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Just In Time For Elk Season! Elk Story!

ElkNut1

Active member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
277
If you elk hunt long enough sooner or later you'll come across that "Wow, Did That Just Happen Moment" -- Well it must have been our turn this year! (My Son & I) This encounter was one that was flat crazy, I still have a hard time believing how it turned out; it could easily have gone south & been a heartbreaker! I don't believe it could've been scripted any better! (grin) Here's the story as it actually unfolded. This is an OTC DIY Idaho elk hunt.

I located a bull just after daylight with a location bugle, it happened to be a Full Moon & just after daylight; this bull was bedded up earlier than usual in this area because of this. -- He bugled one time in response to me, we heard him while 350 yards away & aprox 200'-300' of elevation above us. It was super steep country with a lot of 10'-12' high thick undergrowth! He was on a small bench above us the best we could tell. We headed his direction with no more calling, we were able to get to about 175 yards before we were concerned with being spotted if we called, we did not want him to get up & start looking for us & catch movement as he had the elevation in his favor even though it was thick timber & brush. We needed to use the partial concealment the best we could for a setup!

The plan was to have my Son move up ahead of me 30 yards, I headed to a standing dead tree with lots of dried branches & concealment to setup to see if I could get this bull to an aggressive state, I knew that was going to be a challenge in itself with only one half hearted lazy bed bugle to work with, he was not presently in an aggressive mood which isn't unusual early Sept. His bugle in response to mine was more in the category of announcing his presence in a non threatening manner! I decided to see if I could peak his interest with The Slow Play Tactic, I started with a few soft mews, I repeated after two minutes with 3-4 soft mews with no response from the bull. Basically he could care less at this point, not uncommon for pre-rut bulls!

I continued with 2-3 sets of low volume mews & whines over the next 5 minutes, he finally bugled but with little interest, it was as if he bugled because he wanted to but not in response to the cow calls. I decided to up the ante so injected 2 Contact Buzzes which asked him to come my way, I did 4-5 sets inside two minutes & the bulls next bugle had a bit more excitement to it but he still had not moved but at least is now showing interest! I did another set of Buzzes & he immediately bugled, I was ready for him & started to rake a tree & snap branches during his bugle. I raked for a solid minute & then panted several times through my bugle with just my voice, no reed, he immediately bugled back & I cut him off with a mid range Challenge bugle, (I'm now using a reed) he instantly bugled over me! Awesome, I'm getting him fired up!

Continued In A Minute----

..............
ElkNut
 

ElkNut1

Active member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
277
8- 10 minutes have passed since I started working this bull! I continued to rake & thrash around along with foot stomping & mid volume excited mews. This enticed him to bugle with more intensity, I could tell he was now on his feet & advanced 30-40 yards; no doubt he's looking down the mountain for these elk but my setup was solid & it did not give him the luxury to see where the calling was coming from without him closing the distance even more. I am now representing a defensive bull, indicating I have a cow nearing estrus or in estrus.

A couple minutes have passed & the bull has bugled every 30 seconds, he's trying to call the cow & intimidate the bull to stay back! (me) I continued to thrash & bugled over him with a Challenge several times but not to harsh of a challenge, I'm keeping it real. I now retreated about 15 yards as if pulling back a bit & continued to rake/thrash & a few contact buzzes, this retreating really fired him up! I could hear him coming down the mountain & now I can see glimpses of him moving through the trees/brush, he's still 80+ yards out from me so is aprox 40 yards or so from my son. I need to draw the bull closer to him as he's shooting a Longbow. I retreat another 10 yards without being seen, I stop rake dead branches on a standing tree & scream a Challenge bugle, he hammers me right back with a coarse bugle of his own. I now growl at him through my bugle tube followed by 3-4 grunts, he moves down the mountain closer & I see my son stiffen as he is waiting for the perfect time to draw & release.

There's no holding a 60# longbow at full draw & waiting for him to appear like you can a compound, timing is everything. I can see small glimpses through the timber & willow brush of my son to my left & the bull to the right, they appear to be inside 30 yards from one another with sparse willows separating them, the bull is fixed on my location, perfect, he has no clue of my son's presence. Out of nowhere I hear the soft thud of the arrow released from his bow as the bull goes crashing through the willows & dark timber. 25 minutes have passed since I started calling, this bull had me pulling out all the stops, he just didn't like the idea of coming off the bench out of his bed but we were fortunate that he did, I had displayed a defensive attitude & this planted the seed in his mind I had a hot cow present, persistence once again pays off!

I start bugling the second I hear the bull crash off in an effort to slow him down. I headed over to my son to find out what happened! He has that 'Oh Crap' look on his face as I approach him?

Continued -------

ElkNut
 

ElkNut1

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Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
277
He's sorta shaking his head in disgust! I'm like Uh Oh, I know that look; it's generally not good! He says on the last bit of calling when the bull committed & ran down to his shooting lane he was getting ready to stop the bull with a nervous grunt as he cleared the last bit of brush but instead of clearing the brush patch the bull stopped just inside of the willows, he felt there was plenty of window to get a cedar shaft tipped with an old school Snuffer through it as the bull was 100% broadside to him. 3/4's of the way to the bull he sees the arrow glance off a limb, the bull is hit low, he thinks it may have been in the upper part of the leg but not sure as it happened so quick?

