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Book Cliffs Elk - 19 Years in 19 Hours
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Contributors to this thread:
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
JohnMC 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
elkster 20-Sep-23
Treeline 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
Arrowhead 20-Sep-23
TMac 20-Sep-23
elkmtngear 20-Sep-23
CBFROMND 20-Sep-23
Medicinemann 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
Carbon Defiant 34 20-Sep-23
RK 20-Sep-23
LungBuster 20-Sep-23
Nyati 20-Sep-23
Smtn10PT 20-Sep-23
IdyllwildArcher 20-Sep-23
Helgermite 20-Sep-23
Recurve Man 20-Sep-23
Quinn @work 20-Sep-23
Nick Muche 20-Sep-23
Bigfoot 20-Sep-23
Ken 20-Sep-23
Matt 20-Sep-23
VAMtns 20-Sep-23
MA-PAdeerslayer 20-Sep-23
tobywon 20-Sep-23
pav 20-Sep-23
KY EyeBow 20-Sep-23
backpacker 20-Sep-23
MPN 20-Sep-23
goelk 20-Sep-23
sitO 20-Sep-23
Brotsky 20-Sep-23
casekiska 20-Sep-23
Paul@thefort 20-Sep-23
WYOelker 20-Sep-23
Charlie Rehor 20-Sep-23
molsonarcher 20-Sep-23
SBH 20-Sep-23
Zbone 20-Sep-23
Heat 20-Sep-23
bigbuck 20-Sep-23
fastflight 20-Sep-23
Sam 20-Sep-23
BC 20-Sep-23
Gib 20-Sep-23
Straight Shooter 20-Sep-23
Ron Niziolek 20-Sep-23
SteveB 20-Sep-23
t-roy 20-Sep-23
BULELK1 21-Sep-23
jdbbowhunter 21-Sep-23
iceman 21-Sep-23
Inshart 21-Sep-23
DRR324 21-Sep-23
njbuck 21-Sep-23
bowhunter24 21-Sep-23
Beav 21-Sep-23
BOWNBIRDHNTR 21-Sep-23
hobbes 21-Sep-23
drycreek 21-Sep-23
TreeWalker 21-Sep-23
SteveB 21-Sep-23
No Mercy 21-Sep-23
HUNT MAN 21-Sep-23
Grasshopper 21-Sep-23
Sam 22-Sep-23
WV Mountaineer 22-Sep-23
badbull 22-Sep-23
Old School 22-Sep-23
Grunt-N-Gobble 23-Sep-23
From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
Warning: On Bowsite we usually don’t get too “wordy” and just get to the point. Please bear with me and forgive me as I get a bit more wordy than usual. I’ll add photos along the way.

History

19 years ago when I was 49 (yes I’m 68 now), I learned about the idea of building points for the possibility of future hunts. Not really understanding it, I went ahead jumped into the “points” game. Being from Ohio, Utah was just one of several states that I targeted for my future hunting hopes and dreams. After all, I was still “young” and had the time and health, right? Had I known then what I do now, I would have drawn out on a sure unit much earlier rather than waiting because point creep just kept pushing the years out further and further. Even with the same points as me (18), there were others that still got the dreaded “unsuccessful” email. But this year it would finally be my turn to get the one and only non-resident archery Mature Bull tag awarded to the highest point holders in the Book Cliffs. Although I was elated to finally get the chance, so much had changed in my life that complicated an otherwise ecstatic moment in time.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Health

I realize that most humans have physical issues of some sort and I am no different. Just a few years after I began playing the point game, I started with some symptoms that gradually worsened. Tests revealed that I had an auto-immune disease called Sarcoidosis which is basically that your body over-reacts to inflammation and forms “granulomas” (basically like gritty sand-like lesions) that generally attack and reside in the lungs among other places. For some it’s an inconvenience, for others it’s deadly. Mine is somewhere in between. I’ve found that even with doing my best to stay in shape, breathing under stresses can sometimes be a challenge. It comes and goes, but can make a flatlander have significant issues at elevation and under hard work. I’ve even had surgery to clean up the tumor-like lesions. But I digress.

During the point waiting game I also found out that I had thyroid cancer, which also required removal.

