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Bull Buster's picture
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Location: Nebraska
Joined: 10/12/2007
Posts: 167
I Failed As A Guide

Since he was 2 yrs old my oldest son would faithfully call me every night that I was away from home on my annual elk hunt to ask me if I had gotten an elk and  he couldn't wait until he was old enough to come with me.  So the year finally comes he is 12 and a brand new hunter saftey card in his pocket to break in.  I told him last year if his grades continued to remain what they have always been I would take him to the mountains with me.  Just like always all A's and one B.  Before I get attacked for taking him out of school for a week let me first say that my grandpa always told me "don't let school always interfere with your education."

Well it is opening day we were on my favorite ridge waiting for the sun to get high enough to give us enough light to see before we made our stalk down the ridge. (I like to still hunt next to the dark timber catching elk on their way to bed)  We are about 600 yrds down the ridge when  the silence of the morning was broke by a bugling bull.  Talk about standing the hair up on the back of your neck.  We go into serious mode get the wind in our favor and sneek up to the edge of the ridge.  Just like we planned  standing at the edge of a stand of aspen was a bull.  A real nice one at that.  I told Sean to sneek up beside me and get his gun on the sticks I had set up for him.  He got  up to me and to my surprise the look on his face was cool as ice.  The bull (320 to 330) was standing broad side about 200 yrds down the hill.  Sean  bared down and squeezed off a shot.  I had a million things running though my mind.  Mostly that we have been hunting for 30 minutes and he is going to shoot a great bull.  He is going to think there is nothing to elk hunting.  Is this going to spoil him?

I about puked as I heard no report from a bullet making a conection and watching the bull run down the hill into cover not to be seen again. At least by us.  The disappointment on Sean's face was about more than I could take.  As we sat there going through all the events that had taken place he asked me "where did I shoot?"  I told him that he shot over him.  He asks "how far was he?"  200 hundred yrds I respond.  "Dad I make that shot all the time I didn't flintch, what happened?"  Then it him me.  What I have taken for granite and failed to pass on to him in the heat of the molment.  "Sean where did you aim?"  "I held about 2/3rds up his back and behind his shoulder."  Damnit...I told him that I was sorry it was my fault.  I felt terrible.  Back in the rolling hills of Nebraska we don't have to worry so much about holding low on downhill shots and this shot was darn sure down hill.  I explained to him about down hill/up hill shots and told him if he got another opportunity I would tell him where to hold so he didn't have extra stuff to think about while making the shot.

Like a trooper he is he made me feel better about myself saying "we'll get another chance and did you hear him bugle?  That was awesome. Shooting him would just have been the icing on the cake. It's already been a great hunt dad thanks for taking me."  The wheather was hot and dry and the elk were hard to come by.  They were all in there steep drainage dark timber hideouts.  Two days go by and I take Sean to another one of my honey holes.  We sat there for 2 hrs that evening when I look up and through the trees I spot some movement.  I nudge Sean and tell him that a bull is coming in.  He comes out to the water hole and it is a rag horn 4x5 at 100 yrds.  I tell him to hold right on him and let him have it.  He looks at me like I'm crazy.  I say shoot him.  He says "he's not very big."  As we continue to discuss shooting this elk the wind swirls and like a ghost the elk is gone.

As I sat there disapointed I asked Sean why didn't shoot.  He says "he wasn't quite what I'm looking for."  I explain to him that he is hunting on public land in a unit that has an unlimited sale for bull permits.  I explain it's not like being back on the ranch where we are going to hunt, Moose, Mr Big or Big Sexy.  "Sean we are only 75 yrds from an atv trail.  He would of been easy to get out of here."  He looks at me and smiles and asked "don't you have a tag in your pocket?  If you thought he has such a good deal maybe you should of shot him."  Ok ......spoken like a chip off the ole block.

On Thursday evening (we had to pack up Friday morning to come home) we had one more chance.  We decided to hunt low and I hadn't had the chance to show him where I shot the bull that is in my profile pic.  It snowed during the week so we were driving the atv down to my hunting spot and cut some fresh bull tracks.  After a little investigating I told Sean that I was pretty sure I knew where he was going.  We made our plan and started our stalk.  Ironiclly we ended up in the same little drepression I shot the bull in my profile pic.  As we sat there getting our wind I told Sean "you see that tree right over there?  That's where I shot the bull back in 07."  Then movment caught my eye.  "Sean there he is."  He was a nice 300 inch 6x6.  I got the shooting stix set and Sean got down to set up for the shot.  I told him to hold the cross hairs about 6 inches down from the top of his back.  He aims and then asked me "how far is he?"  I respond about 300 yrds.  This is when I had one proud father moments.  He said dad he's just too far for me you shoot him.  Well as most of you that have been elk hunting know he gave us about 15 secs more than most of them will and as I readied for the shot he was gone not to be seen again.

