September/October 2012 EBJ (Issue 73) - September came and the five months of anticipation didn’t chase it away at all. My pack mule and nephew, Craig Kail, arrived at the end of the first week of the month. I invited him along to experience the jaw-dropping emotions I felt five years ago on my introduction to the pursuit of elk. My plan was to spend three or four days at spike camp up in the mountains in an area where motorized traffic of all kinds was not allowed. Arriving at the trailhead, I was a bit disappointed to find six or seven other hunting rigs greeting us. With 30 to 40 pounds on each of our backs, off we went.
This country was new to me. My mission, with a little guidance from a friend, was to find a source of water and pitch camp nearby. A mile and a half later, and after a warning about a cheeky black bear, we found our spot. The tents were finally assembled in a roundabout way, food was hung in a nearby tree, and it was time to go exploring. I handed Craig one of my elk calls to show him what to do. Ten minutes later a cow snuck up on our camp…an elk hunter was born.
Later that evening, we caught our first glimpse of a bull. But a bull running at full speed 200 yards away is not what a bowhunter is interested in. The next morning we were up and at first light. We hiked miles up and down the rugged terrain, and I was very disappointed to find a lack of any fresh signs. Craig was here four days and my mission was to show him elk, so I pulled the plug and we were packing back out to the truck. I had other spots in mind. That afternoon I hiked Craig all over southeast Wyoming. We saw some terrific country, but again, no elk and less sign. The third option was a secret spot given to me by a buddy from church that used to work for Game and Fish. Finally, we found some elk. We saw cows lying in the timber on the opposite side of the draw, and a bull was happy to tell us all about it. The elk sign was terrific. The draw between us was full of fresh rubs and the smell of rutty elk was in every breath you’d take.
Despite our best efforts, the elk just weren’t ready. However, the next morning, Craig and I both had close encounters. With him stationed on the ridge behind me, we called a couple small bulls within bow range. The best thing for me was watching them work their way right up to Craig’s personal space. And even better was the way Craig was out of breath with excitement trying to tell me about it. I made an aggressive sneak on a bigger bull, but 75 yards through the trees was as good as it got. Craig left the next morning, but at least he got a good flavor of what floats my boat this time of year.
For a full account of Kurt's adventure, go to page 14 in the September/October 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.