As luck would have it, a Team-Whiskey member drew an Archery Tule Elk Tag on the central coast. New job, other commitments, rules of the hunt, and a change in hunt dates kept us from knowing what the terrain even looked. We only could view internet pictures, but here at Team-Whiskey, we know that just being out there with family and friends is what all outdoor endeavors are about. We packed up and went on our way with no expectation other than quality time spent together.
The night before the hunt we drove around looking at our options, saw and heard some bulls bugling in different areas, but decided to hunt an area that had no vehicle access, thinking that we are willing to work harder than most. Morning of the hunt was cool and calm. We were out early and as driving to our spot we stopped to listen at an area we saw bulls the night before. We heard some bugling, but convinced we would avoid other hunters at no vehicle access spot, we drove on. We arrived early, following the rules, we waited for legal time to hunt.
Not long after we pulled up, so did three other hunters with mountain bikes. We figured they knew where they were going, and the hunt rules stated only one hunter and one person to assist the hunt. They were clearly fudging the rules a little which made us decide to go back to where we heard the bugles earlier.
Wasting no time we arrived, we hurried to get geared up, and off we went in the direction of the bugles. We walked along a river through chest deep star thistle, stopping every so often to bugle, and every time we would get an immediate response back. We were moving as fast and as quietly as possible, bugling at every stop to get a bearing on the bulls that were talking to us. An hour or so of moving up the river we came across a hunter and his buddy who was assisting him; they already had a nice bull down.
They told us there was a satellite bull hanging out in some trees about 400 yards away and that the dominant bull and the harem went up river, so off we went. We were bugling with immediate responses, and soon we were hunkered down in one of the dry river beds, next to the receding river. We had the dominant bull 70 yards away on one side of us. he was answering our challenge bugles, and a satellite bull 60 yards away on the other side growling at us. This had our adrenaline flowing! We were in a crosswind and then it shifted, and pushed our scent towards the dominant bull. He started moving away fast and bugling as he left. The satellite bull went in the other direction as well.
We decided to go after the satellite bull since the dominant bull was moving faster and there would have been a river crossing involved. Fifteen minutes later, we discovered there were two satellite bulls in the area, and our challenge bugles were too much for the bigger one of to take. He headed towards us with me whispering yardage to Desert Shadow by eye since I left the range finder on the dining room table at home. The last yardage I whispered was 35 yards, he drew his Mathews Monster Bow, stepped to the side of of the willow we were concealing ourselves behind. I looked through the other side just in time to see the arrow thwack into the boiler room. The bull ran 15 yards then stopped and dropped. The 125 grain Rage 2 Blade mechanical broadhead did its job perfectly. Desert Shadow was nocking another arrow up with adrenaline raging through his veins when I told him, "Its over he's anchored". Now that is a memory that will last a lifetime.
Written by_ Whiskey One