Friday a week ago I was lucky enough to get a shot at and harvest my third DIY public land bull. In seven years of hunting I count that as a blessing.
Dad and I had left the truck at sunup to hunt BMA and state ground. The night before we had devised a plan to sneak through a saddle into a bowl as soon as we could see, thinking that the elk would be there. The piece we were hunting is usually spotted from the road, people only leaving their trucks if they see elk at which point they are too far behind to catch them. We wanted to take a different approach and put a true stalk on the elk. Just as Dad had so accurately guessed, there were two bulls in the basin that none of the truck hunters could see. We were about 500 yards from the bulls when we crested the saddle so we backed down to skirt around for a closer shot.
Behind a knoll we were able to move around the basin and a bit of a crest the bulls were grazing behind. Dad, taller than I, was able to spot the bulls’ horns first and give me an idea of where they were. He hit the cow talk and they kept coming towards us. Dad removed his pack and set it on top of sage brush so I could set myself up with a good rest. I kneeled and placed the gun over the pack, stable and watching. Just the tip of the first bull’s horns came into view. Dad hit the cow call again, then the bull turned and stepped forward. I could see from his neck up and then the other bull came into view. My dad said the second bull was bigger but I decided to focus on the first. He would give me the first opportunity for a clean shot and that was what I wanted. As a meat hunter, I would have taken a cow and neither bull was record so I was happy with the bull in my scope. I took a deep breath as the bull stepped out broadside and turned to look at me. I placed my crosshairs on the dark neck hide just below his face, steadied myself and took one fatal shot. He dropped where he stood and didn’t even flinch. The other bull hung around as we approached my bull but he finally took off and headed out of the basin. We heard plenty of rounds go off after him but we found out that he had made it to private ground without being hit.
Dad gave me a huge hug and congratulated me on my third public land bull and second six by six. “We make a pretty darn good team,” I returned. In the past seven days, he had harvested a bull and calf, each with one shot. Now I had killed my single shot bull. Three bullets, three ethical kills, three elk. We both emptied our guns and Dad prepared to dress the bull while I walked back to the truck to get the game cart.
We had the bull back to the truck around noontime, about 30 minutes after it had started raining. I packed the head while my dad and a couple of other guys worked the cart.