Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Elk Hunting Saturday, September 27 Recap

Saturday was completely exhilarating from the totally opposite end of the spectrum of our hunt Friday night. The scenery was no less breathtaking. But the anticipation was different. The hunt would be different. Sid and two of the guys in had headed to the same draw earlier that morning and saw and heard a bunch of elk. Since this was the last evening the guys would be hunting, they prepared for an all out assault. Each of the five guys spread out along the creek flowing through the draw. One hundred yards between each of them so that each could cover the 50 yd range of their compound bows to either side. An elk wasn’t going to get between them.

I was stationed on a hill behind them where I could see the entire tree line and meadow. I was armed that night with the video camera, prepared to hopefully get some good shots of the approaching elk and a soundtrack full of bugles if they cooperated. Sid and I sat between 5:30 and 6, and we waited. Sid expected prime time to be right at about 6:45 or 7.

6:15 was the first bugle we heard. Sid said it was early, but a good sign. After a while we’d hear another, and then another. They sounded “big” and like they were right on top of one of the guys that Sid had stationed just out of sight into the pine trees. I decided that at 7 pm I’d turn the camera on and let it run through dark.

Right on cue, just as I was turning on the camera, another big bugle. It was incredibly exciting. The first time I’d been in a canyon to hear the elk really sounding off, and Sid was right there telling me how large it was, where it was, and which way it was likely moving, just by the sounds and tones. Crazy wild experience.

At 7:05, well, that’s when I learned that just because the battery display on the camera says 90 minutes, doesn’t mean it’s actually going to hold out and work for more than 5 minutes. Of course I said to myself earlier in the day, might as well give it a full charge. Of course, I had about 4 back up batteries that I conveniently had sitting on my bed as well. Yup, bad case of the dumb ass extraordinaire.

Oh well. Fortunately for me, no elk came out into the open, so I didn’t actually miss any video, but unfortunately for the hunters, all the 25-30 bugles we heard did nothing more than tease them, as none of the big bulls moved into a position to be seen or shot at.

The bugling continued as dusk faded to dark, and when it became apparent it would be too dark to shoot, Sid and I stood and started to head down to meet the guys. Just then, after we’d moved about 5 feet we heard a rustling in the trees in the draw just down to our left. We hear a big bugle, and Sid can make out the outline of an elk just bounding out of the Aspens.

We hear trampling in the sage brush, another big bugle, and then a hollow gurgling type sound that Sid explain the bulls make with their stomachs when a bull wants to “get to know” one of the cows a bit better. The cow kept moving forward towards us. The bull would give chase, bugle, make the stomach gurgle. You could hear the bull try to get up behind the cow, but she would continue to move forward. We could hear them moving up the hill straight at us.

Another bugle, more stomach gurgling, and more rustling in the sagebrush. The bull was getting mad that the cow wasn’t being more cooperative. And then continued to get closer and closer to us. Just then, the cow appeared just on the other side of the knob we were standing on. We could see her outline 15 yds away from us in the darkness. She immediately stopped, and the bull appeared just behind her.

The cow stood for a second trying to figure out what we were, and when she realized that there weren’t supposed to be two pine trees on that part of the hill, she took off and was almost instantly 75 yds away back into the Aspen trees that she’d originally emerged from. The bull wasn’t long to follow her.

What a cool experience, though. The sounds of those majestic animals were just incredible. Totally exhilarating, and very cool to be able to have that happen while I was standing next to Sid.

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