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The Last Minute Elk --- The Story Of “Ole Crooked Horn”
Well, the plan worked......almost. They all came running as if they were the Lipizzaner stallions. They lined up beside each other at about 45 yds , right on the skyline. I would give a thousand dollars for a picture of those 7 bulls all lined up with the pink morning sky behind them. They were a beautiful sight, but way out of the range of my recurve bow. Try as I might I could not get one of those elk to come down into the timber. For 20 minutes or so we talked back and forth and called each other all sorts of names in the elk lingo.

I would do my best impression of "yo momma was a skunk" and they would come back with stuff that sounded like "well then bring yo bad self outta them trees so we can kick yo ass". “Ole Crooked Horn” was the one doing most of the talking as he was the biggest of the satellite bulls. After a while they tired of this and seeing my plan wasn’t working I started a sneak on “Ole Crooked Horn” as he had split off a little way from the rest.

I had good cover with some smaller spruce trees between us and closed the distance down to a range of about 15 yards where I was comfortable shooting my 65 pound Bighorn take-down. With arrow knocked and ready I slowly raised to my feet from behind a bush and started to draw. That is precisely when the wind shifted and hit me in the back of the neck. Before I could finish the draw, anchor and release he smelled me and was off. The jig was up. Elk have more vocalizations than most people know and one of them is an alert 'bark'. He started doing this and elk stampeded in every direction (except toward me).

Well that was the highlight of that trip as I never got close to any more elk for the next three days. But I still did not consider it a failure. That’s another thing about archery elk hunting. Just being out in the woods and seeing the beautiful scenery of the Rockies in the fall is worth the effort. If you are lucky enough to harvest a little venison, that’s even better. But that is not where this story ends. Here is the rest of the story...

My work had been very hectic that particular summer. I am a water well contractor and at the time I had three rigs and crews working and could never seem to get caught up. It is either feast or famine in this business and you have to make hay while you can. Time just flew by until one day I realized that it was the last day of the season and I had not filled my tag. I called my wife and told her not to make plans for me that I was quitting at noon and going hunting. She said my younger brother Dan had called and said he wanted to go if I went. So I had him meet me at home and we made a bee line to my hunting area.

We had picked a spot a little closer to get to and rode our trail bikes in as far as we could go. It was still a long way and we only got there about an hour before dark. I made one call and got an immediate response from a ridge about a mile away. There was no other recourse but to try for him we took off at a trot. As we went I explained to Dan what I wanted him to do when we set up. I would call and he was to rake a big branch against a spruce tree and stomp and grunt…basically act like a bull that is pissed.

I never called again until we got to where the bull was close and then I bugled. The response was immediate and HAIR raising.....the best I can describe it as the sound of an African lion roaring, and HE WAS COMING!!!!

I hastily set up under a spruce tree with drooping limbs at the bole of the tree. Dan backed up about 30 yards and started his horning act. This time it worked. The bull came like he was on a string. As he came through an opening at about 20 yards I could see his horns. Yep you guessed it, “Ole Crooked Horn”!!! His eyes were red as devil himself and snot was drooling out of his nose.

I knew if I didn’t get him brother Dan was in trouble!!! As he passed by my tree at about 3 paces, oblivious to me, I sent a two bladed Rocky Mountain Razorhead right through both lungs. As he lunged away I grabbed my bugle and screamed at him. He stopped at 50 paces and we were able to see him go down and then tumble down the hill. There wasn’t even enough light left to take pictures. He was indeed the last minute bull!

Allen is a water well contractor in central Colo. He has lived and hunted with gun and bow in Colorado since moving there in 1975. He is a former state champion and all-American trapshooter and also loves long range shooting, varmint hunting and Texas hold'em poker.
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