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"Trophy Nevada Bull Hunt"
Written by Alan Barrall

Trophy Nevada Bull Hunt
It all started about 12 years ago when I began applying for a Nevada Elk tag. I am 40 years old and a Nevada native, born and raised in Reno. Being in the same town for the last 40 years, I know how hard it can be to get drawn for tags, especially an elk tag. I began trying to better my odds by taking up muzzleloader hunting.

It was in the early summer months of 2005, as the draw results were getting near, I began checking my credit card to see if it had been charged. One day, it was charged and knew I had drawn something. When the results finally came out, I learned that I had drawn 1 of only 42 muzzleloader tags for the Jarbidge area north of Elko. I was ecstatic. This was a great opportunity to harvest a good bull. The area is extremely hard to hunt without horses, so I had to make a decision---hunt with, or without, a guide. I called my brother-in-law, Ted Fisher, and asked if he would be interested in going on an elk hunt. "Of course", he said. "Well, I drew the Jarbidge", I said. We both talked excitedly about the up and coming hunt and decided we would do it without a guide. As summer came and went, I had just bought a new house and being a taxidermist as well, had a whole new shop to setup. So, the summer scouting we had planned, never panned out.

As October approached, we found ourselves with but one chance to scout. Over a weekend three weeks before the opener, we drove 8 hours to our hunting area and tried to locate some elk. Of course it began snowing and there was immense fog that covered everything, so we could not glass the area very effectively. However, I did spot a bull on a ridge, but couldn't tell how big he was. So, that's where we planned to begin our hunt.

We setup camp and began scouting the day before the opener. It was a lot different than when we had scouted a few weeks earlier. It was much colder and there were people everywhere. We went out to scout and find a place to start in the morning. In a deep canyon, we spotted a small herd right before dark and decided to be there in the morning.

Opening morning came and went with no luck in locating either the elk from the previous night or any other elk for that matter. Right before dark we spotted a small 4-point bull, but it was way too early in the hunt for that. That night in camp frozen rain and cold crept in. We woke to a few inches of new snow and again could not locate and elk during that day. The third day we drove to the top of the mountain over looking a huge bowl and it looked like everyone else had the same idea. There were trucks parked all around it glassing the bowl as well. We spotted a bull making his way into the thick timber at daybreak at the bottom of the bowl. There were some hunters walking into the bowl as well, so we glassed a few more minutes and decided to move on. On the way back down the mountain, all of the sudden on the top of a mountain beside the road, I spotted some elk. Just as I looked at them, a huge 400 class bull stepped out. I grabbed my muzzleloader and binoculars and backpack and began down the canyon to try and head them off and maybe get a shot. The elk were moving in and out of the timber at the top of the mountain. I was trying to guess where they would come out and, unfortunately, I guessed wrong. I could hear them crashing through the trees and all of a sudden a couple cows came into the open, pinning me in the open on the other side of the canyon 200 yards away. All I could do was sit there and watch them come out of the trees and into the open. There were 26 elk in all with 7 being bulls, the herd bull and a couple of raghorns and spikes.

I watched them for a good 40 minutes, but they were just a little too far for me with iron sites to be comfortable. They kept feeding across the mountain top and into another set of trees with the herd bull bugling every now and then. It was awesome! When they disappeared into the timber, I went back to the truck where Ted had been waiting since I took off in such a hurry.
I told him the story excitedly as we came up with a game plan to try for another chance at this bull. We decided to come over the mountain from the back side where we would come out on top of the elk. When we got into position where I felt the elk had walked into the trees, we sat there and glassed the canyon. We saw nothing and heard nothing. We felt the elk were probably bedded down right below us. We decided Ted would circle back and come up through the trees and hopefully push the elk back towards me.

Trophy Nevada Bull Hunt
As I sat there waiting, all of a sudden a CRASH came through the trees. I thought to myself, "Here they come." A cow stepped out of the trees, followed by a spike and a few more cows. A few moments later I spotted Ted's orange hat---no bull came out. Then, all heck broke loose. Cows began busting out of the trees farther down the canyon followed by the herd bull. They had split up! I watched in disbelief as the herd bull ran up the mountainside at about 500 yards.
We took the rest of the afternoon glassing the area where we had last seen the herd. Just before dark, we located them in a deep canyon at the edge of some trees.

The next morning we woke to heavy fog. We drove to the spot, hoping the fog would break and we could go hunting. It was noon when it finally broke. By then, all the elk had bedded in the timber for the day and we could not locate them. We decided we would walk into the canyon and hopefully the elk would come out somewhere that evening.

We were 4-5 miles into our walk when I spotted the herd running---the big bull at the tail end. We knew as they ran off that we would probably never find that herd again. We tried in vain for the remainder of the day to locate them, but went back to camp very depressed.

The next morning we tried another area. We spotted a 6x6 bull 200 yards off the road and I decided I would try to get closer. I went into the timber after him, but did not see him again. The rest of the morning we glassed a few mule deer, but saw no other elk.
On the way back to camp, I spotted a few cows working their way around a mountain top, feeding in and out of the timber. We quickly decided to get closer. We hurried up the hill and sat down. A huge, dark horned bull with beautiful white tips stepped out. I could tell it was a good one, especially with all his tips rubbed white. He looked impressive. I had one opening through the trees in which to slip a bullet through. As the bull stepped into position, I fired. Ted said, "You hit him!" The elk stopped in his tracks and hunched up. Ted said that I should fire again, but I didn't have another load with me, they were in the truck.

I sprinted 100 yards back to the truck, grabbed my pack, reloaded and ran back to where Ted was. The bull was sick, so I shot him again. Still, he didn't go down. I loaded again, but the bull had walked out of sight. We quickly split up and began moving towards the bull. Finally, I was able to get another bullet into the bull and take him down for good.

The awesome 6x6 bull gross scores 362 4/8 and nets 355 5/8, What a hunt and I was glad to be able to share it with my best friend and hunting partner, Ted Fisher. Maybe we will get the chance to do it again if he or our children, Cody and Nickolette, ever draw a tag.