August/September 2013 EHJ (Issue 138) - Ninety minutes into my hunt and it was all over. The bull lying next to me was like all the ones I had been dreaming about for months, even years – big back end, huge royals, and long, sweeping thirds. My only regret was that I didn’t get to keep hunting, but not even that could wipe the smile off my face.
The night before my hunt I could not sleep. I lay in bed for most of the night listening to my brother Jason snore like a grizzly and dreaming of what the following day could bring. Finally Jason got up to get the fire going in the stove of the wall tent. That meant it was only 15-20 minutes 'til it was time to get ready. None of us could stay in bed any longer. It wasn’t until we were all dressed and ready to go that we realized we were up an hour earlier than we needed to be. As we sat and waited I was asked by good friend Justin Baker what I was looking for in a bull. I told him I wanted a 350 bull. I also told him I love big royals and big, wide thirds.
When it was finally time to get out and make something happen we had a plan. We knew from past experience that the area we were hunting would be housing lots of bulls. My brother Kyle took a nice 337-inch bull in 2011. Jason is a sub-guide for TKO Outfitters and has had good success in this spot, including two nice bulls during the early rifle hunt only weeks before my hunt. The area has low rolling hills and there is one high spot that overlooks it all, which is perfect for glassing. We also knew that a tag-holder wouldn’t have a chance of getting on a bull before it fed into the thick trees if he were at the vantage point glassing.
Justin and another friend Trey Haworth were in position at the vantage point before daylight while Jason and I were down low so they could guide us into the bulls they saw. Before it was light enough to see very well at all Justin was putting his Swarovskis to work. He communicated to us that he had spotted four bulls.
I’m used to being a spotter, so I felt helpless down low. There were some areas that we could see a mile to the south, the opposite direction of where we were headed, so I kept glassing that way.
Within a half-hour Justin had seven or eight bulls located but still no shooters. About that time I spotted what looked like an elk on the hill to the south that I kept glassing. After a few seconds the elk turned its head and confirmed that it in fact was a bull. I told Jason that I had spotted one and explained to him where it was.
While he looked in his binos I set up my Leica spotting scope. Within seconds the bull moved his head to the side and the only thing I saw was a huge back end! That was all I needed to see. I told Jason to take a look to confirm that he was a good bull. He guessed him to be around 350. That was the confirmation I was looking for. The bull was in pretty thick trees and we had a lot of ground to cover so we had no time to waste.
For a full account of Travis's adventure, go to page 36 in the August/September 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.