May/June 2013 EBJ (Issue 77) - Well, here I am on the third night since taking this bull and I am still so excited I can’t sleep!
This story started in 2009 when a good friend of mine, Kip, invited me to use his house and hunt the national forest that is adjacent to his property. My prospects for the upcoming fall were slim and I had nothing that I could get really excited about. So I decided to give it a try and start learning a new area. The house is gorgeous, and as I get older, taking a shower and sleeping in a bed every night is a great thing.
I hunted all or part of fourteen days that season and saw some nice bulls, had some good bugling activity, but never had a shot opportunity. The quality of the bulls I did see was good and the hunting pressure was minimal, not to mention the accommodations, which were topnotch. On one particular trip that year another good friend of mine, John, joined me to help with the calling and he was very impressed with what he saw just based on that one trip. When the opportunity came up to return in 2012 John told me I would be crazy not to try it again. After reviewing my options and based on 2009 I decided that would be my plan for 2012.
Opening weekend finally arrived and Kip’s son Colby joined me for the opener. We drove up the night before and decided to split up and look around and then make a plan for the morning. Colby hiked in to look around late in the afternoon and I was glassing from the road. Right at dark I spotted thirtyseven cows, two spikes, and a nice 6x6 coming down to water about a mile north of the house. We were both excited and it was a restless night.
Opening morning, Colby and I sat up in a saddle on top of the mountain but the elk went around the mountain instead of over it where we were. We heard two wimpy bugles very early and they were close but did not come through where we thought they would. About an hour later we caught up to them in a flat area that they were slowly crossing on the way to a bedding area. We got close twice and I even nocked an arrow once. We got a good look but no shots. Twice, we had cows walking by at about 40 yards. There was the same nice 6x6, a nice 5x5 and two raghorns as well.
The remainder of that weekend and the following weekend with another friend, Josh, were really slow with only a couple cows and a spike being seen and one bugle in the dark the second weekend. We did find a few fresh tracks around and one aspen tree torn out of the ground.
On Saturday, the third weekend of the season, I drove up for a two day hunt by myself. It was also the opening weekend for muzzleloaders. I had taken my nephew teal hunting earlier in the day so I didn’t make the morning hunt, but he bagged his first ever duck, so it was a great day! That evening it was hot and dry with no action and very little fresh sign. I went to bed thinking the morning would be more of the same due to the warm conditions.
On Sunday at first light I hiked up the back hill to the west and before I got to the trees I heard a few cow calls and a bugle to the south by the big meadow. I thought for sure it was another hunter because the calls were very generic and I had run into guys with muzzleloaders over that direction three years prior. I went through the quakies to the first clearing just like Josh and I had done both mornings the weekend before and stood in front of the one small spruce to break up my outline. I was going to listen for a while and then do some cow calls.
For a full account of Jeff's adventure, go to page 32 in the May/June 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.