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One hell of a season….
I just wrapped up my 2021 seasons.
I’ve thought about doing a recap of the season as a whole.
It’s a combination of, archery hunting, rifle hunting, shot guns and muzzleloaders.
Some guided with excellent friends and some do it yourself hunts.
It’s my season with my boys, ages 22, 15, and 13.
Anyone interested in this write up?
I hope the pics get oriented! ;)
"Anyone interested in this write up?"
Duh.... Get typing!!
I am a truly blessed man. I am forever grateful for the opportunities afforded to me. My wife is the most supportive person I have in my life along with my mom. Professionally, I am a very blessed man too.
My season began on January 1, 2021. It was my 4th attempt at an Arizona mule deer. I love the desert and I love hunting these animals. I love 60 degree weather in January as well!!!
Every year for winter break, our family goes somewhere to get out of the cold. I took our family down to visit the old west towns and desert country surrounding Oro Valley, Arizona.
I had already planned it out in my head for how I was going to obtain the 2 bear tags I needed in southern Utah for my sons Peyton, 15 and Jeffrey, 13.
I knew of 2 auction tags that would become available the day we were to depart for southern Arizona. On our drive, I had to stop off the side of I-15 to complete and win the auction for the first tag.
Later that evening, I had to do the same thing at dinner in Flagstaff, Arizona. Now my plan was complete. We were going to have 4 tags. My oldest son, Kolton, had the points to draw. He’s 22. And I had the points to draw. Kolton was to be getting married at the end of June and I wanted the 4 of us to have an epic bear hunt together……but first….I had to take 3 of my boys to Kansas for turkeys….Peyton, Jeffrey and little Wyatt, he’s 7. Kansas was coming upon us…….
Jeffrey’s turkey came fast for him. The first evening of our first day, it was a done deal. This was an outfitted hunt with Midwest whitetail adventures. My main goal was to get Wyatt his bird. He’s obsessed with all things hunting and he’s been going with me since he was 2.
As the next day progressed, we weren’t having a whole lot of luck. We were just a tad bit late in the season because this hunt actually was an afterthought. And the outfitter was able to get me a date. Hey, it’s better than nothing huh?
On the last day of the hunt, we were able to get Peyton his bird. We hunted hard for little Wyatt but it never did come together for the little guy. But not to worry, he reassured me he was going to be sitting with me when I shot my bear in Utah.
In the words of Tracy Lawrence, time marches on.
This is a lesson that I am learning as I get older and as my kids get older. I have learned fairly early on that, life indeed does move pretty fast and you need to stop and look around. Or you will miss it.
The bear hunt was coming up quick. I had a lot of things I had to get done before then. Tree stands built, bait locations found and GPS coordinates turned into and approved by our fish and game. Lots to do. Bait collections, running running running. We are always running as a family…
Here’s my daughter, Whitney, my sons Peyton, Wyatt and Kolton. We had just packed in and hung tree stands on this day for one of our baits. Our station locations had been approved, we were just waiting for May 22nd to roll around so we could begin placing bait.
Well, the season rolled around and the baits began to get filled with grain, and breads and full sized, skinned domestic sheep and it didn’t take long and we began to have customers…..this is a bear we named brownie. He was pretty regular and Peyton had passed him up several times. He had his heart set on a blonde bear. I was hoping brownie would stick around for when I got Jeffrey back after the Memorial Day weekend. He was with his mom.
Well, Peyton ended up getting his wish. I watched him make a perfect shot and this bear made it all of 30 yards. Our first bear had officially hit the ground and we were off to the races!!
Soon after I received Jeffrey from his mom, we began the cat and mouse game with brownie. A sow would run him off. I would screw up and scare him off. Cubs would startle him. And then finally Jeffrey got his chance at him. He drew his bow back with 10 legal minutes of shooting light left….and he couldn’t see his pin. So we let brownie eat in peace and then we slipped down out of the tree and waited for another day!!
It actually took another 6 days for another chance at brownie. Jeffrey wanted to shoot this bear with my 30-30. So this bear came in, and he steadied the shot and he hammered him. Our 2nd bear out of 4 was now down for the count. Now it was Kolton’s turn! Kolton had been very instrumental in helping me put this together with the younger boys. Now was his turn!! Let’s go Kolton!
Kolton has never killed anything with a rifle. I have began to evolve as a hunter recently. I began to understand that, any day that you are vertical, with air in your lungs, a weapon in your hand, a tag in your pocket, and a mountain as a blank canvas to paint your own picture, is a pretty damn good day….so I began to ask Kolton about using a rifle. At first he balked. I’m a bow hunter he said. I responded with, so?
Try it. You won’t know from taking anyone else’s word for it. You need to make up your own mind.
