The next morning was the same as always. We got up, took our scent free showers, and discussed the plan on what we would be doing that morning. Josh and I were going to hunt the fence again, while Joe Jr. hunted in the Miracle Acre. Jodi was going to walk from the house to where Joe, Josh, and his dad had jumped the herd of elk before. After the morning at the field was over, I was going to still hunt the dark timber towards her, since she would be sitting on a major trail the elk like to escape on. Chuck was heading over to his property along with Joe Sr.
Ready. Now where is that dang bull?
Jodi was going to wait until it was a little lighter before she headed out, so Joe, Josh, and I set out across the lower field to climb the mountain towards the well pad. At the crossroads, Joe headed out and we wished him luck. Josh and I would do the same as the morning before. We tiptoed towards the fence and waited for light. Just as it was light enough to see, I was disappointed to not see the elk. Then, I looked to the left towards a knoll in the middle of the field and there was an elk standing there. It is amazing how the light makes these critters stand out. There was one major problem, they were feeding towards the timber and would miss Josh and I by 200 yards. I quickly put my quiver on and crawled towards Josh. Where he was, you could not see anything to the left. I said, "The elk are heading into the trees and more than likely will head up to the flat and bed underneath the notch." In between the bedding area and the field are some rock outcroppings. Once the elk hit these rocks, they either go to the right or left. I knew if I could get to that rock outcrop I would get a shot. I went over the plan with Josh. He said, "I will stay here by the field and head towards the top in 30 minutes. That should be enough time for you to get up there don't you think?"
It was about 2 miles away going by the roads, so I needed to get moving. I could have been there in 5 minutes if I went right through the woods, but I would risk jumping the elk on the way. I took off running and when I came close to the spot where I had to get off the road, I slowed to catch my breath. I quietly listened for branches or anything that would give the herd of elk away. Hearing nothing, I started to walk slowly down the hill watching every step. I could see the rock outcropping and decided to just set and wait a minute. Feeling relaxed and enjoying everything, I heard a limb crack. My body froze as the biggest Mule Deer buck I have ever seen, walked only 5 steps from me on the other side of the tree. I could have poked him with the arrow if I wanted too. I can't explain the feeling of being in the same area as a 200+ inch class buck. He had 3 forks on each side that had two long points per fork along with 3-inch eye guards (Brow tines) making him a 7 X 7. "God where is my deer tag," I whispered under my breath. The buck just walked by and continued up to the bedding area. The great thing is the buck didn't even know I was in the area. Once out of sight, I turned my attention back to elk hunting. Looking over the rocks, I could see all the way down to the field. It seems that the elk were faster than I was. It is amazing at how fast they walk and just climb mountains without any effort. I have learned that elk can hide behind the smallest bush or tree, so I decided to still-hunt towards the field and meet up with Josh. I was right as far as were the elk were going. I was hunting the trail they used to leave the field that morning. There was fresh tracks and poop all over the hill. As I approached the field Josh stepped out from behind a tree and asked if I saw them. After relaying all that had happened, he said he was going to go still hunt towards the Miracle acre. I told him that I would walk slowly on the road back up the hill that I had just came, and drop off the other side of the mountain to meet up with Jodi.
How can this not inspire?
After about an hour of walking I was up to the top and looking towards the dark timber where Jodi should be. If I plan it right, I will come right down in the same area that we hunted the evening before. With about another hour of walking ahead of me, I started down the side, slowly taking each step in case I came into some elk. I found Jodi's tracks and followed them, but she must have either seen something and headed that way, or heard one bugle and decided to stalk it. I decided instead of messing up her potential hunt, I would drop into the canyon where we hunted before. There was a huge wash that was about 10 foot high and I could follow that right into the meadow. As I came out of the gully, I froze. In front of me right at the tree line were two Mule Deer bucks. One was a 3 X 3 and the other a 4X4. I tried to get my camera out of my backpack, but they were grazing away from me. My little digital does not have an optical zoom, so the pictures would not have even turned out. As they grazed out of the field and into the brush, I made my way out to the rendezvous location to meet up with Jodi.
Looking good. No bull.
