By Blake Owens
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The next 5 months were probably the slowest of my life, but it gave me plenty of time to scout hard and figure out a game plan. The unit I was going to be hunting had had multiple 400" elk taken in the 2 years prior, so I had set a goal to try for a 370"-400" bull. I felt that goal was very obtainable and I would give it my all to make that goal a reality. I set out 5 trail cameras that I checked every couple weeks and I located some nice bulls, but nothing that would hit the 370" mark. As the rut started up in the beginning of September I was able to get out a couple of times before the hunt to chase some bugles and get to see some bulls first hand. About a week before the hunt I located a bull that was pushing the 370" mark. While I was off at school the following week my dad went out every day and was able to locate an even better bull that was between 380"-390". The days leading up to the hunt we were all out searching for that monster, but he never showed up again.
Opening morning came and we focused on the area we had seen the biggest bull. We were able to get on a bunch of elk and passed up a couple 350" class bulls. The elk stopped bugling very early that morning and it was difficult to locate them until they started up again right before dark. By the time we got on another group that evening the sun was setting and we had to head back to the truck. The second day was much like the first with the elk hardly bugling and very difficult to locate. We were able to glass up a couple herds that evening, but we weren't able to put together a stalk before the sun was down. The third day we took a break from the hunt and headed home for church and were back out that night ready to go at it again Monday morning. Before we went to sleep, we drove through some areas and heard a bunch of bulls bugling and on the way back to camp we noticed an elk in the road that ended up being a huge 6X7 with a 12" kicker coming off his royal! We decided it would be a good plan to start close to there the next morning and headed to bed excited for what was to come.
The following morning, my friend, Jed Reidhead, came down to help us out. Jed had just returned from his own archery hunt where he killed a huge 428" gross typical bull. Yes I typed that correct, 428" typical. It was officially scored and could be the pending Pope and Young world record. So keep an eye out for some pictures of that monster in the future! Jed is a great hunter and I knew we would be getting onto a lot of bulls that day. As the day began, we were right back where we saw the sticker bull from the night before and the bulls were screaming. We got right into the elk and had two rag horns walk 5 yards from us right at shooting light. We could tell something had changed over the last two days because the bulls were going nuts well after light. After checking out every bull bugling in that area, we decided to head to another spot that we knew would give us a good opportunity to get on some more elk before the morning was over. As we got out of the truck to listen, we could hear two bulls still bugling around 9:00 AM. We got our packs and practically ran a mile to catch up to the two bulls that were moving very fast towards their bedding areas.
Eventually we closed the distance, as we noticed the closer bull had stopped moving. We assumed he had bedded down, so we moved slowly through the trees trying to see him before he saw us. He let out a scream from a very close distance and we knew he was less than 50 yards away. As we topped a rise we could hear water splashing and we realized he was wallowing and not paying attention to anything around him. We closed the distance to about 30 yards and we could finally see his antlers. We could see from his fourth back and we knew he would be close to 380" if his fronts matched. We snuck into 20 yards and waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to come up out of the wallow and give me a shot. He finally stepped out and I could see his fronts were just as strong as his top, so I drew and settled my 30 pin low on his side due to no 20 yard pin. I let it fly and the arrow hit him a little far back, but I could tell it angled forward due to how he was standing. He smashed out of there and within 30 seconds we could hear him crash into some trees about a hundred yards away and knew he was down! We waited about 10 minutes and went slowly, but seeing the blood trail we knew he hadn't moved from where we heard him last. He traveled about 90 yards and died 15 yards from a road! I was ecstatic to get my hands on him and couldn't get to a phone fast enough to let my family know of what just happened. The bull is a perfect 7x7 that scored 370 5/8" with less than 1 inch of deductions. The perfectly symmetrical bull helped put a perfect end to a great hunt!
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