I stayed in touch with my guide Cody as the season approached and fine tuned my equipment, clothing and waist line as per his recommendations. The waist line had a lot of tuning to do! My mostly daily walks with a 30 lb. pack and my local ski hill visits on Saturdays helped a bunch but were not the same as the rock infested ground in the unit I drew at 7000' (Toronto, Ontario is around 300' above sea level).
I arrived in Flagstaff the night of September 7 and walked out of the airport at 8:00 pm expecting to hop in a cab for a short 4-5 mile ride to the hotel I had booked for the night. Due to no phone service on my cellphone as my Canadian carrier never mentioned on my roam from home that I had to manually jump on an American network for mine to work. A big thank you to the two university students just inside the airport doors working at the car rental booth that helped this mentally challenged electronics user to contact several taxi companies for me. Two hours later and just as I was about to start the walk, a cab arrived.
The next morning I met Cody at the hotel as he had driven north about 50 miles from camp to pick me up. We visited Walmart and Sportsmans Warehouse for a few last minute items before driving to camp. Camp was very comfortable with a cook tent, a seperate sleeping tent for myself and Cody. A portable shower, generator and a freezer made life easy....not exactly roughing it.
I had brought a bunch of layers anticipating cooler weather but they never were used. I hunted in a long sleeve First-Lite top every day and only once put on a vest in the early morning before light.
Cody had told me the bulls were on-fire for the opener in the unit in 2021 and numerous bulls were harvested on the archery hunt. 2022 was a different story with opening day being moved forward to coincide perfectly with the full moon. I guess Arizona Fish and Game were quite pleased with their decision. I feel for the hunters that took so many years to draw and only hunted the first week as it was tough.
I fell to sleep the first few nights being serenaded by bulls buggling but by first light they had lock jaw. We seen elk every day but the morning hunts ended early with the temperatures rising into the low 90's by late morning. We sat water for the first four evenings and almost sealed the deal on a wide 6x6 on the first night but one of his girlfriends standing off to our right winded us and most likely spotted my bobble head and the game was up. Earlier that first evening, a little 6x5 trotted by our location at 9-yards and gave us quite a show in the water and mud..... Man...I love watching elk and was really hoping I would have the chance to eat some. The next three evenings sitting water we never seen anything but other hunters trying to find buggling bulls.
On day three after the morning hunt and walking the three miles back to the truck I decided to get personally aquainted with how hard the rocks were in the unit. I tripped and fell and my bow smashed into a large rock in my left hand and my right knee and arm into others. As I layed on the ground and felt the pain in my arm and knee I thought that was the end to my hunt. After I minute I picked myself up and apologized to Cody for going vertical to the ground. He was quite concerned as he only heard the fall but commented after knowing I was going to live that I sounded like a big bag of hammers hitting the ground. I was very lucky to have only bruised my knee and arm and acquired a couple of small cuts and scrapes. Painkillers back at camp helped and after a couple hours of rest I needed to know if I could still draw my bow and continue hunting. When we looked at my bow it was not as lucky as I had made out. The sight had been bent and the rest was another story. We did an emergency run up to Flagstaff to Bull Basin Archery and after some triage from their great staff we were back in the game with a working bow. Thank you Bull Basin Archery.
We were into Elk most days but even the small satellite bulls would not come to our cow chirps. We would locate a bugling bull and sneek in but they would gather their girls and off they would go along with the satellite bulls. The combination of the hot weather and full moon had them not interested. We did have a Buck Antelope walk to 60 yards of our calls in the middle of the Elk woods one morning. I never thought I would see that. Another morning we returned to camp and were greeted by a cow in our cook tent. (the type that moos!) It had rummaged through our garbage and was in the process of eating one of our blueberry muffins when I so rudely interrupted her breakfast snack.
On Day-6 we located a bull with a distinctive bugle and put 17-miles chasing him and his 30-cows around for the next three days trying to make him a dual citizen. When we finally laid eyes on him we both knew he was a Monster size bull for the unit. A 7x7 that would easily go over 370....most likely 380...very wide with very long fourths. We got within 63 yards of him and had a great side profile of his head and antlers and were sneeking closer when the herd busted from another hunter trying to move in from upwind.
On the evening of Day-8 we parked the truck and walked into the area of the ravine we figured he was bedded. After a couple of bugles we had five bulls telling us their locations and he was one of the five. Three ridges and ravines later (and a lot of sweat) we heard him bugle immediately to our left a short distance and heard an elk trotting towards us. Within seconds we spotted a good bull moving from left to right through the thick cover and trees. The bull stopped directly in front of us behind thick cover at an estimated 20-25 yards. He must have heard my breathing! I came to full draw and Cody believed it was the 7X7 and told me to shoot. From my angle I was not sure it was him but knew it was a good bull and managed (not sure how) to find a very small opening in the foliage and let loose. At the shot the bull spun and ran directly away from us behind cover. Even though I knew I had hit the bull I had no idea where my arrow hit and Cody said the same. We snuck around the trees to where the bull had been standing and I immediately found blood. We found the arrow but to our disappiointment only the broadhead was missing. The arrow had broken off at the collar. I at first thought shoulder shot until 50 yards later and a good blood trail we found a few bubbles. I was puzzled why the arrow broke at the broadhead? I was using a 200 grain Ranch Fairy. I wanted to back out but due to the warm weather we continued and jumped the bull after he had gone about 300 yards. We continued downhill following until he crossed a 4x4 road and since it was now dark and it had cooled down we left him for the night. We were at the location an hour before light and waited in the truck and ate our breakfast burritos waiting for light.
