Matt Drury | Drury Outdoors and Mossy Oak ProStaffer
On Wednesday afternoon, we made the decision that led us to a takeable bull. After the morning hunt on Wednesday morning, we arrived back at camp about 12:30 p.m. While in camp, we talked to one of the other guides. He said that his hunter had passed on a very good bull that was definitely a shooter, and we might want to get some good footage of that bull. So, we changed from the area we had been hunting for 2-1/2 days to go after this shootable bull. The guide described the region where he had seen this big bull and said that the bull had several cows with him.
Early in the afternoon we found the herd. They were in a meadow below us, and we were on top of a mountain. We made a slow and steady downhill stalk for about 500 yards. There wasn’t much cover for us to hide behind. However, there were a few small patches of aspen that we could use to keep the herd from seeing us. Then we spotted bulls coming up the mountain. After we glassed the bulls, Ammo said, “That’s not the bull we’re after.”
We continued downhill for about another 100 yards and spotted another bull about 40 yards away from us with his head down and feeding. We had the wind in our faces as we moved to him. But once again, Ammo announced, “That’s not the bull we want either.”
When we finally reached the edge of a steep drop-off, we could hear a bull bugling below us, but we couldn’t see him. When we got closer to the edge of the drop-off, a cow elk spotted our movement. Although she didn’t know what we were, she became nervous and started moving downhill toward the bull and his herd of cows.
When the cow had moved far enough away from us to not see or hear us, we went quickly to a spot where the cameraman could see the bull and could see me, and I could get a good rest for my rifle to make the shot. The bull had about 10 to 15 cows with him, and the cows prevented me from having a clean shot at the bull.
Finally, I made the decision that I wasn’t going to attempt the shot because of the possibility of hitting one of the cows. The herd moved away from us and then vanished. To be really honest, I felt very dejected. We’d made a long, hard stalk to reach this shooter bull, and I hadn’t been able to get the shot. Ammo told me, “Don’t worry about it, Matt. We've still got plenty of daylight left.” So, we went down to the edge of the hillside where we could hear several different bulls bugling.
I could see the moon starting to rise over the horizon, and we began glassing. I was using my Leupold 10x42 binoculars when I spotted a very good bull with about six cows walking toward us about 200 yards below. I showed Ammo the bull and asked, “What do you think of this bull?”
Ammo replied, “Yep, that’s a shooter.”
We got set up. The cameraman could see him through his viewfinder, and I got in a place where I had a good rest to prepare for the shot. But out of nowhere, the wind began to blow hard in gusts. Although I could see the bull broadside to me, I was having a difficult time holding my rifle in a wind that was blowing 25 to 30 mph. Once I got a break in the wind, I held my breath, got as tight as I could into my rifle, put the crosshairs of my Leupold scope right where I knew the bull elk’s heart was and squeezed the trigger. The bull only took five steps before he went down.
As I walked to my bull, the moon was rising more in the sky, and it provided a bright light for us to see our way to the bull. When we reached the bull and field dressed him, we could tell that the temperature had dropped and become quite cool. After field dressing the elk, we propped him open to allow the cool air to get to the meat, and we went back to camp. The following morning we gathered up a group of people to help us, and we went in to where the elk was with a side-by-side ATV and packed the bull out.
To get so close to an elk without taking a shot can be disappointing, but patience paid off for Matt Drury.