Although I never wrote a blog in 2016 I'm hoping to revamp and start writing again. 2016 was full of lots of changes I still managed to get out quite a bit. I spent early spring chasing bears but only found sign. I hunted a new area and found some great sign, just no bears. I'm hoping to get back there this coming spring and see what it brings. I also headed east for a couple of days and chased some turkeys with my brother. We found some but they wanted nothing to do with us. Spring was pretty short this year as I transitioned into a new position at work, which has proved to be very busy.
I began my fall like many before with archery antelope season. I went to some familiar areas and got on some decent bucks but wasn't able to pull it together. From there I hit up a couple of shows for Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls and headed out for elk season.
I headed east yet again and spent my first 4 days by myself trying to locate some elk. My first afternoon was slow with hearing one distant bugle. This of course was a good sign as I knew I was probably back in where the elk would be.
The following day I continue to hunt the area and again turned up some talking elk. I knew I found a good spot and just needed to start using the tactics I have learned in the past few years and put a plan together and get more aggressive. The second day turned up elk just nothing quite worked out.
My third morning in I went back to a place I hunted the year before. I started with a location bugle and got an immediate answer. I knew from past practice I needed to go after them and not wait. I got behind them and knew they were headed to a bedding area. I got to a point and used a tactic I learned from Rockie Jacobsen. I would call and get the wind and horse shoe forward. I eventually got to the bottom and ran out of room. I stopped and waited. Nothing showed up and I watched 3 mule deer bucks begin to get into a stalkable position.
I was going to switch gears and chase after those bucks. About the time I was going to make a move in their direction I heard a squeal to my right. I wasn't sure what it was at first and it took all of a couple of seconds to realize a satellite bull worked his way my direction from my calling. He was at 60 years and closing fast. My last call came from above me and the bull was circling my last location to get my wind. Lucky for me the tactic I was taught about calling by yourself worked. I got down and ranged a tree where it looked like the bull was headed. 30 yards and he was just about to clear. I was comfortable and calm. I waited for him to clear into an opening. He was slightly quartered to me. I knew my range and he stopped. I was at full draw and let my arrow go.
I watch the arrow fly and knew my shot didn't meet it's mark. He was quartering more than I had originally thought and I shot too far forward striking him in the shoulder. I watched him spin to his right. His back leg came forward and kicked the arrow out. It didn't look like very good penetration and I immediately got worried. I couldn't get a second shot and the bull walked away on the direction my last calls came from.
I went to where I saw my arrow hit. I found my arrow and there was blood approximately 9 inches up the arrow. Most of the shaft was left and my broadhead and at most two inches of the shaft was in the bull. The blood looked pretty good, but I didn't find a single drop anywhere. I looked and looked. I went back to camp defeated but not finished.
I spent the following day looking for any sign that might lead to some glimmer of hope that my arrow was fatal. After continuing to find nothing I made the decision that my arrow was not fatal and the bull would be fine. Disappointing to say the least, but confident that the bull made it I went back to hunting.
I continued to get into the elk and then the rest of camp showed up. My brother Todd and a couple of others made the trip to camp. We split up and started trying to find more elk. I ended up hunting the rest of the trip with Courtney and we did all right. Todd took the others to a few spots we thought the elk would be. Finally we spotted some and they ran right across the road in front of us. Todd and the others set off after them and Tom one of the others in our group shot a nice 340 class bull.
That's where it turned into a few long days. There was good blood and the arrow passed through and looked great. Tom was shooting an expandable and it appeared it might not have opened up correctly. We searched as much as we could with no luck.
At at this point we had two bulls with no recovery on either. That's just how it goes sometimes and not really a good explanation for what happens other than archery is a game of inches and can make for tough days. The rest of the trip went with Courtney killing a coyote at a mere 6 yards with his bow and was the second coyote he had within range. The other slipped away without a shot.
Fun was had by all in camp and many many memories were made. It didn't end up as planned other than elk camp will always be a place for fun and memories.
Now that elk season was over it was time to chase after pheasants. I made a trip back to SD with a co-worker for a week and I also picked up an archery deer tag. I was set to hunt deer and birds and what a trip it was.
To say the birds are doing ok is beyond an understatement. We were seeing a crazy amount of birds and killing was pleantiful. My shooting wasn't as great as I had hoped and I was getting out shot by a long ways.
Stephen who I grew up with and the place I hunted got to see me shoot my biggest whitetail to date. Again I'll leave it at archery is a game of inches. I blew a chip shot and hit the buck too far forward. We watched the buck walk away and eventually backed out. We came back that night and it was Stephen, myself, and our good friend Matt. We tracked the buck from 7 pm to around 1 am before we found where he bedded, got up, and lost blood. I just recently spoke with Stephen and the buck didn't turn up on his trail cams making me think he ended up dying. It was at this point for the season I was done archery hunting.
I finished out my season with my rifle chasing deer with no luck. My in-laws came out from CA and Dan, Chris, and I made a trip to central MT after some pheasants. It was tough hunting but a blast of a trip and we even covered some of MT I hadn't had the luxury of exploring yet. I spent a few more days chasing birds and discovered some great new places to keep in mind.
2016 proved to be a tough year, but much was learned as always. I'm sure I'm missing a ton of stuff, but tired to hit a few highs and the many lows of last year. I'm already pumped for 2017 and have picked up some new gear and will be adding to the companies I get the privilege of helping out. Although we are already with close to a quarter of the year I look forward to keeping up better on here and writing more about my adventures.
2016 has come and gone and here's to a great 2017!