So, Kolton grabbed his 30-30 rifle and off we went. He was getting pretty trigger happy at this point, and rightfully so. We’d been hunting 3 weeks, we’d been planning for months, we’d been doing a lot of work. It was time for the rubber to meet the road. And….here we go…
We were beginning to run out of time for me to get my bear. Kolton was getting married on June 26th. My season was over on the 28th.
We were coming to the end of our 2nd hunt and I was preparing myself to come back down for the last 2 days of the season after Kolton’s wedding.
Wyatt and Kolton and I took to the tree stand for the final sit of this trip. The date was Saturday, June 19th. The sit at the bait was fairly slow. And then an hour before legal light was over, I looked to my right, and there was a big bear. I had Wyatt sitting a stand behind me but in the same tree and I just thought, Wyatt, please be quiet.
Not sure what the above pic is that looks like whitetail country but that isn’t mine.
Well, be big bear turned around and slowly walked away. I have seen this game enough with bears to know, just be patient. He’ll be back.
I had about 55 minutes of legal light left at this point.
I am very good friends with a guide down in southern Utah named Taylor Albrecht. He’s a very successful elk and Buffalo guide and he is one hell of a guy. Our families are very close.
Taylor lives about 40 minutes from my bear unit. I’d been keeping him updated on our success.
With about 10 minutes of solid shooting light left, and about 13 minutes of legal light, Kolton reached down and tapped my shoulder and then pointed towards the bait. That bear had made a huge circle and came around the back side of the bait and was now standing at the pile. He really didn’t hesitate to start eating and give me an excellent 21 yard shot. This whole time, Wyatt sat quietly and observed. It is incredible how a little boy with so much energy can sit ground blinds and tree stands like a pro.
I let the bear settle into the bait but not for long. Shooting light was saying goodnight. I quietly grabbed my bow and drew it back and settled the pin and I hammered him hard. The only downside?
He ran out the only trail I have to walk out. And I’ve got my 7 year old with me. I never heard a moan, but I did hear a crash. I was very confident about my shot, but not so confident that I was gonna take my little boy in there right now.
We we climbed out of the tree, grabbed our stuff and quietly slipped out for the evening. I got back to camp, called my friend Taylor and told him about my bear and he said, I’ll see you in the morning. Which happened to be Father’s Day.
We walked up to the bait, I found my arrow and the sign didn’t look good. There was gut on the arrow. We began to follow the blood, and it was a short and heavy blood trail. The crash I heard was indeed him. He only made it 60 yards. The gut on the arrow was simply because he was quartering away from me. Here’s to Father’s Day…..
Did I mention I had a Utah limited entry bull tag this year and a desert sheep tag?
We also had Wyoming antelope tags. I actually had to turn these in. I ended up with covid on August 9th and it hit me hard. Our bow hunt was beginning August 15th and I knew I couldn’t do it.
Our Utah archery deer and elk began on August 21st and I was still battling pneumonia until September 6th. I did take the boys hunting for ten days. I left on August 19th to get camp ready and then we gave it hell together. Once again, Kolton, Peyton and Jeffrey…..
Jeffrey and Peyton and Kolton all had the multi season elk tags. Meaning, they could hunt archery, and then rifle and then muzzleloader season. Peyton and Jeffrey also had archery deer tags. However, Kolton didn’t draw a deer tag this year. But that one ends really cool for him later on in the story……
Ok, quit rubbing it in you dog and show the pics !!!
Just jealous to say the least. Both that you're kids are fully in and that some of us aren't quite so accomplished at getting it done :)
Great so far! Can’t wait for the rest. Thanks for taking the time to share.
Are the pictures not showing up?
Wow! Excellent hunts so far and sounds like even more in the hopper!
Jeff this is awesome! I know you understand the importance of time in the field with your kids, and this thread is a great example of it. Your kids are lucky to have a dad who invests so much time and energy and attention to them like you do. This is awesome!
Pics are good on my end. Awesome so far. Keep em coming!
Such a great thread Jeff. I know I am getting old when I read that Kolton is getting married.
You are blessed in many ways. The fact that you get to spend this time with your children is at the top of the list.
Congrats on a great season and I can't wait for the rest, even though I have heard the Cliff notes version. :)
Our summer camping season began a little later than usual. We’d spent until almost the end of June hunting bear in a different unit than we always spend our summer camping in.
We had a lot of work to do to get ready for our bow hunt. I had some new areas I wanted to hang stands in.
Summers are always fun for us. We 4 wheel, camp, glass up animals, hang tree stands.
I knew even though it was the beginning of July, the bow hunt in August wasn’t going to hit us very quickly.
