Monday, September 15, 2008

The story of a young elk hunter

© By Othmar Vohringer

This is a true story of a young elk hunter and his close encounter with a monster elk bull that got him hooked for good on the pursuit of this majestic animal with its echoing bugle that can be heard for miles in the predawn mist in the Colorado Mountains. The story has been told to me by Chad of Field Dress and rather than repeat here I let him tell you all about that incredible story in his own words.

Every year my father, uncle, brother and I get together for a week of nonstop bowhunting in either Colorado, for elk, or North Dakota, for whitetail. This year is like no other, as everyone had a tough year financially and we decided we’d have to wait until next year to get together. My uncle’s son, however, finally decided he would like to take up bowhunting and drew both elk and mule deer tags. In previous years, he would always join us in the woods, but he never had the passion for the actual “hunt”. He has been calling me every evening to not only rub it in, but mostly to get advice and tell me about the happenings. The story he told me the other night was one we’ll be telling around the campfire for years to come.

He scouted pretty well and had been seeing quite a few cows and a couple monster mule deer on a consistent basis. In the morning hunt, he glassed the area they’ve been in and the valley was alive with activity. The mule deer bucks, herd of cows, and a couple rag horned elk were out. A friend came up the night before and the two devised the route to take. They had radios, a perfect wind, and my cousin set out on his first true stalk.

He decided to go after the rag-horned elk, as they were preoccupied with each other in a morning scrap. It didn’t take him long to get within sixty yards. He feels extremely confident shooting within forty yards and as he stopped to figure out the plan, he heard the familiar “crack” to his left.

Now, the rest might be hard for some to believe, but let me tell you, the boy doesn’t have it in him to lie. He looked down the ridge and there was the granddaddy bull elk standing forty-yards away through the pines. He set up just in front of a pine and some brush preparing for the shot. He couldn’t tell how big, but could see a mass of horns walking directly to him. As the bull came through the pines into clear view, he counted eight points on one side and as he described it, “horns going in every direction” on the other side.

He also noticed the bull had a limp and realized one of his back legs had been shot off just above the knee. The wind was perfect, blowing directly in his face and the adrenaline was kicking in as the bull kept walking to within twenty yards. Never offering a shot, the bull kept coming to ten yards. At fifteen-feet, the bull stopped to relieve himself and my cousin swore he felt the spray on his face. He absolutely had no idea what to do with a bull that close and continuing to get closer and closer.

My cousin was slightly above him, as the bull had been walking up the ridge and fifteen-feet quickly became five-feet and then two feet. My cousin closed his eyes to try and calm down and when he opened them all he saw were horns surrounding his body. The bull had put his head down to feed and had he turned his head would’ve hit my cousin for sure. Being an agile young man, he slowly contorted to draw his bow, never realizing if he actually would extend his arm he would hit the bull directly on the forehead with the end of his arrow. As the monster granddaddy lifted his head, they met eyes and I’m sure they both “shat” themselves. I can’t imagine the feeling of looking into the eyes of such a majestic animal at that distance. In a moment the three-legged eight-point granddaddy monster bull was gone and my cousin was left standing to wonder what he could’ve done. To me, it doesn’t really matter. He might not ever get the biggest bull in our camp, but he’ll always be able to keep us captivated with the best elk hunt story ever told.

He has another week or so to go after him and has promised to not forget a camera. I’ll keep you informed as I look forward to the evening updates.
Three-Legged Bull Update!

Well, my cousin is really getting into the elk. He’s been having the most luck in the morning hunts and yesterday was no exception. He spotted a couple cows and the monster muley in the same general area as before and headed out. A snow front started in which made for a beautiful walk in.

About half way up he spooked something and froze. As he looked to his right, getting up from their beds were two moose. It’s rare, but every once in a while we’ll come upon one. This was a small bull and cow and they just kind of wandered off into the timber. He continued up the trail and got about one hundred yards out from where he saw the cows and stopped to glass. As he was glassing, down below him, the herd was moving his way. He initially saw numerous cows, a six-point bull, and more horns through the pines, but couldn’t make out their sizes.

In his mind, however, all he saw was “Tripod”, the eight-point, three-legged bull, he’s seen over and over in his dreams since last week. He put out a couple bugles and got the answer he was looking for from the six-point. They talked back and forth for a while, but the big bull didn’t want to leave the herd. He thought “Tripod” must be in the area. Then suddenly, a nice four-point appeared in a clearing, forty-yards out. Perfect shooting distance, but “Tripod” got the better of him.

First-time elk hunting and I think he believes its always going to be this way. He passed him up and continued towards the herd. The six-point wanted nothing to do with his bugling and took the herd off into the timber and again. “Tripod” was victorious.

How many of us passed a nice trophy because of the one that got away still fresh in our minds? In the field training for the rookie elk hunter. Whatever he is doing however, he must be doing something right. He was able to get a picture of the walk in on his cell and thinks he got some of the moose and elk too. I’ll have to wait for him to get on a computer to send everything over. The way his hunts are going, I don’t think he’ll be in civilization until he and “Tripod” meet again.

More to come…

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