Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"Plan B---Never Give Up!"
Written by Ray James

Plan B---Never Give Up!
For the past 8 years I have been continually working on my elk bugling, both during the season and through the off-season. During the 8 year period I have been fortunate enough to call in and harvest 5 bulls, all within 20 yards!

I reached my hunting area on the 7th day of the Washington early archery season. I hunted the same ridge for 4 days and had got into the herd on each day, but one thing or another kept me from getting close enough for a shot. After 6 days of tough hunting, I was getting tired.

As I walked to the truck, completely exhausted from another hard day of hunting, I heard something. Quickly, I setup off to the side of the road and began cow calling to what I hoped was a bull. What it turned out to be was a squirrel that was getting his kicks by dropping pinecones though the trees and making a sound like a bull doing battle with a tree.
Upon reaching the truck, I made a joke about the squirrel with a 6x6 rack, then jumped in the back of the truck and stretched out on the way back to my cabin. Terry, my best friend, asked me what my plan was for that evening. Being as tired as I was, I said, "Plan B." He replied, "Which is?" I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I'll let you know when I figure that out!"

All the way down the mountain I couldn't stop looking up into the trees where I had been so close to the elk, but I was beat and thought of my soft pillow at the cabin just 15 minutes away. But then something popped into my head, it was something I had heard somewhere. "When the body is beat, the mind can push it onward, but if the mind is beat, all is lost."
That was all it took, I jumped to my feet, pounded on the cab telling my buddy to stop the truck. Terry and his friend, Olton, looked at me like I was a mad man. Maybe I was, but I was going back to try again!

Back in the timber I found a cool place and gave my mind a much needed power nap for 30 or so minutes, then with the help of a Blue Jay, I awoke and started to get moving. I hadn't been awake more than two minutes when I noticed a tree not 40 yards from me with a fresh rub. I let out a cow call and what do you know, I got an answer! And, it sounded big!
Wasting no time, I burst into a trot down the hill and when I was 150 yards from where I thought the bull was, I called again. He answered my second call, but was moving away so I kept on the pace and kept calling to locate the position of the bull. As I was getting closer, the wind changed and I had to run back up the hill and fishhook around him so I could try to cut him off.

After about a quarter mile of all out running, I figured I was ahead of the herd and setup again and gave another cow call. He answered quickly, so I bugled and grunted. The next thing I knew there were running elk above me. I thought they had busted me, but it was two bulls running across the top of the ridge not 30 yards away. I cow called at them and the first come stalking down the trail. He was a young bull in velvet with a non-typical 5x7 headset, but I let him pass. The second bull was a nice 3x4. I thought to myself, "I'm beat and this is the bull I'll take."
As he passed only 15 yards away, I let out a soft mew and he froze. I was already at a full draw and let the arrow fly. To my dismay it went veering up through the trees. The bull jumped and ran about 20 yards before stopping again. I was confused, having never seen a spooked elk do this. With the second shot, I was able to place the arrow just behind his front shoulder, resulting in a freezer full of elk meat.

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