Home Forums Campfire Forum CO last day elk hunt: a story of success

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    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      The following email exchange is from yesterday, between Thomas Downing and me. If you read TBM you may recall T as my “Indian guide” from his article about last year’s last-day bull. He also posts here under his own name. I asked his permission to post his story as I feel it represents–to those of us who see the big picture and understand true hunting and all it’s challenges, joys, disappointments and the opportunities it offers for us to grow in character and personal maturity–well, Thomas represents the best, and a model to emulate. First my note to him, then his response.

      On Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 8:44 AM, David Petersen wrote:
      T — Did you connect with those screamers on top yesterday morning? I started following them up the mountain by moonlight and got up as far as the head of the gulleys, where I bedded for the day so close to a nice bull that I could hear him belch! Then more elk came by and bedded below us, which prompted my bull to stand and shake his head, then return to bed. I stayed on ’em until dark and all the way out, but they won and I admire them for it as I couldn’t have tried any harder. Just about wore this ole body out and could hardly hobble home last night with sore hip and knee. Great day for me and I’m anxious to hear about yours. I’m hoping you and Joe were on the top ridge where the big boys were slugging it out for an hour or more, then suddenly went quiet, suggesting I hope that you put one of them down. I’m getting pounded this morning by “end of season blues.” Not because I didn’t kill this year, but because the elk hunting is over. Here are some pics from Hillside on Saturday. That little bull looks like a big spike with brow tines, but that can’t be. The skinny 6X may be the one haunting the Meadows with the wimpy squeal. Doc Dave could have killed him his first morning out, if he’d had a bull tag. Crazy meat hunters! So how’d your day go? dave

      Dave — Hey bro, good morning. We had an epic day yesterday, I could have killed a couple of bulls had the wind just been a little agreeable. Pop and I got to the trail at 5:30 and walked up Sure Death Creek in the dark headed for a canyon just south of the creek canyon. On the way up I was mewing periodically and the bulls were bugling right from the start. We took a ridge on the western side of Sure Death and I spotted a 5X5 bugling. We got to this middle ridge and I called in 4 bulls at once! First a little 4X4 came in and was standing there less than 10 yards from Pop; he drops his head and smells our track from where we had just walked. He departed and all of a sudden a bugling bull shows up, glunking, chuckling, and smacking, and he is within 20 yards. I see the tip of his antlers coming over the tiny ridge (6X6) and abruptly he stops and the wind gave us away. Seconds later a bull from up the ridge was bugling the whole time and he decides from all my cow calling that he is going to see what’s going on. He is bugling like crazy and he comes down and is within 20 as well. The aspens covered his presence but he ultimately smelled yours truly. He was followed by a spike. In short the wind had its daily change occur while we had the bulls all over us. It was a little heartbreakening at first but after further silent thought, not heartbreakening in the same sense as losing a bull. You know? It just wasn’t meant to be. We heard the bull up your way bugle his head off most of the morning. He sounded like the big 6X7 and we took note of where he bedded on the east side of the creek. Our evening plan was to head up the canyon and wait until the evening wind began to blow down and then set up and hope that the bull will come in or he has a satelitte with him. We we got to our destination at 5:15 and I were greeted immediately by bugling bulls. Well anyway he was above us and he decided that he was going to come and get me. He headed down at me and at less than 50 yards his cows began to chirp and mew and all of a sudden he bugled again and he was completely to our left and was headed away. I went down the side canyon headed toward another bugling bull when right in front of me is a small 5X5 chasing a cow followed by a tiny 4X4 and a black velvet covered spike! They refused to come over to my calls and suddenly the herd bull from before was headed down right above me. I took off running up a trail to hopefully catch them crossing. I was late but his incredible bugling let me know of his progress. I was within 40 yards of him when I began to chirp and he bugled so loud and fierce it was amazing. He left his cows and I saw him on this little ridge headed toward me. He stops at 35-40 yards completely broadside and out in the open and he rips off a another bugle. I never even thought of taking a long last day shot. I couldn’t find my inner Fred Bear or Paul Schafer. Anyway, he stood there and his cows mewed once again and he spun around and headed back to them. He was a heavy big bodied 5X5. He was not the huge 6X7 that I thought he might be. Then a calf came in and offered itself to me. I could have shot the calf multiple times but I just couldn’t do it. That was my tale of woe. On the way out of the canyon in the dark, I reflected on the past 30 days. In many ways this year’s hunt was one of my finest and most challenging ever. In 27 years of elk hunting, this season I finally got to spend significant time hunting by myself, which I am grateful for. I am in the best shape I have been in for the last 8 years. India has never been more understanding of my hunting and she never even complained about anything. I sustained a concussion, a black eye, a sting right over my eye from a yellowjacket, multiple leg and shoulder bruises. It was wonderful! I shot my bow more than ever and I know deep in my soul that if I was given the right opportunity I would have killed…No question. I was blessed with elk sightings just about every day. I saw golden eagles, bears, deer, grouse, bandtailed pigeons, and several different varieties of hawks. My Pop spent some precious moments with a pine marten as well. The elk were magnificent as usual and I am deeply impressed with the country up in Sure Death Creek. All in all, I am humbled. Time to look forward and make some new year’s goals to be even better for next season. T

