Outback Outdoors Scores Again – Trev’s Wyoming Public Land Bull Elk

With archery elk season in full swing and one antelope buck bow kill in the books, I headed to meet good buddy Quentin Smith owner of QRS Outdoor Specialties at their lodge on the Split Rock Ranch north of Rawlins, Wyoming for some archery elk hunting. This tag took me a LONG time to draw and I knew there was going to be some great bowhunting action as I anticipated awesome bugling bull encounters.

As the hunt unfolded we came to realize that the rut seemed to be 2 weeks late. The bulls weren’t really talking and the big bulls hadn’t even started taking over the small band of cows and young bulls yet. Never-the-less we saw multiple bulls everyday as we covered a lot of country and had numerous close calls.

I unfortunately was only going to be able to hunt 4 days as Quentin had to leave to guide other hunters at his Colorado camp. When the last day rolled around, and with no bull on the ground, my buddy Jeff (and ace cameraman) had to leave to head back to Fort Collins, CO for prior commitments. Quentin and I talked Travis Stevenson, theĀ  ranch manager for the Split Rock Ranch, into running camera for us and we headed off for one last valiant effort.

The last morning brought 25-30 mph Wyoming winds and 20 or more other hunters to the area where we had been encountering numerous bulls in our prior days of hunting. The morning came and went with no encounters as everywhere we went there was hunter or an ATV already there. After a quick lunch we headed back out to try and find some new honey holes where we knew some bulls had to be hiding with their harems.

As we drove to a new area Travis suggested we stop and try calling in an area that was “too easily accessible” (using reverse psychology) hoping that it would have been overlooked by other bowhunters because it was SO close to the road. We hiked in over a ridge and Quentin ripped off a bugle. Sure enough a bull hammered back about 200 yards in a small draw below. The hunt was on!

Travis and I sprung into action as Quentin continued to call and keep the bull talking. We moved forward and met up with the bull (by this time getting quite aggravated at Quentin’s infringement on his territory) and his cows. We found ourselves in a thick stand of small pines and had a cow come into 4 yards and the bull bugling at Quentin at 7 yards, but it was so thick I had no shot. The bull bugled again making the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention. I finally found a shooting lane where I thought the bull might walk through and drew my bow. Somehow the bull caught the movement and spun and blew out. Travis and I did are best to cow call and calm the herd as we knew they had not winded us.

Frustrated and disappointed we met back up with Quentin and worked further down the draw. Excited at the encounter but dejected at the lack of a shot opportunity we decided to try calling again and the bull answered immediately having just crossed the bottom of the draw. Travis and I back tracked and set up in the draw’s bottom which was filled with tall lodge pole pines and dead falls. In this setup at least, if the bull came back in, I would have some shooting lanes.

Quentin aggressively called and 15 seconds later Travis looked up and said, “He’s coming!” I got ready and Quentin’s calling brought the bull across the draw at a run. He came to withing 20 yards and I stopped him broadside in a gap between two trees with a quick cow call. I let the top pin of my Spot Hogg – Tommy Hogg sight settle just behind his elbow and released the arrow. The bull blew out and I quickly cow called after him as he crashed through the scattered down timber. He went a mere 40 yards and crashed hard! He was down and we had gotten it done in the 4th quarter, on the last afternoon of our hunt. I was overjoyed and to top it all off our “rookie” cameraman, Travis, had captured the exciting event all on video as if he was a seasoned pro!

I can’t thank Quentin Smith of QRS Outdoor Specialties and Travis Stevenson of the Split Rock Ranch enough for all their help on this adrenaline packed archery elk hunt!

NEXT… Colorado Archery Elk, hopefully I can do it again in Colorado! Look for this exciting hunt on Outback Outdoors soon and check back often for more updates and webisodes of what is starting to look like a banner hunting season at Outback Outdoors!

Trev – team Outback Outdoors

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