It’s difficult to choose a favorite elk hunt because I’ve had many an adventure while pursuing them. I recently shared a story of my uncle’s “impactful” elk hunt and it makes me think of another that was nearly just that — Impact. While hunting elk to fill the freezer, a big slobbering bull nearly made impact with little ol’ me. Read about it below, and tell me about some of your close encounters in the comments below.
It was the second day of season, and in the darkness of the morning, we rode the horses across a river to where we’d spotted bulls the day before. As the sun began to light up the sky, I let out a small bugle, a locator call. Most times other bulls will “honor” you with an answer, saying “Hey bud, I’m over here.” As I lowered my call we waited for the sound of another bull.
We’d almost shrugged them off when we heard three bulls answer from the area just south of us, and then others sounded off in the distance.
We looked at one another and silently said, “Game on,” then continued to ride in the direction of the elk, cow calling here and there, waiting for a sign.
We heard a cow calling and decided to dismount and tie the horses. Now we’d hunt a-foot. We’d made it no further than 25 yards from the horses when we saw it. Through the oak brush, we could see that there were two bulls fighting over a cow. We decided to use the brush as cover and get closer to size up the bulls.
We edged through the brush then came to a small clearing and tried to get through quickly so we could stay out of sight. Suddenly another cow jumped through directly in front of us. I froze. She was followed by a nice 5×5 bull that was obviously pushing her, and ready to bread.
We hesitated as we could see another bull on the other side of the brush. He looked a bit larger. We contemplated our next move. That is when I saw movement directly to my right. Something was coming. I spun around to see.
A larger bull charged in from the side of the meadow. We turned, and there he was. I was standing in the middle of the clearing with no cover. H whispered, “don’t move!” I stood there, 20 feet from him trembling. I was excited, nervous and scared! The bull and I looked at each other in the eye, him glaring fiercely at me. I could see his nostrils flaring, snot dripping from his nose, as he took deep breaths and trying to smell me and figure out what I was.
My gun was up and ready but my scope was turned up from the day before. (heck, at this distance I wouldn’t need a scope!) I stood there staring at him as he huffed at me. H whispered, “SHOOT HIM!” I tried to talk but couldn’t. Paralyzed, I whispered back, “I CAN’T SEE!”
All in one motion, H reached over, dialed my scope all the way down and jumped to the oak brush before that angry bull could run him over. I stood there holding my rifle up, and my arms trembled. I tried to brace myself, steadying my arms into my waist. Then my legs shook! The voice inside my head, “Steady, steady!!!” The bull’s sides swelled and collapsed with anger.
I looked through my scope and finally snapped, “LOOK DOWN THE BARREL!” I told myself. The bull snorted and began to step, then — a deep breath and a shot!
The mighty bull spun and ran, plummetting at the edge of the meadow. His adrenaline and ferocity got him on his feet again, and I took another shot, this time broadside. He fell and we headed toward him. We proceeded with caution as those antlers can be dangerous weapons, especially in the case of an adrenaline-pumped, rutting bull. As I approached, I noticed a broken antler.
I whispered to H, “Oh my gosh. I shot his antler off.” thinking that in my tremoring, I’d made a bad shot.
We edged closer and I poked him with the barrel of my rifle. He didn’t move. Once we knew it was safe, we examined him a little more closely. His antler had been broken for some time. He was a fighter. He broke off on his right side, just above his G3. He also had broken eye guards. To think of how mighty this bull had been, and that I was almost his next target is amazing.
When we caped him out, we notice he even has a hole in his skull where he had been gored by another bull! WOW! It had been scabbed over for some time. I wonder if he got that battle wound when he broke that right side. What a mighty bull, and to think, I stood there, just 20 feet in front of him, staring him down. — Surreal!!!
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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, keynote speaker, and a range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to outdoors, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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