We had just about as good an opening day on Mtn X (identity withheld) as possible, saw 7 shootable bulls, 3 5X5s, 3 6X6s, and a 5x7 which we harvested. Had he not broken off a tine he would been a 6x7. I was hunting with my son-in-law, Ben, with grandson, Isaiah, spotting on Mtn X. It is an rocky outcropping with about 4-5000 acres to the east which you can looking down onto. The west side is a 4-5000 acres plateau which is dense juniper and unhuntable. The plateau to the West is a bull haven because it is so unhuntable. We have never seen a cow on Mtn X, only bulls, normally in groups of two, a large bull and then a 5X5. When hunted, the bulls on the flats to the east move onto Mtn X to escape either to the south or the north of the peak. From the top you can see them moving and intercept them. I had a tree stand about 1000 yards east of the peak on the tip of a large canyon with mature pine trees.
Opening morning, Ben and Isaiah, hiked to the peak and I due to my years was in the tree stand. First a 6x6 and a 5x5 moved up onto Mtn X on the north side out of gun range. Next, a massive (Isaaih's term) 6x6 and a 5x5 headed up to Mtn X but were turned by late arriving hunters, the hunters left and the elk continued their route to Ben and Isaiah to within gun range. Ben opened up and believed he hit the 6x6 on the fourth shot. The elk bedded. Ben waited about 30 minutes then proceeded to the elk on foot while Isaiah spotted from the peak. Ben jumped the elk from it's bed and it ran about 50 yards then walked into a treed area where Isaiah lost sight of him..
I mean while was in the tree stand 1000 yards away. From the shots I waited about an hour watching north where I had in previous years seen elk escape to the east. After an hour I decided to leave and go help Ben look for his elk. I unloaded my gun and turned to tie it on a rope to lower it down. At that moment I see the 5x5 which had separated from the bigger bull only about 15 feet from the stand heading directly to the tree I was in from the southwest. I hurried to load the gun and the sound alerted the elk and he looked up at about 10 feet from the tree. I don't who was more startled. He turn and fled. I got the scope on him and fired only to miss. I was happy I missed as he was a bull I should have passed on. I then went to help Ben find the elk which we believed to have been hit. We searched and searched and searched and never could find hide nor hair nor blood. So we concluded he was not hit after all.
Evening found us all on Mtn X, I on a lower bench watching the north route. Ben and Isaiah on the peak overlooking the flats. They see two bulls to the south at about 275 yards. Ben hits the 5x7 dropping him dead in a small clearing. He shot him at about 4:30 p.m. It took us until 11:00 to get him packed out. Long day. Best of days.
Lessons to be be relearned. Don't get fixated on one area. Had I been scanning all around I should have seen the 5x5 approach from at least 150 yards. Effort is rewarded. Ben had hiked onto the mountain the night before and slept there to make sure we were the first there. It is always interesting to watch the latecomers show up about 2 hours too late and see how the elk easily avoid them.
Well, still have my tag. Hope to be on mountain X for the last morning of the season.