BT_NVhunter First Ever Elk Hunt

BT_NVhunter

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Jan 4, 2021
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248
So I joined this forum last year as I begun my search of how to get into western hunting. Finding Randy's videos and podcast was instrumental to feeding my fire of getting into it. I was a hunter in my teens in the Midwest and back east in Maine. But had a long time off during my military career, I would hunt when I went home for Christmas and other holidays but not routinely. I've now settled my life in Elko NV, this really peaked my interest in Elk hunting seeing them while in Jarbidge and down near Ely always made my heart race and want to get closer. So I began my research and after getting a GoHunt membership, I found out just how hard it was going to be to hunt Elk in my home state. One thing that really made me hesitant was the 7 year waiting period after drawing a bull tag. I did not want to draw a tag with no knowledge of how to find/ hunt Elk. So I put in for tags that I knew would be a miracle if I drew just to get my points. I did put in for cow and spike tags with more care hoping maybe I could learn a little about a unit I may hunt in the future for bulls. But no dice in the draw for those tags. Once I found out I had not drawn any tags that would prevent me from having time off work to go, I really started to take the non resident options to heart. I actually came to the decision of hunting CO just based off tag price and the amount of opportunity in the state. I reached out on this forum looking for a partner that maybe interested in going and learning together or someone that may need a hunting buddy who had more experience than me. I got a lot of replies of people who's plans might align with mine. One in particular message was from a HuntTalker who lived in CO and had for sometime, he offered for me to come hunt his home units and help me along with questions I may have. I don't know if he quite knew the sheer amount of questions I had lol. But he did answer all of them as we kept in contact for the long months of nail biting in anticipation. His mentorship meant so much to me, and I now consider him a friend and will for as long as he feels the same to me.
So the long months of prep and accumulation of gear were finally over. I left NV on the 18th of September at around 3am and arrived at the local Walmart for my last minute items, extra ice and to get my tag printed at about 4:30pm. My little pop up camper did not fair so well from the journey and one of the legs was not operating correctly when we popped it up. We were able to get a temporary fix in place and I got some sleep.
Day 1, I awoke at 4am and made myself a cup of joe and stepped out to have a smoke before putting my hunting gear on. While outside starring at the BRIGHT moon and starry sky a bugle sounded off from a short distance away. Then another answered from across the trail from my camper. I knew they were bulls as they just had that natural guttural sound. I couldn't believe it all the dreaming and prep and here I am waking up in camp to bulls bugling literally out my camper door. I couldn't get dressed fast enough. When my mentor showed up at 5:30ish I told him about the bugling. He must've thought "yeah right okay". But he humored me and we did a little cow calling as we entered the woods a few hundred yards from the camper. Immediately the bull answered and my mentor lit up as much as me and said "that my friend is a bull". He quickly told me to move down the ridge a short way and get setup he stayed on top to continue calling. I sat down just in time to hear some raking about 50-60yds in front of me. I couldn't believe how much ground the animal had covered in less than 2 minutes, unbelievable. I was watching very intently in the direction of the raking as this was the very first few seconds of legal shooting light and in the timber it was still very dark. I then caught movement off to my left and saw the bulls antlers pass by, his body was just out of sight below a small drop in elevation between us. My mentor we will call Burn for the sake of story telling, had stopped cow calling. I thought any second I would hear the sound of a bow and thwack of arrow but I didn't. I heard a twig snap back in the direction of the raking and Burn came over told me he had hoped I would cow call as the bull would have been forced to come right up and over offering me a shot. We ran up the trail to get ahead of the bull and set back up Burn began to call again but the bull had already passed by. After he moved on we dropped down the hill and Burn began to rake a tree which the bull replied with a chuckle coming back towards us but the thick hill never offered a shot and he became disinterested moving on. We made a large circle again and working through the ridges the bull had actually circled back and caught us off guard as we walked. Not spooking him and with a bad wind we backed out a little. At this time Burn had to go so I set off on my own but was unable to relocate the bull during the midday hours. Burn returned around 4pm and we set out to a ridge side and did a cow party, Burn had seen 4 cows moving down the draw towards him but when he stopped calling I thought that was my que to stop as well, whoops he was sure if I had continued the animals would have continued down towards us. But when we both stopped the animals stopped and went on alert and never came closer before dark.
 

