Jason writes, "It was almost 3 in the morning when I showed up to camp on September 3rd. I was greeted with a grumble and a "turn the light off". Nothing new from my long time friends from childhood, KC and Stacy. Because I had shown up late that night, I slept right through the alarm that first morning and soon realized that I needed to get to hunting if I wanted to shoot anything. With my pack on and daily rations stuffed inside, I headed out on my own. We all hunted our own spots that first day and when we all met back up in camp, we made plans to hunt the next day. Without hearing not so much as a cow call that first day, we were all kind of ho hum about the outlook of the weeks elk hunting. But like any other true archery hunter, we all know that it can happen in a split second. So, the next morning we started out at a slow pace. Hiking down the trail, stoping and bugling here and there along the way. It was around 10 that morning when I let out a locator bugle into "the next draw" in hopes of getting an answer. As we all stand there glassing and listening, we got a reply. So.....off we went. Dropping a quick 5 to 6 hundred feet in elevation to get a little closer and see if we could pin point him. We get set up and again I bugled. Again he answers, along with three other bulls, most further down the moutain. So, again we close some distance and set up again. I bugle, he answers. We wait to see if he is coming to us or running away. He bugles again, but hasn't moved at all. As we sit in silence and wait to see his next move, I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Glassing through the brush, I make out a decent 6x6 trying to find us. Unfortunately, neither KC or Stacy saw him an when they stood......he busted. I immediately bugled to try and slow him, but he disappeared. But, our origninal bull answered almost instantly. So, we dropped another 5 or 6 hundred feet in elevation and came together to formulate a plan. Now at this point it was 12:30 to 1 in the afternoon. Again the bull answers, but still has not moved. So, we decide to sit and wait. Cooking up some mountain house with our jet boils and relaxing for an hour or so. At around 2, he bugled on his own while we were eating. So, of course I answered, but this time when he fired back at me. He was getting farther away, heading further down the mountain. The three of us sat there and talked about if he was worth heading further into the "hole". The longer we talked about it, the further down the hill he got from us. As the three of us sat there, he again bugled, but this time he was closer. We all looked at each other, picked up our packs, and down the moutain we went. Again dropping 5 to 6 hundred more feet in elevation. Please keep in mind that all this elevation drop is in about a quarter mile from the trail in which we were originally hiking down. So, there we were, sneaking down this incredibly steep, brushy mountain and he bellows not 100 yards down the moutain from us. Our setup was nearly perfect. I was calling for KC and Stacy. Stacy is on my right about 20 yards in front of me on the same finger ridge, and KC to my left about 30 yards straight across from me. We all set up and sit in silence. A couple minutes pass and we can hear him coming. Coming up on my left and headed straight for us. He stops about 60 yards out and screams at us and starts raking a bush. So, I set my bow against a tree and crawled back about ten yards on my hands and knees, bugled, picked up a branch and rubbed the closest tree. When I finished, I crawled back to my bow and readied myself for the coming attractions. He is still at about 60 yards when I picked my bow back up. But in no time at all, he was at 35 from me. So, 35 yards from me, 30 yards from Stacy who is on my right, and only 5 yards from KC. The only problem was that the bull stopped directly behind a bush and at full draw, KC had no shot. As time passes, KC has to let his draw down as carefully as possible. In this short period, Stacy draws and has his arrow falls off his rest. Thankfully, the bull doesn't notice either occurance. So, as KC sits silently at five yards from this bull, Stacy draws again, takes aim and pulls the trigger. The arrow hits home. From my angle it looked as if it was a perfect hit. The bull turns and bolts, I bugle, both KC and Stacy start cow calling. He stops only 20 or so yards from where he was shot. Just standing there for what seemed like eternity. I watch this animal slowly lay down. Only to get back up and stagger another 20 yards where from where we were, we could not see him any longer, but could hear all the crashing from him tipping over. So we gathered up, talked about what had just happened and gave the bull a full 45 minutes to ensure his passing. After what seemed like forever, we picked up on his trail. I honestly don't know how he went as far as he had. There was so much brush and blown down trees that it was tough for us to navigate our way down his path. But even with all the brush and blow downs......it didn't take us long at all to find the incredible bull. And so the work began.
