The general season elk hunt is by far my favorite hunt, and time of year. My wife often jokes that I live for this one week out of the year that I get to hunt bull elk. In the past 13 years of hunting this area, I have managed to pull bulls out every year but one. The year I didn't bring home a bull wasn't because I did not see a bull, but rather because I hit a six point bull but never recovered it. That hunt haunts me to this day.
The general season elk hunt is a tough hunt to be successful at. Somehow I have managed to defy the 17% success rate by killing almost every year. Maybe what separates me from others is the fact that I LOVE elk meat and cannot pass up a legal bull without throwing lead at it! I do not hunt for antlers, but for meat and the experience.
So, if you are expecting to see gigantic antlers, don't read any further. This thread is about my experience and the passion I have for hunting elk.
Saturday found my dad and I on top of a mountain looking for elk sign instead of looking for elk. Some snow storms moved through the area a few days earlier and stirred the elk up to where we could not locate any. We spent opening morning looking for sign. By mid day, we had figured out where they had all went, however, before we could form a game plan for the evening, dad looked up in the trees and saw two bulls standing there! He took an off-hand shot at the bull, but missed. We followed up on the shot to be sure, but found no blood in the snow after following the tracks for quite some time. We made it to a saddle and decided to eat lunch, rest our legs, and figure out the evening hunt. At about 3:00 pm, we heard a large bull bugling in the timber close by. We headed in his direction, playing the wind to our advantage. We got within 200 yards from the bull when I looked up above me and caught a large 5 point satellite bull staring right at me. I took an off-hand shot at the bull but missed. all the elk vacated the area and left dad and I sitting there once again trying to figure out an evening game plan.
Just a side note, I purchased my uncles Remington Slide Action 30.60 (mint condition from the 1960's) and decided to hunt with it this year thinking it would be cool to kill an elk with a family gun. I failed to remember he had the gun sighted in for looooong distance, which is why I missed that 5 point bull.
Saturday night came to a close with no more elk encounters, just a couple of bugling bulls after dark.
Dad is 70 years of age and needed a day to recover from our 12 mile journey on Saturday, so we took Sunday off and recuperated in camp. Monday found us back on top in our old familiar stomping grounds. We hunted the morning with no success. We were eating lunch when dad says, "I got a good feeling about that knob over there. I think we need to check it out after lunch." So without any objection, I formed a game plan to push the knob to my dad, who would be waiting in a clearing on the other side for anything that might come running out.
I got into position, radioed dad and told him I was heading through the trees in his direction. As I picked my way through the fallen timber, I caught movement up ahead of me. There was a small herd of elk 50 yards in front of me! I knelt down and scanned the herd for bulls, but found only cows and calfs. The lead cow fed within 20 yards of me before picking up my scent and busting out of there with the other cows. I threw the scope up, but saw only cows. I watched as they crashed off through the trees before something caught my peripheral vision. a single elk busted out to my left toward the direction the cows ran. I threw the scope on the elk only to see the larges bull I had ever seen in that area! A monster 6x6, and a clear shot at less than 100 yards! I pull the trigger and fully expected the elk to drop. However, he moved off like nothing was wrong! I walked over to where I had shot at him and followed his tracks through the snow for 500-600 yards until I met up with my dad. I found NO blood or any indication that he had been hit. Dad had saw the bull running straight at him but had no shot because of the thick timber. Just before the bull was going to come out of the timber at my dad, he made a hard left, staying in the timber, moving up and over the ridge. At that point I was frustrated with the 30.06 and decided to trade it in my my trusty 300 RUM once back at camp. I just had to finish out the evening with the 30.06 because we were so far away from camp.
That evening, I headed down to the spot we dubbed the "cheese hole" because of the many elk we have killed out of there over the years. I sat there until almost dark like I do every year. Right at dark a herd of elk rolled out of the thick timber at 80 yards and into the clearing I was watching. I watched as the cows and calfs fed to within 20 yards below me. At the very last moment of light, a bull walked out and fed toward the cows. By this time, I had figured out that the gun must be shooting way high at close distances so I aimed at the base of the bulls neck and squeeze the trigger. The bull folded up and my hunt was over!
We hunted the next evening after getting my elk out. We almost had another shot for dad but the elk busted us and took off. Dads feet were bothering him so we packed up the next morning and called it a hunt.
There is nothing better than hunting with my dad. Another year of cherished memories and successful times! Looking forward to next year when dad and I can return to sacred hunting grounds and pursue our wildest dreams!