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"Dad's Giant Elk Success"
Photo provided by: sb2017

Forum member, sb2017, shared with us in the Elk forum the following.....

"Dad's Elk Success - We just got back from an unforgettable hunt! After 22 years my dad finally pulled an elk tag in NM. Him and my mom went down a week before season started to scout around and learn the area. I drove down and got there Friday afternoon, the night before season. I made it out for an evening glass and found one of the coolest bulls I've ever seen. He was a massive 7 point on one side, and had about a 4 foot spike on the other. I don't have a phone scope so I didn't get any pics but I really wish I had. He was the most unique bull I've ever seen! I took my parents back to that same spot on opening morning because they weren't seeing much where they had been spending time, and I thought that the area I found the unique bull in could easily be holding a big bull.

Opening morning turned out to be a bust. We didn't see the 7x1 and only saw a few raghorns on the hillside that I expected to see more elk on. I felt bad for dragging them back there and "wasting" opening morning, so we got back to camp and made a plan for the evening. We decided to go back to the general area that my parents had been exploring because there was plenty of ground for a big bull to be hiding in there.

My parents hiked in a ways and I found a road that took me up a ridge about a mile away from where they hiked in. I figured if they spooked anything out of there, I would at least be able to see it and which direction it spooked off to.

After an hour or two of glassing, the sun was getting ready to set and I had only seen two bulls, both raghorns. I hadn't seen anything move around where I thought my parents had hiked to. About 20 minutes til dark, I picked up an elk on a hillside with my binoculars. After I set my spotter on it, even in the fading light I knew I had found a special bull. I immediately started trying to think of how to remember which ridge he was on.

All of a sudden, as I'm looking through the spotter, I see a massive cloud of dirt explode on the hillside behind the bull. My first thought was that some other hunter back there had found him, because where he was at seemed way too far away from where my dad had dropped in to hike for it to be him shooting. The shot spooked the bull over the ridge and I spent the next 15 minutes looking for him to reappear with no luck.

When they came riding back up the road, my dad had a very defeated look on his face. Before I could even tell him what I had witnessed, he goes "man, did you hear me shoot? I just missed the biggest bull I've ever seen." Turns out that was his bullet I witnessed hitting the dirt, so he knew exactly what kind of bull I had seen!

We got back to camp and looked at a map, trying to figure out our best guess for where he might be in the morning. It's always such a toss up how far they will travel after getting spooked like that. Since the mountain he was on was isolated by two huge valleys, we decided that I would head to a different mountain on the opposite side from where I had seen the bull the night before. My dad was going to drop in the same way he had the night before, but continue hunting the backside of the ridge from where he had shot. I was going to pick him up at the bottom of the hill and drive him back to his 4 wheeler once he got down.

Sure enough, at first light that morning, I found the bull right where we thought he might be. He hadn't gone very far at all, and was up feeding in the morning just a few hundred yards from where my dad had shot at him the night before. When I saw where the bull was, I thought we had him! I thought my dad was going to pop over the ridge, see him, and be in a perfect position to make the stalk. I glassed like crazy trying to find my dad on the ridge but never did see him, so I went back to the bull and just continued to watch him. An hour or so went by and the bull bedded down in some trees where I couldn't see him. After a bit I was able to find my dad and it was pretty apparent that at some point along the ridge, he had seen the bull and watched him bed down. He was working his way across a hillside and had a small ridge between him and the bull. Things were looking great!

Next thing I know, I see a flash of white and look over to see the bull trotting down the ridge and popping over the other side. My dad was still a good 600 yards from the bull but the wind was swirling so bad that he was able to pick his scent up and spook out of there. The next hour was painstaking because I continued to watch my dad stalk a bull that was no longer there. Eventually he learned what I had known for a while, and headed down the hill for me to pick him up.

For day 3, we decided to stick together in the morning. At this point, the bull had been shot at one day and spooked out of his bed the next. We figured he was probably still in the area, but our chances of getting him before he blew out of there for good were running out. We figured it was time to make a safe, solid plan to try and get this guy on the ground. We just didn't know how because the wind was so swirling and inconsistent. I brought my dad with me to the ridge that I had glassed him up from the day before, and what do you know, he was back! I'm not really sure why this bull stuck around that area after so much pressure, but he did. We watched him til about 10am, and he picked a thicket to walk in and bed down. We planned on me staying up on the ridge to watch the action so that I would know what direction he went if he spooked, and my dad was going to come up from the bottom instead of dropping in from the top since that seemed to be more favorable for the wind. About 15 minutes after my dad left my glassing spot, some snow and fog moved in so fast that before I knew it, the fog was so thick I couldn't even see the trees 50 yards downhill from me, let alone the hillside that the bull was on about a mile away. I was sure that my dad knew he was going in blind since he could see the fog too, but was just dying to know what was going on down there. About 2 hours of silence went by, and I still could not see a damn thing across the hill. All of a sudden, a shot rang out through the valley and I heard the unmistakable sound of a bullet hitting an animal. A shot immediately after the first shot rang out and I wasn't quite sure what to think of that one.

I was confident enough in the sound of the first shot that I packed up our stuff (we couldn't see anything anyways) on the hill and rode with my mom down to where we found my dad's 4 wheeler. At this point it was snowing pretty hard, but he still wasn't down at his 4 wheeler so we figured that was a good sign. We started up the hill, occasionally calling out for him. After an hour or so of hiking around and calling, we got a response. A few minutes later we found him standing next to his bull! He had cell service where the bull was down and had been trying to call me, but my phone was in airplane mode since there was no service anywhere else we had been hunting/glassing. It turned out being a really good thing that we went looking for him.

My dad could write a whole separate story about his stalk/shot on the bull, but since I wasn't there with him for the shot I couldn't do it justice. It's my dad's biggest bull to date, and just an absolutely beautiful creature. Watching him for several days on the hoof and finally getting him on the ground was a very rewarding and memorable experience, especially getting the job done on public land, unguided."

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