Ollin Magnetic Digiscoping System

My 2022 Archery Bull

KayakMacGyver

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Been saving this one for a while. Hope this helps spur some excitement with September just 27 days away.


This trip proved to be as special as I hoped it would be. I drew an awesome tag and this was going to be a family adventure, so that meant the wife and kids would be coming along for the ride. I’d spend a couple of days at base camp, then satellite hunt for a couple of days, staying in communication through inreach. Repeat, as needed. A good friend of ours loaned us his camper for the trip and lives in the area, so I felt really comfortable with the plan. We’d also celebrate my son’s 6th birthday on the trip and that meant he would get to go on his first elk hunt with Dad. I probably looked forward to that more than any other hunt I’ve ever been on.


Some of the town pets....talk about motivation.

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Day 1:

My strategy was to ease into multi day back country hunts with some day hunts the first couple of days. I had a few areas I really wanted to check out, but wasn’t quite prepared to pack in for them. I started hiking at 4AM on opening day and reached my destination, 4 miles in, right around sunup. Let out a bugle and immediately got a response. What a way to start an elk hunt. I was a bit spoiled knowing that this tag would be full of this kind of experience and almost expected it. Such a luxury to have that was not taken for granted.

As I moved in that direction, I came around a bend in the trail and looked across the canyon to see a bachelor group of 5 bulls working the hillside. Before I even sat down to glass, one of the bulls stood out and I knew there was no question I’d shoot that bull on day one. Easily a +350” bull, and I’m not great at field scoring, this guy had massive whale tales and mass to boot. I glassed for 10 minutes and came up with a game plan. It would be another 2.5 mile trek to get to them, but I was fully prepared for the investment.

Making my way, I noticed something an out-of-place wobble coming from my bow. It barely caught my eye, but something wasn’t right. As I began to jiggle and shake all the components, I found the culprit in a rest that had its set screw back out and was dangling by a thread. Talk about a gut punch. I had been shooting this bow every day for 4 months, including the night before the hunt. Never noticed a problem. Long story short, I knew at this moment my hunt was over and I walked away from a bull of a lifetime to make a repair.

Big lesson learned that I’ll apply from here on out…note reference points on all components of your bow.



Day 2:

I still wasn’t satisfied with my bow tuning and opted to spend the morning shooting my bow, before heading out that afternoon for a quick hunt real close to base camp. Nothing eventful occurred on Day 2.


Days 3-4:

I decided to pack in for a couple days. Loaded up all my gear and made a 4 mile hike into the back country. Over the next two days I hunted hard, but the action was slow. I could have shot a decent 5x5 one morning, but with 2 weeks to hunt I wasn’t prepared to hang my tag on him. Saw plenty of elk and some mule deer, but ultimately just had a big hiking adventure. My son’s birthday was the following day, so I headed down in the dark to get ready for our hunt together the next day.


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Day 5:

My son and I woke up at 4AM and hiked in 3 miles to an area that looked really good on the map. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the next 14 hours would be like living a private ranch hunt you see on TV. As we got close to the features I was interested in exploring, my boy rip out a bugle. Here’s the thing, his voice is still developing, and he has one HECK of a natural voice bugle. It sounds just like an immature bull and clearly the elk felt the same way. We immediately got 3 different responses, all within 200 yards of our location. We scrambled to get into an ambush position and spent the next two hours in screaming matches with bulls that just didn’t want to commit. At times, they were less than 100 yards from us, but we couldn’t see them or get them to break. We repositioned several times, but they zigged when they should have zagged.

For a 6 year old, you can imagine what this experience was like. He’s watched plenty of elk hunting shows with me and knows the order of events. For him to have that interaction with bulls was just the coolest thing ever. Not to mention, the kid was absolutely crushing the mountains. I’m a very active and fast moving guy. He kept up with me lock-step and never once complained.

Action slowed around 10AM, but we kept hearing intermittent bugles that kept us excited. At one point, we sat down to have a snack in a small meadow and a bull snuck in on us. He ripped a bugle so loud that we thought he was about to attack us from behind. We swung around just in time to see him push a small group of cows down into a small canyon and away from us.

There was one bull we heard that morning that really had our interest. He was half a mile up a very steep incline and had played the cat and mouse game with us quite well. While extremely vocal early, he had shut down, I suppose worn out from the back and forth. Around 11:30AM, I let out a small locate bugle and he fired back. I turned to my son and explained to him how difficult it was going to be to go after him and asked if he wanted to do that, or head back to camp for his birthday lunch as we had promised Mom. He took option A.

