The Big Picture
Dec/Jan 2011 EHJ (Issue 122)
Montana, 2009, DIY, Public Land
- Being born and raised in western Montana, I was spoiled with a wealth of outdoor experiences right out my front door. As an optimistic 12-year-old, with a hunter-safety certificate clutched in my hands, I’d never have believed that it would take me four years to get my first elk. It was a beautiful spike I took on my 16th birthday and I’ve never experienced a better present. Overflowing with newfound confidence, I told my dad, “I am going to get an elk every year!”
Dad grew up in an era when finding a single elk track was reason for celebration and inspiration to stay doggedly on that track for days, if necessary, to have a successful season. He grinned knowingly and tried to let me down easily, saying, “Do you really know how hard that would be?”
I sure showed him; the next year I got a cow and the following year a small raghorn bull. It was my fourth elk that was a true monster - a 6x6 that scored 360 B&C. From that point on, I would indeed be lucky enough to get an elk every year, but that was the last and only six-point bull I would take for 23 years. If only in part, Dad was right; elk hunting is far harder than any cocky 20-yearold can ever know.
In 2007, my longtime hunting partner, Jackie, spotted some cows feeding out of the timber. Eventually, we saw a nice, long-beamed six-point bull bringing up the rear. We didn’t have much daylight, so we made a short stalk and peeked over the ridge. The 20 cows and two large bulls were already on the run. The large bull hesitated for a split-second to decide which way to go and my rifle bellowed. Jackie yelled, “You hit him!”
I wasn’t as sure, but we walked down the ridge through four-foot-high sage and there was a large antler sticking up. My six-point drought was finally over with a nice 310 bull.
The following year, we headed out expecting to harvest a cow elk at daylight. As the sun was coming up, we were walking up into some rolling hills when I spotted a large bull and a cow 150 yards to my right. Jackie was only 20 yards away and down in the prone position glassing. I signaled to her it was a legal bull, but from her angle there was brush in the way. After 15 seconds (which seemed like as many minutes), the cow broke away and the bull paused for a second. I touched the trigger, and another nice bull was mine.
For a full account of Thor's adventure, go to page 28 in the December/January 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.