After 20 days in the desert, with a few days off in the middle, Conner finally sealed the deal with an unusual bull and some good meat to bring home.
Before I tell the story I’ll tell you what I have heard about the chukars. Every report I have gotten was good. Lot’s of birds but tough to get mostly because of the heat. I am surprised at how many grouse people are getting. I figured that to be the down area on upland birds but as usual I was wrong. Very good chukar numbers reported. I have two dogs that are chomping at the bit to get out and if I don’t get them out soon they will be leaving me.
The area that we were elk hunting had tons of sage hens and we even ran into a few covey of young chukars. I wanted to take the boys but knew if we got going on elk I might have to leave them in the trailer all day and maybe through the night. So, here’s how the hunt went.
Got down there for the opener on Aug 30. Very hot weather with temperatures up to 95 degrees a few of the days. Way to hot to shoot an elk in a few of the canyons we found them in. Losing meat was a real possibility. So there was a lot of down time the first week. I’m not a sitter so I was pretty bored. Conner had a couple of buddies come down for a few days and they spent a lot of time looking for big bucks, which they got several stalks but never closed the deal.
We came home for a few days and regrouped and returned the 14th of Sept. for the remainder of the season if needed. It was a little cooler but the temperature never dropped below 40. Still t shirt weather in the day but we knew the elk had to be fired up by now. Up to this point we had seen 13 bulls and no cows. Only one of the bulls was a shooter but wasn’t ready to play with us. This is what the country looked like where we were finding the bulls.
Obviously, it’s great country for spotting but not so great for bow hunting unless the elk are in rut stupid. Our big problem was finding cow elk. We never saw anything but bulls. So I still was spending too much time at camp while Conner and his buddy, Wyatt, were spot and stalking a big antelope they named Andy. They evidently got close several times but never sent an arrow on it’s way.
I was getting bored around camp one afternoon while the boys were chasing the antelope and decided I needed to get some hiking done for chukar hunting later. I drove to a new draw and took a long hike hoping to find some good sign or possibly some cow elk. After about two miles I found some real fresh sign and plenty of it. Although it was a fifteen mile drive to the area, it was only 3.8 miles from camp as the crow flies.
I got the boys fired up that night and we headed into the area the next morning. I was disappointed that we didn’t hear any bugling but we found a big 6 point down in this bog but couldn’t convince him to come to us.
We let him be for the time being and hiked further in and finally found some cows. After backing out for an evening hunt the boys once again went to chasing antelope. On our return the elk were doing a little talking and we found the elk we wanted. He was a dandy.
I pulled him into 75 yards several times but he wouldn’t make the commitment until just before dark when he came into 45 yards but there was not enough light for Conner to see his pins. Once again we backed out hoping to get him fired up the next morning. We did, but there were several other bulls keeping him close to his twenty or so cows. There was lot’s of screaming and the big guy was busy chasing the smaller bulls away. There was also a nice six that would have looked good on the wall. Plus there was an unusual club bull that Conner said he wouldn’t be unhappy to shoot. As the herd worked there way away from us I got one rag horn excited to check me out. I called him across the opening to where the boys were laying by the brush. Their cow calling got him to come to 2 yards from them where he looked right down at them laying behind the sage. He broke and ran off about 40 yards where Conner blunted him.
As you can see, Conner had a ball and no elk were harmed in the taking of this video. The next morning was the morning that bowhunters dream about. The short hike into the area was filled with the sound of bugling elk. It was non stop. There was one bugle that I was sure was that monster. The deep bulge and following grunt had me thinking he was the king of the bulls. We had to get upwind of the herd and I decided to stay back while the two younger men hurried to get into position. Old men don’t move gracefully and fast enough.
I kept the talk up while the boys moved into the thick stuff and than backed off up the hill to listen to the show. After about an hour the talk had subsided and I moved back down and gave an elk bugle to locate the boys. A couple of elk let out a yell so I backed out again and went up the hill and waited for the boys. Close to noon, I got the call that Conner had shot the club bull but couldn’t find it. Wyatt had elk bugled and cow called while Conner moved in on the call of the bulls. He had put two arrows in a bull and was confident that they were good shots.
After Wyatt rejoined him they went in the direction that the bull had gone and jumped him. There was blood where he laid down but not a lot and a few drops showing us which way he ran to. Two hours of tracking revealed very little blood and I finally found a drop of blood on some dead fall. Another drop of blood twenty yards further and I at least knew what direction he had taken. Twenty yards later I found the club bull laying dead. I yelled up the hill to Conner who was pretty depressed by this time that we had the bull down. He rushed through that thick brush like a bull elk to me. I remember that feeling so well and was excited to see the smile on his face as he grabbed the club bull by the horns.
Pictures taken the work began. The boys did the arduous work of cleaning the animal and I did the packing. It kills my back to ben over an animal that long but I can still pack. Plus we were very lucky and could get a rig to within 200 yards of the animal with some careful driving over the rocky trail.
Great hunt and great memories. It wasn’t that 350 bull we had set out for. Maybe if we spent the remaining 10 days we might have been able to get it done. We had a couple interested in us but Conner decided that an unusual trophy like this bull would make for a great conversation point. We now have some good meat and a story to talk about for years to come.
It was a great trip but I’m glad it’s over and I’m back ready to spend some time with my boys chasing the chukars. I realized why I quit hunting elk 25 years ago. There is so much down time archery hunting elk. When there is action you can’t beat the thrill chasing those animals, but most time is spent doing nothing. Chukar hunting is always action. Even when there aren’t birds you are moving and anticipating a point.
I’m looking forwards to hearing some more about the birds and hoping to be out there passing on some good news about the numbers soon. Have a great season.