Here we are again, it 3 a.m. and I'm too tired to sleep and it's too early to get up. I'm laying here listening to the elk posture for the day. I'm hoping they'll be active when it's light enough to shoot!
Jared, Jake and I rose nearly simultaneously as the sun began to illuminate the drainage. We enjoyed a "hasty breakfast" and decided to hunt to the west and try to coax the Growler into a shooting situation.
We left camp filled with anticipation, crossed the meadow near the break in the rock wall and ascended to about 10,400 feet. Jake let out the scream of an introductory bugle and we waited for the eventual response. And, we waited. And, waited. Nothing.
We continued around the basin with continued efforts to arouse the bulls we've heard since our arrival. Without so much as a whisper from the bulls, we eventually ran out of time. Jared had to head back to camp and make the trek back to civilization to help his mom with an art class she was presenting to prospective artists. Too bad. he's a great guy to have in camp.
We arrived at camp and Jared set about filling his pack for the hike out as Jake and I planned our evening's hunt. As Jared left camp, both Jake and I felt the sting of a good friend leaving our fellowship. Not long after Jared's departure, the tell tale signs of an afternoon storm began building to the southwest.
Jake and I agreed that waiting out the storm was the best COA given the history of lightning filled skies in the high country. We thought of Jared as the storm dumped it's payload on us. We remained in the tent telling lies until the storm passed. We later learned that Jared was forced to take cover on his hike back and eventually made it safely.
The storm cleared about five p.m. and we headed toward the west to coax the Growler into a shooting situation. As we moved west, we bugled anticipating an immediate response but we're disappointed when all remained silent. As the sun began to wane, another bank of clouds formed on the horizon. We decided to play it safe and return to camp.
Upon arriving at camp and as we were doffing our packs, Jake whispered, "There's elk in the meadow." I dropped my pack and snuck to the edge of the meadow. I found concealment behind a pinion pine and watched the bull and seven cows milled about grazing in the meadow before me. Jake's bugle startled me but it attracted the bull's immediate attention. He turned our way and began to close the distance toward his would-be adversary...100 yards...90...80...70...and then, as if a deliberation was in his mind...he turned back toward his cows..."f$&@ my cows or kick his ass, f$&@ my cows...kick his ass...f$&@ my cows" went through my mind almost amusingly. Then, as if he had decided to "kick his ass," he turned again to face his adversary...80...70...60...50...and he hung up. I suspect he was suspicious because his challenger hadn't revealed himself despite multiple chuckles inviting it.
He turned broadside and I was intently focused on "the spot." You know the spot, behind which lies the beating heart of the beast. Unfortunately, darkness didn't pause for the situation and I didn't feel comfortable taking the shot. I passed. The bull lost interest, returned to his harem and led them back into the timber. Regret/doubt set in...did I do the right thing? Should I have taken the shot? Jake didn't help when he asked, "Why didn't you shoot?"
Dinner was consumed in a sullen state having come so close. We retired for the day with thoughts of the couldas, wouldas and shouldas.