(A computer glitch has eaten the photos. Enjoy the read)
This had to be the earliest morning yet. The alarm was going off and I don't think even the mice were moving. After not getting to bed until it was way late, I was contemplating sleeping in. I nudged Jodi and she said she was sleeping in. I figured I would do the same, but then a knock on the door brought me to reality. I was not going to get an elk if I was sleeping. So with that being said, I got out of bed, grabbed my clothes, gave Jodi a kiss, and headed into the shower. After getting ready, I grabbed a cup of coffee and started thinking of where I needed to go. Joe and Josh were going to hunt where they saw the bull the night before, and I was going to hunt the Miracle acre. With no sign of life from Chuck or Joe Senior, I headed out.
The light was growing in the East as I stepped off the porch. I glassed the field to see if there might be elk there, but there were none. I started heading down the fence that Jodi, Joe, and I walked the first morning. I kept my Pro-Ears turned up to listen for bugles. The night before Joey and Josh said that bull was on fire. I was hoping that this morning would be the same. Once deep into the miracle acre, I would take about 10 steps then wait for about 15 minutes. I noticed that there were fresh tracks all over the place, and I could smell the scent of elk in the air. I had taken my time to get through the acre and was following a trail that lead up the side of the mountain. I decided to follow it, because you could tell the elk had been there that morning. As I stepped off of a small ledge an elk that had been bedded down busted out in front of me. I quickly grabbed my call and let out a cow call. The elk stopped. It was behind some brush, so I moved to my left. It started walking to the left also and that is when I saw antlers. I put my Tru-fire Judge release on the string and was ready. I called again and the bull started making his way towards me. The oak brush was thick and I only saw his antlers real briefly. I decided that I had better draw before he comes out. Now at full draw, the bull stepped out from behind a big pine tree. It was a spike with about 30 inch antlers. He stood there looking in the direction that he heard the cow call come from and as he looked behind him, I let the bow down. He was confused because there were no elk there. As a matter of fact, he had not seen or smelled me. I just sat there and watched him while trying to not move a muscle. After about 30 minutes of the bull making a couple of soft mew's, he turned and walked away. It was amazing that I was that close to a huge animal. Even the Spikes are huge bodied. After he left, I just kept on his trail and slowly walked until I hit the same spot that Jodi and I had sat the other morning. The elk definitely use that trail to cross the road.
I decided to go back to the house and have a pot of coffee. Staying up late the night before was wearing on me and I looked forward to seeing Jodi. Walking back, I must have gotten into a herd of rabbits. I counted over 80 rabbits between the field and the barn. I just thought to myself, "They have been busy!"
I guess Joey and Josh felt the same way I did, because they were already back at the house. We decided that it would be better if we ate some breakfast and wake everyone else up. Nobody else had seen anything and after telling them the story of my morning, Jodi, Joe, and I decided it must be the same spike that we have been seeing in that area.
We needed a new game plan and after discussing what we needed to do, we decided to try and push some timber. We went to an area where Josh had shot at the bull the night before. Joe senior was going to walk a canyon they called "Dark Canyon," while Josh was going to take the four-wheeler around to the ridge of the hill. Jodi was going to sit on the road where the elk come off the hill, while Joey and I walk up the hill and push it towards the end. Now this might seem confusing, but the plan was to push the hill so any elk that was in the area would run either up over the ridge by Josh, or down right to Jodi. We gave every time to get into position before Joey and I headed up the hill. We were going to still-hunt and would more than likely see anything that we jumped. The hill that we were pushing was about 2 miles long, so this drive would take some time. About 45 minutes into it, I heard Joey cow calling away. I knew he had seen something and was trying to get it to stop. After waiting for about 15 minutes I slowly worked my way towards him. He saw me and slowly walked up to me. "I jumped a bull and it headed right down to Jodi. I heard her cow calling and I think she might have shot!" He whispered. I was pumped! We decided to finish the drive and work down towards the road. Once we were there, Jodi was standing where we left her. She said, "I saw an bull go by with a small set of antlers at about 200 yards away. I tried to call to him to make him stop, but he was not interested at all."
After everyone got back from the drive, we decided to hit the woods for the afternoon hunt. Jodi was going to walk the road back and sit in one of the fields she had wanted to. I went with Joe, Josh, and his dad. The plan was to drop everyone off at different spots to sit and maybe hear a bull. Joe decided that we should go all the way to the back of the property by the state land and space everyone out at a couple mile intervals.