We charged up the hill and figured out exactly why the bull was living there. It was absolutely spectacular. Benches, small meadows, water, dark timber…he had everything he needed. Plus, there were cows around too. We ended up around 100 yards from the bulls last known location, set up and my son let out a voice bugle. Immediate response and this time the bull was pissed. I thought he was going to end up in our laps, but he’d make it to around 50 yards and then retreat to his cows. This happened several times and I tried to add every ounce of realism to the scenario to imitate intruding satellite bulls. We could never catch a glimpse of him, even though he was so close, as terrain was just too much to his advantage.

This went on for a grueling 4 hours. No exaggeration. There were so many times where I drew my bow back expecting him to crest over a rise, but the bull wouldn’t commit. I’ll mention that I was also hunting with a 6 year old. There is only so much focus a 6 year old has, and after the 100th time of hearing me say “be still buddy, here he comes”, my son found other interests. Even so, he still did his part and remained relatively concealed while having some fun.



WHAT in the world is that yellow stuff?! Buddy found a puffy mushroom patch. Ha!

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At this point, it’s nearly 5 PM and we were supposed to be back for lunch. I wasn’t sure if my wife had received my Inreach and decided we had to call the hunt for the evening. We left the bull bugling, even though I “knew” we would have killed him if we just had another hour. But heck, it was his birthday and we needed to celebrate with dinner and cake…plus some new toys.

That night we told mom and sister all about the adventure. I was so proud hearing my son share his memories of the hunt and it was honestly a dream come true. I look forward to many more years of adventures like these.

We slept in the next morning and I made plans for a multi-day trip into the bull-infested area. My son opted to hang back, whooped from the adventure the day before but also heavily influenced by his new birthday toys. He assured me that he would be ready to go again when I returned. In hindsight, I wish I would have begged him more to go.
 

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Day 6:

I talked to some local outfitters near camp in the morning and explained my predicament. Bulls just didn’t seem to want to commit. A guide suggested that this time of year he prefers to skip the calls and just go right at them after locating. It was a strategy I hadn’t tried before, but figured it was worth a shot. I got back to the area we had hunted the prior day around 2PM and let out a location bugle. Immediately, a bull responded only 100 yards from the location we had heard him the day before. I found the wind and went right to him. In hindsight, I believe the bull heard me crawling up the mountain which is why he bugled so much after that. I never hit the call again, but every couple of minutes he would fire off and give me a bead on his location.

I got to within what I thought was 100 yards and sat on my knees. Knocked an arrow and almost like a perfectly written script, as soon as I was ready the bull appeared. He was above me at a near 45 degree angle and all I saw was his headgear. He saw me, but there was a large bush right in front of his line of sight and he couldn’t quite figure out what I was. To his left there was a 5 yard opening, followed by another bush. I was able to sneak in a range with my rangefinder and determined him to be 40 yards straight up hill. I waited for what felt like an eternity, a true 5 minutes, and the bull turned toward the opening. I drew. He stopped again for 10 or 20 seconds, then took another step broadside into the opening. From there it was all instinct and hours of practice coming to fruition. The arrow hit him perfectly, just behind the shoulder.

In the haze, I wasn’t clear about the shot. All kinds of things run through your mind in that moment and I thought I may have hit him square in the shoulder, as I had noticed half of my arrow sticking out. I normally like to wait an hour before pursuit, but in this case I thought I should make a slow stalk and try to slip another arrow in him if he was close. I had not heard any crashing or brush breaking to indicate that he had run.

Slowly creeping up the steep face, I came to a small bench. This was the perch where he had made his home. At full draw, I fully expected him to be standing there in distress. This is what I saw.

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My 2022 archery bull and personal best Elk

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Some packout help

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I have no doubt that this was the same bull my son and I had chased the day before and it certainly makes the experience that much more memorable.

Thanks for taking time to read and share our adventure.
 
Awesome write up! Congrats on a great bull and an even better hunt with your family! Your son will remember that for the rest of his life.
 
Wow congrats! Beautiful story!! really hits close to home having a 6 year old myself that always wants to come along. You’re the man, Dad!!
 
Good job going to school off the guide, switching tactics and sealing the deal.

Congratulations
 
That was awesome! Congrats and thanks for getting me fired up for September. Heading to elk country in 33 days for my sons first hunt.
 
Awesome story and Congrats on a beautiful bull. Leaving VA in 24 days to head to elk country in MT. Can't wait!
 

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