January/February 2012 EBJ (Issue 69) - For the past 10 years, I have been guiding hunters all around the state of New Mexico. I love hunting so much that I decided to make it my job. Well, it turns out that when you’re a guide, you don’t really get to do much hunting for yourself. Even if I would get drawn for a tag, I wouldn’t be able to hunt much because I had to work. I’ve drawn a couple of elk tags since I started guiding, but only hunted two or three days total.
After getting a good tag for the second time and only hunting one day, I told myself the next time I drew a tag, I was going hunting no matter what. That was four years ago. When my license came in the mail this year, I was ready to go.
I spent the entire summer shooting my bow almost every evening. Getting close to a huge bull is tough, so I wanted to be totally confident if I did get an opportunity with one. By the end of August, I was confident in my shooting and I could consistently shoot good groups out to 60 yards. It would all come down to concentration and keeping my emotions under control.
I knew that I would not have much time to scout since I had to guide a hunter in a different unit the week before my hunt started. That hunt went well and we killed a nice 330 bull on the first evening of the hunt. This was great for me because now I could go do a little scouting before my hunt started.
On my first morning of scouting, I drove out to one of my favorite spots and started walking into the dark cool morning. Immediately, a bull screamed, so I started toward him. The bull bugled one more time and it sounded like he was about 100 yards away. I walked slowly toward where I thought he was, listening for another sound, but he didn’t bugle again, so I just moved on.
It had been about 10 minutes since I last heard a bugle, so I wasn’t sure where he was. I came around a cedar tree and he was right there feeding by himself 40 yards from me. I had found the bull I would be hunting on opening morning, so I stood up and started walking back to my truck. This bull was wide, heavy and had long points. I figured he would score right around 370.
Opening morning finally arrived and I was excited to get to the area where I had seen the big bull, hoping I could find him again. I hunted all morning and never got into anything more than a couple small bulls. I spent the walk back to the truck wondering where the big bull was and where I was going to hunt in the evening.
Back at camp, I took a short nap and shot a few arrows. Everything looked good, so I decided to go up the mountain for the afternoon hunt. I left camp at about 3:00 p.m. and started the 30-minute climb to the top. When I got about halfway up, a bugle rang out from above me.
At the top of the ridge, I decided to take a little break because it was pretty hot, so I sat down, drank some water and cooled off. After about 15 minutes, the bull bugled again. He was about 200 yards away, so I got up and moved closer. I figured the bull was lying down, so I sat down again about 100 yards from where I thought he was and waited.
For a full account of Robbie's adventure, go to page 28 in the January/February 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.