The only time I’ve elk hunted with a rifle I killed a nice bull about 30 minutes after sunrise on opening morning. Concluding that rifle hunting was not very challenging, I decided on a primitive weapon. I drew a muzzle-loader tag and picked a favorite site in the south San Juan Wilderness.
On the fourth day, I began to see fresh tracks. I used a squeeze cow call followed with a small, short bugle. There was an immediate answer. He came into view at about 50 yards, looking for his challenger. I cocked my old Thompson Center’s hammer but the first of the two clicks made the bull stop. I froze, knowing the second click could ruin the day. The solution – carefully cock the hammer with my thumb while holding the trigger down to avoid the click. At 11,000 feet, cold, winded and excited, this wasn’t a good idea. BOOM!! Mud and sticks went flying from the ground four feet in front of me.
I reloaded and stayed still. I hit the squeeze call again. The bull gave a horrific roaring bugle and began working a tree over. I matched him with tree raking and my smallest bugle. This time he got really angry. He came charging around a few fallen trees. A few steps put him broadside at 35 yards. This time, the old .50 caliber was already cocked. The 5x5 took about 10 steps and collapsed.
I know that second chances with a primitive weapon are rare. Sometimes we just get lucky.