In the hospital for a diverticulitis attack, it was discovered that my glucose readings were high and needed further attention. Even though I was not the normal profile, it was determined a few weeks later that I was indeed a significant Type 2 diabetic. This presented me plenty of challenges over the next 13 years as they tried many different things to control it, without success. In fact, a year ago I had lost so much weight that I was back to my junior high school weight in the 140s instead of my usual 180s. I felt so sick, and further testing revealed that I had in fact been misdiagnosed and was indeed a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic. This would be a new journey and trying to balance out my blood sugar and insulin needs was (and still is) very challenging. Requiring insulin to live, even a bit too much when being active can have deadly results. Add that to the mix on this remote, likely once in a lifetime hunt.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Successful

19 years. Things had changed a LOT during those years in every way. I wasn’t the same healthy man, and the Book Cliffs weren’t quite the same either. Basically unfettered spike tags had taken a toll on over-all quality in the unit and the average scores had slipped. Still, my goal of a 320+ archery shot opportunity should at least have a chance. Tag in hand and being one that doesn’t mind research, my due diligence uncovered the “right” guy to give this aging flatlander the best odds. It was Clay McKeachnie from Book Cliffs Hunting, whose family has owned a ranch deep in the Book Cliffs since 1977. A real “value” by today’s standards, I was all booked and set to arrive on Sept 12 and hunt through the end of the archery season. His young, energetic son-in-law Jake would be my guide.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
GO Time

The plane landed in Grand Junction at 1:00pm, and after stopping for a few supplies I was in my rental and finally on my way. After a long, grueling travel day and rough ride into camp, as I got out of the SUV about 6:00pm and Clay met me asking if I was up to going straight out to see if I could get on a good bull they had been seeing lately a few draws over. Even though I was battling high glucose readings nearing 300 and wasn’t feeling well, I said “that’s why I’m here so let’s just do it”. A quick change of clothes and a few shots to check the bow, we were off.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Pasture where it all happened....
SteveB's embedded Photo
Pasture where it all happened....
On the way, Jake my guide told me that the hike to get in position would be 2.5-3 miles, which means we would have at least that much back out. After hearing this I was honest and explained what it means to be a T1 diabetic with high readings. Knowing it would be unsafe especially being so remote, I told him that I’d better not try it tonight. Jake understood and a change of plans was in order. We’d ride across the ranch to the other side (about 1+ hours) to look at another bull he had been seeing lately. After only about 10 minutes we rounded a bend and off about 500 yds or so out was a herd of elk in the huge pasture and we stopped to look and listen. Hearing a bugle we immediately got out and began to try to close distance. The elk were moving and as we closed in they went up and over the top. Suddenly to our left a good bugle went off, and off we went after him. He was above us a good bit and with cows, but the occasional cow call kept him interested and close by. About halfway up the climb, the bull appeared at the crest at about 50 yds, and steeply uphill. I drew back and as I lowered on him I could clearly see the pine branch entirely blocking the vitals. No shot. I could not move to get a better angle and shortly he barked and moved off with his cows. I was too wiped out to even try to chase him.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Back down the hill to the pasture again and the plan was to set up for awhile over a seep and listen to see what would develop. Only a few minutes into the wait another good bugle went off from the opposite end of the huge pasture. The bull wasn’t interested in coming our way so off we went again to close some distance. We weren’t far when another bugle went off just above us and yet another from behind us from the general area right where we had just been set up. Not being able to do the climb, we opted to go back and see what was up with the bull behind us. It was getting dark very quickly - with no time to spare. As we closed in Jake told me that he wasn’t going to call at all and we would try to slip in on him. There were at least 6 bulls bugling all around us at this point, a moment I will never forget. Our bull was bugling aggressively and had 20-30 cows with him….a bit preoccupied! He was pacing in the muddy seep back and forth and Jake ranged him at 45 yds. It was dark enough that these aging eyes just could not tell how good he was, but knowing my goals Jake gave me the thumbs up to shoot. I took 2 steps forward through the high weeds, and held for 40. The bull stopped briefly broadside, bugled, and I was ready to get the job done. The release felt super smooth and although it was too dark to see the arrow hit, that sweet “thwomp” filled the silence and I knew that the shot at the very least, had potential.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Everything erupted. The cows exploded uphill to the left and the bull followed - for a brief second. He spun back around and turned to the right and angling away stopped once again. Jake said “shoot for 60!” Already reloaded, the bow was up and it was now dark enough that at that distance I couldn’t possibly see what I was shooting and held off. Jake said that the bull was facing away with his head down and through his glasses he could see a bloodspot on his side - but possibly a bit back. Although I am a very calm person, a bit of anxiety hit me right about then. We very quietly backed out to the truck and waited about a half hour before even starting back to the camp. Jake made the way for quite a bit without any lights on. It was a very long, 100% sleepless night.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
The plan was to be ready to leave just before daylight and by 6:00am were on our way. After parking the truck and getting back to the place where I took the shot, we could see where to look for the arrow and first blood. The arrow was quite obvious and easy to find, a pass-through covered with good blood. Experience told us both that it was not lung blood, and because there was no stomach matter, figured that it was most likely a liver shot. More anxiety.

