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JimmyB's picture
Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 09/04/2009
Posts: 74
Shattered Dreams Create New Memories

Me and my dad have been hunting elk together for the past 15 years with 10 of those I was carrying a tag as well and we have yet to take an Elk here in Utah. We have come close many many times, but just haven't been able to bag one. My dad is 50 years old and has Chronic Fatigue so he just doesn't have the energy that he'd like to put into an Elk hunt anymore. After coming up with nothing last year he told me that he doesn't feel like he's going to be able to go hunting much more cause it just takes too much out of him physically. So after the rifle hunt in Utah last year I decided I was going to take a trip up to West Yellowstone and do some fishing with my cousin who guides Elk/Deer hunts on a ranch up there. The first day there I was talking to my cousin about how my dad isn't going to be able to hunt much more and that my dad just needs to get one elk before he can't go anymore so he told me that we should try and draw tags out for the area around the ranch he works on. And after all the elk and nice bulls I saw up there while I was fishing I was convinced. I get back to town and call my dad and tell him we HAVE to try and draw out for a tag there. After a few weeks of talking him into it we put our names in and typed in the credit card numbers and now it was a waiting game. A few months go by and my dad calls me saying that something came in the mail from Montana fish and game. Sure enough we both drew out for a Bull Elk tag. Those 6 months from when we got the tags and when the hunt started seemed like an eternity! FINALLY the month of October rolls around and the hunt is all we can talk about. The hunt started on Oct 23rd but so did my Deer tag that I drew out for so we had to go up the next week and the whole time I was deer hunting all I could think about was getting up to Montana to start our hunt! I drove up to Salt Lake from St. Geroge late Wednesday night and woke up bright and early to get everything ready and loaded up the 4 wheeler and got it on the trailer and gased up, and then FINALY we were on the road makin the 5 hour trip to Montana. On the way up my cousin called my dad and said that there's not a lot of hunters in the area and that he had seen a couple nice bulls that morning but he had a hunter fly in so he would not be able to take us out like we had planned. We got up there just before it got dark so we hurry and got on the 4 wheeler and headed up the trail looking for a good place to hunt in the morning but all we could find was one canyon after another and we had noooooo idea where to start the next morning. 4:30 am comes around and we hurry and get ready and just started heading towards the top where my cousin told us to go, we got off the 4 wheeler and just started hiking around with no plan just praying we would find something promising or run into some elk! We hiked about a mile in and found a nice little opening with a good sized watering hole and some fresh elk signs. We sat there till about 11 am and saw nothing! I decided I was going to hike around the clearing and see what was around and hoping I would push something towards my dad. I found some heavily used game trailed that led to another big opening with more water so I hiked back and told my dad about it and we decided we were gonna hike down to it and have a look around. Once we get to the bigger clearing we find some fresh elk tracks and droppings so we decided to start following the tracks and see what we find. We start hiking up hill after hill after hill and at this point we have no idea where the road is or our 4 wheeler, everything got turned around on us. We both thought the road we be up at the top of this huge steep hill we were on so we both start hiking up and once we got towards the top the hill just kept going up then we here a truck so we start looking for it and find it on the road in the complete opposite direction we thought it was. So now we knew where we were and decided the quickest way out was to hike up a little more and cut along the ridge towards the road. We hike up a couple hundred yards and my dad says he needs to take a break he's too tired to go anymore. So we sit for a couple min and he says why don't you hike up a little more and see whats up there, so I start hiking up the side of his hill with a good sized draw to my left. I get about 200-300 yards from my dad and I'm not trying to be quiet or sneaky just stomping up the hill and I look to my left and there he is! Straight across the draw on the other hill is a great big beautiful bull 250 yards away! My heart just started pounding and my adrenaline kicked in and I'm just trying to stay calm. I was in a little opening on the hill so I had nothing to rest my rifle on so I just pulled my rifle up and looked in the scope and see how big this elk really is, he is standing perfectly broadside and is just standing there with no idea I'm even there. I put the crosshairs just above halfway on his shoulder. I take a couple deep breaths and steady the crosshairs and I shoot! The elk jumped straight up in the air then spun in a couple circles then stops! I go to shoot a second time and he turns so I can only see his butt and his head looking back at me then he slowly walked off the other side of the hill out of view. I lower my gun and just sit there thinking if I hit him or not. Before I pulled the trigger I had in my mind that the bull would drop right there where he stood but he didn't! I look down the hill to see if my dad was coming up yet then look back to where the Elk was standing and I saw something move through the pine tree just behind where the bull was standing and out of no where another bull walks out from behind the tree and starts walking the same path as the first bull! I hurried and raised my rifle trying to get a shot off but only found his rear end in the scope before we went down the otherside.  I started hiking back down to find my dad and he's coming up the hill as fast as he could saying "what'd ya shoot what'd ya shoot!?" I'm trying to tell him what happened but I had so much adrenaline going through me it was hard to get the words out! I finally tell him there was 2 big bulls on the other hill and I shot at the first one and I was sure I hit it and it couldn't have gone far! So we hurry and start walking to where we last saw the Elk. I was expecting to find the bull down not far from where I last saw him. We get over there and we don't see anything, we look at where the bull was standing and we can see where he was standing and could see where he spun in circles but couldn't see any blood or hair! We followed his tracks for about 100 yards looking for blood or anything but all the leafs and plants on the trail were changing color so they were yellow and all different shades of red so we couldn't tell if there was any blood or not! We hiked all over for another hour or so and found nothing. My dad decided to head back to camp to rest so I stayed out there looking for that bull till dark and still found nothing. The next day we headed out to the same area trying to find that Bull! I hiked all over looking for it from dawn till dusk and still nothing then the weather went from bright and sunny to a complete white out in just a few min so we called it a day and headed back to camp. We drove into town to get some food and my dad got a call from my mom saying that my sister had gone into labor so we had to rush back to camp and load everything up and head back home. Our hunt was officially over :( I still don't know if I missed or not but I really hope that I missed and that Bull didn't suffer and slowly die in a dark hole. That shot gets played over in my mind over and over again every night!! Even though I missed (hopefully) it was still a great and fun experience and we got closer to getting a bull this time! But most of all I got to spend some much needed good quality time with my dad! Now I just have to convince him to go again next season!

