Day number 2 started just like the first. Jodi and I were awake before everyone else and ready to go. Jodi and I took turns getting a shower with the Scent Killer soap and got ready. When we came out from getting ready, Joe Sr. was sitting at the table in the kitchen formulating a plan over a cup of coffee. Jodi said she wanted to go back to where we heard that bull the day before. This hillside was full of dark timber that the elk just love to bed in. Looking at it you would think that it just goes straight up, but there are benches where the elk feel secure and will rest for the most part of the day. Here was the plan. Joe Jr. and Josh would head down toward the end of the mountain ridge, while Jodi and I would work our way up through the dark timber and slowly still hunt the ridge down towards Josh and Joe. Josh and Joe would be about 2 miles away and were going to slowly do the same thing. This has worked in the past, because the ground is so quiet, you can almost walk up and peek over ledges on the elk.
Since we didn't need to leave at first light, we ate a nice breakfast and drank more coffee. I walked out onto the front porch and with barley enough light to see, I glassed the lower Alfalfa field with my Nikon Monarch 12 X 56 binoculars. "There are elk in the lower field," I exclaimed. Everyone rushed out to the porch with binoculars in hand. Joe could not see through his yet because there was not enough light. "Where are they?" he said. I explained to him that they were over by his tree-stand that he had placed at the end of the field. Good to have a good set of binoculars as my Monarch's gather light enabling me to see what his would not. As the light grew brighter to the east Joe finally, could just make out silhouettes of elk in the field. They were about 1000 yards away and getting ready to head into Miracle acre. There was no way we would be able to cut them off and get in front of them, so we just stood there watching and counting the numbers. Two small branch antlered bulls were sparing while the other elk disappeared in the forest. Once all the other elk were in the trees, the small bulls followed.
With seeing that, we were all ready to head into the woods. So Jodi, Joe Jr., Josh, and I headed out on the 4 wheelers. Joe and I stopped at the crossroads and reconfirmed the plan. We gave Josh and Joe about 15 minutes to get down to the end of his property and at the end of the ridge before we started up. The climb was steep, but we just kept on a major elk trail that Joe calls the "Super Highway." We got to the top and found sign everywhere. There were rubs that were over 6 feet tall, wallows, and poop everywhere. Constantly checking the wind, Jodi and I started still hunting slowly down the ridge. After about a mile of slowly walking, Jodi whispered, "There's an Elk!" I knelt down and followed the direction her finger was pointing. A cow was coming right at us so we just froze. The cow became two of them and I thought the big bull would be right behind. The cows moved to the left of us just walking and stayed about 35 yards. Jodi and I were sure the bull would be there soon, so we just waited. Then I saw legs and Joe came out of the trees. I told him that two cows just walked by, and he said, "I was slowly pushing them your way. I was not sure if a bull was with them, because I would only get glimpses of them every now and then. Josh is halfway down the mountain still hunting toward your 4 wheeler."
I looked at my watch and to my surprise, it was 10:30, so we decided to head back for lunch. We were about half way down the mountain and Joe froze. "There is a huge Muley," he said. Jodi and I looked and low and behold, a monster 6 X 6 Mule deer buck was standing there watching us. The buck was only about 22 inches wide, but had the tallest rack that I have ever seen. We watched him until he drifted over a ledge and out of sight. Once we got close to the bottom of the Mountain Joe followed another elk trail than the one we came in on. This trail lead right out through some oak brush to another alfalfa field that had an open area in it, just like the Miracle acre. I told Jodi that we would come back and set up our Double Bull Blind there for the evening hunt, and she agreed.
Once back to camp, Chuck was sitting there and said he saw a small 5 X 5 bull that scared him more than anything. He said, "I was sitting near some brush cow calling every now and then. I stood up and got all my stuff together to come back to the house. When I walked around the tree I was sitting behind, the bull was right there. I don't know who was scared more, he or I. You should have seen the looks in both of our eyes. I was trying to get an arrow on my bow and he was trying to make his feet move."
After lunch, Joe Jr. and I went out to the barn and got his tractor running. It was time to cut the alfalfa and bail it. His cousin had cut a couple of the lower fields and he needed to cut the rest and bail all of it. That took my mind back to when we were kids. It never seemed to fail that every time Joey and I went hunting, we were working all day doing hay or working on the farm equipment. So just like we did when we were younger, we went out and cut the fields.
When we all got back, we had a snack and got ready for the afternoon hunt. Joe senior was going to sit in his tree-stand over by the alfalfa field while Chuck was going to go back to where he saw the bull that morning. Joe Jr. and Josh were going to hunt a Double Bull Blind that was set-up by Fred Eichler over by a water hole in the middle of an alfalfa field. Jodi and I would be in the second Miracle acre that we found that morning about 600 yards away from Joe and Josh in our Double Bull. I had Joe take the Renzo Elk decoy to set up next to the water hole and see if anything might react to it. Before Jodi and I set up our blind, I put out some Elk Fire on some scent wicks from Wildlife Research. Our farthest shot was only going to be 30 yards where we were set up, so I put the wicks where I wanted the elk to stop. We sat there until dark and did not see anything, but it was not that it wasn't enjoyable. I was on a "Blind date" with my wife.
Once the light faded, Jodi and I were walking back to the four-wheeler and wouldn't you know, there were two elk standing about 25 yards from it. They were standing right on the "Super Highway" trail. Once they saw us, they bolted. I looked at Jodi and said, "We need to hunt on that trail." Joe and Josh drove up and said they saw four deer and a spike bull. They said the bull saw the decoy and walked over toward it, but then a bull bugled in the distance and the little guy got scared. Once back at the house we found out that Joe had zipped as did Chuck.
In the morning we are going to sit at the field edge and try to ambush the elk on their way out of the alfalfa.
To be continued….
Special Thanks To The Following Manufacturers For Helping Us On This Hunt.