Heads Up Decoy

Heads Up Decoy
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Friday, April 15, 2016

Point Blank Turkey Hunting

As bow hunters, we always want a slam dunk shot. With the Heads Up Turkey Decoy, we expect it. Not the ground blind traditional set up, I'm talking the wide open turkey fanning bow mounted set up.

It is not unusual to get multiple point blank...inside of 10 yards...shots during a season. For that to happen, the birds do need to cooperate. But it is frequent to say the least. I can remember a picture perfect day in 2015. I was hunting by myself. I had one golden opportunity to seal the deal on a bird inside of 10 yards. And a couple more that were not far outside of that 10 yard market. It was day where I was not following my own advise...DON'T RUSH!

Our Heads Up Turkey Decoy continues to prove it's worth season after season. Based on my social media feeds and text messages, 2016 is no different. There a lot of people out there with their own version of turkey decoys. As I said in my last blog post, you cannot compete with the Heads Up Decoy when the weather is bad...or when the weather is good. Our simple design lends itself to versatility and effective. We've proven that time and time again...to the point we have nothing left to do other than keep having fun and introducing our product to new folks.

I have some great footage of my friend David from a couple years back that has never been formally produced until now. (Click Video) It was a windy spring, but this day proved to be picture perfect for turkey hunting. We did not roll out of bed at o-dark-thirty. David and I sneaked down a low wash to a steep bank. As the sun was beginning to light up the pasture, we eased up the steep bank and settle into a small yucca patch on the top of a ridge. The ridge had a great vantage point and it happen to be adjacent to a small grove of trees the toms filtered into after they lost their hens to the nest.

We occasionally called. We could hear birds in several directions. Pretty soon we realized one gobbler was really picking up what we were putting down. Easily the farthest bird I've every called and decoyed in. He was merely a speck when we saw him.

When an animal is way out there, I don't mind doing some really crazy things to get an animal to see the decoy. Once I know they have made eye contact, I reel it in an begin making more natural movements. This was one of those instances where I raised the decoy high above my head. Rotate the Heads Up side to side until he made visual.

Once this bird made visual contact with us, he didn't know whether to strut, gobble, run, or all of the above. He was fired up. When I saw the bird run down the draw toward us a few hundred yards away...I knew this bird was going to finish close...and well...he was in David's lap.

We get a lot of hunts that work out like this, but not all of them are on film.

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

When The Wind Blows

With all the growth and success of Heads Up Decoy, I am still barely more than a weekend hunter. I plan my days off based on the time of year. Rolling the dice that Mother Nature and the animals will cooperate.

It is hard to believe that I have been building Heads Up Decoy since 2008. The improvements we've made with the product, the additions, and the new revelations have been so great that our original thought behind our concept is hard to recall.

Is Heads Up Decoy more of a system...than an actual decoy? A question I ponder often. The versatility with the decoy and accessories lends itself to limitless opportunities for the hunter willing to give it a run. So, I would say yes, it is a system because there is no one way to use them.

Over the years, I have developed a great appreciation for how well Heads Up Decoys can work in really crappy conditions. I suppose one could argue that in order for it to perform in bad conditions is that you may need another person. I have witnessed many hunts, either as a videographer, observer, or the one holding the decoy, in some pretty brutal conditions that led to a shot. Mostly because we were willing to make the effort.

A couple years ago, we met up with some friends in the hopes of getting them a true Heads Up Decoy experience. It was spring and we were after turkeys. Mother Nature in all her splendor, did everything she could to foil our hunt. To be honest, she kick our butt in all but about 20 minutes of our 3 day hunt.

We did what we could do, but the wind simply would not relent. It beat us down, but we kept after it. Sticking to it ultimately led to success on one of those brutally windy days.

There was no option to have the Heads Up Turkey Decoy in the bow mount, someone had to hold the decoy. On this opportunity, two of us crawled out into the pasture. When we were able to locate the bird from our bellies, we slowly raised up and showed the decoy to the bird. 45 seconds later we got our one and only shot...and made good on it.

Brutal conditions are a part of hunting, and the thing I appreciate about our product is that if you are willing to use it, you have control over decoy in these really bad conditions and can ultimately get an opportunity.

