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"Fantastic Utah Smokepole Bull for Nolan"
Photo provided by: Nolan Poulson

What a fun hunt that Nolan Poulson had in 2018. Here's his hunt adventure.....

After 22 years of waiting for my "dream hunt", I was finally able to pull a Utah LE Pahvant Muzzleloader Elk Tag. It took 2 years of being max points to finally see the coveted "SUCCESSFUL"! This would be my first LE tag and my first big bull tag of my life. For me growing up near the unit and watching big bull after big bull be harvested, I set my sights on a "Pahvant or bust" mentality when I was just a young kid. After a summer of heavy scouting and checking trail cameras, my late September hunt was finally here. While I had some amazing bulls (especially for a bad drought year) on camera, I did not have a specific bull that I had patterned or had decided to go after.

Opening day, and almost everyday after that, I was able to be in the midst of several good bulls over and over again. With the reputation of the unit, knowing what is there, and the fact it was my dream hunt, I decided that the first week would be dedicated to hunting bulls that I guessed would break 360". I ended up passing on 5 bulls in the first 2 days, all of which I had good shots at ranging from 10 to 50 yards. On the 3rd day of the hunt we spotted a big bull coming off a CWMU right as light was starting to fade. I dropped my pack and made an all-out sprint to try close the nearly 1,000-yard gap and get an opportunity before dark. The bull stepped out at 160 yards and I had enough time to see he was a good 6x7 and get a shot right at last light. I was heavily winded from the sprint and ended up missing the bull (twice) as a result of not being able to steady my breathing. My brother-in-law and I hunted that bull for the next 1-1/2 days and never got another opportunity at him as he pretty much hunkered down on the CWMU. We were able to get great video of him, but ultimately, we had to leave him to chase other bulls.

As the first week of the hunt came to an end, I was able to get opportunities at 5 more elk on a single morning outing. I did find 1 bull that was okay and decided I would take him if the shot presented. At 50 yards he stepped out and sandwiched himself broadside between 2 cows. He never gave the shot and eventually he and the other 4 bulls that were going back and forth with me wised up and broke out of the area.

Starting to feel dejected and nervous that I might not fill my dream tag, we decided to break camp and go to a new area of the unit for the 2nd week. This was an area that I had never scouted and was going in completely blind but had heard of a good bull in a specific canyon. My brother-in-law had to go back to work so I was faced with the challenge of solo hunting for the last week of my hunt. With a storm moving in threatening to shut down the hunt for a few days, I decided that it was time to fill the tag and not be picky any longer. That Monday morning, I found myself in the middle of 4 screaming bulls. Two of these bulls stepped out and gave me shots, but they were rag horn bulls, so I passed and headed out having not seen the other 2 bulls in there. I went back in that afternoon via an ATV trail that I had found, parked and started hiking in a random direction down a canyon. After about 1 mile of hiking, I finally had a bull respond to my cow calls. I could tell he was in the next draw over on the other side of the canyon, but he seemed to want to play. It didn't take long before I realized he was coming in hot and I had to scramble to get setup before he reached me. I setup for a shot and waited while he came crashing through the pines. He stepped out in a small clearing and I saw him just long enough to see he was a good 5x5. I knew this was my chance. He hit one more clearing and then I was able to predict the path he was taking to get to me. I repositioned and waited for him to hit the last opening. He stopped right where I needed him to and I put the crosshairs on him and let a round fly. It felt good and he doubled back and went crashing away. I quickly reloaded and went down to where he had been standing. I ranged the shot after and it was a 61-yard shot. I couldn't find a single trace of blood and after a couple minutes I started to question my shot. Then I heard him right above me in the brush taking those last few breaths. I could only see his antlers above the brush. I screamed, and cow called like crazy, but no movement came. I approached cautiously and saw he was down. He had gone just 40 yards and laid for his dirt nap.

Then the work began. Being solo, I tagged him, opened him up, and got to cell service ASAP. My brother-in-law rushed down that night and the next day we rushed to get him out ahead of a big storm. It was a tough pack out, but I wouldn't change anything about it. In the end he ended up being a 6x6, but really, he is 5x5 with a couple cheaters! I had him scored, and he far exceeded what I hoped for when I pulled the trigger. My initial guess was about 320", but after the taxidermist put the tape on him, he scored 350-4/8". I couldn’t have been happier as he was the biggest bull I hunted by far and it fulfilled my life long dream of taking my first big bull on my home unit. My only regret was that because I was solo I didn't great pictures in the field. My kids all gave me a good luck token which I carried everyday of the hunt. I think that they definitely brought me the luck that day for my first ELK."

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