Editor’s Note: Jamie Spencer from Brentwood, Tennessee, wanted more than just to harvest an elk. He wanted a backcountry adventure. So, he chose Mile High Outfitters in Challis, Idaho
On day four, we found a herd of elk that had a herd bull, nine cows and a satellite bull. We spent most of the morning following that herd to try and get into position to take a shot. So, we weren’t stalking just the big bull; we were following the entire herd to where they were going to bed. Once they finally did bed-down, the cows bedded all the way around the big bull – all facing different directions and looking for danger.
We first saw the elk about 8:30 am. We tied the horses and mules up and decided to go after the big bull on foot. Our guide was trying to guess in which direction the herd would go to bed-down. Even though Cowboy Matt had guessed right, I still had to take a fairly-long shot of about 325 to about 350 yards, and with that first shot I missed. My Federal Premium 7mm Remington Magnum 150 grain Sierra Gameking bullet (https://www.federalpremium.com/rifle) hit low in the dirt. I quickly chambered another cartridge in my Browning 7mm rifle Mag (https://www.browning.com/) to take a second shot. My guide told me to hold my shot. He had been watching my shot. The bull didn’t know what had happened, so he didn’t spook or run off.
“Don’t take a second shot, let’s try to get in a little closer before you shoot again,” Cowboy Matt told me. “We still have a large portion of the day to hunt.” I had shot at the elk between 10:00 or 11:00 am, and I knew that we had plenty of daylight left. I also realized that Matt knew much more than I knew about when and how to take a bull, so I didn’t hesitate in taking his advice. The entire herd was still bedded-down, Matt said, “Let’s wait until the elk get up this afternoon. Then we should be able to get closer, and you should get a better shot than the one you just took.”
So, we backed out and went to a spot where Cowboy Matt believed the elk wanted to be when they got up from their beds. However, we guessed wrong. The elk got up and walked in the opposite direction of where Matt thought they would be. Janay and I left Cowboy Matt to look for where the elk might be in the morning, and we walked back toward camp, leading our horses. We planned to have an early dinner. Cowboy Matt planned to go a different way back to camp to try and put the elk to bed that night. Then we’d be able to get on them the following morning and possibly take the bull. On the way back to camp, Janay and I spotted a bull with two cows, and started hunting. Since we hadn’t seen this elk before, Janay and I made the decision to go after this bull by ourselves without our guide.
To learn more about hunting elk, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success,” available in Kindle, print and Audible at https://amzn.to/2IDszQk
Tomorrow: Learning about Two Rookies and the Bull Elk They Hunted in the Backcountry