Dan Austin writes, "In 2008, my son drew a Arizona archery bull elk tag. During his hunt, we seen a lot of really nice bulls, and had a blast. He took a really nice bull scoring about 335 gross and was tickled to death. We had so much fun in 2008 we both reapplied on separate applications for the same area in 2009. The Arizona draw was kind, and I was lucky enough to draw one of these great Arizona archery bull elk tags.
It seems time drags while waiting for the day when the hunt will start, then suddenly itís upon you and it leaves you hoping there has been enough scouting and preparation to see you through.
The wife and I pulled the camp trailer up to the mountain the night before the hunt, and the next day the hunt was on. I returned to the area that my son and I had hunted the year before and was not disappointed in what I was finding, lots of elk with some nice bulls, they were bugling but not as aggressively as the year before. I did manage to call in a couple the first day and passed on both. I had set out trail cameras and had been checking them periodically, and knew there were a couple of bulls in the area I would be interested in.
My son was not able to hunt with me the 1st day, but did come up for the weekend. We hunted some of the old favorite spots and found elk, but none that we thought were shooters. After he left to return to work, I hunted by myself through the week. I called in several more bulls and passed on them. I spent most of my time finding where the elk were watering and monitoring the area for the good bulls I knew were there. I spent time by myself enjoying the great outdoors, picked up a few sheds and generally relaxed.
That next weekend two of my sons came back up for the weekend. We worked an area where I had seen some pretty good bulls during the week. We seen a few, called in some, but not the bigger bulls. Sunday evening we sat a waterhole and had five bulls come into water, some were smaller bulls, also a nice, but smaller than I wanted, 6x6 at 20 yards and a really nice 6x6 bull that I would have shot. However, he came into within 70 yards and hung up. I believe the wind got us on that one.
My sons returned home Sunday evening, and I hunted for a while Monday morning and then returned to camp. Early that afternoon, I returned to the waterhole that had drawn in the bulls the day before. At about 3:00 in the afternoon, I could hear the elk start to bugle further up on the mountain. I stayed put and would occasionally cow call and bugle to try to draw them in. At around 4:30 I heard a bull bugling from behind me and knew he was getting close. He sounded small and my hopes were not too high about seeing a very big one, then a small raghorn walked out into the meadow, and I thought, ok there he is. Then, I heard the bugle again from behind, again I thought, not a big bull. A couple of small ones running together maybe?
Then, a bull came to the edge of the meadow, but stopped on the other side of a tree at about 70 yards. He raked the tree, threw mud clods, but I couldnít see his horns. After tearing up the tree for awhile he walked out, and to my surprise he was much larger than I had expected. He bugled and walked towards the water. When he reached the waterhole he had to kneel down to drink. I ranged him at 47 yards, drew my bow and shot. My arrow was true and I had a good shot through the vitals. The bull jumped and ran just a short distance, stopped and slowly walked away. I watched him wander off to about 150 yards and lay down, I remained in my sport for about 30 minutes and then wandered over to where he was.
Wow, what a nice bull! No ground shrink on this one. I returned to camp and grabbed the wife, we returned to the bull, took pictures and began the task of hauling him out. What a chore this ended up being. We finally got him to the truck and back to camp. I taped the bulls antlers at camp and came up with a green score of 349-1/2.
This was a great hunt for me. I enjoyed the outdoors, beautiful scenery, I loved hunting with my sons and wife, and I also enjoyed hunting by myself, it gave me time to reflect and relax. There is simply nothing like it..."