2016 NV Cow Elk Hunt

Discussion in 'Big Game Hunting Forum' started by MJ, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. MJ

    MJ Administrator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    My sons and I were fortunate enough to draw three muzzleloader cow tags this year. This would be our first muzzleloader hunt ever. Typically, we are bow hunters but wanted to increase our odds of drawing tags and muzzleloaders made sense to us. We chose to hunt the last week of the season from 9/22 to 9/30. We were prepared to pack in if necessary or hunt from the truck. We arrived at our predetermined base camp 30 minutes before shooting time. We hunted in familiar territory that we’ve hunted since 2006 so we know where the elk typically are. Let me say upfront that I like cow tags a lot. There's no antler pressure, just a meat hunt!

    We unhooked the trailer and headed down the road that ended at the wilderness trailhead. We stepped out of the truck and were greeted with multiple elk bugling where we had planned to start the day. As we hastily gathered up our gear and loaded our guns we counted five distinct bugles and figured at least a couple of those bulls had cows.
    We geared up quick and headed up the trail. Within 15 minutes we were on a bull with 4 cows. We followed the bugling bull up the mountain at a safe distance. By about 11:00 we had lost sight of them but being familiar with the area we had a good idea where they would bed down. We slipped in and I cow called and immediately got a response from the bull we had followed up. I got one quick glimpse of him at 225 yards slightly above our elevation across a steep canyon as he headed behind a tree and bedded down. We knew the cows were close so we settled in and waited.

    We had agreed on the drive in that whoever spotted the cow would be the first to shoot. My oldest son was the first to see the cows that morning so he set up the tripod with the gun mount and the waiting began. After about 45 minutes one of the cows stepped out from behind a tree feeding broadside at 200 yards. And just like that she stepped behind another tree – gone!

    After about 15 minutes, the cow had fed back the way she came and was once again feeding in the clearing quartering away. My son settled in to take the shot as my younger son and I spotted for him. The shot goes off and I see her hunch up and step behind the trees. The other cows jump up, the bull crashes out and we see elk running between the trees. Having no idea if one was his cow, nobody shot at the other cows.

    We waited about 20 minutes and headed over to the other side of the canyon. Did I mention that this was a steep canyon? My son got to the spot first and his cow lay there dead. He had punched a nice hole in through lungs. It was 11:00 AM on day one and we had a cow on the ground. We had her deboned and bagged up by 1:30 and headed off the mountain, downhill all the way to the truck. At 3:30 we were back at the truck.

    Elk 1
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    We spent Sunday getting the meat squared away and doing a lot of glassing. We have a freezer and generator to keep the meat in on extended hunts so the meat was hung overnight and then frozen. We glassed from camp and found several elk and we planned our hunts for Monday and Tuesday.
     
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  2. MJ

    MJ Administrator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    Monday and Tuesday were both tough hunts in some steep terrain. We found elk both days, more big bulls than cows. We never had an opportunity for a shot either day. We saw some good fights and watched a big 6X6 have his cows stolen by a 6X7 bull. He didn’t even put up a fight. They did the dance, they walked side by side back and forth sizing each other up and both of them raked the ground, but in the end the smaller bull (350”+) just walked away from his cows.
    We had a great stalk going Wednesday morning on a bull with 5 cows. We were 400 yards out and we had plenty of cover to reach them for a shot. As we closed the gap we heard a second bull screaming. The next thing we saw was that bull squaring off with the bull that had the cows. Both bulls were 370”+ and we witnessed an epic battle. In the end the bull that had the cows got to keep them and he chased them up the mountain in a hurry after he beat up the other bull. We tried to catch up and at one point we saw them drop off over the top at 200 yards. As hard as we tried we just couldn’t get ahead of them.
    Wednesday afternoon we got into elk late in the day down below us. We headed down and with about 30 minutes of light left we find a cow feeding in front of us quartering away at 125 yards. My younger son shoulders his gun and sends a bullet through her lungs. She ran about 30 yards and piled up. Elk number two is on the ground. I was pretty impressed with the shot he made with no rest and open sights. Just pure instinct and quick reflexes. We hung that meat overnight and the next morning loaded her into the freezer. Two down, one to go.
    Elk 2
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  3. MJ

