Wyoming Archery Elk Hunt

A big thank you to John and his wife for the invite to tag along with them on this past Wyoming archery elk hunt!

archery elk hunt in the tree stand
       Couple of tree stands set

 

When my youngest son Carson drew a Wyoming general bull elk tag this past spring, I couldn’t have been more excited for him. And since I had never hunted for elk in Wyoming, I was very much looking forward to the chance to scout the high country. While I had run across a couple of random elk down in the sage brush prairies while scouting for antelope, our scouting focus would be concentrated to the pine and quakie covered mountains…or so I thought.

It turned out that we didn’t scout much at all. After an exchange of texts with John, telling him about our good fortune of drawing an elk tag, he promptly invited us to come hunt elk with him. Without hesitation we accepted his offer and knew exactly where we would be hunting come September.

As summer progressed, Carson became more comfortable shooting his bow at the 50 lb. minimum draw weight required by Wyoming law. Now that a couple of weekends had been spent clearing deadfall with chainsaws, setting tree stands and constructing ground blinds, all that was left to do was to wait for September 1st. 

 

 

Finally the time had arrived. We pulled into camp Friday afternoon on the day before the hunt. The four of us sat around camp and envisioned how the upcoming hunt might unfold.

Wyoming archery elk hunting                                                                                           Arrived at elk camp

However, the first day didn’t quite turn out as we had imagined the night before. We spent the morning sitting in tree stands and only saw one 2 point buck deer. Then our afternoon was spent still hunting and by the time the day had finished we hadn’t seen a single elk. A little dejected we again gathered for dinner and welcomed the hot chocolate that counteracted the effects of the crisp night air. Now our hope was that tomorrow would bring different results.

It was 9:34 a.m. the next morning and we had been in our tree stands for a few hours. To this point we had only seen a single doe deer. And our intermittent bugles hadn’t received a response from a single love sick or rival bull. We were at somewhat of an emotional low when silently two elk appeared on the sidehill 60 yards away. Instantly we were in high spirits! The two bulls began to meander our way with the 2 point bull leading the spike. If only they’d continue on course and pass in front of Carson. At 20 yards my heart was pounding in anticipation of a sure-to-happen shot. Three feet before the 2 point bull stepped directly into Carson’s shooting lane, he turned and headed directly toward us. At 8 yards the bull stopped and started feeding beneath us. Without providing a shot opportunity we waited. After about a minute, the bull stopped eating and started to look around nervously; it seemed he could sense our presence. Then in an instant, he turned and bolted as if he had been shot. As the bulls disappeared into the thick timber 30 yards ahead, we stood motionless in disbelief as the sound of breaking branches faded like a distant memory. Sickened to think that we might have just missed our only chance at an elk, we sat and dwelled on that missed opportunity until we headed back to camp at noon.

Elk hunt sunrise  Elk hunt and grouse hunting

                 Last day...up early and going for some grouse                                 Got into several, here with a couple

After lunch and a short nap, we headed back to the tree stands and were seated by 4:00 p.m. Again we bugled on and off and waited. Evening was upon us when I decided to grab a chocolate chip cookie from my backpack. I had no more than reached into my backpack when Carson motioned and whispered big bull, big bull! There on the same sidehill where the two other bulls had stood earlier in the day was the rack of a mature bull, fairly obscured behind some brush 60 yards away. I looked at my phone, 6:48 p.m. We watched for five – ten minutes as the bull slowly maneuvered his way behind a clump of brush until the hillside became motionless. The bull had vanished. After another five minutes I let out a bugle in hopes of luring him toward us. Another twenty minutes passed without any sign of the bull so I bugled again. We continued scouring the forest ahead hoping the bull was still milling around nearby. Ten minutes later I noticed movement about the same time as Carson, 50 yards ahead and 30 yards to the left of where we had last seen the bull. Over the course of the next five minutes, we watched as the big mature bull moved into full view and began working his way down the small ravine toward us!

archery elk hunt  archery elk hunt

              Bull stretching to munch on some leaves                              Luckily the bull decided to continue our way

At 35 yards the bull paused for a moment to eat some leaves that were just a bit higher than his head, it was an impressive sight to watch his antlers rock back and forth as he snipped leaves from their branches. The bull continued toward us, the excitement was palpable! At 25 yards the old bull made the right move in Carson’s favor, he turned to his right and momentarily stopped. At that instant, Carson launched an arrow down range and smacked the 6 point bull perfectly behind his left shoulder!

archery elk hunt 6 point bull shot
                               Perfect shot as the bull runs off

 

The bull ran off 60 yards into the pines and crashed, I looked at my phone, 7:41 p.m. What an incredible opportunity to be with my 13 year old as he shot his first bull elk! And to have spent the hunt with our good friends was icing on the cake!

Wyoming archery elk hunt
                                      Carson with his 6 point bull!