The DIY Hunter

Spike Elk

Here's the spike elk I shot looking for me or at least looking for the cow elk that were calling.

Goofy looking antler bull elk

Here's the goofy looking bull with caribou like antlers that was mew-bugling 50 yards away from me. This photo from a Browning Strike Force trail camera, was taken few hours before I got into the area and started hunting.

Spike Elk on Strike Force Trail Camera

This is the spike I shot with my bow a few hours before I got into the area.

Poorwill young hiding on ground

I would think it is a little late in the year for young but I found these two cute little fuzzy Poorwills while out archery hunting.

Following the blood trail

Following the blood trail of the spike.

Finishing arrow in spike elk

The finishing arrow after I caught up with him.

Galaxy Tab S 10.5 previewing trail cameras in the field

Galaxy Tab S 10.5 previewing trail cameras in the field. Using the same USB adapter I use on my Galaxy S4 phone I can preview photos and video in the field from my trail cameras.

After going through two seasons of watching the patterns of the elk, with my Browning trail cameras, in the area I like to hunt,  I have a pretty good idea where and when the elk will be in the area.

Using the trail cameras has greatly helped me know when and where the elk will most likely be. I had narrowed down where I felt the highest probability to get close to elk would be last year when I shot a spike during the bow season. Again this year this was the "hot" spot for the area so a couple of weeks before the hunt I hauled in a tree stand to hunt from.

The day of the opener I was tied up with other commitments. However, I wasn't too concerned about missing the opener because of the lack of elk in the area on my trail cameras. From July 23 or so to August 8th when I checked the cameras last there had only been two cow elk show up on any of the cameras. This was much the same pattern last year. The cattle get into the area really thick during the end of July and the first of August. I'm pretty sure this just pushes the elk out of the area until the cattle leave.

On Wednesday I could see a small window in the unseasonable rain we have been having and decided to take off work early for an evening hunt on Thursday. Surprisingly we have had a lot of rain storms moving through during the month of August this year. Anyhow, midday Thursday I took off up the mountain. Right at the beginning of my hike into my hunting area I slipped and fell into a creek. What a klutz I am! I will admit my week knees seem to make be a lot more clumsy. In the process I soaked my Galaxy S4 phone and it was dead... at least for the evening.

On the way in I decided to follow my trail camera route and pull the cards to see what was in the area. unfortunately I wasn't able to see what was on them right then because my phone was dead.

After I swapped out SD cards in all but one camera I was near my tree stand. I decided to pull the last card on my way out that evening.

After being in the tree for an hour or so I decided to give some cow calls and see if anything was in the area and might come in to investigate.

Not long after a spike came out and looked down into the area for the "cows" he could hear. Soon after that I heard something on the other side of me and noticed a goofy looking four point bull desperately trying to locate the cows that he was hearing.

I continued from time to time to throw out some cow calls attempting to get him to come in closer. He was pretty much hung up at 50 yards. After a while the bull couldn't stand it and he started making 2 second mew like bugles, he would just start to bugle kind of like a really, really deep sounding mew. I'm not sure what you would call the sound.

For well over a half hour I messed with this bull and somewhere during this time the spike noticed this other bull and decided. "Hey there's really some other elk down there. I better go down and check them out." So down off the hill the spike came trotting. After crossing around 100 yards above me to meet up with the other bull the spike then turned and wanted to visit with the cows (aka me with my Primos cow calls) and he started working his way towards me coming through the trees.

I could see on his current path that he would pass through an opening at around 20 yards so I waited until he was close to the opening then I carefully drew back and as he paused in the opening I anchored on a shot low and just behind the heart/shoulder.

I let the arrow fly... and it zipped through the elk. Unfortunately it was a little further back than where I was aiming and would have liked but still a solid liver shot. I watched the bull run off and stop about 50 yards away. I could see his head sticking up above some oak brush. I figured it wouldn't take him to long to tip over. After several minutes I heard a noise behind me so I turned to look. When I turned back the spike was gone. I figured that he must have laid down so I slowing started sneaking over to find him. When I got to where the elk had been he was gone and there was a pretty substantial amount of real dark red blood.

It was getting dark so I started following the blood and soon found the bull walking about 100 yards in front of me. I tried to close the gap to get another arrow in him but I ended up bumping him.

Thinking that he would die in the night had me a little worried about the meat spoiling but there wasn't much else I could do so I packed it up and headed off the mountain.

The next morning I crept in below where I last saw him the night before. I then circled the area looking to see if I could find tracks and or blood leaving the area. With nothing found I then swung back around and picked up the blood trail where I had last saw him. It wasn't long before I found where he was bedded for the night but no elk. I then heard limbs breaking in front of me and knew I had just bumped him out.

With him sitting all night there wasn't anymore blood trail to follow so I had to follow his tracks. After three hours or so of doubling back and around to find the elk, I finally came around a bend and there he was bedded down with his head up looking away from me. I quickly launched another arrow into his back angling up into the lung area and down went his head.

What a relief. I was getting a little worried that I might not get this bull. After looking over the entrance and exit wound I can see why he lived so long. Even though I was shooting down at him from a tree stand the arrow kicked real hard and angled back and upward. The exit wound was a good eight inches higher than the entrance and it was about a foot further back. so the shot just barely clipped the edge of the liver and went through the stomach. If it had been a solid liver shot like it appeared to be I just couldn't figure out why he didn't go down.

The more I think about it there must have been a small branch or something I hadn't noticed right in front of the bull. I'm betting that the arrow deflected off this branch thus hitting him further back than I was aiming and also angling the arrow upward.

Just after the hunt I acquired a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 with a cool bluetooth keyboard and case. One of the cool things about this setup is that I can take it with me in the field and view my trail camera videos using the same USB adapter that I use on my Samsung S4 phone. Also the Play Store is allowing VLC Beta to be downloaded and installed. This is the best software I have found to be able to play the AVI format that the Browning trail cameras produce.  I can now check my cameras with either my phone or tablet and use the tablet to write content for my blogs from up on the mountain. Combine these with my Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit and I can stay on the mountain with plenty of battery life to keep using my electronics for as long as I want, that is if the sun comes out to charge them.

Next up is my muzzleloader mule deer hunt. I'll now have more time (vacation time from work) to scout and hunt for muleys. :)