When you cannot pick and choose the best of the best days to hunt, like me. Heads Up Decoy can be the key to success.

For video of this hunt, click the link below. Best of luck this turkey season.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Goats Ammongst the Cactus

story and photos submitted by JON YOKLEY

About the 3rd week of July the draw results were posted for the fall hunts here in Arizona. My friend, Ken Thomson, and I DREW!!...not one but 2 tags!! Pronghorn and Bull Elk, both archery tags. These are both second choice and in highly hunted public land areas so this would require many hours of scouting and serious strategy.

The Pronghorn would be first with the opening day of 8/21/15. We started with Google Earth and topical maps to help make the decision on where we would concentrate and begin setting cameras. Once cameras were placed and working, we began hours of glassing and looking for sign. Through the first 4 weeks we learned a lot and found some decent herds that held some good bucks. Our cameras weren’t producing Pronghorn at all, instead we found countless elk. This was due to our heavy monsoon rains that kept producing large amounts of rain leaving standing water everywhere and of course scattering the Pronghorn even more.

The decision was made to make this happen on the ground with spot and stalk. The use of our H.U.D. mobile decoys were possible because this is pre-rut and I prefer this method over sitting any day. Day 1 was full of opportunity as we found Buck # 1 and Buck #2 in the same area. These were notable bucks to us and both would score mid 70’s. Buck #1 had 6 does whereas Buck #2 wanted them. This would make an ideal situation to decoy once in range. We watched as the satellite buck, which is buck #2, try to gain control of the does but the herd buck, buck #1, had other plans. A half mile out, a great fight started, as the 2 bucks met. We grabbed the decoy and moved as fast as possible to the fighting bucks. We knew that if we could get there it would present a shot or maybe two. As luck would have it the fight broke up and we were just 150 yards out. The herd buck took his does in to the juniper trees while the satellite buck moved away. This was a perfect opportunity to use the decoy. We presented the smaller buck decoy to the satellite buck and he responded slowly. As he approached with caution and stopped inside bow range, I knew this was as close as he would get so I settled my pin on the buck then released. I missed!! I shot just an inch under his chest. He moved away and when he was out of sight we made our way back to the vehicle deciding to leave this group alone until the next morning. My pride was hurt because I really wanted this buck!

It was Ken’s turn now so we went in search of Buck #3 (another low 70’s buck) about 4 miles away. We searched and searched for him. After an hour we found him with his 7 does. He was in a great place to decoy so the plan was made. We made our way to a position to start the process, the decoy was raised. He was curious and started to commit slowly, and then would hang up but still inside of bow range for an out west hunter. I ranged and Ken released his arrow. The buck jumped the string so fast he left the arrow behind him unharmed as he took his does and moved on out.

On the second day we decided to pursue the satellite buck that I had missed the day before. I was up to shoot next and felt ready. After glassing for about 45 minutes we picked him up and made a plan. I made an attempt on him in the wide open but it went the buck’s way. I failed again. We watched as buck #2 moved toward the back of this huge valley. He was heading in to a juniper patch so I quickly worked my way through the trees to try and get ahead of him. As I started glassing below I could see him a few hundred yards out working towards me, but this time he picked up a smaller buck.  I slowly moved in to position as this was going to be great because the wind was perfect and they had no clue that I was there. The smaller buck fed to about 40 yards as the other buck held up. After about 5 minutes he started moving across from me and stopped inside my comfort zone. I settled my pin on the spot and released. I heard that familiar crack and I knew he was hit. He quickly left the area to end up bedding in a huge cactus patch. After about 30 minutes I settled down and I could see that the buck had not left the area so I started my slow stalk towards him. This took about an hour to locate him after minimal blood on the ground.  I glassed every cactus and was finally able to turn him up. I had filled my 2015 tag! He was larger than I thought because he grossed at 76 6/8” putting him well into Pope & Young and just a few inches under the Boone & Crockett minimum of 80”. This buck is very special to me because of my history with him and numerous pictures throughout the scouting time.

