The morning breaks clear and crisp, and Scott Swensen, my outfitter, and I travel to the low country to glass for the herd that has been coming into an alfalfa field at dark, saying all night, and leaving at first light. We glass the elk up — maybe 50 total — and there is at least one whopper bull in there. Scott meets a rancher at the fence corner, they chat, and he obtains permission to hunt there.
Problem is, the property boundary is the fence line, meaning we would have to set up in the wide-open field to stay legal. Looking it over, I think that if we decide to try it, we’ll have to set up a ground blind tight to the fence to keep it hidden and within range of the spot they elk cross most of the time and hope we get a shot before shooting light is gone.
So close but no cigar.
After lunch I hike the hour back into my tree stand wallow, the beginning of an incredible afternoon. On the way in two bulls bugle at me walking on the trail, but the wind is swirling badly so I continue on, climbing into the tree about 1:00 p.m. At 6:15 p.m. I hear a bull bugle, jump down, and give a brief chase but he is already heading up the slope. So I work my way down the drainage and, 45 minutes before dark, hear a bull scream above me. Putting it into as high a gear as I can, I shoot up the 60-degree slope.
There he is! A dandy 6×6, maybe a 320-330 bull, across a deep brush-choked cut. He is bugling and starts to tear up the brush with his antlers. I am running out of daylight and there is no way I can cross the ground between us, so I start giving him the excited cow talk. He goes nuts! Then he dives off the edge right at me!!
Better nock an arrow! Trouble is, the brush is so thick he cannot get through it easily, so he turns and heads back the way he came. I next see him at 125 yards, and watch him walk out of sight over the edge.
So close …. I hike back to the truck, spirits soaring.