Prior to this year, all of my elk hunting experience has been with a bow in hand. There's just something about chasing bugling bulls during the peak of the rut in September. However this year, I planned my first rifle elk hunt in Idaho.
I began my hunt on Oct 15th, and after backpacking in several miles on the night prior, my buddy and I were excited to get on several bugling bulls on the first morning of our hunt. Long story, short, we ended up chasing two separate herds — each with a herd bull and 10+ cows.
I originally glassed the most distant herd from a mile away. We first hunted the closer herd but could not get a shot opportunity and then lost them. We set our sights on the distant herd and began an approach. The bull was positioned in such a way that we would have to sneak in close to get a shot opportunity and have the wind in our favor. Nothing "long range" about it, as the first shot opportunity came after sneaking within 100 yards.
With the bull's head and front shoulder blocked behind a tree and brush, I sent a 166 Hammer Hunter out of my 30-06 through his lungs. About 20-30 seconds later, and 20-30 yards from where he stood at the shot, he was down for good. Being 5-6 miles from the truck, then the real work began. Thankfully I had two good friends there to help pack him out.
Not only did this 6x6 bull have a busted-up rack (a front tine broken in half, and a G2 broken-off near the base), his body also had no less than 15 wounds and scars from battles with other bulls. An old warrior of an elk. My first rifle elk hunt was certainly a memorable one!