Utah, 2008, DIY, Public Land
Early morning of April 30, 2008 found me dejected for the fifteenth year in a row; yet another year without a Utah limited entry elk tag. My fourteen points had fallen short. At 73 years of age, I was fearful that 2008 had been my last chance physically to kill a monster Utah bull.
Tagless, the summer months raced by. Frequent family scouting trips to the mountains made my lack of a tag even more painful. My youngest son, Dale, had been lucky enough to draw an archery tag in the same unit I had applied for. Dale, along with my grandsons, Josh Osborn and Jacob Moss, would spend the entire summer scouring the unit for possible trophies. Velvet antlers would come and go with lots of prospective bulls crossing the lenses of their optics and cameras.
Early September finally arrived, with the leaves changing and the bulls starting to bugle. Dale had yet to connect on an archery bull, and I was still a little depressed.
The morning of September 10, everything changed for me. My wife, Glenna, received a phone call from the Utah DWR; someone had turned back their tag and I was next in line! After a return phone call to the state and a quick trip to Salt Lake City, I finally had a tag in hand. Time was short and I had to prepare.
The next morning, Dale connected on a great bull (see his story in EBJ 53) and his focus changed from hunter to guide. As Jacob and I drove to the gun range, I was excited to shoot my rifle. The first shot from my sporterized Springfield .30-06 found the center of the bull’s-eye. My rifle was ready now, and I only needed to prepare myself mentally.
Early in the morning on September 13, only three days since I received notice that I would even be hunting this unit, there I was hiking across an old burn. Opening day had arrived and I was pumped. Oddly enough, I had fought the fire that created this elk heaven 40 years earlier. I had spent 28 years as a forest technician for the Fishlake National Forest on the Beaver Ranger District, and it had increased my knowledge of this unit greatly. Hopefully my knowledge of the unit and the hard scouting my sons and grandsons had done would pay off.
For a full account of J.D.'s adventure, go to page 26 in the December/January 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.