View Full Version : 2011 Archery Elk Season - A Learning Year

12-01-2011, 10:05 AM
This post is a recap of our first attempt at elk hunting. We moved to Colorado in 2010 and gained residency finally. We don't know anyone out here that elk hunts, so we learned the hard way.


We drove out ( a new route, saved us an hour! oops! ) Friday afternoon and we were at the trailhead by dinner time. To my dismay, we passed a dozen vehicles already set up along the dirt road to the parking area. Wow. I expected some people here, but not this many. Luckily, everyone was camped right there as well, so maybe we could gain an advantage by packing in.


We packed in about 3 miles and set up camp. In the morning we bushwhacked downhill to a meadow and set up, doing the occasional cow call. We still had some exploring to do, and we weren't quite in the right spot that morning as the night before we had packed in on slightly the wrong old trail :D


Four or five miles slow later, we had established where we really wanted to be, and we were back at our camp and it was roasting. I took a nap and read some, and then we packed up and moved our whole camp about two miles, almost all bushwhacking. That evening we were able to glass a nice area and we were set up overlooking a heavily used set of game trails, as well. I spotted a single mulie doe.

Up early in the morning, cooked our oatmeal and got ready to head out. I could see a headlamp headed in our direction ... seriously? We have to be at least three miles from the trailhead and a mile bushwhack from the closest trail! Well, it shut off before it got too close. I don't know if they saw our headlamps or what, but we were headed a couple hundreds yards downhill to our spot. The person was definitely set up on the same game trails as us ... but neither of us would see anything that early morning ... the elk had found some place else to hang out.

Now, we could be crazy, but at about 2am there was the sounds of a couple dogs going nuts down in the direction of where we expected to find the elk. Could they have pushed the elk out?

We followed a game trail up to an old trail and did a big loop of about six miles, looking for sign and elk. Instead we found five other hunters. Three of them were from the same camp of ten hunters. They had taken one bull and wounded two others on opening day (that's not a good accuracy rate!).

Well, we got back to our camp around noon and it was roasting again. The sun was out and yet it poured, making it a sauna. During a break in the weather we decided to pack out early, as it just seemed too hot to get much elk movement. We'll be back later, for longer!

12-01-2011, 10:07 AM
My father came to join us for the hunt this time. He is not hunting this year as he doesn't have residency yet, but he wanted to get out there and see what it was like. We left Friday afternoon destined for a different trailhead into the same area we hunted last time, hoping to find fresh elk sign instead of only the old stuff we found last time ... and of course some elk, too. The Labor Day traffic was fun, adding another hour to our drive, but we still got to the new spot before dark. I was very surprised at the LACK of other hunters at this area. It is a more difficult to access point, and I guess that made all the difference. We also saw three moose and a few deer just off the road a few miles from camp.


We headed out a little later than normal Saturday morning as we had no idea where to find the most likely spots. We came across some grouse sitting in the trail, and Forrest cursed not yet having bought her small game license ... for the rest of the trip! Eventually, we came to an awesome looking draw, and set up there for a couple hours with some occasional calling. My Dad was watching the upper area of the draw and us the lower. Between us we could cover about 700 yards, which for this area is a damn lot. No results this morning, however.

Heading out we came to a ridge where some aspens started over a steep drop off of about 50 feet. We decided to hike up along that ridge and eventually we hit another trail that took us back to camp at about noon. Oh yeah, forgot to mention we saw a porcupine in a tree. Haven't seen one of them in "daylight" until this one.


We did a little fishing after lunch at a little nearby lake and caught a couple of cutthroats. Did not see any fresh sign on the hike up there, but we did come across two mulies. Headed back out in the evening to watch that draw again, and this time my Dad saw two mulies playing above us. That night I awoke to a funny scratching sound. The porcupine was chewing on my car. He didn't want to leave it either. I made a joke about not touching him with a 10 foot pole. :D

Up earlier the next morning and headed to the draw again. This time there were a couple bugles down low, a couple miles at least. I spotted some elk in a far off field, probably 2.5 to 3 miles as the crow flies, at around 8:00am, but by my calculations; 1.) I could never get there before they moved on and 2.) It was outside the national forest boundary. Being new to this I decided to just watch them for a little while, noting to myself that elk are way down there. Dad watched the mule deer play above us again. I heard one this time but never saw them.


