I am sitting on the couch after a long day of painting jigs with my girls (my pups Pika and Dixie) pondering how I should start this week’s post. When I asked my wife, she said I should make a joke about how “if I get to go hunting every weekend, then I should have to pay to have cable hooked up for her.” Of course no matter how good a woman we lucky guys find, there are always details in the fine print. Although now that football season has started, I suppose I might let her get cable I surely wouldn’t want her to suffer to badly while I’m out ripping up the woods.
Speaking of the woods, I came so darn close to a monster 320” class bull this past weekend with my bow! I was hunting near Ovando and the elk were already bugling like an orchestra. Talk about an incredible experience having a bugling giant running down a hillside at me. I needed about 4 or 5 more seconds and I would have had a shot. When he got to about 80 yards the wind switched and he came to an abrupt stop…away he went. Have I mentioned before how much I HATE the dang wind? In fact, I even curl my lip at wind surfers just because they are the only people in this world who pray for wind. As I drove by Holter Lake to head into the Beartooth WMA (wildlife management area) I noticed how much trouble the wind was giving the fishermen as well. I tipped my hat to them as we drove by for battling out the whitecaps brought by the same evil force as what soured my bull that morning…the damn wind!!!
My hunting partner and I headed into the Beartooth WMA not knowing it was a 6 or 7 mile hike before we would even see elk sign. Talk about a butt kicker in 90 degree heat but we trudged on to find the mighty wapiti. After jumping a small black bear, multiple nice whitetail bucks, and finding a rare and beautiful Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae…derived from the Greek “Graceful”) we finally found an elk turd. I must admit I have never been so excited to see a pile of elk crap in my whole life…I even picked up a pellet and took a big ol’ whiff of that familiar smell…DELICIOUS!!! Getting back to the Rubber Boa, they are a very neat creature that I have been lucky enough to encounter a couple of times in my life. Most folks (including my hunting partner) do not know that boa constrictors inhabit the wilds of Montana. Rubber Boas are very docile and gentle snakes that are ideal for handling for children or anyone that has a fear of snakes. They absolutely will not strike in any instance…if handled to rough they will emit a very unpleasant paste from their vent (all snakes do this.) **Check out the attached photo to see the rubber boa I found over the weekend**
I’m sure you’re all wondering why I’m highlighting a snake and not a big bull elk with an arrow through him. Well, if you’re like me you have to find magic in all of Mother Nature’s offerings until that perfect moment comes together. Anyone that bow hunts must understand that is has to be perfect for the puzzle pieces to fit. Until the pieces come together, I like to admire all the outdoor puzzle has to offer. For me, finding this Rubber Boa on my adventure into the Beartooth WMA was a real wild experience. The closest I came to elk was the poop pellet I picked up that burned the inside of my nose with that musky aroma. But the adventure was still wild…and fun!!! After making it back to the trailhead a couple hours past dark, we headed back around the lake with sore feet a kicked butts. Talk about a bittersweet feeling watching a boat with two anglers in head lamps casting the shorelines for walleye. It is at these moments I know how passionate I am about the outdoors. If I’m hunting I’m dreaming about fishing and if I’m fishing I’m dreaming of the hunt…it’s the good life
And for the love of god…pray for pale windless mornings in the mountains and on the water Wishing everyone the best of luck for the continuum of bow season and for those on the water…I salute you!!!
Here are a few tips for calling in BIG bulls:
• BUGLE, BUGLE, BUGLE!!! This junk about big bulls not coming into a bugle in horse pucky!!! I have a very hard time getting rag horns and small rack bulls to bugles but if it’s Mr. 300+ you are looking for let the horn rip!!! We have killed a couple huge bulls and have had dozens into close range with this tactic. Big bulls want to kick butt when a competitor walks on their turf. ALWAYS USE A WHIMPY SOUNDING BUGLE (remember no matter how big the bull is there was a time he got whooped…let him think he’s going to kick a%# and he will come in without hesitation.)
• I personally do not believe in scent control sprays or washes but be careful of where your hunting cloths go. If you’re lucky enough to have a wife that has supper on the stove when you get home from a long day in the field…leave your camo in the truck or outside. I promise the elk will not think the goulash on the stove smells as good as you did.
• For cow calling, I would bet my jigging arm you have a Primos Hoochie Mama cow call. I will admit I do to and it works great…sometimes!!! There are thousands of hunters in the woods pushing this call every weekend. Elk are not stupid…they learn these noises and associate them with danger. I highly recommend learning a mouth reed call or carrying a few different calls to differentiate yourself in the woods. This is only going to make you more presentable and realistic to a big bull.
• Cold calling can be very effective in the early part of bow season. I can’t tell you how many times I have let out a bugle and with no response packed it up and moved on. Then about 50 yards down the trail I get busted by a giant 6 point bull tiptoeing in to take a peek at his competition. If there is fresh elk sign or you feel elk are present call for at least 15 minutes. I usually like to bugle once to get a bulls attention then do a few sequences of cow talking. Remember, when bulls come in silent it’s like they are walking in on a nice fluffy cloud. They will be dead silent. Patience is a huge virtue here!!!
• Be ethical with your bow…don’t shoot unless it’s a good shot. Unless you have no heart it will eat you alive if you fling an arrow and never retrieve the bull. Five years ago I shot a gorgeous 6 point bull at 28 yards and it was a perfect shot. After three days covering ground we never found my bull…it haunts me every day, but the glue holding me together is the fact I made a true ethical shot.
BE SAFE and Good Luck rather you’re in the woods or on the water. And remember to take in all our prodigious Mother Nature has to offer until the fish takes the hook or the arrow gets knocked!!!
This post was provided by Kit’s Tackle