Royally Hooked

By Dave Bymaster

Dave BymasterDave Bymaster
Montana, 2008, DIY, Public Access

The situation turned scary fast. I was still on cloud nine after taking a tremendous bull elk earlier in the morning. Then, in an instant, I was horrified to see my friend injured by the very bull I had killed. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm blessed to have been raised in a small Montana town where hunting is still a way of life. The area ranchers are top-notch people and hunting is ingrained in most of them as well. I'm very appreciative that many of them participate in Montana's Block Management Program, which opens up access to quality, fair chase hunting opportunities for the average person.

I was full of anticipation for Montana's general rifle season as I made the long but familiar drive across three states to get back "home." Having been a mule deer hunter all my life, I wanted this to be my year to get an elk. Upon arriving in my old hometown, I called Shane Huston and we finalized arrangements for a DIY deer and elk hunt. Shane had a deer tag and his 12- year-old daughter, Sydne, had a deer tag and a cow elk tag. We'd hunt together on the days they could go out and I'd hunt solo the other days.

Opening morning was windy and bitterly cold. In fact, the hydration system on my pack froze solid and stayed that way all day. Around mid-morning, I split off on my own to cover more ground. When we met later, I was happy to see that Sydne had taken her very first buck. Shane was pleased with the poise his daughter had shown in brutal weather. Her success warmed our spirits. At the end of the day, we spotted seven cows and a nice bull in the distance but we ran out of light.

Dave Bymaster

For a full account of Dave's adventure, go to page 42 in the June/July 2009 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.