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It has been a long journey of scouting and hauling water up to the hunting grounds this year, but it all paid off on Friday. My friend Josh and I hiked into our area on Thursday evening and got things prepped for an early Friday start. After a somewhat restless night, we got up at 5:45 and got ready to hike into our chosen area. Before leaving camp, I threw out a quick bugle to see if there were any takers and we only had one...and he was a LONG ways down the canyon. So, it was off to the first spot. I had been hoping to sit the hillside above a saddle, but after a few minutes there, it didn't seem too apparent that there was much happening. Did hear one bugle, but it was across the canyon on private land where we didn't have permission to hunt. With that in mind, we continued to work our way west. Once we hit the next ridge, we ran into a group of deer with 3 or 4 mediocre bucks. I have a general deer tag for this coming weekend, and Josh told me, "if you're this far back, you better shoot one bigger than these next week". With that, I said we should continue to move over to the ridge the bucks were on, and Josh's reply was "if we go to that ridge, you'll want to go to the next one". He was right, and soon we were heading further west to this ridge with a rocky point that jutted into the middle of the canyon, giving us good views in all directions. As soon as we got there, the bull that had bugled before first light let one rip, but unfortunately, the thermals (and later the prevailing breeze) were in the absolute wrong direction, so we spent the better part of the morning, afternoon, and early evening periodically napping, glassing and keeping tabs on the bull. Every hour or so, I'd rip a weak bugle off, and Mr. Consistency would fire right back from his bed. At about 4:30 the wind was finally right, and we decided to try and make a play on this bull, but 100 yards into our decent, Josh saw him briefly top out and move over the ridge across from us, then disappear in a split second. Not wanting to chase an elk without knowing where it was going (almost always a losing battle), and being slightly lazy and not wanting to cross the canyon knowing the work involved in that, we dejectedly marched back up to our glassing point to try and cut our losses and hope that something else would show up. About 5pm, animals started to move, and we were seeing lots of deer and then a cow elk pops up below us at 300 yards. Then at about 5:30 we see elk popping our two ridges over, and at about 6pm, Mr. Consistency joined them! Just to make sure this was the same bull we had been playing with all day, I ripped off a weak bugle (I don't like sounding like the biggest and baddest bull on the mountain. I'd rather let them think that I am a bull they can trounce), and as we watched through spotting scopes, he fired right back. Now we had a decision. The bull is 6 miles in, and there is Josh and I. We have roughly an hour before dark, and the elk is two ridges over. We ranged the first ridge and the distance was 600 yds. Where the bull is was at 825 yards, so if we could get to that next ridge it was a slam dunk shot. Still laziness was trying to win the day, and then Josh said "well, we're here to hunt elk" to which I said, "yeah...you're right, and you and I are the only two crazy enough to try and do this now!" After that, we bombed off the ridge, and made surprisingly good time up the opposite ridge thanks to a well-used game trail. Once we got close, the rifles came out and were loaded, and we made the final preparations. As we pop over the ridge, the elk are still there, and Mr. Consistency is in full-on love mode. I've hunted with Josh for many years, and he is usually the one packing out my animals, so I told him to take the shot. With that, he got into position at 210 yds and BOOM....THWAP!! The bull was hit hard, but as is well known, elk are no slouches and he stayed on his feet moving slowly to the left. I told Josh to hit him again, at which time elk fever made it's appearance. BOOM....MISS., BOOM....MISS. "You're shooting high!", BOOM...MISS - "Calm down!". After this fourth shot, me being 20 yards behind and to the right, I hear him messing around with his rifle with an obvious jam of some sort. The elk is still on his feet, and I don't want to track an elk in the dark, so my gun comes out and...BOOM....THWAP!! And with that, the bull is down on his back with legs kicking like a shot duck belly up on the water.

After a couple high fives and awkward man moments, we made our way over to the bull getting there just before nightfall. Come to find out, the first shot was all that was needed landing right behind the point of the shoulder. That bull was dead standing up. My shot was quartering to and hit him in the left front shoulder. Even though his antlers were not huge by elk standards, he turned out to be a 5-point, and in a general area, any bull to me is a trophy.

Now the work began. After quartering him and getting the quarters and loose meat in game bags, we had to make two trips down to the bottom of the canyon to get him to what appeared to be the only pine tree in the entire draw. Starting the field dressing process at 8pm, we finally had him hung in the tree by 1am, and began the long hike back to camp. When I saw that my phone said 1am, I totally thought that it was jacked up because "it can't be that late!". Hiking through the dark in an area we were familiar with, but had never actually hiked was an experience, and at 4am, we dragged our butts into camp, ate some food, and crashed. I only had 2 days to really hunt, but after getting one elk, I didn't feel like I needed to try and put my tag on an animal. The logistics of getting two elk out in a short amount of time was just daunting. The decision was made easier when Josh offered me half of the animal because "either of us could have shot that bull, and you were nice enough to let me do it". I fully believe that Karma comes back to those that are willing to let it work it's magic, and every time I see this bull, I will be reminded that there is a reward somewhere down the road where I'll be shooting and Josh will be soaking up the experience like I was.

To close this down, the elk is still hanging in a tree, and we will be heading in early Tuesday to retrieve him. I'm not worried about the meat spoiling as he is in a shaded spot, and the canyon probably only allows about 5-6 hours of direct sunlight at this time of year. If everything holds, 5 of us will head to get him, and then it will be on to processing and enjoying the table fare over the year to come. To be honest, I often question what it is that keeps me coming back. The antlers surely are nice, but the overall experience and months of steaks, roasts, burgers, sausage, and jerky are really where it's at.

Good luck to any and all out there still pounding the mountains. I consider this years elk hunt a success, and don't feel the need to actually try and punch my tag. That said, there's one more elk running the hills for you to get a crack at!!
 

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way2go!!
 

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Nice hunt! Thanks for sharing!
 

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Nice work! And great story. It seems like I've seen a lot more any bull success this year than in the past. I've also seen a few sets of antlers in the bed of trucks on 1-15 any one else seeing the same thing?
 

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Oh and me and my buddy both shot cows this weekend and at the same time! It was a lot of work since it was just me and him but it was soo worth it. My cousin came the next day to help us get out what we couldn't on the first day.
 
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