Nevada, 2009, DIY, Public Land
It was the second day of my 2009 archery bull elk hunt in northeast Nevada. I was hunting with my dad, Mike, and my friend, Bryant. We had been patiently waiting by a waterhole we had scouted since early July. It was approaching late afternoon and we hadn’t seen anything all day, except for the flies and ants that were constantly annoying us as we would take turns catnapping. My dad awakened me and whispered, “Don’t move! There are two elk coming down to the spring.”
As I slowly raised my head out of the sage, I saw what appeared to be two nice bulls. One had a huge body, but the antlers weren’t impressive. The other bull was probably a 320-class bull. I was encouraged to finally have some bulls come into range, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. After watching them for several minutes, they sauntered off and I thought to myself that was all we were going to see that day.
At that same moment, from the same direction, I caught more movement. I slowly turned to see and couldn’t believe what was approaching us. It was the biggest bull I had ever seen! He was an enormous, red-colored bull with a massive, symmetrical rack. His royals and fifth and sixth points were spectacular.
The bull kept coming toward the spring, and just before he got there, he went behind a fir tree. I drew back and waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to come out. He finally made his appearance, now broadside in front of me. My heart was pounding and I was shaking. I couldn’t hold my bow steady and I didn’t want to risk taking the shot at that range unless I was sure I could make it.
The bull must have heard or smelled us, because he vanished almost instantly. I felt sick to my stomach. I just had a chance at the bull of a lifetime and blew it. Feeling hopeless, we headed back to our ranch, where we met up with my brother, Myles, and my cousin, Travis. They had been deer hunting with our horses in the Ruby Mountains, but decided to cut their trip short to give us a hand and to have the horses available.
The next day we headed back up to the basin where we had seen the bulls. Travis, Myles, and Bryant glassed from the ridge above, while my dad and I made our way down to the spring.
For a full account of Zachary's adventure, go to page 14 in the March/April 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.