No Excuses

By Craig Steele
Arizona, 2010, DIY, Public Land
No ExcusesJan/Feb 2011 EBJ (Issue 63) - I have been blessed to live in a state that has some of the biggest elk in the world. Every year I have heard the stories and seen the pictures of the monster bulls hitting the dirt. After having a few archery permits in my home state, I found myself making excuses as to why the big one always got away. This year was going to be different; this year was going to be the one; this year was the year I would have no excuses!

As September approached, I felt as though I was living a dream. I had taken a P&Y pronghorn, was chasing a big 190-plus mulie, and I had an Arizona archery elk tag in my pocket.

The week before my season, I found out that a 410 B&C monster had been harvested with the Governor’s tag in my unit, in an area I had scouted and was planning on hunting. It was exciting to hear of such a bull, yet disappointing to know that one had already been taken off of the table. As the opener approached, I had found several good bulls, but nothing I would call great or a first-week shooter.

Opening morning was now upon me. It started out with me and a good friend, Mike Collins, chasing a few screaming bulls. We did this for the next few days before the Sunday lull hit. With the added pressure from hunters crisscrossing the countryside, the elk became silent. Days 4-8 were extremely rough - the only elk we encountered were those we spotted moving from a high knob.

On day nine of my hunt, the moon was full and the elk activity seemed to pick up in the mornings. With a high pressure system, the temperatures were starting to peak in the 90s. The next day was hotter than I have ever encountered on an archery elk hunt. With this being said, the elk activity was actually starting to heat up.

On the afternoon of day 11, we hunted near our camp in hopes of finding a bull we called “Trashy”. After checking out five different bugling bulls, Trashy was nowhere to be found. As we drove into camp that night, I was doubting my every move, almost picking apart everything I have every learned or know about elk hunting.

Just then my dad pulled into camp and said, “I found a good one.”

My dad and Rick Collins had been scouting different country every day in hopes of finding a good bull and finally they did. At that point, we started discussing our options.

Craig Steele

For a full account of Craig's adventure, go to page 40 in the January/February 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.