Published by Benchleg01 on 21 Aug 2008
It was still dark when I softly closed the door on my old beater nissan pick-up truck and started up towards the ridge above me, the fog was so thick that I had only about twenty yards visibility. I had bedded down a monster bull (7×7) on the back side of the ridge the previous night, and was hoping to find him this morning. I was “still hunting” my way up through the middle of a two year old clear cut, and as luck would have it, my Ol’ pal “Murphy” was hunting with me.
I had not gone more than one hundred yards up the clear cut when I heard a noise off to my right, I slowly hunkered down and looked over my right shoulder, I could just barely make out through the fog, two Cow Elk at twenty yards and they were looking right at me. I slowly faced forward again and as the fog rose I could see another Elk directly in front of me, I pulled up my range finder and ranged him at seventy yards, (25 yards beyond my comfort zone) it was a 5×5 bull, Not the monarch of the forest I had bedded down the night before, none the less he was a respectable “Freezer Pet” for a meat hunter like myself.
The fog was lifting fast now and I could see that there were Cow Elk all around me, I had sneaked right into the middle of his harem and he was not sure what to do about it. The “Lead Cow” was not sure what was going on either but she did not want any part of it, she turned an trotted directly past the Bull, headed for the timber line gathering the rest of his Cows as she went. I had not moved a muscle after rangeing the Bull, and I watched them as they hit the edge of the timber, and instead of dissapearing into the thick reprod, they turned, went up the ridge line, and bedded down on a small knoll just below the top. Three of the bedded Cows were positioned such, that they could cover every approach from below.
I very slowly backed out the way I had come in, this satellite bull and his harem were now bedded between me and the Ol’ Monarch bull; it was time for a new game plan. After about ten seconds of extensive and extremely agonizing soul searching, I decided that a “Rag Horn” in the freezer is better than a “Monarch” in the bush, and on the bright side….I can always horn hunt next year.
With Murphy hunting the same bunch of elk that I was, I did not feel comfortable attempting to stalk them up the middle of the clear cut; too many eyes to observe me. By the same token, the reprod was only about 25′ tall and thicker than the fleas on a dogs back, also not a good choice. After studying the approach very carefully through my binoculars, I finally decided to sneak up the edge of the timber line on the South side of the clear cut, using the stumps and root wads as cover.
Two of the Cows were looking my direction initially, I had to wait untill both were looking elsewhere before I could cross the open ground of the fire break to the saftey of the first stump. After that it was just a matter of moving quietly from stump to root wad to snag when they were not looking. After two hours and approximately 800 yards I was pinned down in a position directly below the the knoll the Elk were bedded down on, I was a little nervous as there was a 40 yard stretch of ground with no cover in front of me and I could only see two of the Cows.
I was trying to decide how to proceed when the Cow directly above me stood up, I ducked back down behind the root wad thinking that I had been busted. The fog was still moving in and out sporadically and what slight breeze there was was in my favor, as it was still fairly cool and the thermals were moving downhill. I peeked around the root wad in time to see that the Cow above me was gone and the other was just vanishing around the back of the snag that she had been bedded down at.
It was now or never; I crossed the stretch of open ground to an old snag that had been pushed over and left lying at the edge of what I took to be a small bench. I dropped my pack, removed the quiver from my bow, took out two arrows, knocked a muzzy 100 grain 3 blade broadhead, set my Parker Hunter Mag beside me at the ready and began to scan everything in front of me with my range finder.
I heard noise from above me and to me left, I set my range finder down on my pack, and peeked out around the left side of the root wad. It truly does not get any better than this; the Elk had dropped down around the timber side of the knoll, The Bull was leading the way and he would pass directly in front of and about 30 feet above me at approximately 40 yards.
I quietly slithered back over and picked up my bow; I came to full draw while still on my knees and hunkered down behind the log. When I heard the Elk passing directly in front of me, I slowly raised up bringing my bow to shooting position in the same fluidly smooth motion, I was in perfect form, my sight pin tucked in low and tight behind the front shoulder with a perfect, slightly quartering away broadside shot. Enter “Uncle Murphy”. It was a cow Elk filling my sight picture and not the Bull. They had traded places after I had ducked down.
The 5×5 Bull was about two paces behind the Cow and quartering to me, not a shot that I would take. I had a decision to make and not a lot of time to make it. I could wait, and hope that the Bull would take a couple of steps and give me a broadside shot before the Cow came to her senses and bolted, or I could flex my shoulder muscles and put this freezer pet where it belongs, in the freezer!
Just before I heard the Cow give her alarm “bark”, I recalled the words of my late father. “Horn soup don’t stick to your ribs the way Backstrap does”. So I flexed my shoulder muscles and sent out a dinner invitation, in the form of a Beman 340 ICS Hunter, and she graciously accepted my invitation with no reservations.
The Moral of this story is, If you are going to hunt with “Murphy”, you have to be prepared to change plans in mid stream without losing your game.