In 2016, I took my biggest bull elk to date. He was a nice 6x6, scored 303 inches and made the Pope and Young record book. I had drawn a tag for a limited entry area that was known to have trophy bulls in it. We had hunted this region the year before, and I had taken a 5x6 there.
On this particular hunt, I had my buddy Travis Patzer, with me, because my wife Rena didn’t feel well. The first six days we hunted the area we couldn’t find the elk, even though we hiked miles and miles. Finally, we went back to check a small section of state owned land and spotted fresh tracks around a waterhole. We returned to that area before daylight and got on top of a ridge.
Within 15 minutes, before the sun came up, we could hear six bulls bugling. We started glassing the next ridge over from where we were. We spotted the bulls, and Travis began calling. We had one bull walk across the ridge, stop and then go down to the bottom of the mountain. The second bull followed the first bull, and they started fighting over a cow they had found.
If those two bulls came within range, I decided that I would harvest one of them. Then we heard another bull off to our left. That bull would start screaming when we called to him. He came down to the fight scene, ran one bull off and started fighting the other bull. The bull that had been screaming finally left the second bull and started coming up the drainage to where we were set up. He steadily worked his way to us, until he was at 32 yards. He gave me a broadside shot, and I placed the arrow right behind his shoulder. When the bull took the arrow, he spun around and went up the mountain to the left of us. Then, he realized he couldn’t continue to go up the mountain. So, he turned around and started heading back in the direction from where he had come.
He disappeared. I was pretty sure that I had made a good hit, but most bowhunters will admit that when they don’t see their animal go down, they start worrying about whether they made a hit as good as they think they did.
I knew this was the biggest bull I had ever had the opportunity to take with my bow, but I also knew that you could never be sure of your shot until you were standing over the animal. After the bull went out of sight, I ran up the hill to where Travis had been calling. I told him to go get in the same spot where I had shot my bull and I would call for him, because the bulls were still bugling. We had a couple of bulls come in that Travis could have taken, but they weren’t the size of bull he wanted to take. Travis also realized that the day was getting hotter, and we really needed to find my bull and get him out of the mountains, so he wouldn’t spoil. We started down in the direction that the bull had gone and picked up a really good blood trail. We found the bull about 60-yards away from where we had last seen him. He had tried to go up another mountain, but he just fell over.
I started field dressing the elk, and Travis went back to the truck about a mile away. He grabbed our frame packs and came back to where the bull and I were. This bull weighed between 850 and 900 pounds on the hoof. We were able to take him out in quarters to the truck. Even though we had to make two trips, our packs were lighter, and the truck wasn’t far away.
Tomorrow: Rena Parsons’ First Bull Elk