Elk Bowhunt Prepon May 24, 2013
Each April I send out invitations and a preliminary schedule for my annual elk bowhunt to Idaho, and every April, most friends on that list opt out of this do-it-yourself hunt with its over-the-counter license. It seems everyone wants to bowhunt elk when discussing it in January, but nearly everyone backs out when it’s time to actually buy the license and block in the dates; but not my friend Chris White, 35, of Toledo, Ohio. Within an hour of receiving my email invitation, White wrote back to say, “Count me in.”
Maybe that’s because White hasn’t forgotten the fun we had during his first elk bowhunt in September 2012. We started the third morning of that bowhunt by fast-sneaking for 15 minutes toward a bugling bull elk south of us at 6,800 feet elevation. Then we paused, deciding not to press, until knowing its exact whereabouts. And there we waited, arrows nocked, ears locked southward. We believed the bull was within 100 yards and would bugle again, much as it had done since first roaring 30 minutes after dawn. With luck and a little coaxing, we hoped to lure the bull into bow range for White.
Mark Endris, Chris White and Patrick Durkin pose with White’s 5-by-5 bull elk, which fell within seconds of being arrowed.
I nodded toward a small lodge-pole pine 40 yards ahead where the forest faded into an aspen meadow. Turning to White I whispered over my shoulder: “Sneak up to that pine and get ready. I’ll drop back and give a cow call.” But before we could separate, White hissed, “There he is.” Sheesh! So much for that plan. The big bull was crossing the meadow, its broad chest cleaving young aspens and tall grass as it headed straight at us. Then it stopped about 50 yards away and stared. We held our breath, slumped like stumps, hoping our camouflage clothing and face nets blended with the background. Just when we thought the bull would whirl and flee, it resumed walking. When it was 30 yards away on a parallel course, I noticed White lifting his bow to draw. “Wait!” I cautioned quietly, fearing the bull’s peripheral vision would spot the motion. The bull never slowed. It passed us at 25 yards, giving White a slightly quartering-away shot. “Draw,” I whispered, hoping I sounded calm and helpful. Remember, this was only the third day of White’s first elk hunt. In fact, he hadn’t yet arrowed a deer since taking up bowhunting a few years ago. The last thing he needed was some old guy – well-meaning or not -- increasing the pressure. As excited as I felt, I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling.
Chris White of Ohio admires the 5-by-5 bull elk he bow-killed in southeastern Idaho on Sept. 19, 2012.