Evening hunt resulted in Dad taking up his position at the draw again but Forrest and I worked another half mile farther and found a cool looking meadow surrounded by aspens which were then surrounded by pines. Immediately Forrest found a set of well used game trails, although still no fresh elk sign. This time I managed to call in something ... however, it wasn't and elk. A black bear headed straight up the hill toward us. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we lost sight of him soon after, until about half an hour later I saw him head out the same way he came in.

Monday morning I decided something had to change. We weren't seeing elk, and the sign wasn't fresh, which was telling me I am probably wasting my time in this specific area. I dropped my Dad off at the draw and decided to just hike until I found something fresh or ran out of time. About an hour later I came across some fresher tracks and caught sight of a doe off to my left. After she bounded off, I went up a little hill to see where she was feeding, and looked out across another pretty meadow. This was the largest meadow I had found so far, about 500 yards long and 60 yards wide. Very green and border by pines on one side and aspen on the other. I found a little place to get hidden. Set up my gear and pack so I could lean back and just watch.

Less than ten minutes later there was crashing just behind and to my right. Now, I was all comfortable and just turned my head to see what the commotion was. Had I been thinking, I would have been at the ready here, but it being the fifth day of hunting and not seen an elk yet, I wasn't expecting what happened. Ten seconds later a cow elk stepped out less than ten yards from me, on the only side I was not hidden by pines. All I could do was watch as her, another cow and a calf walked down into the meadow below me. About 35 yards away they stopped, giving me a chance to draw ... but I had not knocked an arrow. FAIL. They just walked away. Well, its elk right, so maybe there will be a few more coming? Not this time. I gave some calls and they didn't care one bit (every other report I read says they listen :/). Another 50 yards later and they were gone. Well, at least I have an idea where to start next weekend.

I sat there for another hour before working my way uphill. Eventually I came out above the draw my Dad had been sitting in and spotted him walking about through my binoculars. When I got to him, he said he had found a rub line. We don't have deer tags this year, but good to know for the future.

That pretty much wraps up this outing. If anyone has advice or suggestions on what I should have done in any certain situation, PLEASE help me out here. We're all learning about elk hunting and just going on what we've read and know from general hunting situations in the past, mostly whitetails. The biggest thing I've been having trouble with is finding the elk in the first place. I know they are in the area we are hunting, but I don't know how far down they are in the morning / up they go in the day, and when they make the transition from feeding to moving to bedding.

One other thing, I found tons of beds in the middle of meadows. These can't be used during the middle of the day, would be way too hot for elk. Any idea what these beds are from?

12-01-2011, 10:08 AM
Having some issues with an image limit.


12-01-2011, 10:09 AM
Pictures to come later, Forrest has the camera and is off rock climbing. I just got my computer back with a new motherboard, that's why there was no report from last weekend. Here it is:

Sept 10th

The full moon blazing in the night sky had me in two positions: 1.) excited that we might hear some bugles and 2.) Sad because that meant the elk would play all night and sleep all day. Well, unfortunately, it seemed only 2. applied as we didn't hear any bugles that night or that weekend. We did, however, have our first stalk of the year!

Saturday morning we were set up overlooking the same meadow we found rubs, beds and sign in last week. We didn't see anything so half an hour later we moved down into the meadow and started our way up hill. We came around a big pine and I immediately saw a bull staring straight at us. I knew if this was a whitetail we were busted, but this is elk, why not see what happens. We slowly backed around the pine and made a plan. We would circle uphill of the bull, with Forrest in front as she had won the first shot toss. I would be behind her 30 yards and once we were uphill, I would do a call sequence. There was a big, thick set of pines between us and the bull.

Well, the plan didn't last long as while we were moving uphill, Forrest was very focused on where the bull had been and had failed to keep looking in all directions . The 5x5 bull was now standing on the other side of the big pines, in the same area she was working through, staring right at her at 40 yards. BUSTED.

