Thanks guys. It was a great hunt and could not have ended better!
Thanks guys. It was a great hunt and could not have ended better!
So I got my copy of EBJ 81 the other day. My full story didnt make the cut for publication but I did get an honorable mention in the successful hunters section. My boy was super excited to see his picture in the magazine and laughed and giggled I didnt get mine haha. Now he has the best first hunt memory ever... Thanks Eastmans you made his day seeing his smiling face in there!
so for those who like stories here is the full story and a few more photos.
I heard a bugle from in front of us, and a chuckle from behind us on our back trail....then it all happened.
This hunt was one that will be with me in memory for a lifetime and then some. Let me back up to how it all came together. It was June and I had been thinking about the upcoming elk season. I had put out the feelers to see if I would be solo, or if I would have company for this year’s hunt. It was not looking like any solid commitments from anyone to be there, yet I knew I was committed no matter what.
My oldest son was nine now. I knew in a few years he would be old enough to hunt, yet needed so much exposure and training before that time was due. I thought about it for a week and finally talked to my wife about taking him along. It was a big moment, and a lot of understanding that I could not hunt with him and expect him to be perfect.
I am a single generation hunter. Everything I have learned has been from the Eastman’s forums, EBJ, or from shows on TV, along with several years of in the field trial and error. I am huge on taking youth into the field, and had yet to be able to. This was my year! My oldest was going to go along and elk hunt with me. I was so excited. My wife and I were in agreement, and I broke the news to my son. He just about jumped out of his skin in excitement that I was REALLY taking him hunting this year!
I shopped till I was blue in the face to properly outfit the little guy in good hunt clothes that met my expectations. I spent weeks online, and shopping two major name brand outfitters here in Idaho. I even emailed a major complaint to one and spoke face to face with the manager at the other.
Everyone says take a youth hunting, but the options to outfit one are not backing up the concept. Finally with a week to spare, I had put together my boys gear and we were ready to go. I had just spent 17 months in flight school, working my tail off to a new start in life as a helicopter pilot. I needed to hit the mountain and restore my soul. My son and I could hardly get to sleep the night before. As my wife tucked him in and they said their night prayers, he was hoping for a bull elk. It would be my first, and of course his too! He so wanted that moment to come true.
We packed up and headed out early Sunday morning. We had a few hour drive to get to my camp, and set up. He was a soldier jumping in to help do whatever I asked as we set up camp. He was tired, worked hard and yet so eager to hunt. We spent about an hour practicing around camp with set ups, him calling and reading my hand signals for when it was his time to hit the cow call.
We got up at 5:30 Monday morning. He was eager to get going, yet so confused why we had to get up in the dark! He wanted to sleep in. I laughed and told him we can’t bud, we have to get going. He was grumpy but moving. We drove to the trail head and started our hike into where I know the elk are. The hike in is about a mile and uphill at 7000 feet. We took it slow, and he kept up. I was stern with him on being quiet and reminded him often to walk softer and pay attention. I showed him every track I saw, shared with him all the sounds that were going on around us. We witnessed lots of things important to good tracking skills, reading the age of sign, and how to look for a trail or detect a change going on in the forest as we hiked.
We reached a spot that I showed my boys last year when I got my first elk, a cow, and had told them I took a nap there. They named the spot “nap rock hill”. He was excited to see it again and we stopped, shed a few layers as we had gotten warm on the climb up to it. Once we were settled and had listened for about 15 minutes, I started calling. Nothing was moving and not one thing, save for a crow called back. My son wanted to try his call and I let him. Knowing after about an hour nothing was near, I decided to help my son have a better experience, so I bugled a few times and let him call some more.
About 11 we decided to hike some more, and move to a wallow area that a friend I met through the Eastman’s Forums had dropped a bull two years ago. The hike was slow and steady for him to keep up. Once there the wallow was all sorts of tore up and I was excited! I spent some time there, and we called and waited. Nothing showed up.
About 2pm he asked if we could go back to camp and let him play for a while. AHHHHH I was not supper excited about that, but after a few minutes, I realized…..he was nine. So we packed up and out to the truck, and enjoyed pancakes, eggs, and sausage in camp. I played the guitar, and let him romp about on a big boulder in camp. Day one wasn’t so bad, I was a coach now, and I had an eager player. I was happy to see things going slow, but going well.
We had gone to bed early so he could get rested better. We were up at 5:30 again and he was getting dressed before I was. We were faster today and were able to hit the trail thirty minutes earlier. We went right up to nap rock and made a stand. Again nothing was there. I was getting bored, and so was he. I so wanted to have a good experience for him. I told him of a meadow I knew of over the mountain we were on. I knew it was a few miles to get there, but told him it wasn’t too far. We moved out.
