26 October 2012The sounds of the Colorado Rockies in October had just settled down to nothing more than a northerly breeze blowing through the evergreens. The campfire had burned down to where I could cover it with soil, and possibly leave some coals where in the pre- dawn I could stir up another warming fire. Others in camp had gone to bed an hour earlier, but I had tarried next to the camp fire enjoying the last of the cowboy coffee left over from early that morning. I knew I should go to bed, get some sleep and be ready to hunt a full day in the morrow. But, I dearly loved just sitting there staring into the coals. I appreciated the stillness, but loved the symphony created by the breezes. Most all the aspen leave had fallen, but there were still just enough to produce the unique sound of high mountain leaves rattling against each other. Way off in the distance I could hear the shrill bugle of a bull elk, barely discernible. I made a mental not of the bull’s direction and hoped he would still be in the same area about six hours from now. Finally, I decided it was time to dirt cover the coals and crawl into my sleeping bag. It was not going to take long to spend the night in hunting camp once again! The warm of my bag contrasted the cold of the night. I took off my glasses and laid them inside the crown of my hat. I could hear the soft snoring of one of the other hunters in camp two tents over. I smiled , took a couple of deep breaths and was almost sound asleep when I heard it. Close. Immediately I sat up. I heard only the breeze blowing through evergreen leaves. Again I laid down. Maybe I had gone to sleep and dreamed I had heard a bull elk bugling, with a deep gruff voice only mere yards away from my tent. I had just about gone to sleep when the bull opened up once again. even closer. Immediately I sat up again and listened not only to determine exactly where the bugling was coming from, but also to determine if anyone else in camp was paying attention. Obviously others in camp were not awakened by the bugling, for I heard at least four sleepers snoring. My first thoughts were to pull the bugle call out of my pack and sound off, or possibly I should make several cow calls. But then what if the bull elk, which sounded like it could not have been more than 25 yards from my tent might actually decide to come to investigate. So I simply remained silent and listened. Momentarily I could hear the bull rubbing his antlers on a rough-barked tree. This continued for a good five minutes. Then the bull bugles once again and went back to rubbing. Then he stopped and momentarily I could hear him walking toward my tent. He came closer and closer, then I felt a tug at the tent, when he brushed against one of the ropes that held up my tent. I listened as he walked away. He didn’t bugle again until he was at least 200 or more yards away. I laid back and fell asleep. It seemed like only five minutes later that my alarm went off. It hadn’t been five minutes since I fell asleep, it had been 75 minutes! Like I said doesn’t take long to spend the night in hunting camp. Coals stirred fire going, moments later I had the coffee brewing. As others gathered around the fire, I questioned if they had heard the bull elk in our camp last night. All I got was looks that questioned my sanity.... With first light I picked up the tracks right next to my tent and trailed the bull for about a mile and a half until he dropped into a shallow and short draw. I set up my Zeiss spotting scope and carefully looked at the edges of the draw. Try as I may I could not see tracks leaving the draw. At that point I started picking apart every bush, tree and slight depression. It took me about ten minutes until I spotted the bull’s antler tips. He was laying down facing away from me. A bit more looking and I could see he was a very decent, actually big 6 x 7. No doubt he would score over 300 for those who care about such things. I took advantage of the wind blowing from the bull to me, a scattering of trees and brush and cut the distance to less than 150 yards. But even from there I could not see enough of his body to take a shot. So I set up against a ponderosa pine and waited. Sooner or later the bull would stand and when he did I’ve have a shot! Wish I could tell you I didn’t have long to wait. But that would a lie! Three hours later I was just about to either make a move on the elk or call to him in hopes he would stand to look my direction. But just then as if on cue, a spike bull strode toward the bedded bull, knowing or unknowing! When he was about 20 yards from the bedded bull, he started rubbing his antlers then whistled, rather than bugled. Immediately the bull stood up and turned broadside toward the spike. My Zeiss crosshairs settled on the bull’s shoulder and I sent 180 grain Hornady bullet from my .300 Win Mag, Model 77 Ruger on it’s deadly mission! The bull shuddered, started to take a step toward where he had heard the spike and fell. At the same time the spike, seemed to not quite know what to do, but then decided he was needed in another part of Colorado. My bull was down. It wasn’t until the next day that I was able to show others in camp my bull’s tracks where he had literally brushed against my tent. What I just described happened a few years ago. Now thankfully it’s time to once again hunt elk. This time, this week and part of next week I’ll be hunting on the Motherwell Ranch (www.motherwellranch.com) not far from Hayden, Colorado. I’ve got my Ruger 77 African .375 Ruger topped with a Zeiss Duralyt variable scope and shooting Hornady’s 300 grain DGX ammo. We’ll also be “playing with” my Nature Blinds Larry Weishuhn Signature Stalking Shield. If it works only 10% as great as it did in African on spooky plains game, I’m going to be thrilled. The hunt was set up for me by my old friend Jim McCarthy with Jim McCarthy Adventures (www.mccarthyadventures.com). Jim and I have shared hunting camps and adventures from deep South Texas to northern Alaska to Zimbabwe and Namibia in Africa. Really looking forward to hunting with him once again. We’ll be filming the hunt for my “Dallas Safari Club’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” television show which will debut in July 2013 on The Sportsman Channel. Next week, I’ll give you a report about our hunt and some of the things we experienced on the Motherwell Ranch! Hunt safely and wisely!