Even after careful planning and every precaution taken, you can’t expect everything to go right on a bowhunting trip.
Luckily for Tumwater High School’s Luke Brewer, persistence paid off.
On the opening day of the bowhunting season, Brewer and his father, Don, used patience, a new elk call and maybe even a little bit of luck to bag a bull on day one.
The day didn’t get off to the best start.
The Brewers scouted out the location in Pe Ell off the main line, preparing for their opening hunt. They saw two elk about 200 yards off the clearcut, and decided the next day that’s where they would go.
The pair arrived the next day facing their first set of bad luck: A truck was already parked exactly where they saw the elk.
“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” Brewer said. “We went down the road, went up another skid road and tried to get above where we saw those elk. We get there, we wait till first light, walk out of the truck and we hear bulls bugling.”
The Brewers had no trouble finding their first target, thanks to a new call and technique they’ve tried of late, the slow play. After about 40 minutes of raking and calling, a great opportunity opened up.
“We were playing with a bull, he came in and stopped at a tree about 20 yards,” Brewer said. “We were raking, raking, raking and we hit him with a couple more cow calls and he came in to 10 yards and it was a huge five-by-six bull. We got a shot off or two at 10 yards, but we think we buried it right in the meat and we couldn’t find him.”
Squandering a chance at an early catch, Luke and Don were understandably frustrated, but decided to try again in the evening, around 5 p.m. in the same spot after taking a midday break.
Using the same call as before, they quickly found a herd and spent the next hour pushing in toward them.
“We did the slow play again, it worked to perfection once again,” Luke said.
“I was trying to get this herd bull to come in, he was held up about 80 yards away in this thicket. While he was bugling, a satellite bull slipped in, I hit him with some cow calls and he came in to about 20 yards.”
Brewer let loose his shots and after a full day of calling, raking and tracking, it had all paid off.
“He took 10 steps and dropped. The whole day was super eventful,” he said.
Though he was still bummed from the missed opportunity in the morning, Brewer found out that the morning bull was still alive, and was happy with how the slow play call had worked out on opening day.
“We’re kind of new to this calling stuff, but it worked two times in the same day right in the same spot,” Brewer said. “It was awesome, it was really cool, two bulls on the same day came within 20 yards.”
Brewer has been practicing his calls for four or five years, he says, and built up his diaphragm and lungs to be able to do calls for longer periods of time while also teaching his dad how to do the new ones he’s learned.
“It’s worked like a champ for us this year,” Luke said.
With the first day being a success, time will only tell if the slow play continues to work. But if day one is any indication, it should be a good year for the Brewers in Pe Ell.