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Scoot

'07 Public Land DIY bowhunt for elk

29 posts in this topic

We got back this past Sat from our WY archery elk hunt. We hunted public land and were completely unguided. Most of the area we hunted was in the 7K to 9K range, which seemed to be plenty of altitude for us three flatlander (Fargo and Minot, ND). Although unguided, we benefited greatly from our buddy Jon (and his brother), who was out there a couple weeks before us in the same area. He plotted the route to camp (which really saved us a lot of time) and gave us some good general info about the area, since none of us had ever been there. His efforts weren't exactly selfless- he was hunting the area before us and he did manage to take a REALLY nice 6 x 6.

After a very long drive we got to the camp area late morning on Fri. We set up camp in a couple hours. It was a pretty typical, but modest elk camp.

Camp.jpg

We were encouraged by the amount of sign in the area, even right by camp.

Rubs.jpg

After some lunch, and were ready to go hunting a little after noon on Fri., the 14th.

After we put on a mile or two, my brother (Rockin' Rod on this site) split off from my buddy Slevy (aka. Steve) and me and spent the rest of the day on his own. Slevy and I got to a good vantage on top of a rock outcropping at the end of a long, thin ridge. Slevy immediately caught a glimpse of an elk. It rounded a corner and went down a draw that we couldn't see from our position. I also quickly saw two bulls sparring, but they were nearly two miles away. We decided to make our way to the closer elk. Soon we were at the bottom of a draw covered with aspen, dark timber pockets, and small open parks. There were several bulls bugling around us and we set up. Because Slevy drew the right straw earlier, he set up in the shooter position. After a 20 minute set up, we had two bulls very interested in our calls, but we couldn't get them to come any closer. We relocated and swapped positions (with me in front as the primary shooter this time). We started calling in tandem, but I quickly had to quit calling because the closer of the two interested bulls cut his distance from 100 to 60 yards almost immediately. He sounded big and his bugles were deep and really gutteral- he was definitely a stud. However, he wouldn't come any closer. The other one, though, started at about 250 yards and moved progressively closer. After 15 minutes I heard him bugle at about 60 yards and quickly saw a nice 6 x 6 making his way through an aspen stand. I drew when he was behind some thick cover thinking he would come out in an open area 20 yards in front of me. Instead, he came around the corner of the thick cover, turned 90 degrees, and walked straight at me for 35 yards. At five yards he stopped, curled his lip back, filled his lungs, and was about to rip a huge bugle in my face. I'm 99% sure I would have filled my pants if he had done that. However, my buddy Slevy helped my shorts stay (kind of) clean by dropping one soft mew from his diaphragm call. The bull snapped his head around, took a couple steps around an aspen tree, and the dirty bugger turned immediately back facing me again. He stood facing me at 3 yards, with me at full draw and my bow facing 45 degrees ahead of where he was. Then, like a seasoned elk calling expert, Slevy let out another soft mew. That perfectly timed call turned the elk 90 degrees. I slid my bow over a little, tried like heck to steady my trembling bow arm (my pins were literally bouncing up and down behind the elk's shoulder), and I slipped the arrow one inch behind his shoulder at the distance of eight feet. Eight feet! He ran about 60 yards and stopped in some thicker timber, still trying to figure out what happened. I sneaked over to about 40 yards and ran another arrow into the back of his quartering away rib cage and through both lungs. He ran up a small hill, teetered back and forth, and suddenly ran away like he hadn't been hit at all.

I got Slevy and we tracked him for 100 yards. We then found him, looking like this.

Scott.5.jpg

After some pics,

Scott1.jpg

Scott2.jpg

we were about to start to go to work on the bull. However, we were rudely interupted by a bugle that was only about 150 yards away. We grabbed our stuff and took off to cut some of the distance between us and the bull. Slevy set up and I started calling. The bull came closer right away. However, he seemed to hang up at about 70 yards, so I moved back about 40 yards and gave some soft, but whiney estrus calls to try get him closer to the "hot cow" in the timber. It worked and he came in on a string. I saw Slevy's white fletchings zip across an opening in the timber and heard... gulp... nothing. The bull wheeled around in a heartbeat and quartered away from Slevy. In the blink of an eye, Slevy was reloaded with a new arrow and at full draw. He could see that the bull was now at the 40 yard bush he mistakenly thought he was at on the first shot. He hit the bull in the back of the ribcage and the arrow went up into the opposite shoulder. Perfect! The bull took off like a missle, but didn't go far.

Steve1.jpg

Steve2.jpg

It was completely surreal- two elk in less than half a day of hunting. There were high fives and hugs (manly hugs, nothing more) around. We packed out as much as we could that night and got to camp late, in the middle of a very nasty equinox lightening storm.

After that, Slevy and I were callers and spotters for my brother. The typical set up looked like this,

Rod1.jpg

Rod2.jpg

with Rod ahead of us 50 yards or so and Slevy and me calling, videoing, and taking pics.

We had several close calls. Below, there's a big bull 40 yards to the left of Rod into the dark timber, but we just couldn't coax that big bugger out for Rod to get a shot. So close...

Close.jpg

We hunted really hard looking for another bull. We were completely tireless and never took breaks (well, maybe one or two [believe it or not, the pic below is not staged]).

Napping.jpg

Finally, nearly a week into the hunt we spotted a nice looking bull about 800 yards away. Rod and I put a sneak on him while Slevy stayed back with the video camera (it's got an awesome zoom). Unfortunately, the elk moved out of view of the camera in the final moments. We were lucky enough to cross a deep drainage and find that bull again (a miracle in itself), and Rod made a good shot on the bull. After letting him sit for an hour, we tracked him through rough terrain and with surprisingly very little blood on the trail. However, we peaked over a rock and saw this:

Rodselk1.jpg

He was done. We called this bull "The Freak" because he's a 7 x 3. The 7 side is thick and huge, but the 3 side was malformed (not broken, just didn't grow right for some reason). High fives, smiles, and a bunch of pics later, our trip was done.