We worked up the mountain for awhile with no more elk encountered. A few doe mulies. On the way back to camp I spotted a grouse on the other side of a pine tree next to the old logging road. Forrest has never shot anything so she was excited to give it a try. Well, I said something wrong and she worked around the wrong side of the pine (it was a wide open shot where I was standing!), flushing the grouse. He didn't fly very far though, and we tracked him down. In the process, we flushed three more grouse. Oh, this could be fun! We proceeded to track down, attempt a shot and flush grouse for about an hour. At one point, the first grouse was right in the road and Forrest got a shot at about 10 yards. She hit just in front of him. In total, we flushed that one bird 5 times before he flew too far, and she had three shots at grouse, with no success. This might have discouraged some people, but she was having a blast.

During the evening hunt, we flushed another grouse and decided that we might as well give chase. After a couple shots, she nailed the grouse at about 4 yards. I think I heard the words "I got one!" about 30 times that evening. Finally, she had a taste of what this was all about. We later used our grill basket to cook the grouse over an open fire for a tasty close to the day.

Sunday was completely uneventful. We left a bit early and took the longer way through RMNP and watched some elk there.

12-01-2011, 10:11 AM
I had planned to take off some time for elk hunting this week, but with my computer dying it just messed everything up. It turns out I should have just spent the whole week up there, but that's the way it goes. It was crappy weather anyway.

We arrived late Friday night and got some short sleep. Up at 4:45am and on the trail shortly thereafter. We were nearing the bear meadow when we heard some thumps. We immediately got set up and I started a calling routine ... Now, it was right at legal shooting time, but there was thick cloud cover. It was weird because you could easily see the trail without a headlamp, but it wasn't getting any brighter with the sun. With more calling you could definitely hear activity downhill from us. At the same time, from a few hundred yards up the hill came a bugle.

After maybe 10 minutes of calling, probably much less. I see Forrest start to draw her bow. I cannot see what she is seeing as I am uphill from her about 30 yards and behind some cover. Then she lets down. A few minutes later I see her move forward a bit, then I hear the infamous bark (wasn't sure what it would sound like, was unmistakable though!) and some thumps. ****. A couple minutes later I move down to find out what happened. During all this there is still bugling up the hill not too far from us, what sounds like two different bugles now.

She informs me that she couldn't have asked for a better setup, except that she couldn't tell if it was a legal bull due to the odd light and the trees. Perfectly broadside in the middle of the open trail at 15 yards. Damn ... While we are chatting I notice there are some cows about 80 yards down the hill from us. It seemed like they had seen us and with the bugling going on I thought this would be our chance, so up the hill we went after the bugling bull. (see note 1)

Well, up the hill we flush a couple grouse, but I'm all excited about the bugles so we push on. We're closing the gap but it feels like the bugles are also moving away. We get up on another trail and then I spot the source ... three other hunters. Fffffuuuuuu. Kind of took all the excitement away. We move back and sit down for a few minutes to formulate a new plan.

A few minutes later I hear some call cows so I get us set up and start calling back. I realize now it was probably the same hunters >_> However, all was not lost. Less than 5 minutes later I see something 100 yards up/in front of us on the hill ... a nice 4x4 muley ... with a 4x4 bull in tow! Some calls and he is headed down toward us. I work the calls for about 15 minutes with Forrest 30 yards in front of me. He's hung up about 50 yards in front of her and neither of us can see him. Well, I don't know if he finally saw me or if he just had enough, but I finally saw him cross the hill at a trot and the back where he came from. Well, it was exciting anyway. (see note 2)

It was pretty cold and had rained the night before, and was very misty with a lot of fog this day. Around 8:30 we were soaked to our waist so Forrest headed back to camp. I decided to explore up higher where there is some heavy timber. I jumped a different, bigger 4x4 muley in some young pines ... next year I'll have a deer tag. Not long into my hike I found a game trail that allowed me to go a LONG ways very quietly. I still hunted this area until noon. The trail was covered with scat, but few tracks, which confused me. I didn't find any elk up there either, but another day maybe. It certainly seemed like a good place to be during the middle of the day, and the elk couldn't go much higher before being on the other side of the mountain. :D

Time for a nap and we went back out at 4:00, mostly looking for grouse. Naturally, saw elk instead! Ok, just one spike, but it always seems to happen like that. After talking with a dozen or so hunters, nobody seems to know where the elk head to after the morning in this area. The evening ended with us hurriedly cooking dinner around 6:00pm and hiding from the sleet in the car. I'll hunt all day in snow but I absolutely hate freezing rain.

