April/May 2014 EHJ (Issue 142) - A few months prior to the season, I sustained a back injury on base while moving some ammo cans around. Three herniated discs in my back really set me back a few steps for the backcountry hunts we had planned. Add that to the upper respiratory infection and below freezing temperatures, and it looked like all my preparation was not enough for the obstacles I was about to face.
Drawing a controlled elk tag on a second chance drawing with three tags left was not something I had planned on. I feel pretty fortunate that someone decided they didn’t want the tag and I was able to pick it up. I took a look at the calendar and set some dates. I had 10 days off for my elk hunt, giving me four days prior to the season to learn the country and find some elk.
The country we were hunting was steep and unforgiving, a mix of high sage and thick timber pockets. My friend Ryan Rightmeier and I put our spotting scopes to work glassing every nook and cranny of it. The first night I was able to locate a large group of elk hugging the snow line. We studied the maps and terrain and found a way to cut the distance in half for a better look. We saw six bulls and multiple cows. My heart started to race in excitement for what we might find over the next 10 days.
The next morning we found ourselves glassing over some of the same area and decided to give the elk from the night before a better look. We ended up seeing 24 bulls and about 13 cows. I had never really seen anything like it!
There was one bull that stood out among the rest. He stayed by himself, keeping the other bulls at bay. Because of the number of bulls on one ridge, it took a while to find the herd bull but once we saw him there was no doubt in our minds.
Idaho bulls are known for weak thirds and this bull had great tines all around, including great thirds. I named him "3P.” After some pictures and video we decided to push on and continue to scout. After seeing multiple other bulls throughout the next few days nothing stood out more to me than 3P. Something about him just drew me in.
For a full account of Nick's adventure, go to page 58 in the April/May 2014 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.