Utah, 2009, DIY, Public Land
The last time I had a branch-antlered elk tag, I was 17 - that was 23 years ago. For 23 years, I have been hoping and dreaming of drawing a limited entry bull elk tag in my home state of Utah.
In 2008, while analyzing draw odds, I realized that my bonus points were not going to give me a very good opportunity to draw a rifle tag. That, coupled with the fear that trophy potential would decrease in the future with increasing tag allocations, made me decide that it would be in my best interest to apply for an archery tag.
There were two major problems with this strategy. First, I hadn’t hunted with a bow in 18 years. Also, I didn’t own a bow. My brother, Trail, who is 12 years my junior and an avid bowhunter, told me, “Don’t worry about a bow; just draw a tag and we’ll get you set up.”
I applied for a unit I felt gave me near 100% odds, and was stunned when the envelope came in the mail and I found out that I hadn’t drawn. I guess if I didn’t have bad luck in the drawing game, I’d have had no luck at all.
In preparation for applying in 2009, we again looked at the odds and it appeared that this year I would almost definitely be assured an archery tag in my preferred unit. I knew I wasn’t in the kind of shape I would have to be in to be successful, so I began running three miles a day five days week, with a few longer ones mixed in.
I applied once again, crossed my fingers, and hoped this would be my year. To kill the time while waiting for my official draw results, we went shed antler hunting. My brother and I are avid shed hunters, and I cannot express the overwhelming excitement I felt when I walked up on a set of sheds that later were scored at 444. The year was off to a phenomenal start!
For a full account of Todd's adventure, go to page 24 in the March/April 2010 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.