The Big Six

By Greg Puffe
Idaho, DIY, Public Land
It was another hot August day and the sweat was running down my back and the sun was beating on my face - I couldn’t help but smile thinking about the last 20 days. From loosing my glasses to seeing the buck of my dreams, to loosing my range finder to messing up stalks on big bucks, I’d done it all. Oh, and I have to mention my bow falling just the right way and cracking a limb. Still, I was having the time of my life, elk hunting was around the corner and I had to go set up camp with my son, Zach, not only needing a little break from the deer hunting, but I needed some new hunting equipment.

I headed back to town and the next day I stopped by Cabala’s, picked up a new Nikon range finder, called Danny at Archery Central in Nampa, got some DXT limbs overnighted back to me and I was back in action.

After all that bad luck, I was ready for anything. Now I was on my way to elk camp for an Idaho, public land, DIY hunt. Just getting ready to turn fifty years old, I was a little bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my hunting partners who were all in there twenties! I had been preparing for hunting season like I did a few years back, working out since April, loosing several pounds, building my leg muscles and most of all, building up my confidence.

The unit we were hunting in was very steep and rugged country, with a lot of open hillsides and pockets of timber. It was early morning on September 4th and we headed to the trailhead - it didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t going to have any problems keeping up with the young dogs. I do remember looking in the clouds and thanking God for that because I felt so good being myself again! That day we seen a nice bull, a couple of cows, but nothing close enough to get to excited about.

As we were hiking back to camp, I was thinking if we did harvest a bull in this country, it would be one heck of a pack out. That was my old way of thinking coming back into my thoughts. Instead, I started thinking of all the places I have hunted and this really wasn’t much worse, besides I had three twenty-five-year olds with me, it really couldn’t get any better.

After that day of elk hunting, I felt 20 again - I was so thankful to be back in good shape. The next morning, we all left camp, and I decided to let out a loud bugle - we all listened quietly. My bugle was answered, by a domestic cow, and we all just laughed! I was thinking to myself, my bad luck from my deer hunt had followed me.

We continued hiking another quarter mile and I let out another bugle. We were all waiting for the cow to answer again, but this time, it was a big six-point bull - the boys eyes lit up with excitement. I didn’t want to bugle again until we got closer to where the bugle came from. As I was walking, I knew I wanted one of the boys to shoot this bull if we got the chance. I have killed plenty of bulls before, so I wanted to call it in for them. The only problem was they all wanted to be the shooter and I couldn’t blame them for that.

As we got closer, I let out another bugle and he answered me within seconds. At this point, I knew we had a good chance to get him in. My son, Zach went to the left, Ricky and Austin went to the right and I backed up 75 yards. I bugled again and this time when he answered me, he chuckled, so I did the same and the war calls continued until he held up at 100 yards.

I knew I had to move in closer, so I slipped down to a big pine in front of me about 50 yards. Not being able to see the boys, I figured them to be about 40 yards in front of me. I knew the wind was in our favor as I could feel the cool breeze on my face. I let out another bugle and the big bull cut off my bugle right away!
I knew I could pull him out of his comfort zone. Every time he bugled, I cut his bugle off by bugling over the top of his - he didn’t like that at all and I could tell he was getting closer. I was starting to wonder why none of the boys had taken a shot at this massive elk yet? Then I spotted him at 60 yards walking straight toward me!

I bugled again just so I could see this big bull in action. He lifted his head back and started screaming - before I knew it, he was 30 yards away broadside. Wondering why he was still there, I set my bugle down, grabbed my Mathews bow, knocked an arrow and let it fly!

Zach, not realizing I had killed the bull, thought it had just run off and he was at full draw ready to kill his first bull. I was really excited about shooting this bull, but at the same time felt bad knowing I would’ve rather had my son shoot it. On the other hand, it was time for my luck to change because I had enough bad luck for the year. Not only was I not expecting to kill this big bull, but he expired on the only logging road around, now that’s good luck!