June/July 2012 EHJ (Issue 131) - The bull lay motionless just 142 yards away. "Woo hoo,” I shouted! Time seemed to stand still and I didn’t know what to think. My dad was so overwhelmed with joy he started to get tears in his eyes.
"We did it, Stefan! We did it!” He exclaimed.
"Yes,” I replied, "we did it, dad. We make a great team.” As I stood there and looked at my overjoyed father and enjoyed our moment of bonding, it dawned on me that this moment almost didn’t happen.
After drawing my first good elk tag, I started searching for friends who could join me, but none of them could commit. I reluctantly invited my father, Ron, to come along on the hunt. It’s not that I didn’t want to invite him; I just wasn’t sure that he could march up and down the hills and then help pack out an elk due to his age. However, knowing I needed someone to accompany me, I asked him to come. Without a moment of hesitation, he agreed.
Unable to scout the unit, I relied heavily on the information I had been given from my friend, Kirby Hornbeck. I first met Kirby at the Antlerfest in Roy, Utah several years ago. He had an incredible collection of shed antlers and pictures of the bucks and bulls harvested in his neck of the woods. He had mentioned if I were to draw a tag, he would be willing to help.
With Kirby’s help, I started to prepare for the hunt. I wasn’t as excited as I felt I should have been, but my dad could hardly contain himself. He made sure to tell everyone he knew that he was going elk hunting with his son in Wyoming. His enthusiasm was contagious and soon, I was just as excited as he was.
I had been reluctantly convinced to avoid the first week of the hunt. Kirby was hunting deer in the area, which meant he could fill me in on where the big bulls were. I trusted Kirby and my other sources and set the hunt for the third week of October.
When my dad and I arrived in the area, Kirby picked us up and showed us around. Much to my disappointment, the only elk we saw was a small six-point.
The second day, we met up with Kirby again and found some bulls, but they were on private property and they had no desire to cross the fence. They seemed content laying there soaking up the sun. I could almost hear them laugh at me saying, "Just keep looking – because you can’t do anything else!”
The following day, Kirby had some other obligations so my dad and I were on our own. We drove more of the roads to get familiar with a greater portion of the area, but once again, the only bulls we spotted were in the safe zone. After glassing many canyons, we decided to head back to the mountain where Kirby had seen a good bull during the deer hunt.
As I went through the hunt, I tried to use the tips that I had found in Mike Eastman’s book, Elk Hunting the West, and also things that I had picked up from the Eastman’s TV show on how to hunt bulls after the rut. Guy mentioned bulls become solitary and seek secluded areas with good feed. They also advised on long, patient glassing from a distance. Following these tactics paid off!
For a full account of Stefan's adventure, go to page 24 in the June/July 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.