It was September, and my hunting partner, Bob, and I drove 24 hours to Chimney Rock, Colorado to hunt elk for the first time. We were up before dawn on the first morning of our hunt. I asked Bob which way he was heading. To my surprise, he planned to go up the mountain and not toward the bugling elk we heard. When I asked why he wouldn’t go after the bugle, he pointed to a pile of fresh bear scat.
I, on the other hand, headed toward the sound of the bull. After 10 minutes, I tried my bugle. I didn’t practice in my apartment all summer for nothing. I let out a roar and stood quietly listening. That’s when I heard it-my first elk bugle while hunting. I started toward the distant bugle, climbing up one gully, down another, over deadfalls, all the while bugling and listening. This dance went on for about two hours, and finally, we were getting close to each other. I was sure I was going to run into another person bugling back at me. After all, this was the first day of my first elk hunt-no way could it be this easy. In my disgust, I sat down to have lunch.
As I pulled out my sandwich, trees began snapping and moving until he stood before me, a giant 6 x 6 bull elk. I immediately crawled to my bow, which I had set down 10 feet away. Upon reaching it and standing up behind a tree, I noticed the elk looking around intently for the intruder. I let out a close proximity bugle, and that did it. He was heading my way.
I figured I could draw my bow as he walked by and get a 15 yard shot. When the elk was close, I stepped out, only to step on a twig that made a loud snap. The elk looked right at me as I retreated behind the tree. I listened to the bull getting closer wondering what I was in for. Then, the bull did what I never expected. His massive head came around the tree, and we stood snout to snout.
It seemed an eternity that we stared at each other. I was frozen like a figure in a wax museum with my jaw hanging to the forest floor as the big bull did a 180 and raced up the side of the mountain like he was drag racing. I gave chase for the next few hours but never caught up.
This close encounter has become quite a humorous tale for friends to bring up as we recount hunts. But as every hunter knows, there’s always a bright side. There’s always tomorrow.
I am a fourth generation Union member and a proud union Pipefitter with UA Local 422. The USA was the perfect fit for me. It is my great pleasure to be associated with the United Association and the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. Consider me a life long member of both. – Tony DeKlerk