Sunday, September 10, 2017

We got an early start today to look for the bull Dad shot at last night. We decided to hunt on the way to the spot where Dad last found blood. It didn’t take long for the action to start. Halfway to the spot, a few bulls started bugling, so we set up and tried to ambush them on their way to the calls.

Unfortunately, neither of the bulls came all the way in. Although they made it to within 60 yards, they didn’t present us with a good chance to get a shot at them. The excitement lasted for about a half hour.

When we got close to the spot where dad hit the bull, we stopped to take a break. As Brian and I discussed a few things, he softly whispered, “There’s a guy up above us on the ridge.”

Caught off guard, I replied, “Really.”

“Oh, it’s your dad,” Brian blurted out.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe that my dad was with us. I was excited but concerned. I knew he had been going overboard with everything, and I thought he should have stayed in the tent for the morning.

We all made our way to the spot where he found the last blood the night before. As we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do, a bull let loose right out in front of us.

Dad and I rushed out in front of Brian and took cover in some brush. When Brian answered the bull with a bugle of his own, the bull responded with a raspy bugle as if to let us know that he was the king of the mountain.

A few minutes later, everything went quiet, and we never heard another peep out of the bull. It’s amazing how an animal that size can magically disappear without making a sound.

Although we were disheartened that the bull didn’t give us an opportunity, we were more than ready to see what we could do with the minimum amount of blood dad had found the night before.

In the first 200 yards, there were only about five drops of blood that Dad found. When Brian and I looked at it, we were fairly certain that our efforts in the chase would be fruitless. I’m not sure what I expected, but the few drops of blood didn’t bring my hopes up for finding the bull.

About a half hour into our search, I finally found some more blood in a small meadow about a hundred yards from the last blood. Although it gave us a tiny bit of hope, we couldn’t locate any more blood. We searched high and low for any sign of where the bull might have gone, but nobody had any luck.

In a last-ditch effort, my dad went considerably lower than Brian and I. Surprisingly, he found a place where there was a lot of blood on some rocks. Suddenly, it became easy to follow, and within seconds, we found the arrow, and the broadhead was no longer on it.

We quickly gained confidence that we might be headed in a different direction, especially as all of the blood began to appear on the forest floor. The elation didn’t last long, as we quickly lost the blood again.

I went toward a small flat about a hundred yards up the hill. Although I didn’t expect much, I hoped that the elk headed toward a place where it would be able to navigate a little bit easier. Amazingly, my guess was accurate. I found a tiny speck of blood on an aspen leaf but nothing more. We knew the bull was on the runway and figured he probably followed it across the flat. When we got to the end of the flat, we had to guess again since there wasn’t any blood. So dad and I followed the main runway down the hill, and Brian beat his way through the small aspen trees above us.

After about a half hour, Dad and I exhausted all of our options and decided to give it one last shot and go back to the flat to see what we could find. Before doing so, we decided to eat lunch. Just as I finished my lunch and zipped up my backpack, I heard Brian on the radio. He said he found blood. I told him to make a few cow calls so I could tell where he was. I could barely hear him, and he was well above us.

When we got to him, we could see where the bull had bedded down, but it didn’t appear that it bled very much in its bed. Although this concerned us, we figured if it laid down, it couldn’t be too far away if it was actually hit very hard. Once they lay down, the chest cavity usually fills with blood, and they don’t move very well afterward.

When dad started up the hill, I saw him begin sneaking forward and motioning me to get to him as quickly as possible. As I crested the small hill, I could see the bull’s head tilted back, and the legs were pointed toward the sky. After he had gotten out of his bed, he must not have had the ability to go very far, and that was the end of the story.

I’m still not sure how we found the bull. I’ve been involved in some incredible tracking jobs, but I think this one might have been the all-time best. We basically had no blood for the better part of a half of a mile. When we did find blood, it was only a drop or two, and we lost it every time we found it. The only thing that kept us from losing hope was the constant cawing of the ravens. In the past, we had seen the ravens stay in areas where something had died or was dying. With that in mind, we were fairly certain that the elk was down. With that in our heads, we exhausted all options to find the fallen monarch. When it was all said and done, the ravens had been cawing from the sky directly above where we found the bull. It’s amazing how fast the birds can locate a free meal.

The pack out was brutal. We decided to do everything in one trip to avoid going back tomorrow. We worked together to debone all of the meat and skin the head. Brian dove in and did most of the work. It didn’t take too long for us to load our packs and head down the mountain. Without frame packs, we all had a lot of dead weight to deal with. It took us a few hours to get back to the main trail, but, fortunately, it was all downhill to get there. When we reached the trail, dad had about all he could handle. Although I was nervous, I figured he would be okay if he sat down and relaxed for a few minutes. Brian and I would be able to take our loads out and return to get that load.

It was a long day for us, but it went by quickly. Dave saw a really good bull today, but it was out of range for him to get a shot. We’ll be back at it tomorrow. Hopefully, the good luck stays with us.


One Response to “Sunday, September 10, 2017”

  1. Mike Homan says:

    Awesome hunt! Glad to see the journal up and running! Congrats to your dad on a fine bull!

Leave a Reply