So we backed off maybe 75 yards and set up on a timbered bank overlooking a meadow creek to try and call the bull in. With two hunters to a guide, only one of us could be the primary shooter, and as I was up first, I took the lead, with my rifle pointed in the direction of where we’d last seen the 5x5. Moline started in with a few chirps, then went to long estrous calls that carried across the drainage to the far slope, where scattered aspens stood as white pillars. Beneath them, all around the gleaming trunks, sprawled fields of timothy and crested wheat. Just in front of us, the creek widened to a pond, the water muddied and the bank pocked deeply with elk tracks. It was the kind of place where you expect an elk to show—and soon one did. But not the 5x5. Instead, a lone cow crossed the meadow from the far side, forded the creek, and stopped at just 8 yards, staring at us until something finally clicked and she backed away. The whole time, we expected to see the bull slipping in from behind. But he never showed.