On day 3 we searched for an opportunity for Ken to fill his tag. We found many antelope which produced a few stalks but none would give any shot opportunity. That day ended way to fast but Ken was still in great spirts knowing that we were going to be back hunting after a few days of work at our real jobs.

It was now Thursday and our 4th day in the field. We had decided to work an area where we have seen some great bucks and also heard of a great one in particular known as Unicorn. We were told he has one solid, normal horn and a deformed horn growing along side of his face. We started out glassing up a few does but couldn’t turn up a buck so we moved on. We were heading to an area where we had seen the most sign from previous scouting trips. It wasn’t long until picked up a single and it was a great buck. We didn’t study him too hard but knew that he was a shooter. The plan was to get above him in the junipers and work toward him. We started moving to where we saw him last but at a slow pace, glassing and picking every little bush apart. Finally, we heard him grunt and quickly picked him up. He was moving through the trees and unaware that we were there. Once again the wind was in our favor so we became very aggressive to try to get in to position to decoy this buck. Before we knew it we were there. The buck was 80 yards and moving at an angle that would present a shot. Ken knocked an arrow and I grunted to stop the buck while showing him the decoy. The buck stopped and locked on to the decoy, I gave Ken the yardage, and he released his arrow. The buck was hit well! As I glassed the running buck I told Ken “You just shot the “Unicorn Buck”!  We were both in disbelief that he just took one of the notable bucks in this area. We were able to watch this buck fall inside of a 100 yards. As we approached him we couldn’t believe the mass and character that this buck had. We also saw the deformed side was growing down and into the side of his face. He ended up with a gross score of 72 4/8” Pope & Young points even with his goofy horn.  If his deformed side was equal or close to the good side he would have grossed right at 80” Boone & Crockett minimum!

What a season start this was. Two great Pope & Young bucks in just 4 days of actual hunting.  As the phrase goes, “Scout Hard, Hunt Easy”.

Now it’s on to Bull Elk in the northern part of Arizona in an area that I am very familiar with. Season opener is 9/11/2015.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Southwest Style

photo courtesy of Jon Yokley
                                                                                ...author Michael Riger

My name is Mike Riger. I am good friends and hunting buddies with Jon Yokley. Jon introduced me to HUD decoy’s about two years ago. I have to say I am quite impressed with the Mule Deer decoy. I have used the decoy in many different situations to close the distance on these illusive desert mulies we have here in AZ.

The first year Jon introduced me to your mule deer decoy I was quiet skeptical of how it would work. I glassed up about 135” muley bedded with several does. I did not have a tag and the buck was a little under my buddies standards. It was the perfect situation to see how well the decoy would work. My buddy and I started at 250 yards in plain view of the mulies. We kept zigzagging back and forth towards the bedded deer, never walking directly at them. We got up to 75 yards before the deer even stood up. Since this stalk the decoy is with me at all times while hunting Mule Deer.

On 12/25/2014, My wife and I glassed up a head of deer bedded on top of small mesa. With only a week left in the archery hunt my wife was not being picky. There was a small forkey that we seen bedded with the herd. We thought it was the only buck. My wife and I put a stalk on this herd using the decoy. We got sixty from the small buck. My wife had a hard time finding the buck as I kept telling her to step out from behind me to shoot the little forky. Out of nowhere stepped a 22 inch 2x3 to our left at forty yards. The buck fixed on the decoy giving my wife plenty of time to draw and put a great shot him.

On 12/26/2014, I glassed up a buck I had been chasing since 08/2013. He was about a mile away. I had put 4 stalks on this buck previously and was able to get into bow range each time. All 4 times I was never able to get a shot opportunity. I thought this stalk was not going to be doable, but I went for it anyways. The deer were able to see me the first ¾’s of the stalk. But due to me using the HUD Mule Deer decoy I was able to cross a lot of open country in the line of sight of the bedded muley buck and his does. The last 300 yards of the stalk I was out of the sight of the deer. After getting in bow range and waiting for the buck to stand up, I was finally able to send an arrow air mail at the magnificent muley.

