Sorry this has taken so long, there have been a lot of changes at work and just life in general since getting home from my dad's hunt.
After about 24 hours at home we were loaded back up and driving to my dadís area for his Last minute expo tag.
We made the drive to my dadís area Friday afternoon. We havenít spent much time in this area but thanks to a friend we were able to find a decent place to park even though there were quite a few people up there for the deer hunt as well. It was kind of crazy though we went up Blacksmith Fork Canyon and in the time that past between us going up the canyon and getting parked a fire had started in the canyon and was filling the air with smoke. I guess a power line had fell and started the fire, we were glad we made it up before because it would have made for a much longer night.
We got camp set up and it was too late to really do any hunting, so we kind of just hung out for a little while. My friend that had offered to help ended up going out of town, but he set us up with his friend who also had extensive knowledge of the area to give us a hand. I had never met our new friend but had talked over text so we went down to try and get service so we could call and meet up to make a plan, unfortunately the canyon got shut down so we couldnít get down to get service and come to find out Mike, our new friend and guide, had to take the long way around to get in because of the fire as well. On our way down to get service we ended up seeing a herd of elk but they were on protected land that we could hunt but it was still cool to see them on the skyline as the sun was going down. I wish I had been able to get a picture. We ended up driving the other way that night and were finally able to get service to talk to Mike to set up our meeting time for the next morning.
Morning came fast and we were up and anxiously waiting for Mike to show us around and see what we could find. He showed up right on time and we all introduced ourselves and he told us what the plan was for the morning and we got on the four-wheelers and Rangers to head out. Keep in mind none of us had ever met Mike before but within minutes of talk to him, it was like we were hunting with an old friend and his knowledge of the area and elk hunting in general would prove invaluable to us on the hunt.
After a nice early morning ride we were in the spot Mike had told us about and were ready to hike. It was a quick hike to where we wanted to be the wind was howling but we could still hear a few bugles but they were on private ground and didnít seem interested in coming into any of our calls.
Coming into this weekend we knew Mike only had Saturday and Sunday to help us so we figured it would be best to put as many miles on as possible so that we could pick his brain as much as possible to try and learn as much as we could about the area in the two short days we had with him. So after we made it back to the machines we rode to an area that had a good lookout to glass and from there he could show us a lot of area to try and put things together. After glassing for a while and talking about different possibilities my friend Andrew who came up for the first day spotted an elk a long ways away. It was really an amazing spot considering how far away the elk was. After looking more closely through the scope we could see it was a bull and was worth trying to get closer to. After getting closer we could see the elk was still in the same general area. So we made a plan to close the distance. We decided that my dad, Mike, and my bother Kole would work in close to the elk and try to call him down and Andrew and I would spot from the next ridge to see if we could find the bull and see if he decided to play.
After they got into position and started calling, we finally found the bull and we was making his way down to the calls. He got within 150 yards or so but was in the trees and they couldnít see him. He appeared to be going right in, but never made it closer than that before we see him and about 8 cows bust out that we hadnít seen before they were running up over the ridge. We met back up and found out that right about the time the bull was getting close the wind had shifted and went right up into them. We were a little bummed but excited about the close call and being into elk that fast.
We decided to head back to camp and get ready to meet back up that afternoon to see more area and try to find more elk. We ended up having a good night, the howling winds didnít let up but we saw that bull again and made a play but unfortunately were not successful in trying to get him to come in. It was another great night though and my brother and Andrew who were on a different ridge hear some bugles as the sun went down so we decided to head back there in the morning to see what we could find.
The next morning it was just the four of us, as Andrew had to be home, headed to the same area as the night before. On the drive in that morning right off the side of the road was a beautiful six point bull elk the slowly walked in front of us and up the hill on the other side. He gave a bugle as we drove away wishing he had been on public land as opposed to the private area he was on.
