Nebraska Bull Elk Hunt Saga - Utah Wildlife Network

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Old 09-11-2020, 02:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sidney, NE
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Default Nebraska Bull Elk Hunt Saga

This is to document my once in a lifetime Nebraska Bull Elk hunt. Elk in Nebraska? Absolutely. And there's some big ones.

Early in July I got the email notification that I had successfully drawn a bull tag. I had a cow tag last year and it was like hunting ghosts. Saw three cows all on land that I didn't have permission to hunt.

Access isn't easy in Nebraska. There isn't much public land to begin with, and what little there is isn't always conducive to what you're looking for.

You see, in this area, the elk live in the corn and wheat all summer. That's where there's bedding, water, shade, and feed. Corn fed elk? Absolutely!

I started making phone calls as soon as I got the news. Many people don't allow access and those who do, usually want a decent chunk of change. Several wanted $2-$5,000 to get an elk. The hard part of this is that the farmers complain to the state about crop damage on on hand, but charge outrageous access fees on the other.

I had a couple of contacts that were looking around for free access, but that is usually not as good with questionable reliability. One call landed a spot with a landowner that wanted $1,000, would not allow archery, but only has a small place. That landowner wanted money whether I hunted it or not. He said he's always killed elk on it, but who knows?

Another landowner wanted $1,500 if I killed a critter and $1,500 for first chance. I won't (and can't) afford that as that would eat into goose hunting (sacred) money. I've kept in contact with the landowner and he called me yesterday. "how about you come out about 6:15 tomorrow morning and i'll show you around?" He dropped the acesss fee and said $1,500 if you kill one. The last few years have produced some monster bulls. Last year's was 426", and a few years before that wsa 396", so there are some very big animals on the place. I'm not that picky as I don't have tons of time, and my wife thinks the whole thing is ludicrous anyway. So, I don't care if I get a monster critter, but I would like a respectable one. Trophy is in the eye of the hunter and I'm ok with that.

Fast forward to this morning. Got 1" of rain last night- first rain in a long time, so the roads were a little sloppy getting the 75 minutes to his property from my house. I met the guy, Monte, finally for the first time in person. We chit chatted a minute and he said "let's hop into into my truck and I'll show you around." I grabbed my binos and off we went. We looked across one area to see if there was anything, nope.

Mind you, this is pivots of corn, wheat, millet, and beans. There are some rolling hills, but not a tree to be found. We looked at one field and Monte said, "There's one, it's a good one, do you see it?" It took a minute, but I found it. It was walking through a wheat stubble field headed west to a pivot of corn. "I think we can get on him, let's go get your bow and put a sneak on him." We hopped in his truck and off we went. The elk got the same idea and trotted into the corn. We drove to a driveway and pulled in. Archery started on Sept 1, and runs through 21st, then turns to any weapon. Crossbows are legal here, so I readied the crossbow, grabbed a few things, left my pack at the truck and followed Monte with his mouth call and decoy into one of the corn pivots. Mind you, between two pivots of corn is a 40 yard gap that was lush green grass. We cow called a little bit as we got out of the truck and worked our way east along the north pivot. We stopped and out of the corner of my eye I see blonde about 200 yards west, right next to the trucks. We cow call a bit and he turns, but is not impressed with the trucks parked there and disappears like a ghost into the south corn pivot. The wind is coming from the south, perfect wind. We work our way to the east end of the pivot and work our way back. A cow call and suddently a head is poking out of the wheel line straight across from me. 40 yards. The bull is a decent 5x5 I estimated to be about 300". We would not move. Cow calls, decoy, and he won't commit. The corn is covering his body so I don't have a good shot. He steps back from where he came from and turns broadside. 54 yards. Big patch of corn in front of his vitals, no shot. Melts into the corn again.

Monte has to meet a guy with a swather to swath some beans so he leaves. I had left me pack which had my bugle and other calls in it back at the truck. I grab it and walk to the edge and let out a little bugle just to knock the rust off. A few more bugles and then we go back to the truck to engage in good conversation. Suddenly, I hear a crash and that same bull had come to the bugle but we were yacking and not paying attention. He crashed back into the corn again.