I just wanted to give a big thanks to you guys at HUD decoy. I have been able to make stalks happen that without the decoy there would have been no chance. You guys have some great products.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where the Wind Blows

author Tate Haines

We crawled into the blind late in the afternoon on October 31, 2013.  My brother, Travis, and I had set out our trail cameras early in the summer and we had a pretty good idea of what deer were frequenting our property.  Now, we sat in the blind hoping to get eyes on any of the five or six nice muley bucks that had been posing for us throughout the summer.  It was the perfect evening; no clouds, comfortable temperatures, and not a breath of wind.  The kind of weather that you hope for every time you head into the field, but as anyone that has been hunting in NW KS knows, is extremely rare.  Our usual plan of attack is to use well concealed blinds to spot from, formulate a plan of attack, then put the HUD into action.  A few doe started to move into the area from various directions followed by a few small bucks.  There was probably fifteen or twenty deer in a spread out group, but nothing to get too excited about.  It was getting close to dark when a familiar buck came strolling into view.  He was probably a few hundred yards out from us, but the size of his body and unique rack made it pretty obvious which buck we were now watching.  The smaller bucks stayed clear of him when he walked through the group and began to beat and rake his rack up and down a small cedar tree along the creek.  It was getting too late and he was too far away to execute a decent stalk, so we reluctantly snuck out of the area, hoping we would come across this guy again in the next few days.

The only thing more obnoxious than the screaming alarm at 4:30 a.m. the next morning was the sound of the howling NW KS wind, which was holding steady around forty with higher gusts.  This particular part of NW KS has about ten trees, total, and I was sure those trees were probably resting somewhere in Oklahoma after a ride from the NW wind.  Lots of people would have turned off the alarm and tried to sleep off the wind, but I don’t get too many days in KS each year so we hunt any and all weather we encounter along the way.  Since the previous nights’ events were still on replay in our heads going back to sleep was probably out anyway.  While cussing the wind we geared up and headed out to the blind, assuming it was still there.  Surprisingly enough the blind managed to hang on through the night and we were settled in before the sun came up, waiting to see one of our big bucks walk, or blow by.  It was pretty uneventful up until about 8:00 a.m. when a few doe came into view followed shortly by the same buck from the night before.  He seemed pretty interested in one particular doe and soon bedded down out of the wind with her, settling on the East side of a tree surrounded by tall weeds.  This spot put them about three hundred yards straight West across a bare field from us.  Travis suggested we ease out of the blind, circle around, and come in from a pasture on the West side of their location.  This seemed like the best option as we could make a wide circle around and above them on a hill to the North and eventually come in from the SW.  We would then be hidden by the wind break the buck and doe were now laying in.

We slowly moved out of the blind and along the edge of a creek.  When we were about directly North of the buck, we spooked a group of fifteen mule deer from a wash.  The group blasted out of the wash and ran right behind our buck.  By some miracle, the rut and wind saved our plan and our buck stayed put as the group went screaming behind him and the doe.  We continued with our plan and circled down through the pasture.  By 8:45 a.m. we were moving through in the middle of a bare, worked up field about one hundred yards SW of the bedding location.  We moved slowly and stepped softly as we made our way across the field trying to minimize how much dirt we made swirl up in the wind with each step.  When we got to the back side of the weed patch I nocked an arrow and made sure the HUD muley doe was still securely in the bow mount.  The weeds were tall enough that we couldn’t see the deer from the SW side of the weed patch, but we knew about where they were laying the last time we had eyes on them.  I moved into the weeds first with Travis directly behind me.  I got about five feet into the ten foot wide patch of weed when I saw antler tips sticking up seven yards in front of me.  In about the same amount of time it took me to realize what I was looking at and pull back to full draw, the buck saw the HUD and pushed his thick body up to a standing position, as did the doe.  The buck stared at the HUD for a few seconds while the doe started to get nervous and walk away.  The buck lowered his body just a bit and looked off to the East, a gesture I knew meant he was about to blow out of there.  I pulled back on the trigger of my release, let the arrow rip, and heard that beautiful sound of an arrow blasting through ribs at 320 ft/second.  The big guy ran to the East about fifty yards, stopped, and started to sway from side to side.  I expected him to drop, but he somehow mustered up the power to go another two hundred and fifty yards before he dropped at the edge of a creek bed.

