I've guided quite a few clients to bulls that would score 340 to 350 inches, but I never will forget a hunter from back east. He was 73 years old, and he was hunting with a rifle. He had never taken an elk before. So, I took him into an area that I knew would be a good place for us to hunt, and it wouldn’t be too physically exerting. We were going to a basin that was more or less flat, and we were hunting during the rut.
As we were walking into the area, we could hear bulls bugling. When we got setup, we had a bull to our left bugling, and another herd bull and two satellite bulls. So, I focused my calling on the herd bull. I tried to call that bull into a place that my hunter could walk down to without much difficulty. Just past this spot, the terrain dropped off into a very steep canyon that I knew my hunter couldn’t reach. When we finally got squared away, we had two satellite bulls bugling to our left, and the herd bull and his cows were down below us. The herd bull was taking his cows down in the canyon where I knew my hunter couldn’t go. I tried to turn the herd bull and get him to come back to us. But in my heart, I felt like we weren’t going to be able to take the bull. I knew we had two satellite bulls behind us that were bugling a lot, and they didn’t have any cows with them.
I was watching some aspens about 150 yards away, and I saw cows appearing out of the aspens into an open meadow. The cows seemed to be moving in the direction from where we had heard the two satellite bulls. I didn’t even call when I saw the cows. I let the satellite bulls do the calling. I wanted the bulls to think we had joined the party. So, I started using some high-pitched cow calls. All of a sudden, I saw the herd bull come running out of the aspens to try and gather up the cows that had drifted away from the herd and headed toward the satellite bulls. The bull wouldn’t stop. He just kept trying to herd the cows back down to the rest of his herd in the canyon.
My hunter had never seen elk before. He sure hadn’t seen a big bull like this one. So, he was really getting excited. The bull was at about 100 yards, and I'm sure my hunter thought he was the size of an elephant. My hunter was so nervous. He couldn’t see the elk in his rifle scope, so he started moving around. We had cows fairly close to us, and I got really concerned that he might mistake one of the cows for one of the bulls.
I helped my hunter get his rifle lined up. It was pointing at the bull, and I thought he should be able to see the bull through the scope. Finally, my hunter took a shot. I could tell that the bull was hit, but he ran off into the trees. Then I got concerned that the bull was going to drop off down in that canyon, and we’d have a real problem getting him out. I also thought, “That is such a steep drop. I'm probably not going to be able to get my hunter down to the bull so we can make pictures.”
Finally, the bull turned sideways. My hunter was able to get off a second shot, but I couldn’t see where the second shot hit the elk before the bull vanished. We waited a little while. Then we started walking over to the spot where my hunter had fired his last shot. We looked up, and the bull was down not 50 yards away.
Luckily, because the bull hadn’t fallen down in the canyon, I was able to drive my 4-wheeler right up to the bull. We caped him, quartered him and let the 4-wheeler carry the bull out. This hunter got to see the whole show. He got to hear bulls bugling, see cows, had satellite bulls close to him, saw the big bull chase cows, and he got to take a really big bull.
The hunt was on private property. I always tell my hunters that they can expect to take a bull anywhere from about 280 points to 320 points. But when we measured this bull, he scored 340 points. He was the biggest bull we'd ever taken off that ranch.