June/July 2013 EHJ (Issue 137) - After 45 minutes, the large bull stepped into the sage clearing to feed. Even at that distance he looked considerably larger than the other two 300-inch bulls in the clearing. The bull moved to the right, presenting a perfect broadside view for a moment, and then turned to the left and started to move back into the mahogany. At the last moment, he lowered his head to feed, presenting me with a quartering away shot. I knew this was my chance because with one more step he would be gone. I slowly squeezed the trigger.
But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. As my wife often says, I get to the point too quickly, so let me start at the beginning. After 11 years of applying, I finally drew a Nevada elk tag. I hunted deer in this unit back in 2005 and killed a great 185-inch buck and saw some great bulls as well.
For the past six years I had applied for the archery elk hunt. In 2011 I helped a friend take a 368 bull during one of the rifle seasons, so for 2012 I applied for the first rifle season, which started November 6th.
At my age, getting an elk tag in Nevada could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity due to the five-year waiting period for successful applicants and the number of points needed to draw. Conceivably, I could be in my mid-70s before I drew again. For that reason, and because I was looking for a 350-plus bull, I decided to hire an outfitter to help with my hunt. After speaking with a couple of friends, I called Chuck Marques of Bull Ridge Outfitters. Bull Ridge provides guiding services in several units in eastern central Nevada.
On November 3rd, my friend Troy Neiman and I arrived in Nevada. Our plan was to scout on our own for the next two days and hook up with our guide Sunday evening. Opening morning was the next day.
The unit I had drawn has three large mountain ranges separated by high desert basin country. The range on which we decided to concentrate was roughly 50 miles long and 20 miles wide with very little road access. We did most of our scouting from dirt and paved roads that encircle the range.
At that time of year the bulls were in small bachelor groups recovering from the rut. The lower mountains were covered in pinion pine, which gave way to mahogany and aspen thickets at the higher elevations. The county was steep and rocky and rose from 6,000 to over 10,000 feet.
In the early mornings and late afternoons, we would find the elk grazing out from the mahogany and aspen into small sage openings. They were generally between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, which meant that any stalk would entail at least a 2,000 to 3,000-foot climb.
Over the course of the next two days we glassed several bachelor groups and found two bulls that we thought might be shooters. We met our guide, Brock Rowley, on Sunday afternoon and he indicated he would like to take a look at the larger of the two bulls we scouted. After seeing the bull, he confirmed it was a good bull but it might be in a difficult place to make a stalk. We continued to scout other canyons and ridgelines and found one other bull that he felt would go over 350 and was in a more accessible location. We decided to try to find that bull on opening morning.
The next morning we set up to glass well ahead of first light. We were glassing to the west so as the sun came up it really lit up the hillside. We found the bull from the previous evening just after first light and watched him feed between the mahogany patches. He appeared to have a large frame and good tine length throughout his entire rack except for his fifths. One was broken and the other appeared to be about eight inches long. I was concerned about the small size of his fifths, but he still looked so much larger than any other bull we had seen. We were glassing from almost three miles, so even with our spotting scopes it was difficult to get a good read on his score.
For a full account of Ed's adventure, go to page 50 in the June/July 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.