We quickly found blood after 15 yards or so, about 4 drops each the size of a nickel. Then for the next 20-30 yds no more blood on the ground, but only 4-5” smears were on the weeds. After that we could not find another drop or smear anywhere. Elk sign everywhere so tracking was going to be difficult. About then Clay arrived to help look with us and we decided to spread out and pattern to locate more sign as daylight shed a bit more light on things. I have to admit that right about then my heart was sinking, and my worst fears of a bad hit seemed to be more of a possibility. Quite a sick feeling actually.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Look close in the center to see the rack tip
SteveB's embedded Photo
Look close in the center to see the rack tip
What seemed like forever, but most likely wasn’t long at all, the quiet was pierced by a soft whistle….Clay was motioning with 2 fingers to his eyes, then hands over his head like a rack. He had spotted a rack tip up ahead laying under a rock wall. Motioning for me to head his way, I knocked an arrow and took the lead in case I needed to put another arrow in him.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
As I walked up to the bull
SteveB's embedded Photo
As I walked up to the bull
As we closed the 75 yds or so, it became clear that there was no movement, and by the time we hit 30 yds, it was obvious that he had taken his last breath. Relief hit me like a wave! Tucking the arrow back into my quiver and moving forward, the bull grew with every step. He was everything that I had hoped for. The mature 5x6 had some serious length on those tines, especially the 5 side. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I grabbed them and held on in disbelief. He had only gone less than 200 yds from impact, and was already stiff. The hit was back a bit, but obviously good enough. Thankfully he had died quickly.

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
The next few hours were the obvious chores, but no one minded at all. It was a happy time, and a labor of love.

My emotions were high, and I was filled with gratitude for the gift from above, and in disbelief that it happened so quickly. My hunt wasn’t even scheduled to begin yet when I made the shot! My only regret was that it didn’t take a bit longer….I love the hunt itself and missed out on enough of that. Maybe God knew that the hunt would have been a bit too much for me in my present health circumstances and had mercy on me. Anyway….I’m not gonna complain!

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
We conservatively scored him at 349 2/8, and more likely about 355”. His 3rd on the 5 side was 23” and his 4th was 21”. 43” spread. My best bull to date of the 7 archery elk I’ve killed; although close, I hadn’t broken the 300 mark until now.

Not so strangely, I was feeling a bit better by now too. Amazing what a bit of joy can do.

19 hours from when it all began, it was all over. Seems odd considering that it took 19 years to draw the tag. A paradox…..19 years in 19 hours. I was one happy guy.

From: JohnMC
20-Sep-23
Congrats that is one heck of bull!

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Front View with my guide Jake from Book Cliffs Hunting
SteveB's embedded Photo
Front View with my guide Jake from Book Cliffs Hunting

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Plenty enough bone for me to be happy!
SteveB's embedded Photo
Plenty enough bone for me to be happy!

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
My home for the duration
SteveB's embedded Photo
My home for the duration

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Rugged but amazing country!
SteveB's embedded Photo
Rugged but amazing country!

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Ancient Indian Petroglyphs. They are scraped into the rock, no pigment is used. This area has plenty of these to discover
SteveB's embedded Photo
Ancient Indian Petroglyphs. They are scraped into the rock, no pigment is used. This area has plenty of these to discover

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
Leaving camp to take the bull & meat into town
SteveB's embedded Photo
Leaving camp to take the bull & meat into town

From: elkster
20-Sep-23
Congrats. You made the long wait pay off.

