11 February 2001

Bull Elk Double Play

by Craig Anderson

Bull Elk Double Play

I called my brother and told him about the evening hunt I had just gotten back from. The nice receptive herd bull I got within forty yards of but couldn’t make a play on, and about the lone spike bull that jumped out of his bed looking for mamma, from the cow chirps I made and got winded on. So my brother was pretty excited to get back in there, but I had work to deal with and was pretty hesitant about taking another day off. We decided to do a morning hunt so we could get back to work around noon. So we made plans to head into the same area the next morning.

While heading up the trailhead that next morning, I really didn’t expect to see those elk in the same area, but it was definitely worth a try. We pealed off the main trailhead, and headed up the same draw the screamer was the night before. To no surprise, they were gone. So we slowly made our way to the top of the ridge by about 9am. Once we reached the ridge, we decided to take a break and maybe try to spot something or hear the screamer. No more than 5 minutes went by, and Steve spotted a rag horn bull on a far hillside working his way toward us. We watched him for no more than a minute or two, and we heard a bugle down in another draw quite a distance away. After about ten minutes of watching the rag horn work his way down into some cover, and listening to some distant bugles we decided to go after the rag horn because he seemed a lot closer than distant bugles. So we headed for the draw the rag horn was believed to be in. Once we reached the draw we set up thinking we would get a quick response with some cow chirps. Well a half an hour went by and not a peep was heard and no sign of the rag horn anywhere. So the next decision was to either head back to work or go after the distant bugles we heard earlier up on the ridge. We went after the buglers. It took about a half an hour to work are way up to top again and to drop down into the draw we believed the buglers were in. Working our way down the draw we could hear two bulls screaming at each other. Once we got within 100 yards of the elk we decided to set up. It didn’t take long to get a response to Steve’s chirps. I set up below and to the right of Steve as he cow called the herd bull within forty yards. The bull came in really close but I couldn’t see him from where I was set up. A couple minutes went by and the herd bull gathered his cows and boogied. Well at this point I was convinced it wasn’t meant to be and we should probable head back to work. Then just below us a couple hundred yards we heard another bugle. It was time to put our game faces back on. We headed down the draw about hundred yards and set up again. I was below and up to the left on a finger ridge from my brother. Steve started cow chirping, and a quick bugle followed, followed by a few more. He was definitely getting close; I just wasn’t sure where he would be once he got real close. He reached the finger ridge I was on, and I could see his antlers coming over the ridge just behind me no more then twenty-five yards away. Before I knew it, the bull was fifteen yards behind me and there was nothing I could do. Fortunately there was a tree between the elk and myself, so he couldn’t see me. All I could do was turn my head slowly and watch him scream down my neck in the direction my brother was cow calling from. Nearly five minutes went by, and my legs were shaking. The bull didn’t know what to do because there was no cow to be seen. He slowly backed out and headed up above us to possible wind something. Once he moved through some cover, I moved to the exact spot he was standing when he was bugling down my neck. At that time he veered back in my direction and was above me about forty yards in a clearing. He was moving out so I pulled back once he went by a lone sapling in the clearing. Once he came out from behind the tree, I cow called and he slowly came to a stop and looked in my direction. I leveled my bow and let the arrow fly. Instantly I could see the arrow pass through the boiler room and I knew he was hit well. The bull took off, and within five seconds I heard him heading down and some crashing was heard in the timber, than nothing. I turned to Steve and yelled, “I got him”! He didn’t even know I got the shot off. So I told him the story and where I thought he went down. We decided to wait a half an hour to be sure he wasn’t moving anywhere. After the high fives, and the excitement subsided we decided to get something to eat and drink some water. About ten minutes went by, and Steve thought he heard something. I didn’t hear a thing while lying there watching the clouds roll by. Than all the sudden something was very close. My first thought was, my bull is coming. Steve was up on one knee with his bow and arrow ready, and I was trying to find my release. Before I knew it, I could see dark brown legs, and was convinced it was my bull. The bull came out in the same clearing I shot my bull, and I could see that it was a different bull. As the bull moved through the clearing above us, unaware we were thirty-five yards below him, Steve whispered, “cow call”, “cow call”, but my call was already stuffed in my pack. As the bull moved through the clearing, Steve whistled and the bull stopped and looked down at us. At this time Steve was already at full draw. He let the arrow go and hit him nicely. The bulled turned around, and the arrow was visible from the other side. The bull headed back in the same direction my bull headed. Steve and I looked at each other and couldn’t believe what just happened. We slapped each other in the face to make sure we weren’t dreaming, and decided to wait a bit before we went looking for our bulls. After a very long half hour went by, we went searching for our bulls. No more than eighty yards from where we shot from, our bulls lied forty yards apart from each other. We looked at each other in amazement, and started high fiving again.

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