June/July 2012 EHJ (Issue 131) - During the pre-dawn light, the three of us were beginning to wonder if we had made the right decision leaving the comforts of the warm Suburban in order to hike the long and steep ridge to glass for elk. It was opening morning of the Utah 2011, early-season, limited-entry elk hunt, and after applying for 12 years, I finally had a tag. This was more than enough motivation for my buddy, Jason Greer and my dad John, and me to continue on our climb and endure the terrible weather conditions that Mother Nature decided to throw at us that morning.
When we reached the top of the ridge, we quickly set up and started to glass. While I was glassing, my mind started drifting to what had brought me to this particular area. Prior to the Utah application period, I had contacted Greg Wamsley and Clint Kearl. Together, they own and operate Kearl Ranch Outfitters (KRO), located in Round Valley. This area has some of the best elk and mule deer habitat I’ve seen. I knew my odds of drawing the tag were good, but there was always a little bit of doubt that lingered.
As these thoughts were still bouncing around in my mind, I got a quick slap back to reality by another downpour of rain. It wasn’t long until I started regretting leaving my wool pants and heavy rain gear at home. I was cold! I was starting to think that the warmth and comfort of the suburban was looking pretty inviting, when I heard Jason say, "There’s a good bull!” I was shaking so bad from the cold and wet weather that I could barely hold my binoculars steady enough to see the big bull quickly pushing his four cows through a small opening 1,000 yards away. It had only been about 15 minutes since we had seen the first bull of the morning and we all thought that they were one in the same, but after a quick look at this bull pushing his cows, we all agreed they were two different bulls…this one was much bigger and had much darker antlers than the first. The big concern was that as quickly as he appeared, he was gone; heading directly away from us.
"Oh well,” I thought. At least we were able to see a couple decent bulls that morning despite the terrible weather conditions. It wasn’t very long and the clouds disappeared and the sun made the first appearance of the day. Things were starting to look up. We decided to go back to camp, dry out, grab something to eat and make a plan for an evening hunt.
The drive back to camp gave me time to reflect on the morning events, but also how fortunate I was to be on an elk hunt. We had seen some nice bulls and to top it all off, I had my dad with me to experience the whole thing…and to me, that’s what it’s all about!
Once we were back at camp, we soon learned that other hunters had seen the big bull that morning also. After many conversations, we all agreed that it was the same bull that had been located during the archery hunt and the same one that Clint and Greg saw early during the summer. It didn’t take long until the bull we had seen that morning became the talk of the camp.
During the next couple days, the big bull managed to give other hunters in camp the slip and I was concerned that he moved out of the area due to all the hunting pressure.
On the third morning, Jason, my dad and I left early and arrived well before daylight. We were back in the same area that we had hunted opening morning. With the sun coming up at our backs, we started glassing the side hills to the West. It wasn’t long until Jason located a cow about 1,500 yards from us, and soon, three more cows appeared. We then saw a very nice bull chasing the cows in and out of the thick quakies and willows. It didn’t take long to see that the bull was a shooter! I handed my binoculars to my dad and told him to keep a watch on the bull. Jason and I started off the ridge and down into the long draw to try to close the distance. The bull continued to bugle and chase the cows back and forth. Most of this action we could not see because we were trying to stay downwind and out of sight.
For a full account of Kevin's adventure, go to page 38 in the June/July 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.