Bull Elk - Blake Owens
2015 was a year that I didn't expect to be elk hunting, as I'd drawn a great early archery elk just two years prior. I was able to kill a 370" 7x7 on the fourth day of that hunt. As most hunters know, it isn't easy to get drawn for two early season elk tags in three years but that's exactly what happened. I drew a tag in a unit that most would consider less than optimal but having grown up and hunted in the unit my whole life I felt I could still kill a good bull.
Trail cameras were placed starting in June and checked throughout the summer. Unfortunately we weren't seeing anything real big and we're getting discouraged as the beginning of September approached. I ended up guiding a deer hunter the week leading up to the hunt so my plans of scouting hard that week were shot. As opening day came I had no idea where I was even going to start. I decided I would go help my dad on his hunt in another unit for the first three days and come up with a game plan when I got back.
Upon returning to my unit the following week I was able to chase a few bulls and pass on some small ones but could never find what I was looking for. The temperatures were in the mid 80's and the bulls weren't talking so that wasn't helping either. After a hard weeks hunt and only seeing one bull over 300" I was about to throw in the towel. I went into town to get some lunch when my friend called me saying he was watching a bull in the 340-350" range and it was in an area no one would ever expect. I skipped the lunch idea and headed straight out there. We located the bull and knew it was going to be tough because he had 30 cows and 5 satellite bulls following him around.
Tough was an understatement when it came to getting close to this bull. He was in wide open country and with all the elk around him it felt more like spot and stalk archery antelope hunting. Over the next four days we couldn't get closer than 100 yards from him without getting busted by a cow. Finally on the fifth day and third before the last day of the hunt he made his fatal mistake. I glassed the herd up from about a mile away near a pond. I got over to them as fast as I could and thankfully they hadn't moved far. The bulls were screaming and I had an idea of where they were headed so I got in front of them and waited. They were moving down a fence line that they didn't want to cross and I had set up just 30 yards from the fence. Eventually I had cows moving by me at 20 yards. Cows in front of me, behind me, all over the place. Just when I thought they would smell me the bull let out a bugle just on the other side of the juniper tree I was hiding in. Next thing I knew he stepped out at 15 yards and I put an arrow in him, which at the time I thought was too low to kill him. He ran out to 30 yards and I put another one in him that I knew finished him off because he fell over within sight. Just like that all the frustration and negativity about the hunt was forgotten and my bull was down. He was even nice enough to die in a spot we could get the truck to and load him up. We taped him at 343" with 19" and 20" firsts and seconds. He was a great bull to finish off a tough hunt.
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