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Taking Public Land Colorado Elk

Editor’s Note: Mike Magrew of O’Fallon, Missouri, is Mossy Oak’s whitetail regional ProStaff manager for Illinois, Missouri and Kansas and has been hunting whitetails for 35 years. 

On the same hunt where I took the bear (see Day 4), I also had an elk tag. I decided to hunt over an elk wallow about 3/4-mile off a woods road that I had hunted previously. The first time I ever had hunted this wallow was in 1991. Because I’d hunted it for several years, I could find my way to my stand site in the dark. This wallow wasn’t too hard to get to in the dark, if you already knew its location. I took my father in to this stand site on one hunt. When he tried to get back to the road, he got lost. Luckily, we had walkie-talkies, and I was able to talk him out of the woods. 

I found this wallow to be the most productive late in the afternoon. But I liked to go to it early in the afternoon. On this hunt, I arrived at the wallow at about 1:00 pm for my afternoon hunt. The afternoon was quiet. Then, I heard a bull elk, just over the hill from the wallow, rubbing his antlers against a tree. I used my bugle tube to make the squeal call of a young bull. Instantly, I heard the bull rubbing the tree with his antlers much harder than he had been rubbing them. I heard him moving in the brush. I gave him a few cow calls and then shut-up. About 20 minutes later, I spotted the bull downwind and on the opposite side of the wallow. Even though the wind was blowing directly to him, if he stayed where he was or turned to come up to the wallow, I was fairly confident he wouldn’t be able to smell me. However, I had learned in hunting that there was no such thing as a sure thing. I was really worried that the wind might change directions, he might walk out a little bit farther and catch my odor, or a weird gust of air might take my scent to him. I was really sweating bullets. 

The area I was hunting was a very small park with a wallow in the middle of it. As I watched, the bull turned and started walking to the opposite side of the wallow that was 22 yards from me. I ranged the bull at 60 yards. The bull walked around the wallow, smelling tracks. When I drew my bow, I didn’t have much cover to hide my movement. So, I drew the bow slowly and counted on my Mossy Oak Brush camo to make my body invisible. Finally, I came to full draw. Once the bull presented a shot behind his front shoulder, I took it. After he took the arrow, the bull only ran about 75 yards. When I got close enough to judge his antlers, I could see he'd score about 280 on Boone & Crockett - a really nice bull for public land hunting in Colorado with all its hunting pressure. 

Day 4: Mike Magrew Takes a Bear Almost Too Big to Carry

Feb 13, 2015

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