The DIY Hunter

I hunt a little during the hot first couple of weeks of the archery elk season but, as usual I never really get serious until the last week. I really think the archery elk hunters get a poor time to hunt here in Utah. Elk are usually answering better to calls during the rifle hunt. For what ever reason archers get to hunt in the 90 degree temperatures of the end of August and the first week or so of September just when the elk start to really rut. I really don't care to put a great big animal on the ground five miles from the truck with the temperature over 90 degrees. I also like calling and hearing bulls respond to calls. So my archery elk seasons usually are wrapped up in the last four or so days when I am most likely to get a bull to respond to my calling and I have the best chance of keeping the meat from spoiling.

This year I had done a bunch of pre-season scouting of a new area I wanted to hunt, via topo maps and Google Earth. I really like being able to "fly" the area with Google Earth and get a much better understanding of the terrain and vegetation.

Four days before the end of the season I took off ready to explore and hunt this new area. When I got to this general area I found that it was packed with sheep. There were sheep everywhere! Just great! There wasn't a chance in the world any elk were within miles of this area. So in disgust I turned around and drove the three hours straight back home.

My 2004 5x5 bull elkI got a couple of hours of rest, came up with a new game plan and headed out again. I spent the next evening on the mountain. Early the next morning I hiked into the area I shot a spike with my bow the previous year. I hiked out onto a point and called and got an immediate response from a bull below me. I worked him and reeled him in and let him pass by at 50 yards. This bull was only a 3x4 and I was hoping to find something a little better this year.

I worked my way around and down into the area the bull had came from in hopes that a herd bull was around in this canyon. As I worked my way down around through the pines I got a response from another bull. This time I pulled in a little 4x4 or maybe a 5x5. He looked to be the same basic 2 1/2 year age that the first bull was. This bull came to within 20 yards and stopped behind some pine limbs. I could see his nose just a sniffing and sniffing and knew it was only a matter of seconds before he bolted, and he did. All the elk urine in the world poured on my pant legs and arms just isn't enough to cover up my armpit smell.

My 2004 5x5 bull elkThe rest of the day I worked my way out and around the canyon so I could come right up the middle and be down wind of everything in the canyon. I had no luck in finding any elk and that evening I climbed up and around into the next major canyon. As I worked my way around this canyon I spotted a bull pushing six cows around the top of the canyon. I tried calling but got no response. So I would cow call a couple times then run as fasts as I could for a hundred yards or so, then call again. After doing this a couple of times and getting to within about 600 yards the bull still hadn't responded.

The bull and cows had now made it to a saddle and disappeared from my view. I then decided to try using both my Primos Hyper Lip Single and Hyper Lip Double and go back and forth from one to the other trying to sound like two cows competing for a bulls attention. That did it! The bull decided to answer back and I fired right back with both of these "cows" trying to get his attention. As no other bulls had responded, I guess he figured it was safe to leave his current gals and go round up two more to bring back to his harem and down the mountain he came.

He came barreling off the mountain and I charged ahead as fast as I could to make up some of the distance. When he got to within 70 yards I kept myself behind some large pines and would make noises like I was a cow was walking behind the tree out of his view. I was trying to get him to come out of the timber into an open area where I could get a shot. I had the wind to my advantage but he was really wanting to see an elk and he decide to turn and head back. I ran the 50 yards or so to catch-up to him keeping a pine between me and him. He was in an open area behind this last pine and was walking broadside. I ranged him at 65 yards drew back my bow and stepped out into plain sight to the side of the pine. He stopped turned to look at me, I settled my 60 yard pin on the edge of his shoulder and let the arrow fly.

The arrow hit home. Nice and low right behind the heart, perfect! The bull ran maybe, 40 yards and toppled over. Yahoo!

There was a little ground shrinkage from how big I thought he was in my mad rush to catch up with him but, I was still very excited. He was a nice 5x5, at least a 3 1/2 year old bull. Not too bad, not too bad.

Some notes and equipment from the hunt:

  • My 2004 5x5 bull elkBrowning Adrenaline SX bow modified with half inch longer limbs and custom strings I made to get the 32" of  draw length I require.
  • Gold Tip Series 22 carbon shafts. The original heavy Series 22 shaft not the ultra light version they now make. I really like the performance I get with this shaft. I wish Gold Tip would bring it back it's a wonderful fat carbon hunting shaft.
  • Rocket Stricknine broadheads. I learned quickly that 90 pounds of kinetic energy can handle a very large cutting diameter broadhead. If you have the energy you might as well use it and the Stricknine broadhead does a fine job of it. I am now two for two with this broadhead.