My kids love fishing. Me? Not so much. But, because if that….I fish….
Opening morning arrived. And Jeffrey and I had settled into a stand that was in a new location. I’d always seen the elk use this ridge as an escape route.
As the years have progressed on this unit, so have the hunters. The vast numbers have increased but unfortunately, their elk hunting skills have not. So we’ve had to adapt over the years and make adjustments. The elk on this mountain get blown up very hard opening day.
Well, history repeated itself only this time, we were in place for it.
I had a lone spike at 10:30 in the morning come up the ridge relatively quickly. He was headed for our opening but he needed to be stopped. I whispered, SPIKE, get your bow and stand up!!
We got ready and I stopped the elk with a single cow chirp. He was only 10 yards away.
Jeffrey steadied his bow and he aimed and fired.
He smacks him square in the shoulder. The arrow penetrated the length of his broad head and then fell out……needless to say, we all know how that finished out. 40 lbs with a 23” draw and a shoulder blade of any animal isn’t going to hurt that critter…..
Great stories thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the rest.
The next several days of hunt, we were pursuing elk every day. Had several very close calls but in a game of minutes and inches, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
We all know that hunting in general is a game of persistence. Get up, every day, go hunt, every day. Regardless of how hard or discouraging or flat out terrible the hunting can be, GO HUNT!! And this elk hunt, is one, that is taken down to the end of the very last season of the muzzleloader in November. The marathon of this season will test the perseverance of my young boys….
As life happens, Kolton needed to return to work. He works in our family business and this past 16 months, he’s really began to take on an enormous load of the business. He’s been chomping at the bit to learn and do more. He’s evolved into that lake trout that eats everything that comes his way. Watching him grow has been the pleasure of my life. On the last day Kolton was there, Jeffrey and I went out to a ground blind. I had scheduled an appointment at the local hospital to have my lungs x-rayed because breathing just wasn’t fun!! But before the appointment, we hunted. And it paid off for Jeffrey. His 2nd deer.
Now my pictures are posting sideways. I have tried to use the owners tools to flip it, but it won’t work. Can anyone please help?
Taylor came up that weekend and he was going to help me with Peyton. I was still trying to get Jeffrey an elk, Taylor knew where some deer were. So he took Peyton out. My boys have known Taylor since the were very little. It’s more like, uncle Taylor taking them hunting. Truth is, they don’t notice if it’s Taylor or myself taking them. They look up to this man.
Well…..I’d kept my boys out of school long enough. This is something that I just do. I figure they’ll learn. They’ll be fine. But once seasons are gone, they’re gone. It was time for them to go home. And I was to return hunting big bulls. Kolton was supposed to come down and help but work wouldn’t allow. So….I booked him to go to Colorado with me in a few weeks. That was going to be a private land guided hunt. Outfitter let me bring him along. I did this to reward him for sacrificing his Utah season for his little brother….but wait….when it all shook out and the season totally ended, did he sacrifice? Time and the story will tell…..
I returned to the unit. Taylor and I had game plans for the mornings. I’d go sit stands in the mornings, and then we’d go out on foot in the evenings together.
One morning, I was sitting a stand, and I actually missed a tremendous bull at 30 yards. He was a 350 class bull. And this is how it goes in life. A lot of swing and misses. But you can’t connect unless you’re swinging.
A storm had rolled in. A lot of hail, thunder and lightening. I’ve hunted elk a lot and my very favorite times to be out there is after a storm. This storm hit at 2:00 in the afternoon and it lasted until 4. Well, Taylor had an area he wanted to show me. So we jumped in his pickup truck as the rains were pouring down.
By the time we got there, the downpour had turned into a trickle. We walked down to this water hole and decided to just sit on our butts and listen and just see….
Well, Taylor let’s out a cow call, and the response back was immediate. But the bull was pretty far away. I told Taylor, let’s go get him!!
Taylor says, let’s wait and see what he does. He says, that bull is in a tangled up hell hole and it’ll be hard to get a shot. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Taylor over the years, it’s that he’s a hell of a hunter.
So, I listen to my friend as we sit and talk and bull crap with each other.
Taylor decided to let out another call. But this time it was met with silence. But 15 minutes later, we got our response. And it was closer.
So we let it simmer for a few minutes and Taylor gives him another single chirp. And just like clockwork, 15 minutes later, he responded. And even closer this time.
So we’re both kinda scratching our heads and saying, well, he’s coming closer. His responses are a bit delayed, but he’s still playing ball so who cares??
We gave it another few minutes and Taylor decided to switch it up and see how he’d react to a bugle. So he lets out a decent call. Not too aggressive. Not too wussy like either.
