When the Smoke Clears

By William Neil
New Mexico, Guided, Public Land

William Neil - When the Smoke ClearsJune/July 2013 EHJ (Issue 137) - Busted! We were in the middle of a stalk for a monster bull elk and everything had just gone wrong. As we were closing the distance, one of his cows made us and sent the herd running with the monster bull in tow. My heart sank.

This was my first elk hunt, and to see a bull this big was something I never imagined possible. Tom McReynolds of Black Mountain Outfitters was my guide and my dad was along for the ride. Our other guide Drew and my grandfather were watching the action from a different location on the mountain. Neither my father nor my grandfather had ever been elk hunting, so it truly was a first for everyone.

Drew and my grandfather stayed on the job and watched the herd make a huge circle. As the herd was making its circle, it came within close proximity of a Toyota pickup. Out of nowhere, we heard a rifle go off. BOOM! Had they just shot the bull we worked so hard for?

Then another shot rang out – BOOM! Feeling a little dejected, we sat and talked about a plan going forward.

As we were talking, a herd of elk came toward us with a cloud of dust following them. They seemed as mad as a herd of Cape buffalo and looked like they were charging right at us. At 60 yards they quartered to our right and stopped. Had this really just happened?

I quickly got on my shooting sticks and searched frantically for the monster bull, but they were all cows. The fears of the big bull we were after being killed was starting to sink in as the cows disappeared into the brush. We got up and started to regroup. And just like that, it all changed.

Out of nowhere, through the brush, we could see what appeared to be a bull heading right toward us from the same direction as the cows. We finally got a good glimpse of him and sure enough, it was the big bull.

William Neil - When the Smoke Clears

For a full account of William's adventure, go to page 54 in the June/July 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.