Rod3.jpg

Rodselkallofus.jpg

All three of us were in agreement that this was by far the best hunting adventure we'd ever been on. Lots of great memories, for sure. I hope you enjoyed the story.

A few final pics from the trip...

ScottSil.jpg

SlevySil.jpg

RodSil.jpg

Sil-1.jpg

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Sounds like you had a great trip except for the kill of the elk. I was reading along and thought you were going to say there it layed. Those elk are some tough hombre's for an arrow for sure.

BUMMER.

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Sorry fellas, didn't mean to leave you hangin'! Nope, no bummer on this one, Harvey. I submitted it early to see if my new image host was working, then it took me a while to finish. I figured I could finish it before it was read, by obviously I was wrong. It should be pretty complete now though! It's long, but I hope it's an interesting read for you.

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Awesome Scoots!!! Congrats to you all, very impressive cool.gif

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Fantastic!

I thought that "3 point freak" looked familar from another bow site.

What did the trip cost?

Tags?

Over the counter or draw?

I'm headed to SD on Thursday for some mule deer action.

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The rest of the post with pictures is a nice suprise for sure.

very nice animals for sure. cool.gif Looks like it was a trip of a lifwtime for sure.

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Atta boy! Looks like a heck of a trip, that is high on my list of things to accomplish, very jealous... cool.gif

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Snapcrackle, total cost- I honestly don't know. It was a draw for the tag with very low odds of drawing for that particular area (don't ask specifics please- I've promised to keep my mouth shut about any details out of respect for my buddie's dad who gave us the info on this area). Total for the license was just short of $600 (elk tag, conservation stamp, archery license). We had about $300 in gas. After that, it was all unnecessary stuff (I got a new bow this year, new optics, lots of bells and whistles).

Stratos- yep, this was my dream hunt too. I've waited a looonng time for it and it couldn't have worked out better. We were very lucky for sure.

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Flippin Aewsome!!!!! The odds of harvesting an elk with a bow is very low and you guys went 3 for 3. Congrats on the Elk.

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Unbelievable. Congrats on a job well done. I can't imagine how much time you spent getting all of that elk out of there. Great pics and story. Looks like God's country to me grin.gif

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Excellent job guys! I'm jealous as I was supposed to go to Montana this year but couldn't due to a torn ACL this year. Gonna do a ND antelope hunt...leaving Wednesday instead. Would much rather elk hunt. Haven't got one yet, have come close but the experiences are unbelievable

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Great job Scoot! I know you are hooked now and those trips can be somewhat expensive..........try a public hunt in CO, you wont be disappointed! That last picture is by far my favorite........that should go under each one of your racks.

GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Thanks Scoot. I might try this in a few years and wanted to know realistic costs. The Game and Fish site for WY is confusing and I couldn't locate prices or Elk archery info quickly.

Congrats again on the success and finding the "secret hot spot".

I'm headed to SD for mule deer on Thursday night and it is going to cost me about $800-1,000 for 3 days. Shhhhh here she comes. wink.gif

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Great story, great pictures!!! Congratulations!!!

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Well put together story Scoot. Why don't you add a picture of the elk that started the season. Since we did actually go 4 for 5 as a group!! By the way thanks for all the help setting up the trip. I can't wait to sit down over a couple brews to relive this dreamhunt over and over......

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Congratulations on the elk. I'm leaving this Friday evening for Montana, hopefully it will work out for us this year.

( Note from admin,please read forum policy before posting again. Thank-you.)

edit:

for folks interested in cost. My dad and I hunt the Missouri River Breaks in Montana for elk, archery. The license cost is around $550 now, plus cost of gas and food for the week. Excluding my cost in gear (bow, camping, etc) I figure it's around $1000 each year we get drawn for a license. Give or take a little.

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Yes, guntar's right, I should have included a pic of his elk. Here's the big boy that had us all foaming at the mouth before we left (the elk, that is).

IMG_3072.jpg

BTW, for those who care about scores of racks (which I seem to care less and less about these days): guntar's scored in the mid 340's gross, Slevy's was in the mid 200's, mine was near 300. Rod's was tougher- it scored 260-something (I think). However, if the two sides had matched, he would have scored in the upper 370's, and that's missing about a foot of antler from three broken tines on his good side! Crazy...

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shocked.gif

Incredible! Way to go guys! Thanks for sharing.

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Great story Scoot! Congrats!

marine_man

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Wished my hunt went half as good as yours did but I still had a great time. But if nothing else it help prepare for future years. We got close not 8 feet like you though. We just ended up there too early for where we were hunting. The elk were not making any noise. No bugling at all except for a couple times. We had to glass everyday just to locate them because they wouldn't ever answer the calls. Hopefully we can get drawn next year again. Now I have better idea of what to expect at least. We got reports that this past week they really started to rut out where we were. So for future years I think we will plan to go later in the season. Next year I will be on a mission though elk or bust baby. grin.gif

Anyhow way to go and congrats.

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Very very cool. Man that is surely a hunt of a lifetime. Congrats to all 3 of you.

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Congrats Scoot. Looks like a heck of a trip. Elk is on my short list of things I need to chase before I die.

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Awesome story and pics Scoot. Can't wait to give it a try some day.

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Great pics and story!

Next year with rifle!

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Great pictures, wonderful post! I think I speak for most when I say that it makes you want to go out there and hunt them!

Joel

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