John's Journal...

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

Elk Pie

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: Wayne, where were you hunting when you took this big bull elk?
Carlton: I was hunting in western New Mexico in a place called Pie Town.

Click to enlargeQuestion: Why did you decide to hunt this area?
Carlton: I’ve been hunting there for 10 years. I know this country holds really-big bulls because I’ve seen and chased them down there. I took a really-nice bull last year on this ranch, and this year, I was able to take the bull of a lifetime. I was hunting on a friend’s private property. Ten-years ago, he asked me to look at his ranch and tell him what kind of game was on it. Since then, he’s given me permission to hunt on it every year.

Question: Why are there so many big bull elk in this region?
Carlton: There’s no winter kill here like there is in Colorado. In the high country of Colorado and many other northwestern states, there can be snowfall up to 20 feet, which pushes all the elk down to their winter habitats. Even in the winter feeding grounds, sometimes you get snow so deep, likewe’ve had in Gunnison, Col., that the elk can’t find food. In the ranch I hunt in New Mexico, however, the highest elevation is 8,200 feet. So, these elk can migrate without having to go over highClick to enlarge mountains or big passes to reach food and water. That’s the reason there’s such big elk concentrated in Arizona and New Mexico.

Question: Does the area you hunt receive much hunting pressure?
Carlton: Yes, there’s hunting pressure all around it because it’s adjacent to a national forest.

Question: Besides you, how many other people hunt this ranch?
Carlton: This year, four people already had hunted this ranch before I arrived.

Question: Wayne, did you know the bull you took was on the ranch?
Carlton: No, I’d never seen him.

Question: How long did you scout and hunt before finding this bull?Click to enlarge
Carlton: I found this bull on my last day and my final set-up, during the last hour of the hunt. I’d already been hunting, or rather guiding and calling for other people, for 2-1/2 weeks. I was only able to hunt by myself during the last few days of archery season.

Question: How did you locate the bull on the last day of archery season?
Carlton: I hiked to a section well away from where everyone else had been hunting. I thought the elk in this region might not have been bothered by other hunters. I was more than 10-miles away from any access point and was hunting little pockets where I’d learned the elk liked to hold when they started receiving hunting pressure. I went to a ridge top on a high hill and cow-called with the Estrus Whine. About 3/4-mile away, I heard a bull growling. Older, bigger bulls often won’t bugle; they’ll just growl. This bull growled twice. Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, was running the camera for the video, and he and I began to close the distance on that bull. As we got closer to the bull, he wouldn’t respond to a call. So, I told Phillip, “Let’s back out of this area and not push him. I think I know where that bull’s going.”

Tomorrow: Leave the Bull to Take the Bull

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 1