All in One

September 2, 2016

Jordan Seitz


So much anticipation precedes the first hunt of the year. In fact, a person usually has such a hard time sleeping that they are up well before their alarm. This was the case for me...until I fell back asleep and woke up 40 minutes late because my alarm wasn’t loud enough. It’s a good thing I had packed everything the night before because I went into near panic mode getting ready and out the door. When I’m hunting, I loathe tardiness.

Bombing down the road, I ran through my plan one more time in my head. There was a monster wallow I knew of, but I’d never been to it at first light because it was a long, steep walk through the timber. Today would be the first time I hunted it at dawn. I made a quick stop partway up the mountain, and locked my bike to a tree along the highway. I planned to hunt a giant loop. I parked my truck several miles further up the road.

Weather was predicted to be clear and sunny, so I almost left my rain gear in the pickup. About an hour into my hike (at times I was almost running), the rain began to come down and I was certainly glad I had it.

Between sleeping in, and donning rain gear, I arrived at the wallow 10 to 15 minutes later than I had planned...and it cost me, because I bumped a nice 5x5 that was only 40 yards from me out in the middle of the wallow.

I spent the rest of the morning with freezing feet because my not-so-goretex-anymore Salomon hikers soaked right through. Regardless, I still managed to chase a few bugles and jump a 6 point that was bedded with half a dozen cows.



Shortly after noon while pulling out lunch, a distant bugle caught my attention. After pinning down its location, about a ½ mile distant, I stowed my food and took off running towards it. I sparingly bugled a couple times when I was still a ways out to reorient myself, but then became quiet as I closed the distance. Approaching a small meadow, I slowed to a sneak, but it was a couple steps too late because a cow noticed me and jumped up about 50 yards away. She ran off, taking with her the other cows and another 6x6 who was bedded in a wallow 10 or 20 yards past her. I’d thought the bull had been calling from the other side of the meadow! I chased them about ½ a mile until I realized I wasn’t going to catch them...and I was much further off track from where I’d planned to be at that time!


Moving through the timber like a mountain ninja, I was rewarded with the satisfaction of moving past a cow and calf who fed 70 yards from me, completely unaware of my presence.


A couple hours before dark found me overlooking an unscalable cliff. After a short time, I finally found a series of game trails that I could safely follow to the side of the rock face. It didn’t take long before I strapped my bow to my pack so I could use both my hands for balance and for grabbing onto things as I stepped and slid downhill between two boulder fields.

Nearing the bottom, I surprised an elk just as I was thinking I’d been seeing some fresh elk sign and should pay attention. Raising my binos, I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw antlers. He looked like a decent bull with broken beams and tines. That was the last time I looked at his antlers.


I assumed he wouldn’t give me a second chance, but I dropped my pack, unstrapped my bow, and mouthed my diaphragm call. A quiet cow call turned the bull around, and I realized I might still be able to make a go at him. He was 40 yards downhill when I drew back. A single branch was in my way, and by the time I was in a position to shoot, the turned and walked away.

Then next 15 or 20 minutes was a cat and mouse game...or rather, a bull and cow flirtation session. The bull would walk away, I’d stalk down after him, and stop him with a sweet cow call or an innocent bugle. At one point I was at full draw and had him slightly quartering to me at 60 yards. I floated my pin tight to his shoulder but kept telling myself “don’t do it,” because the angle wasn’t perfect. It took a lot of control not to loose the arrow part way into my shot sequence, but past experience with marginal hits on elk was enough to give me pause.

With one tree left before I’d be out of cover, I stopped the bull in a small opening beyond the boulders below me. I ranged various objects between 35 and 45 yards, and then stepped out from behind my last conifer, simultaneously coming to full draw one last time. I thought I’d have a shot as he moved into the timber to the right, but a soft call turned him back towards me. He was 40 or 45 yards (35 with the angle) at this point. As he stepped out from behind a large boulder, I stopped him him with one more mew. A second later, my arrow was on its way. My periferal vision saw it arc above his back and then drop in right behind his shoulder, where I thought it would center lungs. My arrow disappeared and a resounding CRACK met my ears as my bull bolted. I heard him crashing for longer than I would have liked.


Sneaking down, I was a bit perplexed due to the crack I’d heard. Had I hit the tree above his back? Had I hit the shoulder blade? A bloody arrow in the branches behind the bull’s position told me I’d made a pass through where my arrow shattered some dead pine branches, and the air bubbles in the blood said I’d hit at least one lung. Wanting to give the elk some time, I filtered more water from a nearby stream, and crazily was able to power up my phone and have enough service down the in that canyon to text Brooke to tell her I’d be home many hours after dark. I also gave her my approximate location in case someone needed to come find me in the morning!


The blood trail started out being very visible for the first 100 yards. I was excited, but the second hundred was mostly hands and knees work as I searched for pin drops of blood or tracks. With darkness approaching, my third hundred yards was more or less me wandering in the direction I thought the elk had run, and occasionally picking up a track. It had been a long day, and my eyes were beginning to wig out.


It was with great relief that I spotted the tawny hair under a conifer. Admittedly he was a smaller and younger bull than I’d initially thought...though it explained his curiosity. My arrow had entered perfectly, but then somehow deflected upwards and the exit hole was several inches higher than the entrance...even though it had been a steep downhill angle. A quick photo session took place and then I went to work as fast as I could. At one point I had to force myself to slow down in fear I was going to sever one of my own appendages. I finished deboning by headlamp. My goal had been to pack out my first load on my way to the truck. After consulting my GPS and having a reality check about already covering about 9 miles, and having about 5 left, I decided to leave all the meat to cool with hopes a bear wouldn’t get to it before I could the next day.


2 ½ hours later I was glad to see my truck’s tail-lights reflect in my headlamps beam as I doggedly pedaled up to it. It was after 11pm when I made it home. What a day! I’d never tagged an elk on the first day, and in a way was disappointed that my season was already over. Lucky for me, I’d had a season worth of close encounters over the course of the single day!

The next day was an adventure in itself because myself and my help were tormented by thunderstorms, hail, and much colder temperatures! A person would think I would have known better at this point in my life...but I left my raingear at home anticipating clear skies and regretted it, getting to wear multiple layers of garbage bags for a jacket instead!