Jeremy’s Story – 2016 Idaho Elk Hunt

Jeremy's Story

Our 2016 Idaho elk hunt was a huge success. We didn’t hear much bugling on the trip, but we were persistent and covered a lot of country focusing our search on active elk in concentrated canyons with adequate water and plenty of thick dark timber for bedding.

The elk were feeding in the lower elevations and returning to the high timber to spend the hottest periods of the day. We did a lot of glassing and calling with the only response coming from the bull that Johnny killed on day 4. After the 6 mile pack out which took 2 trips, we continued to search for another active bull.

backstrap-1-of-1Later in the week, the weather took a turn for the worst. The remaining days of the trip were marked with extreme high winds and pouring rain. We had found a small herd of elk in fairly open country that we could glass and try to intercept as they moved from feeding to bed. We never saw the entire herd due to terrain features but we assumed there was a bull in the group, just remaining silent.

On the second to last day of the trip, we arrived at our location and started the steep hike in well before first light, all the while the rain was relentless. At the peak of the mountain we spotted the herd of elk and hustled around them in an effort to get ahead of their line of travel.

We waited until mid morning, but never saw them. They took a different route than we anticipated and bedded in a nearby draw, so we headed back to the vehicle to form a game plan. We decided to go for broke and still hunt our way into the draw we believed the elk to be bedded in.

The wind and rain would help to hide our approach and hopefully we could pull a shot off. At that point, I decided any mature elk was a shooter considering the weather conditions and short amount of time remaining on the trip. The patch of timber was small, so our stalk was very slow and methodical, glassing when we could.

I could see two elk up on their feet feeding and tried to motion Johnny to move up to my location to get some footage. At that moment, a eye-1-of-1large cow stood from her bed and bolted, taking several more head with her. I could then see other cows moving around nervously. I still had not seen a bull among the group and knew it was my time to make it happen.

As a large cow walked onto a ridge across the draw, I had to make a decision. I ranged her at 51 yards and drew back as she entered an opening. I gave a soft mew on a diaphragm call to stop her, settled my pin on her chest and the arrow was on it’s way.

My Easton Full Metal Jacket scored a complete pass through and she never knew what happened. She trotted about 40 yards before stopping and tipping over into the sage brush. It’s not exactly the big bull I was hoping for but I was super excited to be taking 200 pounds of delicious elk meat back home!

- Jeremy Ballantine



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