Monte left so I decided I'd go back into the corn once more to see if I could entice something again. I set up about 1/3 down the pivot, the wind had changed slightly from straight south to a more southwesterly breeze. I put the decoy in front of a wheel line and then park myself in the corn about 15 yards down. I let out a series of small bugles and grunts, and a couple of cow chirps. Silence. Couple more. More silence. I had some work obligations to get back to so I gave it one more go. Suddenly I heard a commotion, but couldn't see to my left. I poked my head out and looked left. There it was a 4 point smaller bull, standing broadside in the clearing about 80 yards away. I think it had come along the north pivot and likely winded me. Couple cow calls and he vanished into the corn.

So, the hunt continues, but 2 elk and one of them 3 times is pretty encouraging. I'm not able to hunt tonight due to kid mowing duty, but will hopefully be out tomorrow evening chasing the giant prairie ungulates. They're big critters, and I can't wait to taste one.

As a side note, I'm a bit indecisive on the firearm I'm going to use. I've got a .270, trusty Remington 7400. 6.5 Creedmore that is long range dialed in. and I've been giving serious thought to my .50 call black powder if shots will be close quarters, because those pack a big wallop. Open to input.

to be continued.....
Time spent hunting and fishing can't be deducted from my life, my wife's budget, or my salary.
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Old 09-11-2020, 02:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Good read. Good luck to you on your hunt! Can't wait to see the end results.
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Old 09-11-2020, 02:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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.270 would be my choice.
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Old 09-11-2020, 06:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Interesting story! Thanks for the great details. Why do you want input on your rifle selection? It sounds like you're about to get it done with the crossbow. I can't wait to see pics!
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Old 09-12-2020, 05:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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270 should get the job done. The problem with the smokepoles, is that once you shoot, it puts out so much smoke that you can not tell if you got it. You almost need someone standing 5 yards away from you to be watching.
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Old 09-12-2020, 06:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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With newer black powder substitutes the smoke is not much of a problem anymore

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Old 09-12-2020, 08:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Awesome opportunity! That’s really unique and I forget elk even exist out there. I think a 270 with a good 150gr or so would be great elk medicine. It could be done with the Creedmoor but that 270 will handle heavier bullets better.
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Old 09-13-2020, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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What a neat opportunity. Good luck! I use my 270 with 150 gr nosler partitions when I hunt with a rifle.

I think the muzzy would be cool to use as well.

Good luck!

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Old 09-13-2020, 01:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Sounds like quite the adventure! Best of luck closing the deal!
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Old 09-14-2020, 03:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Part 2-

My 15 year old son had a cross country meet early Saturday and so I only had the evening to hunt. Still no pics, sorry.

We left at 3:30 and have an hour and fifteen minute drive to the location. The wind was coming out of the north this time. I pulled into to the shop area to look around the area. Out here, you can see your dog run away for 3 days. We parked on a little knob. I looked out and across a couple of sections, I could see a dark spot in the corn. I looked a little closer and there were about 40 elk standing in corn that had been knocked down. There was a white pickup parked along the road and they were looking at the truck. They calmed down and laid down in the corn. We drove around a pivot to see if there was something we could do to hunt, but didn't want to push the other hunter around where he was at on the east property line.

We elected to go back to the pivots I had hunted the day before. With the north wind, we needed to come in from the south end of the field. We sprayed down, got dressed, cocked the crossbow, and started walking in.

We got around the edge of the corn and there was a little 2 point whitetail looking at us. It wasn't particularly scared of us and we decided to nestle into some hay bales as I didn't want to push the deer and scare something else. It was 60 yards to the edge of the corn and that wasn't exactly what I wanted. So we moved further along the pivot to more hay bales as it was almost to the east end of the pivot. We put the cow decoy out in some webbing next in a bale facing east/west so it would look like a cow peaking out from the bales about 30 yards behind us.

