Muzzleloader Dreams and Elk Serenades

By Jared Hadlock

Muzzleloader Dreams and Elk SerenadesJared Hadlock
Utah, 2008, DIY, Public Land

At first light on the first morning of my hunt, I was right where I wanted to be. Set up on a high ridge where I could shoot across a steep, narrow canyon with my muzzleloader, I was also between two small canyons of bugling bulls.

As the sun climbed over the distant ridge, I spotted multiple bulls screaming at each other from across the hillside. Then the clash of antlers drew my attention to the bottom of the canyon. After a few minutes of glassing, I spotted movement through the thick oak brush. A large, aggressive five-point and a mature six-point bull were fighting in the brush. They pushed and shoved each other around for a few minutes. The unique and intense sound could be heard for quite some distance…what a rush! What a way to start off the first morning of my hunt.

That morning I counted over 20 mature bulls but nothing I wanted on opening day. As one bull would bugle, another would scream back from across the ridge, cutting off the first bull’s bugle. This kept going all day long; I had a blast just sitting and watching. The bugling bulls would slow down in the middle of the day but it didn’t take much to get them going again - a soft cow call would make the quiet hillside erupt with excitement all over again.

My dreams of hunting a limited entry bull elk hunt started a decade ago, and I finally drew last year. I was not very familiar with the area and at the time lived seven hours away, so scouting was going to be challenging. That all changed in early September when I took a new job across the state. Suddenly I was only three hours from my hunt area. After moving, I took the first two weekends and left my wife and kids to unpack the house while I went scouting. Luckily for me, I have an awesome wife who is very understanding!

Muzzleloader Dreams and Elk Serenades

For a full account of Jared's adventure, go to page 44 in the October/November 2009 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.