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A Bull Elk for Jimmy


The first day of this hunt, Lisa Thompson and I were going to help Jimmy Brannan, a 71-year-old friend of ours, who had had two knee replacements, try to take his bull of a lifetime. Jimmy had 23 preference points to be able to hunt the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area - one of the prime elk areas in Colorado. Only four tags are given out each year to hunt this region. Jimmy had been putting in for this hunt for 23 years. On the first day, we went in on horseback. Jimmy’s horse fell, and Jimmy fell off the horse and landed on his neck, his shoulder and his elbow. At first, Lisa and I thought he might have broken his back, because he was so banged-up. We realized that finding an elk on horseback was not the way to help Jimmy locate and harvest the bull he had waited for 23 years to hunt. So, we went to the game warden, and he gave Jimmy a special entry pass that allowed us to take Jimmy’s truck and drive down some of the roads there.  

DJohnson_day5Jimmy had an opportunity to take 12-different bulls, but each time we’d call in a bull, multiple bulls would come to our calling, and Jimmy couldn’t get a shot. I was getting a little frustrated with Jimmy, because I couldn’t get him out of the vehicle fast enough for him to get braced for a shot before the bulls ran off. Daylight was running out fast. I looked at my watch and told Jimmy, “You’ve only got 5 more minutes of legal shooting time before your hunt will be over. So, we probably need to go back to camp and make plans for tomorrow’s hunt.” As we rounded a curve in the road, we spotted three bulls on the edge of the timber. I was trying to help Jimmy get out of the truck quickly, and all three bulls started to run. I remembered I had my bugle on my back. While Jimmy was getting in position to take a shot, I pulled it around to my chest. I made the loudest, growliest bugle that I'd ever made in my life, and the biggest bull of the three stopped, turned around and started looking for me like he wanted to fight. I didn’t know it, but Jimmy already had gotten prepared to make the shot. When the big bull gave him a broadside shot, Jimmy squeezed the trigger on his .30-06. The shot was only about 80 yards, and the bull scored about 350 points. Jimmy was far past excited. 

From that hunt, I’ve learned that many people wait many years to make their hunts of their lifetimes, but by the time they have the opportunity to make their hunts, they may not be in good enough physical condition to make them. However, seeing how excited Jimmy was when he got to his elk and how excited he stayed for a long time made this hunt one of my greatest hunts ever, even though I wasn’t the one who took the elk.  

To learn more about hunting in Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona, go to, and you can see a wealth of information available for each state. The State of Utah will be added in August. 

Day 4: A Lousy Elk Season Became a Great Elk Season

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