Every year I await the cool mountain air and the turning leaves that signal September is here. For me, September means archery season and rutting elk. This year my good buddy Stan and I loaded up the truck and headed for our favorite elk hunting location. After driving half the night we finally arrived at the trailhead and unloaded our gear. Our chosen camping spot was over seven miles in, so we decided to hunt our way over the course of the morning.
The first rays of the morning light found us working our way up a familiar ridge. We stopped to call a little and refuel on food and water. We were caught off guard when a little five point came silently into our setup. After a short debate, we decided to pass on him and keep moving on.
As evening approached, we left our camp and made a short trek to our lookout to glass. We chose this spot because it was located just above a nice saddle that we knew the elk were using to move from one drainage to another. We were calling every fifteen minutes or so and glassing when suddenly Stan whispered that there was a nice bull making his way towards us. Stan reached for his bow and I crawled back a ways to try working the bull into better position for a shot.
I couldn't see the elk, but when I saw Stan draw back and anchor, I hit the bugle to try stopping the bull for a shot. He had to make a steep downhill shot but after Stan released the arrow he turned to me and I could tell by the look on his face that the arrow had found its mark. After giving him a little time to expire, we found the blood trail but it soon became too dark to track. We decided to back out and find him in the morning.
The next morning we picked up the blood trail and found him shortly after. He was a good bull with a lot of extras. We cut the elk into quarters and hung the quarters high in a tree. We had some good friends who were camped in the next drainage over so we took the tenderloins with us and headed over to their camp. That night we shared a good dinner and retold the stories of the hunt. The next day Stan and R.D. packed the bull back to the truck and I went out with Rob. Rob and I got into a herd of elk and I was able to call in a nice satellite bull to thirty yards. Rob made a perfect heart shot and the bull was down within seconds. He was shaking with excitement, as it was his first elk in six years of hunting.
In less than forty-eight hours we managed to down two nice bulls. Elk hunting is hard and the success rates are low, so to have a hunt like this was truly a blessing. It's experiences like this that keep me looking forward to September and I hope to spend many more in the mountains chasing bugling bulls.
- Anthony VonRuden
ANTHONY VONRUDEN is an outdoor fanatic, loving life in Western Montana. When he's not in the woods, you can find him on the river, or on horseback, teaching those around him to love the outdoors.