From: Treeline
20-Sep-23
Congratulations, Steve! That is truly a Hunt of a Lifetime and elk of a Lifetime! Great background to the story and recap of the hunt! You gotta be sailing on cloud 9 after that experience!

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23

SteveB's embedded Photo
SteveB's embedded Photo
Thanks for following along. I couldn't be happier with the results and quite thankful that it all worked out!

From: Arrowhead
20-Sep-23
Awesome story and pictures! Congrats on a great bull.

From: TMac
20-Sep-23
Outstanding bull, well done and congrats!

From: elkmtngear
20-Sep-23
Awesome pics, incredible bull !

Nicely done Steve, Book Cliffs were very good to you :^D

From: CBFROMND
20-Sep-23
Awesome all the way around!

From: Medicinemann
20-Sep-23
Well done. Did the autopsy confirm a liver hit?

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Didn’t open him up and did gutless. But liver on entrance side for certain and I think it caught the back of the off-side lung.

20-Sep-23
Congratulations Steve!! What an accomplishment and hope you have a place in your house!!

From: RK
20-Sep-23
Awesome write up. Back story was so important to the overall story and needed to be included.

A story presented from the heart and written from the soul.

Not a cookie cutter hunting story. Very well presented. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on an Awesome trophy !!

From: LungBuster
20-Sep-23
Congrat! Way to battle through T1D and other issues, you are a warrior. My son has T1D, I hate that disease.

From: Nyati
20-Sep-23
Congratulations

From: Smtn10PT
20-Sep-23
Looks like it was worth the wait! Congratulations

20-Sep-23
Grats. Nice bull.

From: Helgermite
20-Sep-23
Excellent Story! Thanks so much for sharing! Congratulations on a great bull!

From: Recurve Man
20-Sep-23
Well deserved my friend.

From: Quinn @work
20-Sep-23
Congrats on an awesome bull! Thanks for sharing it.

From: Nick Muche
20-Sep-23
That's awesome! Great thread and great photos!!

From: Bigfoot
20-Sep-23
What a tremendous bull! Thanks so much for sharing the story!

From: Ken
20-Sep-23
Congratulations on a great bull. The long years of applying and getting it done despite your health issues is inspiring.

From: Matt
20-Sep-23
Great bull, congratulations.

From: VAMtns
20-Sep-23
Way to make it happen . Congrats

20-Sep-23
Diabetes S*CKS! Good on you for doing your best to take care of your self and for making this hunt happen!!! I to am diabetic and it sure can put a damper on plans and life at time! Keep pushin on!!!

Great write up and story!!!

From: tobywon
20-Sep-23
Awesome, great story and photos. Congrats on a great bull!! Thank you for sharing!!

From: pav
20-Sep-23
Congrats Steve! Way to make it happen!!!

The Books are an amazing place for sure...especially during the elk rut! Drew my bull elk tag there back in 2010...and even though my best bull did not come from Utah, the Books BY FAR has been the BEST elk hunt of my lifetime to date. Really glad you got to experience the adventure...and tag an impressive bull with your bow!

From: KY EyeBow
20-Sep-23
Congrats to you and way to persevere through all your health issues to get to your goal!!!

20-Sep-23
Congrats. You definitely beat your goal of 320. Those 3rds are nice. That is one pretty bull.

From: backpacker
20-Sep-23
Good read and nice bull. Congrats. Tough to hear about the curve balls life throws, but at least you're still able to get out there.

From: MPN
20-Sep-23
Beautiful Bull…congratulations!

From: goelk
20-Sep-23
wow man couldn't happen to a great guy like you. Great Bull and great story. Amazing!!

From: sitO
20-Sep-23
Excellent on all accounts, thanks for taking us along!

From: Brotsky
20-Sep-23
Congrats Steve! Well deserved!

From: casekiska
20-Sep-23
I congratulate you on your success afield and on the keyboard. You made a great bow shot and did a fine story-telling job. Well done Steve, in both regards!

