This year I drew a late muzzy tag on a really bad weather year. Normally we would have a good amount of snow by this time of year to push the elk down out of the high country. These elk have been hunted almost every week since September and were very spooked. They were going into the timber way before sunrise and not coming out of the thick timber until “Dark Thirty”. We knew it was going be a tough one. This was an either sex tag so any elk would be fair game.
We spent a lot of time deciding on where we should hit on the opener. We were going in blind without a scouting trip. We decided on a spot where we have hunted in the past and where we had a feeling the elk were going to be.
We slept in that morning a little bit. We awoke by the sound of my dog’s bark when our friend, Joe, arrived at our house. We quickly jumped in the truck and drove to the unit.
We arrived to the spot where we normally park. I started to load the muzzy when I heard some cow calls. I was going to shoot a cow due to the conditions so I was excited just knowing that they were in the area. The cow calls were soon followed by a bugle and then another. The temperature was unseasonably warm for December 1st. The high was going to be 67. We knew that these elk were in a near meadow and we knew exactly were we needed to cut them off for a shot as they moved back into the timber.
We headed in the direction of the bugles and cow calls. It was still dark when we left Saint and Joe behind while my dad and I went for the closing stalk. Every time a bull would bugle, we would pin-point their location. There were at least 3 or 4 different bulls in the bunch. Some sounded more mature than others. I was still going to shoot the first elk I that would give me a good shot. They were moving into the timber very early.
It was now shooting light and my dad and I were slowly making our way to the herd of elk. As it got to day break the elk started going crazy with their calling. It’s unbelievable how much these elk were talking. Maybe still rutting? While on the stalk, we would check the wind about every 40 yards. The wind was swirling in every direction. We got to within eye sight of the herd and we could see that there were many more elk than we originally thought moving through the trees. A herd had about 30-40 elk.
We slowly moved down to their position when we spotted a big cow about 50 yards below us. I was just about to drop the hammer, when I caught a glimpse of a small bull to the right and past the big cow in a small opening. I had a small shooting window and had his left shoulder in view.. I put it right on him and squeezed. The 290 grain Barnes T-EZ found its mark and he instantly dropped in his tracks. We never ranged the shot but it was around 80 yards. Elk were running everywhere. It was odd because seconds after my shot, a bull bugled close by.
We walked up to my bull and on the ridge above was a very small 6x6 looking right at me about 150 yards. Oh well, I was very happy with my bull. I am lucky I shot when I did, because soon after we spotted some other hunters walking in the meadow where the elk came from. We later talked to them and they were stalking some of the straggler cows when I shot.
My bull had that rutty smell on him. We are certain that these elk were rutting. This is the reason you occasionally see calf elk with spots in October. I have heard about elk going into a second rut and that some times it’s more intense than the normal rut. We heard more bugles that opening morning than on my dad’s archery hunt in September. Go Figure.
We needed an elk for the freezer. I’m just happy to be successful on this hunt especially with a 4x4 bull. It was an unbelievable morning.
Pics of the hunt enjoy.
Here is where he was standing where I shot him.
80 yard shot with T/C Encore. 290grain Barnes T-EZ pushed by 100gr (vol) 70gr (wt) of Black Horn 209. Zeroed at 140 yards. Man I love Muzzy Hunting!
Me and my bull. 2nd with the Muzzy
Me and Joe
Me and Saint
Me and My dad
I was excited when I saw no exit hole. I knew we had a bullet recovery. I got a little sad when I found the bullet. It was not a traditional barnes recovery. It did the job and that’s what really matters. My guess is that the bullet hit a real solid bone in the shoulder and penetrated the bull sideways. Found just under the hide on the opposite shoulder.
The barnes did exactly what it said it would do. It only lost 1 grain of bullet. Got 289 out of 290.
After my tag was filled, we hooked back up with my uncle to see if we could get him an elk before the hunt was over.My uncle ended up not getting an elk on this hunt. We hunted hard for the remainder of the week. We saw the elk but people were really pushing them pretty hard.
That evening of the opener we set up at a water hole. We wanted to see if the elk were going to use them due to there is not really any snow for them.
There was this sick looking canyon that was up and over from where the water hole was so we went up and over to check it out. Came up short. Didnt see any thing.
The next mornning we decided to go up to the high country. There seemed to be more elk in the area but there was also more people there as well. Saw lots of elk across the highway in the other unit.
That same evening we hunted near where I killed my bull. We went for a 3 mile hike and saw nothing. By now these elk are really spooked.
Cow elk track
My dad and my Uncle made it out 2 more days but were not successful. It was a hard hunt. I think I was lucky to get mine. A lot of guys were unsuccessful.