May 20


Montana Elk Hunt



I spent a good part  of the last couple of week in August scouting western Montana looking for elk.  There was a spot we found last year where a nice heard of elk always seemed to hangout early in season while the weather was hot.  It was perfect, easy to get to a lot of water and only twenty min from my front door.  I had spent enough time watching and hunting this heard that  I felt confident in our chance.  The way that we had hunted them before was to just ambush them.  They weren’t very vocal in this area.  Most likely because they lived so close to people.  They would make noise before light but then would shut up.  We hunted them hard the whole first week of the season.  Having a lot of close calls but nobody getting any shots.  It was the morning of September 11 my alarm went off at 4:30 and I yelled out and my buddy Tanner Kahler do you want to do this?  He said I don’t care its up to you.  My reply was I got a good feeling about today.  So boom we were in the truck stopping for coffee and on our way.  We  got to the gate about an hour before sunrise and started on our twenty min walk to the top of the ridge.  We hit the spot where we always sit and wait for the sun to rise and listen for elk.   It wasn’t two min when we heard the first bugle, nothing sounds better then a bugle in the morning dark.  It was from way down in the bottom which meant that we had plenty of time to cut the heard off.  So we sat there waiting for the sun to rise and see if we could spot them coming up.  As the sun rose we could still see the whole heard in the bottom and they were acting really funny.  All the cow were acting like they wanted to head up the hill but the heard bull wouldn’t let them.  Didn’t make any sense until we heard the other bull below up bugle.   Tanner and I decided that we wanted to make sure that we stayed in front of the main heard but to keep an eye out for other bull below us.  As we worked our way up the road we spotted that smaller bull paralleling the heard just like we were.  The problem was the heard wouldn’t come out of the bottom with him in the way.  That heard bull would chase his cows all the way back to the bottom every time the satellite bull bugled.  Finlay after about an hour things seemed to calm down and the heard started working their way up.  So as we move trying to say in front.  We spotted the smaller bull again doing the same thing again.  This time we decided that we would try and cut him off.  We both ran down the road to a little opening hoping to see him cross.  After about five min of waiting Tanner decided he was going to continue up the road and see if he got in front of us.  I waited about another five min and figured that he must have gotten by.  So I started my way father up the road.  About ¼ of a mile up the road I spotted Tanners pack sitting in the middle of the road.  Which meant only one thing ,  That he took off running up the road.  So I did the same thing running into him about  200 yard up the road.  He told me that the bull went in a thicket of trees that was right below us.  So he decided that he was going to sneak down a trail and see if he could catch him crossing.  I decided that I would sit on the other side of the thicket and do some cow calling trying to get him to come out.  I hadn’t left Tanner more than a min and only got one soft cow call out and I could see the tips of his horns coming up the hill side.  Trying to stay calm I reached for my range finder and tried to get an range on him.  The first time I ranged him he was at 33 yard and I was shooting at a fairly steep downhill angel.  I drew back my bow and cow called to stop him.  He stopped in a perfect opening and I put my thirty yard pin right behind his shoulder and let her go.  I heard it hit but wasn’t sure exactly where it hit. He spun around really quick and ran down the hill about ten yards stopped and looked back to see what had happened.  By that time I had another arrow knocked and put another good shot  in him.  He turned and ran down the hill the same time I turned just in time to see Tanner coming up the trail looking at me like what the hell happened.  All I could do was put both hands above my head and say I smoked him.  After about half and hour  of waiting and a really good blood trial we found hill piled up in a small group of trees.  It was a moment that I will never forget.  And I hope that this fall is just as fun.