I posted pictures of my elk hunt last week, here is the link
Many people had asked for the story so here it is.
Four years ago, my wife and kids had gone up to Casper WY to visit family. Being on call for my job, I was unable to do much of anything. So I was sitting at home watching TV and thinking about how cool archery hunting looked. With nothing else to do, I went down to my local bow shop and asked how does someone get started? The staff was awesome, they measured my draw length, let me shoot a few bows. Next thing you know I was calling my wife, asking her if I could buy a bow they had on consignment. I should mention I am probably the most spoiled husband on the planet. She said “if that’s what you want”. Well I spent the summer outfitting my bow, learning how to shoot on my lunch breaks. When hunting season came around, I only took the bow out for one day. I spent the rest of the season using my rifle. This became the norm, one day here, one day there, then spend my week off rifle hunting. I upgraded my bow in 2011, but when hunting season came around, here I was using my vacation for rifle season again. Fast forward to June 2013, I was unsuccessful in the draw for a limited quota elk tag, but I did pick up an OTC general Elk tag. I decided, enough of this flirting with archery. I was taking my vacation during September. I looked at the calendar, read a bunch on hunting elk during the rut and decided on the last full week of September. I informed my hunting partner Chris of my plans and he said he wanted to try archery as well. Summer flew by and before I knew it, school had started and the kids were pretty bummed that we didn’t even get the camper out. So for the first time ever, I promised my kids I wouldn’t hunt over the weekend. I would spend the time hiking, playing in the creek, and cooking smores. September 20th came along and the kids and I headed out to the camper. My wife wouldn’t be out till Saturday afternoon, along with Chris and his family. The plan was to hang out in camp till Sunday afternoon, the families would leave and the hunt would start. This was also going to be our first attempt at backpack hunting. We decided that we would park my jeep at a trailhead lower in elevation, then take Chris’s truck to a higher elevation and hike in from there. When we reached the upper parking area, there was a storm brewing, so we decided on plan B. Wait out the storm in the camper and hike in at first light. We woke up and got to the trailhead, where it was a total whiteout, on to plan C. We decided to hike in where we had left my jeep. Being new at the whole backpacking thing we realized right away, we were in a little over our heads. Our packs were way too heavy and we didn’t get nearly as far as we wanted. Lesson learned I guess. We got in an evening hunt and were not seeing much sign so we went back to our tents, started a fire, ate some food and listened to some Denver Broncos football. Our game plan for the morning was to hike back out to the trailhead and go back to the higher elevation and hunt down to our camp. The scenery was beautiful, and with some fresh snow we had our hopes high on at least finding fresh tracks and having an area to concentrate our efforts. We hiked over 8 miles, without even a glimpse of our quarry or even fresh sign. So after a late dinner we decided to move onto plan D. We got up early, packed up camp and headed back to the truck.
I had picked out a second area to check out if our backpacking drainage didn’t work out, so after we unloaded our packs with all the camping gear and switched up to just daypack gear we headed out. We got out around 2pm and started hiking thru the timber, within 30 minutes we bumped into a couple of cows. Problem was we saw them the same time they saw us. They didn’t blow out, just walked off. We sat tight for about 30 minutes in case some more elk came through, but no dice so we continued on. We came to a small depression at the top of the ridge and I noticed what looked like a small pond. So I mentioned to Chris that we should go and sit over the water hole and see if any elk come in. Just as we were walking up to the pond, I see a splash in the water. I am thinking wow, could it be an elk. All of the sudden a black bear comes across the pond 60 yards in front of me. This is the first black bear I have seen in the wild, while out of a vehicle, and then a cub crosses. Did I mention “60 yards”. Now I’m worried, a sow with a cub, and then comes the second one. Now I’m really worried, but thinking do I get my camera, or nock an arrow. Chris was behind me about 10 yards and managed to get a picture of both cubs. They wern’t alarmed and just walked away. What a rush! The evening ended with a couple more elk being bumped, also saw a nice bull moose. We got out early Thursday morning and started working our way towards the head of a creek we wanted to check out and for the first time heard an elk bugle. We tried some cow calls, I had left my bugle in the jeep, but he just stayed in his little hole and kept bugling every 20 minutes or so. The wind was all wrong, so we hiked up and around and tried to get at the bull with the wind in our face. But after about 9am he stopped talking and we never found him. Not wanting to disturb a known bull, we went back to where the bears had been later that afternoon and wouldn’t you know it, bumped a couple more elk. Other than scaring elk we did find a nice park at the end of the ridge we had been working. It had lots of old sign, and lots of potential, so we put it in our GPS for future hunts. Friday morning was going to be my last chance, since I was picking up my kids after school that day. We decided to go back to where we heard the bugle.
