Editor’s Note: Ralph Ramos of Las Cruces, New Mexico, guides elk hunters in New Mexico, as well as teaches seminars on how to call elk. He’s been guiding elk hunters for more than 20 years, mainly in the Gila National Forest and the Lincoln National Forest. He’s been wearing Mossy Oak camouflage for 25 years, and his favorite pattern is Infinity. “This pattern has a lot of brown in it and blends in really well with the foliage and terrain where I hunt,” Ramos says. “I’ve been shooting PSE bows for 15 years. I’d been on several elk hunts with Pete Shepley the creator of PSE, and Pete introduced me to the people at Mossy Oak. Then I met Tim Anderson of Mossy Oak at one of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) national conventions in Reno, Nevada, when he attended my elk seminar. Since then, I’ve been an official Mossy Oak Pro. But I was wearing Mossy Oak long before I met Tim.
I’m often asked, “Ralph, how close do you usually bring a bull to your hunter, before the hunter takes the shot?” Whether my hunter is a bowhunter, a rifle hunter or a blackpowder hunter, his or her average shot is about 18 yards. As a guide, my goal is to get the elk within that 18 yards. Now, I have called in bulls within arm’s length of my hunters before.
I mentioned yesterday (Day 2) that when I’m calling, and the elk is coming to my hunter, I start backing-up and calling. Often this time is when I run into what I call alligator bulls. An alligator bull is a bull elk that comes in silently from behind me and slips up on me. I won’t see him until he spooks. One time I spotted some elk movement to my right, after I’d been calling. I laid down in some oak brush. Knowing the elk wouldn’t be able to see me in my Mossy Oak camo, I continued to call while on my stomach. I saw a bull coming to me. I pulled my knees into my chest and curled-up in the fetal position. The bull walked-up and stood about 1 foot from me. I knew, if he took another step, he’d step on me. So, I kicked him in the leg. He spun around and ran away. This hunt was one of my more exciting ones.
The closest I’ve ever had a hunter take a shot at a bull was when the bull was only 5-yards from the hunter. That was an incredible hunt. I can close my eyes and be there on that hunt any time day or night. We had been working several bulls. We had chased this one bull with his cows for about a mile. Finally, he stopped, and I bugled to him. He had led his cows into a pocket where there were several other bulls. Those other bulls scattered his cows. We were sitting beside a game trail, and behind a big juniper tree in the saddle of a mountain, and I gave an aggressive bugle. We knew, if the bull kept coming, he would walk past us at about 3 yards. I told my hunter, “Draw now.” When my hunter got his bow back to full draw, I said, “Step out into the game trail.” The bull then put on his brakes, stopped and tried to turn. My hunter released his arrow and made a perfect shot. We were able to see him run off about 80 yards and go down. This hunt was probably one of the most intense I’d ever had.