Once to the state land gate, Joe senior let out a bugle. We were all sitting there and he said, "Was that a bugle?" Joe and I just looked at each other shaking our heads. He let another one out and as soon as it was finished, a bull answered up the canyon in the state land. Joey and I had are bows in our hands when we got out of the truck so Joe said, "Josh and I will call for you and Joey, that bull is down by the spring." Little did I know that the spring was about 1000 yards away. "We need to get there quickly, so let's run," he said. We all took off but wanted to make sure that the "old guy" stayed up with us. Stopping about 100 yards short, we started up a hill. The wind was in our favor, so Joe let out a cow call. As soon as he did that, a bull bugled right across the canyon from us. It was only about 300 yards away, so we started cow calling. "There is one! Half way up the hill there" I said. Joey and I headed down to the bottom of the hill we were on, while Joe and josh stayed high on the hill. With both of them cow calling and making a bunch of noise, the elk started making their way down the hill. Joe let out a bugle and the bull answered right back. That is when the whole herd started to move.
They busted out from the trees in a single file line heading our direction. All cows, but I knew there was a bull there. The cows were on a trot and then the bull busted out of the trees. He was huge!! A big 6 X 6 with white ivory tips. You know the kind, the one that is in all the magazines. He stopped and let out a screaming bugle. His bugle was so unique and I could tell it was the same bull from the first morning that we set up on. The cows stopped dead in their tracks, so Joe let out another bugle to try to draw them in. The bull grew more frustrated and ran towards the cows growling. He finally got to the lead cow and gave her a hook with his monster rack. He wanted the heed to head away back across Joe's place and up to Fred's. After a second of hesitation, that is exactly what they did. I had a huge smile from cheek to cheek, when from my right I heard another bugle. I saw Joey taking off across a dike that split the spring and the stream. I took off after him and we made it a cross the dike without being seen.
We both were now looking at the hill we had just come off. I asked Joe where the elk was. With the echoing of the canyon, we could not tell.
I said, "I am going to go about 80 yards down the base of this hill so we can cover more ground. Joe nodded, and I took off. I only made it about 50 when I looked out into the field and there he was. Although it was only a 4 X 4, this was the 5th day and I was ready.
I took my range finder and ranged him. He was 89 yard right in from of me heading to the right. Some trees concealed me, so I let out some cow calls. The young bull looked my way and started to turn. Just as he turned, Joe and Josh started calling.
Yup, as you can guess, the bull turned again. This time I pulled out my Primos Hyper Lip and let out some estrous cries. The bull turned towards me again. This whole thing played out like this for over 15 minutes. It was almost comical watching the bull change direction over and over. You could tell he was getting frustrated, because he started bugling more and more.
Finally committed, he started walking right at me. I was going to let the bull walk as close to me as I could and hope that I could get something more than a frontal shot.
When he was to the spot that I had marked as 40 yards, I drew; but just before I could get to full draw, I heard a smack sound to my right where Joey was and then that infamous sound of an arrow flying through the air. The bull jumped and started to run off, but I let down my bow and cow called. He stopped, this time behind a bunch of trees and I heard another arrow coming from Joey's direction. The bull jumped but didn't run, and yet again, another arrow was on its way.
I was almost giggling inside because I was remembering that story when I was a kid. Something about "The mighty Casey has struck out." Lost in my laughter, the bull decided he had had enough and took the easiest way out of there away from us. Just then I heard Joey saying, "Jason, Jason, I need some more arrows."
I got up and went to him and said, "You know Joe, we might want to go over to where that bull went up the hill. Because he might be lying there dead from fright."
It was starting to get dark as we went to get Joe and Josh. Turns out, they had made their way off the hill and were lying in the ditch behind the dyke. Josh said, "I kept waving to my dad to tell him to stop calling when that bull was heading your way, but he thought I meant to do it more." We all laughed as we walked back towards where the truck was parked. It was starting to flurry and there was a huge storm front coming through. The only thing that would have made that night perfect was for Jodi to be right there with us.
Upon returning to the house, Jodi and Chuck were there. Jodi didn't see anything, but heard a huge pack of Coyote's howling as she walked back to camp. We explained our night's events and then headed to bed. In the morning, we were going to try to find the big 6 X 6.