Unpleasant start turns into a day of trophy hunting for Centralia’s Josh Westley
By Eric Trent / [email protected]
The morning had not started as planned.
Josh Westley, a native of Centralia and a resident, was packed and out of his house at 4 a.m. on September 11 – the day the elk archery season opened in western Washington .
Westley, 34, a service manager at Rogers Machinery Company in Centralia, had spent every weekend for months setting up and moving hunting cameras around southwest Washington, looking for herds of elk in preparation for the opening day. He found a promising area, the Coweeman Unit, which stretches just south of Toledo towards Kalama. The area had produced some pretty bulls walking past his hunting cameras and would be his starting point.
In complete darkness on opening day early in the morning, Westley exited the freeway on State Route 505, which connects to Spirit Lake Highway, and stopped at Drew’s Grocery & Service for breakfast before picking up forest roads.
Hunting alone that day and using a Weyerhaeuser’s recreational driver’s license, he started navigating the maze of forest roads and soon realized that there were hunters everywhere camping on the side of the roads and in shelters.
âI got a little discouraged,â Westley said.
Not to be deterred, Westley finally reached the fork in the logging road he wanted and parked his truck. The light of day that day was around 6:15 a.m. and he hunted until around 9:30 a.m., crossing streams and looking for a herd.
Westley decided to take a break and go to his girlfriend’s daughter’s soccer game in Toledo, which was nearby. Around 11 a.m., he decided to go back to the woods and try his luck again.
Reaching another area where he had cameras set up, Westley started off with a few cow calls using a Phelps Maverick Signature reed, built by Pe Ell’s Phelps Game Calls, then a metal Phelps bugle tube. , who evoked a response from a bull.
âI was like, ‘Holy shit. It’s about to happen, âWestley said.
Westley started trumpeting for a few moments before spotting woods appearing through ferns and alders. The elk stopped for a while, so Westley kept making cow calls until the elk started to chuckle and walk towards him.
Finally, the momentum reached about 45 meters with fairly clear views between the beast and the man. The elk come a little closer and Westley continues to trumpet as the elk scour the area looking for what they think are other elk.
Westley uses his rangefinder, sees the distance is 30.2 meters, backs up and lets the arrow fly.
On impact the momentum started to run, but Westley knew he had been shot in both lungs with deep penetration, as a small portion of the tail was visible.
To keep the elk from escaping into the forest, Westley made a few more cow calls and the elk stopped in its tracks and lay down about 25 yards. From where he shot and where the moose lay down, Westley could see the set.
âI don’t mean it was easy, because it sure wasn’t,â Westley said. âBut being able to watch everything was a pretty neat experience. It happened pretty quickly once I found it.
It was 3 p.m. when Westley, who took the Hunter Safety Course at the age of 12, started calling friends and family to help them pack the elk, a 4×5 that was the very first bull he had ever seen. ‘he had caught.
When his assistants arrived, they were able to find an old cat road and get within 100 yards of the moose, which made the pack a breeze.
âIt all went like a script,â Westley said.
His only regret is not being able to capture it on camera. He had spent a fair amount of money on video recording equipment to document his hunt, but his stepfather was unable to accompany him that day. Westley shares his outdoor adventures on his Instagram page, Living Life Outdoors, to educate people about the outdoors – whether it’s fishing, hunting or camping. Visit her page on instagram.com/living.life_outdoors.
âIt’s a work in progress, but it’s taking off slowly,â Westley said.
Westley, who had taken a vacation during elk season, spent the remaining 11 days of archery helping friends and enjoying his free time.
Now he’s just waiting for his horns to return from Skookumchuck Skullworks, which uses beetles to strip the head to the antlers and skull. It will then be cleared and returned to Westley as a European mount.
âIt will look really good,â Westley said.
The archery season in western Washington ended on September 23. Modern firearms season runs from November 6 to 17.