by: Jason Stewart
It was a beautiful last day of archery season in Northern Colorado. I knew with the last few days of rain and snow the bulls would be fired up. My hunting buddy Jesse Dewolfe and I decided to get out earlier then normal because we were hunting a heavily hunted piece of public land and I had seen plenty of hunters the previous two days. Now, I had heard quite a few bugles the days before and I knew the elk were around. We arrived around 5 a.m. and no one else was around, so I knew we had a good chance that day.
We started our hike in under clear starry skies and got about a mile deep before we heard our first bugle. We sat down as the sun came up and started bugling at a nearby bull. He started coming in through the dark timber and got within a hundred yards, then decided he didn’t want any part of us. So we sat for awhile and once we knew he was done we continued on our hike because we had heard multiple bugles in the distance.
As we continued up another ridge there were still bulls sounding off and we were gaining ground on them. Once we got to the top of the ridge we decided to take five and have a granola bar and some water. Right when I sat down and started to unzip my pack there was a hair raising bugle on the other side of the little bowl we were on. We bugled back and he came right over the top of us and I knew it was on. We started to make our way slowly down the bowl bugling as we were going and it turned out this bull was doing the same thing. Every time we bugled he came over the top of us with a thunderous throaty bugle. So, we continued about thirty yards down the bowl and you could hear him coming in quick, so we stopped and Jesse setup twenty yards to my right and continued to bugle. Suddenly, we saw a flash of tan through the dark timber forty yards out. I saw Jesse draw back, so I did the same thing. He was coming straight between us. All I saw was antlers and a massive body as he veered towards me. As he walked left I could see my shot perfectly broadside between two pine trees. I put my twenty yard pin on him, took a deep breath and released. I will never forget the sound of that “thwack!”. I could see the arrow had not gone all the way through but it was perfect placement. He ran up five yards, turned around and disappeared into the timber. I looked at Jesse with a thumbs up as he was pumping his fist. We decided to go get our packs when we heard “the death moan” from the timber below. I knew it was over. We gave him forty-five minutes before we started our trek down, seeing blood on the fallen aspen leaves and on the sides of the lodge pole pines. We came to a clearing and saw him lying motionless on the ground. Success.
It took us eight hours to get him back to the truck, but he was worth every step. We have hunted public land for the last five years with very little success, so that made this elk even sweeter. I’d like to thank Jesse for all his hard work and my beautiful wife for having to put up with a lot of hunting talk and no elk.