What A Time in 2009!
Dec/Jan 2011 EHJ (Issue 122)
Idaho, 2009, DIY, Public Land
- Of all the encounters I was to have this hunting season, one was going to be for certain - my firstborn son would be here December 1 (or sooner)! With that date in mind, I knew this year would have to be different. My plan to try and harvest an elk would pretty much be the same, but deer hunting would take me on a detour this year. Since the mid ‘90s, late November has meant two things to me. The first is Thanksgiving; the other is the late whitetail hunt in northern Idaho. This season, however, I wouldn’t be hunting deer late in the rut, unless I wanted to be a single parent. My plan was simple - hunt for mule deer with my dad in a draw unit. Doing this would give me plenty of time to harvest an elk and a deer without being tempted to wander the woods during the late season (a.k.a. the final days of my wife’s pregnancy). Perfect!
October finally came and I had taken a week off of work. I’d be focusing my efforts toward filling my freezer with elk meat first. My hunting partner, Bob, and I had just finished setting up a rough spike camp and were resting by the fire. We had just biked in about three miles behind a gate and were trying to hunker down for the evening, but the anticipation of the up coming hunt was almost too much to bear.
Having made it through the single-digit night without totally freezing to death, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. in a frantic scramble for more clothes and the warmth of a campfire! Luckily, Bob was already up and had fresh firewood well positioned on the small bed of the previous night’s leftover coals.
As we gathered our gear, Bob heard an elk bugle, so we finished eating and decided to let it get a little light before we started walking, just in case the herd was closer than we thought. After glassing a clearcut for a little while, we split up, and just as I was coming around the next major bend in the trail, I stopped to glass ahead through the timber. I saw a few cows and then, suddenly, tines filled my view! The bull was bedded down behind a log and all I could see was from his third point on up on one side, but what points they were! The wind was wrong, there was heavy brush and timber in the way, and too many eyes and ears to do anything. He would have to stand on his own accord and present me with a shot. And he did!
As the bull started to turn, he gave me an opening on a quartering away shot, so I took it. As the recoil came to rest and I saw the bull galloping away proudly with his cows, I knew I had missed. Two hours into opening morning and I just missed the biggest bull I had ever shot at.
Even though I knew I had missed, I waited ten minutes and then went to confirm it. After reading tracks and not finding any blood, hair, or any other signs of a hit, I was beside myself. I decided to eat lunch and ponder my next move.
As I was chewing on a sandwich and kicking myself, I heard the most beautiful sound in the fall - he was bugling! As he and his cows exited stage left, they must have gotten separated and now he was trying to round them back up. Suddenly there was new life in my legs, my senses were sharp, and I was focused.
For a full account of Jim's adventure, go to page 36 in the December/January 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.