Chasing (Oregon) Roosevelts

Joined
Jul 2, 2022
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32
This past September I got to tag along on my first-ever archery elk hunt with my new friend Thomas of Chasing Roosevelts Outdoors. I offered to film his hunt for him in exchange for letting me tag along, ask questions about elk hunting, and generally learn as much as I could. Needless to say, as a new hunter I was blown away by the excitement of chasing bugles! I think I'm hooked. I originally wrote up a recap on my blog but thought I'd share it directly here as well. Hope you enjoy the story!


Archery elk season.

Is there any hunt that is more exciting than chasing bugles in September? Granted, my range of experience is limited but 7 days chasing Oregon's Roosevelt elk lived up to the hype.

Add in camping and hunting 7 days with a stranger you met off the internet and you have a recipe for an amazing time.

I first met Thomas of Chasing Roosevelt's Outdoors on Instagram. His account was one of the first I came across while looking for Oregon-based hunters to follow.

We connected over our spring bear hunts, as we had the same SW region tag. He was kind enough to put up with a lot of my questions as a new hunter and always happy to share his experience.

When I saw that Thomas was going to be chasing elk for 10 days, I offered to film his hunt for him and in turn hoped I would be able to learn a bit about elk hunting that would serve me for my own hunts in the future. Thomas agreed to let me tag along.

Day 1​

We met up at a local restaurant not too far from our hunt area and got to know each other a bit other over lunch. Before long, we were headed out into the woods for our first evening of hunting.

The plan, more or less, was to ease into things by driving a few logging roads, walking a bit, and try to locate some bulls by bugling. We put in a couple miles on foot, but no luck locating anything immediately on day 1. As we continued to drive around, we did find some decently fresh rubs and we were excited to know that at least there was a bull in the area recently.

With the day winding down quickly, we pulled up on a large clear cut and decided to glass the cut until dark. Since I had a rifle and bear tag in my pocket, I was somewhat hopeful I might get lucky during the trip with a bear popping out in one of the cuts. This night, however, it was not to be.

Thomas and I chatted a bit as the sunlight faded, then it was time for dinner and to set up camp. We decided we liked the view where we were at and set up right at the top of the clear cut. Rookie mistake? Some may say so but we ended up really enjoying the spot :)

IMG_2273_1024x1024.jpg

Day 2​

We woke up on day 2 to quite a bit of haze from some not-so-distant wildfires and a decent amount of excitement.

Thomas and I had agreed the night before that we were going to sleep in a bit before starting the day. As I woke up and crawled down out of my rooftop tent, Thomas informed me that we had elk right in the clear cut we were camped on!

He had attempted to stalk in on them, but they were gone by the time he had gotten his bow together and got after them. We were both super excited to immediately be in elk on day 2. Quite the lucky break for a spot that Thomas had randomly decided on since the timber company land he had planned on hunting originally had been closed for fire danger.


As we finished chatting about what had just happened, and I was finally just about all ready to go, Thomas called out, "elk!" and sure enough here comes a lone elk out of the timber behind camp, over the road and starts down the ridge into the clear cut.

Initially it looked like a spike, but once it turned to enter the cut we could see the antlers... "It's a bull!" I called out to Thomas quietly as I scrambled to film. Thomas quickly grabbed his bow and bugle tube and hurried to the edge of the landing and let off some cow calls trying to get the bull to stop. The bull, however, was on a mission and not interested. It cruised straight down into the timber at the bottom of the cut.

day-2-morning-bull-screen-grab.png




With the commotion finally settled down, we grabbed some breakfast and made a game plan for the next few hours, deciding to head to the bottom of the camp cut to see if we could turn up either of these two bulls we had just seen.

We parked near the top of the ridge and hiked down the road into the bottom. Along the way Thomas made some cow calls to try to entice a response, but nothing. About 3/4 of the way to the end of the road, Thomas mentioned he thought he could smell elk. 10 minutes and a few cow calls later, we heard some branches breaking that sure sounded like an elk moving through the thick timber.

We pushed off the road and into the trees, trying to give ourselves a bit of cover. Thomas let off another cow call and in the distance I heard a faint bugle. We waited and listened. Thomas cow called again, and again we heard a distant bugle. So distant, in fact, we thought it might be another hunter on a road on the other side of clear cut.

Rookie mistake, as we would eventually learn.

