to our elk area in eastern Oregon.

After several days of close calls on the elusive wapiti, this morning seemed different. The alarm went off, as it had every morning prior, at a very early 2:30 a.m. With a quick coffee and a bite to eat, we set out to see if we could make something happen. Several hours later, I was becoming discouraged.

No sooner than we had stopped at the edge of the next canyon, we heard elk mewing and moving down and away, with the bull lightly bugling. We bailed off and headed toward the herd. His bugles were more intense the closer we got, but they moved a lot faster than we could. Typical for a hard-hunted elk, he would answer and keep on moving away. It was a no-win situation, so I backed out and told Brandon that if the herd kept blow the chance for the herd bull due to wind. I didn’t much care; I just wanted a bull. We needed to move as fast as we could to the bottom and get set up.

With bulls bugling, we made it to the bottom. By this time, the bull that was on my left was now directly downwind. He went silent and I could hear them moving off. I still felt good as the wind was still perfect for the upper bull.

An Unexpected Encounter

For a full account of Mike's adventure, go to page 28 in the January/February 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.