Congarts o. Grate bullI'm the type that likes to tinker and try new things, so I decided to give my rifles a rest this fall and jump into the archery game this year. I've always been jealous of everyone hunting September! I had no clue about bows, but after doing a lot of research, I found a great deal on a new Mathews Halon 32 in February. Once I got it all set up, I spent quite a bit of time getting familiar with my bow and comfortable with shooting from multiple field positions.
My brothers and I planned to be in WY during the middle of September to hopefully have more of the rut in full swing. The night before my flight, a huge windstorm pummeled Cleveland. I had to pack all my gear with with a flashlight due to multiple trees taking down power lines in the area. Luckily, the storm passed by midnight and it was clear skies on Saturday morning.
My flight ended up being delayed a good 30 minutes in order to add more fuel to go around storms in the midwest. The new route also added about 30 minutes, which effectively ate up my entire layover. I literally had to sprint to barely make my connection in Denver. As I was the last person on the plane, I was nervous my bags wouldn't make it.
Once I got to Cody, I was relieved to see my bow case waiting for me, but my other bag (with all my clothes, contacts lenses, etc) was on the next flight (arriving 6 hours later). At least I had my bow right? I wanted to get out and hunt the evening, so I left Cody with my bow and headed out to meet my brothers. Luckily, they had some spare camo I could squeeze into that evening.
Quite a few elk were already down low that afternoon, but not in a very accessible area. We glassed the high grounds and found more elk milling around up top. The elk tend to come down and feed in the fields overnight, so setting up to intercept them is ideal. Trouble is, they may hang up top until last light, then barrel down the mountain. There are also multiple ridges for the elk to take, so some luck is involved. Rather than wait at the bottom, my brother and I headed up to roll the dice.
Once high enough, we split up to increase the odds of running into elk. It took almost two hours for things to finally start moving, but eventually, a good number of bugles were off to my right quite a ways. I decided to drop back and head down to see if I could catch any movement. Suddenly, I spotted a cow about 400 yards away at the fence line. She gently walked over the hill and was gone in a matter of seconds. About 10 minutes later, I could hear bugling that sounded as if I was getting closer. Sure enough, I was staring at a bull along the same fence line roughly 300 yards away. I was sitting on an exposed hill with only sparse knee high sage brush. Without even calling, the bull turned my way and started walking in my direction.
With the lay of the land, once he was out of sight, I moved back and found a small clump of sage to sit next to. I didn't expect the bull to keep coming, but in a few minutes, he was cresting a hill only 130 yards from me. He dropped out of sight again, only to reappear at 70 yards. He only had one more small hill separating us, and once he was out of sight again, I ranged where I thought he'd pop out. A few seconds later, he was standing broadside at 40 yards and had no idea I was there.
I slowly drew my bow back, settled the pin on his vitals, and sent an arrow ---THUMP!! He wheeled around in a cloud of dust. I watched him barrel down a hill out of sight about 100 yards away. The adrenalin started to kick in at that point! I grabbed my bow and walked to where I thought he had been at the shot and quickly found part of my arrow on the ground with blood 6" from my fletching. Light was fading fast and I marked where I first found blood. I backed out of the area to give him some time to expire and met up with my brothers. We went to where I had last seen the bull drop down a steep hill. After a few passes with the flashlight, we caught a glimpse of a tine sticking up! High fives went around and we carefully went down the steep hill to lay hands on my bull. Luckily he died on a small ledge - a mere foot further and he would have been all the way in the bottom of a steep ravine.
I couldn't believe my hunt was over in the first evening! All the practice paid off big time and I couldn't be happier. I think I've found a new hobby for September from now on!
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