December/January 2013 EHJ (Issue 134) - We sat on our horses and watched in disbelief as the herd bull went down and the report from the rifle of the distant hunter echoed through the deep gulch. We had spent six days hunting this bull with a bow and to see him fall to someone else’s shotthat first morning of rifle season just made me want to puke. I felt like I had been gut shot and snake bit all at the same time.
I was hunting the Washakie Wilderness Area in northwest Wyoming with Bob Sundeen’s Trail West Outfitters. Dusty Harvey from Ralston, WY was my guide. We had put a lot of time equity in a bull we had nicknamed "Chuckles.” The name came from the bull’s constant chuckling. Chuckles was an old, mature and heavy antlered 6x6 with a nice kicker coming off of his G5, giving him 13 "southern-count” points. He also carried strings of unkempt velvet that hung from each antler. He was easy to pick out of a crowd of subordinate bulls and cows.
Each day we would wake from our wall tent camps, saddle the horses and ride up the mountain to be greeted by a deep growl bugle followed by a constant chuckling from the old monarch. We had several close encounters with Chuckles, his harem and their persistent, hopeful patrons. When we saw that he wasn’t interested in leaving his cows and coming to our calls we would assess the situation to determine if we could pull a sneak stalk as the group headed to their bedding area in the dark timber. Some days, depending on the wind and circumstances, we would chase him, and other days we left for other potential customers, not wanting to blow him out of the area. We called up several raghorns within easy bow range and even had one come in and put his nose on Dusty’s backpack while it was still attached to him!
We encountered several other bulls during our bow hunt. One of the most memorable afternoons of the hunt came when we worked into a dark patch of timber that was full of elk. With the wind in our face, we followed the elk as they moved to an open ridgeline. We passed by muddy wallows, demolished rotten logs and deep, earthen, elk-hoofed trails that looked as if someone had run a garden tiller up and down them. Slowly, we continued to work our way to the numerous bugling bulls. We called to the elk as we cut the distance and spotted a decent six-point coming our way. Our setup wasn’t ideal. Dusty could only move about 30 yards away from me in the cover to call without being seen by the approaching bull.
For a full account of Ron's adventure, go to page 36 in the December/January 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.