Idaho, 2009, DIY, Public Land
Like most of you reading this, hunting is a year-round hobby for me. If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about doing it. Last year was no different, except for one thing - in May, in order to get in shape for hunting season, I decided to play on an indoor soccer team. Five minutes into the second game I heard a loud snap and down I went. I wasn’t quite sure what happened, but my left foot didn’t work.
After a quick trip to the ER, I was diagnosed with a completely ruptured Achilles tendon. The next morning I met with an orthopedic surgeon. He told me it would take six months to heal and up to a year to fully recover. I immediately started calculating how many months I had until opening day. My elk hunt was just over four months away - not good!
After surgery I had six weeks with no pressure on it and then six weeks walking on it in a cam-walker boot. Needless to say, when I got the boot off in early September, my leg was very weak. The next four weeks was spent going to physical therapy twice a week. The result was that I could walk about 200 yards on flat ground. With October here, I was as ready as I was going to get.
My hunting buddy, Jim, my brother, Bret, and his hunting buddy, Rich, all have a vast knowledge of the area we hunt, but we still like to go in a few days early to look around. However, because of commitments at work, we couldn’t leave until Friday morning. Luckily my dad, Bert, went up a few days early to get everything set up.
We arrived at elk camp around noon, less than 24 hours before the opener. With the excitement of another hunting season upon us, we couldn’t wait to peer through the Swarovskis and look for the bull of a lifetime.
The four of us went to a glassing area that overlooks miles of country. I was setting up my spotting scope, ready to pick apart the terrain, when my brother noticed he had forgotten some of his gear. The three of us stayed and searched for animals while Bret went to retrieve his things.
While he was gone we spotted a couple of small herds. One of them had a good bull - a dark-antlered 6x6 with ivory tips. We were still watching the bull when Bret returned, and I told him that we had found a shooter. With a smirk on his face, he said, “Well, that makes two.”
At first he wasn’t willing to give up any information. After a little elk camp persuasion, he told us that as he was driving back to camp, he came around a corner and there was a giant bull standing in the road. The bull whirled and jumped off the downhill side of the road and stopped to look back. Bret thought quickly and kept going so he wouldn’t scare the bull out of the country. He said it was a definite shooter with extra points. Needless to say, we were pleased with our scouting effort.
That night the plans were made. Bret and Rich were going after the bull Bret had seen, and Jim and I were going glassing to find the other bull.
The next morning we left camp and were a few hundred yards from our glassing site when Jim exclaimed, “There’s a bull right there!” Standing on the horizon 300 yards away was a beautiful 280-class 6x6.
Jim whispered, “Do you think he’ll go 300?”
I said, “No; just under.”
We had decided that if it wasn’t 300, we would not punch our tags. Talk can be cheap when faced with an opportunity like that, but true to our word, we watched that bull walk over the ridge and out of sight. We looked at each other without a word spoken, but we were both wondering if we had made the right decision.
We decided to sneak to the top of the ridge to have a look. As we climbed, Jim went to the right of the knob and I went to the left. It was all I could do to climb that hill, and once on top, I had to sit down and rest my leg.
For a full account of Rod's adventure, go to page 36 in the June/July 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.