Taking it slow, and taking breaks to listen, and even a Mountain House lunch along the way. We made it in about two or three hours and it was awesome! I stopped us as we entered the bowl the meadow sits in. I listened to the woods, and made a few cow calls to see what may call back. After not hearing anything, we moved on down into the bowl to a stand of timber in the center of it. I knew of a wallow on the far side. We got there and I showed him where one of my buddies had sat on stand for an elk that came in there two years back. He was excited to sit and try out the natural jack pine blind. I started cow calling again. He wanted to try and so I let him hit his call a few times. Then to give him a bit of a show and let him experience the hunt, I bugled a big ol screamer with a chuckle……the woods roared back!!!
I was shocked. I heard a bugle from in front of us, and chuckle on our back trail. I told my son I didn’t have time to move anywhere else like we had planned, and so I moved about 10 feet to his left as far as I could and still have a shot, then I whispered to him. I said “we have elk or another hunt group but we were about to find out which very quickly!”
He had his cow call ready. I knocked up an arrow and took hold of my adrenaline that was screaming through my veins. “Composure man!!! Composure in front of this little guy, get it together,” I told myself. I cow whined and called. Nothing answered back. I tried again and he asked if he could so I let him. Nothing was talking. I decided to bugle again. We heard another bugle in front of us farther away this time, dang it a bull was pushing cows away from our challenge….and thump, thump, thump from behind us.
My son heard it too. I looked over my shoulder and didn’t see anything. I waited staring at the wallow in front of us only 30 yards away. The meadow had gone silent. No birds, just our breathing and I think a shaking dad about to encounter a bull elk in front of his son. I finally bugled again but this time I tucked it under my arm and away from us to see if it would draw the bull in for closer look.
Then I heard it behind me. A snort! I looked over my left shoulder and there 34 yards away was a bull standing in a wallow I had not noticed tossing mud in the air like a boss. He was showing off like he owned the place! I was freaking out now. I had a hole in the jack pine I was sitting next to the size of a grape fruit to thread an arrow through. I looked at my son, pointed so excitedly behind me and he knew it was game time!!
I rotated my body, threaded my arrow through the hole to line up my shot and drew back careful to keep my alignment with the hole perfect. I settled by 30 yard pin top and my 40 yard pin low. The bull was tossing mud but had his back straight at me. I needed him to turn.
I looked at my son, and opened up my release hand, the signal for him to call. He hit that cow call, and the bull froze. I looked back at him and opened my hand again, he called again. The bull looked over his left shoulder right at us. Then he snorted again. I looked back one more time at my son and signaled again to call, he did. The bull turned left and presented a left quartering away shot. I took a breath, found my calm in the moment, focused, and let my arrow loose on my first bull.
Whack!! It nailed him and he sat right down in the mud. My son started cow calling like a champ nonstop just like I had told him too if I took a shot. The bull gathered his feet and tore off across the meadow at a dead run. I could see color coming off my arrow as he piled out of the wallow, and I knew we had a good hit. I ran out of my jack pine blind to see where he was headed and he was already down across the meadow!
I called to my son to come out and we HAD A BULL ELK DOWN!!!!!! The bull had run 140 yards across the open meadow and piled up. We gave him about 5 minutes and then he was ready to be checked out. My son was jumping up and down and we took some really cool pics.
With a phone call to my good friend Will in town, he was on his way with help to pack him out. I called my wife and shared the news!!!! She was supper excited too. We are getting the bull mounted and will be able to enjoy Dad and sons first bull elk!!! What a way to start a young hunter in the world of fare chase DIY over the counter elk hunts! Now my camp is three years successful, and has been named “Hat Trick Camp”
This is our camp all set up, my son was a trooper helping with everything
Here is a shot he took of the four big guys hauling out the elk, Yes it was bow season, but my trusty rifle made that recovery trip to ensure our safety from wolves and or bears. Nothing like walking in the deep woods with a raw steak on your back!!Attachment 7598
I took this shot on his first morning of our hunt. I guess later he told me he was not too happy about waking up while it was dark to go on a long hike!! haha
This is of the two of us after we got back with the meat hauling pack and butcher kit....and the real work began. My son was actually amazed at how much work it is to take one apart and now he appreciates the food in the freezer ever so much more.Attachment 7601
As he lay 140 yards or so from where he was hit
Me with my first bull...and with a BOW TO BOOT!!!! About damn time too!
That is awesome and I'd say that is a World Record elk laying there if you know what I mean!! Excellent, just excellent.