column By: Brad Fenson | January, 19
Brandon Baudhuin started his elk season on September 1, checking his honey holes that had produced elk in previous years. Hunting in south-central Wyoming, he hoped to arrow an elk. There were several close encounters with the bow, but Brandon didn’t end up with a shot opportunity.
The Jackson area is known for its large expanse of wilderness, and the September 26 opener for rifle season called Brandon to the high country. The rut was late, the elk were not receptive to calling, the moon was not conducive to daytime activity, and the hunt was a chore. It was hard to get on elk in the morning because they bedded right as the sun came up. By mid-month, the bulls are frequently calling, but this year they were quiet.
On the opener, the hunter got on a good herd of elk in the morning but could not get into position for a shot. The elk were only a quarter mile from their bedding area, and not wanting to blow them out, Brandon waited for evening. The elk never appeared before sunset. This was the fourth year Brandon hunted this area. It is a general, public-land area, and it always provided chances when a limited quota tag is not drawn.
The next morning, Brandon headed into the backcountry earlier and unfortunately bumped the elk on the way. At first he thought the mistake would cost him a bull, but as it turned out, the encounter worked in his favor. The elk headed for an area that would be easier to hunt, and when Brandon finished for the morning, he heard a single bugle at 10:30 a.m., providing an exact location to set up for the evening. The bull started calling again at 4:00 p.m., and Brandon was already in place to answer with cow calls. At 6:45 p.m. the bull came down the mountain and into the meadow where Brandon was set up to watch. The elk came in strutting like the herd bull, looking for lonely cows that had been calling. The bull’s displays let Brandon know he had lured the boss bull to the meadow.
The bull was 495 yards across the meadow, and Brandon had set up above the opening to cover all corners. Brandon shoots long-range competition and had set a 500-yard limit for shooting the bull under ideal conditions. Patience was the key and when the seasoned hunter settled his crosshair on the bull’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger, the bull fell in its tracks.
With only one more hour of light, Brandon headed to the bull and confirmed it was dead. He went to work field dressing and skinning, as the temperatures had been warm during the day.
The next morning the elk had cooled perfectly, and Brandon bagged up the quarters and rode in with horses and pack animals to get his bull back to the truck. The elk was almost 2.5 miles from the truck, so the pack animals were a definite advantage. Brandon is an avid public-land hunter with special spots in many parts of Wyoming.
When Larry Brandt headed out to hunt Shiras moose, he hoped to fulfill a dream he had for almost two decades. Larry had been applying for a moose tag near the Teton Range in Wyoming for 17 years, building priority points until he finally drew a tag.
Larry set up a wall-tent camp in a remote area on a Monday evening, giving him four full days of scouting before the season opener on Saturday. Moose in the area are often at high elevation in mid-September, but thorough glassing proved lower elevations held plenty of moose. Every morning and evening Larry was able to find moose. Cows, calves and some respectable bulls let him know he was in the right place to find his once-in-a-lifetime bull. Larry drew the license with priority points, but 20 percent of the licenses are drawn randomly every year, giving any hunter a chance to hunt the coveted Shiras moose.
Larry had taken Alaska/Yukon and Canada moose in previous years and woke up on Saturday, September 15, hoping to get a Shiras bull to complete his quest for North American moose. All week the nights had been cold, with the mercury dropping to 28 degrees Fahrenheit, which left a coating of frost on everything. The leaves were turning color, and the smell of fall made it feel like a moose hunt.
Larry headed back to his willow flat to watch for the bull he had seen the night before. Ralph and Eric covered other areas hoping to spot big antlers. The morning sun was starting to rise, and Larry was still waiting for his bull to appear when he heard a vehicle coming down the hill. Eric had spotted a big bull not far off the road and came to find Larry.
They headed to where the bull had been bedded on a hillside, but it was no longer there. The bull could not have gone far, so they started glassing the adjacent country and worked their way down the ridge. The dense willows below were like an impenetrable wall of leaves, but the hunting party managed to spot the moose. They could only see pieces of antler or black hide but knew it was the bull they were after. Larry had not seen the bull earlier that week but knew it was big.
Ralph was carrying a portable shooting bag and laid it down for Larry to use as a solid prone rest. The moose walked into an opening at 362 yards, and Larry was faced with making the shot of a lifetime. When the rifle barked, the moose humped up and lunged forward. The bull was hit hard, but Larry was not taking any chances and anchored the bull with another shot to the neck.
It was 9:30 a.m., and the crew went to work getting the bull back to camp before the midday heat. The bull measured 41 inches and is an outstanding Shiras moose by any standard.