The one picture is of me with a bag of boned meat, the skull antlers (no cape, because Stacy is alergic to the hair) and my (roughly 40 pound) pack on top of it all. We estimated my pack weighed somewhere close to 200 lbs. Stacy shot the bull at three in the afternoon, and we didn't get back to camp with our first load until after two in the morning. Another picture is of me. I'm 6'4" 230 llbs. Just to give you a reference as to the size of this animal. Stacy got back over 400 lbs. of meat from the butcher from this bull.
So, after a partial day of rest to take the bull into town, we got back to hunting. Unfortuantely, we never heard another bugle that week. The tempurature rose and it seemed as though they all disappeared. So, we made the decision to break camp. KC and I made a plan to come back up in a week and a half. It would have been sooner, but our work schedules prevented it. Unfortunately Stacy would not be able to make it back to camp due to his work schedule.
So, we made plans to meet back up in camp on the 20th. I showed up that afternoon to find KC had already set up our tent and had his pack squared away. The plan was much the same as our first plan. Slowly hiking down the trail, stopping at certain spots to bugle and listen for that sweet sound to be returned. And this time we actually remembered to bring along my montana elk decoy. So once again we found ourselves in that very same draw where our good friend Stacy had shot his bull. We stood high upon the ridge and I bugled down into the draw as loud as I could to try and get some distance on it. And sure enough.....another bull that we had named the "growler" bugled back with his unique growl. KC and I looked at each other.....shrugged our shoulders and said......"lets go kill the growler", and off we went, dropping that same 1500 vertical feet into the "hole". We stopped twice on the way down the mountain. Setting up the decoy, doing some cow calling followed by a bugle or two. Each time the "growler" would answer and be just a tiny bit closer. We knew that we needed to close some more distance between us and the bull, so once again we picked up the decoy and down the mountain we went. We quickly found ourselves on a small finger ridge full of brush and blow downs just like before. We knew he was close, so we setup the decoy between us, not knowing which side of the finger he would come up. After we got positioned where we wanted, I let out a bugle and both KC and I started cow calling and making a little bit of noise. It didn't take long for our guest of honor to arrive. As we sat there listening to him come up the little finger ridge we were on, we still were unsure of which side he would show up on. A couple of tense minutes pass by with not a sound. Finally he bugles again, and I fire one back at him right away and again we follow it with cow calls. At this point we finally got a glimpse of him. He is coming up my side and all I know is he is big. A shooter for sure. One look at KC and he gives me the thumbs up with that wide eyed expression of excitment. He gets to about 40 yards and stops behind some trees. I bugle and KC gives a few soft cow calls, and here he comes. Now what I thought was going to happen was that he was going to step into an opening about 35 yards away. But what he did I will never forget. After KC let out those soft mews, he came around those trees fast. As he did I drew my bow, but he turned directly towards us and here he came.....looking right at our decoy.....walking straight to me. The only reason he stopped was because of the big blown down tree 10 yards in front of me. So he stops, 10 yards from me. Looking right past me. I know this is it. I take aim at the lower portion of his chest. I find the line between his shoulder and chest......and pull the trigger. The arrow buries deep in his chest. With maybe three inches sticking out of him. Once again, he turns to bolt. I bugle, and we start cow calling. He goes back the way he came. Behind the trees and stops. Again we watch as he staggers another 20 to 30 yards out of sight. KC comes over to me and asks me if I hit him good. I tell him it was a chest shot and it buried deep. So, we sit and listen and we hear an amazing amout of crashing. Almost enough to make you think there was a whole herd in there with him. We sit and wait for another 30 minutes. With no more sounds being made besides our own, we put on our packs and pick up his trail. Wasn't hard to miss. Plenty of blood all over. We come to the edge of a raven between our finger ridge and the next one over. As KC and I are looking for more blood I look down into this raven and see a leg sticking straight up in the air. As we make our way down the edge more we discover that he had been standing on the edge when he expired and fell down into the raveen taking out an old dead tree that was 6 to 8 inches round on his way down. Now all the crashing made sense. So after all the pictures were taken and amazment at yet another big bull was down in the same draw as before, I pulled out my Garmin Rino to mark the spot and realize that we were under 200 feet from where Stacy's bull had died a week earlier. What are the odds of two big bulls being harvested in the same draw not 200 feet from one another? And yes, thats feet, not yards."