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Learn to rely on your optics to take the really BIG early season bulls - by Greg Krogh

During the middle 1980's my father I enjoyed a great deal of success guiding Arizona elk hunters to really big bulls during the late season rifle elk hunts, but really struggled to take the same types of bulls during the early season archery elk hunts. It wasn't until I sat down one day and analyzed my techniques that I realized it wasn't what I was doing, but rather what I wasn't doing that was keeping me from being as successful during the rut hunts as I was during the late hunts. When guiding late season elk hunters I relied almost entirely upon glassing to find big bulls, but when guiding archery elk hunters my partner Todd George and I relied mainly on calling and sitting water to take bulls. While we were successful at harvesting mature bulls, we both felt frustrated that the really big bulls seemed to be eluding us. Even though my calling seemed suspect at times, I felt confident that Todd's calling was as good as anybody else's out there. It seemed every time we set up on a bull he was able to call him in. This left me to believe that it wasn't how we were calling, but rather which bulls we were calling to. Over the next couple of years, Todd drew several elk tags himself and wasn't able to help me guide as much as I would have liked. Since he was the strength of our calling team, I decided that it was as good of a time as any to try out some new techniques.

The first thing I decided to do was abandon my blind set-up calling style of archery hunting, and rely more on good quality optics like I do during my late season post rut elk hunts. I felt that if I could glass until I found a big bull to go after, I would have less calling set-ups, but the ones that panned out would produce the types of bulls that my clients really wanted. While this method really tested my patience at first, it resulted in two great bulls the first year I tried it.

Just last year I accompanied Randy Ulmer on an Archery Elk hunt in an area with extremely low elk density. During the first ten days we split up and went different directions looking for a bull for him to hunt. During that time we glassed up only one bull he wanted to stalk (unfortunately for my ego Randy not only found the bull, but he glassed him up from quite a ways away directly underneath me). The stalk didn't work out and the bull disappeared forever, so we went back to splitting up and looking again. On the 14th day, I glassed up a bull (redemption) that Randy eventually made a stalk on and killed on the 21st day. This bull was completely by himself in the peak of the rut when I glassed him up that first time. While this method produced only two set-ups in 20 days, it resulted in Randy taking a bull that officially net scores 409 7/8 P&Y.

The next step that I took was to evaluate the way that I hunted waterholes with my clients. For years my clients sat water without ever killing any really great bulls. I would choose which water hole to sit depending upon which one had the most tracks. Most of my clients would shoot the first mature six-point that came in because they assumed he was the bull that had made the tracks on the tank. Because I had only checked for tracks and never glassed around the tank, we never really knew how big the bull was that was hitting the tank prior to opening day. This made it hard to pass for my clients, because they didn't want to pass on a bull that might be the biggest one in the area. I decided that I would use my optics to find a big bull first, and then put my clients on the water source that he was using. This allowed my clients to increase their chances of taking a really big bull for two reasons. First, it put them in a location where a known large bull was frequenting, and secondly, it made it a lot easier on them to pass on any lesser bulls that came in to drink because they now knew for sure that there was a bigger bull in the area. Sometimes this method produces less action, but it has produced some great bulls since I started using it.

During recent elk hunting seasons I have continued to modify this style of hunting, but the one remaining constant is my use of good quality optics. There is no question that a good pair of binoculars will greatly enhance your ability to find more elk, and the more elk you find, the better chance you have of finding a really big bull.

Greg Krogh

Mogollon Rim Outfitters
P.0. Box 163
Chino Valley, AZ 86323
928) 636-4807

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