Rocky Mountain Bull Elk Hunt of 2015
Our 2015 Bull Elk season was extremely challenging. The weather was a double edged sword. We started the season with record rainfall in the spring and early summer which added to the spectacular horn growth. We had multiple Bulls over 340, as well as many over 300 inches located in our preseason scouting. Many of our early mule deer hunters commented, “Wow, I need to get an Elk tag for this area!” This was due, of course, to how many spectacular bulls they were seeing.
The feed, or grass quality, here in Wyoming was better than I have ever seen in 20 years of outfitting. The archery elk season proved to be very challenging this year with lots of Bulls bulging and tons of sightings, but it was hard to get the Bulls to fully commit and close the distance for a shot. Once the rifle elk season arrived, that spectacular feed kept the Bull Elk in the timber with record setting hot temps, compounded with a full moon phase during our prime rifle hunting dates.
Our method of rifle Elk hunting is, and always will be, spot & stalk. We choose not to drive animals out of the timber for running shots, even in tough weather conditions. It is hard enough to make clean kills on stationary animals, much less running animals. During these types of conditions our hunters’ ability to remain positive, to get set up for a shot quickly and proficiently, and be physically able to close the distance for a shot, plays a huge roll in our success. We still killed bulls over 300 inches and had some shooting opportunities on several bull elk over the 330 class.
Over all, shooting opportunities for 2015 were down from our normal 85-100% average to about 60%. The majority of the mature bull elk survived the season, so next season’s hunting could be even better than normal. A humbling harvest is good for the soul of a hunter. It reminds us of and gives us a deep respect for the challenges of hunting wild, free ranging, mountainous, wilderness dwelling animals. As a truly successful hunter, we have to find success, even in a hunt when that trophy gets away. It also motivates us to be better prepared for next season, which is one more reason to take an NTO Shooting Class, to maximize your killing proficiency when that opportunity presents.