Predator to Predator…
The snow lay scattered across the ground crunching under foot as we made our way up the mountain. The cold air stung at my face; this was my first glimpse of winter for the year. The Aspen trees had started to turn a rich shade of gold, not yet fallen to the ground. Winter surely is on her way.
There is an eerie quiet that comes in the winter. All the hustle and bustle of the forest and the wildlife all seem to have gone dormant. Hunters know this kind of quiet; a stillness that is like nothing else. Every rustle of a leaf, snap of a twig, song of a bird sounds like it has been amplified through a speaker sweeping across the mountain the sound of life.
Amongst all this quiet an eruption has just happened; a frenzy that is not only heard but felt along the ground. There is a waking in the forest that has brought the bull elk back to the peak of the rut. A late estrous cycle from a cow elk has been sensed by the bulls. Her late need has him frantic running up and down the ridge top screaming and giving chase. Desperately, he is trying to separate her from the other cows and lesser bulls that have also gathered sensing her urgent need to be bred.
This late in the year hunting elk, I expected to find herds of bachelor bulls quietly gathered together after the frenzy of the rut had wore off, making their best effort to put on much needed weight before winter really set in.
Over my lifetime, I have learned that you never know what is going to happen on the mountain. Anticipation keeps hunters returning year after year, every step of every hunt is an adventure each having its own unique experience; the calming quiet of the mountain can disappear into chaos with the blink of an eye.
It seems as if all the animals are desperate to feed with the coming of winter. We spotted the mountain lion sitting on his haunches watching the herd, awaiting his moment. He too was called in by the same fervent eruption that had brought us closer. The desperate hunger that winter strikes in all wildlife makes the lion an even more deadly force.
Mother Nature always delivers adventure and this was my first time hunting the same herd of elk side by side with a mountain lion in broad daylight.
Be sure to tune into Season 4 of RMEF’s Team Elk airing on the Outdoor Channel beginning in January to see how this hunt transpires.