I left Yuma on Friday morning, knowing I was going to miss the morning hunt. I was committed for the full season so one morning was not going to make or break my hunt but the anxiety of missing opening morning was brutal! Met up with my cousin in Surprise and continued on our journey to 7 West. Had camp set up and we were ready to head out for the evening hunt. Not much action at all but did see a black bear hauling butt up the hill. Jumped him at 30 yards. Started hearing bugles from camp Friday night so we were really excited for the morning hunt.
Saturday morning is what elk hunting dreams are made of! We heard bugles from all around camp so we decided which one to chase while drinking our morning coffee and having some breakfast. We got into them right away calling in a satellite 5x5. He came in under a hundred yards but just not close enough. Calling brought him in but he didn't see what he was looking for so he got impatient and left. Kept following the better bugle up the canyon until we spotted him up on the opposite ridge with his herd. Nice 6x6. Made a plan and got across the canyon. Got in close to a few cows, probably about 55 or 60 yards. Knew the bull might come collect these cows so prepared for a shot. Sure enough the last cow started making her way towards the others. Soon enough he came screaming after them towards me. Heard him glunking so figured I was close enough. Wrong, I misjudged the yardage and ended up getting TWO shots at him but missed bad low. He was at least 15 yards further than I thought. Nice Start! The next few days were much like the first but no shots. Got close to the elk almost every outing, just not picking the right ridgeline or getting winded when we were in close, typical elk stuff when you are hunting with a bow.
The one part of the story I don't want to leave out is who I was hunting with when I killed my bull. Tim and Jeff from Wicked Horn Outfitters were guiding a Wounded Vet who received a donated tag in my unit. Fellow Bowsiter LV2HNT (Tom Wagner) who organizes these Hunts for Heros through Arizona Elk Society told me to call them before the season just to talk elk since I had never hunted the unit. Nice chat but didn't think much of it. On Monday afternoon Tim invited me to come hunt with them Tuesday PM, since they tagged out but had more hunters coming in the second week and didn't want to go home or sit in camp. I am not too proud to accept free assistance from a pro, so I took full advantage!
Went out with them on Tuesday afternoon and knocked up a number of times and even drew back at a nice 300 class 6x6 that was quartering to at 49 yards. Just not a good shot. Had a FUN evening in the woods again and was eagerly anticipating the next day. Wednesday morning started quite slow but Tim was confident the herd was in the area and would start bugling when they headed for bed. We did a decoy set up on a herd bull trying to entice him over with calls. Out of nowhere we hear a bugle behind us and turn to see a satellite bull that snuck in. He kept coming in, about stepping on Jeff holding the decoy. Slightly spooking back about 50 yards, they kept up the calling and he stopped. Now he started coming in towards us but now from the other side. I had to readjust my position while in sight and basically had my back to him as he was approaching. He eventually got to about 15 feet where I drew my bow. Again he caught movement and split but again they were able to keep his attention with calls. Stops again in the only lane so I swung around just as Tim whispers "30", I got him in my sight and let it fly! Whack! I told Tim "I think I got him!" He said "you got him, he just crashed" Wow what a thrill!
When it was all said and done I bought them dinner that night and agreed to let them use my pics on their website but that's it. I am so grateful for their generosity to help me! These guys are hardcore elk hunters and they have their craft down! I highly recommend them to anybody looking for help in Arizona.
Did you notice any damage/scarring on the left side during skinning, etc? Usually, a misshapen or underdeveloped antler on one side is the result of a serious injury to the other.
Or sometimes, it's just that one side is goofy. JMO, you got yourself a nice, well-developed 6-point. Mike drop!
Should be easy to figure out which way to turn him if you mount him!
Chris Favour from Mount N View Taxidermy mentioned they see the exact antler deformity on the same side a lot from those Flag area units. Another hunter also mentioned that he has seen that a lot from that unit. If I am not mistaken if injured deformity usually shows on the opposite side. No big deal either way, he is still pretty cool in my book. Thanks Guys!
I am leaving tomorrow for my 29th opener in Az. for my bull with a few days scouting before hand.
Good luck, Robb