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Old December 7, 2019, 01:11 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: September 21, 2010
Location: az
Posts: 1,332
Day 4

And so it was down to Tate. This was actually my little brother's first bull elk tag. He's always put a late cow hunt as second choice and he's killed a pile of cows, but four years ago I convinced him to hold out for a bull tag and this was his year. To be honest I genuinely hoped he would kill the biggest bull and with the last four days completely dedicated to him I had zero doubts we'd be filling this tag. It was just a matter of when, and how big.

The morning found us further down Beech-Nut canyon looking for a bull. Moose slept in, Casey and Clark joined us for the morning. Another beautiful sunrise and the spot seemed likely, but all we found were cow elk:

Mid day we were making our way down the canyon rim, trying to find a bedded bull on the north-facing side. We were not successful with this effort but we did stumble right into a herd of cows we had seen earlier in the morning. They were all asleep! I've only seen this a couple times, where I could tell a deer or elk was sleeping. We were able to get within 100 yards of these sleeping elk and we watched them for about 20 minutes. It really was a good learning experience. I could see one cow in particular very well I set up my tripod so I could watch her sleep. She moved her ears periodically, she turned her head once in awhile, she chewed her cud. She appeared mostly alert, except her eyes were closed and she was zonked out. Her eyes never opened the whole time. and at one point she layed her head down and curled up with her head near her tail like a dog and was completely racked out. She should probably have been fired from her position as sentry. Anyway as we watched the elk for the better part of half an hour I was fairly overcome by something that I think about a lot; I love elk. I love them. I love to see them, I love to watch them, I love being out where they are and being part of their game. And what is profound for me is just business as usual for them. The sun, the rain, the wind, the snow, the cold and the chase and the blood. This was day 4 of a truly epic hunt for me, epic for the time spent with my dad and brother and best friends, for the experience and the success and the failures and for the nature of the business... and for them it was just another day. Same game, different sides of the food pyramid. I think there's a lesson in there somewhere. That's what I was thinking as we made the walk back to the truck. Here's the sleeping sentry:

Casey, Clark and Moose had to leave mid day and they did. It was now up to me, Dad, Tate and Paulie. I had a new spot in mind to check out and the only little wheel rut road we could find into the country hadn't been driven since the storm. 500 yards down the road revealed that many animals were traveling the canyon bottom so we decided to park right there and start hunting the canyon. As soon as we got to the top my dad spotted an elk and the Swaros revealed two bulls, one 4-5 point raghorn and one 6x6 bull about the size Clark and I killed. They were feeding in the thick cliff rose and pinons and junipers on top the the ridge two canyons over. Tate and I crossed to the next ridge and got within range but between the different angles, elevation and their position on the hill, we could not see them.

Nearing dark I finally glassed up an antler moving above some cliff rose. After a minute the whole bull came into a small clearing and this was the bull we had been looking for all hunt. He was not one of the original bulls, he was bigger. A nice wide, tall, heavy 6x6 clearly bigger than anything we'd seen. We were 340 yards from him and Tate's rifle will do that but the tip of a juniper tree was just covering what was important. We just didn't quite have the right angle. Had we been twenty yards to our left we'd have had the shot (we found this out later). As he came into this small clearing he looked in our direction a long time, apparently assessing our side of the hill and the open country below him. He then started eating again but always being careful to look around as well, making it impossible for us to move on him. He was being smart. Finally he took a few steps out of it and we got the angle we needed should he step back into that clearing or the next one but he never did. He stayed up in that thick stuff never presenting a shot. We also had confirmation from Paulie and Dad that the original bulls were still around but they stayed out of shooting lanes as well.

We decided not to gamble on still-hunting and spooking them with darkness approaching and instead we backed out hoping we'd be able to catch that bull in better country nearby in the morning. So it was we spent all afternoon in range of two different shooter bulls but never got a shot. Perhaps the next day would be better...
"When there’s lead in the air, there’s hope in the heart”- Hunter’s Proverb
"Feed me, or feed me to something. I just want to be part of the food chain." -Al Bundy
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