Those last 20 yards: Solo Elk

Reeltime

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
228
I don't want to admit how many Bulls I've failed to finish this year. It's been an amazing experience, and I've learned a lot, but I've yet to make it happen. I've drawn my bow 3 times. Once to end the journey with a cow, and the bull who would not show himself stepped out, busted. Once on a satellite bull that slipped in quietly and a clear shot did not materialize. Once on a bull that I finally got enraged enough to come away from his cows and come kick my ass, he stopped short of my only shooting lane and destroyed a tree instead!
I've passed on numerous cows, can't shoot spikes (who seem to love being in range and looking away), and have twice had great Bulls broadside at 60 but I want them 40 or closer.

So my question, what do you guys that roll solo do to consistently finish the job? What does a solo elk hunter need to do (short of having a caller behind them) to make that bull commit? My elk season lasted 3.5 hours last year, I'm earning every bite this year, and loving every minute of it!
 

Eyeguy

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2014
Messages
308
Location
Lincoln
Its frustrating.... I called 8 into bow range and had the same luck you did. Always a tree or a bush or the wrong angle. I think a lot is just plain bad luck some days. I think one strategy (that Im sure you know about) is to call and when you know a bull is coming then advance 35-50 yards ahead and hope the bull continues to the point where he heard the call. Being a solo hunter is tough and every call we make can give your position away.... best of luck! You'll get one.
 

Rocky176

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2013
Messages
329
Sounds like a great hunt, keep at it, it will all come together. It's all about gaining experience and spending time in the mountains. You'll find what works best for you.
 

PatrickK

New member
Joined
Dec 19, 2014
Messages
74
I have the same issue but I didn't call in as many bulls this year. I carry a heads up decoy that I can deploy in just a few seconds although I can't say that it has helped me much this year - I also can't say for sure that the bulls even saw my decoy so I don't know.

Good on you for staying within your self imposed limits for shooting distance. I shoot a longbow and have to keep it under 30 yards.

Patrick
 

Khunter

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
2,166
Location
western Colorado
It is tough. I killed one bull as he thrashed a tree. If it was preoccupied raking a tree hopefully you were moving on it.

Solo setups are fun and frustratiing. Drew my bow 4 times on 4 bulls in good bow range in one day this year, 5 if you count the one at 60 yards (I dont). Two of those I was smothered in cows and got away undetected and with no shot opp. One lone 6pt bull that caught my scent at 17 yards when I needed the usual "one more step" to have a clear shot.

Went back the next day and pulled in a bull up and over a lip i was on. Set it up so if he showed, he was likely to be a dead bull. That worked exceptionally and he and another bull were glunking extensively just below me for 10 or so minutes...i waited them out and raked some and cow called a little bit.

I figure if bulls aren't barking at me with some regularity I ain't trying :D --meaning i risk getting busted a lot by agggressively moving as I think I need to to get the shot. I get tired of not seeing brushed up bulls that are screaming and hunt PJ a lot so I blow them out in easy bow range often enough and just smile or grimace as the situation calls for and move on.

To answer your question. I move a lot and really push it. Definitely try to look ahead for a great setup spot where I will move to after my "last" call. Even proceed 50 or so yards to find that spot then go back to call, then move up. Find raking and stomping brings them closer than (my) bugling and has added benefit of reducing my stress level :p

I set up in standing position somewhat often and always if it seems to give me a better view. Killed this years bull standing up in front of a tree and with his cow 10 yards away while I was in full view of her. No idea what her reaction was when I quickly drew and shot when the bull appeared in bow range the moment he topped the lip I was on but I assume she is in another state by now...and still running.

I dont really hesitate to get right on top of the herd and have all sorts of elk moving around me as they do their thing while I wait for a bull to pass by. Once inside that close zone it seems you can get busted by spikes and cows and they dont blow out the whole herd...so being right on top of them reduces the need for calling to what you cannot see or at least lets you call them a very short distance where you chose the setup. When you can be watching a bull tear stuff up at 60-80 yards and then call him you are at an advantage.