As we arrived to the spot from the night before our hopes were high that we would be able to close the deal before Mike had to go later that day. There wasnít much action in that spot so we went a little further up the trail and were able to get a couple bulls to respond to our calls and we set up to see if they would come in. We ended up having at least 3 or 4 bulls respond but unfortunately we couldnít get any to come out of the trees and after while of calling and waiting we decide to try one more place that morning before just riding around to see a couple places to try in the coming days.
After parking the machines we decided to just hike down this little canyon a little ways to see if anything would respond. The canyon had a nice water hole just off the top and was kind of a little basin that made a natural funnel down to the canyon below. After a quick cow call we instantly had a response and knew this could be our chance. When we left our Ranger we basically took what we were wearing and my dadís gun so I ran back up to get our packs and my dadís shooting sticks. After making it down to my dad and Mike we worked our way down a little bit further and as Mike would call we could tell the bull was getting closer and closer each time he would bugle. We made it to an area that had a good enough clearing and decided to hold up there and let the bull come to us.
At this point after being gone from home for about 10 days and my dad having lived his hunting dream in killing a beautiful bull the year before I think he would have shot about any bull that would have shown itself, I told him it had to be at least bigger than mine, but he wasnít going to be too picky. My brotherís wife was about nine months pregnant and ready for us to be home as were my wife and two-year-old daughter. I think they were hoping and praying pretty hard that we would be home soon.
Anyways, this bull was coming in hot and had an aggressive bugle and as he got closer we could hear him glucking and making his way in. I was standing a bit higher than my dad so I saw the bull first and told my dad, ďThere he isĒ he took a couple more steps and then my dad and Mike saw him as well. He was facing us so I told my dad to wait until he turned before taking his shot. Finally he took a couple steps to his right and gave my dad a broadside shot. I told my dad as soon as he has a good shot to let him have it. Right then the hammer drops and smoke blocks our view but we watch the bull slowly walk away. Mike lets a few calls to try and stop the bull but he disappears out of view. We get reloaded and wait for Kole to come down, the whole time congratulating my dad and telling his it was a good bull. I knew it was a 6-point but because of the angle and the cover that was around the bull I couldnít tell how big. The whole time my dad was very nervous and since the bull didnít go right down we questioned the shot. We could hear crashing though so we tried to reassure him that he was going down and to not worry.
It was kind of funny, after my dad shot his bull the year before I had to reload because he was shaking so bad after the shot, this time however it was me and Mike that were shaking. I was in shock that it had worked out that well again and excited to get up and get a better look at the bull.
When Kole made it down to us with the pack frame we made our way down to where we last saw the bull. We knew the direction he headed and sure enough after following the trail a short ways, there laid the bull. The closer we got the bigger the bull got. I think all of us were in shock as we got to the bull and help it up. He was a 6X7 main frame but has a kicker off of his side with 6, so I guess technically he is a 7x7. We are all elated and blown away; never did we think this hunt would turn out like this. I told my dad how fortunate he is, not many people have killed bulls of this caliber in consecutive year without paying big bucks. He already knew this and is still in awe for the opportunities he has had the past two years.
The trigger was pulled just after nine a.m. and we had the bulled caped, quartered and back to the Ranger by around noon or so. That was a big elk; my Manti elk had what we thought was a big body but after taking care of my dadís we realized how big of a difference there is in an older mature bull.
After getting the bull loaded up in the Ranger we headed back to camp. On the way we stopped to show Mikeís family the bull and say thanks to them. He had a very nice family and we are still in debt to them for their generosity and willingness to treat a couple strangers like old friends and show us around. Mike had knowledge of that area that is nothing short of amazing, he seemed to know every canyon, rock, water hole, and knoll. He did say as we got to that canyon that he had never seen an elk in there and also said it only takes one and he would rather be lucky than good. His words rang true and everything seemed to work out better than if we had scripted it ourselves.
A look at the fire:
Dad and his Bull:
Me, Dad, and His Bull:
No One I would rather share time in the mountains with:
I have a lot more pictures of dad's hunt, I just don't have them all on this computer yet. So I apologize to Mike for not having any of him yet on here as we are still in debt to him and grateful for all he did to help on the hunt, we couldn't have done it without him.