It Only Takes One

By John Miller
Wyoming, DIY, Public Land

John Miller - It Only Takes OneJune/July 2013 EHJ (Issue 137) - Five o’clock comes early when you are cuddled up in the front seat of your car on a cold Wyoming morning. I was in and out of dreams of being surrounded by elk when a security guard knocked on my driver side window to see why we were parked so close to their refining facility. With a quick explanation that my brother and I were waiting on our friends to go up elk hunting, he was off.

After a quick breakfast and some warm clothes I had time to finish dreaming about the bull I hoped to kill and the hunt that I had long been anticipating. The MRS section of the Eastmans’ Journal had helped me decide to put in for this tag for the past couple years and was pumped to finally get the opportunity to hunt this area. My whole life I have wanted to find and pursue a monster bull on public land and we believed this could be the year and area to do it.

After a quick lap around the block to warm up my vehicle, Chance and Henry, my two hunting buddies arrived, and in no time we were headed north to the mountains. As daylight was just starting to break we started up the mountain to begin our hunt in a spot that seemed promising from our research and scouting efforts.

We moved quickly up the slick, steep slopes and managed to make it to a beautiful glassing point by first light. About eight inches of snow covered the ground and as the sun rose and we gained elevation, the bitter cold wind was becoming so nasty that sitting in one spot to glass for very long was becoming difficult. The visibility was getting worse and the fresh snow that we were once excited about combined with weather conditions quickly made us realize that things had changed and that our spot might no longer be the honey hole.

Ridge after ridge and bowl after bowl we glassed and didn’t see any sign of elk. Of course we jumped several groups of deer and even a herd of Bighorn sheep, but no elk. Despite our efforts, we decided that the elk had likely moved out of this area due to the snowfall from the week before, so we hiked back to the truck and headed for lower elevations.

Across the unit and miles down slick windy two-track roads, we found ourselves starting to get hungry, not surprising, considering it was 1:30 in the afternoon and we had been going nonstop since 5 a.m. We pulled over to make up some wonderful PB&J sandwiches and think about what we were going to do.

We decided to split the difference in elevation, hunt up against some private land, and hopefully at least cut some tracks in the snow. Even though it was only the first day, I couldn’t help being a little discouraged that we had no idea where the elk had moved to. And, being the middle of the season with major weather changes didn’t help my negative thoughts. But, I was prepared for a long trip and determined to work hard to find them. I was reassured by my companions that it only takes one good bull to put us back in business.

Before long, we were back to the hunt. Even with all of this new country; there was still no sign of elk life. What was starting to look like a dead day, where you only figure out where the elk do not live, suddenly switched right in front of our eyes. After putting in miles on foot and scouting in a totally different area, Chance and Henry both jumped out of their truck with both their hands above their head. I couldn’t hear what they are saying with the twenty mile an hour wind but I could read their lips, "Big bull.”

That’s all that it took to lift my morale and I was out of the truck and ready with excitement. They told us they saw a big bull run over the ridge and bed down about three quarters of a mile away. My heart was already racing and I hadn’t even seen the dang thing yet.

"Holy cow,” I blurted as I finally laid eyes on the bull through the spotting scope. He was all by himself, just taking it easy.

Chance said, "That’s our guy, he’s at least 350-360.”

Without a doubt we all agreed that he was indeed, the one. We made a quick game plan to get to a rock outcropping on the ridgeline overlooking the bull which we figured would put us within at least 200 yards. Chance and I took off while Henry and my brother Josh stayed back to watch from the truck through the spotting scopes. We knew if he stayed put and he didn’t see us cross the valley below him that our chances were good.

John Miller - It Only Takes One

For a full account of John's adventure, go to page 46 in the June/July 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.