Sunday the weather was much nicer but the elk were much scarcer. I put on a lot of miles checking out more of the country and found some very fresh sign but no elk. I did a little calling from a beautiful vista and got a bugle back. I knew the sound of that bugle though ... and this time I called in the three hunters. We were camped near each other and headed back. Did some talking with them and they said they had bugled in 5 different bulls the past two days, but only one legal bull (which was saved by a deflection, supposedly). They had never gotten any bugles back except a few on Saturday morning which, naturally ... was another hunter! We came across some grouse on they way back and I brought home dinner with a perfect headshot.

Forrest and I headed out for the afternoon, mostly in search of grouse again, but there were none to be had. At least the weather was nice and we both enjoyed the hike. Hope to head out Thursday night for a final three day weekend push.


Hunting always seems full of "should haves" but this year is especially important for us because we're so new to elk hunting. There is a definite need to analyze each situation.

Note 1: When you can see elk, don't walk away without being sure the situation is blown. Thinking back I'm almost certain that I could have gotten a shot if I had Forrest set up calf calling while I worked down to them. They should have bolted when the "bull" barked but they didn't, which now leads me to believe they were simply confused, lending itself to a perfect stalking situation.

Note 2: Considering there was a ridge where we could have easily circled above the bull, I think we should have wrapped up there and then set up the calling. I knew elk don't like to move downhill to a call, but I didn't like the thought of losing sight of that bull or potentially spooking him on the way up. I think being above him would have provided us with a better chance at calling him in.

12-01-2011, 10:12 AM
Forrest's first kill.


One of our resting spots.

12-01-2011, 10:13 AM
Mulies aren't nearly as flighty as whitetails.




12-01-2011, 10:15 AM
Well, I was waiting for an email that would have made this report much more exciting, but it never came. Also, forgive my lack of pictures. My camera is an SLR and thus not suitable for popping out for a quick shot.



Last weekend we ran into three guys, one of which had been elk hunting for more than 10 years. They only had one shooter with them, and the other two were calling. Using a bugle and combination of calls, they had called in six bulls while we had been in the same area longer and only called in one. This prompted me to try out my bugle this time.

My father joined us again for this last attempt, which saw us leaving for the hills on Thursday night. I had a hoochie mama for him this time, so he could join our herd. Within a few miles of our hunting area, we were seeing elk in the fields near the road, and it was only 6:15pm. They were naturally on private land, but it had me wondering if they were all the way out in the fields on our side of the street.

There was almost nobody hunting up here this weekend as we drove down the dirt road. Upon arriving at our base camp, we found someone already there and had to slightly relocate. There was also an RV! parked down the road a few hundred yards. The area is definitely big enough to support that many people, so I didn't worry about it, but I could have done without the guy above us running his generator all night.

Friday morning saw us starting up high where we had seen the most bulls as well as where the three had called in bulls. We set up and called for 15 minutes and then moved after 20 when nothing happened. At our second spot, we got some calls back. My dad saw an elk come up over the hill below us, and start working down the bench, but lost it in the excitement. They went silent at five minutes or so. We kept it up and eventually I saw something coming through the pines. It was working its way toward us in bursts... I didn't expect it to be a man that emerged from those pines.

Anyway, he came over to chat with us, and I could see he was very excited, we'll call him J. J pulled out his smartphone and said "You gotta see this!" We watched his video, and it turns out we had called two spike bulls straight to him, as he was around 100 yards downhill. By straight to him, I mean 3 feet from him. It was pretty cool to see the elk take up the entire screen on his phone. We talked with him for a bit and then moved on.

The rest of the day was uneventful except for us flushing and chasing a group of seven grouse. I nailed another headshot. Forgot to take a picture again.

