Well last year I got my first ever elk. It took me 4 years of going out by myself and learning the whole game of hunting. When to draw the bow when not to, how to get out of the woods, and how to track elk. I was rewarded by a huge 6x6 bull, that is on my wall and in my freezer.
This year was a bit different. I did feel a little less pressure this year because I still have half an elk in the freezer. I went out a lot this year and only got on the elk a couple of times. I never heard a bugle this year though I heard plenty of hunters bugling, and playing cow elk estrus jazz solos on their calls. I just kept quiet hoping they would scare the elk my way. I did get the opportunity to fire off a shot at a really nice big bull that had about 7 cows with him. He was about 35yds away and staring right at me. The stand off seemed like forever but was probably only about twenty seconds. He looked away and I flung the arrow. About 10yds from the target it clipped a twig of a branch and the arrow stuck in the ground at his feet which made him flip out and and bolt. I called to slow the herd down. Now I didn't know I had missed I thought perhaps I got him. So I stayed down wind and circled around them and got in front of the cows. I was about 15yds from munching cows that I could have shot, but I thought I had already hit the bull. After about 5 minutes of watching the cows the wind changed and they bolted. I went back to the spot I would have hit the elk looking for blood but instead I found my arrow in the dirt. Ugg I could have shot any one of the cows.
Two days later a dump truck hit a big 6x6 bull on the highway in front of my driveway....I think it was my bull....ugg. ODOT just brushed it...and within 20min someone had already cut off the rack.
Saturday of closing weekend I was dedicated to spend a long time out and cover a lot of ground trying to find them. I came across some fresh looking tracks on an old logging road and I folllowed them not in the direction they were going but rather in the direction they came from. I was looking for scat to see if the tracks were from that day or from the night or day before. I was surprised how long the tracks were on the road cause usually they come out of the woods cross a logging road and head right back in the woods. I followed the tracks up the road about 200yds. I never found any scat, now I was 200yds up the hilly road looking down wondering if I was going to back track down, I called out to God to lead me the right direction. My instinct told me to go back down the hill and follow the tracks a ways. But I think God me to continue up the logging road. Not more than twenty yards of walking I see a cow walking on the same road as me with her head down eating grass in the road. I was able to get to the inside of the corner she was rounding. I saw a calf next to her and could hear others following her. They were heading down the road right to me. I'm about 25yds from her but she is facing me. Not more than an hour earlier I had a conversation in my head to take any elk you see today...cause you want the meat. But GREED took over. I knew if I was at the front of the herd and if I could not get busted there could be a huge Christmas treed antlered bull on the tail end pushing the cows. I took my eyes off the lead cow just for a second, and in a split second everything changed. And I was left there looking stupid.
I was about to draw back when out of nowhere a spike comes running in from behind the lead cow and runs right into her. This spike was crazed. I could see the whites of his eyes and his mane was all kinds of wigged out, and he was hyper. He stopped and a tree divided his body so I had no shot. He chomped his jaw twice and it made a sound and they took off into the woods. It turned out the herd was only two cows a calf and the spike. I should have taken the cow, I had the opportunity and blew it. The spike was funny though. He was all kinds of "Don't steal my ladies...don't steal my ladies...lets get out of here" .He was happy just to have some cows and was all hocked up on hormones and paranoia.
I guess I don't really need to down an elk. I just need to be in the woods and experience elk. I look forward to late season elk hunting when the leaves are down and you can spot them a little easier. Anyways...don't let greed come between you and a freezer full of meat. ,)