150 Miles on Foot

elk-antlerThis was one of my best years of bow elk hunting ever, and I say that even though, in the end, we didn’t fill the freezer until deer season. Over the course of the season we did everything right most of the time and put in plenty of time and miles. How close did we come? How many times? Over the course of 3 weeks of hunting we put in over 150 miles, including 10 to 17 miles every day and several after dark locating trips which were amazingly successful. We knew where an elk was several times, and I would say that the odds had actually switched to our favor. If we had killed an animal this year, it wouldn’t have been due to luck. Hard work eventually pays off. Luckily hunting time and miles don’t expire at the end of the season. Of course you only have one chance to fill your tag this year but time spent learning an area and its herds doesn’t expire with the season. New nooks and crannies that hold elk this year will have them next year and probably the year after that.

So how close did we come? I was drawn, in almost wide open, at 30 yards with a good 6 point at the wrong angle. I was 10 yards from another big bull with so much brush that I only caught a small glimpse of antler and hide. We were on the same bugling bull 4 different days, twice within 100 yards downwind and setup to call before he knew we were there. We had a bull we called the “1000 pound bull” based on the tremendous size of his tracks. Another bull hung out in the same basin for most of a week, but we only hunted him twice because we were chasing a bull in a better location. Yet another bull sounded off near camp after dark. We called once and he was coming in! He ended up tearing a small tree out of the ground 60 yards from camp. After that bull went back to his herd, another sounded off several times also within 100 yards of camp.

After a full season without success I sometimes have things to regret. What could I have done differently? Second guessing is inevitable but this time I can’t find any major flaws. I had my chance but not my angle, I played the wind right most of the time and stayed persistent and in good spirit. Next year I look forward to more of the same and hopefully a freezer full of elk and a wall full of antlers. Hunting is an endless series of opportunities for hope.