December/January 2014 EHJ (Issue 140) - My son and I snuck into the area where we heard the bull bugling the night before. We had set markers out to assure that we could find our exact location when light broke the next morning. As we approached the ridge that we were going to use as an exit route my son checked to see if the wind to see if it was in our favor. Unexpectedly, just a few yards down the ridge, the loud echo of a bugling bull drifted up from the bottom. My son and I looked at each other, smiled and snuck out of the area.
Even though we were glad to hear the elk herd talking back and forth, the bull that we had named Bundy hadn’t showed himself. We continued down the ridge, hoping to stumble into area that he calls home.
We watched two 6x6 bulls go at each other for 30 minutes as they tried to exert their dominance over each other. There weren’t many cows with these two bulls, so my son and I thought that we had somehow snuck in on a smaller, secondary herd that the Bundy bull wasn’t managing.
Then it happened! We heard the raspy scream and loud roar of what we had come to know as the Bundy bull. His bugle was so identifiable that we could locate him from hundreds of yards away.
I said to my son, "I think he is coming out of that deep timber.”
We sat anxiously awaiting his appearance. Then the craziest thing happened – heavy fog rolled in and we could only see 45 yards at most. The Bundy bull continued to bugle and fight with other bulls as my son and I listened in the piercing stillness that accompanied the dense fog. I mentioned to my son that with this fog, the only way were going to get a shot at this monster is to call him in.
I took out my bugle and made what I thought was a great bugle. The whole herd stopped talking. We sat in eerie silence, wondering if I had messed up and spooked them. About 15 minutes passed and we came to the conclusion that I had indeed spooked the herd and the Bundy bull had gathered his harem and left.
My son’s suggested that we back out and try to still-hunt in the deep timber next to the wallow which is this herd’s core area. We have seen the Bundy bull with his cows there many times before and this is where we first heard him earlier in the morning. It sounded like a good plan, so off we went. My son and I spent the next two hours still-hunting in the fog where visibility was less than 100 yards. We were sneaking along the treeline when my son said, "There’s a cow!” He handed me the shooting sticks and said, "Get ready Dad, this could be them!”
I got down, readied my rif le and watched the herd of cows as they walked across the flat in front of me. There were patches of fog between them and us, but I could see them well enough that if the Bundy bull came out, I could get a shot at him. Frantically, my son whispered, "There he is! Shoot him Dad! Shoot him!” I settled the crosshairs on the massive bull’s chest and pulled the trigger. The 185-grain Hornady bullet found its mark and dropped him in his tracks. No sooner had the bull hit the ground when my son yelled, "Great shot, Dad!”
The Bundy bull lay motionless while my son and I commenced the usual backslapping and recounted the excitement of an amazing hunt. I started the walk over to that beautiful, majestic elk that I had just harvested with my 19-year-old son at my side, thinking how incredible and special this hunt had been.
I ended up dropping this bull 20 yards from where I first spotted him 24 days earlier. You see, my son Aaron and three friends, Mike Mahan, Darin Groom and Brent Hodgins made a pact with me when we first found this bull: we would spend every morning and night making sure we gave it a heroic attempt to connect with him and connect we did! We spent countless hours watching, studying and memorizing this bulls habits. I spent more money that I care to say on fuel and so much energy, mentally and physically, that I still can’t believe this fairy tale came true.
The bull is an 8x8 that green-scored 392 B&C and ended up netting 382 B&C. It was the most incredible, memorable hunt that I have ever been on! I had put in for this tag for 17 years, starting when my son was two-years old. To have him with me on this fair chase, public land hunt that anyone can access, only made the memories that much sweeter!