This year I drew a Missouri Breaks archery tag for units 620, 621, and 622. I’d never been there and had only heard of the big bulls, insanely bad mud, and possibly lots of hunters. We headed out Friday morning and got right into our 6 hour drive east.
Basically the country drops down from the mountains into great rolling flats and eventually turns into deep coulees that run about 3-5 miles down to the Missouri River. It’s open, lightly timbered country and despite being able to see for long distances the elk disappear just as easily as in a heavily timbered forest.
We got camp set up near our good friends Bryce and Tyler’s camper and met another hunter Mike who’s quite the character and a very funny dude. Around 5 we headed out and started hunting. About 45 minutes into our hike we smelled elk and immediately spotted them feeding up a small draw.
A small group was slowly feeding uphill and we spotted this nice bull bringing up the rear. We soon worked around the draw to cut them off.
As we got closer we could see around 15 elk bedded down. The herd bull kept to his feet but they never left that area during shooting light. The terrain only let us get to within 100 yards of the bull and we had to stay put till dark. Around 8 o’clock we backed out and hoped we could get back on them in the morning.
The next morning we got back into that creek bottom at dawn and soon heard a few bugles echoing across the valley.
We soon located a herd of 20-30 elk moving north up the draw. We were on the wrong side of the valley so we moved well ahead of them and tried to cross without the elk seeing us. We were closing the last 100 yards or so with the elk only about 300 yards away when they turned and started working up the hillside. If they would have just continued on they would have walked broadside to me at about 60 yards. Again we had to stay put until every last elk had made it out of sight.
So far this year we’ve seen or been on bulls every day we’ve hunted so it’s been easy to stay on your horse and keep chasing these buggers. We headed back to camp and meet up with the boys.
That night we had a close encounter with a bull in a timbered draw and got to have a stare off with a calf at 15 yards but again no luck.
Day 3 was full of hiking and not much for elk.
We saw a few spikes that morning and for the afternoon we decided to work a new ridge which spans about 20-30 square miles to give you a feel for the size of the country.
We only saw a small bachelor group of mule deer bucks. We got back in the truck and headed back to our morning spot to see if we could see or hear anything in the area. We saw a good 6×6 cross the bottom of a marsh right and sunset and we knew we’d have elk in the area come morning.
As soon as we got down into our spot the next morning we heard a few faint bugles.
We soon worked over a couple ridges and immediately heard a lot of cow talk and a bull bugling. They were headed up the ridge towards us and we set up. I had one shooting lane and the elk started working right through it. They were 60-70 yards away and soon the bull enter my lane. After a few more steps I let an arrow fly and heard a loud thwack. I new I had hit him and he ran off about 50 yards carrying his left front leg. I thought it was a perfect shot but he didn’t topple over immediately. He soon slowly walked off and across the draw and bedded down.
We soon retrieved my arrow which had been broken off about 8 inches up from the tip. I had hit him in the front shoulder blade. Considering he had bedded down I was hoping it was a fatal shot. About 3 hours later we slowly worked towards where he had been bedded. As we crossed the bottom of the draw we saw a coyote working up towards the bulls location. Whether that was coincidence or whether he had smelled blood and was looking for a meal we’ll never know, but as soon as we got up there the bull was gone and we saw and heard elk crashing up the hill. There was no blood trail and no blood where the elk had bedded. I had not gotten a bull. He’s still out there with a very sore shoulder but he’ll live. Well be back in a few weeks to hopefully seal the deal on a Missouri Breaks bull.