We tracked him another 300-yards and I I spotted an unusual rock 80 yards ahead of us and Cody confirmed with his binoculars it was not a rock but a dead elk. I was pumped! We approached the downed elk thinking it was the Monster 7x7 (his antlers were in a large bush and he had died lying sideways like we had posed him) to find it was a 6x6. We both were a little disappointed at first as circumstances lead us to wrongfully believe we had shot the 7x7 but a nice 6x6 quickly turned the disappointment into celebration. The only bull that came to our calls in eight days did so from the same location as the big 7x7 had bugled five seconds earlier!
I was curious where I had hit the bull and after an amateur autopsy discovered the broadhead entered just in front of his shoulder, clipped the far side lung and exited through the far shoulder bone just enough that the broadhead broke when the bull spun and ran off. We never did find the broadhead at the shot site.
Thank you to all the bowsite members that helped out and responded to my posts for outfitter recommendations and such. Bowsite definately helped this old Canadian check-off a bucket-list item! I will hopefully check another one off in Arizona as I also drew a Dessert Mule Deer Muzzleloader Tag for 2022.
We met a young resident archery hunter in the Happy Jack parking lot that had approached us to congratulate me on my bull after we had returned from the butchers in Flagstaff. He impressed me with his politeness and since he had not yet harvested a bull I asked Cody if it was ok if we gave him the location where the big 7x7 had been hanging his hat. Cody fully agreed and gave all the coordinates as to where he figured he would locate the bull or the other bulls in the area. I hope he connected with the 7x7 but Cody has not heard or seen anything on the local site the young man frequented?
FYI, in Arizona if you have enough points to draw your 2nd choice in the preference points pass of the draw (which is conducted first), and assuming you don't have enough points to draw your first choice in the preference points pass, your first choice will not even be looked at or considered because you will have already drawn your second choice. Therefore if you have enough points to draw your second choice, putting in a first choice that you don't have enough points to draw is actually a wasted choice and you may have cashed a lot more points than necessary on your second choice and never really had any chance of drawing your first choice.
There is no scenario in the AZ draw process where your 2nd choice will be looked at before your 1st choice...
The process looks at your 1st choice then 2nd choice, in that order, in the bonus pass. If you don't have the points to draw your 1st choice, but do draw your 2nd choice, you are now out of the draw and have a tag. Your application, now removed, won't be processed in the 1-2 pass (random pass), therefor, you have lost the (slim) chance of drawing your 1st choice in that random pass. Should you not draw in the bonus pass, your 1st choice will be looked at, then the 2nd choice, in an attempt to fill the app in that 1-2 (random) pass. What Jay scott and others are trying to explain is the scenario where you draw your 2nd choice in the bonus pass and therefore lose the chance to draw your 1st choice in the random pass.
What a good read
that would be a pleasure to hunt in open terrain like that where you could actually see the elk. And without deadfall and boulders everywhere. But I guess I’ll chase elk anywhere they live I guess.
I didn't say, and I didn't mean to imply that the second choice will be looked at before the first choice. Sorry if I didn't explain it clearly but I believe that WapitiBob and I are saying the same thing. My understanding of how it works could lead to the following scenario:
Let's say Rockbass applied with 17 points for a first choice unit that was 100% draw last year with 17 points so he believed he had a good chance of drawing it. His second choice was a unit that was 100% draw with 10 points.
When the draw is conducted his first choice is looked at first, but due to point creep it now takes 18 points for 100% guaranteed draw. When his application is processed, all the tags for his first choice unit are gone. The system now looks at his second choice unit and he draws that tag. His application is now "removed" from any further consideration and he has zero chance of drawing his first choice in the random pass.
Some applicants may believe that in a similar scenario, they have a chance of drawing their first choice in the random draw, but since their second choice was a guaranteed draw with the points they had, their first choice never got entered into the random draw.
The only way to have your first choice looked at in the random pass is to also have a second choice that you don't have enough points to draw, or no second choice at all. That way your first choice/both choices will be looked at in the random pass. This would be the strategy to use if you were protecting your points and saving them for a high point unit rather than cashing in more points than necessary on an easier to draw second choice unit.
That's the way I understand it anyway. Please correct me if any of that is wrong or misleading.
Congrats on the bull Rock, but keep applying. Span 2 years with the license and your low points elk app is more palatable.
Thanks for posting all the great pictures.
Every hunt is it’s own great adventure