John's Journal...

The Monstrous Scent-A-Way Bull Elk with Wayne Carlton

Leave the Bull to Take the Bull

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Wayne Carlton, host of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “Elk Country Journal” TV show, has hunted and guided for elk for more than 32 years. He recently took a bull elk that unofficially scored 410 points on Boone and Crockett. This bull was the biggest he’d ever taken with his bow and the biggest bull elk ever filmed by Hunter’s Specialties “Primetime” video crew. This year, Carlton has been on a mission to learn more about elk hunting than ever before, and some of his insights will change the way we all hunt elk.


Question: Why did you decide to leave the bull and not go after him?
Carlton: Phillip and I had been chasing bulls from daylight until dark the day before with no success. So, I decided to use an old turkey-hunting tactic. When you’ve got a gobbler that won’t come to you, but will go away from you when you’re calling him, the best thing you can do is stop calling, back away from him, go to a place where you expect him to show-up and wait on him. Click to enlarge

Question: Wayne, where did you think this particular bull would show-up, and why did you think he’d show-up there?
Carlton: I knew where all the water was located on that ranch, because I’d helped establish it. I’d checked the tank where I thought the bull was going to 4-days earlier, and there was no fresh sign on it. But when we checked the tank the last day, apparently the elk had moved in and started using the tank, because there were numbers of tracks around the tank. I told Phillip I thought there was a good chance this bull would come to this tank, since it was the closest one to him. No other hunters had been in this spot, and the elk hadn’t been in the area for very long. Therefore, I didn’t feel as if the elk had had any human contact. Phillip and I went back to the truck and got two tree stands to hang in a tree over the watering hole. After setting-up the stands, we finally climbed in the tree about 2:00 pm. I used several-different calls when we first set-up, but I mostly used the Estrus Whine. About 5:10 pm, we heard the first growl, and about every 10 or 15 minutes, we’d hear the bull growl again. Because of the direction from which the bull was coming, we felt pretty confident this bull was the same one we’d heard earlier that morning. Click to enlarge

Now, here’s what makes this hunt so important. When Phillip and I went in to put-up our tree stands by this water tank, we cut a lot of branches, cleared shooting lanes and took our time to be as quiet as possible. We wanted to make sure that if this big bull came in, I’d have a good shot on him. Phillip and I both realized we were putting a lot of scent on the ground because we were working really hard. There was fresh sawdust hitting the ground from the limb cutting, and I was on the ground for more than an hour getting all my equipment ready and moving limbs out of the way. Phillip was in the tree cutting limbs and setting-up the stands. Now, even though we’d sprayed ourselves really good with the Scent-A-Way, I took a big spray bottle of Scent-A-Way and sprayed-down the path we’d used to reach the tree, the bushes we’d rubbed up against, the ground and the sawdust. We’d laid the tree stands, the saws, the backpacks and the other equipment on the ground at various times, but we neutralized all that scent with Scent-A-Way. Vanderpool and I hClick to enlargead parked our truck about 1/2-mile away, and we’d sprayed our boots and clothes before leaving the truck and were as scent-free as possible walking into the woods. But working on the tree stand required a lot of work. So, we’d created a lot of scent walking to the stand site and setting up the stand. We were wearing our Medalist Silvermax clothing, which helped eliminate some of the scent. But if this big bull came in from the direction from which we thought he would, we’d be really close to him. Since I didn’t want to take any chances of spooking the elk, I sprayed the entire area. I’d never used in the past such an intensive odor-elimination program. But I wanted to cover the entire area with Scent-A-Way to eliminate any type of odor problem we might have created. Then, when we got in the tree stand, we sprayed ourselves again.

Tomorrow: No Sight, No Shot – The Almost Miss

Check back each day this week for more about "The Monstrous Scent-A-Way Bull Elk with Wayne Carlton"

Day 1: Elk Pie
Day 2: Leave the Bull to Take the Bull
Day 3: No Sight, No Shot – The Almost Miss
Day 4: Time to Reflect
Day 5: More Lessons Learned from Carlton’s Big Bull Elk


Entry 478, Day 2