We walked over to the spot he shot from; we hung out there for around 15 minutes giving it a bit of time & listening but not having high hopes at all with the shot placement he described . At minimum we decide to look for his arrow to evaluate the situation with what we discover. After 5 minutes of pinpoint quiet looking with subtle whispering I find the shaft with no head; a few inches of cedar shaft missing. There is blood there so we commence tracking the bull, it's muscle blood for sure. (plain red blood) It's hit & miss, fortunately more hit than miss as we look over all clues as we track! After tracking 10-15 minutes & going aprox 125 yards we hear a bugle 175 yards above us? By George it's him! We easily recognize this bulls bugle, we look at each other; my son whispers to me, I guess it's safe to say he's not hit in the lungs! (grin/groan) We're somewhat disappointed, more like we got the wind knocked out of us! We continue on the blood trail; the bull bugles again a few minutes later, he is well above us; I think he hears us & wants to know what we are moving around below him. I don't feel from his bugle he is nervous but wants to know if it's that same bull. (me)

I don't call back as we're still on his blood trail; then out of nowhere my son says do you hear that? I say what? He says a cow chirped, then another & another, they are coming from the same spot as the bugling! At first I did not hear them but then listened closely & heard a couple more, the elk were still in their bedding area along with the wounded bull but they were getting restless, it's crazy they didn't just leave the area! That shows he was convinced we were other elk! I looked at my son & smiled, I said I think I can call him back in, he looked at me like I was crazy! He was right too, calling a wounded bull back in is something I've never done, I've called many bulls back in for a 2nd shot but this would be a first attempt on a wounded bull. I have to try though with this new set of circumstances, there are cows present, in my opinion & experience that's advantage hunters!

We now know we are dealing with a herd bull that has several cows alongside him, that's a game changer, I will now tailor my calling to this new situation! They are still in the bedding area as it's only about 9:30 a.m. We form a plan now to attempt to call his cows away, this can work but is risky because it's obvious there are no cows in Heat/Estrus because there are no other bulls around bugling for the cows attention. If there were, our odds would be much higher for all intensive purposes. We have nothing to lose here being he's already hit so we go for it hoping for the best. We will know which way this is going to go with my first bugle but prepare with a positive attitude that this will work! I'm not going with the same calling scenario that was first used! This time I'm going to employ a Lip Bawl Bugle to test his attitude; this is showing lots of emotion on my part in an effort to represent a dominant approach & possibly attract his cows!
 

ElkNut1

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Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
277
We are still 150-175 yards under this group so are able to speak softly with a plan, wind is still coming towards us, we are on a north face so the sun hasn't peaked over quite yet. -- The plan is to have my son go to my left aprox 35 yards, if the bull bugles back aggressively I'm going to head up the mountain to my right side to keep him to the left forcing him between us or right at my Son in hopes of giving him another shot as I pressure this bull fast. It's too thick for us to see one another so a plan was needed.

Subtle calling is out the window at this stage so no cow calling planned, it's pure aggressive action in his face! I let my Son know to parallel me as I head towards the bull for as many setups as it takes in a slight rage as I call & rake from these setup spots I can see above me, the bull should cut the distance pretty quick if this works so be ready? -- I now wait for the bull to bugle & we are certain he will, when he does I will hit them with a course Lip Bawl Bugle! Fingers crossed that he Challenges me instantly or we could push him.


I bugle, he lights it up right back before I am done, Awesome! Before he can finish I cut him off with the Lip Bawl, HE COMES UNGLUED, he is screaming a warning like I had not heard him do until now, what a sigh of relief, he's All In! I close the distance as quickly as I can by 30 yards to a tree which offers cover & something I can rake/thrash. -- This is crazy as this is a wounded bull with a partial arrow in him! I push hard now as I get to the tree screaming as coarse a Lip Bawl as I can & rake like hell. He comes right towards us splitting the two of us to aprox 80 yards, I see a flash of him but just parts & pieces, I'm hoping my son has moved up as I did as I cannot see him at all, it's too thick! At the 80 yard spot the bull hits me with a single nervous grunt & a Challenge, this tells me to come on out, he wants to see me to size me up & settle this matter Now! I'm able to move up another 10 yards to the next tree, I quickly hit him with the same nervous grunt & a shorter version a Challenge showing intensity which insists for him to come over my way, he does just that & runs right towards me, he stops at 35 yards & I can now see him through the tree branches.

He's pacing in a 5 yard spurt left then right & he bugles a Challenge which seemed like it was right in my face, I Challenge him right back now that he is this close, good thing I have just enough cover to do so! I'm quickly thinking where is my son? About that time I hear the arrow release & the solid impact as it connects with the bull, the bull blows out of there heading straight back to his cows, this time he didn't quite make it! As I hear the shot I bugle instantly to slow him. I now head towards where I think my son is & this time he's smiling! (grin) I get to him just in time as he points up the hill & I see the bull rolling down a short distance towards us but hangs up against a tree! I'm actually in disbelief that a 2nd shot opportunity took place inside an hour! This time the bull only traveled 45 yards uphill & was done!

We found the 1st arrow embedded high in his front leg wedged next to his leg bone! Man that had to be uncomfortable. As the bull came in the 2nd time he didn't have so much as a gimp, it was as if nothing was wrong! We had a little lady luck shine on us that day! (grin) All in all it was an awesome hunt on OTC ID public land with my Son.

2018 Paul II 5pt Bull ID.JPG

ElkNut
 

ElkNut1

Active member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
277
Guys, thanks; glad you enjoyed it! Yes anytime you can hunt with family especially Sons & Daughters it special stuff!

ElkNut
 

EastTNHunter

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Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
229
Great story! Also very helpful to a newb like myself as I’m hearing your explanations of your strategies and actions. Thank you
 
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