Big story, small antlers

Stocker

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Messages
137
Location
Nebraska
So I tend to hunt alone, mainly because my hunting buddies aren’t as determined as I am to hunt elk every year. Mostly because they don’t like to go on long trips with slim odds, it’s what they refer to as “Nolan’s Great Big Hunting Adventures”. Which generally means we are going to go somewhere otc and hike like wild men all over hell and come home empty handed.

2020 was looking the same, applications for good areas denied, OTC plans engaged. I was fortunate enough to meet a guy on here and we swapped “hunts”, I don’t wanna give his identity away. I contacted him and said I was planning on going Archery OTC in Colorado and he immediately gave me a unit and an area that he thought would be good. So a month of planning and then things changed and my September was shot due to work piling up. So I contacted him about a 2nd rifle season area, again he gave me an area, and all the info I needed to be successful. This hunt would not have been a success without him, that I’m certain of.

I get all geared up for a solo hunt then my wife decides a week before that she would like to go. I thought it was great because she is about the most determined (nice way of saying bull headed) person I know, and if anyone was going to push me to be successful it was going to be her. We took off at 2am Friday the day before the season, we got to the mountain and set up camp around 11ish, then spent the rest of the day scouting. Immediately we could tell there was elk in the area. We head back to camp to get ready for opening morning. There was a beautiful meadow below the ridge we were glassing from, my initial plan was to be at that meadow at daylight to watch it then hunt the quakies around it. After thinking about it all night I decided to stay up on the ridge and just glass. Right at daylight with a 40mph blasting us in the face a 5 point bull is in the meadow playing, raking the ground, jumping around like a little kid. So we drop off the ridge, get to the meadow, he vanished. We spent the rest of the day hiking to “the next ridge” making an 8 mile loop and didn’t turn up anything else. Sunday morning the snow started, initially they called for 18-24” in the valley below us by Monday morning,and I was planning on pulling off the mountain. My wife was against leaving, we had enough food and everything. She said we can’t kill one in town. We stick it out and Sunday morning there is ~6” of snow on the ground and still snowing. I dropped off in the same meadow and quakies making a long loop while leaving my wife on the hill to glass. Sunday turned out to be uneventful. Monday morning there is 18-20” of snow and still snowing, temps had plunged to around -15. We hiked back up to the ridge and glassed as long as we could before being cold and wet sent us back to the wood stove to dry out and get a warm meal. Right at noon we headed back up to the ridge, the snow had broken and given way to brilliant sunshine. As we set up to glass that same 5 point bull crossed the meadow below us. I dropped off the 400 vertical feet in 400 yards after him, telling myself the entire time “don’t drop off too far and get below him”. Well I did. I spin around and make my way back up to a bench I think he’s headed to, by this time the wind wasn’t good for where I was going. I reach the bench and here is 3 bulls at 100 yards looking right at me. The 1st bull is a giant, (to me anyway). All I can see is his head and his ass, I look at the 2nd bull, it’s the 5 point I seen cross the meadow, I can see his head and his guts, the 3rd bull I have a perfect window to his vitals, but I can’t tell if he’s legal. I finally decide he is, steady myself and pull the trigger. Nothing, it was the worst trigger pull of my life and the safety was on. I slide to the right to get steadier, the bulls have enough of me and off they go out of my life. I was a little disappointed but felt excited that I’d had my first legitimate chance to take a bull elk. As I turned to crawl back up the ridge to my wife that’s when it donned on me that on that side of the mountain the snow was knee to waist deep. The ridge that had taken me 15 minutes to climb when it was dry, now took me an hour and a half of 3 steps us, slide down 2. I was physically beat up when I reached the top but still smiled telling my wife the story of my close encounter. We decided to take it easy that afternoon and walk a couple mile loop that would give us some decent glassing of clear cuts and also let my legs rest up a little so I wouldn’t be too worn down the next day. We make our walk down, have 2 close encounters with small bull moose, then turn to head back to camp. About 1/2 mile from camp my wife says she needs a break so we stop and start talking, by this time my attitude had turned and I was getting down on myself. She basically told me to suck it up and that we were going to push on and fill the freezer.

