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"My First Bull Elk"
Written by Antonio Verrone

My First Bull Elk
As Arizonians know, drawing a bull elk tag anywhere in the state is difficult. But as a 14 year old, I was drawn for a 6a bull elk hunt for November 19-25. When I heard what happened, I was bouncing off the walls. But I knew that lots of practice with my new 300 Winchester Magnum would be very important in harvesting my first bull elk.

After putting on my scope, my dad and I headed for the range to sight my gun in. After just a week of shooting, I was cutting holes at 100 yards until I shot and my scope went to a blur and I couldn't see out of it. Now, only a month before the hunt, I needed a scope!

After looking around, my dad and I decided to buy a 4-12 Swarovski scope. Then I went once more to sight in my scope. It was 3 inches high at 100 and almost dead on at 300 yards, which really made me comfortable shooting. After it was all said and done, I had shot 10 boxes of shells from 50 -500 yards and thought that was enough practice. I was ready!

In a blink of an eye, the first day of the hunt was just around the night sky as I was getting ready for bed in our camper we set up the day before. As morning came around, I was like a little kid that just ate 3 pounds of sugar. With a 30 minute drive to our spot, I was thinking of what quality of bull I was looking for. I decided that a nice 6x6 would do for a first bull. Sitting on a canyon glassing for 4 hours just was flat out boring, as I only saw 3 coyotes, 2 pigs and some whitetails.

Going back to camp was a real relief. Around 3 0'clock, we went to try a different spot where a nice 6x6 was heard to be hanging out. Sure enough, around 5:30pm he stepped out around 1200 yards---little far and to late to put on a stalk. Taking sight of the bull was a real exciting, while we planned to come back the next mourning.

My First Bull Elk
On Saturday, we got ready and headed out to see if the bull we saw the night before was still there. After a good 3-4 hours of glassing we decided not to push him out of where he was, even though we didn't see him that morning. The following night we went up in the pines to see if any luck was waiting for us there. My dad spotted fresh sign of a big bull, but he was no where to be found. So, we packed up and went back to the truck. After driving for a while we saw 4 spikes and a small 4x4 at 100 yards. I could have harvested, but decided to pass on.

Saturday night it started to rain and went all through Sunday, leaving us stuck at camp. With nothing to do, we decided to play cards and wait it out. But, it never stopped. Among all things in Arizona, rain was what stopped us from hunting on Sunday, so we headed for the sack.

Monday, November 22, was a great day for me as a young hunter. Seeing snow instead of rain we hoped the elk dropped down, so we headed for the mansinetas. Thinking of a nice 6x giving me a shot would be paradise at this point of the hunt. Depressed seeing only 2 pigs and some cattle, we drove up in the pines once again in search of a nice bull. Again we saw some rag horns that I just let walk to get bigger for next year.

Around 12 o'clock, my dad spotted a 6x6 that was around 300 in score. My heart was in my mouth knowing it was only 90 yards away! Then, it just disappeared in the trees leaving me spotting a small 5x5 bedded down. While looking at that, a bigger 5x stood up and we guessed scored him at around 250. I decided he was the one to shoot.

At 86 yards, I put one in the chamber and place the crosshairs on the bull. With trees in the way, I had around a 6 inch square shooting lane. It was a perfect shot as I hit a double lung shot. Going only 10 yards, he fell over as I celebrated my success.

Now the work began, as we cleaned him out two other hunters asked us if we needed help dragging him down to the truck. Happy for the help, we put him the truck and headed for the processor who said it was the nicest 5x5 that came in all year.

In conclusion, it was nice to see happy faces and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Having a chance to harvest this bull was an experience I will never forget and hope many other hunters can share the same feeling that I had. Arizona is not as easy as it sounds or looks. To me, every hunter should get a chance to hunt and harvest a bull elk or any animal in Arizona.