I headed out to Montana for two weeks in search of my first archery elk. I was going to go with a buddy from home but he ended up being diagnosed with Lyme disease and was unable to go on the trip. Oh well, I'll just go solo for the first week! I have another friend in Mt. and he was taking a few days off work to join me during the second week.
When I landed out here I couldnt get over the amount of smoke. You couldnt see across the bitterroot valley, all of the mountain tops were smoked in.
I headed out on the night of the 16th reaching the trailhead at 8PM. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go because I had hunted the area two years ago. I hiked in a little way in the dark and set up camp. Mondays hunt brought no sightings until I was bugling my way back to camp in the dark and heard a bull respond. I was able to cach a glimpse of him moving along the sidehill above me. Tues and Wed was more of the same, covering lots of ground, not hearing much and sitting waterholes during midday and evening (that was way too boring).
I was planning on hunting a half day Thursday the 20th and then heading out to call my buddy and tell him we might want to try another area that weekend. I had only heard 2 bulls bugle and it just wasnt happening there yet, but my how one day can change things. Thursday morning I woke up to the sound of a bull bugling right outside my camp! I waited until I could shoot to leave the tent and snuck my way towards him. I got in close and bugled, he cut me off and within minutes there was a big 6x6 coming right to me. Unfortunately he caught me drawing at 30 yards and stopped with his vitals shielded by a tree. I held my shot for awhile but he never moved until he turned to run, I was devastated to say the least. I sat there thinking about what to do next, when I heard another bugle. I was off that mountain, across the valley and up the other side in no time! I worked my way in and traded a few bugles with the bull. I finally got in position where I thought he would appear and sure enough he did, about 100 yards away. I bugled at him and he returned on and then started raking a tree. I had nothing to lose so I started walking at him while he raked. He would stop, look down the hill and bugle, then go back to raking. He did this about 3 times and I made it to 40 yards. I had to shoot under a limb so I took a knee and settled the pin and let one fly. I heard it hit and the bull jumped and ran about 25 yards in a semi circle. I could see the hit and it was slightly far back but still looked good. He stood there looking around and then his legs got wobbly, he went down right there! I watched for awhile to make sure he was dead and then went up to put my hands on him, what a feeling!!!
I was so pumped up I was able to get him butchered and packed out in near record time! I packed him out in two trips, the loads were HEAVY but it wasnt too rough of a walk.
What an amazing experience, and now instead of calling to say we should try another area I was driving to his house to put this bull in the freezer and head back to see if we could get him one. We were back in the same area Sat morning and there were bulls talking everywhere. Over the next few days he was able to draw on three 6 points and we saw 3 or 4 other bulls but no shots were taken. Finally on Tuesday I had a bull answer my bugle and we played our cards right. I called the bull right into his lap and he shot it at 4 yards. When I heard him shoot I made a few calls and then headed down the hill to see him when I noticed the bull coming right at me! I knelt down and the bull came up within 15 yards of me, still looking for the sound of the call. He ended up going down 20 yards away from me.
We started that day at 4AM, he shot the bull at 5 PM, and we pulled into his driveway at 5:15AM the next day! It was a long tough day but there is no denying we were loving it all. I cant wait to come out and do it again!