September/October 2011 EBJ (Issue 67) - As I watched the lush green grass and sea of purple and yellow flowers fly past my window, I couldn’t help but feel like I was coming home. The smell of ponderosa pine and juniper trees hit me like a hammer, and I knew I was almost back to my most cherished place on Earth, the Gila National Forest. After all, this is where I grew up and spent every year of my childhood following along behind my best friend and mentor, my dad. We’ve been hunting together since the time I could walk and I would rather have him by my side chasing these majestic animals than anyone else.
I had several big bulls already located. In addition, my friends Dennis Parrack and Justin Sparks had hunted the early archery season and had both taken giant bulls, gross scoring 365 and 353 P&Y inches. I would be hunting with my best friend, Ryan Russell, who also had a tag. Would this also be the year we would be able to tag out with the bulls of our dreams?
The first couple days of our hunt were tough, with high temperatures and quiet bulls. We still were able to call a few bulls in each day - several were within just a few yards - but we decided to pass on these younger bulls and keep searching for a true monster. Ryan had to return home for a few days due to work commitments, so I would be hunting with my son, Ethan, and my parents.
After helping my friend, Mike Paffett, pack out a great 330-class 6x6, the pressure really started to hit me. My mom reminded me of the old phrase, "What goes around comes around.” "You spent half the night helping your friend pack his bull out,” mom told me. "Now maybe it will be your turn.”
With those words ringing in my head, we headed out in the rain. After locating some bugling bulls down in a deep drainage, we quickly headed for what sounded like the herd bull. While my dad stayed back to keep the bull bugling, I quietly worked my way in.
After getting as close as I dared, I let out a few soft cow calls. The huge bull trotted over the ridge and stopped 80 yards away, searching for the cow he believed he had lost.
After a ten-minute stare-down, another 6x6 and a cow came in to investigate. I passed on the smaller 6x6 at three yards, hoping the herd bull would come down to claim the cow. The cow turned and trotted up the hill to join the big bull and they eased their way over the ridge.
As soon as they were out of sight, I sprinted across the muddy canyon and up the other side. Just as I cleared the top of the ridge, I saw him 40 yards away, staring a hole right through me. I quickly knelt down and gave a few soft cow calls and readied for the shot.
For a full account of Shane's adventure, go to page 34 in the September/October 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.