Colorado, 2008, DIY, Public Land
Having drawn a few decent tags, I was excited about my upcoming fall hunting season. However, after a rain and storm-filled archery antelope season that left a lot to be desired, I decided to switch gears and go after elk. This didn’t seem to be going much better; I was having some trouble locating elk, and they just didn’t seem to be their normal bugling selves. From other hunters’ reports, it sounded like the elk hunting was slow for everyone across the state.
After coming up empty on our morning, hunt, my dad and I needed a new game plan, so we decided to switch areas for the afternoon hunt. After eating some lunch and shooting some broadhead- tipped arrows, I was ready to head out for the evening hunt.
The sun beat down on us as we hiked up a sun-baked hill. As we neared an area where I have hunted elk before, I spotted a fresh elk track. Hopefully this was a sign of things to come.
We settled into a good spot and then sat down and waited, patiently listening and watching. Our game plan was to let the elk bugle on their own before making a frontal assault. We lay down in the grass and my dad caught some shuteye. I tried to do the same, but at the same time, I was itching for something to happen.
At 5:45 p.m. an elk bugle rang out. From the sounds of it, the bull sounded like he was still bedded. It came from up on the hill, and I knew that the elk would probably leave their bedding area and head down the hill to feed in the open meadows below. The only problem was predicting exactly which way they would come and trying to get in that path to intercept the bull.
The bull sounded off every once in awhile, with no apparent change in location. We started moving up the hill toward him, trying to close the distance and figure out the route the elk might take. There were a couple of draws that looked promising and I felt confident.
Just then, a foreign sound caught my ear. I cocked my head behind me to listen closer. ATV! The next thing I heard was the sound of a bugle, obviously coming from a tube call. The operator of the bugle went crazy, bugling every minute or so. It was by far the worst sounding bugle I had ever heard. I just chuckled to myself and shook my head. I snapped myself back to the task at hand and continued inching up the hill toward the unseen bull.
I didn’t want to give away my position, so I did no calling; instead, I just let the bull bugle on his own. Every time he bugled I would move a little bit more uphill toward him. The bull sounded super close, but I still couldn’t see him. At this point, I decided I was as far as I needed to go.
For a full account of Justin's adventure, go to page 26 in the May/June 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.