Colorado Hunter: Trophy tips — Three hints for hunting the ‘mighty six’
Cedar Beauregard has harvested more than 35 elk in his 34 years of hunting Northwest Colorado. Add to that 19 bear and a corral of pronghorn and deer, all taken with a bow, and he’s about as experienced a hunter as you’ll find in these parts. While he rarely gives away his secrets to hunting the big bulls, here he shares three tips from over the years for successfully hunting what he calls the “mighty six,” a six-pointer you’d be proud to haul home.
“I don’t even carry a call anymore,” Beauregard says. “Elk are wise to calls now. Memories of hunters stick with them.” The main reason he gives for not calling is to prevent losing an advantage he already may have.
“If I hear them coming in, I’m not calling,” he says. “I know where they are, and the second I call I give away my position.”
Resident bulls on private land and “satellite” bulls hanging around the perimeter of the herd can be called in, he says, but “a dominant bull is not going to be turned. They’ll hold up. They want to see or smell elk before they come in.”
Beauregard adds that if you do use a call, wait at least 15 minutes after your last call before moving.
“They may be coming in, so stay put,” he says. “Use your watch.”
Scout your location and make a plan that puts you in a good spot to find a big bull. “You have to learn their patterns and get in front of them,” Beauregard says. “Let them come to you.”
Elk that have been grazing all night will be heading somewhere to bed down in the morning sun. “You have to be patient, and confident in your area.”
Finding yourself between two bugling bulls is the ideal situation, letting them call each other toward your location.
Beauregard admits the biggest bull in his trophy room was lured in by a single noise from his cow call, but it was still planning and location that made the hunt a success. “I heard them the night before, so I snuck in early morning,” he says. “It was super quiet. Eventually, the bull came into range, looking for his ‘lost’ cow.”
The critical thing, he adds, is to stay downwind. “The second you go upwind it’s game over,” he says.
3. Drawing him out
When attempting to draw out the herd bull, Beauregard uses unusual steps to arouse the animal’s curiosity and move him closer. Sometimes it’s a simple twig snap if he’s close enough. If he’s farther out, he resorts to louder tactics.
“I’ll beat on the brush,” he says. “One time I beat two bones I found on each other. Or I might take an aspen branch and go ballistic on a tree.”
His logic is that the big bull is more in tune with natural sounds and his curiosity draws him to things he can’t decipher. Also, a herd on the move is no quiet event.
“It sounds like a train coming through,” he says.
Above all, he adds, be patient. “That herd bull is in no hurry,” he says. “They have all day to check it out.”