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… No this bull wanted to have a bugle war. At least thats what it seemed like to me. I “mew” again and he bugles again, this time closing in a bit more. Then Silence. Ten or so minutes go by without any sound. I decide to call again just as before but no reply. Another few minutes pass and he lets out a bugle, but now from twice as far it seems than he just was. Now for my bugle, and I am met immediately again by his retort. I let out another, and again the same reply only now he’s coming back closer. The next minute or so is quiet and I bugle once more. Ten seconds pass and he bugles back, but this time he is so close I feel like he is screaming in my ear. But I don’t see him. I can hear him pushing through the timber, I can smell him in the air, he just won’t step out of the timber. Sitting still, I can hear him moving through the swampy timber up and around my position. Not wanting to let him get down wind of me I make my move 40 yards or so back up hill to the east. I find a great tree to set up next to with a perfect shooting lane just off from where i heard him last. Then I bugle. This time I bugle soft as to not freak him out so to speak. His reply this time is returned with grunts and snorts, almost so close it feels like he is standing next to me. This time I chuckle and grunt back with my bugle and what I got in return was awesome. Back and forth we went chuckling and grunting. He was just on the other side of a few thick pines. His smell was thick in the air and he was pissed off. Snorts and grunts and chuckles and all the noises they make in between were coming from this bull. He however wanted no part of showing himself. I sneak back closer to him and I hear him bugle again. I assume he heard me moving or caught a whiff of my scent, or this bull was looking for a fight and didn’t get one, or maybe this was a herd bull, I don’t know. Whatever happened, he was moving away from me. I “mew” a time or two and he bugles back this time more than 50 yards from me or so. Then 20 or 30 minutes pass with no noise. I move once again toward where I heard him last, maybe 75 yards or so. Now with the sun high overhead I stop to refuel. Nature Valley granola bar is always a good energy boost and plenty of water. Then, about half way through my snack, he bugles, 20 or so yards above me. Almost choking on my granola I grab my bow, and knock an arrow once again. Not to alert him I shimmy up hill where I think he is. What I find was not what I expected. The Elk Super Highway. An open clearing 75 yards long, 25 yards wide and with maybe 30 different Elk trails coming in from all directions. Droppings, rubs, tracks, everything I was looking for except the bull. Where did he go? I find a nice spot to sit and wait it out for a while. I cow call a few times with no response. An hour or so passes and I decide to bugle again. To my dismay the return bugle is way off in the distance. Mind you as close as he was to me three different times I still haven’t gotten a look at him. Not even through the thick timber. I decide to wait a while more until finally I get bored and go back to where I had eaten a few hours ago. As I am grabbing my pack that I ditched the last time I heard him, bam, he bugles above me once again. This time I jump! Up and over the rock again back to the clearing and he is gone? What the? I am dumbfounded. He was so loud 30 seconds ago I almost came out of my skin, and now gone? Not to worry I tell myself and try a “mew” with his return bugle only seconds later. This time the bugle was from way off. Could this be a different bull? Either way I was determined to wait here and find out. Then silence, followed my more silence. I “mew” a few more times and get nothing back. By now the sun is starting to set on the opposite side of the mountain from me and darkness will not be far off. I decide todays hunt was going to have to end and tomorrow I would pick it back up right here in this same area. I  start my trek down. Working back down the mountain, especially with tired legs, can be almost as hard, if not harder, than it was climbing up. Taking my time I watch the sunlight slowly fade away. A call to my buddy on the two-way radio to let him know where I am and what direction I am going and vise versa lets us know each one is ok. Then the bugling starts. 300 yards or so I guess, a choir of bugles starts above me. This leaves me super excited to know they are in this area, and I am coming back in the morning.

I keep working down, and now am about half way back to camp. The light has almost all escaped the mountain and the twilight time of dusk sets in. I reach into my pack for my head lamp. “Damn it!! It’s not in my pack.” Just then I realize I left it on my sleeping bag that morning getting ready. Now remember that preparedness thing I was talking about. This was not easy. Keeping the only gage I had for direction (the peak across the valley with just enough light to make it out) in sight I worked down slowly, finally making back to the creek in the dark. A cautious shimmy across my makeshift bridge and back to camp I am. We sit down exhausted around the fire and exchange stories of how the day went for each of us.

I was so excited still as I laid down to sleep I could barely contain myself. Then, it happened. About 10:30 or so that night the first drop or two a few seconds apart, followed then by a few more. Then more, until finally it started pouring, and it didn’t stop. All night long it rained. Sometimes it slowed, but for the most part it poured. The only thing that kept me warm and dry was the fact that I was in a waterproof sleeping bag. All but a few of my clothes and gear were packed into sealed bags so I  was not too terribly concerned for that as much I was the cold. The temperature dropped into the 20s and now the rain was freezing, soon this place would be covered in snow…