(Hailey, ID )
My wife, who had a cow tag a month earlier than I did, got her elk in late October. Her story is worth telling. This was in central Idaho, between Ketchum and Hailey, in Unit 48.
She and a friend had been on a herd for a few days, watching their early morning movements and where they typically were bedding down. Terrain, wind, exposure never seemed to be in their favor, so we sat down and came up with plan b. We have a four-year-old, so it's impossible for both of us to get out there at the same time, as bad as I wanted to be out there with her it was just not gonna work. But we broke out the topos and figured out a different route for her to get to the herd before they bedded down and/or spotted, smelled or heard her. Next morning she meets her buddy, who has a different plan of attack in mind. My wife sticks to her plan, so they split up.
Anyway, she's cruising up a narrow, deep, tight gulch about an hour before first light with the intent of intercepting this herd on a ridge adjacent to their beds. It's pitch black, she's got her headlamp on, and she's moving at a good clip, not expecting to get on the herd for an hour or so. Wind is in her face. All of a sudden there's the sound of massive simultaneous movement in the dark directly ahead of her. It was the herd. Since it was dark and she had the wind in her favor, they weren't sure what the hell she was. She stopped immediately, killed her lamp, and stood dead still. The herd moved up the gulch a bit and began to climb into a scree field. They stopped and hung out, not moving, for about 20 minutes. My wife did the same. All the while, a cow and calf are talking to each other. Then, with the slightest bit of light coming, she hears movement coming down the scree. She barely catches a glimpse of a large bull working his way down into the bottom of the gulch, about 50 yards away. He disappears in some aspens, then starts to charge. She said he sounded like a train coming through the woods. He ran through and over some of the small aspens and came within 12 yards, she said. He was grunting, barking, stomping and throwing his rack around. My wife was ducked behind a larger aspen, trying to keep her heart from busting through her chest. She said she was afraid he may kill her, but she was content cus at least it'd be a cool story, haha.
Anyway, this little standoff goes on for a couple minutes, or an eternity. He finally splits, goes back to the herd, and they all start making their way down the gulch, which was counter-intuitive. Wife was sure the hunt was over at this point, as they all began hoofing it down the opposite direction. Then, out of nowhere, that calf she'd heard made his way back to her (curiosity I guess?). Anyway, he comes within about 25 yards and just stares at her, tilting his head back and forth, all curious. Then his mom shows up and stands about 10 yards away from the calf. My wife would not shoot either of them, but then another cow appears farther away and hangs back. After a minute or two, the calf splits, and he and his mom start making their way back to the other cow in the distance. My wife has a good shot on the other cow, from 170 yards, and takes it. Lung shot, she instantly drops. She dresses her by herself. Then with the help of some friends, they drag her out and hang her for a few days in the cold before cutting her. The meat is delicious.