 The trail cam pictures we got of this buck throughout the summer didn’t do him justice.  The mass and symmetry of the rack was amazing.  After we recovered the deer, I was too excited to truly appreciate his body size.  When we got him to the processor, his hanging weight (gutted, skinned, lower legs, and head removed) was 166 pounds.  The manager of the processing center felt compelled to call and tell me this because my buck outweighed the other twenty deer he had taken in that year by at least twenty pounds.  The rack measured in at 162 3/8 gross, 151 1/8 total Pope & Young score.  The P&Y Measurer told me that out of all the years and hundreds of deer he had measured, mine was very unique in that all circumference measurements were perfectly symmetrical when comparing the left side to the right side.

In an industry being flooded by the “latest and greatest” gimmicks to get you that trophy buck, there are few products that actually live up to their claims.  I know without the HUD, that buck would have flew out of his bed and been in the next county before I could draw my bow back.  I have had many close and personal experiences with the HUD that would have been impossible otherwise.  From a rutting buck running at me full steam to a doe sniffing the toe of my boot as I sat against a tree with the HUD in my lap, there is no other product that will give you this kind of edge.  The area of NW KS I hunt is probably one of the toughest places you could ever find to try spot and stalk hunting.  The HUD is a game changer in this area, and anywhere else you can use it.  Thank you for such a valuable tool!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

One of Those Days

author Nathan Sullivan

November 7, 2014 was a great day with the Heads Up Decoy. I started the morning hiking and glassing some open country near a creek bottom looking for a mature buck to intercept. After only seeing a couple small bucks and a few does by mid-morning it was time for a new game plan. I circled to get the wind in my favor and slowly approached a small secluded draw that I knew deer frequently bedded in. When I was near the edge of the steep banks I clamped the HUD Whitetail Buck decoy to a bush a few yards in front of me and got in position in the shadow of a large cedar. I started by throwing out some loud grunts and doe bleats followed by a short but loud rattling sequence and then finished with a few more grunts. I quickly grabbed by bow knowing that any buck that responded could be there in a hurry. However, after about five minutes I was doubtful that anything was coming since it was such a small area of cover that was within earshot of my setup. Just when I was getting ready to gather my things to leave I turned my head to see an old mature whitetail standing at 20 yards looking for the source of the fight. He immediately spotted the decoy and laid his ears back and bristled up. He then started circling toward the downwind side and ended up within 15 yards before catching my scent and bolting. He was a great buck with incredible mass and double split brow tines but was missing most of one side of his rack from an earlier battle so I let him walk. What an exciting encounter! I walked back to the truck with a smile after being reminded why we bowhunt.
Later that afternoon it was unseasonably warm, so I wasn’t expecting a lot of deer movement as I headed to my tree stand. It was after sundown and I had yet to see any bucks but was still hopeful since a few does were feeding nearby. Just before dark I saw a large-bodied deer approaching quickly in search of a hot doe. After a quick look with the binos I decided he was a potential shooter and grabbed my bow. When he was 30 yards out he spotted the decoy, which I had clamped to a plum bush only 5 yards in front of my stand. Like the buck from the morning encounter, he too immediately took on an aggressive posture and began approaching the decoy stiff-legged and ready for a fight. I still wasn’t sure this was the buck I wanted to end my season with but when he was nose to nose with the decoy at only 5 steps, temptation got the better of me and I decided that this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. After the shot he only made it 70 yards before piling up. He may not be my biggest buck but the encounter certainly made for one of my more memorable hunts.

If you haven’t yet given a Heads Up Decoy a try this season, I highly recommend it. Whether you are hunting on the ground or from a tree, it brings a whole new level of excitement to bowhunting that will have you wandering why you didn’t try it sooner.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Breaking the Seal

"Bow season for elk is simply too short and the distance too far for a flatlander."

"The opportunity to elk hunt with a bow is both a blessing and a curse."

"Is the idea of bowhunting for elk better than the actual act itself?"

