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The Elk That Fell Out of the Sky


Editor’s Note: Bill Custer of Clovis, California, is a member of the Mossy Oak and PSE ProStaffs and has bowhunted most of his life. He’s hunted elk in Oregon, New Mexico and Utah, but 90-percent of his hunting is in Colorado on public lands where he can buy a tag over the counter. The 2013-2014 season will be his 33rd hunting elk on public lands, and he’s taken 27 elk with his bow.

I was hunting Nipple Mountain near Delores, Colorado, an area I hunted for many years. I started calling to a bull elk, and he screamed back to me from about 1/2-mile away. By this time, I’d learned how to bugle. I kept bugling to him, and he came closer and closer to me. I backed-up against a rocky outcropping that was 30-feet above my head. I wanted to make sure that to get to me, that bull had to come out in front of me and not be able to get behind me. Finally the bull stopped in a small aspen grove about 100-yards below me. I watched him dig his brow tines and pull up roots. He put on a really-good show. After a while, I realized I just couldn’t get that bull to move and come any closer to me.  I gave a few cow calls, and the bull vanished, after walking  off to the right. He was silent. 

Custer2_llI continued to call to him, and then I heard a rock tumbling down the face of this rock outcropping. I looked up, and the bull was above me on the outcropping, looking straight down at me. I hadn’t thought the bull could get up on top of that rock. The only way I think he could have gotten up to the top of that rock was to somehow fall from the sky and land there. When I looked-up, all I could see was sky and an elk’s chin and antlers, only 30- or 40-feet from me. Although the bull never saw me, he also never spotted the cow and the bull I was imitating. Finally he walked off. I guess with my wearing my Mossy Oak camouflage that I looked so much like the terrain, that he looked right through me. I never got a shot at this nice 5X5 bull. 

Then the next day, another bowhunter came into camp and asked us if we would be willing to cape out his bull elk for him, so he could get him mounted. When we looked into the back of the truck where he had the bull, I told him, “I know that bull.” The surprised hunter asked, “How do you know that bull?” I explained, “I talked to that bull yesterday.” 

Although this wasn’t a big 5 point, I had had an exciting hunt with this bull elk. That was the only time I’d had a bull standing straight over my head, looking straight down at me and not spotting me. After I told the hunter how I knew this bull, the hunter said, “I couldn’t believe that I called him one time, and this bull came running to me.”  Even today when I close my eyes, I still can see that bull tearing-up the ground with his brow tines and his chin and his antlers looking down on me and not seeing me. 

Day 1: Bill Custer Loves to Hunt Elk and Be Invisible to Them

Tomorrow: Bill Custer Relives His Five Bull Elk Circus 

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