We spent the next 30 minutes or so moving through the thick timber, trying to get close to what we thought was a bull. We would get some responses to calls and we could hear something breaking branches. Unfortunately, our wind wasn't great and we were getting mixed signals on whether or not it was actually a bull or another hunter or maybe even both. In hindsight, thinking back and looking/listening back on the footage, we're pretty sure we had a bull in there somewhere.

Eventually, we made our way back to the truck, got some snacks, water, and moved on to check out some new roads and drainages.

It wasn't too long before we came across some fresh rubs. A few moments later we ended up bumping some cows as they were crossing the road in front of us. We stopped and shut the truck off as fast as we could. Thomas hopped out quietly and signaled that he could hear the cows not too far into the timber.

While he was walking down the road, Thomas saw a giant fresh rub, so we new a big bull must be in the area.

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We spent some time walking the nearby roads, throwing out some locator bugles, and a few cow calls here and there, but no responses. We did find a number of recent as well as old rubs in the area, so it definitely appeared to be a spot where the elk were living.

After about an hour without any activity, we headed back to the truck and moved on to the next spot. The next couple hours were more of the same and as the evening wore on we decided to head back towards camp.

On our way back as we got close to camp we passed another truck with hunters and stopped and chatted with them for a couple minutes. They mentioned how there was a hunter in the camp clear cut bugling his head off for a while. We didn't think too much of it in that moment... public land hunters doing what they do, we thought.

As we drove past camp and the clear cut headed to another area, I caught a large dark shape out of the corner of my eye.

It was a 5x5 bull in the bottom of the cut, bugling!

First Bull Spotted​

My adrenaline went from zero to 100 instantly! Thomas continued driving slowly and we parked the truck behind a big log pile out of sight of the cut. We jumped out, grabbed our gear, and went to get eyes on this bull and start formulating a plan for the stalk.

In the excitement and the adrenaline rush any solid elk hunting logic we may have had went directly out the window. We immediately dove off the road at the top and started cutting the distance to the bull, using the ridge running down the middle of the cut as cover. As we got closer, we could see the bull out in the open, along with a few cows.

We got to about 180 yards and Thomas started bugling to try to get the bull to come to us. It was absolutely awesome watching and hearing the bull respond.

We could see the bull pushing his cows back towards the timber, and then he would come back towards us to investigate our bugles a bit. As we would learn later though, since he didn't see another bull in the cut he never felt compelled to come all the way in to us.

Despite our best efforts, the bull eventually gathered up his cows and walked into the timber. UGH.



Even with the disappointment of a failed stalk, we were absolutely on cloud nine with the encounter. Thomas had been hunting elk for 8 seasons, and this was the very first time he had the opportunity to stalk in a on a visible bull with a decent chance to kill it. Of course, it was my first time ever seeing a bull that close, hearing all the bugles, and experiencing a legit stalk.

What a freaking rush.

We would ride the high of this stalk for the next few days.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2022
Messages
32

Day 3​

We woke up on Day 3 having heard some bugles throughout the night and into the early morning from what sounded like the creek bottom in the cut below camp.

Thomas and I formulated a plan to go after these bugles but were quickly thwarted by the wind. Calling an audible, we went around to the other side of the basin and made it to the opposite bottom where we were fortunate not to run into any other trucks/hunters.

After getting our packs and gear out of the truck, Thomas let out a locator bugle. 15 seconds later, a response rang out from inside the dark timber around the creek bottom.

"That's him."

With adrenaline levels rising we checked wind, which was not great, and tried to quickly develop a plan of attack. After a bit of hesitation, we ended up jumping off the road and heading straight across the cut to try to get to the timber edge on the other side as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, it was extremely slow going due to all the fallen trees and thick brush. Throughout the process, we exchanged bugles with the bull a couple more times. After one such response Thomas asked if it sounded different than the previous bugles...

And it was.

3/4 of the way across the cut, I hear a cow call. I look to my right and sure enough, there's another hunter.

We got Doug Fluty'd.


What a way to start the day!

Luckily, the other hunter was incredibly nice and we spent a few minutes chatting with him.

He had been on the other side of the creek (where we were initially planning on going but decided against) and had heard our initial locator. As he was making his way through the timber and creek bottom, he said he had a 4-point bull come in to his cow calls. He had it at 20 yards but decided to pass, as he figured our bugles were coming from a bigger bull than this 4-point.

Eventually, we went our separate ways. Thomas and I decided to hang out by the timberline and see if we could locate the 4-point the other hunter had mentioned. We figured it was the smaller bull we had seen cross the road the day prior and Thomas would be super happy with that guy as his first ever elk kill.