In mid conversation she looks over my shoulder and says “Look! Elk!” Sure enough, here is 2 raghorn bulls walking a clear cut parallel to us 900 yards up the mountain. I drop my pack and run through the 400 yards of deadfall timber that is the only cover between them and us, my tired legs forgotten, I covered the distance in about a minute. Then I was out of cover, the bulls were still slowly moving, but I had no way to close the distance, I went for my range finder, only to remember I left it on my pack that was laying 400 yards behind me. I’m confident in making a 500 yard shot, however I’m not confident if I don’t KNOW it’s 500. So I wait for the bulls to just go out of sight on the other side of the hill between them and I, when they do I run as fast as I can to get to the crest of that hill hopefully giving me a 300 yard shot. I reach the top and am so winded I can barley stand up, I look over and the bulls must have heard me and are now looking my direction and starting to backtrack on their same tracks the other way, 30 yards to my right a log is sticking up out of the 18” of snow. I take what energy I can muster and run to the log in sight of the lead bull. I lay down and try to get steady on that bull. He’s walking, then jumps an allotment fence and turns up the mountain. The 2nd bull isn’t quite sure what’s going on, but he feels the need to follow his buddy. I swing the gun and find him in the scope, try to get my breathing under control and squeeze the trigger. CLICK! The brand new round in the chamber doesn’t go off. I eject it and chamber a new one. This is where it goes slow motion. Laying there on this log, I settle my crosshairs towards the top of his back to account for the 10” of drop at 300 yards my bullet will go. I couldn’t have been steadier if I was on the rock of Gibraltar. Everything was perfect. Trigger breaks clean and the whop of the bullet hitting the bull echos back, he starts to try to run, I chamber a 2nd round, I shoot again as he hits the fence, he goes over in and behind some trees. I look back at my wife who is 200 yards behind me in the trees and yell at her to ask if she can see him, she can’t. I trudge over to where I last saw him, and there he is, one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever laid eyes on. I thank the bull and GOD, then head to get my pack. I think the rest of the story is pretty self explanatory, we packed him out with me smiling like someone who just had publishers clearing house show up at their door. I will truly never forget the hunt, the people that made it possible, and the perfectness of having my wife there when I punched my 1st elk tag. And I wouldn’t have been happier if the bull was big. The memories of this trip are worth more to me than inches.

I don’t believe in superstition too much, but me leaving the safety on in my attempt to shoot the bull at the bottom of the ridge, and me probably not being very steady when I was going to shoot the first round that was a dud stick out to me as odd. Almost like the elk gods were helping me.
 

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jgierisch

New member
Joined
Oct 31, 2020
Messages
11
So I tend to hunt alone, mainly because my hunting buddies aren’t as determined as I am to hunt elk every year. Mostly because they don’t like to go on long trips with slim odds, it’s what they refer to as “Nolan’s Great Big Hunting Adventures”. Which generally means we are going to go somewhere otc and hike like wild men all over hell and come home empty handed.

2020 was looking the same, applications for good areas denied, OTC plans engaged. I was fortunate enough to meet a guy on here and we swapped “hunts”, I don’t wanna give his identity away. I contacted him and said I was planning on going Archery OTC in Colorado and he immediately gave me a unit and an area that he thought would be good. So a month of planning and then things changed and my September was shot due to work piling up. So I contacted him about a 2nd rifle season area, again he gave me an area, and all the info I needed to be successful. This hunt would not have been a success without him, that I’m certain of.

I get all geared up for a solo hunt then my wife decides a week before that she would like to go. I thought it was great because she is about the most determined (nice way of saying bull headed) person I know, and if anyone was going to push me to be successful it was going to be her. We took off at 2am Friday the day before the season, we got to the mountain and set up camp around 11ish, then spent the rest of the day scouting. Immediately we could tell there was elk in the area. We head back to camp to get ready for opening morning. There was a beautiful meadow below the ridge we were glassing from, my initial plan was to be at that meadow at daylight to watch it then hunt the quakies around it. After thinking about it all night I decided to stay up on the ridge and just glass. Right at daylight with a 40mph blasting us in the face a 5 point bull is in the meadow playing, raking the ground, jumping around like a little kid. So we drop off the ridge, get to the meadow, he vanished. We spent the rest of the day hiking to “the next ridge” making an 8 mile loop and didn’t turn up anything else. Sunday morning the snow started, initially they called for 18-24” in the valley below us by Monday morning,and I was planning on pulling off the mountain. My wife was against leaving, we had enough food and everything. She said we can’t kill one in town. We stick it out and Sunday morning there is ~6” of snow on the ground and still snowing. I dropped off in the same meadow and quakies making a long loop while leaving my wife on the hill to glass. Sunday turned out to be uneventful. Monday morning there is 18-20” of snow and still snowing, temps had plunged to around -15. We hiked back up to the ridge and glassed as long as we could before being cold and wet sent us back to the wood stove to dry out and get a warm meal. Right at noon we headed back up to the ridge, the snow had broken and given way to brilliant sunshine. As we set up to glass that same 5 point bull crossed the meadow below us. I dropped off the 400 vertical feet in 400 yards after him, telling myself the entire time “don’t drop off too far and get below him”. Well I did. I spin around and make my way back up to a bench I think he’s headed to, by this time the wind wasn’t good for where I was going. I reach the bench and here is 3 bulls at 100 yards looking right at me. The 1st bull is a giant, (to me anyway). All I can see is his head and his ass, I look at the 2nd bull, it’s the 5 point I seen cross the meadow, I can see his head and his guts, the 3rd bull I have a perfect window to his vitals, but I can’t tell if he’s legal. I finally decide he is, steady myself and pull the trigger. Nothing, it was the worst trigger pull of my life and the safety was on. I slide to the right to get steadier, the bulls have enough of me and off they go out of my life. I was a little disappointed but felt excited that I’d had my first legitimate chance to take a bull elk. As I turned to crawl back up the ridge to my wife that’s when it donned on me that on that side of the mountain the snow was knee to waist deep. The ridge that had taken me 15 minutes to climb when it was dry, now took me an hour and a half of 3 steps us, slide down 2. I was physically beat up when I reached the top but still smiled telling my wife the story of my close encounter. We decided to take it easy that afternoon and walk a couple mile loop that would give us some decent glassing of clear cuts and also let my legs rest up a little so I wouldn’t be too worn down the next day. We make our walk down, have 2 close encounters with small bull moose, then turn to head back to camp. About 1/2 mile from camp my wife says she needs a break so we stop and start talking, by this time my attitude had turned and I was getting down on myself. She basically told me to suck it up and that we were going to push on and fill the freezer.

