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July/August 2011 EBJ (Issue 66) - It was one of those mornings you dream of all year long; the one where the canyons and valleys are filled with the echoes of bugling wapiti. It was September 21 and the rut was in full swing. Just one ridge over I heard a large bull screaming. Other bulls would add to the chorus, looking to join the local symphony. I sat tight for a few minutes to see if the bull would come my way, keeping quiet for now.
In days past, the bulls had been more interested in procuring their harems than coming in to a fight or to pick up a lone cow. I soon saw the large bull file below with ten cows and a smaller six-point, and I watched them as they made their way to their daytime hideout. This bull continued to be the most vocal of the bulls, but I watched probably five other bulls join in the bugling affair and move over distant ridges and canyons.
After a couple hours of watching and bugling, I set my sights on the bull that had been leading the orchestra. He had bedded a couple of miles from me, so I began making my way that direction. I had found a spike antler on the way and about ten yards away a five-point antler. I picked it up and planned on possibly using it as a decoy to bring in the bull, if needed.
I was coming from below, following some foliage and a spring. The wind was temperamental with some swirling, but for the most part it was in my favor. As I approached to 70 yards, I saw a tree moving back and forth as it was being scraped and then I heard the larger bull about 30 yards from the smaller one. Now within 50 yards, a cow started filing through the brush and up the ridge. The large 6x6 soon followed with his cows. Even though they had probably winded me, I thought I still had a chance at the bull scraping the tree, but he soon vanished as well.
While this stalk didn’t turn out as planned, it’s what elk hunting is all about. I’m usually out before dawn and hunting until after dusk, and this day would be no exception.
For a full account of Jons adventure, go to page 34 in the July/August 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.