And BAM!!!! We get an immediate response. And not only that, but he was CLOSE!!. He had come in from Our side, through a small strip of aspens, silently, and he was only 150 yards away and he was closing the gap and he was closing it fast!
Taylor says, oh shit!!!
So I get my bow, I get to my knees and we just wait as this bull walks past us. He’s headed to the pond and he doesn’t even hesitate to go in and get a drink.
This bull is in trouble. But there again, so was the bull I missed that morning at 30 yards. So, maybe this bull will get lucky and I’ll drop the ball again??
Great story so far, looking forward to the rest!
As the bull put his head down to drink, the yardage was already figured and now the rest was up to me. The shot was wide open. Nothing but open air between the two of us.
I drew my bow back and settled my pin right where I wanted it and I let it go.
Arrow is on its way and this bulls in trouble…..
Well, the next hunt that we were going to be having was the general rifle elk hunt. That began on October 9th.
Remember how I said Kolton didn’t draw a deer tag?
Remember how I said we run this business as a family?
My wife has been accustomed to date night consisting of running to job sites, meeting with various customers, and then going to dinner. It’s just what we do. We incorporate business and life together.
We had a job coming up for a gentlemen in northern Utah. This home was to sit on 1600 acres of prime hunting. My wife and I drove up there to meet with him and the contractor on a Saturday. We all get talking, and of course the conversation turns to hunting.
Well, the homeowner says, I have a deer tag available for here. It’s a rifle permit and it’s open now. Do you want it? I said, well, I can’t take it because I have a deer tag this year, but if you’d be willing, my son Kolton would take it. He said, get me your address and I’ll send you the voucher. So….I did…..
The voucher arrived in the mail, Kolton went down to the DWR office and received his tag. The next day he says, let’s go hunting!!
I said, ok. So, I went down the school and I checked Wyatt out of 1st grade.
We were a bit early in the day so we went and had lunch. Went to an outdoors store. Wyatt had to get a knife and a fishing sticker of course….and I had to buy it for him, because that’s just how it goes….and off to the property we go.
Well, as luck would have it, we found some deer the last hour of light. We all put on a great stalk and Kolton let’s this buck have it with little guy watching in the Binos.
Well, the rifle spike hunt was coming up so we all went down there. Set up camp and that hunt wasn’t as fruitful. I turned up a lot of good bulls. A lot of cows, but the spikes were sparse. We struck out on this hunt. We weren’t certain if we could make it back or not. My sheep hunt was to begin in the middle of that particular hunt. So, we may have been staring down the barrel of a finished spike elk season. We’d hoped not, but we knew that was a real possibility.
This was opening morning. We’d been following elk tracks and never could cut a spike. But what a fun morning hunt.
The hunt after we were done with spike elk was my sheep hunt. And my schedule was tight too.
Sheep hunt starting October 16- the 17th. And then I was to depart for Iowa on October 28th for my 2 day drive. And hunt Iowa for archery Whitetail’s.
Iowa has a bit of a back story behind it. My grandfather passed away in 2015. In 2007 and 2008, I had taken him to Oklahoma to hunt Whitetail’s and turkeys. My grandfather didn’t grow up a hunter, but he took to hunting to spend more time with me. I never could get him to connect on a deer but he did get a hell of a Tom turkey.
Anyways, he’d passed away in 2015. I had called that outfitter to let him know because he’d really liked my grandpa.
In talking with him he said, want to come hunt whitetail this year? I said, hell ya. So Kolton and I went out there and that particular hunt rekindled my flame for Whitetail’s.
When I returned home, I began researching additional white tail Opportunities. I came across an outfitter in Iowa and we began talking and he told me Iowa takes points. He said, let’s plan it for 3 years from now. I said, sounds great. Well, every year, he’d remind me to get points.
After 3 years, other stuff kept coming up, I’d gotten lucky every year and was drawing Kansas.
Finally, with 5 points in hand, I decided, stop collecting and go hunting. So I drew this year and I had my tag in hand…but first, desert sheep was up next!
I have to admit, my sheep hunt was quick. We were to arrive on Friday, MAYBE go out Friday to see the country ans maybe find sheep for the next day.
There is actually a rifle range that we frequent as a family that is only an hour from my sheep unit. So the plan was, leave early Friday. Go to the range. Really shoot the rifle, clean it. Shoot it. Clean it. Shoot it and have it ready. I’d been working with this rifle since July specifically for this hunt. I know how this rifle performs. I only wanted to shoot out to 300 yards maximum. In fact, I wanted it to be very close.
I was torn on this hunt on what weapon. I really wanted to use my bow. But more than that, I wanted Kolton and Taylor to witness the shot. That was way more important to me than using a bow. And the truth be told, They aren’t that spooky. Finding them is the hardest part.
