Ollin Magnetic Digiscoping System

CO Reissue Archery Elk 2022

crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
After swinging & missing all limited entry draws this spring, my brother and I were preparing and planning for OTC archery elk, but he got a call from CPW on Aug 3 saying someone had turned in the archery elk tag he'd applied for, and he was next in line if he still wanted it. Immediately our plans shifted -- he'd be the hunter and I became designated caller and sherpa.

This would also be a return to a unit we'd hunted in 2019 when I was the muzzleloader tag holder. High elevation, lots of elk, lots of elk hunters, and with some luck the possibility of tagging a good bull.

Drove out to the unit on Sep 8th, and set camp.

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Our base camp was at about 9,600 feet of elevation, and we live at about 500 feet, so we planned to take it easy the first day or two and acclimate to the altitude just a bit. First morning out we hiked to a glassing knob, all was quiet as the sun rose.

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Pretty soon the whole mountain was buzzing, literally, with bees. Still no elk talking but about 9AM we spotted a few cows and a raghorn just across from us. They quickly disappeared into the timber to bed for the day, and we decided a raghorn the first morning wasn't quite enough to make a play on.

Photo Sep 08 2022, 4 59 53 PM.jpg


We hiked about a mile further up the mountain, to a stand of north facing timber where we expected elk could hide out from the heat of the day. As we entered the timber I glassed ahead of us, "Elk!...Bull!" I was a bit surprised as I'd only just raised the binoculars and looked for a few seconds -- a decent 5x5 bull was walking directly at us. He stopped and while he didn't wind us he knew something was up and eventually detoured around us at about 60-70 yds while never presenting a shot opportunity. A close call on a bull we'd have gladly harvested.

Eventually we made our way back to the glassing knob for the afternoon, and about 5:30 we saw the same cows out feeding, and a few minutes later I spotted a herd of about 50 cows up the mountain a half mile or so. We headed their direction, and heard a bugle in the timber before we got to the opening I'd spotted the cows in. We got on the bull's level and within about 200 yards, and started a cow calling sequence. He bugled once or twice, and it sounded like he was still bedded. As darkness came on he bugled a few times as he went directly away from us.

As we headed back down the mountain towards camp we came upon three cows, with one standing broadside at 50 yards right at last shooting light, but not yet ready to harvest a cow with over a week left in our hunt schedule. We were into elk on Day 1 -- no complaints.
 
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crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
The morning of Day 2 we hiked into a new area that we knew from our last hunt in 2019. We neared a couple beaver ponds along the trail by headlamp, my brother stopped suddenly and I hear, "Bull moose!" This guy had no fear of us at all, we were at 50 yards in the pre-dawn light and he was still there several hours later in midday.

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I got some decent video as well but not sure how to post it -- no telling how close this bull would have let us get but we didn't push it. Several days later we were back in this same area and ran into him again, this time in the aspens and holding tight with a cow.

We heard only a single bugle that morning, and at one point I got into a barking match with a spike that was hanging with a couple cows. They had caught movement but not our wind as thermals were still good...He'd bark, I'd bark back, he'd bark, I'd bark, etc. and this went on for several minutes as they stood around about 80 yards from us. Eventually we knew this wasn't helping the elk hunting and we let them filter off into the trees.

We scrambled around and hiked, and called, and glassed, and hiked some more...ran into a few cows but generally temps were hot, the winds were swirling, and bulls still weren't talking.

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crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
That night from the tent we could hear bulls bugling just behind camp, so the Day 3 morning plan was pretty well determined for us. Hiked maybe a half mile from camp and had a bull bugling below us.

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He sounded like he was making his way up towards us, and soon we could hear his cows talking as well. Wind was ok, but not great. After a few minutes the cows and calves were inside 100 yards, and while we could hear them clearly we still couldn't lay eyes on them. The bull was behind the cows and bugling every few minutes. We stayed silent as they closed distance.

After about 20-30 minutes the elk started to side-hill and we tracked along with the herd, following a hiking trail.

Bull was still bugling periodically and we're still keeping pace, when I heard hooves coming quickly down the trail. We side-stepped as two hunters on horseback came by at a trot, and I gave them a small wave and nod. They went about 60 yards beyond us towards the elk and dismounted, tied up the horses and headed for the bull. I'm still not terribly impressed by this maneuver, but whatever, it's public land. We ignored them, hiked right past them, and continued hunting the bull as well, as if the hunters weren't there.

We set up and cow called a bit, but eventually we all lost contact with the bull, and the other hunters may actually have helped us, as we had a couple cows come running up the hill and stop about 30 yds from us in the timber. We still weren't yet ready to shoot a cow, though.

The day got hot, and the winds swirled, and the elk weren't talking. Midday we were sitting on a small knob and I said, "Even on the edge of the wilderness I've got cell service. If I had unlimited data we could be watching football."

About two seconds later college football games were streaming...

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bmontang

Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2017
Messages
83
The morning of Day 2 we hiked into a new area that we knew from our last hunt in 2019. We neared a couple beaver ponds along the trail by headlamp, my brother stopped suddenly and I hear, "Bull moose!" This guy had no fear of us at all, we were at 50 yards in the pre-dawn light and he was still there several hours later in midday.

View attachment 241608

...He'd bark, I'd bark back, he'd bark, I'd bark, etc. and this went on for several minutes as they stood around about 80 yards from us.
That is the ol' show me yourself move elk have. They won't scramble away, but they will bark back and forth until they see another elk or they lose interest.
 

crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
By Day 4 a good friend had met up with us on the mountain, and we divided our resources in an effort to find more elk.

