My wife was drawn an any elk tag in a limited opportunity area this year. We've been hunting this area for the last 3 years with mixed success. The terrain is terrible but there are elk around if you know where to look or can get above 10,000ft on the mountain. Last year she had a cow tag and all we could find were bulls. So we had high hopes when she drew the any elk tag... perfect. She is strictly a meat hunter and the only reason to shoot a bull in her eyes was for more meat.
Last year was a tough hunt, we hunted some every day and put a lot of tough miles in rough terrain to not even see a cow elk the whole hunt. She likes to eat elk and kinda likes to shoot them but she does not care for a tough hunt. After predator calling in elk country last winter though I was convinced I had a secret weapon. I found a certain distress sound that would bring in elk like rabbit calls bring in doe mule deer. I was sure if we could get within earshot of some cows we'd be able to get them in to the call and this time of year they should have a bull with them.
The hunting spot, from our house. Definitely a perk:
Due to circumstances though, neither of us was completely mentally prepared for this hunt. A few things happened over the last two weeks that killed the excitement completely for her and set me back as well. Opening day found us at our old honey hole in the burn and while the view was beautiful, her spirits were down and there was no elk to be found.
We tried calling after watching for an hour or so but no luck. We decided to hit the next spot. No luck there either. By this time she was convinced this would be her last elk hunt and I was almost dreading the next 3.5 days. However, the evening spot I had picked out was about to pay off.
After she had a nap at the house we headed for a spot I had a hunch on. This is a place everyone who hunts this area says there a NO elk in until after dark. I know elk and I knew this was an elky spot and I refuse to believe that all the elk migrate to and from 10,000ft twice daily every day (I am assured this is the case by every other successful hunter on this mountain BTW). So we set up and picked a spot where I thought the elk would come out of the canyon and would come by us to see the call. Pretty thick area near a high mountain clearing, could see maybe 150-200 yards in each direction and had a couple shooting lanes to 100 yards or so.
We heard some cows/calves talking briefly about an hour before dark and then a bugle. I tried a few cow/calf chirps with the Hoochie Mama with zero response. I thought it sounded like a hunter anyway but we stuck to the plan and a half hour before dark I started distress calling on the Foxpro. After 5-10 minutes we heard a loud limb crack in the canyon and then heard the loud thumping on elk running in the steep forest floor. Only elk make that sound in this forest so we got positoned to shoot and in a minute a cow elk appeared. Then a calf and another cow/calf. Then I could see an antler following. I said there's a bull wait for him and after they gathered up they made their way in front of us and through our best shooting lane. She let the lead cow walk thru, then her calf. Then the bull. I hit a cow chirp with my Hoochie Mama and he stopped and looked. My wife was not expecting this and came off the rifle! When she got back on it the bull was walking again. She fired and he took it like a champ, just kinda finished walking thru with a slight increase in speed. No jump or hunch-up or flinch. Telltale tough elk. They bunched up and started to leave the way they came. THe cows busted but he came walking back thru the same clearing. She busted him again, I could see that hit him for sure by the slight hitch it caused in his step. Then after about 10 yards he did a nose dive into the dirt and was down for the count!
She was shaking like a leaf after that, that was one of the most exciting things I've ever seen. Animals respond differently to distress sounds than say rut sounds or normal elk sounds. They came in just like coyotes, ancy and ultra interested. They come with determination. Calling in a herd of elk to distress calls shooting a herd bull at 60 yards is very, very fun. Pretty nice 6x6!
Not bad for a meat hunt huh?
Was a late night getting him loaded and skinned and hung, my sister and brother in law met us at the house and we got it done.
Couldn't be happier about this, and I think she wants to do it again! We like our elk meat around here