June/July 2012 EHJ (Issue 131) - It’s October 11th at 4:00 p.m. and I couldn’t believe this bull! I’d been there almost two hours and he hadn’t moved once; my legs were starting to hurt. My gun was on the shooting sticks and I was ready for him to make a move. I thought to myself, "Do I cow call? Try to get closer? Move around for a better angle? No, wait, he has to get up eventually and when he does, you have him!”
Now rewind to March 18th, 2011. I was at the Los Banos Friends of NRA event. Did I tell you that I work for the NRA as Sr. Field Representative? When the event was over, Ron Pereira, Chairman, and myself were sitting around. I asked Ron if he was still seeing those great Tule Elk around his work. He said, "Yes, and I’ve seen some great bulls the last few years.” I then asked, "Hey, when I draw that tag will you take care of me?” With a little laugh, he said, "Sure.” He knew the odds of drawing the tag was like winning the lottery. I then told him, "Well, I’m going to draw it, so you better get everything set up.”
Fast forward to June 18th, I was visiting with my brother and he said, "Are the draw for California hunts announced?” I replied, "I think so. Let’s take a look.” As usual, his draw was marked unsuccessful; my dad’s draw unsuccessful; but my draw was successful. What!? I said, "I have to make a call to Ron.” When I got Ron on the phone, I shared the news. All he could say is, "What?” I replied, "I’m one of the three tags. Better call your friends because we are going hunting!”
In August, I started making contact with Fish and Game and the people in charge of the California elk program, Joe Hobbs. I asked Joe if he knew anyone that had property that might be willing to help out a fellow hunter. He said, "Contact Mark and Scott.” In the next few days, I received an email from Mark introducing himself and we hit it off immediately. Next thing, I was driving up to the hunting area to meet with him and his brother, Scott. First, we went over to the public area that is shotgun or bow only. It was very hot, so we only saw a few elk and they were all on the wrong side of the road. A friend of Scotts received the tag last year and he said it was a great hunt and we were going to see lots of bulls.
My friend, Ron, introduced me to his friend, Randy, who worked for Fish and Game. Randy told me that we should wait until early September and then take a look around when the elk were in rut and boy was he right. Come September, I saw three bulls on the public property that were 6x7 or better. Then, over the next three weeks, I found a total of seven bulls 6x7 or better! I was getting more and more excited.
Only a few days to opening, I packed up my trailer with my wife and kids and we were off. The first three days were spent spotting bulls and making a list of what I wanted to shoot. Up until this time, I had a 9x8 that was top on the list. Just before season, I located him and saw he had broken a bunch of points which earned him the name, "Broken.” Then I got a call from my friend Ron. He said to get over to his work to see two big bulls fighting and another big bull watching. I raced over to the location and got there in time to see one bull, and man, he was a monster! I filmed him for over an hour. WOW, I had a new number one! At that point, my wife said, "Hey you’re not hunting your shopping! You’re like a girl in a shopping mall.” I started to think about it and came to the conclusion that she was right. So, off elk shopping I went.
September 30th was the last day of scouting. Since, I only found a symmetrical 6x6 and "Broken” in the public area, I set out to find the property owners around the location of the monster bull. Trying to get this information was taking too much time, so I decided to go back to the public property for the last evening of scouting. While there, I ran into an elk hunter, Chris. He told me he would be hunting the public property and at that point, I wanted to make sure not to run into him while hunting to mess up his hunt. So, I told him what public area I planned to hunt on opening day.
For a full account of Jason's adventure, go to page 28 in the June/July 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.