I managed to work my way 1/3 of the way down a near tree-less mountain side staying behind a few scattered trees, all the while, keeping my eyes on two bulls at the bottom of the hill. The bulls feed nonchalantly, without a care in the world as sunrise was quickly approaching.

Settling in, in front of a small group of saplings, I quickly took note of some landmarks (rocks, trees, etc.) and ranged all around me. The bulls fed 300 yards away and downhill, while slowly heading into the wind that blew from my left to right. In 100 yards, they would enter the dark timber and bed for the day.

Our Montana decoy named “Dolly” along the way by our group.

100 yards above me and to the left, Joe Giglia unfolded “Dolly”, a full body cow elk silhouette, and placed it in front of him. Almost directly above me and 50 yards away from Joe on the same level, Gilbert (Big O) Ornelas found a comfortable spot and settled in too. Neither Joe nor Gilbert were able to see me or much of what would happen, but I was able to spot Dolly on the ridge top.

As the morning greylight gave way to day, Joe bugled. The bulls at the bottom of the hill raised their head simultaneously and looked in our direction. Just as quickly they lowered their heads and continued feeding.

Joe bugled again and then added some cow calls, while Gilbert added some more cow mews and also bugled. It sounded like an elk herd had arrived on top of the mountain. The bulls looked up again, but this time, their gaze seemed to have spotted Dolly.

In absolutely no hurry, the Bulls slowly began to move diagonally, cutting into the steady wind in a somewhat direct route to the silhouette.

The dynamic duo above me continued a smorgasbord of elk calls. The bulls, may have noted that at least two bulls were on the mountain top, but there were plenty of cows. Dolly appeared to be on the outskirts of the herd.

As the bulls continued their ascent, one bull decided the risk wasn’t worth it and peeled off from the other and continued on to the black timber.

The other bull, hesitantly, continued on course and was now only 100 yards from me. At his current pace and trajectory, he would pass to my right at under 35 yards. I nocked my arrow and watched as he slowly marched up the hill.

I could now see that he was a small 6X6 with a broken right sword. He closed the gap to 75 yards, stopping occasionally to feed, but his destination was definitely getting to Dolly. 

Meanwhile, Joe and Gilbert sounded like dueling bulls, with several cows in tow. A third bull from above me and to my right also bugled, several hundred yards away, as the sun made its appearance and gave the countryside a golden hue.

They (Joe and Gilbert) had attracted another bull that was interested in the action. 

Worst view ever….the bull heading away through the timber.

My, soon to be target, hit the 70 yard mark, then abruptly stopped. He stared in Dolly’s direction for what seemed like 5 minutes, then ran into the dark timber.

Bewildered, I stood up and looked in Dolly’s direction and saw the bulls predicament. The rising sun had made Dolly transparent and an animated silhouette of Joe Giglia moved behind Dolly in plain sight.

Another great laugh for us all and another lesson learned. Even though we had what is usually the best situation with the sun at our back and in the elk’s eyes, the morning sun popping up in all it’s golden glory directly behind Joe and the decoy turned the best, quickly to the worst.

“Golden” rule: place your decoy in an area that won’t silhouette you.

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