We have all seen the elk hunting videos where the hunter bugles in an elk who is pissed and ready to fight. What those dont always reveal is the thousands of unanswered calls or elk chased off by those same calls that brought in that screaming bull. The hunter may have missed tens or hundreds of other opportunities to get to that point, but that was the way he wanted that hunt to go. He didnt want to wander in on a bull silent or want a random spike coming by to see what the cow was calling for, he set out to start a fight then finish it with a well placed shot.
His unwillingness to adapt may have got him a bull in the way he wanted but it may have also sent him home with a tag in his pocket more than a few times. This is a battle I think we all face and need to recognize. As I type this I’m eating a snack at eleven thousand feet and glassing a basin, my elk hunt the last few days has cost alot of boot leather and not paid me in backstraps just yet. I however have not adapted very well and continue to hunt based on my terms of how I want to fill the tag instead of just focusing on filling a tag effiecently.
Anyone who knows me will tell you I much prefer chasing mule deer with a backpack in hard to get to but completely public higher elevations. This of course is how alot of people like to hunt deer as well, but my problem this year is I drew a desert deer tag that doesn’t fit those parameters. Success in that unit often relies on private property, either getting permission to hunt it or finding public land around it or in between areas of public they use as travel routes. To compound things I tend to approach the elk hunt every year with a desire to hunt it like a mule deer hunt, I dont call or sit water or wallows instead I’m out trying to spot and stalk in a unit that has a heavily decreased elk population. As one could guess my ability to adapt has left me with a pocket full of tags so far….
Utah grants a special opportunity with its extended archery season as well as its newly released multi season elk tag. These things combine mean I can actually hunt from the August 18th opener clear into December of this year. That of course gives me the chance to focus on trying to fill my tags with my self imposed stipulations but it still doesnt guarentee anything.
My desert deer tag happens to be in a limited entry elk unit and while covering expanses of rough public lands I glassed up some really decent bulls, while getting pictures of awesome bucks killed around or on private. Meanwhile in my elk unit on the mountain I’ve put eyes on some great bucks in stalkable positions but every elk I’ve glassed up has disappeared into dark timber never to be seen again….
I have months to hunt, but I also have dozens of methods available to me. This year I need to begin to adapt, I need to shove my ADHD down deep and sit over a wallow for hours on end, I need to be ok with the idea of hunting on or near private. My freezer doesnt differentiate between how the meat was harvested and I think it is time for me to do the same. If your plan is to have a bull come scream in your face after chasing him down with bugles, I wish you the best, but remember someone out there is going to fill his tag by sitting comfortably on a wallow. Dont let your desires of how a hunt should go and stubbornness to make it happen steal your tags away from you.