Clint was gracious enough to share information with me about where the big bull was located and the different canyons where they had spotted him. I loved the look of the bull, and was most grateful for the information.
My friend Nick and I left home two days before the hunt to do some final scouting. We spent a morning and evening in another promising area, but we couldn't find the elk. We did see one decent bull right at dark, but he was the only elk or bugle we saw or heard in that area. We made the decision at that point to focus on the area where Clint had seen the big bull. The evening before the opener we hiked out to a glassing point and were treated to bugles in every direction. Sleep came difficult that night to say the least!
Opening day found us back on the glassing point at first light. Bugles were still crazy and we picked out one bull in some thick timber that had the deepest and most aggressive sounding bugle. We dropped into the canyon and started heading in his direction. After an hour we closed the distance to about 150 yards in thick timber, but had not yet seen the bull. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and then two more. Someone killed the bull we were after right from under us. We were disappointed and I only prayed it wasn't the bull we came to find. We made our way down the canyon and had a 300” type 6x7 come right by us at 60 yards on his way to the bedding area. Shortly after that we climbed up a ridge and spent some time watching a clearing that was near the areas the bull we wanted had been bedding the week prior. After 30 minutes, another shot rang out over the hill behind us. We climbed back over to find a young man and his family with the 6x7 we had just passed. We gave him our congrats and he was happy as he could be!
By this time, the day was getting warm and everything was quiet. We assessed our options and decided to spend the heat of the day a little further down the canyon near a waterhole.
The waterhole was out in a clearing without a lot of cover around it, but we decided it was our best plan for the middle of the day. We put ourselves at the tree line above the waterhole opposite the ridge we thought elk might come in from. We then sat, and napped, and napped some more. Nothing came in for 5 hours. I was hoping a big bull might slip in to water before chasing cows again in the evening. At 4:15 pm a young 6 point bull slipped out of the trees to water. He spent more than 10 minutes drinking and wallowing, all the while looking nervously up the ridge behind him. Suddenly, he bolted, and I spotted a big bull coming down the ridge towards the water.
I didn't know which bull it was at the time, but I saw he was a big bull with nice beams and great fronts. I told my friend I was going to kill that bull if given the chance. He made his way down the ridge and when he was at 200 yards he started turning back towards the tree line, and I thought my chance might be over. I didn't want to take a 200 yard moving shot and risk wounding the bull. Thankfully, he turned back and came right down to the water. As he came down, my friend whispered instructions and I prepared mentally for the shot. He never offered a shot until he stepped right to the water to drink at 135 yards. As he took his first sip, I squeezed the trigger, and the Barnes 290 grain TMZ with 100 grains of BH209 broke both his shoulders and destroyed the heart and other vitals. As he was hit, the bull hunched up on his back legs and because both front shoulders were broken he collapsed into the water where he died. The adrenaline had kicked in at this point, and I could not believe what had just happened. Luck had come our way! As we made our way down the water, I had no idea how we were going to get him out. At the water’s edge I was able to recognize the bull’s antlers. We had actually found and killed the exact bull we were hoping for. Moments later, both of us were down to our underwear dragging the bull out of the water and mud. It took a while, but we managed to get him onto the shore where we could process him. A long packout that evening and one more load in the morning and we had the bull back in the back of the truck. It was an incredible experience, and my first ever bull! He taped out at 362”. I was also fortunate that my buddy Nick was able to capture the final sequence on film!
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Awesome!!That was freaking sweet! Way to get er done! That's a beautiful bull!
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