In mid conversation she looks over my shoulder and says “Look! Elk!” Sure enough, here is 2 raghorn bulls walking a clear cut parallel to us 900 yards up the mountain. I drop my pack and run through the 400 yards of deadfall timber that is the only cover between them and us, my tired legs forgotten, I covered the distance in about a minute. Then I was out of cover, the bulls were still slowly moving, but I had no way to close the distance, I went for my range finder, only to remember I left it on my pack that was laying 400 yards behind me. I’m confident in making a 500 yard shot, however I’m not confident if I don’t KNOW it’s 500. So I wait for the bulls to just go out of sight on the other side of the hill between them and I, when they do I run as fast as I can to get to the crest of that hill hopefully giving me a 300 yard shot. I reach the top and am so winded I can barley stand up, I look over and the bulls must have heard me and are now looking my direction and starting to backtrack on their same tracks the other way, 30 yards to my right a log is sticking up out of the 18” of snow. I take what energy I can muster and run to the log in sight of the lead bull. I lay down and try to get steady on that bull. He’s walking, then jumps an allotment fence and turns up the mountain. The 2nd bull isn’t quite sure what’s going on, but he feels the need to follow his buddy. I swing the gun and find him in the scope, try to get my breathing under control and squeeze the trigger. CLICK! The brand new round in the chamber doesn’t go off. I eject it and chamber a new one. This is where it goes slow motion. Laying there on this log, I settle my crosshairs towards the top of his back to account for the 10” of drop at 300 yards my bullet will go. I couldn’t have been steadier if I was on the rock of Gibraltar. Everything was perfect. Trigger breaks clean and the whop of the bullet hitting the bull echos back, he starts to try to run, I chamber a 2nd round, I shoot again as he hits the fence, he goes over in and behind some trees. I look back at my wife who is 200 yards behind me in the trees and yell at her to ask if she can see him, she can’t. I trudge over to where I last saw him, and there he is, one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever laid eyes on. I thank the bull and GOD, then head to get my pack. I think the rest of the story is pretty self explanatory, we packed him out with me smiling like someone who just had publishers clearing house show up at their door. I will truly never forget the hunt, the people that made it possible, and the perfectness of having my wife there when I punched my 1st elk tag. And I wouldn’t have been happier if the bull was big. The memories of this trip are worth more to me than inches.

I don’t believe in superstition too much, but me leaving the safety on in my attempt to shoot the bull at the bottom of the ridge, and me probably not being very steady when I was going to shoot the first round that was a dud stick out to me as odd. Almost like the elk gods were helping me.
Sounds like a blast. Congrats on the harvest.
 

wseidel

Active member
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
131
Another epic adventure...and to share it with your wife as well - the best! Congratulations...
 

willy

Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2013
Messages
21
Great write up and truly does fit the bill for a “Nolan’s Great Big Hunting Adventures”! Thanks for sharing
 

JT88

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
82
Location
Montana
Awesome story. Love hearing about all these great hunting adventures. Glad your wife was able to be there - I can relate. My fiance encourages me also and helps me to be the man I want to be. Great work
 
Yeti

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