Cat and Mouse

By Richard Peterson
Utah, DIY, Public Land

Richard Peterson - Cat and MouseMay/June 2013 EBJ (Issue 77) - Twelve years of putting in and a lifetime dreaming of the day I would be able to hunt monster bulls finally became a reality in May 2012 when I got my e-mail from the Utah DWR showing "Successful.” I had drawn a tag for what is arguably one of the top areas in Utah for big bulls. Last year, my older brother Kurt had drawn this same archery tag. We had a blast scouting and hunting; he tagged out with a beautiful long-tined 5x6. The year before that my youngest brother Ross drew an archery tag for a nearby unit and killed a respectable 6x6 that I was able to call in for him. Being there for both my brothers’ hunts was awesome, but now it was my turn.

We spent the summer scouting and looking for good bulls and new areas to hunt. August finally came and the hunt was on. We hunted hard every chance we could, putting in fifteen days before I was able to punch my tag.

On Monday, the last week of my hunt, we found a new bull that we hadn’t seen before tucked away in a big rocky draw that offered cedars and sagebrush for cover. This wasn’t the deep pines and quakes I was accustomed to. We knew he was big enough with only a quick glance through our binos. He was a beautiful bull with amazing width, long points, and a cheater coming off his right G-4, earning him the nickname Hooker.

After a stalk that got me within 60 yards he would not present me with a clear shoot. I backed out and put him to bed for the night. The next morning he had moved two rugged canyons away. Another long stalk and I had him at 73 yards bedded, but his cows busted me as they fed downwind. The herd went crashing up the steep mountainside and around the peak, diving down a narrow chute between the rugged cliffs that covered the north face of the mountain. Following their tracks for about two miles I had another opportunity with the bull at only 20 yards and thought I had him, but when I leaned out for what I thought was going to be a clear shot there was a cow standing in front of his vitals. Once again I watched as he bolted with antlers and hooves crashing through the trees.

After three close encounters in the last twenty-four hours the physical and emotional rollercoaster of hunting was starting to take its toll. I thought my dream of harvesting this huge bull was gone.

When I met up with my younger brother Ross I started to express my disappointment in having close encounters and not being able to let my arrow fly, he interrupted me and informed me that he had just seen the bull. He had split off with about half his cows into a nearby drainage. We quickly made a game plan and the hunt was on again. I must admit at this point I was not all that confident that we could make it happen. I had been chasing this bull all day and had less than two hours of day light left.

Putting our plan into action, I looped around the knob where we thought the bull was. Trying to get the wind in my favor and come in from the side instead of from the rear where I knew they would be watching for me, I was still caught by surprise by three of his cows. They took off through the scrub oak and cedars with a crashing that announced my presence. I watched the stampeding cows head up a steep scrub oak face and was shocked when I saw four more cows and the bull, join in with the spooked runners. Obviously tired from a long day on the move trying to escape some obsessed, camouflaged elkoholic, the herd stopped near the top of the ridge. I thought now is my chance. They will crest the ridge and pass through a small saddle. If I run I might beat them there and be in perfect position for a shot. So, I ran.

Richard Peterson - Cat and Mouse

For a full account of Richard's adventure, go to page 44 in the May/June 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.