As we drove home we visited about our week and how much fun it had been even though we never punched a tag.  We saw several cows and calves, a couple huge muley bucks and got to spend a weeks worth of one on one time were we talked everything from hunting, fishing, sports school, his friends, my friends and everything in between.  Looking back I see what grandpa had preached to me all those years....."don't let school interfere with your education."

Critter's picture
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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
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It doesn't sound like you

It doesn't sound like you failed as a guide but is sounds like you are going to have a great hunting companion in the years to come.  It sounds like he knew his limits and was willing to stay within them.  Most young hunters would of let the lead fly and determine what happened later.  So, how was your hunting trip, did you find a bear, deer, and a elk for yourself?   

I got home from my hunting trip on Thursday and thought about seeing if I could find you but I had to head over to Denver on Friday to help a friend butcher a elk that he had shot.  I actually saw more elk than I did deer where I was hunting but I did chase a nice 5x5 buck around for a few days before I figured that he deserved to live another year.    

Bull Buster's picture
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Location: Nebraska
Joined: 10/12/2007
Posts: 167
Critter, as you told me

Critter, as you told me awhile back a or several late frost did not do the berries on the oak brush any justice.  This was the first year in I don't know when when I haven't at least seen a bear from a distance.  This year I seen no bear, and no signs of bear.

Our camp did manage a couple cow elk and a 5x5 bull.  One guy had a deer tag and as in most cases the guys without the tag saw all the good deer and he only ran across the guys that needed to grow.  I was so caught up trying to get Sean a bull that I didn't care if I got one or not.  That week was all about him. I have no regrets I have taken several elk and we left a couple good ones on the mountain to day dream about and wonder how big they will be next year.

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Yeah, I'd agree with Critter,

Yeah, I'd agree with Critter, failed is a prett strong word.  Most would be happy just getting one shooting opportunity a season, let alone several.  Lots can go wrong, especially with youngsters, when it comes time to pull the trigger.  And most guides I've ever met would have counted your trip a successful hunt in that they put the "client" on game and gave them opportunities to harvest.

I had to chuckle at him passing up the rag horn.  Maybe he'd taken a crack at it if he hadn't missed a better bull the day before.  That is a classic comeback to getting hassled about it too.  "You have a tag in your pocket too, yes?"

Thanks for sharing the story.  It's great to read about other's hunting experiences too.

Bull Buster's picture
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Location: Nebraska
Joined: 10/12/2007
Posts: 167
CoMeatHunter,  failed is a

CoMeatHunter,  failed is a strong word. I'm still just kicking myself for not just saying what was going through my mind.  "Put the cross hairs where his front leg and belly meet."  If I would of just thought out loud I'm confident we would of packed a good one back to camp.

He makes me laugh too and I can  understand why his mother tells me all the time that he is my clone.  He has started to figure out public hunting and compitition.  A few times are hunt was delayed by other hunters doing whatever other hunters do and he would be disapointed that someone beat us to our spot.  I would tell him thats why you always have a plan B.

I know I labeled the post as failing but, it was actually a great week. He had a great attitude the entire week holding his chin and hopes high.  On the way home I asked him if he was disapointed.  His response was, "with what? I got a shot at a huge bull, I could of killed one that I didn't want and passed on one that was too far."  Made me feel proud as a father.  He may have taught me more than I taught him last week.  haha. 

I did ask him if he got the chance to shoot that rag horn 4x5 next year if he would shoot him.  His reply....."IN A HEART BEAT."

BuckBuster26's picture
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Location: Fort Collins, CO
Joined: 10/19/2011
Posts: 40
thats awesome

Thats awesome! reminds me of past hunts with my dad and I! where were you guys hunting if you dont mind me asking??

flewthecoupe's picture
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Joined: 06/07/2011
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Love the story and the quote

Love the story and the quote from your Grandpa. I'll borrow that, if you don't mind. Hearing that story makes me yearn for when my boys are old enough to go out with me. Thanks for sharing!

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Location: Fort Collins,CO
Joined: 07/22/2008
Posts: 71
You may have failed as a

You may have failed as a guide but it sounds like you're succeeding as a dad! sounds like a great week.  I wish my dad had taken me hunting more and we had gotten more time like that.  Great story!

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Location: Denver
Joined: 10/16/2009
Posts: 70
Great story!

Buster -

Great, great story!  Be sure to print out a copy and it put it someplace safe so that your son can read it before he takes his son out their first hunt together.

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Location: Fruita Colorado
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AWESOME !!!!!!!!

Bull Buster,

Just to start off with the whole school thing. That has been a way of life for me ! My parents always took us out of school from the time I was in kindergarten (with the rule of good grades). I have done the same with my children growing up.

I thought this has to be one of the best reads ever. You are a great father and hunter for bringing your son up this way. I am in the same boat with my children  and could not be any prouder.

Congrats on an amazing hunt and keep up the great work !

Quinton

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/23/2010
Posts: 10
As everyone else has said, no

As everyone else has said, no failure there. If my sons first hunt goes that well, I'll be tickled pink. H*ll, would have loved if MY first hunt had been like that. Thanks for the story and for passing on our tradition!

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