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Mark Hanson Says Bull Elk May Circle You


The area that I drew a tag for this hunt was one of the regions that was hard to draw. This bull elk I took grossed 363 and netted about 347. The area where I took this bull was close to where I’d called in the two bulls for the two hunters within 5 minutes of each other (see Day 3). I had left my vehicle and was walking down a ridge, trying to talk to an elk. We heard a bull bugle down in the drainage. Immediately, I cow called to him one time, and he bugled right back to me. I decided to continue to cow call and not bugle back to the bull. My son, Ron, was with me and another friend of ours named Tom Smith, who was a little hard of hearing. I’d joke with him all the time about his inability to hear very well. After I cow called the second time, and the bull bugled back, we knew that the bull was coming to us, even though we were right near the top of the ridge. I dropped off the side of the ridge about 15- or 20-yards away from Tom and Ron. I found a couple of shooting lanes through which I could shoot my bow. Ron sat down on the top of the ridge about 15 yards to my right. 

Tom walked up to Ron and asked, “Hey, are you guys hearing anything?” The bull already had bugled twice and was on the way to me, and Tom never had heard him. Ron said, “Sit down. Sit down quick. The bull’s on the way.” Tom sat down about 2 yards to the right of Ron. But then as bull elk often would do, instead of coming straight up the ridge to me, he circled around and got up on top of the ridge past Tom, Ron and me. To make the shot, I had to shoot right in front of Ron and Tom. I was using a Lumenok on the arrow. After I made the shot, Ron said, “I heard the arrow go by,” and Tom announced, “I saw the arrow go by.” When I shot the bull, Tom was less than 8 yards from him. The arrow passed through both lungs of the bull elk and stuck in the off-side shoulder of the elk. As soon as he took the arrow, he spun around and ran about 45 yards before he stopped, looked back and fell over. 

MHanson_day5The last bull I took was in 2014.  I didn’t draw a tag for 2015. We had torrential rains the week I went up to hunt. After sitting in camp for a day or two, I got a severe case of camp fever. I told my buddy, “I think I’ll throw on my rain suit and go hunt for a little while anyway.” I parked my truck, walked about 250 yards from the truck and jumped three bulls. I cow called to them, and I saw them stop. Then they made a circle in front of me and went off to my left. I waited for about 15 or 20 minutes. I heard a bull bugle down in the canyon. Then I heard another elk bugle only about 150-yards away. By the way the elk bugled, I could tell that he was probably a pretty-nice bull. Every time the bull down in the canyon bugled, I could hear the second bull bugle. I worked myself to within about 50 yards of the closest bull and hid behind a large stump. I heard bugling, and I leaned out from behind the stump to take the shot. However, a tree was right in front of the elk - covering up his vitals. I eased back behind the stump. The next time I leaned out to take the shot, the bull had started walking off. The other bull kept bugling. Finally, the bull I was trying to shoot turned around and came through an opening about 35-yards away from me. I drew my bow just before he reached the opening. Apparently, he saw me, because when he stepped into that opening, he stopped and looked straight at me. I hit him a little behind his front shoulder. When the bull took the arrow, he jumped and started to run. Instantly, I bugled to him. He stopped, fell over and didn’t get back up. 

Although the rain was pouring, I saw the bull go down. So, I didn’t have to try to blood trail him in the rain. I went back and got my buddy. We loaded up the elk and took him back to camp. Although I'm not a big advocate of bowhunting elk in the rain, I’m also not a big advocate of sitting in camp for a day or two and just listening to the rain. Getting a little wet gave me the opportunity to take a really-nice bull that would score about 330 on Boone and Crockett.

Day 4: Mark Hanson Tells about a Bull Elk for His Son Ron

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