Well it’s been about a week since I completed my #1 goal for the season, which was to arrow my first bull. This year has been amazing. Of the 21 days Travis and I have hunted this year we’ve only had 2 where we didn’t see or hear a bull. Compare that to last year and it’s night and day. We were in and around the elk constantly and unfortunately Travis has had some bow malfunctions otherwise he’d have one down long ago. We did get some great footage of it though.
My 10th day of archery season put me close to Missoula hunting with my brother. He had recently hunted one of our spots and said the elk were rutting hard so we knew we’d get into elk. After crossing a river and an hour hike which climbs 1800 vertical feet we set foot on an open ridge and started hunting.
Immediately we spooked some cows off a logging road. I was a little down after that but within ten minutes we rounded a bend and heard bugling in a small, well used basin. We slowly crept down to where the basin necked and set up. I could tell the elk were moving down towards the logging road and soon we could hear twigs breaking. Either the elk were going to come on a trail at 10 yards or scale some shale at around 40. They chose the later and two cows slowly crept down onto the logging road. They were very cautious but fortunately we had the wind in our favor and they never caught our scent on the road. Finally a raghorn 3×4 followed. I had one small gap through the branches and as soon as he stepped into it I settled my 40 pin on him and let my Easton rip. I could tell I hit him hard and within twenty seconds I heard him crash and die just a hundred yards from where we sat. I was pumped up to say the least. That rush of adrenaline is unreal.
We gave him about 30 minutes just to be safe and then set off to check out my first elk. I found the arrow minus the broadhead. I stuck him quartering away and the Montec CS buried in his opposite shoulder after penetrating both lungs.
Soon I had my hands on him and boy did it feel good.
He sure doesn’t compare to the bulls I chased this year in the Breaks but he’s still a trophy in my book. He’s got some great chocolate horns and let’s just say he’s a tasty fellar. It’s only my second year with a bow, and my second year of serious hunting so I was stoked to get it done.
Well after we got to my bull, three other bulls filtered into this same basin bugling like crazy. I told my brother he needed to use my bow and see if we could double up. Sure enough a bull was going to work right up over the logging road. Travis unfortunately tried to sneak too close as he didn’t want to take a long shot with my bow. The elk saw him and bolted but continued to linger and bugle below us. We then headed back to my elk. I went to grab my backpack and all of a sudden a nice 5×5 is chasing a cow down straight towards me. The cow saw me and turned but the bull stood at about 40 yards and bugled. He stood around for about 5 minutes and then continued chasing that cow. Travis unfortunately was below me and behind some tree so he didn’t get a chance at this guy. It was most likely a good thing because I had never packed a bull out and it was tough to say the least. One of our packs was not neccessarily built for a 80-100 pound quarter but it got the job done. Thankfully it was all downhill.
Overall it was an experience I’ll never forget. We did manage to film the hunt and got some great footage. It might be a while before we get it edited so be sure to keep checking back with us cause it should be pretty darn sweet.
Big thanks to Travis for filming and helping pack out my bull. Couldn’t have done it without him.
Well it’s been a few weeks since we’ve dropped any new posts so it’s finally time to make an update. It’s been a busy few weeks of school, work, and hunting. Two weekends ago Travis and I were back in our spot from opening weekend. We found tons of large rubs, hunters bugling their faces off constantly, but no elk. After two days of no sign or sound of elk we moved camp about 5 miles to the west.
Again we little fresh sign and again week old rubs and scat but no elk were currently holding in the area. We moved again. Getting to our last spot of the weekend I spotted a cow in the bottom of a coulee. We geared up and started a stalk. After working to within 40 yards we saw they had bedded and that we would need to re-angle ourselves to get a broadside shot. Soon we had backed out and were again moving close to what we thought were 2 cows. The wind swirled at about 50 yards and one of the cows busted up and barked at us. Soon 4 other cows and a bull poped up. By the time Travis was ready and the bull stopped he was 85 yards out and his arrow sailed well left.
The next weekend we were back at the Missouri Breaks. Conditions were very poor for elk hunting as the temps rose into the low 90s the whole weekend.
We soon found out that the elk were moving to bedding areas after only about 45 minutes of shooting light. This made it very difficult to locate and set up in front of the elk. With so many coulees and ridges for these elk to work up it was highly dependent on right place at the right time. Calling to these elk often sends them running and generally only allow you to locate and then hope to cut them off so the conditions were by no means excellent. The evening hunts were all but non-existent other than at most half an hour before dark. The high temperature and moderate hunting pressure kept them clammed up and bedded down.
To make matters worse about 300 head of elk were on the refuge all weekend and a solid half mile of vehicles showed up for the nightly elk show. The only upside was we got to see a bunch of bulls and got a few decent pictures.
Nonetheless we still had some action but it was pretty limited. Our good friend Bryce had a few bulls show up on game camera but he wasn’t able to seal the deal either.
During the day we did spend some time honing our skills on some wary prairie dogs and it was a good way to kill the long wait between morning and evening hunts. I smoke this guy at 52 yards.
We soon headed out empty handed and I won’t be filling my elk tag in the Breaks this year.
This weekend we’ll head home to Bigfork and see if we can’t get on some more elk. A couple small but shootable whitetail bucks are frequenting our stands and hopefully we can get something on the ground. The elk seem to be finally really rutting but only time will tell.