Mark Armstrong writes, "When I drew my tag in May I couldn't even contain my excitement. It had been 13 years of waiting. I started checking out YouTube videos and reading Monster Muleys posting boards on a daily basis. I took several trips to scout and get to know new areas that my brother-in-law knew and showed me. As the week approached that I was going hunting, the weather turned really warm and I was worried the bugling bulls that I so desperately wanted to hear would shut down and go quiet. Which they did. When I showed up on the mountain two days before my hunt to set up camp, there was no ringing in the mountains.
What I did find was a lot of hunters and very few elk. They weren't in the first, second or third areas that I looked. I went out the morning before my hunt and watched some archery hunters push some elk around an area I wanted to hunt the next morning. That evening when I went back to the same area to scout for the elk, I found 6 other groups looking in the same canyon, so much for an exclusive limited entry tag. Well, opening morning came and we decided we would try to be first to get on this bull. We were sitting at the spotting point before sunup to get an early start. As soon as it was light enough to see, we found two groups of elk and decided to pursue one as the other acted like they had been spooked. We set out down into the valley and up the other side. The elk were nowhere to be found. We hiked all over the mountain side looking for them or any sign of them. We found where they had been, but no elk. We backed out and thought we would try again that night. We got setup with a spotter in the later afternoon and discovered that there were only 4 other hunters with the same idea, according to our spotter. Right as the sun set I spotted some elk a long ways off on the ridge where we were, not down in the valley where we thought they would be. We identified one as a good bull and ranged him at 750 yards away. Too far for me to be comfortable, so my brother-in-law said lets run up and get a closer look. As we approached the clearing that they were in, we had just run about 600 yards and we only had to run down this game trail through this last stand of trees. As we came to the edge of the trees we noticed a hunter off to our left with his gun pulled up against a tree ready to fire. We of course were disappointed as we saw only the left side of the bull's rack and it looked impressive with 7 nice points. Well, a couple of minutes passed and the crack of the hunters rifle split the quiet of the afternoon and the bull went down. After another shot to finish him off we offered our congratulations and walked up to the bull with the hunter. When I saw the right side of the bull's rack, I noticed that the G1, G2 and G3 were all really short. I was happy for this hunter as he was excited about his bull. As we rode the four wheeler out that night behind a slow procession of 10 hunters, I was determined to go somewhere that there were no hunters.
Well, my brother-in-law knew of some places down low in the cedar trees that hold a lot of elk and may get us away from the hunters. We headed out early the next morning as we had a 30 minute drive and a mile and a half hike in. I knew as soon as we got our packs on and were five minutes away from the truck that we were in the right spot as the first bugle was heard sounding clearly out in the pre-dawn dark. It was immediately followed by another and another and another. We moved slowly through the dark as we got closer and closer to the bugles. Eventually we were within 50 yards of two bulls. As it was still too dark to shoot, we waited about five minutes in one spot. Then we set up and tried cow calling the bulls to us. After a few minutes the smaller rag horn came within 6 yards of where I was setup before he figured out something was wrong and ran off 20 yards or so. The bigger bull didn't show himself. We eased our way up to our look out spot. From here we had several small windows that I ranged. Distance from 100 yards to 750 yards and we started scanning each opening for any movement. All while listening to the bulls bugling all around us. We watched several smaller bulls pushing a few cows around the hills going in and out of the openings. Then my brother-in-law got really excited and said a real nice bull was coming through one of the openings and I needed to get ready. I got setup with a dead rest and ranged up the opening at 700 yards. As the bull walked into my scope I had about 5 seconds to make a decision. I saw that his fifth on one side was either really small or not there. I decided to pass. After the bull walked into the cedar trees, my brother-in-law and our friend said that this was a really good bull that had long main beams and was really wide. I decided that if I got another chance at this bull, I would take him. We noticed some cows that may be his moving across a hillside through one of the other openings and I got setup to shoot. Two other smaller bulls moved through some openings, but not this bull. As the last of the cows was just leaving the opening, he walked out. As the two others confirmed it was him and that it was a shooter, I took the shot and he tumbled. Then as they say, the work started.
As we walked up on him, the thing we all noticed was the sheer mass of the bull's body and head (the taxidermist later said he would have to use his largest mount and that still may not be large enough). He actually got bigger as we got up to him and even bigger when we put a tape on him. His main beams are 57" long and his spread is 44 1/2". He taped out at 360", even with nothing of a fifth point to speak of on one side.
I was sooooo happy with this experience and with my first Big Bull! Thanks goes out to J-Rod and Brandong (The A-Team) for making this happen and being really good at judging a bull from a long way away. Also big thanks to Em for the wonderful food and taking care of the kiddos so I could go."