Opening morning of the Spike Elk hunt started with great anticipation for me and 2 buddies as we found 3 inches of fresh snow on the road we use as a jumping point to get into our elk hunting spot. We were becoming slightly discouraged however after over a mile of hiking through knee deep to waist deep snow and not crossing a single elk track into our honey hole.
A few minutes into actual daylight my cousin and I decided to loop around the peak and drop off the mountain on the other side in hopes of finding some fresh sign and maybe pushing some elk to our other friend who was hiking up the other side. After circling the peak we crossed through the first draw and cut some tracks from the day before heading into the draw we were going into.
When we popped out on the ridge our 3rd buddy wasn't where I thought he would be on the opposite ridge so we slowly headed to his usual lookout point. We quietly still hunted about 50 yards worth of pines and cut our first fresh track of the day but it was headed up the mountain and we had our hearts set on going downhill where the snow wasn't quite as deep. A few minutes later I jumped the first elk but couldn't get a look at anything but it's backside as it bounded away.
I quickly pulled out my cow call and tried to calm down the spooked elk and settle the nerves of any elk left in the pines. We got out of the pines into an open face leading to the other ridge when I spotted another elk standing perfectly broadside in the pines at about 100 yards. All I could see was from it's eyes down and it started to walk back up where we had just come from to get away from us.
We circled around another 100 yards glassing up into the pines and I continued to try my best to cow call and hopefully spot a spike. I looked at my cell phone to see the time and realized I needed to call our other friend and see where he was at. Out of the top of my vision I caught a flash of tan and I looked up to see a spike come barreling around a pine tree headed right for me 50 yards away!
I raised my gun, verified he was a spike, and since he was facing directly towards me I dropped the crosshairs into his chest and pulled the trigger. The 185 grain Berger hit like Thor's hammer and he just crumpled at the shot without so much as a twitch.
It was my cousins first big game hunt and he was getting pretty discouraged after 2 hours of hiking and pushing trees without even seeing fresh sign, but he was standing 2 feet away from me when I shot the elk and I think he was more excited than I was to see how sometimes a hunt all comes together.
We decided that my attempt at a cow call must have really turned this spike on and he was coming to get some piece of the action and sure was surprised when he came out of the trees and saw me standing in the middle of an open snow face where he expected to find his lover.
I was shooting a Browning XBolt in 300 WSM with a Burris Black Diamond scope loaded with 185 grain Berger handloads. I was fully prepared and expecting a 3-700 yards shot but the 50 yard chipshot with an elk running right at you was honestly a blast.
Here's a picture of the elk exactly how he fell at the shot.
And here's me with my opening morning spike.