The white tips of the bullʼs 6×5 rack rocked back and forth as we glassed him walking down the dusty logging road in search of the cow that was in fact my guide Scott Coe. I set up and knocked an arrow as my cameraman Jim Kinsey steadied his tripod in hopes of capturing my elk hunt on film for a future episode of Skull Bound TV. Scott stayed back another 50 yards, using his symphony of cow calls to lure in the bull. With other cow elk in the area we had hopes this bull would come to Scottʼs call to round up his harem. Heading in my direction and only 100 yards away, the bull suddenly stopped in his tracks and made a sharp turn to follow a cow that grabbed his interest. That was the last I bull I saw after an eight day archery hunt in Eastern Oregon.
The unseasonably warm temperatures played a role in the lack of action on our hunt. Despite seeing hundreds of elk every morning from our various lookouts they simply werenʼt responding much to calls, making it difficult to get within bow range. Even though I never had an opportunity to pull back my bow, the beauty of Oregon and the experience was well worth the 7 hour drive from my home state of Montana. Finding a mint-condition obsidian arrowhead on the last day was worth the trip alone but Scott had another plan in for us. While eating our last dinner in the cook tent Scott said, “How about you come back in 3 weeks for a rifle mule deer hunt?” After glassing numerous bucks throughout the week, it took me a matter of seconds to respond, “That would be fantastic! Count me in!”
September 29th we were back on the exact bluff we glassed our first elk from just weeks before. We got our gear situated and settled in for a few hours of glassing when Scott exclaimed, “I canʼt believe it! Thereʼs the super tall buck Iʼve seen earlier this season!” Sunlight bounced off his rack as I looked through the scope at a gorgeous Oregon buck in his bed. The range finder marked him at 633 yards as he laid there chewing his cud with two smaller bucks nearby. My heartbeat raced as we discussed our game plan. “With the wind coming down off that hillside, our only option is to wait him out in hopes he works down the ridge closer to us.” said Scott. A large herd of elk started working their way out of the timber above the mule deer also making a stalk attempt too risky.
I got comfortable in the prone position with my custom built .300wsm rifle. We
waited over an hour for the bucks to get up and graze down the ridge. Feeling steady with the butt of my rifle on my pack, we gauged the wind and took one last range finder reading. “Heʼs 458 yards Jana. Iʼm on him. Take him if youʼre ready”, whispered Jim. I dialed my scopeʼs turret to 450 yards and slowly squeezed the trigger. I heard the report of the bullet along with Jimʼs shouting, “You got him! Heʼs done!” We watched the buck run down the hill only 75 yards before tipping over into the brush. The exhilaration we all felt walking up on that spectacular 5×4 muley was immense. After working hard for eight days on the elk hunt… packing heavy gear, lack of sleep and countless miles hiked without success, it was so rewarding to be standing there with Scott and Jim holding the rack of an buck we later nicknamed “Skyscraper”!