BT_NVhunter

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Jan 4, 2021
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248
Day 2, I was on my own for day two as Burn had some places he needed to be. With all the action of the first morning still fresh in my mind I covered a lot of ground but stayed near camp sitting on some hot used trails and pinch points. I avoided calling just due to Burn telling me that the day before was the exception and not the rule, and trust that I'm in the zone and just stay on it.

Day 3, started off bad woke up late due to overnight temps freezing my phone making it shut off and alarm not going off. I awoke right before legal shooting light and so angry with myself my head was else where. I went directly behind my camper and found a spot to sit as the sun rose. About ten minutes after sitting down I heard a cow call with my head still not in the game I assumed it was another hunter moving down the draw. Less than 30 seconds later the cow mewed again after I had answered, she had moved far more than a human could've in that time frame I tried to convince her to hold up and wait for me to no avail. Burns friend had filled a cow tag so I went to learn any differences in field processing first hand ended up just making a rookie mistake and poking her gut to which Burn took over and quickly remedied and got her to the processing they use.
Day 4, awoke on time keeping my phone in my sleeping bag. With the sign drying up a little close by I went on what I like to call a stalk about. Covered a ton of ground and found some very fresh droppings and rubs which was encouraging however it began to hail for a short spell and I felt I was a little far from camp if it got worse. On the walk back it did get worse hailing for about 20 min I stayed dry no problem but moved back closer to camp and never got on anything.
 

BT_NVhunter

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Day 5, I decided to go to a completely new area moving in before dark, covering ground slowly dropping into the draws and over the top of the ridges I was seeing no fresh sign plenty of old sign but all looked greater than a week old. I was a little discouraged to say the least having hiked a lot. Not wanting to burn a whole morning I decided to make a straight line as fast as possible to the fresh sign I had found the other day. I had gone about a mile at an extremely loud and fast pace I crossed over a ridge and dropped down in the creek drainage bottom. All the drainages had grass but this one had quite a bit of water and the grass was hip high. As I moved about half way through the grass I heard a branch snap and looked up and to my right as four cows and calf came right towards me off the apposing side hill. I quickly dropped to a knee as I still had some pines and branches between us. There were two cows chasing each other from one side of the drainage to the other playfully and making a racket the lead cow, calf and another cow came into the grass and moved behind my position. There was a large boulder between us and the cows were moving very calmly, then the lead cow froze and I knew she had caught a whiff of me. When her body language changed all the other cows froze as well and went on alert. The lead cow and two with her decided to move back onto the hill they had came down on. Not spooked yet I looked at my options, one of the two cows playing had froze on the hill but ahead of the rest where I had a clear window at her vitals. The lead cow took a few more steps up the hill and I was sure they were getting ready to bolt. I eye judged the distance at 40yds, drew settled my pin but I definitely had some fever as I punched my trigger HARD. I heard the sound I have not heard since I was 15 of the thwack as the arrow hit home. The cow went straight up the hill with the others and the woods fell quiet. I sat there it seemed only a minute when I heard some noise on the other side where I had came down I turned and looked as a nice young but no rag 6 point came down and stopped along the edge he chuckled looking for the ladies I'm assuming he was following. He gave quite a show chuckling and grunting, let me range him at 30yds broadside, could've easily taken a shot with the time he stood, but knowing I had hit the cow I just watched and let him walk on by. I believe it was the same bull from the first morning looking very similar in size and his chuckle sounded familiar. Once he moved on I marked where I knelt with some crossed sticks, and went up the hill to where she had stood. I looked hard and found no blood, moving up behind where she'd been I found my arrow about 12yds up on the crest of the hill behind her. It had some blood on the fletching but my broadhead and shaft only had a little meat and fat on them. My heart sank, I returned to my kneeling position and ranged the large rock directly behind where she stood. 30 yards. So safe to assume she was at 28, feeling like a complete idiot for not shooting a range on her but still optimistic that maybe I had hit something fatal. I backed out and called Burn. He was working from home and said he knew where I was when I shared the waypoint, and that he would be there in a half hour. Not wanting to bump her if she'd laid down I stayed on the lower third of the hill but marked her tracks and path of what I could find of her hoof digs and remembering the path she took up the hill. Burn arrived studied my arrow and tried to console me as I was quite upset I did not set out to unnecessarily injure any animal. He told me the fat could've easily sealed the wound and a high hit would take some time to run down her side to drip on the ground. We searched all up and down the hill and found where the cows had regathered together and just walked across a trail. I searched for another time after Burn had left checking surrounding drainages and fingers in case she had cut off but there was nothing. A non fatal hit right through the backstrap high is my best guess. Between the fever of the moment and misjudge of distance I just missed. I hunted the evening but after the excitement of the morning just found spot and sat with nothing showing.

