Family Affair

By Raymond Sandoval
Nevada, DIY, Public Land

Family Affair - Raymond SandovalSeptember/October 2013 EBJ (Issue 79) - It’s hard to draw a Nevada elk tag. It had been 12 years since my last Nevada elk hunt. Every time I was able to get close to a bull on that hunt something weird would happen. It was just that kind of season and not meant to be. But, even though I was unsuccessful, it was a blast camping and being with family and friends.

We scouted for this year’s bull from late July through all of August. The quality of bulls was amazing. My family and I were all planning this trip so we made up a spike camp in the heart of my hunting area but close enough to town to travel back and forth if someone needed to.

My daughter Talya, brothers Jon and B.J., brother-in-laws Bill, Dale, and Doug, and son-in-law Ben all did a lot of scouting, setting up cameras, and rebuilding blinds. My friends Mitch and Nate, who hunt a lot, were calling and showing me camera shots of nice bulls they had spotted in my area. Living in a small town like Ely with such good friends has a lot of advantages.

Opening day was one of the most memorable days I have had in a long time. I promised my 10-year-old nephew Haden that he could sit in a blind with me. The thing I did not want to happen that morning was to have a 340-class bull come in, because they are so hard to pass up with a bow. That is exactly what happened.

Around 6:30 we heard a bull bugle down the ridge, heading straight to the blind. Haden watched the bull walk within 70 yards. I wanted to get a better shot if possible. I was leaning against my nephew and he started to shake. The bull turned and walked over the ridge.

I asked young Haden what was wrong and he said, "I’ve been close to a lot of big bulls but they were all dead; I’ve never been that close to a bull that big, still alive. I could hear him breathing!”

I laughed at what a character he was and watched a few more small deer come in. Haden was awesome and quiet.

We hunted hard for the next week. Bill had been scouting an area where the bulls were plentiful and big. I was able to get close to bulls and once again made a few shots but missed. My brothers and Bill were all laughing and saying it was like déjà vu all over again.

The bulls would be running and come on my backside, leaving me with no shot through the trees, or the smaller bulls and cows would bust me. After the second week things were not looking good; we all felt like my results were going to end up being the same as the first hunt. On a positive note, every day we were still getting close to big bulls which was building a lot of confidence in the area we had chosen, which was all wilderness.

We decided to stay with the area because the quantity, quality, and lack of hunters were too good to be true. I was hoping my luck would change. We started to carry more water and food so we would spend the day on the mountain. Plus, I had already lost 17 pounds in two weeks and at 50 the walking was not getting easier. My nephew Talon was really disappointed with me; he wanted to spend the night on the hill and I told him no way.

The day we got the bull, Bill, Talon, Jon, and I were walking to what we called the upper north spring wallow. Jon stopped to glass and spotted a nice bull on its way to the wallow so we rushed to the wallow as fast as we could.

There were two trees on the hill forty yards away so we were hoping to catch him in the middle of his mud bath. By the time we got there the bull was gone and two hundred yards up the draw. Ben and I had already made up a small blind in the willows a few days before so Talon and I decided to sit in the blind the rest of the morning and see if anything else would come in.

While Talon and I were sitting there a larger bull slipped in and bugled 30 yards behind us. We both jumped. I turned slowly to see and he was definitely a shooter, a 6x6 about 360. He must have gotten wind of us or saw me turn to check him out. He turned back and went up the hill (here we go again!!).

Family Affair - Raymond Sandoval

For a full account of Raymond's adventure, go to page 34 in the September/October 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.