August 29, 2018
Bowhunting for elk brings along its own very special set of joys, and mostly pleasant miseries, and my hunt so far this year has certainly been no exception.
The weather has been hotter than Hell’s own glowing brace of hinges; the lack of moisture unprecedented. Add to that an unusually voracious and seemingly endless raft of pterodactyl-sized mosquitoes that descended from the devil’s own desert, and you can begin to grasp the parameters of this particular flavor of outdoor fun.
Still, my summer scoutings and game camera recordings have been fruitful and very enlightening, and increasingly hopeful. The elk trails had been well-worn, and you might say that I felt that I had their fairly regular patterns pretty well dialed in, at least as well as anyone can when it comes to out guessing an elk.
That was, of course, until opening day of this years Colorado archery season, just a very short time ago.
All tracks and other elk sign evaporated completely about one week before season, leaving me completely dumbfounded and at a loss for words. Still, I had faith, and as many of you know one thing an elk is really good at is covering a lot of territory.
After all, they would be back.
The first few days were elkless, and I returned home for a short, but restless break.
Then, on the night before last, I left the house at a much too early hour and arrived at my hunting area in time to change out my footwear, grab my gear, and gain a comfortable perch in my favorite tree stand. I could barely contain my anticipation as the shadow light of the moon waned and the day transitioned to that magic hour known so well to bowhunter’s everywhere.
Blame it on the blood-sucking horde, my sleep deprived eyes, or my too-heavy-for-an-older-man-pack, but it was then, and only then, that I discovered why I had felt so unsteady and disjointed on the rocky trail.
Looking down, I was more than shocked to find but one boot on my left foot, and silly me, a low topped walking shoe and mismatched sock on the other. No wonder I had felt like I had wanted to make a circle as I stepped along, with one leg shorter than the other, however slightly. I don’t believe I have ever done that before, and if I had, I surely would not admit it now, pride being what it is and all.
Well, thought I, if that was the worst thing to happen this day than I shall howl into the oncoming day, but not just now anyways. Time to get ready for my upcoming 15 yard broadside shot, though the elk packing might prove a little challenging under the circumstances!
I knew from monitoring my game cameras that the elk would show by 8 a.m. or not at all, and my full length bug suit did it’s best to preserve some blood in my body as I waited valiantly on. But, as you may have guessed, it was simply not to be.
So it was back to camp for breakfast and a refreshing jug of iced coffee. Time to shelter up from the relentless sun and live to fight another day. But first, I decided to make a slight detour and check the camera at my other ground blind location.
Truth be told this particular setup was my favorite among the two, and my hunter’s intuition had told me to hunt it this morning. Never doubt the “spidey sense” is my motto, and I do my best to honor whatever premonitions are graced my way.
Unfortunately, the morning wind would not cooperate, blowing steadily from the north instead of from its more usual southerly direction. Facts are facts, and one of the most important of them all is that you will never fool the nose of an elk.
Hence, the tree, for me…
And of course, no doubt you have already guessed it. The elk had already arrived, four or five bulls and a cow for sure, just an hour before – and gone, and I would have had a lovely shot, had I been there, one boot or not.
I knew of this big bull too, and there is a snapshot or two of him in my in my growing photographic collection. He’s a handsome specimen – most obviously big, and heavy on the hoof.
I would surely love to see him again, under slightly different terms and conditions. The season’s young, though I am not, and maybe, just maybe, we shall cross our paths again before the end.
Only the fates can say.
If so, may the arrow fly true and sharp, and the elk and the glory of pursuit live on forever. Yet, for now, what can one do, but lay the head back, and laugh. For after all, I am bowhunter – and I’m used to it.
I will, however, make doubly sure to be fully dressed, …next time.
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“I will still his mighty bugle if it is willed. I’ll claim him as a trophy if my puny arrow flies true. But he will always be the unattainable; with the mountain, the fog, and the silent stones”
Billy Ellis from “Hunter To the Dawn”.