The Bull of No Tell 'Em Creek

By August Barany
Montana, 2009, DIY, Public Land
The Bull of No Tell 'Em CreekJan/Feb 2011 EBJ (Issue 63) - This epic story starts the same way many legendary hunting stories do - I didn’t draw a dream tag. However, I live in the dream state of Montana, where over-thecounter opportunities abound. After training all summer by climbing mountains, scouting for sign, shooting my bow, and reassuring my family that I would be much more available after hunting season, I knew this would be a great year.

Montana is a huge state, and every hunter knows how elk like to wander. Elk populations can be bountiful and yet they can be extremely difficult to find. A quote that sums it up is, “You find elk exactly where they are.” Fortunately, I have a friend, Will, that’s just as nuts about elk as I am, and he came up with the opening-weekend game plan; we would be hiking into a local area he had hunted last year and scouted in the summer.

He had also set up the “Wilderness Hotel”, complete with shelter and a bucket of nonperishable food strung up in a tree. It takes a lot of trust to follow your friend three miles into the wilderness after work in the dark with no tent in your backpack, but Will is more than a friend - he’s a true hunting buddy, who for the last three years has shared my passion for the outdoors and the wild animals who roam it. The results of our friendship are exemplified by the heavy loads of elk meat we have helped each other with over the years.

After arriving at camp via headlamp, we settled in for a night of restless sleep. The next morning found both of us awake before the alarm clock, making coffee and cramming energy down our throats in anticipation of scaling the mountains that elk call home.

We hunted long and hard, ranging the ridgetops and saddles looking for sign and straining our ears for that magical song of a bull in the rut. We only heard one bugle, but it came after we stupidly crested a ridge with the wind at our backs. All we could do was mentally punish ourselves as the thunder of their hooves slowly faded away. I wanted to follow the echo into the deep dark canyon, but Will had reservations. “You don’t want to go down into No Tell ’Em Creek, August,” Will warned me. “Trust me, you’ll never come out.”

Nevertheless, we stayed out until dark, searching far and wide with no luck. The day was hot, and I began believing that the elk must be in the thick bottoms, avoiding the heat.

August Barany

For a full account of August's adventure, go to page 20 in the January/February 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.