Opening morning dawned with much anticipation and confidence. This was the hunt that I was looking forward to, practicing for, and probably had the best chance of harvesting an animal. Some people probably would question that with the low success rates for archery hunts, but it's the longest hunt and allows you to get either a spike or a cow elk. The plan for this hunting season was to not only take pictures and write about our experiences but also try to make some videos. With that in mind Weston and I headed into the elk woods before light in hopes of finding the elk where we have in years past and maybe get lucky. The morning overlooking a clearing was beautiful, but devoid of elk. The lack of elk sign was also disconcerting, so we began our retreat before the heat of the day made our hike more miserable than it had to be. When we were working our way through the timber a group of elk came up from behind us. A cow call stopped them about 10 yards from where Weston and I stood. Their momentary hesitation gave us a chance to see that the first three in the group were a spike and two cows. Weston chose to parallel them down the trail while I elected to find an opening to the trail they had been on and wait to see what else came through. The camera was quickly forgotten at our feet.
Weston ended up coming to full draw on two cows only to have his potential shot blocked by some brush. He decided not to risk having his arrow deflected and resulting in a shot that he would regret. Electing instead to watch his only elk encounter for the archery season walk away.
I found my opening and made a soft cow call, hoping to encourage the rest of the herd to keep on coming down the trail. As I drew my bow a bull stepped into the clear only 3 yards away from me! Unfortunately, I only had a spike or cow tag... As he spooked and turned uphill I saw a spike behind him but didn't have a shot. So close!
The rest of opening weekend was spent walking and not finding elk or any sign of elk. The next weekend we went with Dad on his antelope hunt (you read about that here and watch the video here).
I'm sure that Utah has good intentions, but most residents agree that their intentions seem to be more geared toward the limited entry hunters and the outfitters than towards the hunting majority. This year they decided to shorten the spike archery season, having it end just after Labor Day weekend, effectively taking the hunt completely out of the rut. Makes me want to try hunting out of state!
Hope you're as lucky,