These are some of the things running through my head during every CO OTC elk hunt. Let's face the reality...hunting elk in Colorado is hard to do as a non resident. I've eaten a bunch of tags...including this year. But, I always cross the state line with optimism, hope, and confidence that this is the year to break the seal.

As Heads Up Decoy continues to grow my time during my day for other things gets smaller. My brother Jeff joined a team and  entered a weight lost contest that started on March 1st of 2014. It was a life changer for him. I can remember talking to him over the years that physical conditioning for an elk hunt needed to start early in the year at the least and should be a year long endeavor. As Jeff was shedding the pounds, I was doing what I could to try to keep up with his exercise regimen. When the dust settled, Jeff had lost over 40 pounds and was in top physical shape.

Now, there are always several angles to approach a Colorado elk hunt depending on one's personal beliefs. Here is a retrospective look at the 2014 hunt.

I thought I was in manageable physical shape. The key word is "thought". I came into the hunt with a respiratory bug and on the first hike in, I knew I was going to struggle. My legs were dead and my lungs were struggling to recover from moderate climbs in the thin air. So, with my physical conditioning on the ropes, the confidence in a the mental component was sinking fast.

Brother Steve glassing and brother Jeff crouching.

So, make sure you go into an OTC elk hunt in the best possible physical conditioning. Eliminate the that component of the hunt so you can focus on a strong mental game for the grind that is OTC Colorado elk hunting. You cannot understand the ease of a topo map at the dining room table...and real topography at 11,000 feet. You can get any where on a map, but can you get there when you show up?

Aside from the physical issues I was having, there were people in every place we hiked into. Another part of the mental game that you have to prepare for. We were blessed with fair weather and comfortable nights. The mountain thermals were cooperating...but the elk were not. It's a grind for someone that does not live in elk country. Be ready and don't give up hope no matter how bleak it's going.

The week soon turned into a rodeo and the optimism gone and a new focus of being home with the family was in the head. Choose your hunting partners wisely. When you are down, they need to be up. When they are down, you need to be up...and for me, my hunting partner who had worked his *ss off to be ready for this hunt was focused in the final moments before we sacked our bats and headed for home.

A sequence of aggressive cow calling and a bugle triggered a response in an old spot that was our last resort. Jeff did not hear the bugle and as he continued his calling sequence. I knocked an arrow, put the cow elk decoy in the bowmount, and scanned the open bench and waited for the bull to appear.

Tiptoeing undetected was a small bull that busted when Jeff shifted his calling position. The bull was not alone on this mountain. Multiple bulls were bugling in the waning minutes of shooting light. Guess we were in for the next day. The optimize meter trended up as we circled the mountain in the truck hoping to find our old camping spot. On the way, we were pleasantly surprised to find the area was basically absent of hunters considering it was the last weekend of the CO muzzleloader season.

A quick lesson here was....don't be afraid to make something happen...and stay focused until it's truly time to call off the hunt because things can and do happen quickly in elk country.

The next morning came quickly and we were ready for the hunt as we sneaked up a small brushy washout under the cover of darkness as to not be detected by passing hunters who typically focus their attention on the mountains on other side of the road. With shooting light upon us, the calling set ups came and so were all the satellite bulls. Folks, it is amazing the stealth of a 500-600 lb animal. Small bull after small bull came into our sets undetected. It was frustrating since the moto for the day was, "If it's legal and brown...it's down." The calling and the decoying was working, but we couldn't catch a break on a shot.

Over the past several years of being in the archery industry, I have come to realize one characteristic of great bowhunters, those that I have known for a long time and those that I have met because of the decoy business.  The best bowhunters fail a lot. They continue to place themselves in a position for an opportunity. The best bowhunters are always giving themselves a chance by being in animals. You cannot rely on luck (although there is always a component of good fortune in every successful hunt) or develop any proficiencies without giving yourself multiple opportunities. Eventually, you will get a good shot with repeated opportunities. And that is what I told my brother on a several occasions. What I learned this year is, hunting elk is far easier than finding elk.

