Date Night in Elk Country

By Amy Kincheloe
Wyoming, 2011, DIY, Public Land

Amy Kincheloe - Date Night in Elk CountryJune/July 2012 EHJ (Issue 131) - Scott called at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and said, "You gotta get up here, there is a bull, a big bull and I don’t have a tag.” At approximately 2:06 p.m. my husband and I drove out of town toward the mountain. Our date night that we had already planned was going to start four hours early. Who can complain when date night involves elk hunting?

Up until this point, the only thing we knew is that there was a big bull spotted in an area we had never been into before. We knew the area well, but had never taken the "right fork.” At this point, we only know at this point is that there may or may not be a big bull up this road that we had never been on and we needed to take the right fork in the road into the hunting unit. Finally, we met up with Scott and he said, "They looked this morning like they may be bedded down in those trees over there, but they could be in the next basin for all we know.”

That was all the information that we had to go on. My husband, Troy, and I sat down and devised as good of a plan as we could. Troy and I both had tags for the unit, but he insisted that I was going to take the shot if we found the bull. He was going on a big pack-in hunt in a few weeks and wanted to save his tag for it. I was planning to shoot a cow in November and getting one "under my belt” so to speak. However, now knowing that I was going to be taking the shot at this huge bull if we found him, sent my nerves into overdrive.

And so it began. We hiked, we glassed, and we sat. Nothing. We moved up and went around a ridge that we knew the elk wouldn’t be on so we could rethink our plan. After a few minutes, we headed back down the mountain to glass a new piece of unseen basin. We turned up nothing at first and as I scanned to my right a little more, something caught my eye. We were told there was a big bull with eight cows. I blinked, looked again to focus the spot that had just caught my eye and there he was, a big bull and one cow.

I did my best to calm my nerves and tell Troy that I found the bull. "Troy… umm, there he is,” I whispered. He quickly looked in my direction, then toward the bull and said, "Aim! Wait for him to turn.” What seemed like forever was probably only a few seconds before the bull turned. I steadied the crosshairs on the bull’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger. I had no idea what happened, so I ran in the direction of the bull. Apparently, that’s not exactly what you should do. "You get back here Amy. You don’t know if you hit him!”

Confused, I looked at Troy and said, "But...uh, uh, look there are the cows!” and I rattled off, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight cows…no bull…let’s go!” Troy insisted that I stay put and give the bull some time. We watched the cows move off and finally went to go look for my bull.

Of course, Troy found the bull first. He was right and I had no idea where I was looking. The giant bull was down, and it was peaceful. Out of nowhere, the Oh my gosh I killed something emotion set in. A thank you for this animal was what was needed. We knelt and I offered up a prayer and thanks for this incredible creature lying before us and for the entire experience of being there with my husband.

Ok, I know you are all wondering if I had to do the dirty work. Heck no! I have a wonderful husband who takes care of all of that. I did however have to stand watch with a .45 in case a grizzly decided to get curious. That was an unsettling, and vulnerable feeling. We never did have any problems, but as Troy said, you just never know in bear country and I didn’t want to find out. We got the bull out and made it home at about 11:00 p.m.

Amy Kincheloe - Date Night in Elk Country

For a full account of Amy's adventure, go to page 36 in the June/July 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.