Bull in His Bed
Apr/May 2011 EHJ (Issue 124)
Montana, DIY, Public Land
- At 11:30 a.m. on a mild November day, I took my daypack off and broke out a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch. The terrain was typical north-facing exposure, fairly thick with timber. I should mention that I also unshouldered my rifle and leaned it against a small tree near my pack. This fact becomes more important as my story continues.
As I meandered around the immediate area with sandwich in hand, I would occasionally glass intently into the timber on the hillside about 200 yards across from me. My random movements actually had a purpose. I needed to line up holes in the tree cover on my hillside with breaks in the cover on the other hillside. Through my binoculars, I picked up on two vertical lines that vaguely tapered to points. I immediately knew I had found what I was looking for, “I’ve got him,” I said to myself.
By carefully moving forward a few feet, I could see the bull in his bed. His head was turned as if looking straight at me. There was one big problem, though; my rifle was 30 feet away.
Several months earlier, I had received an elk permit to hunt in an area I’d been interested in for years. I began my scouting in mid September and it didn’t take me long to locate several herd bulls big enough to get me excited. However, by the time rifle season opened, things had changed. Most of the larger bulls had already pulled away from the cows and the onslaught of hunters on opening weekend drove them further into isolation.
I spent most of my time glassing into remote, relatively inaccessible areas and turned up a number of really nice bulls and a wolf. Most of the bulls spotted were in bachelor groups of three to seven.
On one occasion while glassing with my spotting scope, a large bull with considerable mass fed out into an isolated opening just before dark. The next morning, I climbed the backside of the ridge to look for him, but all I could come up with was a glimpse of him in the timber, with no chance to evaluate him.
Early in the third week of the season, I started the day high on a ridge overlooking a heavily timbered, northfacing watershed. A ferocious wind had come up and the sky was beginning to sock in. For a while, I’d be able to look under the ceiling and glass the area below me. I soon picked up the straw color of two bulls feeding in broken timber, but assessing their trophy quality was difficult in marginal light.
For a full account of Mike's adventure, go to page 46 in the April/May 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.