100 Yard Elk...
The morning was unusually cold, 29 degrees, the frost lay thick on the ground and your breath clung to the air, seemingly frozen in time. The herd bull was on his feet and screaming following his cows closely.
Screaming bulls in the frenzy of the rut, these are the moments that elk hunters dream about every night, year round. This is the moment that I have been waiting for.
The challenge was not in locating the fervent bull, but slipping into his domain and placing me and my Field Producer, Nolan not only within bow range but camera range. With the keen eyes of numerous cows and spikes, this was not going to be an easy task…
I love hunting elk in my home state of Oregon and this year, for the final days of archery season, I found myself near Heppner Oregon at the Opal Butte Ranch with fellow Oregonian and conservationist Ryan Cade. Opal butte, a 10,500 acre ranch is named after the rich opal mines that can be found within the heart of the mountain.
The terrain at Opal Butte is nearly identical to what I am used to hunting on public land with my friends and family in Oregon. Open expansive mountains, dusted with pine and juniper trees. The ground is covered with rocks and a thick blanket of pine needles. The dry ground crackles like popcorn underfoot making being stealthy and quiet nearly impossible.
The mountains boast a seemingly endless series of draws and timber pockets, the perfect setting for elk to hide in what appears to be wide open terrain. Western landscapes are always deceiving like that. Elk appear and then vanish into the wide open.
The dominant bulls were settled in with their chosen harem, satellite bulls patrolling the perimeter of the herd for an opportunity to steal a wandering cow. The cows do not dare wander too far from the herd bull as his screaming call keeps them tucked in close to him. His desperate bugle can be heard a draw away and if you are lucky enough, there are times that you are so close to a bull elk that you can feel his whine rumbling across the ground.
Ryan represents one of RMEF’s outstanding partners, Danner Boots, a unique company with a genuine commitment to conservation and un-wavering support of RMEF and its missions. Be sure to tune into RMEF’s Team Elk Season 4 on the Outdoor Channel to see how this home state hunt transpired for Ryan and I.