Finally, some Idaho elk hunting time! written by Todd Gneiting
Once getting to the same elevation as the bull, there was still a large bare hill side between us and the ridge we needed to be on to set up. Sneaking through the sage brush, I went low as my buddy, Justin, went high, with our caller in the back. Making a quick decision I decided to setup in front of the trees so I could get a good view of anything coming my way and I would have a good backdrop to break up my silhouette. Our caller hit his cow call… Instantly, I heard the crunch of dry plants and a 4×4 bull ran over the hill past me at 30 yards, dead set on stealing the stray cow from the heard. Running past my weak side, me being a lefty, I turned around hoping for him to come back giving me a shot. Little to my knowledge the bull was 40 yards from Justin as he tried to step out to get a shot the bull saw/heard him and came running my way. I could hear the bull coming, drawing back and with wind in his face, he stopped just 15 yards from me but was on the other side of the only row of trees on the ridge. I could see his nose as he peered through the trees at me. In a flash he turned around and bolted down the mountain back the way he came. Thinking I had just blown my chance at getting an elk, I turned back around hoping the other bulls in the area might make the same mistake.
I looked down in the bottom of the draw and I could see the herd bull standing in the timber, facing toward me. I watched as he started rounding up his cows, as he had probably watched the events that had just unfolded. My stomach dropped as the bull rounded up his cows and headed down the mountain. With a satellite bull still bugling in the timber and the other hunter coming up the bottom of the basin toward us, I hoped my luck hadn’t run out. After sitting for 5-10 minutes watching a satellite bull showing interest, I heard crashing.
In the draw below me, I could see elk headed up my ridge. Then, a cow ran over the ridge below me, then another, and another. Ranging a cow and calf at 25 yards then ranging a lone pine tree at 23 yards, I debated on shooting a cow. I had never shot an elk with a bow, but I decided not to, thinking there might just be a chance that a bull would be following I watched as several more cows headed over the hill below me.
I saw the white tips of a bull headed up the same path the cows were on. Not taking another look at him, I drew back and held my pins at 25 yards just to the right of that lone pine tree waiting for the bull to pass by it. I watched as the bulls front shoulder passed the tree and I let my arrow fly. I nailed him. I hit him back, a little farther back than I would have liked but it still was a good shot. Turning around, the bull ran back down the ridge into the bottom of the draw and started up the far hillside. Not being able to find my good binos the night before I resorted to taking my cheap tree stand binos. With the bull standing at 100-125 yards and being hit hard I tried to get an eye on him with my binos. The sun was in my face and the glare on my binos was so bad, I couldn’t find the elk.
Going back and forth with my naked eye and binos I lost sight of the bull.
“OH NO. Where did he go?”
“Did he go up hill, fall over, or run off?”
I was now shaking like a leaf from the adrenalin of arrowing my first bull elk while texting my buddies that I shot an elk. We came together, exchanged stories, and made a game plan. We decided to set Justin up downhill from us and continue calling, since the series of events only took place in about 15 minutes, we thought maybe there was a chance something might still be in the area. After just a few minutes of calling Justin said, “a hunter coming up the draw your bull ran into.” We instantly took off running down the mountain and stopped the other hunter from possibly scaring off my wounded elk. He then sat with us and had lunch as we gave the bull time to expire knowing I hit him back and I didn’t see him fall.
With very good blood down the hill, it quickly started to get hard to find in the thicker brush in the bottom of the draw. We were able to find my broken arrow, but it was slow going for a bit. We found very few drops of blood in the dark soil, then our new found friend, Rob, looked up and said the best words I have ever heard, “There’s your bull!!!”
I owe a lot of thanks to my hunting buddies and our new friend for not only helping us track my elk and cut it up, but he was also the reason the elk came running over the hill past me in the first place. Being an avid whitetail hunter and having season after season of frustration with elk hunting, because of minimal time to hunt and scout, 2013 was definitely a year to remember and my enthusiasm for elk hunting has increased tenfold.