I had been after this bull for 4 days now. I had spotted him opening day with his huge herd of cows. However he had no interest in coming in to cow calls or bugles. He was content with what he had, and if I bugled he’d just gather the herd up and head for the deep timber. On the 5th day I got up high early and just watched the herd from a bare ridge. They eventually went into a thick patch of timber at around 11 a.m. to bed for the day.
I thought if I stalked in as close as possible in the late afternoon, maybe I could tempt him to leave the herd with some aggressive bugling. I headed into town and picked up my son Brandon from school at 3pm. Brandon would turn 9 in just a couple of weeks. He had been practicing bugling and cow calling since he was 6 and was exceptional at it, using only his voice and a tube.
We drove the 20 miles to the roads end and hustled up to where I’d last seen the elk enter the patch of thick timber. We quietly walked as far as I dared. I positioned Brandon behind me about 50 yards behind a big, fallen log. I gave him instructions about giving different hand signals when I wanted him to bugle, cow call or rake brush. I found a good spot in some tall sage about 30 yards from the thick timber. I gave Brandon the signal to bugle. He cut one loose and immediately the big bull answered back from about 100 yards inside the timber. I continued to have Brandon bugle about every minute, and the bull answered each time, sounding madder and madder each time. However he didn’t seem to be getting any closer.
I gave Brandon the signal to rake the big stick I’d given him. He started raking a small dead pine and I heard the bull coming our way. I gave him the signal to stop raking and signaled him to bugle. Finally the bull had more than he could take and I could see him coming out of the timber heading straight at me. He finally stopped about 6 yards in front of me. I was shaking like crazy, down on my knees, when he raised his head and let out a blood curdling bugle. He was so close I could see his ivories when he bugled. I knew things weren’t looking good because he was so close. After about 30 seconds of looking around and seeing no bull, he headed back the way he’d come. I signaled Brandon to bugle and as he did the bull turned broadside at 30 yards. I’d already drawn my bow, and because I was shooting instinctive, I released the arrow a second after he turned.
I could see it was a double lung hit. I turned to look at Brandon and gave him a big thumbs up. Even at 50 yards I could see the huge smile on his face. As I was looking back I heard the big 6 x 6 bull crash to the ground. I went back to Brandon and we talked excitedly about what had just occurred. I told Brandon “you just bugled in a huge bull that I couldn’t get close to for 5 days”. At that moment I was happier about Brandon calling in the bull and watching it all unfold than I was about actually arrowing the big bull.
We waited about 20 minutes and took up the nice blood trail. Another 60 yards and I yelled “Brandon, there’s your bull. “ After making sure he was dead, Brandon grabbed the antlers and looked at me with the happiest smile I’d ever seen from a human. At that moment I was the happiest, proudest dad on the planet. No other hunting experience will EVER top that one for me.