The next day wasn't much better. Someone had set-up in my spot that I wanted to hunt. We saw them on the trail; a couple of horsemen coming out of the woods like two defeated warriors leaving a battle. That night we decided to hit the glade where I had heard all the cow elk screaming like banshees. After a couple hours of freezing our butts off, we decided to call it a night.
That evening, we set up in the small copse of trees. My buddy on one side, me on the other. This gave us a 360 degree view of the entire open meadow. My buddy started hitting the cow call every ten minutes or so, as well as spraying some cow estrus in the air. We sat for about an hour and a half when the bull came walking out of the trees headed toward us.
I put a round in my gun which caught the bull's attention (mental note for next year, have the gun ready to go). However, he couldn't see me. I was set up in front of the tree which helped break up my outline. That, coupled with my camouflage patterned clothes (my blaze orange had a pattern as well) helped hide me from its sight. I took aim, and figured it was between 200-250 yards out. My aim was all over the place and I decided I needed to sit on my butt and post up. This in turn created more noise, but the bull still couldn't figure out what the noise was. I took a couple of deep breathes, let my final breath half-way out, and squeezed the trigger.
The shot rang out and the bull jumped a little and turned in a circle. It meandered off to the tree line and stopped. I was trying to see if I hit him, but couldn't see any obvious wounds. He looked back at me from the tree line, and lowered his head. It looked like he was grazing which made me think I missed. I was about to shoot again when he disappeared into the trees.
I met up with my buddy and explained what happened. He was just as excited as I was. We decided to wait 20-30 minutes, and then go check for blood. We wanted to wait just in case I had hit him. That way he wouldn't feel pressured and would hopefully lay down and die. Otherwise, we could end up chasing him all over the mountain. After the time passed (which is forever when you're waiting for something like that) we headed up that way. I found the spot where he was standing when I shot, but I couldn't see any blood. We tracked him to the treeline just to check, and I found a blood trail there! We started tracking him further, but after a moment, we both looked up and saw him laying in the trees. He wasn't more than 20 yards in the treeline.
We ensured he was dead and then started the work. Initially, I couldn't find the entry-wound, although later when we examined the pictures, it's clear as day. I hit him right behind the shoulder, exactly where I was aiming. We found the exit while quartering him.
This was the first time I'd ever quartered an animal, and I found out pretty quickly that the knife I brought wasn't the best choice. Inexperience, doubled with the wrong knife meant it took us three hours to skin and quarter him, and get back to camp. I think next time it will go much faster now that I know what I'm doing, plus I'll ensure I have the right tools.
The next day, we packed up and left. My ring is still up there. I'll probably end up getting a different one, but I want to go back in the spring with a metal detector just for sentimental reasons. I should be getting the meat back from the processors in a few weeks. All in all, it was an experience I'll never forget. I spent time with family and friends both scouting and hunting. I shot my first elk ever. And I've provided us with meat that will last quite some time. I couldn't ask for much more than that.