June/July 2013 EHJ (Issue 137) - After three hip replacements, Dad had given up elk hunting 14 years ago. With the onset of Parkinson’s disease more recently, elk hunting with my dad seemed like a dream lost in days gone by. Even so, when big game applications are due every year I encouraged dad to put in for elk, deer, antelope, and moose.
Dad would reluctantly do so and say "I don’t know what I would do if I drew the tag.”
I always reply, "We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, just keep applying and building points.”
This year presented a unique problem, Dad drew a special permit for a big bull unit in Montana and I drew a limitedentry tag in Wyoming. My mind started racing immediately when I found out that dad drew a coveted tag.
One of the main problems was that the unit dad drew his tag for was very steep and rugged. Dad would not be able to hike like anyone else would, so my preseason scouting to find areas where he could hunt would be crucial. My plan was to scout all summer, talk to some landowners, and talk to some people at work about the unit.
The night before hunting season started we drove to a high spot where we could glass the unit. Right at dark, three big 330-class bulls stepped out in a park that dad could hunt. As the sunlight lit up the high mountain peaks we were within range and waiting in the darkness, wondering and hoping the bulls would be there in the morning.
Next morning, as the sun slowly rose we could see that the bulls were no longer in the park. It was disappointing, but Dad and I have been through this same scenario so many times in the past. Persistence kills elk! We would watch this park for the next two weeks because this was really the only park the elk frequented that I could get dad even remotely close to.
From that spot, we would patiently wait and watch bulls in distant ridges, only wishing we could go after them. It was a different experience watching big bulls through the spotting scope and knowing that we could not go after them. We had to learn to be patient and let the bulls come to us.
We were rapidly approaching the third weekend of a five-week season. I decided to take a couple of days of work off and see if I could help dad find some elk mid-week. Dad and I had set up a camp before the season so it was nice to have a place to stay when we traveled from home to hunt.
We arrived at camp late Tuesday evening and were up and ready to go hunting well before light the next morning. As we slowly walked up the trail in the absolute stillness of the night, it seemed like a perfect morning for an elk hunt. It was fun to have dad out hunting again, as he was my hunting mentor growing up.
As it started getting light I glassed toward the park. In the grayness of the morning I could see a big yellow body in the middle of the park. I knew that to get into position as fast as we could we needed to hike down about a quarter of a mile and get across the canyon from the park. Dad and I both seemed to have some adrenaline going and made it down into our predetermined post in short order.
Unfortunately, the big yellow bull was not there! Frustrated, we sat there a few minutes and discussed our options. While discussing our options I happened to look up at the park and a beautiful, tall, long beamed 6x7 bull walking across the park. Dad didn’t have time to get a good rest, but relying on all those years of experience before him, just leaned up against a tree and squeezed off two shots.
For a full account of Jim's adventure, go to page 22 in the June/July 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.