Lucky for all of you I have a list of things to do at home before the kids' birthday party this weekend so I will have to keep this part short.
We have ended the search for my bull and I am trying hard to convince myself that I did not mortally wound that bull. I come up with all kinds of theories about how it must have been the shock of the bullet that knocked him down not the placement. I also tell myself that after 8 hours he should not have been able to get up from that first bedding location but he did. I am also trying not to dwell too much on the lose of this bull. If I somehow knew this bull was going to live I would have no problems calling the trip successful. My brother got a good first bull, my friend Sandy got his first and likely only bull at his age, and I had some great opportunities. We found a bunch of good sheds and were leaving with a pile of good stories. I was certainly down in the dumps and second guessing everything I did or did not do, but there were enough good things that happened that I was going to be able to look back on the trip with very found memories. The one thing I could not shake was the fact that the bull drop deaded in his tracks and did not move for at least two minutes - where the heck did I hit him and how in the world could he survive the 160 grain 7MM Rem Mag bullet.
So I had 18 hours to replay all the events in my head on the long drive back to Iowa. Of course when I got back I told all these stories hundreds of times to friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow hunters. The hunt occurred in the later part of October and there was not a day that passed where I did not think about that bull and what became of him.
Fast forward to March 2011. I start getting some emails from Kevin about his shed hunting. He was going to go back into the area I had hunted to look for the sheds of the 370" bull I had seen and look for my bull. He found some good sheds in the area the first trip in and lucky for me found one good shed that he planned to return later and try and recover the other side. No bull found on the first trip into this area.
A coupled days later I get the following text:
Found your bull today. He was straight downhill from that flat bench area in the oaks. He died on the creek. Took few pics. Looks like shot never exited. It was low and back judging by the trauma to the ribs on his left side. Hard to say when he died, but he is decayed. Has 55+ inch main beams. Interesting enough he has a kink like Kurts bull on his roght side. Send more pics later. Only had my cell phone camera. Anyhow he is down there. I can't pick him up without a tag and game warden consent.
Kevin was literally walking out of the area for that last time after the second shed hunting trip, looked back over his shoulder and saw antlers sticking above a downed tree.
Of course at this point I am anxious for more details and especially photos. I also had to prepare a written statement for the game warden and pay a small fee for the salvage tag. It took a short while and I was a little nervous how that would play out but it all worked fine.
He is the follow up email from Kevin:
Casey is going to meet me on thurs morn. Will get your bull no problem.
So now I am feeling better sort of. By this point five months after the hunt I had pretty much forced myself to believe that the elk lived. Frankly, it was hard to think about shooting, wounding, and not recovering the elk. The one good thing about the situation and the conlusion of that hunt is that at least I had closure and now knew definitively what happended. The bull had not gone another 200 yards down to the main creek in the canyon from where we stopped looking. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and I will have to live with that.
Then I finally started to get some pictures.
I will end here for now. In the next post I will tell you how I got him to Iowa, include some more photos, and tell you what he scored. I really apreciate Kevin going way above and beyond to help bring closure to this hunt.