We sat down and started to do some soft cow calls, waited a few minutes, and did some more. I decided to bugle a little bit and mix a couple of cow calls in and repeated that. After about 15 minutes I could hear crashing in the corn. More crashing. More crashing and geting closer. Out pops a cow and I said ot my son, "It's a cow." He said, "No it's not, it's huge." Out came some antlers from the corn and he was on a missions. I was sitting to the left of my son anticipating that critters would walk along the corn edge as they came out to feed. This bull came out hot. However, it came straight into the wheat stubble on the right side, the side my son was sitting on. He was coming in with a purpose, but there was a lot of grass on that side that I couldn't get the rangefinder on it. Coming closer, coming closer. 60 yards closer, closer. The cow was feeding and looking our way on the left the way I thought it would come. I told me son to scoot down and I was going to shoot over it's head. But I wasn't going to have a range finder, it was free hand and twisting. I guessed it was about 45-50 yards as it didn't change course much. I held about there in the scope, and let it fly. WHACK. The bolt hit true, but it was higher than I wanted. My muscle memory of shooting the shoulder to anchor it with a gun took over. Off it ran throught he stubble with blood starting to come out it's side. It stopped running and started walking away, further, further, no tipping. CRAP!!!!!

I estimated this bull to be a 340-350" bull and that's good enough for me, and with my son, I couldn't pass it up. It jumped the fence and continued east. I continued to cow call to calm things down. We backed out and called the landowner.

We pulled the truck up to where we saw it cross the fence, and no blood. No blood anywhere.

We looked into the night and aside from the clear spot where I shot (turned out to be 35 yards so hit higher than I wanted). After it got dark with no blood, we backed out (after much prayer hoping that it wasn't a shoulder shot). Against my hunch, I had shot a NAP Spitfire. We went home and I was sick. I couldn't sleep. I was sick. Like literally sick. I closed my eyes and I see the bull coming in with mouth open looking for a fight and the shot with the bold hitting high in the shoulder.

I have church obligations that I can't miss on Sunday so my plan was to go to church, do what I needed to do, and then go back out. We pulled in and drove the whole fenceline looking for something in the light, a bolt, blood, tracks, something. We walked like pioneers. I walked the entire perimeter of a quarter section (a section is 1 square mile of corn, looking for blood against the corn stalks to see if it went in. Nothing. My son walked through an old homestead. Nothing. 4 miles walked and not a confirmed track except where I hit it. Discouragment wasn't even the right word.

I couldn't sleep last night either. Woke up at 3:00 both nights and couldn't get the acid from my stomach, just sick. Talking with the landowner, we wondered if the bull had gone through a fallow field to some trees further east. The plan was for me to walk those tree rows today.

I went into a shop (a bunch of old Cabela's folks who got laid off like I did that started another business- awesome folks and the kind of experience Cabela's used to be. Look them up. The bow shop manager is a guy from Utah and he's a wizard with a bow. I was on my last bolt and the crossbow had become a little loose, . It was a lot loose and we got it tightened up and re-sighted in. I got some more bolts (kids had knocked the nocks off shooting some of them) and got a call as I was leaving. It was the landowner. "Hey, where are you? We found your bull. He's alive and is with another group 2.5 miles further east. He's slow to get up, let's try to make a play." There is another hunter hunting that land and we need to cooperate so I drove quickly there. As I pulled up to meet them, "Well, that bull is not mortally wounded, he's sore, but he's doing ok." That was a relief, sort of.

The other hunter found a MASSIVE 8x7 400+" bull and my bull was bedded with that group. If I went in after it, I risked blowing the whole thing up. We decided to let him hunt that bull and I'd back out for a couple of days, which I probably need because I can't handle not sleeping like this. I don't know how you high stress people funtion.

Gun season starts Monday. Black Powder antelope starts Saturday and my son drew a tag, so I'll be hunting with him for that hunt.

I'll be back at it. Pics for the antelope will come Saturday as we've got a few pretty good ones spotted. Spirits are better. There are always better days ahead.
Time spent hunting and fishing can't be deducted from my life, my wife's budget, or my salary.
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