Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"Huntin' Ruttin' Bulls"
Written by Shilling Buck

Huntin' Ruttin' Bulls
I can say one thing about elk hunting---it's thrilling! I have never had a more exciting morning of hunting than I had this year. It started off anticipating the time to get off of work and head out for the elk rut in Alberta, Canada. I have lived in this province for ten years now and can say it doesn't get any better than this. I grew up in the neighboring province with some of the best deer in Canada, knowingly Saskatchewan. However, I never had the opportunity to hunt elk in that province as there is not an abundance of elk where I was from.

Over the last four years, I have hunted with an acquaintance I met through my wife. Since then, I have developed a real desire to hunt bulls. It just sends chills down my spine when I hear the bugle of a big majestic bull elk calling within a few hundred yards.

My story starts out the first day of our hunt early morning, around 7:00am on September 22, 2004. We arrived just in time. My friend, Scott, and I headed into the bush to walk into where we thought the elk were hanging out. The morning was perfect, right around 12 degrees Celsius. We walked down into the bush approximately one mile and I sent a bone chilling bugle into the early morning air as the sun began to creep up from behind the treeline.

We were setup at a cutline where we had seen a decent bull and cows last year, but unfortunately could never get a shot at the bull. I don't think this year's bull was the same as the one we had seen last year in this area. The morning was silent after my bugle and all I could hear was a lone red squirrel chirping in the background. After I had no response to my bugle, we headed in another of a mile towards a spot where my other friend (Martin) luckily took a 4x4 satellite bull the previous year. At this location, I let out another bugle to see if there were any takers to my call. Within seconds, off towards the northwest about a mile, I could hear a bugle that really started to excite me to the bone. After a few quick seconds to determine the location of the bull, I decided the only way we were going to get at him was to head up an old seismic line that many people were not aware of.

Over the course of an hour, the majestic bull would bugle and I would answer back keeping him interested with a mixture of bugles and cow calls. As we walked up the so called trail, we could not believe our eyes when at 20 yards, the biggest Bull Moose I have ever seen sauntered across our path. We estimated him to be 50" across! The moose was so big he had to move his head sideways as he maneuvered in between the trees. The moose were just in the pre-rut and we could hear him grunting as he walked by. I gave a quick moose call to stop him so we could get a clear look. He turned his massive head and looked at us.
The ironic part is that Scott was drawn for a Bull Moose tag, but the season didn't open for two more days. We both looked at the moose and it was bitter sweet seeing this huge critter, but knowing that we could not harvest him. Our plan was to hunt elk first and moose later once the season opened. As we watched the bull moose saunter away through the bush, once again I heard the piercing screech of the bull elk.

Upon coming roughly of a mile through some of the roughest terrain you could imagine, crossing washed out creeks, hills, and beaver dams, I decided that we had to be close as we could hear the bull elk bugling from different locations, trying to get wind of what the intruder was. As we were watching down the ever so slight path, I cow called extensively to pull the bull elk even closer. I motioned to Scott I was going to head into the pines directly in front of me and try to get a shot through the bush. I figured the bull was still a few hundred yards away, but after his last bugle I knew he was ever so close. As I stepped 80 yards into the bush over a small ridge I heard what sounded like cattle running through the bush away from me, but of course it was the bull's cows that headed off through the bush.

I crouched over and slowly took a couple steps over a slight ridge and there, at 20 yards, was the big bull elk standing quartering away. My heart just about jumped through my chest and I couldn't do anything to keep my gun still. After reviewing, to ensure he had at least the three point minimum, I raised my new Tikka T3 30-06 with 165 grain bullets and fired---hitting him in the brisket as that was the only shot the dense pines had allowed me.

After seeing him take the impact, he once again came to his feet and looked at me. I knew I had better finish him off as we were in such close quarters. After one more shot, there lay a bull elk with 5 large points per side with 2-inch tines just starting for the sixth per side. I am not sure if you would classify him as a 6x6, as he has only 2-inch end points, but I really didn't care as I had harvested my first bull elk. All I can say is, "Elk hunting doesn't get any better than this!"

P.S. We never did go back for the moose that week, but the season isn't over and I know where he likes to hang out!

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