My 2012 Elk Trip - hell to heaven in 6 days

Manosteel

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Alberta, Canada
This is the story of my hell to heaven 6 day backcountry mountain hunt. It started off with a sheep hunt going as bad as one can get to a hunt which was saved by my biggest elk harvest with a bow to date! From the worst moments in hunting to the best all within a week!

I have gotten one ram with a rifle years ago but always wanted to get one with a bow. I have been bow hunting for 20+ years and for the last 5 years basically only bow hunting. So when my buddy invited me to go after sheep with a bow and later elk if we got lucky I was all for it!

My buddy is a sheep hunting nut and knew the area we were hunting like the back of his hand. We got out in mid-July for a scouting trip and were happy to find lots of sheep and more importantly trophy calibre rams.

I will post a story later on the ram portion of our hunt but to make a long story short, my buddy arrowed a trophy ram and I had a chance at a bigger one but my equipment failed. We got up to a nice spike camping spot after leaving the trucks about 4 hours earlier at a nice make shift base camp at the end of a cutline.

Spike camp
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Glassing after setting up.
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Next day we got up on some rams right away, a group of 4, my buddy was able to arrow a beauty ram with a 62 yard shot at a sleeping ram. The ram only went 60 or so yards after the shot. I have some nice pics of his ram but he moved to the states this year and will post when I get his permission.

Here are some pics of where we were hunting
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Manosteel

Manosteel

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The following day it was my turn and we got up on a group of 6 rams.
Here is a pic of them 275 yards away
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We had to go behind the mountain to come up over them
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I was using RAGE broad heads and sometime between the beginnings of our 4 hour stalk on the rams, the last hour of which was flat on my belly, (120-57 yards) my rage broad head (mechanical) had opened up. I did not notice until I drew my bow! Ram was 57 yards broadside with his head down feeding! I could have cried! I had to let down and that’s all she wrote, I was busted and the heard of rams were gone in a flash! I sat down and couldn’t believe it! My buddy came running down thinking I arrow the ram when I told him what happened he was more choked up than me.
I couldn't even muster a smile at the camera much less look at it
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The sun was fading fast when we headed back to our spike camp. As I stated in a earlier post we got stuck on the side of mountain in the dark with another two hours of trekking, through some sketchy areas. We decided to make a fire, eat and try and get some sleep with only the clothes on our back and in the pack. Was not fun at all!

Fake smile for the wife
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Next day we got up before sunrise headed back to spike camp packed up, got my buddies ram packed and headed for the base camp where the we left the trucks, about 8-9 kms away. We were 3 days in to our hunt with 3 more days left; thankfully my buddy is a bow tech (and had a tone of gear in his truck to deal with backcountry bow mishaps) so we made the decision to store his meat and re-tune my bow with Trophy Taker Terminal T-lock broad heads and go after elk! (FYI – I threw all my Rage broads over the nearest cliff I could find the day before) Thankfully my bow only needed one minor rest adjustment to get it tuned to the broad heads, I was shooting out to 70 yards with confidence, my spirits were picking up.


So off we went back toward the mountains.
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We set up a new spike camp further east and lower in elevation from where we were the days before. It was nice to get out of the wind, wamer and I brought my lucky cap with me this time. After camp was set it was getting late but we figured to do some walking/scouting and calling to locate bulls. We were in luck as my buddy made a few cow calls and we immediately got a response. Things were looking up for the next day.

We woke up early and were out to where we heard the bulls bugle. We hit the beginning of the peak rut just perfect for our area. Bulls were moving and calling was good. We were in sight of numerous huge bulls for the next 2 days but never got close enough for a shot. We must have each had at least 2 or 3 attempted stalks/set-ups a day.

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Day 5 and the second last day before I had to head back to work we got on a monster heard bull with 20+ cows in thick bush. We decided to split up and come at them from north and south. We also decided to get real aggressive and get right into the mix, as there were at least 2 other satellite bulls circling this heard.

After waiting about thirty minutes off I went into the thick stuff. I got right into the middle of the heard, had several cow elk within 20 yards but could not see them because how thick it was. At one point I turned and saw a cow heading away from me at a slow pace not 30 feet away. It was nuts and all I could think was “I am going to get busted anytime now” but luckily, the elk gods were with me [figured they owed me I guess :)]. I finally got into an open area, where there used to be a bog/swamp (now dry). I went out toward a clump of fall logs near to the center. I could see the heard bull about 70 yards to my south heading away and so I thought I would turn tail after him. Until I saw movement to my left – 2 cows popped out and were about 12 yards from me, then all of a sudden I hear a bugle north of me and from across the open dried up swamp came a big 6x6 satellite bull heading straight for the cows. The cows saw him and started in his direction. He was about 60 yards when he began herding the two cows away. I quickly did my best horny cow call and he stopped. I ranged him at 66 yards. He was quartering slightly away looking in my direction. I was behind the clump of logs when I drew my bow and I just stepped out to the side and centered my pin right in the boiler room. In the confusion he couldn’t tell what I was and just stood there. It seemed like everything went into slow motion when I released the arrow. Then after what seemed like an eternity later I heard a swack! The bull lunged forward but didn’t bolt, he took about 20 more steps and stood their again not moving. I ranged him again, 88 yards. I let a second arrow go, again swack. He lurched at the shot and took another few steps before laying down for good! I was absolutely exhausted and just fell backward looking straight up counting the minutes by as I hoped he bleed out. 10 minutes later I was standing over my biggest archer elk to date!

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Bighorse

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Mar 15, 2012
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445
Location
SE Alaska
Excellent! If that doesn't get you hooked nothing will. Good times for sure. How far was your elk pack out?
 

Mckinnon

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Mar 26, 2012
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Reno, NV
Great elk! heartbreak on the sheep, but that's hunting! So do you still use a Rage...?
 
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Manosteel

Manosteel

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Jan 24, 2013
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Location
Alberta, Canada
Thanks guys. The sheep still hurts, it was a easy shot, wind died down and the ram had no idea I was there. I will never use Rage broadheads again, I'm stuck on terminal T-locks now, the fly great and I can't believe the penetration I'm getting with them. I used mechanicals before but now that I go.deeper in the backcountry I want to worry about one less thing so fixed blade for me.

The pack out on the elk wasn't bad it was probably 5 km, going down in elevation most of the way with good trials.
 
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