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"The Best Day Of My Life"
Written by Lyla Steele

The Best Day Of My Life
My sons had been talking about how challenging and exciting muzzleloader elk hunting was. After a disappointing hunt during the previous years' regular rifle season, I agreed to apply for a muzzleloader tag in the upcoming draw. My youngest son, Billy, assured me if we were both lucky enough to make the draw that he would hunt with me. That was the plan.
Although I had never used a muzzleloader before, both of my sons assured me that it was very similar to a rifle.

When the licenses were drawn, our names came out. We were both successful. Jeff, my other son, was not drawn. Over the summer, our plans remained the same. But, in July, Billy took a new job that restricted his available free time. I had purchased a new 50 caliber Knight, so Jeff and my husband had to teach me all the basics of muzzleloading.

Time came to take our camper up and setup camp. Billy, my hunting partner and guide, wasn't able to get time off from his new job, so my husband accompanied me. He had a tag for a later season.

Saturday morning found me out walking the trails and old logging roads behind camp, and using my "Hoochie Mama" cow call. My husband was off in another direction grouse hunting. A few hours after light, I walked up over a small rise and to my surprise, there was a 5 or 6 point bull walking right towards me. Just as I raised the gun to take aim, the 2-way radio in my pocket went off. The bull whirled around and trotted back down the trail. After turning of the radio, I took off after the bull, hoping to get another opportunity.
Unfortunately, he outsmarted me after that and I didn't see another elk the rest of the day.

The Best Day Of My Life
That evening, my husband went back to town for work on Sunday. Jeff volunteered to come up Sunday morning and see if he could call something in with his bugle. Bugling was something I just hadn't mastered. It seemed no matter how hard I practiced, I couldn't quite get the pitch of a bull elk. (Although, we did get a lot of laughs out of my attempts)

Sunday, the 10th of September, we left camp early. The sky was slightly cloudy with a definite nip in the air. We rode the 4-wheeler until we reached a spot where Jeff asked me if I wanted to give it a try. We had intended to go further to a meadow, but it was getting light quick and we needed to be hunting.
We began up the trail and Jeff tried a bugle. There were instantly two or three answers, ranging from one fairly close and others far in the distance. So, we decided to work our way towards the closer of the responses. The bull was answering every bugle and it was apparent that he was head our way---fast.

As we came out into a small clearing, I setup for the shot. I could see the opposite slope of aspen trees. I could hear the bull crashing through the timber near the top of the hill. He was moving towards us very rapidly. When he appeared, I couldn't exactly count the number of points, but knew that he was at least a 5-point. At 45 yards, I drew a bead and touched off a shot.

At first, I thought that I had missed, but he only went about 5-6 steps and fell over. I was shaking so badly that Jeff had to reload for me. But, the bull was down and there was no need for more shooting. At 50 years of age, I have taken my first muzzleloader bull, a beautiful 6x6.

Thanks to Jeff, Billy and my husband. All great hunting partners.