12-01-2011, 10:16 AM
A big mistake this day, I forgot to turn on the alarm. I awoke at 6:00am and hurriedly got the group together. No morning coffee this day. We actually were not too late getting into elk territory. Dad worked his way up the hill to watch from a higher vantage point while Forrest and I set up watching two different draws. Nothing after 30 minutes or so, I was ready to move on, so Forrest and I went up to get my Dad.

We encountered J again as we were headed up and he said the three guys we met last weekend were his sons, they were up here with him now, and they had just blown their chance after calling in two legal bulls. They had been working them only 200 yards from us, and they had left via the spot where we had been calling from yesterday with the spikes. Shoot, we must have just missed them.

Up to Dad, and he was excited, too. Apparently an elk had been within 40 yards of him up top, but he could never see its body or head. It had worked its way up the drainage towards the divide. I've seen bulls in this spot and never a cow, so I bet it was a bull. Forrest wanted to go low, and I wanted to go up about as high as possible as the trail I had followed before looked very promising for bedded elk. It was about 8:30am and we split up.

Well, try as we might, we couldn't find that trail I had followed before. Met back up with Forrest at the car at about 11:00am and she said there was tons of fresh sign down low and that she thought we should hunt there.

J saw us as we were hanging out at camp and came over and chatted about elk and hunting for a good while. Awesome to have someone to talk to in camp where you don't already know the stories. :D

For the evening, we didn't do head down, we headed back up where my Dad had been close to the elk and set up calling. Forrest didn't like it so she went off somewhere else. Not long after that, I got a bugle in response. A BUGLE, finally! I could tell it was an elk and not a hunter, unless the hunter was very practiced, due to all the chuckles and such he was doing.

After 20 minutes or so, it was getting later and he was not getting closer yet he was still constantly responding. I went to my dad and said I'm going down there after him. Now, I didn't have any clue just how far away he was, for all I knew he was down on the private land, but what did I have to lose?

We practically jogged down the hill. At the first bench I stopped and let out a bugle, and he was already sounding much closer. I was about to work down farther when my Dad said "There's a bull!" I dropped to my knees and started to put together a plan. He was about 100 yards away and facing downhill. Our cow calls stopped him. The problem was the wind. It was blowing downhill and slightly in his direction from our location. That meant what I really wanted to do, circle around above him, was probably going to result in getting winded.

I had my Dad stay put and keep on the calls while I dropped into the drainage below and tried to stalk the bull from slightly downhill. It was really thick between us and the bull. So thick, in fact, that there was no way for me to head in the direction I wanted. No human could fit in this brush pile, let alone quietly. At 70 yards I could see his head swiveling around, so I kept going. I came up a little rise, hoping to see the elk on the other side, but it was empty. A little searching, and I climbed up towards the trail, assuming I had busted them. Well, while climbing up I spotted them (I could see two now) paralleling me up the hill, 60 yards away. It was exciting, but I knew I most likely had blown it. We weren't even sure the bull we spotted was legal.

I got in a good position and tried to call them, but my Dad had thought I was headed back to him and was walking on the trail. We both got to watch them head right over the ridge and skyline, giving an awesome silhouette of antlers. It looked like a spike and a raghorn to me. He said while I was working down the brush edge, the other bull and a cow had come out and the bull I was stalking had followed them. Oh yeah ... they went right over the ridge within feet of where we had been sitting not 30 minutes earlier.


We were up extra early for this last day of the season. I had made the decision that unless the bulls were rutting hard, bugling all day, we would be going home after the morning hunt. Shooting an elk on Sunday night would have made for a looooonnnng night. We started off toward our morning setup (lower down the hill) with an hour until daylight.

Half an hour in, we jumped a mulie from her bed. Not ten steps later we jumped another one ... but this sounded more like an elk to me. It ran and we cow called, and sounded like it slowed and eventually stopped. The is where the inexperience kicks in. What do you do here? You aren't to the spot you are expecting to find them, you still have 30 minutes to shooting light, and yet one is near.

Well, we gave things a few minutes to settle down and didn't hear any movement, so we started slowly working our way around. Sure enough, about 200 yards later we bumped into an elk again (I think the same one judging by where I had heard it run the first time). Well, it was getting closer to shooting light, so we set up and called, hoping it might think we were elk.