    • Patrick
      Post count: 1148

      I read it on all on the edge of my seat….literally! Awesome hunting!

      I do have a suggestion though: Stay away from Sure Death Creek! 😯

    • Alexandre Bugnon
      Post count: 681


    • JL
      Post count: 27

      Fantastic story told, and great writing also, what a fine combination. Thank You.

    • Charles EkCharles Ek
      Post count: 563

      It’s going to sound trite but it never applied more than here:

      Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

      Congratulations on a great season, and thanks very much to both of you for sharing this with us.

    • Croatoan
      Post count: 35


    • 3blades
      Post count: 58

      The best part of hunting is the journey and he did some serious journey! Fun read and again I really need to get up that way before I pass on to the next life. Thanks for sharing!:wink:

    • SteveMcD
      Post count: 870

      Amen, Fellow Brothers of the Bow. Amen. 8)

    • smiley1
      Post count: 102

      Great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

    • William WarrenWilliam Warren
      Post count: 1384

      What a thrilling tale! A successful hunt in my opinion.

    • David Petersen
      Post count: 2749

      Patrick — The West is full of such names that imply a story — Froze to Death Creek near Livingston, MT, lots of Dead Man creeks and canyons, and my favorite, a geological formation whose name describes it perfectly: Molly’s Nipple in SE Utah. It’s on the maps! And Hell-Roaring Judy mine here in CO, and on and on.

      Yeah, when Thomas gets to “automatic writing” he sure tells a fast-paced, spell-binding story. He talks the same way.

      For all who have responded, it’s great to see we have so many brothers not only of the bow, but of the spirit and soul as well. But I never doubted that, else I wouldn’t be here. Nor, I suspect, would you. Now it’s our turn to envy you lucky dudes who are still anticipating opening morning! I grew up whitetail hunting and miss it terribly, and the dense hardwood woods that make the whitetail what it is: a forest ghost. Go get ’em and tell us about it! dave

    • tailfeather
      Post count: 417

      Fantastic tale, fellas.

    • strait-aero
      Post count: 350

      Thanks T, Alex and Mr. P for sharing your experiences…. Hope to have something of worth to share soon, but, alas, only hope to be able to relate it half as well as you all do.:roll:

    • Mark Turton
      Post count: 759

      Long may these memories live with you, and the gods look kindly upon you.

    • WICanner
      Post count: 136

      A great read, and congrats on a good season. Those blood curdling screams at point blank are something to behold. Elk are magnificent creatures.

    • Patrick
      Post count: 1148

      David Petersen wrote: …and my favorite, a geological formation whose name describes it perfectly: Molly’s Nipple in SE Utah. It’s on the maps!

      I don’t dare attempt to confirm it by googling it here at work! 😆

      Hopefully, Ty and I will have some good stories to share. Only a few more days until whitetail season begins. If not, we’ll make them up. 😆

    • Steertalker
      Post count: 83

      Great story Dave!!:wink:


    • John Carter
      Post count: 71

      You bedding down within ear shot of your animals,,T’s comments about the bumps and bruises,the hawks, bears and Martin,,these are the true things of the hunt.

      This has been the best story of the hunt I’ve read in some time.

      Reading it was like seeing it unfold.

      Congratulations on your success and thank you for telling it so well.


    • Ben Maher
      Post count: 9

      Thanks for that . That was about as good a tale as I have heard told .
      For those of us Outside the USA , elk are the things dreams are made of , and to be able to hunt them in the manner described … well … Even if it is hindsight , I was on the mountain with you …
      Thanks Lads

    • Fletcher
      Post count: 177

      Dave and Thomas, thanks for sharing your days with us.

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