I’m lying on my back, afraid to move. The warning of never being more than a tuck and roll away from your rifle or bow is playing out before me. The breeze, or luck, must be in my favor, because whatever is in front of me sounds close—real close—and the shuffling of hooves and slurping of water has me guessing at all the possibilities. Then the smell hits me— that unmistakable, pungent, musty odor I’ve whiffed during so many close encounters. Elk.
I slowly raise my head and separate my toes to peer between my boot caps. Two mature bulls are drinking from a mountain spring 25 yards away, unaware of the hunter who has just woken up from an opening-day siesta. Scenarios play out in my head, but the bottom line is the same: If I move, I’m busted; if I don’t move, I’ll fail.
Today’s hunt technically started at 4 a.m., though I’d been scouting for weeks, and last night I didn’t sleep a wink—partly because my truck’s back seat was not roomy enough to stretch out on, and partly because I was so fired up for opening day. I’ve explored every crack and crevice of this range, though I never get tired of sweating a little more to see what’s over the next rise.
The archery season in my part of the Rockies typically spans that time when it’s not exactly summer but not yet fall, and since this opener’s forecast called for heat, I had wallows and water on the brain. I kne