We never did see that elk again, but a few minutes into the calling we got bugles. A whole bunch of them. One of them worked its way closer. Whenever he would bugle I would throw it right back in his face. I saw an elk move up through the bowl we were sitting in, but couldn't make out if it was a cow or bull. It wasn't the one I was calling. Suddenly a series of chuckles split the air and I knew he was close, within 100 yards. I was about 60 yards behind Forrest and my Dad. Squealed back at the chuckler and he just about jumped out from behind some pines. I got a good view of his good sized 5x5 rack at this point, but he was not coming quite from the direction we wanted. If he continued straight at me, Forrest would still get a shot, but naturally, he angled up through and went down into a little dip where I couldn't see him. I tried to circle around and get in his way where I expected most animals would head, but he disappeared on me.

After some more unanswered calling, I worked back to my dad. He said another bull had come in from the opposite side of the bowl, and the 5x5 had chased him off and then gone downhill after the cow that had gone through first thing. Damn ... we were so close. At least it was the elk hunting I had been waiting for.

We started working our way to where we had originally wanted to start the morning. Coming around the last corner a voice in my head said, hey slow down around corners, you never know what will be around there. Good idea! Somehow I still didn't do it and lo and behold, there is an elk standing 50 yards in front of me straight down the trail. I dropped to a knee but not everyone realized what was happening. (Note to self: when walking a trail with a group, have people spread at least a few yards apart)

The elk slowly walked down the hill, behind some pines where we couldn't see her. I went uphill to start cow calling. We gave it a good 15 minutes as Forrest snuck up to behind the pine tree were we last spotted the elk. No answers, no results. Coming together to talk about what happened, they said they had heard an elk head off "over there" and we were looking "over there" and then suddenly an elk was looking at us from "over there"

I can't tell you how dumb we all felt at this point. We watched as cow, calf, calf, cow went through this little opening in front of us and over the edge of a steep ridge.

The good news was, there was another couple elk bugling lower down answering our calls. We headed down towards them, and set up on the edge of the property line. Naturally, the bugles were coming from the other side of it. We called for a LONG time, getting responses, but no action. At one point the bull couldn't have been more than 200 yards away, but we could not pull him over the ridge. It was still exciting enough for me!

By 9:00am, the bulls had gone tight lipped. We hunted until almost noon but we didn't hear or see anything else. We didn't harvest any elk this season, but upon review, I don't think we did all that bad for first timers. We learned a ton about elk hunting as well as the area (unsure if we will hunt it again). Only 11 months to go.

( The email that never came was supposed to have the video of us calling two spike elk to 3 feet from another hunter )

12-08-2011, 01:20 PM
Surprised it takes a kill to get any comments. As this was our first year after elk, helpful suggestions are appreciated.

12-08-2011, 03:41 PM
I don't know about everyone else but you put a ton of posts on this thread and it would take a REALLY long time for someone to read. I mainly scanned through the pictures and I'm sure that's what most other guys did too.

Most everyone on this forum is awesome about out giving help and advice. Try and write one or two paragraphs about some of the problems you had and I'm sure that guys will be more than happy to help out.

12-08-2011, 09:49 PM
I really enjoyed your accounts. Sounds like you are doing things that are working. Just has to all come together in the right place right time. Maybe try throwing on the backpack and bivy out further into the unit. Worth a try.

12-09-2011, 07:40 PM
If you get back farther in the unit, you'll get less pressure and less weary bulls. They will be easier to call in and they'll be bigger. Scouting helps alot too, its never a good idea to go into a unit that you have no idea about! I'm glad you got some good experience.

12-12-2011, 09:37 AM
I don't know about everyone else but you put a ton of posts on this thread and it would take a REALLY long time for someone to read. I mainly scanned through the pictures and I'm sure that's what most other guys did too.

Most everyone on this forum is awesome about out giving help and advice. Try and write one or two paragraphs about some of the problems you had and I'm sure that guys will be more than happy to help out.

Thanks for your response, even though I am a little disappointed. This wasn't the original place I posted this story, at the time it was posted as we hunted. However, that time was past by the time I found the Eastman's forum. One of the things I love about the Eastman's magazines are the stories. I wrote up this post as a story, not as a ten second brag. I love reading other's stories.