Alas, it was not to be. After not hearing anything for about an hour we decided to head back to the truck and find new ground to hunt. The slog out of this cut was maybe one of the hardest hikes we had the whole trip and took us a good hour to go about 200 yards.

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving new roads, bugling down into new drainages, and hoping to locate a bull that was ready to play the game. After no success with this strategy, aside from finding some fresh rubs, we decided to return to the area where we 100% knew elk were located. The plan for the evening was to get into the thick timber at the bottom of the clear cut where we had stalked in on 5x5 the previous day, sit until last light and see if the herd fed out into the cut or if we could at least hear/see/smell them in the area.

But we got nothing.

This trend of one day on elk, the next day no elk seemed to follow us for the rest of the hunt.



Day 4​

We slept in. What can I say. Sometimes you just need to recharge a bit, especially when you're my size! As we were eating breakfast, an old, wise hunter drove by and shouted at us from his truck, "YOU CAN'T KILL FROM CAMP!", and he was right... so we headed off in search of a bull.

We spent the day driving new roads and trying to find new drainages that might hold elk. We covered a lot of ground, let a lot of locator bugles ring out, but again weren't able to turn much up. We did come across a little bit of fresh bear sign, but nothing in an area that had a decent shooting lane or was a spot we wanted to hang out.

Eventually we decided to explore the other direction from camp, a bit further than we had been up to that point. From the GoHunt maps satellite view there looked to be four solid cuts with timbered creek bottoms that seemed like they might have potential.

As we made out way to them, we came around a corner and saw 4 cows crossing the road in front of us.

ELK! Finally! What a relief.

The cows turned around and headed back into the private land from whence they came, but at least we had seen something! Spirts lifted, we continued on in search of a bull.

In one of the cuts, Thomas spotted a loan spike. That loan spike turned into a spike, a couple cows, and a calf. We wondered if maybe we had split the herd when we'd seen the cows on the road earlier. This group of elk slowly moved away from us and, according to the maps, were headed in the direction of an adjacent cut that had a road leading down to right where they were.

We decided to head that direction in the truck to see if we could turn them up again.

On the way down into that area, we passed along side the adjacent cut, then turned down the road that led to where the elk were. We came across a couple of pretty fresh rubs and that boosted our spirits even more. We parked the truck and continued the rest of the way down on foot, eventually passing by the skid road the elk took from the cut where we originally saw them.

There was a bit of fresh sign, but we didn't pick up any auditory or visual confirmation that the elk were still in the area. Thomas let off a few bugles and some cow calls, but we got no response.

Somewhat dejected, we headed back to the truck, then started back up and out. As we got back to where the timber cut started, Thomas slowed his speed and I kept my eyes peeled for... I don't know... ANYTHING.

We were 3/4 of the way back to the main road when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Something dark... something large...

"Hold up!" I said to Thomas, "I think it's a bull! It either has really big ears or it's a bull!"

I threw up my binoculars as fast I could, manipulating the focus wheel until it finally came into clear view. There he was in all his glory... a 5x5 raghorn, but to us he was the biggest, most beautiful bull we'd ever seen. He may as well have been 400".

We had stopped behind some trees, and I could seem him directly, Thomas wanted a look and started rolling forward. "Stop stop", I almost yelled, "he's looking right at us!"

Thomas slammed the truck in park and shut it down. We exited as stealthily as we could and started to gear up. I grabbed my spotter and hit record on my iPhone, using my PhoneSkope setup to capture video.

My excitement level blew threw the stratosphere and into outer space. I was losing it!



At this point, it was a mad scramble. Light was fading fast and we were running out of time to put a stalk on this bull. Once again we found ourselves in a conundrum where our inexperience reared its ugly head.

Do we go dive off the road and try to go straight at this bull? Do we run down the road to the bottom and circle around and try to come at the bull from below?

We didn't know which strategy would be best, and we didn't know if we had enough time to execute either of them. We finally made the call to go straight down off the road from where we were at. I decided to stay back on the road and try to film the stalk from there.

It was go time.

Thomas started making his way towards the bull, but it was slow going. If you've ever been in one of these timber cuts you know they're an absolute mess of branches, deadfall, and brush. Occasionally the bull would bugle and Thomas would respond to keep him engaged and interested.

From my vantage on the road, I eventually lost sight of Thomas as he dropped into a little draw. When he finally reappeared he hadn't advanced as much as I was expecting. The terrain was slowing him down too much. It was starting to look very questionable if he would be able to get close enough to pop the bull's bubble and draw him in.