We made it down to the range. Shot, did all that good stuff. And then drove down to the town we were staying in. My guide, Doug, with Adam Bronson outfitting met us at the hotel. He hopped in my truck and off we went.
Drive about 30 minutes south, parked the truck, unloaded my side by side, drove for about 7 minutes, came around a corner and oh SHIT!!! There’s sheep!!!
And a huge ram. With his ewes. They didn’t panic. They just shuffled around and kept feeding. I looked at Doug and said, I don’t know Jack about sheep but isn’t he a big ram?
And he said, yes he is. I said, well, don’t we want to kill him? He said, well…..you told me you didn’t want to kill the first several days. Do you really want it to end like this?
I said, no I really don’t. But, I also know when the lord is putting something in your lap, you take it. I said, is he what we came for? He said yes. I said, then let’s do this.
We got out and began to position ourselves. They had walked down a draw and got a couple of hundred yards way by the time we got settled on them. We stalked up and the cedars were fairly thick. My shot was 70 yards at this point
And just like that….a 10 day hunt was over in the first 30 minutes.
Well, now that the sheep is done, I’ll be able to return home early and not have to turn right around head to Iowa. Was going to have a bit of a reprieve.
Unfortunately, Taylor was supposed to be coming down late Friday night. So he missed the whole thing.
Well, Doug says to Kolton and me, we have a local kid that works for me that hasn’t been able to turn up a sheep in 3 weeks. Not even a ewe. He said, you guys didn’t even get to see the unit or anything. Would you like to go help us tomorrow? We said, hell yes we would.
We get up the next day, meet everyone involved. Head out to the desert. Go up to a glassing Point and we start finding sheep. This kid killed one at 10:30 that morning. So just as easily as my hunt was, it could’ve been just as hard and I truly do recognize and understand that. It isn’t my sheep to post, so I’ll keep that picture off the website.
That day was Saturday that the local kid killed his ram.
We had arranged with the fish and game to check my ram and plug the horn Saturday afternoon. As we were headed to their office, Kolton says, well…now what? I said, I don’t know. He said, I still have my elk tag and you brought 2 rifles and the rifle spike is still going and our unit is only an hour south….
I said….yeah, you’re right. And he said, and your multi season deer tag closes tomorrow for the rifle. I said….yeah, it does. He says, we were planning to be gone for ten days….at this point, I was just messing with Kolton. I said, yeah, yeah we were. He said…LETS GO!!!
So I called my wife and I said, tell Peyton to grab his hunting stuff and bring me him and Wyatt tomorrow morning at 11:30. I said, I’ll meet you in town, and we’ll all eat lunch together and then the boys can hunt.
I didn’t have Jeffrey these days. He was at his moms and that’s just how life happens sometimes.
My wife said, yep I’ll see you tomorrow.
So Kolton and I get on the elk unit early in the morning. We begin glassing and I find elk right away. And it’ll be about a 2 mile stalk to get to them. So we head up the mountain and at 10:30, I call my wife and say….we are gonna be a minute….go ahead and eat with out us because……
So…..the 2 miles we have back to the side by side is a pretty crappy pack out. I called Taylor and said….what’re you doing? He said, hanging out with my family. I said, can you come pick us up? He said, sure will. Where? I told him where we’d be walking out at. It was still 2 miles to where he was coming to get us, but it was a hell of a lot better 2 miles going that way instead of to my machine.
We get the elk out, I drop my wife a pin for where to meet me with the boys and LUNCH because we were starving at this point.
Well, Wyatt is ready to go hunt. And kolton and I were tired. But Wyatt said, let’s go kill a deer dad!!!
I said, let’s do it.
We head to a different part of the unit. I find some deer feeding and I tell Wyatt, I found you a buck buddy. He said, will you shoot it? I said, he’s a 2 point. I don’t shoot 2 points. He said, for me??? I said, let’s go get him. We’ll stalk up there together. It was a pretty decent stalk. About 800 yards going up a draw and getting to the flat they’re on. There was 8 deer in all.
2 smaller bucks and the rest does.
I tell Wyatt, we need to crawl now. I want a good close shot. He said ok Let’s go!!
So we finished the stalk. Got settled and let her rip….
I did forget to mention our Colorado hunt for elk. Kolton and I went on this hunt snd it was a bit later in the rut than I like. But it’s fine. Kolton connected on a cow the very last day and the very last minute of the hunt. So it was all good!!!! This elk died in a genuine hell hole!!
So we get this deer all handled snd we head back to the hotel we were staying in. I tell the boys, let’s eat our TV dinners and let’s hit the sack so we can try to get Peyton a spike in the morning before we have to go home.