Sounds like you will be posting a success photo soon at the rate you are getting on them. Looking forward to it!
 
Last edited:

phutch30

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2008
Messages
550
Location
SW MT
Ive never had anyone call in an elk for me. Most yrs I have 6-10 bulls that present killing oppertunities. Once it clicks for you its a lot easier. I think you just have to let them come. They all hang up somewhere be it 150 yds or 75. Getting them to take that next step is what determines if your going to get a shot.
I think calling in a elk and being able to kill one are two different things. Picking a setup spot is 99% of success. I like spots where they have to look for you or come over a hill thats within range. With the exception of herd type bulls, ive found most will commit if you allow them to. I like to keep up the calling until I can see them then shut up unless they go behind something that totally blocks their view then I'll call again. If Im using a bugel I scream loud and then get ready. You dont want to be where they know they should see whats making the sounds, keep them guessing. I prob call a lot more than most people, but its consistantly worked for almost 20yrs.

Your always going to have the "almost happened" senarios where wind or what ever screws up the deal at the last sec. Some elk will walk all over you and some will come in and ghost by at 20 yds without a shot. Thats hunting. Keep at it till you find what works and run with it. Also dont be afraid to "pratice new things on bulls you arnt planning on shooting. See what works and what you can get away with.
 
Last edited:

TRS_Montana

Active member
Joined
Nov 19, 2014
Messages
693
Location
Helena
Sounds like you are doing it right, just haven't had a shot. That is hunting. Like has been said, I also use rocks or hills that the elk have to come around or over to investigate so that when you see them, or when they know they should be seeing whatever was calling, they are in the wheelhouse. I also act differently depending on how many elk are with the herd. If it is a lone bull, I have found that it is harder to get him to come into that 50 yard range. If I am close to a herd, I've found I can usually get a bull to come in a little bit easier if you can get on the edge of the herd without being detected. That way he is still seeing and smelling cows and not so skeptical of a noisy cow that is just tailing behind a bit. I also rarely bugle. I usually just hunt for legal bulls, though. I don't care about shooting the herd bull, so I am fine with a satellite that comes in.

Above all else, I really think you are at a point where you just need to be persistent. You are getting close enough for shots and every successful hunt needs a bit of luck to get end up with meat in the freezer. Keep getting out and doing what you are doing. One of these times you will just sit and wonder how everything worked out so perfectly.
 

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
4,976
Location
Wichita
I think it's sorta like scoring a goal in soccer......really tough to score. Each pass from you goalie to the fullback, to midfielder, to striker, back to midfielder, a lucky deflection, a great cross and finally it's buried into the back of the net. Sooooo many ways to flub up and not score. Wind shift, random cow bust, bad squeak on the grunt tube, the pull of the known harem vs the unknown hunnies over the hill, it all adds up to possible failure at every moment, but when the stars align and IT HAPPENS, well the crowd goes wild.

And at every moment if you are living in that moment, it is a great adventure.
 

Reeltime

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
228
I'm enjoying the conversation and seeing people's styles. It's gratifying to know I'm utilizing most of the things I'm reading about!
I thought it was happening this morning. The elk have been non existent for me the 2 times I've been able to hunt this week. This morning was very quiet, not a sound, sight or smell until 930. A bull bugled maybe 250 yards away and across a small draw. I cow called he bugled, I ran 100 yards towards him. He bugled from the same spot so I ran another 50 yards. He stayed put so I pointed the other way, made 2 sexy calls and moved towards and downwind a bit. He started pacing and bugling a lot but I stayed quiet. Finally he was coming hard and fast. He last bugled no more than 50 yards away at the crest of the small ridge. Then he vanished. Looking back, I should have moved to the edge of the steep stuff and the bench I was on. Next time..........
 
Sitka Banner

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
94,600
Messages
1,411,296
Members
29,673
Latest member
GillyCrush
Top