I’ve been a busy guy the last few years and haven’t gotten out hunting nearly enough. To be honest, I’ve felt like the plumber who has leaky pipes. It’s been frustrating to say the least, but my friend Chris Burget invited me on an Idaho elk hunt. His cabin is in one of Idaho’s best elk hunting units and I was looking forward to our hunt. We only had 1 1/2 days to hunt due to work obligations, but we made the best of it.
Here’s the story of our Idaho elk hunt:
I met Chris at the grocery store in Sun Valley on Friday evening and we bought $84 worth of snacks. The prices there were ridiculous. I don’t know how they sleep at night, but I digress. From Sun Valley, it’s about a half hour drive over a one lane, steep, dirt pass to Chris’s cabin on the river. Nice place, and sometime I’m gonna have to sample the fishing. We were both tired, so we B.S.’d a bit and hit the sack early.
Up the next morning in the dark, we wolfed down breakfast, jumped on the quads and headed up the road behind the cabin. Chris calls it his own “Private Idaho”, and it’s my favorite type of elk country. Big, sagebrush covered mountains with some pockets of timber. Great for glassing, but I didn’t have my Swarovskis with me because my dad had broken them in a horse wreck earlier, but that’s another story… Anyway, we were in elk right at first light and had a jealous herd bull all worried about his harem across the canyon from us. Chris has had three knee replacements in the last year and wasn’t up to going after him so we sat and bugled insults back and forth at each other until he pushed his gals up into the timber. I could have killed that bull. He was there for the taking, and in a perfect spot for an ambush, but I wanted to call a bull in for Chris. He’s been archery hunting for twelve years and hadn’t gotten a bull yet, and after his knee debacle, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to Idaho elk hunt at all anymore.
We continued along, bugling here and there and on our third stop we had another bull answer us. I set Chris up about 100 yard in front of me and started my best imitation of a bunch of sexy cows looking for a bull. We stayed there for about a half an hour and the bull continued to bugle at us but he wasn’t coming any closer. I think he was bedded down already ’cause he wasn’t putting much umph into his bugles, so we continued on towards him moving slowly and calling softly along the way trying to sound like a herd moving into the timber to bed down. At about 100 yards, I could tell that he was starting to get worked up, so I sent Chris out in front again and started some quiet, contented cow calling and he started coming in. I could tell that he was going to come in higher than I had expected so I moved up about fifty yards. I felt bad because I thought Chris was out of the game and that I had put him in a poor location, but not too bad ’cause I was gonna get this bad boy. He stepped cautiously out of the timber about sixty yards away and I quit calling. He hung up for about fifteen minutes and took a few slow steps towards me to about forty yards. I was just starting to draw my bow when SWOOSH… SMACK! Chris took a shot! I had been wrong, he wasn’t out of the game after all. The bull whirled and I could see Chris’ arrow sticking out of his boiler room. Good shot. He ran about 100 yards and started the “wobble” so I knew the easy part was over. Awesome!
Now here is where things get crazy. Chris was ecstatic and wanted to go check out his bull, but I had gone that route too many times with less than ideal results, so I suggested that we sit down and have a snack and talk about things for a bit. I kept Chris contained for about a half hour or so, and he couldn’t take it anymore so we snuck up and found his bull about 200 yards away, and there was a cow elk standing there at forty yards! Chris saw her first and motioned me up and stopped her with a cow call. Since I only had a day or so to hunt a cow was fine with me so I took a quick shot and hit a twig. CRAP! I thought it was all over, but as she moved parallel to me, I was able to stop her again in the next shooting lane with a cow call and this time I made a good shot and my made short work of her. Two elk in less than an hour with our bows! What a morning!
I showed Chris how to Eskimo Quarter his bull (the only way to fly) and then we went and found my cow, took care of her and hiked back to get the quads. Amazingly, with a little bit of fancy driving we were able to get the quads to both elk and were back at the cabin by 4:00. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! I’ll take an easy pack-out any time.
Thanks Chris for a great hunt. I think we should do it again next year.