The next morning rolled around and Kolton and I were tired. But…can’t kill them from bed. Let’s go boys!
So we go back to the area Kolton killed his. I locate the same herd but…..there’s a few cows and a bull and 2 spikes splitting off and they’re headed down hill.
And they’re gonna be heading to a spot that will make them very vulnerable. And it’s go time now. It’s, get your shit, and let’s go!! Kolton, stay here with Wyatt we gotta go!!! So we take off. We have a lot of country to cover and a short time to do it.
The elk beat us. Like they almost always do!! Damn!! But what’s that? Up on the hill?? I throw my glasses up and there’s a lone spike that had fallen behind and he was coming…..
We continued to move into position and it’s all coming together. Perfectly coming together. We get to the edge of the trees and I look at there’s the spike. 60 yards away walking….
Well….I’d left my cow call at the side by side of course. So I let out a soft whistle and he stopped and I told Peyton, hammer him!
He had his rifle up, free handing it and he lets it go…..
Peyton had just killed his first elk.
Well…Iowa was next. This was to be a 6 day hunt. First day of the hunt was October 30th.
I am home for a few days. Get some things settled and head out the door towards Iowa. As I am headed out my cousin calls and says, my dad isn’t doing well. I had to take him to the hospital and it doesn’t look good. I said, keep me posted please.
This comes into play, nothing major, but still involves the story.
You guys are "killin' it"!!!!!!!!!
I get to Iowa, make sure the bow is good and settle in the stand for the next 6 days. All day sits.
I kill a doe on day 2. I love all things whitetail.
The rest of the hunt is very active, a lot of close calls, but, nothing quite coming together until day 5.
My weather was superb as well. Highs in the very low 50’s. Lows in the mid 20’s. Everything seemed perfect.
Morning of day 5 finds me staring at a great 10 point. Just as I’m getting to my stand in the morning. He just stares at me. Rut dumb as can be. But, I can’t shoot for another hour. So I just watch him in my headlamp and get a good chuckle.
I decided to switch stands to another location I’d wanted hunt but the wind hadn’t been right for. And finally, it was. I was settled in that stand for only an hour and I look to my right and I about crap myself. A small game of cat and mouse ensues and then he makes the mistake of giving me the shot.
I had just put an arrow in my best whitetail to date. 5 years of planning. All came to an end.
Iowa finished up and I was headed home. My cousin calls and says, my dad just passed. I said, I’m almost back to Utah, you’ll be my first stop. So I make the detour to his house to see him, let him know I’m there for him and I’ll call him when the dust settles in the next day or so.
So…what is a man to do when his son Jeffrey still has an elk tag….the muzzleloader season is open and you don’t have a muzzleloader and you don’t know anything about muzzleloaders???
Well, call Taylor, of course!!!
He gives me a solid crash course in them. Tells me my same elk are in the same place, because nobody will go up there for a spike except us!!
So….I buy us a muzzleloader. And I go and shoot this muzzleloader. We get it dialed in and off Jeffrey and I go.
Morning 1, we get into elk but no spikes. And the evening hunt is a wash as well. But the next day, we go to my spot. Where Kolton and Peyton killed. I locate elk and a lot of them. We drive up the road for a different vantage point and we are watching and another guy comes driving up. And he finds them too.
Well, we talk with each other and make a plan. We all pretty much decide, lots of elk, lots of spikes, let’s work together and get both of them elk.
We begin to plan and 6 more side by sides show up.
So, I figure, be upfront with your plans. Let them know that you’re going in and that they need to decide what they’re doing but we are in fact headed up there. I told them how I was going to do it, just so we all knew where everyone would be.
So, we began our stalk. Jeffrey is a short kid. Blocky and short. It was a bit of a further hike on these elk than on the previous 2 elk.
It was an elevation gain of 1700’ and it was 2.25 miles in. We got to where I wanted to go, got settled in and waited. As the herd was feeding out, a spike was working his way towards us and was dangerously close to giving us a shot. And then…..BOOM. One of the guys we’d been talking with was up there as well. He’d taken a hail mary shot and missed but also pushed the elk out and then the inevitable pursuit began and the elk ran like hell.
These are the lessons of perseverance. Keep going. No matter what. Jeffrey said, what are we going to do now dad? I said, we’re gonna go have us lunch at the side by side. And we’re gonna go find fresh elk.
So off the mountain we go. We have fun, eat lunch, make a few calls. He wants to shoot the gun, because he just loves all that stuff.
We eat, get loaded up, and go to another spot….and there they are. Elk again. And one spike.
But their position is a bit more difficult to get on. They’re close to us and not a ton of good cover.
We go stalking up in there, and I think we may have bumped them. But If we did, it wasn’t hard.