The time was 9:00 a.m. and Jodi was not in the field were we were going to meet, so I decided to head back to camp and get the four-wheeler. After returning to the area, I noticed a figure way up ahead at the far end of the meadow. It was Jodi walking towards our meeting point. I swung the ATV around and headed over there. Once there, she told me about her morning. "After you guys left, I walked up to the ridge where I was going to sit. When I got there, I looked up and saw two elk looking over the ledge of the mountain. They had already seen me, so I sat there for a while and we watched each other. They were two cows and we still had a lot of days left to go after a bull. After that, I got up to the ridge and followed it to where Joe and his dad jumped the elk. I saw a bunch of fresh elk tracks and started to follow them. The trail ended up being an old jeep trail and the elk just stayed on it. I followed the trail all the way until it went into Fred's place, and started headed down the mountain. I thought I was on a good trail that would go right into the bottom that we were hunting last night, but it ended up being oak brush that was 12 feet tall. It took me a while, because the trail went back to the top of the ridge where I had thick oak brush above me and sheer cliffs below me. I had to find an alternative way down without backtracking. I did not see the other elk that had made the tracks, but I sure enjoyed being out in the beautiful Colorado Mountains this morning."
When we got back to the ranch, we made some coffee and ate some breakfast. One by one everyone started to filter in with no harvest to report. With that being said, Jodi and I thought it would be a good idea to catch a nap. After waking up early every morning it did not take long to drift off to sleep.
When we woke up there was a bunch of noise going on out front. Chuck, Joe, Joey, and Josh were all shooting. They had put the target out to 72 yards and were plugging away. First they were just shooting, but then it became a competition. Since we were shooting broadheads at the Cube Target, there were a lot of arrows loosing fletching and feathers. It was amazing how many shots that target had taken in the last few months, and today it was going to double that. I would not be exaggerating saying that there were at least 1000 arrows, all tipped with broadheads, shot into that target. After the trash talking was done, and everyone finished their lunches, we formulated a plan.
I was going to take the truck and drop Jodi off at the "Super Highway," then I was going to go sit where Joe had missed the bull the night before. Josh and Joe Jr. were going over to Herman's to scout it out, while chuck would go to the Miracle acre. Joe Sr. was going to hunt a tree stand that he had hung on the ridge above the miracle acre. With that being said, we were off.
Joe and Josh taking the high road.
Jodi, Chuck, Joe Sr., and I didn't see anything, but Joe and Josh ran into a monster. They were walking along a road cow calling away, when from out of nowhere a huge bugle bellowed out from down the hill. Have you ever heard the term, "Caught with your pants down?" The big bull was only about 150 yards away and was heading in their direction. Joe went to the left about 40 yards, while Josh stayed where they first heard him. Josh let out a bugle and was immediately answered. The big bull, a 6 X 7 was coming straight in towards him. Joe could see the bull walking every now and then through the trees. He came to full draw, while the bull was behind a big cedar. Josh however, could not. The bull was focused on where he thought a cow and bull were. Josh said, "I was stuck, the bull was just looking right through me. I had ranged the tree to the left of him at 40 yards, but after looking, there were three trees. With a frontal shot, I had to just wait. The light was fading fast and Joey was still at full draw. The bull had hung up looking for the elk he thought was there. Joey made a slight chirp on his call and the bull turned his attention towards him. As he did this, I drew, but the bull caught movement. As the bull turned, I let an arrow fly and heard it connect. I watched the elk run through the trees and out of sight, but with light fading fast; we decided to mark the area and head back to gather the posse."
After we all heard the story, we gathered our lights, toilet paper, and other things to head out after the monster. Finding the area was no problem, because I had given everyone reflective strips from the folks at fire tacks. These things were great because they have a Velcro connecter to put them around limbs. We all started to fan out and look for the arrow, and maybe some blood. Josh stood where he had shot the bull and was directing everyone. Chuck found the tracks and where the bull had bolted. We followed the tracks for about 100 yards and did not see one drop of blood. You could see the sick look in Josh's face as we kept moving back to where he had shot the bull. We had been out there combing the area for any sign of blood or the arrows, when Chuck said, "Here is the arrow!" We went over towards his voice and said, "Where?" He pointed up to about 6 feet off the ground. The arrow was stuck in the side of the cedar that the bull was standing by. The problem was it had been covered by the limbs the whole time. It appears that Josh had misjudged the distance that the elk was at and over shot him. Now we have all missed an animal before, but I am sure that Josh was feeling very frustrated after we spent all that time out there. Everyone patted him on the back and gave encouragement words like, "What the heck were you aiming at," or, "how could you miss that easy shot?" The truth is everyone felt sorry for him, but we had to ensure that the attitude of the camp would not be altered.
It was almost midnight by the time that we got home, so we ate dinner and went to bed to dream of our chances of a bigger bull!