The spring of 2015 was upon us and we were putting in for the hunts. We were not expecting anything because no one in the family had any points to draw with. Our oldest son Joshua then 16 had only been able to put in for LE hunts for 2 years here in Utah, so with 2 points he wasn’t expecting to draw either.
I hadn’t checked my credit card (again not expecting to draw), so we knew nothing. Days later mail came. Half-heartedly, I opened the envelopes as I was getting ready for bed. My wife walks into the bedroom to me screaming and doing the HAPPY DANCE!!! Joshua had drawn a LE Early Rifle Bull Elk tag!!! I don’t know how it happened, but at that point I didn’t care!!!
We spent the next month’s getting ready for his hunt. We scouted, set out trail cams (one of which got stolen) and went to the range to get him all straightened out. When all was said and done at the range, he was hitting very consistently at 12” steel plate at 600 yards with his 308.
We did get out opening weekend with no success. I was saving my time off work for the last week of the hunt. We finally got after it once I was able to get out of my responsibilities at work. The second to last day rolled around and our spirits were still high, but I could tell Josh was starting to feel the pressure. He had been with me the year prior when I had a Paunsauguant archery deer tag and had eaten tag soup, and he know he didn’t want to do the same thing. He was putting the pressure on himself, and I was trying to ease his worries.
We started out that morning listening to some bulls bugling. We knew where they were and headed their direction. We were moving in close in the pre-dawn light when all the sudden we heard movement. We
stopped dead in our tracks. We had walked into a herd of sheep with a couple big sheep dogs. Most the sheep were still sleeping, but some were starting to stir. We did not want to get the sheep, and for that matter, the dogs nervous and making noise. We were too close to the elk at this point.
We stood still for what seemed like forever. We tried to devise a plan as to how to get out of the bad situation. Some of the sheep finally got up and calmly feed off in the other direction, which allowed us to be able to back out and make our way around them without spooking them.
We got back on the bulls that were still talking. We peaked down off a hill onto a little bench and there
was a bull chasing cows. He was a cool bull, a little small, with a little kicker off his left side. Josh looked him over pretty good and decided to pass. I was really surprised; I guess my calm down talk worked.
We continued sneaking in, trying to zone in on one of the other bulls. We lost track of the bulls for about 30 minutes because for some reason they stopped talking. We set down and got a good vantage point across the bottom of the canyon. One of the bulls started talking and making his way down to water. We laid eyes on him as he got to the bottom, and Josh decided this is the one he wanted to shoot.
We got into shooting position and got all set up. With his little brother over his shoulder with the video camera and me next to him giving him a range, Josh was ready to go. As soon as I gave him a range he adjusted and fired. The shot was just in front of the bull, but it turned him around which was a good thing. A few more feet in that direction and he would have been out of sight. The bull turned and started to make his exit and Josh took his second shot. HIT. The bull kept moving and Josh fired again, another hit. The bull stood on the side hill across the canyon and Josh took one more shot. When he fired the bull went down.
The bull drug itself into the river and died. When I saw where it died, I knew we were in for a bad rest of the day. We went down to the bull and assessed our situation. It had died in a 2’ deep creek with banks about 2’ above the water’s edge. This meant we would have to lift this increasingly (water logged) heavy bull up 4 feet to the bank.
After what seemed like an eternity we managed to get the bull out of the water and onto the bank. We had lifted and stuffed rocks under the bull until we built him up out of the water, and could pull him up onto dry ground. We were completely gassed at this point after the 3 hour battle with the bull. We began the slow process of cutting the animal up. We got the bull quartered and in our packs and started the brutal 3 mile hike uphill (remember we were in the bottom of the river) to the trail head. We got the first load back to the car and returned for the second load. Once back to the car and made the drive back to camp where the rest of the family was waiting.
Josh had shot the bull at 8:30am and when we got back to camp it was 7:30pm. It had taken us 11 hours to get the bull out. I told Josh that this was a “Hate Love” relationship. We “Hate” the fact we “Love” it so much. It is and always be a hunt to remember.
Here is the video of this hunt on our YouTube Channel
Also a funny little video of a very excited little brother as his dad and big brothers worked to get the bull out of the water. Very Funny.