Sept. 20th (Day 7)
We got to a late start. I didnít even hear my alarm go off. The only reason I got up was because my wife woke me up asking when we were leaving. Since we got a late start we decided to ride the road on our way to a canyon we decided to hike into the night before. We caught a glimpse of a bull just before heading into the trees and determined that if the canyon hike didnít pan out we would come back for this bull in the evening.
The canyon we chose to hike into was the same canyon which a bow hunter had given me a tip of a big bull hanging out in. I had been in there a week prior and had seen two small bulls and a few tracks here and there. As we hiked up the canyon I could tell that Brad was a little discouraged. This made me nervous as he is usually optimistic and I was already discouraged myself. I kept thinking that I should have turned my tag back in when it had crossed my mind and that I was probably going home without a bull, or at least nothing to be too excited about.
As we reached the top of the canyon both Bradís and Darylís optimism began to climb. They liked what they saw and were happy to finally be out of the thick stuff. As we got into the flat it was quickly apparent that there were more elk in here than a week ago. We found a nice lookout point and took a nap.
At 10:30 a.m. all three of us were wakened to the sound of a bugle. This was encouraging as we never had heard a bugle later than about 8 a.m. In fact there were two bulls bugling back and forth; a mature sounding bull and then a satellite. We knew we needed to stay up here until dark. The bugling lasted until noon and then they stopped. Then at 4 p.m. we heard the bigger sounding bull bugle again. We got set-up just in case he came out. After a few minutes, Daryl spotted some elk moving in the timber. We knew this was a shooter bull, especially concerning the circumstances, and waited for an opportunity for his harvest. Eventually the cows backtracked and went through the timber to our left. I thought I had missed my chance for a bull. Then I hear, ďThere he is!Ē I look to where I last saw the cows and nothing. ďNo! over thereĒ said Brad, so I looked to a clearing to my right where the bull was headed when I last saw him and yet again nothing. Finally, it was made aware that the bull had left his cows and was walking towards us in the bottom clearing. The sight was majestic as I waited for him to turn broadside. Brad ranged him at 217 yards just as he turned broadside. I let out the first crack sending a 180 grain accubond his way, a hit! The bull hunched and stood there. As I tried to chamber another round I must have not brought the bolt back all the way as my second shot was a dry fire. Luckily the bull was just standing there the whole time as I made sure I chambered a round. ďBoom!Ē another hit. As Brad and Daryl describe it, it looked like a balloon popping as the bullet came out of the other side. He was hit good, but I chambered another round just in case. At that time he began doing the death wobble and fell over. The excitement was now reaching an all-time high. After some high fives we began to gather our stuff to head over there. At that point the bull was trying to get back onto his feet. I was going to put another round through him just as he fell over again. As we began our routine all over again the bull stood up for a final time before I let the 3rd bullet go, finishing him off.
As we walked up to the bull we were realizing that this bull was much bigger than had been initially thought. We were all excited. It had been such a difficult hunt and now we were rewarded with a beautiful bull for our continued efforts. We took pictures before getting him field dressed.
Brad and Daryl were awesome. They took the reins and wasted no time in field dressing the bull. I had never caped an animal before (all I had ever done was gut deer and then did the rest back at the cabin). We packed our packs heavy consisting of the head and cape, neck meat, tenderloins and back straps. We left all the quarters hanging in the trees where we would come back to get him in the morning. It was a long exhausting hike back, especially with our hike the day before, but we finally made it back to the cabin.
When we got back we put a quick tape on him and got 360 2/8Ē.
Sept 21st (Day 8)
What a relief. I no longer had to wake up not knowing what do to and if things were going to work out like they did. We went back after the quarters and while on the mountain built a fire where we roasted hot dogs and cooked fresh elk steak. It was fun and very relaxing. Eventually, after the break we finished packing the elk up and headed down the trail for the last 2.25 mile trip.
Once back at the cabin Daryl left to make his 3 hour trip back home. Brad and I got the skull plate cut off the head and then he left as well, but not before taking pics together with the giant bull his brother took on the Beaver unit this year. The rest of the day I spent gathering things together in preparations for the ride home tomorrow.
All I can say is that I am grateful for good friends and wife who were so good in helping make this an experience one I will always remember.
I have one more post left for this particular hunt, which will include a conclusion and compiled film before I move on to the rest of my season.