This fall was to be a fall of firsts; first fall of marriage, first fall in Thermopolis, first fall of hunting for my bride. With thanks to many of you for advice in units to apply for around Thermop I will say that my wife applied and drew her first choice bull tag. Little did we know at the time how difficult this tag is to draw or how good it is. We each drew a leftover cow/calf tag for an area close to our new home as well. I was not planning on hunting for myself this fall as I did not draw a bull tag. However, with one phone call from a good buddy I was signing a general OTC tag and heading to elk camp for what would be my only day and a half to hunt for a bull elk in 2013. God was smiling and blessed me with this less than twenty four hours after purchasing my tag. One down, as we begin to joke about killing four elk in one fall....
With her bull season fast approaching my wife begins itching to test her new shooting and stalking skills on a little less demanding quarry, her cow. The weather goes from 70's and sunny to winter over night and we make plans for a saturday morning hunt. She has practiced and worked out all summer and is ready. 200yds, breathe, squeeze, boom, shoot her again, boom! DOWN! First elk, hell, first anything that has a pulse. I'm proud. BUT...
I've got a cow tag as well. Move over baby... Boom! Could it be, we are now three for four in less than than seven days! With her bull season opening in three days, this could really happen. We could meet our goal! But she has set her sights high after our early season scouting showed us the high caliber of bulls in the unit and with big bulls often disappearing during gun seasons this will not be a cake walk. Yet she is determined to not shoot a little bull. "You cannot kill a whale when you tag a porpoise."
Opening day and the day after come and go with my wife declining legitimate shots on no fewer than eight bull elk. A couple of which I would have tagged out on without hesitation but she knows what she wants and I assure her she will know her bull when she sees him. Thursday dumps more snow and brings the gift of a "snow day" on Friday. She and I spend the day driving the few navigable roads glassing very distant elk looking for "her" bull. We witness a young bull of around 300" get killed and she begins to question her decisions. I try to bolster her confidence with reassurances of what Saturday will bring. Although inwardly I'm not sure we'll even be able to venture off the road. Morning comes and we (I) wrestle the 4-wheeler up a nearly impassable track to a wind blasted ridge that no body without serious effort is going to get to. This is perfect. We set up the scope and begin glassing at daybreak. There are elk everywhere and by ten o'clock she has again declined four good bulls. She simply says, "I haven't seen "him" yet." Another hour passes and she spots a small group of elk about two miles off. Raising my binoculars I immediately can tell one animal has bull like qualities despite not being able to tell much about his headgear. I switch to the scope as he turns his head on que and reveals his magnificence. I say, "baby, I think that is your bull." She looks through the scope and doesn't waste two seconds... "That's the one!" she says. We ditch our heavy clothes and non-essentials for the two-mile stalk. Long story shortened... we close the gap to two-hundred yards in about an hour. She sets up as we will not be able to get closer. Breathe, pick a spot in the crease, squeeze... BANG! The bull lurches forward, staggers four steps, gathers himself as she is readying another shot, and wait... he pitches headlong into the snow! SUCCESS... she almost cries, I almost cry, we hug, jump up and down, send up huge "Thank You's" to our Lord and Savior, and walk over to claim her prize. All the planning, practicing, dreaming, it all boiled down to fourteen of the most wonderful days of my life with my new bride and our first fall together. Four elk in Fourteen days... I would never have believed it until I lived it.