From: Paul@thefort
20-Sep-23
Steve, not bad at all for being a Buckeye and a flatlander. Medical issues and age are no reasons not to accomplish one's dreams. Nicely done. My best, Paul

PS, Move from Ohio to Colorado in 1991 and never looked back.

From: WYOelker
20-Sep-23
Nice. What was the rest of the trip like? Did you get a chance to explore? Were there any other hunters about?

20-Sep-23
Happy for you Steve. Enjoy every moment.

From: molsonarcher
20-Sep-23
Fantastic elk, and a great story to go with it. Sometimes things just work out perfectly, and you were in the right spot at the right time. Congrats on a great bull!

From: SBH
20-Sep-23
What an awesome bull, and great story. Rather an early ending with a bull like that then a late one with no elk. I could see how you would be a bit off being done so soon though. Hopefully got to stick around and enjoy a few days in the area. Congrats again,

From: Zbone
20-Sep-23
Beautiful bull, well done, CONGRATS!

From: Heat
20-Sep-23
Way to go Steve!

From: bigbuck
20-Sep-23
Great Story!! Great Hunt Congratulations on a Beautiful Animal!!!!

From: fastflight
20-Sep-23
Thanks for telling your story. Congrats for sure.

From: Sam
20-Sep-23
Amazing bull and gorgeous rugged country!!

From: BC
20-Sep-23
Awesome adventure Steve. Well done.

From: Gib
20-Sep-23
Thanks for sharing the story, congratulations on the hunt and beautiful bull, and wish you the best on your health

20-Sep-23
Great job Steve, great looking bull congrats!

From: Ron Niziolek
20-Sep-23
That is an amazing bull, Steve. Congrats and best wishes with your health issues. Way to persevere!

20-Sep-23
Great bull and nice write up! Thanks for sharing

From: SteveB
20-Sep-23
Thank you everyone!

From: t-roy
20-Sep-23
Congrats on a great bull, Steve! Glad your medical issues didn’t stop you from fulfilling your dream.

From: BULELK1
21-Sep-23
So very happy for ya Steve.

Ya done good----->

Robb

From: jdbbowhunter
21-Sep-23
Congrats on a great bull . Thanks for sharing your story.

From: iceman
21-Sep-23
Congrats on your trip. Heck of a bull!

From: Inshart
21-Sep-23
19 --- 19, "Ya Done Good", Congratulations.

From: DRR324
21-Sep-23
Congrats on a great bull and hunt of lifetime!

From: njbuck
21-Sep-23
Heck of a bull, the tag was worth the wait. Congrats!

From: bowhunter24
21-Sep-23
Thank you for your story and a big congrats on beating your health issues! Oh and one heck of a nice bull!

From: Beav
21-Sep-23
Congratulations Steve! Great writeup and pics and thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
21-Sep-23
Congratulations Steve. Positive attitude leads the way to a well deserved trophy!!

From: hobbes
21-Sep-23
Congrats! Beautiful bull and great photos.

From: drycreek
21-Sep-23
Good Lord, another bruiser ! Congrats Steve on a beautiful bull !

From: TreeWalker
21-Sep-23
Nicely done! I am sitting on a pile of UT elk points so may need to actually use them. Your story got me thinking!!

From: SteveB
21-Sep-23
Point creep will kill you if you don't

From: No Mercy
21-Sep-23
congrats Steve! Well done!

From: HUNT MAN
21-Sep-23
Way to go and thank you for Sharing your story !!! That’s a dandy .

From: Grasshopper
21-Sep-23
Congrats on the bull of a lifetime, and enduring a long wait while aging. The problem with good units that take forever to draw is your an senior citizen when you draw, for sure. Inspiring story.

From: Sam
22-Sep-23
I just re-read….wow, just wow!

22-Sep-23
Yes sir. Congrats friend.

From: badbull
22-Sep-23
Thanks for sharing the type of thread and story that I love to see on Bowsite. I can't help but admire your toughness, writing, tenacity, and not to mention your beautiful bull. Congratulations and wishing for your best health situation possible and more good hunting to you.

From: Old School
22-Sep-23
Steve - happy for you and your success!! Way to persevere, now sit back and soak it all in. Great memories right there. Congrats!!

23-Sep-23
Congratulations Steve!

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