I met Gordie Larsen at a Wisconsin Badgers wrestling match. He was a huge wrestling fan, and our shared love of hunting made us fast friends. Actually it was a really nice distraction for me to have somebody to talk hunting with after a wrestling match. Gordie was always there, even though he lived in South Dakota.
Every year I see Gordie at the NCAA tournament, and we keep up throughout the hunting seasons to check in on the other's progress. About five years ago we got to talking about elk hunting. I told Gordie that if he wanted to shoot a nice bull then getting a muzzleloader take would be the way to go. We had become such good friends, that I told Gordie I would be happy to take him hunting when he drew the tag.
Five years later, with a tag in his pocket, Gordie made the drive to Colorado. He brought along his son, Gordon, who had never been elk hunting. Gordon had made three tours in the Army, and is one hell of a man.
The evening before season we drove around so I could show him the country that we would be hunting. On our drive we saw a herd of elk with a dandy herd bull. It really got our hopes up. Later that night, in the dark, we threw a couple of bugles towards a really nice aspen ridge. We got an immediate response, and the bull sounded like one of the big boys that frequent this area!
Opening morning found us on a hot bull, responding to every call I made. We were making our move, but the bull was making his move as well. I am a pusher, and if I am going to strike out, I'm going to strike out swinging. That means that sometimes I try to get a little closer than I should. And that's what happened opening morning. We needed to cross one more opening (I thought) before we would be in good position to set up. I underestimated the bull's interest because he was coming towards us, and half way across that last opening the bull spotted us and took off.
The next few days gave Gordie and his son Gordon and real treat when it comes to elk hunting. The bulls were absolutely bugling their heads off! And we saw two real dandies, one was too far away, and one came in after shooting hours.
Monday morning we returned to the same basin we hunted on opening morning. It was a real windy day, and my hopes were not too high. An hour after shooting light we had yet to hear a thing as we slowly snuck through this basin. We came to a nice spot where I know elk like to hang out late in to the morning. I decided it would be a good place to set up and do a little blind calling.
Ten minutes after I started calling a bull ripped off a bugle less than 100 yards away. He sounded HOT! I quickly motioned to Gordie to switch positions so he was facing the direction the bull was coming from. Over the next hundred yards the bull bugled 6 or 7 times, every time making the hair on our necks stand straight up! It was like we were on a Primos video.
At 35 yards the bull got a little nervous and started to veer away. BOOOOM! A cloud of smoke and thundering hoofs was all I saw and heard for a few seconds. I quickly moved over to Gordie who was shaking with excitement. I asked him if he hit him, and Gordie said he thought the hit was a little high. The bull was quartering away and Gordie was confident that he made a lethal shot.
Well I have NEVER seen a more impressive bloodtrail. We followed at a fast walk and found the bull about 100 yards away.
After some hugs, high-fives and pictures the real work began.
I've got one last hoorah this weekend. Hopefully I can close the deal for myself before the season is over. Check back, because the best elk hunting is yet to be had, and hopefully I'll have more pictures and stories in the coming weeks.