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"Opening Day Elk Hunting Success"
Written by Steve Schulz

Opening Day Elk Hunting Success
After my failed attempt at arrowing a bull in September, I found myself packing for the rifle season the 14th of October. Just to make things worse, it was the day after a massive early snow storm had just rolled through and dumped over a foot of the snow.

Knowing this and assuming there was a lot more snow on the mountain, I was positive the elk wouldn't be where I normally prowl the timber. In the years past, I've been unable to locate even one elk during rifle season, especially after a heavy snow. I was told last year by the game and fish biologist that the elk had moved out because of the depth of the snow and how early it had dumped. I was positive this would be the case this year.

Upon our arrival to the area, my hopes started to lift. It was evident that the mountain did not receive as much snow as other areas of the state. After unloading and setting camp up, it was all so apparent we were going to be the only camp in the area. Years past there was an over whelming amount of camps in the area along with the unnecessary roaring of four wheelers ripping up and down the road.

After a disappointing first morning hunt in-which I found nothing but a big, fresh bear track, I began making my way back towards camp. I was making my way along a meadow when I spotted 30 - 40 elk feeding slowly down to the meadows edge. I frantically scurried around looking for the bull. There had to be a bull with that many cows, I thought. Finally locating the bull, there was no doubt he was a shooter. Of course, they were well out of range for the rifle I'd decided to take on my journey today…my 45-70.

I ranged the bull at 398 yards as he feed down towards the edge of the meadow. It was a chore to keep my pulse rate down and not rush things. I circled the meadow and drew closer to the herd as they feed. I had cut the distance to just over 300 yards, still a bit far. Picking a spot close to the edge, but yet far enough back that the elk could not spot my movement, I started to range and glass the herd, trying to determine whether they were going to slowly move towards my right or feed out into the meadow.

A single cow made her way directly in front of me, so I picked a spot and got ready…ranging her at 175 yards. I was hoping the herd would follow. Unfortunately, it quickly became evident that this would not happen, as the rest of the herd began to meander off in the opposite direction toward the middle of the meadow.
As they moved out, I ranged the cows, all of which appeared to be on the same path at about 250 yards. It seamed like hours as they feed out, and of course the bull stayed on the hillside at least 400 yards from the cows.

Finally, he started to move towards them, evidently on the same trail. I ranged a lone pine tree that the cows had passed at 268 yards. As he began to pass that tree, I put the crosshairs at the top of his back and fired the first round. Nothing! After cycling the action, I elevated it just a bit higher and fired again…still nothing! The bull simply walked towards the cows. Again, I adjusted and fired. This time I distinctly heard a loud thud, but the bull acted as if nothing happened. Again, I raised the elevation a bit more and touched another round off. Again, I heard the loud thud, but still the bull walked towards the cows as if nothing was going on.

Frantically, I started to reload, firing a couple more times with the same effect. The bull made his way into the middle of the cows, now facing away from me. The entire herd had bunched up and starting to line out back in the direction from which they had come. With a bit of anticipation that the bull would turn and give me a broadside shot again, I waited. The bull started to sway from side to side, then backed up a few steps and collapsed. I knew he had not completely expired as his antlers were still up, and not laying off to one side. The herd then swung around in the opposite direction, still standing in the middle of the meadow until I started to crawl through the snow towards the bull closing the distance to around 98 yards. Then I sat up on my knees, getting ready to shoot.

At that point, the bull swung his head to the right catching a glimpse of me, bolting to his feet staggering in the direction of the departing cows. I hurriedly fired two more shots, (my last 2) hitting him behind the right shoulder. As the bull staggered towards the creek, he stopped in the middle, turning towards me, lowering his head defiantly. Then, he collapsed in the middle of the creek.

Wow, the bull carried his length on the fronts as well as 16 inch 3rd's. After packing him out the next day, I was still overwhelmed at his size. I gross green scored him in camp at over 340 gross!