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"The Perfect Guide for My First Elk"

Tyler's First Bull
Tyler's first bull.
Since I was seven years old, my dad has been taking me deer hunting. Hunting is a family tradition, a tradition that brings us all closer together. My dad has never hunted elk, so I knew very little about it. After watching a few elk hunting videos, and seeing how much fun it could be, I knew that it was definitely something I wanted to try.

A couple years ago, the first year I could actually hunt, my cousin talked me into going elk hunting with him. I really wanted to go and I begged my dad for permission. My cousin and I hunted hard, but didn't even see an elk, not even a cow. I guess that's how hunting goes sometimes?

The next year, I again wanted to give it a try. I expected the same results as the previous season, few, if any elk. However, I love the outdoors and knew that I would have great time even if I couldn't find a bull. As October rolled around, I became excited to hit the hills in search of my first bull elk. I planned on tagging along with my cousin again, but a few days prior to the opener, he had to leave town for a week and wouldn't be able to go hunting at all. To say the least, I was devastated.

The days leading up to the Utah bull elk hunt found me sitting around the house feeling down. I wanted to go so badly, but needed someone to show me the ropes and get me on the mountain. Then, the afternoon before opening day, I had an idea. Maybe my uncle would take me?
I checked with my father who said that would be fine and so I called him up. He was gone scouting, but my aunt felt that it would be OK with my uncle if I tagged along. I had my dad rush me to the store where I purchased my elk tag and a box of bullets---I was ready!

When I walked into my Uncle Robert's front door with all my hunting gear, I noticed that he looked a bit surprised. He was caught off-guard because he didn't know that I was going to be joining him the next day. I learned from my cousins that my uncle hadn't seen any elk and didn't even buy an elk tag, yet he was still willing to take me. He wasn't sure where we should start, but he said he would give it some thought and come up with something.

We awoke early on opening morning, and while eating breakfast talked about what we hoped would happen that day. Robert had figured that the people they saw in the area the previous day would push the elk to the north into the area where we would be. I didn't expect to see much, but was excited just to be going elk hunting.

We were almost to the top of the mountain when my uncle whispered to me that there were some elk across the canyon. My heart began to pound with excitement. The elk were about 300 yards away, and I still couldn't see them because of the low light. We slowly began moving closer, hoping for a bull and for a good shot. As we got to within 100 yards, my uncle spotted a bull in the group. I took a look and then we both agreed that he was either a two or three-point. Not big, but hey---it was something and I was excited!
I had no idea what to do in that situation. I had never shot an elk before, so I relied on my uncle to lead the way. We crept forward another 50 yards where I took a rest and readied for the shot.

Tyler's First Bull
The elk were behind a stand of trees only 150 yards away. I waited and watched as the first three cows feed into the open. I was getting nervous when the bull didn't appear behind them, but then suddenly, there he was. What a relief!
He walked about 10 yards and then stopped. My uncle told me to steady my rifle as much as possible before shooting. This was quite an opportunity and he didn't want me to miss. I began breathing quite hard, but I kept the gun steady, flipped the safety off, and squeezed the trigger.

THUMP! The elk hunched up, took a few steps backwards, and then stopped. I knew it was a hit, but still asked my uncle. All he said was, "Put another one in it!" I fired again and the elk dropped and began rolling down the hill into the trees below.

I was SO happy. I couldn't believe that I had just harvested my first elk. After the shot, the cows began scattering up and over the ridge. Then came the biggest blow to the whole hunt, a big six-point made his way out of the bottom of the canyon and up the hillside. Because my uncle hadn't bought an elk tag, all we could do was just stand there and watch as the beautiful animal walked slowly up and over the ridge.

My bull turned out to be a nice five-point, not a three-point as we had originally thought. I am VERY proud and grateful to have taken such a magnificent animal. It was a lot of hard work getting the bull off the mountain, but well worth it. We also had the help of many friends and family, which made it much easier.

I have to thank my uncle for being the "Perfect Guide", he knew exactly where the elk were going to be and I could not have done it without him. Thank you Robert!

Written by Tyler Hennessy