The action had slowed a bit later in the morning so it was time to take a break, have some food, determine what the thermals were going to do, and then devise a plan for the remainder of the day. After choking down a protein bar and a swig of water, a cow mewed from below. We grabbed our bows and set up and called. Nothing emerged from the dark timber...but a distant bugle. I had complained earlier in the morning about the fact that we hadn't turned up a herd bull. Multiple encounters with small bulls...there has to be a "big boy" around here somewhere. The distant bugle was followed up with another bugle from the other direction. An obvious mature sounding bugle. Then another bugle. The bull was moving our way, but he was well above us.

The thermals had a consistent upward trend by now, Jeff and I followed our wind up the steep slope...sometimes gagging from the smell of our own 7 day musk. The objective was to cut the bull off and get at his level to increase our chance to call him into bow range. The bull was bugling regularly as well as the other bull that was at our opposite side. Once we reached his level, We set up and things got serious fast.

A small rock slide blocked my ability to move ahead of the caller. I was forced to stay behind a beetle killed pine otherwise I would have been in full sun. Aggressive name calling type discourse was coaxing this bull closer our way. The bull was slightly below us...which was great. I gambled thinking he would approach from the lower end of the slide giving me multiple shot opportunities at varying distances.

There was a lull in the exchange, before I noticed a very large animal emerging from the timber and into the middle of the rockslide. A cow! 20 yards with a very large bull in tow. I shimmied over disregarding the cow and her focus on me. Unfortunately, the bull's first pass was well above the slide before he closed from above. Once in bow range, his vitals were covered with a small grove of sapling aspens presenting no shot and only 40 yards away. At this point, I was shocked by 2 things, the size of the animal...well over 300 inches and the fact that he could not smell my 7 day, no shower, aroma.

I was very comfortable with my set up. The bull was either going to come below the slide or above it. I had a shot at either position. However, I was not anticipating the bull angling up the slope as far as he had. As I reflect on the sequence, I am embarrassed about the thoughts rolling through my mind...and probably the reason that fate did not turn out in my favor. I was thinking about hero shots and articles and all the "post game" discourse rather than staying in the moment. Shame on me. Never count your chickens before they hatch! The bull finally angle above me enough to get into my wind and he eased off with his cow in the direction they came.

The hunt was not over, there were several bulls sounding off on the mountain in our opposite direction. After a quick, "What the hell happened?" conversation with Jeff, we quickly descended down the mountain a 100 yards and sat up again on the bull bugling below us. The timber was dense and our set up was not ideal, but fine for the cover.

It was evident this bull was not a big bull so I quickly exchanged my bugling to sweet cow sounds boosting his confidence. The small bull bugled from a comfortable distance away while other sneaking 600 pound ninja's came in. One ninja/satellite bull appeared at Jeff's right at a mere 10 yards before he was detected. Slowly swinging his bow in his direction sent the woods a blaze with crashing timber. A short moment later, another bull slithered his way into the set up. Using multiple cow elk sounds and the decoy well in view of any approaching bull, a shadow gave away the presence of a small bull.

Calculated steps finally led the bull into a shooting lane a short distance from Jeff. TWHACK!!! Not being able to see Jeff. I was grateful to hear that familiar sound. I waited a half second before easing down the slope to find my brother sitting there calm and cool as a cucumber. "Don't tell me you miss!" I said. Jeff says "No, I am pretty sure I made a good shot"...and moments later we heard the bull expiring a short distance from us.

His demeanor is a little different than mine. I have a tendency to show emotion. Jeff acted like it was his 100th elk. Jeff had the mind set months ago that he was going to kill an elk and to do whatever it took to do it. I am so proud of him for finally breaking the seal for us. We've been so close on several other trips. But this day, we failed enough before we finally got it right.

The authors gear:
Hoyt Carbon Spyder
Grim Reaper 100gr Hades Broadheads
Rocky Mountain/Bugling Bull Game Calls
Tenzing day pack
Lowa Boots
Sitka Gear Optifade Clothing
Tru Fire Hardcore Release
GoldTip Kinetics Arrow
VaporTrail Limbdriver rest
Black Gold Vengence bowsight
Tight Spot Quiver
Benchmade HUNT knives
Heads Up Decoy Cow Elk and Bow Mount