Next thing I know, I hear a bugle up above us. So I said, let’s go walk to that opening and check it out. We get up there, nothing. But I throw my glasses up and about 500 yards away, and just on the other side of a little rise, I can see the head and the back of a cow elk walking. I said, there’s elk let’s go. So we get up there and I start to slowly go up the rise. I get to where I can start to see and there’s elk. And a lot of them. Feeding at various distances. 50 yards, 60 yards, 100 yards, 130 yards. All feeding through. There’s 30 I can see, and more in the trees filtering out. But not a single spike.
The bull is in the trees, he’s singing his September chorus in November. It’s just surreal moment together. I am watching and watching. Picking every elk apart to find a spike. The wind was about 30 miles an hour out of the north and it was perfect but it was COLD!!! Here is Jeffrey waiting. I took this photo moments before we had the change we needed…..
The last of the elk are about out of the trees and I’m not finding a spike. At this point, there’s 50 elk in front of us. And then the last one emerges and he’s a spike. I whisper, SPIKE! Jeffrey’s eyes get big and bright and I said, get the muzzleloader on those shooting sticks and stand up. I said, find him in the scope and just wait. He has those small aspen limbs in the way.
I said, just wait, keep the crosshairs on him as as soon as he steps out, I’ll tell you when. Well, the elk followed the script and he took 2 steps forward and it was wide open now. I told Jeffrey, shoot!
He lets it go and the elk take off but the spike kind of just stands there. I reload the gun as quick as I can and I said, get him again, so he shoots again.
The elk takes a few steps into the trees and they’re fairly thick. You can see but you can’t shoot.
So I load his gun again, and I said, let’s try for another one in him. We sneak up there, get another shot at him at about 50 yards. And again, very little reaction. So at this point I’m going, he’s either hit very hard, or not at all.
Now, normally, I would’ve said, let’s back out. But this damn elk kept giving us shots and I’ll admit, I was a bit confused as to whether he’d even been hit.
So we go up to where he was last standing and there’s blood on the ground. And actually pretty good blood too.
And there, 50 yards way, he stood. In the thick little aspens. And I’m Going, alright….now what? Shoot him. So we get a clear shot, he shoots again. And again, very little reaction. By this time, it’s almost over. Legal light is coming to an end, we were about 400 yards from private ground and I truly didn’t know what the hell to do.
We back out for the night. Because I never could tell where the shots were, I made the choice to come back in the morning. And I’ll never know if that was the right choice.
I was keeping it to myself that I didn’t believe we’d find that elk. I wanted to remain positive. We got up the next morning, cleaned up our stuff from the hotel room. It was Thursday morning. I had my uncles viewing that evening. So I was hoping we’d get in there and get this done. It was also the last day of the elk hunt.
We get back up in there. I go to where he was last standing and there’s blood in the snow. I begin to take up the trail, he’s headed toward the private.
I follow blood and I’m on blood the whole time. I get to an area in the aspens where I lose blood but I can tell there’s been one hell of a battle. There’s coyote tracks all over. Elk tracks with them, this area is tore up!
I go back to last blood to reconnect and I find blood again and follow another 20 yards and came upon this…..
He’d only gone another 100 yards from where we bumped him the previous night.
I called the conservation officer in the area, he explained to do the best I can, but to be very liberal in the trimming for safety reasons. The pictures of this elk turned out horrible so I did the best I could, and I focused on the pack out pictures.
Now, does everyone remember how I said I’d always drawn Kansas? Well, this year, that was not the case. Not only was it not the case, there was 5 of us going. Every year I take my main customer and one of his guys on a hunt. It’s a exercise in relationship building. Friendship. Hunting. Time well spent. Appreciation for one another.
Well….3 of us didn’t draw Kansas. So, what’s a guy to do??? Stay home because you won’t gun hunt?? Cry?? Be upset? Hell no. When your outfitter says, come hunt rifle with me in Nebraska , you smile and say, thank you!!
So the trip was still a go and this hunt was next….departure date, November 16th.
2 in Kansas hunting archery. 3 of us in Nebraska with a rifle.
Great time with the boys! That ram is a bruiser and I love those color phase bears. Awesome season!!
This hunt came quick as well. Like they all do. We headed out and arrived in Nebraska. And got ready for all day sits. We went out the first day and I didn’t get one. I saw a few deer. Had a very close encounter with a very nice buck but, his doe had other plans for them. But later that evening, Kolton and Ben both received their first Whitetail’s.
Kolton loves to hunt. He’s been really getting into water fowl. And he’s been determined to get a goose.
That night, the outfitter says, wanna go hunt geese and ducks in the morning? I’ll see if my father in law wants to go, his name is Leo.
