This big bull was taken by Josh Barela during the 2007 New Mexico muzzleloader season.
Josh writes, "As soon as the results were received and opened at my fathers house the hunt had begun. The first weekend I had to spare, the scouting started. The area of choice was but an hour drive from my house to "prime elk country". I had a few months to prepare for what was soon to be the hunt of a lifetime. The first few trips out were quiet and had little sign, but I stayed focused on a certain area that I felt comfortable with and was familiar with. There had been a few times out where I had heard lots of bulls and had been convinced that the elk were still going be in the area come hunting season.
It was a calm, warm October morning, dark and early. We started our climb up an old logging road, which was a very steep incline that seemed like an eternity to reach the summit. At day break, I was where I wanted to be. We had let out a few calls but didn't have any answers. There was a water hole that I had been checking every time I went out, looking for any sign and calling a little. This watering hole was a busy one and had been full of sign in the recent visits. When walking around the corner coming up onto the water hole, I was poised and expecting to see elk. As I made my way around the second corner, I saw the side of an elk about 200 yards in front of me. I took a knee and signaled to my girlfriend and my dad (who were close behind) to get low. I pulled up my binoculars and glassed a nice bull through the oak trees who had turned and was headed towards us. I tried to get my girlfriend to get set up for the shot, but she didn't have enough time to get to the spot where I was. He would have seen her, so I signaled her to stop. As the bull cleared the thicket, I put the crosshairs on the bull and waited for him to clear a tree that was in the way. As soon as the bull cleared the tree, I squeezed the trigger. A shot broke the early morning silence and sparks from the black powder filled my view! As soon as the smoke cleared, I could see the bull; it was down and out! I shot my fists in the air, (the traditional celebration), along with having a smile from ear to ear. I could not believe what had just happened.
My first impression of the bull was, "WOW"! My uncle and dad were in awe once they saw the size of the bull. He scored (gross) 369 2/8 with 7 2/8 deductions...362 net (unofficially) with 21" daggers, 40" spread and 50" main beams. He is truly a bull of a lifetime that I will always talk about and never forget!"