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"The Best Friends Bull"

Marty's Big Idaho Bull
Marty's bull is a 7x7 and should score around 362 P&Y points.
Throughout an entire lifetime, most people are lucky to have one true, good friend. I must have been blessed to have six or seven, but two of the best are my two hunting partners, Jerry Eichert and Kim Possel. Jerry and I have hunted almost every year since we were freshman in high school, and Kim joined us 5 or 6 years later. We grew up in western Montana, and have been using the woods as our playground since we were seven years old.

The Bull in the picture was taken on September 15th, 2000, in the Idaho panhandle. I was unsuccessful in drawing a tag in Montana this year, so I purchased an over the counter tag in Idaho. My friends Jerry and Kim said they'd take a weekend away from their own bow hunt to come with me on my Idaho elk hunt, and hopefully bugle a bull in. This meant that they were giving up a weekend of bow hunting in Montana to try and help me, since I only had three days to hunt this year during the bow season. This is a high point for us each year, and believe me, I knew the sacrifice they were making without even hesitating. That's the kind of friends they are.

I arrived on Sept 14th, after a seven-hour drive. The three-day forecast was for 70-80 degrees, not prime bowhunting weather. On Friday the 15th, we drove to Idaho in the early morning hours. We hiked in the dark, and at first light, we were at the head of a large basin. From the ridge we were on, and with it just breaking daylight, we decided to bugle. We had two bulls answer us from down the draw about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile away. The thermals on the shaded north slope were going down hill, straight at the bulls. We decided that the rising of the sun would, at some point, switch the thermals. It was all a matter of time, the one thing I didn't have much of. We knew that we needed to do something before it got to hot and the bulls shut down and hunted up some shade. We decided the best course of action would be to circle out of the basin on the north side and go down the back side of the ridge, and pop up on the under side of the bugling bull. We did just that, and when we thought we were close, Jerry bugled and Kim did some cow calls. Two bulls answered. The one on our side of the canyon was approximately 100 yards away, while the other was 300 yards across the canyon. Kim grabbed a big stick and started beating a tree as I slid slowly down the hill towards the bull.

Jerry and Kim worked the bull for about 5 minutes and then they tripped him, we use that term for when there is now doubt that he is over the edge and coming to do battle. The gravely, deep chested bugle-scream came from the bull as I heard him coming right at me. At that point I realized that I had only my camo hat on, not my usual full-face mask. I unhooked my release and dug in my pocket as I heard the bull closing the gap. It was a race against time and I knew it was going to be close. I got the mask on and then as I tried to rehook my release the impossible happened. My arrow fell off and hit the ground. Precious seconds were ticking away as I could hear the big bull approaching ever closer. I got the arrow back on and was just rehooking my release when I heard him only twenty yards away. Just as I snapped my release on my bow string I looked up to see his large antlers above the brush. He popped up over a steep drop off at 15 yards, and came into full view for a second. He walked straight at me, but there was a large, four-foot wide hemlock tree between us. All I could see was his massive horns swinging back and forth on each side of the tree as he walked straight at me.

Jerry and Kim had heard the bull coming and had stopped bugling. It was so thick they could not see the bull or me from their hiding spot. The bull continued moving closer to me. Eventually he made it right the Hemlock tree that was only five yards away. He stuck his head and a small portion of his neck out on the uphill side. I could see him scanning the hillside where he had heard the last bugle. He was so close I could see the hairs move on the inside of his nose as he took each breath. I forced myself not to shake or move as I felt the rushes of adrenaline pumping through my body. I don't know if I even took a breath for that 30-45 seconds that he stood there scanning the timber for his rival. Suddenly, the bull whirled and ran out to about 20 yards from me to the edge of the drop off. As he did I drew my bow and was at full draw with my pin on his neck, which is all I could see along with his head.

My buddies heard the bull blow and thought that I had taken a shot, they quickly let out a screaming bugle. We have found that even an elk hit with an arrow will stop sometimes and hold for another shot. When Jerry bugled, the bull shook his head and screamed back. He slashed his horns through the alder brush, ripping one out completely. He flung it off his horns and now had the position he needed on the other bull. He walked a little more uphill and on a straight line toward Jerry and Kim. I waited until his head went behind the hemlock, then moved my bow to the shooting lane above me. As he came into my lane, he took a step uphill giving me the perfect shot. I released the arrow and saw it go in about 4 inches high, but definitely where it needed to be.

The bull whirled and crashed through the brush and out of sight. I heard him wheezing and knew I had made a good hit. My buddies appeared above me, looking for my reaction. I pumped my arm in the air like Tiger Woods on an important putt, indicating a hit. Jerry asked if it was a good hit and I replied "perfect". Kim asked me where the bull was standing, we found my arrow covered in blood and a few blades bent. Jerry asked me how big the bull was, because they did see him. I said, "Jerry it's the biggest bull I have ever seen!" Forty five minutes later we were all admiring the big bull. He is a perfectly matched 7x7 with a green score of 370 and nets 362 1/2 P&Y. If the official score is anywhere close to our green score, he will be the third largest bull ever harvested in Idaho with a bow.

This whole experience would never have happed without my great friends. I realize how lucky I am to have taken this bull, but even more for all the truly great friends I have.

Written by Marty Calvert