Leo turned out to be 87 years old. He came up and hunted fowl for the next 3 days with us. It was a riot.
Kolton shot that goose and I was in a stand. Waiting for a buck. I sat all day and had seen quite a few deer but no shooters. Seth asked me if I wanted to switch stands and I said, whatever you feel is best Seth.
So he came and picked me up at 1:00. And we switched to a different stand. Same place I was the first day. And then with an hour of light left….here he comes.
And just like that, the season had officially come to an end. Months of preparation. Literal months of time spent hunting, I had just closed out the most successful season of our lives. All of us just had our best years. I believe the total animals put on the ground this year between the 4 of us was 23 animals.
I’ll close this out with a few thoughts and pics for everyone.
I chose to stay in Nebraska and hunt birds too.
Here’s Jeffrey’s turkey. I traveled down to Kansas to get the mount from the lodge that my other two friends were staying in.
I like to believe my season really began with my boys in Kansas. It was in the gravel parking lot of the lodge in Kansas where it began this year hunting birds……
And it ended in that same gravel parking lot. Loading up those same turkeys, only this time, to bring them home to my boys.
My friends in Kansas did not get deer.
But my season has left an impression on all of us.
If you’re waiting to do something, don’t. Go do it.
We do not get to repeat seasons. We do not get to have a do over raising our kids. Take them young and take them often.
Business and customers can wait.
Spectacular season! Congratulations! A boatload of great memories all around for sure!
Thanks for sharing. What a season!
Great season! What do you do with all that venison!
We eat a tremendous amount of it. But I have several of my key, long term guys that really do put it to good use. So I’ll give them several bags of it throughout the year.
Looks like you guys cleaned out an entire zoo worth of animals! Many great memories made for sure. Congratulations!
Congrats on a great season!
One hell of a season Jeff! Holy freezer space! We eat 5-6 deer a year. Could probably eat one or two more but holy smokes. That’s a lot of meat!
Thank you for all the kind words from everyone!
Congrats on a season full of punched tags and memories.
Amazing season with your family and friends. Strong work getting those boys out so much. I loved the smiles. Thanks for taking the time to post . Hunter
So cool man! You are blessed indeed and you seem to know/appreciate that fact. Well earned and time well spent. Happy for ya. Thanks for sharing.
Hell of a season is an understatement! Way to go Jeff, a lifetime of great memories made! Thanks for taking the time to share them.
Awesome Jeff !!! Tell Kolton I said hey
Congrats to all of you on awesome year of hunting! I hope to be able to spend most of my fall chasing game across the country like you do in the future!
Well done, I enjoyed the story!
Thanks Pete. I certainly will tell him.
Call me Pete!!!
I love the effort you put into getting your kids outdoors! Congrays on a great season!!
I love the effort you put into getting your kids outdoors! Congrays on a great season!!
That’s one hell of a year! Congrats to you and your kids!
Amazing season with your family and friends. Strong work getting those boys out so much. I loved the smiles. Thanks for taking the time to post . Hunter
That’s one hell of a year! Congrats to you and your kids!
Congrats Jeff! Epic year for you and your family!! Going to be difficult to top that, but I know you will be out there making the effort!!! Thanks for sharing!
What an incredible season. Congrats to you and the boys. Building those memories and strengthening the family is by far the best reward of the year. So, what's the word on Jeffrey's spike? How many times did he hit it?
I am not 100% sure. The coyotes had made such a mess it was hard to tell. I know there were at least 2 bullets in him. One low and back, and the other appeared to be a lung shot. The side he was laying on was the side he’d been shot on every time too and that’s where the dogs also caused a significant amount of damage to him.
Wow! Great season with the kids. Thanks for sharing.
Great season for you and the boys. Hard to believe those younger boys were the ones throwing rocks around camp in WY just a few years ago! Good for you for getting them the opportunities you are getting them! Good for them too!!!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your crew, Jeff!
Man what a great season and a great write up Jeff! Loved seeing all the smiles! Congrats buddy and thanks for sharing!
Now that is one BUSY season!
Congratulations to you and the boys!
Great season and great read! Congrats!
Thanks to all of you!
I appreciate it.
Hey Jeff, I do believe it took longer to develop this story than to fill all of the tags. Nicely done by all. My best Paul
What a bunch of killers!!!
CONGRATULATIONS to all. Indeed "one hell of a season".
If you are ever looking at adoption, maybe someone in there 40s give me a holler. Congrats on heck of a season with your family, can only imagine memories you are creating!!!!
Dude your blessed to hunt with your boys god bless
Thanks so much for sharing. A testament to your dedication as a father
Fantastic season! You're raising those boys right!