We got up at 4:30 and while we were getting ready, I heard it start to rain. We got in the jeep and on the way up the mountain we ran into some real thick fog. We could barely see 20 feet in front of us. When we parked the jeep, we had no visibility, and the rain was turning into snow. So here it is, the last morning of my hunt and mother nature was fogging us out. So we were just sitting there, hoping the weather would break and then the fog began to lift. It was still pretty lousy outside but I told Chris we had to at least try, so I got out of the jeep and let out a bugle. Holy crap! A bull responded instantly, it made the hair on my neck stand up. We were totally unprepared, so we put on our releases, grabbed our bows and started working our way towards him. I kept bugling, cow calling, and was working my way through an old clear cut. Then he appeared up and to my right at 20 yards. He let out a bugle, and he was ticked. I had seen elk bugle on TV, but to witness it in person and see the steam from his mouth. Let’s just say, it was amazing. I was pinned down behind a tree with no options, when all the sudden I heard a branch break just to the right of me, and he bolted. At first I was pissed at Chris for moving, since we were so close, but later found out he had slipped. As soon as he took off, Chris and I cow called to try and stop him and it worked. He hung up at the end of the clear cut and started working his way back. Chris got pinned down in the open so I motioned for him to cow call. I could see the bull standing behind a tree facing down towards Chris, he was getting agitated. So I moved a few steps forward and stopped next to a big pine. When he started to turn, I drew back, estimated 30 yards and he came out and stopped. I put the 30 yard pin behind his shoulder and hit the release. You know how you always hear “I saw the arrow hit” or “I heard the thwack”, not me, I blacked out. I had never even drawn my bow back on an animal before, let alone fired an arrow. Wouldn’t you know another first. After a few seconds Chris came up to me and said the bull had just ran uphill. I looked at him and said what? He repeated that the elk had just gone up the hill. I said Chris, I shot, and he had no idea. So then Chris asks, did you hit him? I was like, I have no idea. Chris says we need to look for your arrow. That’s right. So we go to where the bull was standing, look down and I can’t see any blood. So we start to look for an arrow, and then I hear a crash uphill from us. Crap, I thought we just pushed him into the timber. So I sat there staring up into the trees. I was staring at a rock, thinking to myself, is that a rock. I didn’t have binoculars so I pulled out my 7 power range finder and stared at the rock and then I see his head try and move. OH MY GOD, he’s down. I tell Chris, and we head back to the jeep to get our packs and to wait the standard 30 minutes. Probably the longest 30 minutes of my life. It just so happened that we had cell service at the Jeep, so I called my wife and cried like a baby. Then I called my dad and let him know, he asked how big? Then I realized I never once looked at his antlers. After the 30 minutes we grabbed our packs and headed back up to my first archery animal. Boy was I happy to realize that my first archery animal was a mature 6 point elk. We took some photos and got him packed down to the road. We couldn’t get his head in the back of the jeep, so we took all the meat back to camp and went back for the head with Chris’s truck. As I write this, I am still in awe of what transpired. My first week long archery hunt, first time backpacking, my first bear encounter outside of a vehicle, first time I ever drew back my bow on an animal, and the first arrow ever released hit its mark. I cannot thank my friend Chris enough, without his help, it wouldn’t have happened.
Awesome story ssliger, after an experience like that you will be hooked for life! Thanks for sharing!
Great story ss!!! Got any pics to go with it?
Awesome story. Pics are nice too!!!
Great story. I could feel the emotion and excitement
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That was great!! I felt like I was right there with ya man. Huge congrats!!!
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