North American Bull Elk
North American Bull Elk. One of the most prestigious, though difficult hunts our fine continent has to offer. For myself, I have been putting in for the same zone here in Alberta, Canada for 13 years; half of my life. In 2019 I believed that I was in a good enough priority position to indeed draw my “elk tag of a lifetime” in a very sought after territory. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Having been putting in for this draw since I legally could (age 12 up here in Canada) I had not yet harvested a Bull Elk of my own. Despite being on a handful of successful ventures with others. This was simply unacceptable and I was completely out of patience. As such, I decided to head North and visit areas that, while are watered down and certainly do not carry the trophy caliber that our draw zones might, still gave me the opportunity to pursue Bull Elk with a “over the counter” tag.
The first handful of days were precisely what one would expect in a general zone; more hunters than animals, sounds of “Pearl Harbor” ringing off in the distance and more vehicles than that of a Texaco parking lot in the early ‘80s. Only having permission on public land for the first few days while waiting for a good friend of mine, Helgie Eymundson from Sportsman Channel, to arrive proved to be a less than ideal situation. I rang unsuccessful in any attempt to make the best of it.
For one week to follow those absolutely chaotic first three days Helgie nor I could manage to place ourselves into a position to touch the ‘ol Best of The West off even on private land. I must say, elk hunting is much more the hunt of the caller. The shooter really only has one job; shoot and make it damn well count. The caller, though, is really the back bone of this type of hunt Having to navigate through countless cow calling techniques combined with multiple bugles and responses. It is truly remarkable to experience. Helgie has harvested multiple elk throughout his hunting career and as such had taken me under his wing for this one. We were in on bulls almost everyday but just could not, despite our best efforts, convince them to step out just enough to allow us to unleash a Hornady ELD-X 200 grain piece of led.
10 days later I had packed up and headed for home. I really did not know what to make of the experience that I had just received; typically, when someone hunts for 10 days ANYWHERE you will most likely at least get an opportunity to screw up on your own, look back on and learn from. This was not the case. We hadn’t necessarily done anything wrong on our end. The elk just wanted nothing to do with us, despite being RIGHT THERE almost the entire time. Talk about frustration.
Weeks passed and I have to be honest; my infuriation and infatuation with Elk grew. One month later, on my way home from an unsuccessful whitetail hunt, I decided to re route and head back up North to get this score evened. Now, as every hunter knows, this pass time requires a lot of good luck. I find the more time and effort one puts in, the luckier one will get. What was about to unfold right in front of me after 10 hours of driving fit this bill perfectly.
I had just pulled into the section of land that Helgie (who was no longer with me) had pointed me toward when, no joke, I spotted a herd of elk. A quick glass in the Huskemaw 10X42 Binoculars confirmed that there were bulls to be seen though given their position I could not tell of what quality. With light fading fast, I gathered what was left of my ass that had been otherwise glued to a drivers seat for 10 hours and picked a ravine just behind the herd to perch up on. Praying that they would retreat off of the field the way that they had headed out.
Now, Upon my arrival I was again reminded that I had roughly 30 minutes before legal light would fade out and I would be forced to reconvene the next morning. 30 Turned to 20, 20 to 15 and before I knew it I was into the final 10 minutes of legal time. Reminding myself that this was a bonus and that I had not really planned to hunt tonight fell on deaf ears. Again, I KNEW that I was within range of Bull Elk but again they refused to play my game. Now, just three minutes to go. I began packing up and, I kid you not, a beautiful Bull walking all by his lonesome no sooner crested the exact nole that I had been sitting on. Bringing him MUCH closer than I had originally anticipated. The scramble was on..a quick (likely unnecessary) range confirmed that 247yds was all I would require. A chip shot. The elk noticed me just as I through the 300 WIN mag to my shoulder..I let drive and the story was over.
At this exact moment I cannot tell you how much I truly appreciated having high end, top quality optics. Imagine hunting a species for 11 days and earning a truly golden opportunity only to have it taken away because you made the “budget friendly” decision to purchase below average optics. Now, due to saving $700 you either 1) go home empty handed or 2) take more time off of work & return to harvest your animal..wouldn’t option 2 somewhat defeat the “saving” purpose, though? I cannot stress it enough. When people ask me what the most important tool in my hunting bag is I always reply; optics. You simply cannot shoot what you can’t see. I can appreciate that not everyone wants to spend thousands of dollars on “toys”, trust me, but in saying that I do believe optics are the one all should splurge on.
The nice part with the Huskemaw Blue Diamond series is that, while they perform true for me time & time again at longer ranges, they have not yet let me down in low light situations or up close, either. The second focal plane certainly assists with these types of situations and when combined with the turret system truly eliminates any holdover concerns at longer ranges. For me, it is a no brainer on that discussion and one of many reasons that I prefer Huskemaw scopes over competitors. Lastly, it has proven itself to me time and time again..both in tight & at long range.