From The Field
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I had arrived at the trailhead midday to meet my hunting partner who had been in our hunting area scouting and hunting for 2 days prior to my arrival. When I got there we discussed activity and locations and decided on a quick evening hunt as we still needed to head back in and I needed to set up my camp.
Around 6pm we were on the trail ready to hunt. After moving down a canyon for about a half-hour we heard a bugle. We started working towards it and got to within 100 yards and set up. I was the caller and began a calling routine. A satellite bull made his way towards us but my shooter was not able to get a shot. We shadowed the herd until sunset and then decided to back out and come back in the morning.
The next morning we found the herd in the same canyon and snuck towards them again. We got to within 150 yards and initiated another set up. The herd was ahead of us and above us on a small bench. I had my hunting partner Todd, the shooter, set up about 50 yards in front of me. I backed off about 25 yards and started with assembly calls and calf mews. The bull would respond to my calls but would not leave his cows. I moved about 50 yards to the left and back of my shooter and in about 5 minutes the bull was bugling directly above me but still on the bench. Next I moved off to the right of my shooter and the bull shadowed me and was again directly above me but still on the bench. I added in frustrated cow calls and estrus buzz’s and this went on for about another 15 minutes. At this point I decided to start raking a tree and breaking branches. My intention was to create a scenario in the bulls head where possibly another bull or one of his satellite bulls was now on those cows and preparing to steal them away. I did not want to bugle as I felt that would be giving the bull too much information, and I wanted the situation to be as mysterious as possible to the bull and let him use his own imagination as to what was happening. This action worked and committed the bull to coming in. I could hear his bugle getting closer and branches breaking. Next I heard a shot and then in the next instant a crack. Either Todd had hit bone or a tree branch. I continued calling to the bull and within a few seconds saw him coming through the trees. I was not in a great position to shoot as I was trying to conceal myself while playing the role of caller. The bull continued to work his way towards me and stopped about 15 yards from me. I could see that the bull was not wounded but was very nervous, looking back in the direction where Todd was at and in my direction where he expected to see cows. I however was pinned behind a group of trees and had no shot. After a short while he let out another bugle and started to angle away, back towards his cows. When he turned I was able to move to the edge of the trees I was standing behind and when he moved past a tree himself I had an opportunity to draw my bow and cow call to stop him. I didn’t have time to range him but estimated him at about 45 yards. My shot was held for his far shoulder as he was slightly quartering away. The release felt good, after it hit and he started to run I could see the placement was right where I wanted it. After his initial burst he slowed and made his way through trees and brush, stopping every few yards. I knew he wouldn’t go far. The blood trail was easy to follow.
I typically hunt by myself and am used to calling in my own bulls. I had decided that on this hunt I was not going to be selfish and play the role of a good “caller”. I was going to stay back behind the shooter and commit to helping another get a bull regardless of how much I wanted to watch or be the one getting the action. You never know what’s going to happen or how a situation is going to play out when your hunting elk in the high-country. You can only suggest what they should do. In the end It was me the “caller” who was able to seal the deal. Its funny how the universe works sometimes!
-Brian Rae, Idaho
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