The bull kept pushing his cows back towards the timberline, then returning towards Thomas to investigate the bugles he was ripping. As the last light faded, the bull finally followed suit and disappeared into the timber. To add insult to injury, the bull would pipe off a couple more times as Thomas started the long hike out.

It took Thomas a good 45 minutes to make it the 300 or so yards back up to the road and by then it was pitch black out. I was proud of him for diving into that hole after the bull and doing his best.

As a new hunter, it's impossible to describe the excitement of seeing a shooter bull and the process of stalking in on it. No question about it, I am hooked for sure.

We finally made it back to camp, got some dinner, and started to decompress from the day's activities. It had started out slow, but ended with a bang.

Tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to make it happen.

Stay tuned.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2022
Messages
32

Day 5​

We woke up early and went straight back to the cut where we had the bull the night before, arriving just before shooting light.

Over the next hour or so, Thomas let out a number of locator bugles, but all we got in return was silence.

We did eventually spot a few cows feeding in the bottom of a different cut, but couldn't turn up a bull with them and they eventually fed into the timber.

With not much activity, we decided to make a run into town to get some groceries and fuel up on gas.

The afternoon proved to be equally uneventful and our trend of being on elk one day and seeing nothing the next continued to hold true.

Around 3:20am or so, I woke up to the sound of elk moving out of the timber behind camp, across the road, and into the clear cut. It was too dark for me to see anything, but they were maybe 50-75 yards or so from camp.

I laid there listening to the sounds of elk feeding until about 5am.

Day 6​

It sounded like the elk had moved back across the road into the dark timber. Around 5:30am we got out of the trucks and geared up.

With the activity overnight, we decided we'd try to locate this bull on the backside of camp. We made our way down to the landing of an older cut, and Thomas tried out some cow calls.

After a few minutes, we heard some branches breaking down in the bottom so we pushed into the reprod a bit to close some distance.

After about an hour and no action, we ended up backing out of there and moving locations. This time we went to the backside of the cut where we had the second 5x5 stalk.

After no responses to Thomas's locators, we decided to conduct a little experiment to see if we could tell how far the bugles were traveling. I stayed behind to listen, and Thomas went around the corner about 300 yards and bugled a few times.

I was quite surprised to learn just how hard it was to hear the bugle through the timber at that distance. We needed to be bugling more often at shorter distances to ensure we were getting proper coverage.

Not 15 minutes later, things went from zero to 100 real quick as the lesson learned paid off immediately.

Bugle.

And it was close... and then it was gone. 30 minutes and nothing. We decided to swing around to the other side towards the cut.

Sure enough, there he was down in the bottom with his cows. It looked like it may have been a different bull than the previous stalk, but he was in basically the same spot.

Go time.

We jumped off the road and into the cut. This time though we had a long, large ridge pretty close to the timberline and creek drainage to use as cover.

It was somewhat slow going due to all the brush and slash, but we kept pushing down while checking the wind every 50 yards or so. The wind was all over the place. It seemed liked it was constantly switching directions or swirling as we moved down the ridge towards the bottom of the cut.

When we had visibility of the bottom again, the elk had moved off into the timber on the back side of the cut. We decided to keep pushing down thinking that if we could get all the way to the bottom along the timber edge, perhaps the bull would come across the small opening to our side.

Once in the bottom, Thomas ripped a bugle. We got a response and it sounded like the bull might be 300 yards or so into the timber.

After some time, we decided to cross the open cut to the skid road on the other side to see if we could use it to cut some distance towards the creek drainage behind the cut.

Unfortunately, the wind was sucking right down the drainage towards the elk and we figured it would be best to back out and not blow the whole place out more than we already had.

That meant a long climb back up a ridge to the top.

back-up_1024x1024.jpg


We had only been back up top a minute or so when Thomas spotted some movement back down in the bottom of the cut. Sure enough, that bull had come back out! WTF!!

As quick as he was out, he went back into the timber. Frustrated and out of options, we left the bull there and decided we'd try again the next day.

Stay tuned for the final stalk!
 

Salmonchaser

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Joined
Nov 12, 2019
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Like it. I only hunted Roseys once. In high school we had made it to the state semifinals in football. My buddy had an uncle who worked over in Tillimook said we could come over after the game, sleep and in the morning shoot some elk. It happened just like that, but it was so wet and windy I never wanted to go back.
 

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