August/September 2012 EHJ (Issue 132) - Let me set this one up for you. I like to think of myself as good hunter and I spend a lot of time in the mountains looking for trophy mule deer and elk. I always read, and I am sure you do to, about the guy who drove or walked right up a huge animal, and takes a trophy of a lifetime. Every time I read it I just shake my head thinking, "Wow, that would never happen to me!” I am writing you this story to tell you it really can happen to anyone and this year was my turn.
I have lived in Wyoming all of my life and hunting is what I do. Mule deer and elk are the two species that I pursue each year. I must say I was not to excited about elk hunting this past fall. Usually, I put in for a late-season bull tag and have been fairly fortunate in drawing it. This season, luck was not on my side. I spend so much time in August and September mule deer scouting and hunting, that by the time the elk hunt starts, I’m pretty burnt out.
This year was no different. I spent a lot of time highcountry mule deer hunting starting in late August, going through the middle of October. I didn’t even go out for the elk opener because both of my brothers shot nice bucks the night before and we spent all of the next day packing them out. Not having scouted for any elk, it would have been a tough hunt anyway and the elk seemed to be a lot higher on the mountain and on private land. With a little snowfall, the elk started to move down and that’s what I needed.
My uncle Rusty gave me an invite to come up to his hunting camp, but luck was not on my side again. I had a list of chores to do while my wife was at work and an unexpected water line break in our home didn’t exactly make things any better.
The stars finally aligned and I was able to make it up to my uncle’s camp. I met up with my uncle David and we headed for the mountain. When we arrived, Rusty, his wife Trudy, their daughter Cassie and one of their guides Joe were already in camp. We got settled in and prepared for the morning’s hunt.
The next morning, Joe and I decided to hunt together. I was really hoping that the big 320-330 bull Rusty had found would still be around, but Joe said he was gone. Not really what I wanted to hear at the time but that’s the way it goes. Joe and I left camp just before daylight and started walking… heading into an area that no one had hunted for a while.
Once we got to where we thought some elk would be, Joe and I decided to split up. I was not to familiar with the area, so Joe said he would bugle once in a while to keep me in line with him. It wasn’t long before I was within 40 yards of a bull feeding by himself in a clear-cut. The bull was a five-point and nothing that I was looking to shoot, but I sat and watched him for a while.
For a full account of Dustin's adventure, go to page 52 in the August/September 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.