By: Holly Weatherwax
We, my husband Mike and I, tried to get everyone moving early so we could get to the meadows early hoping to shoot an elk that would be easier to pack out. This did not work as we all planned the night before. I blame it on testosterone and the fact that I hunt with a bunch of stubborn men, they know who they are, that feel the need to show dominance by proving who the better hunter is. So, on our way to the meadows the lead truck carrying Clem, Grandpa and Dad took a turn that we didn’t expect. Apparently plans had been changed during the drive. Talk about frustrating. So, of course by the time we got to the meadows the elk where already heading up.
We hunted up the side where my husband had shot his bull and didn’t have any luck. We gave up on that spot and decided to try a spot he had eyed up on Google Earth. We made our way up and hunted some beautiful country with no elk sign. So dad and my husband decided to rig up some crude fishing poles and try to catch fish with athletic tape on a hook. Of course, master fisherman, my husband, caught a brook trout.
On our way down Mike called out of the truck and we got a reply and messed up a ridiculous amount of bulls in a very short amount of time. They came in from every direction to my husband, who previously filled his tag, but didn’t give me or my dad a shot. Yet another lesson learned.
We decided to try to work some of the bulls that we ran into the night before. We crossed the river and headed up. We had never hunted this territory and Grandpa warned us that it would be a miserable mess of timber. There isn’t a single place in Wisconsin that can possibly compare to the treacherous terrain of this land.
We slowly hunted our way up, over and even under the mangled mess and we honed in on what we figured to be a herd bull. The wind was all wrong so after much discussion, we decided to back out and see if we could find a way to hunt the bull from the road we were on the night before. So, we backed out and drove up to where we had the horrible debacle happened the night before. We carefully worked our way around dangerously steep land, over, under and in between the most wretched mangled mess of timber you can imagine.
Many times we would travel over 60 yards without touching the ground. We finally found our herd bull with his cows. At one point as I worked my way to a spot I wanted to set up. The bull beat me to my spot and I had to freeze and crouch down while he bugled over the top of me at about 15 yards. I didn’t have a shot through the mangled brush and timbers. He moved himself to the top of a rock ledge where he would run to the top of and bugle and then back down to his cows. Mike was hard at work raking trees and trying to sound like a bigger bull. He actually called some curious cows in which made the bull furious. I stayed between him and the bull. I didn’t want to see another bull come right in to him without getting a shot. Meanwhile my dad worked his way up the side of the rock ledge. He snuck up the side and tried to get a shot. Bagged. The bull took his cows and bugled his way down the mountain. Even though we didn’t close the deal on this bull it was the most exciting encounter to this date.
We decided to give our bodies a well needed break and we went fishing. Besides the great elk hunting Wyoming has to offer, the fishing is tremendous. We had our first grizzly encounter. We saw a sow and two cubs cross the meadow in the distance up stream from the lake. After showing the men up, as I out fished them all. We decided to fish the creek up a ways and see how we could do. While we were gone the sow and two cubs came in and pushed everyone off the lake.
We went up to a spot where my husband wounded one the year before. After quite a bit of hunting we finally got a reply, one bugle. We worked our way in and everyone got set up. I wanted Dad and Clem to have the best spots, because they had never shot an elk before. So, I took the leftover spot figuring the elk would come into Mike from below right pass Dad and Clem. My husband called a bit and to our surprise four bulls called back. One came in to his calls above us and there was nothing we could do. The thermals were blowing up the mountain and he quickly winded us and took off. The next bull came right in to me. I pulled back as the bull came trotting in. He stopped at 8 yards behind some small evergreens. I didn’t have a clear shot. I was sure he bagged me. I only needed him to take two more steps to get a clear shot. He did and I smoked him. My arrow passed right through and he circled around up the mountain. I nocked another arrow in case I needed to take another shot at him at 35 yards. He stumbled backwards and I knew he was done. I quickly motioned to my dad to move up to me so we could try to work the other bulls. We regrouped and began to move our way in to the other bulls but they knew something was up and they were on the move. Another tag was full and the long haul began to get yet another bull out.
We hunted in roughly the same area but yet an undisturbed spot. We found some elk and called in a cow right past Clem. She gave him a second shot and he couldn’t resist. He fired his cross bow and made a great shot. We moved in to try to work the bugling bull with no success. Another tag filled and more meat to haul home.
We decided to hunt near were my husband shot his on day 3. My husband Mike and I called in a couple bulls for my dad, but he never got a shot. As we headed down the mountain, Dad in the lead and my husband behind me, my husband yelled “Grizz”. Pistols were quickly drawn. Luckily we spooked the sleeping bear and we took off barreling up the mountain. My heart pounded the entire way down the mountain. We had walked with in 30 yards of the grizzly not even noticing him curled up under a pile of brush.
My dad and I went out to hunt the meadows early, maybe too early. We got there and we couldn’t see yet so we waited a bit by the truck until it was light enough and then made our way down. I called a bull in with a cow and the cow bagged Dad, which spooked the bull and he didn’t get a shot. Meanwhile, my husband was fishing nearby. He just happened to look up at a rock ledge to find a grizzly over looking back at him. He realized he had no bear spray or pistol on him and quickly proceeded back to the truck. He then began hunting a different spot near the meadows, were Grandpa and Clem had been listening to a bull bugling.
We ended up in the middle of a herd coming down the mountain that afternoon. There were elk all around us. Cows calling and bull bugling. One bull bagged us and we started to move toward my dad. He saw us and motioned to us to stop. The bull was walking straight in to us. We could see the bull and my dad. He should have a perfect broadside shot. We couldn’t call. He was too close. He eventually turned and moved his cows along. My dad never got a shot. Too much brush. Another frustrating day complete.
We decided to take a day off from hunting. My husband and I headed to Yellowstone to see the sights.
Dad and I gave it one last try. We would hunt part of the day but then have to head back early to start packing. We ran into a couple bulls again, but they did not seem as aggressive. It seemed as though the bulls were all herded up with there cows and not as interested anymore. It had been a long frustrating last few days of hunting but it was time pack up and head for home. We needed to spend some time figuring out how we could possible get everything packed back into the trailer along with all our elk and begin our long trek home.
In the end, many lessons were learned and three for four is not bad for a bunch of amateurs. All in all, it was another successful Wyoming elk hunt.