Day 6, Found me in the same area as before as the cows heard the noise and moved off but were not really spooked and with the bull in the area wanted to give it another try. I found a lot of sign across the ridges but also a lot of other hunters in the woods bugling and cow calling.
Day 7, the last morning with me having to leave to drive the 12hrs home. Myself and Burn decided to stay close to camp but at least make an effort with the early morning hours. We went a short way into the woods from the camper. Sitting on top of a finger in the dark we heard a clear and distinct sound of a breaking branch we waited moment to see if anything materialized once sure they weren't coming our way we dropped down in the bottom rank of elk. We followed the fresh tracks up and over moving as fast as we could. It was exciting for a moment hoping that maybe they would circle back or move to the side and give us an opportunity. But they did not. I packed up the camper, Burn allowed me to take a quick shower at his home and I started to feel human again lol.
 

BT_NVhunter

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Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
248
In closing this was the second greatest hunting experience of my life. Bested only by my very first hunt just me and my late father. It was all I could hope and wish for, I learned a ton which was my primary objective and had some amazing experiences. I never felt that I wasn't in an area that potentially would hold elk or an opportunity. Learning to cover ground and what to look for in the sign to age it. I made a lifelong friend and learned an area that I am already planning a return trip to. I set out last year to start learning how to hunt elk, between the online resources and the kindness and willingness of a forum member to become a mentor and share his knowledge. I feel light years ahead of where I could have gotten on my own. To my mentor and new friend thank you. To anyone considering going and trying this elk hunting. Just get yourself in shape and go as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. My only regret was not having more time to stay longer. Planning for 2022 begins.
 

Slm864

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Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
435
Location
Pennsylvania
Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you were definitely in the right area and right in the thick of them all hunt.
 

HuntNV

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Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
20
In closing this was the second greatest hunting experience of my life. Bested only by my very first hunt just me and my late father. It was all I could hope and wish for, I learned a ton which was my primary objective and had some amazing experiences. I never felt that I wasn't in an area that potentially would hold elk or an opportunity. Learning to cover ground and what to look for in the sign to age it. I made a lifelong friend and learned an area that I am already planning a return trip to. I set out last year to start learning how to hunt elk, between the online resources and the kindness and willingness of a forum member to become a mentor and share his knowledge. I feel light years ahead of where I could have gotten on my own. To my mentor and new friend thank you. To anyone considering going and trying this elk hunting. Just get yourself in shape and go as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. My only regret was not having more time to stay longer. Planning for 2022 begins.
I love your attitude, sounds like a lot of growth happened here and you weren’t fixated on bringing an elk home which is so important. You are well on your way to becoming a better hunter and I would be shocked if you didn’t fill a tag very soon. That being said I leave next week for two weeks to hunt northern Nevada elk which will be my first time hunting elk. I have been blessed in the past successfully tagging a mule deer on the walk back to the cabin the last fifteen minutes of the last day of my first ever hunt. I just filled an pronghorn tag in august with my dad which was beyond awesome. message me if you have any advice I have been doing a ton of research about my area and listening to randy and Cory on all of their platforms.
 

BT_NVhunter

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
248
I love your attitude, sounds like a lot of growth happened here and you weren’t fixated on bringing an elk home which is so important. You are well on your way to becoming a better hunter and I would be shocked if you didn’t fill a tag very soon. That being said I leave next week for two weeks to hunt northern Nevada elk which will be my first time hunting elk. I have been blessed in the past successfully tagging a mule deer on the walk back to the cabin the last fifteen minutes of the last day of my first ever hunt. I just filled an pronghorn tag in august with my dad which was beyond awesome. message me if you have any advice I have been doing a ton of research about my area and listening to randy and Cory on all of their platforms.
I’d live to chat about hunting all day every day. I can’t DM you until you graduate from new member though so email me. [email protected]
 

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