Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

Backcountry Whopper Bull
By Jacob Cahill

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I grew up in a family of passionate elk hunters and at a very young age this same passion over took me. I enjoy any type of hunting, but for me nothing compares to the thrill of bugling bull elk in September. From the time I can remember, my dream was to kill a trophy sized bull elk in the mountains of Idaho. This September when my hunting partner, Aaron Henson, and I left on our week long elk hunting trip I had no idea this dream would come true and exceed anything I could ever imagine.

The previous couple weekends we had hunted an area we knew well and got into a few bulls, but the rut just didn't seem to be in full swing yet. For this reason we made the decision to go into a new area we had only scouted on maps to see if we could find a hot bull. We backpacked in with plans to stay 3-4 days if elk were in the area. Once we arrived at our designated spot, we were greeted with bugles. The first day we heard a couple different bulls bugle and were able to call in a 6 point bull, but a shot opportunity didn't present itself. At daybreak the next morning we could hear a bull in the distance but he wasn't very responsive. After a few hours we tried to work our way in on him but he stopped bugling. As we were trying to get this bull to respond, a young bull snuck in on us giving Aaron a quartering away shot. After running a short distance he fell over. Although Aaron has hunted elk most of his adult life he is relatively new to archery hunting, and this was his first bull with a bow which makes this hunt that much more special.

The rest of the day we packed meat and came back into the area the next afternoon. Just before dark the bull we heard the previous days began to bugle. We decided to let him be and make our move in the morning. The next morning he was bugling at daylight in a spot we felt we could get in close to him. As we were approaching him another bull began to bugle down the ridge, giving us the opportunity to get in between them. It didn't take long before I could see antler tips coming over the ridge towards me. As I was at full draw he came within 20 yards and began bugling and raking a tree facing me. I knew he was a big bull but I did my best to not look at his antlers and focused on a small opening next to him. Finally he turned and walked into the opening. I released and saw all but 6 inches of my arrow go behind his shoulder. He ran down the ridge until I stopped him with a cow call. At this point he was in both Aaron and my view. He looked around for the cow for a few moments before falling over.

I'm unable to put into words the emotions I experienced when I walked up and put my hands on this amazing animal. The feeling of killing a bull of this size with a bow and an OTC tag in Idaho is something very few people get to experience. To have this experience and share it with a hunting partner I have been friends with my whole life is something I will always be very thankful for.

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