Birthday Bull

By Ace Lee
Wyoming, Guided, Public Land

Ace Lee - Birthday BullJune/July 2013 EHJ (Issue 137) - I have been hunting elk for 40 years. From day one, it had been my dream to get one in the books. I had been putting in for the Wyoming units known for the big elk and had max points but with lots of people doing the same it made for high odds. At age 57, I needed to come up with something soon.

Many outfitters will tell you about the elk in their area. I wanted to check things more, so what I did was to get hold of some of the biologists in other areas. One unit came up several times. There was only one outfitter in the area I wanted, and he had a wilderness hunt. The unit had big elk and was a little easier to draw, so I put in, got lucky and drew a tag.

After seven months of pure pain it was TIME TO GO. After an overnight stay in a small cowboy town and meeting the other hunters we drove to the trailhead, packed our gear on the horses, and headed up the river drainage.

The ride took about two and a half hours, with a little rain and some time for pictures. Then we made camp. Stowing our gear in our tents we all went in the cook tent for coffee just in time. The clouds opened up and the rain poured.

Shortly after that the rain turned to snow! PERFECT. After snowing about two inches it stopped and cleared.

Camp is up off the river in another area. From there we watched a herd of elk across the river about two to three miles away into the area I had a tag for.

That night after dinner we sat in the cook tent getting to knowing each other and telling stories about other hunts. One guy had just gotten his Bighorn so we had sheep backstraps for dinner and they were very good. I was telling about my birthday being tomorrow and how cool it would be to get a monster on my birthday. Rounding up the night we turned in for an early morning.

At 4:30 we all met for breakfast. All the other hunters had tags for the other unit so in this camp I had my unit all to myself! My guide Rob and I had to ride down the mountain and across the river and up into the area. Right off the bat we were in elk and saw lots of bulls. My best bull so far was 332”; I wanted a bull that would score 340 to 350, so we let these go.

We decided to make a long ride around over the top and back. The very next draw we got into a bunch more elk. There were elk all over the place, and lots of bulls! Riding down and up the other side we saw antelope, the last thing I expected to see way up there. They busted over the top and we stopped short and walked up to peek into the next drainage. With fresh wolf and grizzly tracks in the snow it was time to go into 360-degree mode. Halfway down the drainage we spotted two large herds of elk. It was time to take a better look.

Taking care of the horses, we walked to a point where we could see better. The group the farthest away had some nice bulls, with one being a very good one. After watching them slowly going farther down, we looked at the other group about 1,000 yards down. Holy smokes! There he was – my bull.

Ace Lee - Birthday Bull

For a full account of Ace's adventure, go to page 14 in the June/July 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.