Written by: FRED EICHLER
Colorado archery elk season was almost over, and I had finally made it out in the field to go elk hunting for me. My clients were done, and I was done guiding and had a few days to play.
I was in the field with my recurve, and it felt great. I had a friend with me videoing my hunt in case I got lucky, but I really didn't care too much one way or the other. Ok, that's not entirely true. I really wanted to take an elk and wasn't going to hold out for anything other than a legal elk but I was however hoping to kill one so I could have some elk meat. Me not caring one way or the other meant more that I was ready for a break and that I didn't need to take an elk to enjoy my time afield.
When I am hunting for myself, I don't have as many things on my mind. It's just more relaxing. Not that I don't enjoy guiding, because I do. Sharing the excitement of having an elk in bow range is amazing and I am addicted to the rush of making a game plan and seeing it work. Whether it’s choosing the right tree stand or ground blind to put a client in or hitting the perfect series of cow calls that causes that elk to run in.
This time however it was just me hunting and Jake videoing and I had a plan. My plan was to try and circle around in the dark to get in front of some free loading elk that were eating my alfalfa fields down to the dirt. I have done plenty of wilderness pack in trips for elk by myself and with clients, but this hunt was a totally different animal. This was hunting elk in agriculture fields like whitetails.
This particular morning however It was like the elk knew my plan and they were exiting the fields in the dark. The elk were getting smart quick. I had been guiding clients on this property in the previous weeks and just a few days before my hunt I had watched my neighbor shoot an elk with a muzzleloader just across my property line.
Since they were moving to bedding areas in the dark and we couldn't get in front of them. I decided to head to a ladder stand and see if I could spot any stragglers in the predawn light. Unfortunately, all I heard was two faint bugles as they left the country. What was worst is I couldn't call because I had lost my wind advantage and to call one back in would almost certainly mean getting busted.
Even though I apply Conquest elk scent like a teenage boy applies cologne for the first time. I figured the stink of two sweaty humans was just too risky. So, I didn't make a sound from my elevated look out.
An hour into daylight Jake spotted a lone bull walking along a distant ridge heading toward where the elk had last headed. Finally, the straggler I was hoping for. We had the wind, so I whipped out my cow call and hit a few long, loud cow calls.
The bull heard my calls and turned 90 degrees and started coming our way. I lost sight of him in the thick willows and trees by the river and when I spotted him again, he was walking along a fence line directly towards my stand. When he got close, he jumped the fence right in front of us. He knew exactly where he had heard that cow call and he was going to find her.
It’s amazing to me how well certain animals can pinpoint exactly where a noise was last heard. Turkeys, deer, elk, coyotes and mothers to name a few, all seem to have this uncanny ability.
The bull passed by me at 23 yards. That's not a guess because I ranged it afterwards. I was zoned in and slowly but smoothly drew my bow causing my limbs to slowly flex. That's when the magic happened. I watched as my arrow quickly crossed the gap between me and the bull forever linking us together. My arrow tipped with a 4 blade Muzzy went through the bull's lungs in a flash and he ran out about 80 yards. I tried to cow call or bugle immediately to get his attention, but I got so excited I dropped both my diaphragm and cow call. Fortunately, I didn't need either and the bull staggered and dropped right in front of us.
I still get a little excited and shooting animals with my recurve or longbow just seems to accentuate it. After I could breathe normally, I went down to admire my bull and start working on all the amazing meat that was going to be headed home with me.
It's the magic of the bow and arrow that so many archers and writers have tried to explain. The feeling of drawing a bow and hitting your intended target whether it is a bullseye, pinecone or an animal is almost impossible to explain to those who have never done it. I liken it to trying to describe the amazing taste of a warm doughnut covered in icing or an Oreo dipped in milk to those that have never tried either. It's just impossible. I would try but I am hungry now for some reason and I know if you're reading the odds are you understand.
I hope everyone has a great hunting season. Good luck. And as always, have fun.