    MJ Administrator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    That left me with the only unfilled tag and two days left to hunt. We had elk bugling all night and early mornings right near camp every day so Thursday was spent chasing what we referred to as the locals. It was an area with thick juniper and very few clearings which made for a difficult hunt. We heard a lot of bugles and we saw a lot of fresh sign, but we never saw any of the elk – we heard them crashing through the junipers, but never saw them. Thursday was a complete bust. With only one day left to hunt, and rifle hunters pulling in Thursday for their opener on Saturday, we planned to head back to the top for the final hunt on Friday.

    Friday morning, I woke up at 4:30 but made the mistake of not getting up. No alarm, no snooze, just went back to sleep. Epic fail, or so I thought. At 5:30 I wake up to the locals bugling all around camp in the junipers. I have a quick cup of coffee and I get the boys up. It’s now 6:00 (legal shooting time) and I’m making coffee for my son when I hear a bugle so close to camp that it sounds like he’s right outside the trailer. My boys and I step outside and as I raise my glasses up I see the bull bugling again 150 from the trailer. At the same time, another bull goes off 100 yards to my right. I turn and I see cows moving through the thick juniper’s.

    The bull is gathering them up and heading away from the other bull. I grab my gun out of the truck, one of my boys is already on the run and I tell my other son to grab my pack. We’re all running through the trees following the bugle and at 6:25 we see the elk stepping into a clearing. The first bull I saw is bugling behind us and the bull with the cows is trying to rush his girls up the mountain and they’re not cooperating at all. I see a cow at 150 yards and I set my gun on the rest just as the cow steps behind a tree. Another cow steps into the clearing a little higher up. I line up on her and squeeze the trigger. Her head snaps back, and she drops in her tracks. Cow number three is down and we’re less than a mile from camp.

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    I tag her and head to camp to get the truck. We’re closer to a road than we are camp and we only have the one pack. By the time I got to the truck and drove around, my younger son was walking down the wash to the road with a front quarter in my pack while my other son was cutting up the cow. We grabbed the packs and headed back to the kill site. By 9:00 we were headed down the to the truck with my elk.

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    The best thing about this hunt was the time I shared with my kids/hunting partners. My oldest son is 28, my youngest is 23. I’ve watched them grow into accomplished hunters and I’m proud to have them as hunting partners. We bow hunted deer in this same spot in August and all three of us filled our tags. For my youngest son, the cow elk was his 8th big game tag and he has filled every tag. Six were bow kills, including a bull in the same spot when he was 14. My older son put his 16th animal on the ground, three of them this year. In all we drew 8 tags this season. Two doe antelope, the three deer tags and the three cow tags and we filled them all. We’re really grateful for the season that we had. Nevada was good to us this year.
     
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  4. JDK

    JDK Moderator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    Congratulations on another great hunt with your family,
     
  5. Native NV Ducker

    Native NV Ducker Mod-Duck Hunters Forum, Classifieds, and 2 others Moderator Flyway Manager

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    Really nice story. !!!
     
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  6. Hardcore Waterfowler

    Hardcore Waterfowler Senior Refuge Member

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    Very cool ending to a great hunt!! Congrats!!
     
  7. main'tducks

    main'tducks Elite Refuge Member

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    Very nice story. Good hunt! That must be an awesome thing to be able to hunt like that with both your sons. From one father to another..... Good job!
    I would to have loved to have a fresh, never frozen, Elk steak cooked over the campfire ! Mmmmm!
     
  8. MJ

    MJ Administrator Moderator Flyway Manager

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    I couldn't ask for better hunting partners. We've spent a lot of time together in the mountains and a lot of time on the water.

    They both live within a mile of me; one is a mile east, the other a mile west. I'm really grateful for the relationships I have with my kids.
     
  9. widgeon

    widgeon Elite Refuge Member

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    That's a hunt to remember! Congratulations!
     

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