An hour before shooting light, my mentors and I began stalking a bull elk thunderously bugling in the east. I gasped when I spotted the bull for the first time. Even at a distance, he seemed massive with a goldish-brown-colored body contrasting with the dark timber. Huge white-tipped antlers shined like polished ivory. Game on!
I sighted through the scope. Nothing!! Just a white blinding glare. The sun was exactly above the bull’s back. All my training screamed for me to evaluate my shot, identify the target and be sure of what I was shooting. Temporarily blinded, I told myself, “Do something quick Shiv!”
Though the blur, I zoomed out from a nine to a four magnification on my riflescope. That made a big difference – the reduced magnification helped me see the elk clearly now. The bull was picking his way nimbly across the steep incline, chasing his cows, while I let my crosshairs slowly settle on him.
“Ready!!!” I said.
Jarrod hit his cow call. The bull paused, broadside. I squeezed the trigger. The gun bucked in my hand, surprising me. The elk stopped running, appearing to be fatally injured. Standing behind a tall ponderosa pine with a heavy head down, the bull was gently rocking back and forth. Then, bull elk down!
Later, Steve said, “The elk was dead on its feet but did not know it.”
During field dressing, I found my bullet had double-lunged the elk and totally stopped the massive animal in his tracks. When we approached the elk on the shaded side of this very steep hill, we could see how regal he really was. The beige to dark brown coloration of his body was beautiful.
We were in awe that such as huge animal could move effortless on such difficult terrain and disappear at the blink of an eye.
My hunt would not be possible without my awesome mentors who invested their valuable time, were patient and kind while accompanying and teaching me. Rod from Colorado, Kevin from Nebraska, Steve, Jarrod and Cole from Arizona all took the effort to help me take this massive bull elk. Extensive help and advice also came from experienced hunters from online forums. Thank you all!
For this DIY hunt, we researched for five months, hiked about 20 miles over two days, changed two flat tires, 4-wheeled all over, drove 12 hours one way, and hoisted about 650 pounds of meat to the top of a steep hill. I gained a wealth of knowledge about our great outdoors and big game hunting over those six days. All the camping and hiking trips with Boy Scouts suddenly came together during my hunt.
This trip definitely increased my appreciation for our open spaces, the people, and the rugged natural beauty around me. I look forward to more adventures of hunting, fishing and just being in the woods.
An awesome hunt like this will always be cherished by my dad, me and our friends. Being outdoors, enjoying nature and hunting really creates wonderful opportunities to learn new skills, strengthen family bonds, make new friends, and explore this beautiful world.