Kind of a neat panoramic photo that I can't get to display properly, so might have to click the link:

View attachment Photo Sep 12 2022, 6 23 51 AM.jpg

I went to glass and scout a nearby burn while the other two hunted familiar territory. Unfortunately, the basin of the burn I looked into that evening had no activity at all.

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We spent the next few days chasing the few bugles we did hear, and came close on another 5x5 bull in the timber, but again he was just outside bow range at 70-80 yds and wouldn't come closer to investigate our cow calls.

We were seeing elk and hearing elk every day, but mostly the bulls would bugle once, maybe twice and then go quiet, and we were having no luck calling in any satellite bulls.

Seemed like the rut hadn't really kicked into full gear yet, and I suspect the full moon wasn't helping any.

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Spent a few more days chasing some bugles, waiting out the swirling winds, and having half-chances on smaller bulls that we either spotted, bumped, or they got bumped to us, but never quite in archery range.

The morning of Day 7 we were in an area of the burn where we had glassed elk the evening before, and we had multiple bulls bugling around us. At one point we were just over the ridge from a bull as he was side-hilling our direction and he had a deep, growling bugle. Well inside of 150 yards and we could see cows getting pushed around above us -- we just needed him to crest the ridge in front of us...didn't happen, the wind swirled and he was gone.
 

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crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
Day 8. The Magic Circle.

The morning of the eighth day was one of those elk hunting days I've dreamed about. Multiple bulls were bugling behind camp. We climbed towards the ridgeline following bugles, one bull stage left with deep growl, one center stage with the typical bugle, another screaming off to stage right. They were bugling to my cow calls and bugles, and bugling back and forth with each other, but all still heading up for the same ridgeline.

Wind was good for once and we went for the closest, center stage. Got within 150 yds of the bull and the ridgetop, and I could see antler tips as he bugled back and forth with the other bulls. At 20 yards below the ridgeline we could smell him. We topped the ridge and his 10-12 cows we didn't know were there stared at us from 20 - 45 yards away -- bull was 50 yards but behind some trees offering no shot and now looking at us. "Oh, $S%! he sees us." They spooked, I cow called and the bull stopped broadside at 82 yards...just out of bow range.

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(Sorry for stock photo, I was too busy trying to kill elk in archery range to take photos--wish I'd been wearing a GoPro...but this is very close approximation & maybe a little small.)

That herd trotted away, but stage left bull and stage right bull were still bugling, with another bull or two joining in around us. Lesson learned, they aren't alone.

Stage left bull was making his way toward us along the ridgeline, so we headed his direction. Could hear his cows headed our way in front of him and soon we could see them 200 yards out. We stalked to the edge of the herd...and remained there for 30-45 minutes. Cows and spikes well in bow range, wind directly in our face, and we're listening to the cow talk while the bull walks back and forth behind them, ripping a raspy bugle every few minutes. This bull was narrow but heavy.

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We hoped he would circle his cows and give us a shot. We had a day or two earlier decided any legal bull would do. At one point a spike (legal in this unit) was feeding quartering away at less than 10 yards for several minutes. Brother looked at me and I whispered, "Do NOT shoot that spike!"

We watched this bull just beyond his cows at 80-120 yards, moving in and out of view. Another bull moved in close to the cows and was bugling repeatedly, but still the herd bull didn't gather up his cows. We knew the consistent wind wouldn't last forever. Eventually we made a maneuver to circle the herd to see if we could connect with either of the two bulls...and ran out of consistent wind. A swirl or two and they knew something was up and spooked.

A few minutes later we heard a couple muzzleloader shots from the direction of the stage right bull, and we started walking that way. As we topped a small rise my brother stopped short, a monstrous bull with a handful of cows was standing in an opening 60 yards way -- but he had seen us first. A couple seconds of staredown and they didn't stick around to offer a shot either.

It was about as much elk hunting excitement as you can have without actually flinging an arrow.
 
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crock239

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
779
Location
Iowa
By the afternoon of our last hunt day, Day 10, we'd had a great week and were hoping to harvest any mature elk to fill the coolers. Headed to the burn area to glass, and almost immediately were hearing repeated bugles from the opposite ridge. It was 5:00 in the afternoon and NONE of our previous afternoons had been any good until right at last light, so we thought this had to be a hunter walking and blowing on a tube.

Soon, though, we spotted elk along the ridge and shortly thereafter we spotted the bull. A big 6x6. The cows were just milling about and feeding while the bull pushed them around and bugled, so my brother went for the stalk -- any mature elk would do.

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I stayed put to glass and watch--I could see the elk but immediately lost sight of my brother. For an hour and a half I watched and waited -- that's a nerve wracking experience!

Eventually I got a text, "Busted. Heading back." He'd gotten to the edge of the herd, but in the open burn couldn't close the last 20 yards. As luck would have it, the herd bull wound up being closest to him at 80 yards, again just out of range.

We packed up our gear and headed home. I'd love to have a grip and grin to share, I really wanted to help my brother harvest a large bull -- I would have laughed at his taxidermy conundrum and the domestic diplomacy it might have required, but it just didn't happen.

At some point on this trip I realized my brother and I have been hunting together like this for 35 years...and I can't wait until next time! Good luck this fall, y'all!

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