August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - Christmas comes once a year, and for me it didn’t come on December 25th when I opened my present to find a brand new EHJ cap, it came in May when I opened the mail and saw that I was going to get the chance to hunt trophy bull elk during the rut this year. I got right on the phone to let the boys know what Santa had brought me. I learned that my hunting partner, Dave, had drawn the same tag. Let the elk madness begin!
My wife is pretty tolerant when it comes to my hunting expeditions. I think she has just as much fun making fun of the madness that takes place before a hunt as we do on the actual hunt. To try and put my excitement about this hunt into perspective for her, I explained that I had started putting in for this particular tag when she was pregnant with our youngest son—he turned fourteen the week before my hunt started.
Over the next three months the madness really kicked into high gear. The funny thing was that Dave and I both actually live in the unit and have hunted for big bulls here with friends who have drawn the tag previously; so, before we even put in for the drawing, we knew where we wanted to hunt. However, I felt that I needed to be doing something every day or I was somehow shortchanging myself on the premium tag I had drawn. It seemed like every waking moment, and many sleeping moments, had something to do with the upcoming hunt. We were looking at maps, riding new roads, glassing canyons we had never scouted before, running to get in shape, or talking on the phone and strategizing.
September finally arrived and the hunt was upon us. Dave and I spent every available minute combing the hills. Many of our friends came to spend a day or two, trying to help us find the bull elk of our dreams. After six days of hunting and numerous encounters with smaller six-point bulls, the pressure was really starting to mount. We only had three days left to hunt and still had two highly coveted elk tags sitting in our pockets unpunched.
That evening, we watched and listened to five bulls going crazy, all in the 300-320 range. We were able to get right in on top of them as they fought, raked trees, bugled, and chased each other around the small canyon they were in. We were watching the whole thing within 100 yards and they never had a clue that we were even on the planet. It was the coolest wildlife experience I have ever had. If you have never been in a true rut fest you really need to. It is awesome. I was tempted to pull the trigger on several occasions, but I knew there were better bulls in the area.
The morning of the seventh day started with Dave, Cliff, and I hunting a canyon where a friend of ours had shot a great bull two years earlier. Shortly after sunrise, we decided that we would have better luck and cover more country if we split up. Dave and Cliff went down the canyon to sit on an active wallow and try and punch Dave’s tag. I decided to chase a lone bugle along the top of the canyon.
For a full account of Stan's adventure, go to page 56 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.