If the members of this forum don't have time to read a hunting story, then maybe this isn't the place for me to be.

Bitterroot Bulls
12-12-2011, 09:43 AM
If the members of this forum don't have time to read a hunting story, then maybe this isn't the place for me to be.

There are lots of different opinions here, on lots of different subjects. I read every word of your posts, and enjoyed it. People don't have to read it if they don't want to. I hope you stick around.

12-12-2011, 09:44 AM
There are lots of different opinions here, on lots of different subjects. I read every word of your posts, and enjoyed it. People don't have to read it if they don't want to. I hope you stick around.

Yeah, that was probably a little over the top.

So far this is by far the most active hunting forum I have found.

12-12-2011, 10:16 AM
Good read. I had my first ever bow hunting season this year as well. I didn't run in to as many people but my hunt during the full moon was just as disappointing as yours. I figure I learned enough this year to give myself a chance next season. My biggest problem is patients. I have rifle hunted since I was a kid so this took some getting used to. I sat for 45 minutes on a perfect spot, got bored, stood up and spooked the spike that was 15 yards over the rise behind me. Had I waited 5 more minutes he would have been my first bow kill.

Z Barebow
12-13-2011, 09:01 AM
After my 1st elk hunting experience, (Which I did not kill anything), it took some time and I reflected back on any encounters I had. What could have I done different? Sometimes a very small thing can make the difference between punching a tag or serving tag soup. In your one encounter, you mentioned not having an arrow nocked. I made the same rookie mistake. I knew there were elk around. (Had bugling within several hundred yards) But I was by myself and didn't want the safety issue of having to move with an arrow on the string. (In reflection, how hard is it to put an arrow back in the quiver if you need to take off?????? STUPID!) I heard a noise and saw a bull coming at 45 yards. In the time it took me to drop and nock an arrow, he was at 12 yards, spotted me and spooked. Why do I mention this? This is one example of one small thing that could have made the difference.

With lesson learned, next trip, I managed to shoot my 1st elk under very tough conditions. Spotted bull at 40 yards, (he was young and stupid, looking for the rest of the herd). Once he spotted me and my partner, he strarted trotting our way. Immediately, I dropped, nocked an arrow and came to full draw. Shot him at 8 yards as he was trying to figure out what we are. My partner (who shoots a release, I shoot fingers, was standing there watching the show. He admitted he would have never had time to pull it off) We never came close to an elk the rest of the trip.

Point is, take some time to look at your trip. Review every encounter, look at maps again. Could you hunt in different areas? Could nocking an arrow every time you stop for calling, lunch, rest, etc. have made a difference? Would hunting more agressively made a difference? If hot, would hiking into elky ares 3 hours before sunup and do locating bugles in the dark have helped? etc. You get the point. When hunting public land, generally opportunities are few and far between. You need to learn what it takes to capitalize on those few opportunities.

(FWIW- I went on my 5th elk hunt this year. Tag soup for me. 4 elk at less than 30 yards and I never had the chance to drop the string) Still learning! I hit the maps when I got home and was putting a plan together for my next trip!

12-15-2011, 10:22 PM
thanks for sharing your hunt with us. i enjoyed it. sounds like a great time even if the elk are still on the mountain instead of in your freezer:)

01-01-2012, 05:03 PM
Thanks for sharing your story.

01-01-2012, 07:18 PM
One thing...even if you are going to ever write a story for the mag...you need to keep it around 2,000 words....
But if you are getting pics of elk like that...you are getting close enough...and you are in the elk.
This year seemed to be tough...not a lot of bulls were called in early...rut seemed to be later around here this
year due to the heat. Keep at it...you can get hints form people here...but you will learn the most from your own mistakes.
Takes years in the field and lots of run ins with bulls and elk to learn them.

01-03-2012, 11:40 AM
Good read, thanks for sharing. Sounds like you really did well for your very first season with no actual instructor. It makes me think how lucky I am to have a dad who was able to pass on a lot of hands-on hunting advice. Not something to take for granted. But it sounds like you really did your research, and you got into animals successfully. You'll learn from the mistakes, and from the things you did right. I would consider the season a success, and I will bet next year will be better.

Happy Hunting!