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elkkill06's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fruita Colorado
Joined: 02/02/2009
Posts: 2044
Way cool !!!!


Very cool story and what a way to get it done with your dad. Thumbs up I know how you feel when it comes to your dad. My dad does not hunt elk with us anymore due to heart problems and other health issues. It kills me he will never see some of our better elk hunting spots, but I get out there and chase muleys with him and we have a blast. The only difference being is my dad has taken somewhere in the nieghborhood of 25 elk in his hunting career.

I hope you get to get him back out there next year and good luck !


Ca_Vermonster's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5801
You even said so yourself, in

You even said so yourself, in that last paragraph, that even though you missed that shot, it was still a memorable experience.  I still treasure all the time I get to hunt with my Dad, and can only hope that my 2 young sons eventually follow in my footsteps.

Nice story!

JimmyB's picture
Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 09/04/2009
Posts: 74
Thanks for the encouragement

Thanks for the encouragement guys! Hopefully I can talk him into going again next year. I just really wish that he could have made it a couple more hundred yards up that hill so both of us could have gotten a shot off at those bulls! This was the first year that we've even gotten a shot off on a bull! Just wish he would of been able to take a shot too. But we did just find out that since we didn't fill our bull tags that we can turn them in for cow tags for the same area, and it just so happens that the ranch my cousin guides on has too many cows in the heard so we'll be able to hunt on the ranch wich means we are almost 100% guarenteed to fill our tags! Just got to find out the dates of the hunt and get back up there! It won't be the same as getting our first bull together but it will still be our first elk together and that's all that matters!

hawkeye270's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Fort Collins, CO
Joined: 06/15/2008
Posts: 1862
I am glad to hear that you

I am glad to hear that you were able to talk him into hunting this year JimmyB. And as long as you weren't leaving out any horror stories, it sounds like he managed fairly well. I really hope that you guys can get out next year to chase bulls. It sounds like you guys have the right mindset about the whole thing and I hope you gusy have some success soon. That cow hunt sounds like a great opportunity. And I think that once you guys are standing over your first elk, you are going to find that it does not matter one bit if it has antlers or not. After 15 years, that is going to be quite the reward. The other perk of that cow hunt is that your buddy is probably not going to be as busy with other hunters and he just might be able to pitch in and help you guys out.

It sounded like you took your shot offhand. I am just curious, why did you not try to get down into a sitting position? Was the bull looking your way and you thought he might catch the movement? Good luck on your cow hunt!

JimmyB's picture
Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 09/04/2009
Posts: 74
I was walking up the side of

I was walking up the side of this hill and got into a little opening and that's when I saw the bull on the ridge across from me. He was perfectly broadside just standing there and I looked around to see if there was a tree or anything to rest my rifle on but nothing was around.  I then got down on one knee to take the shot but there was some tall grass that was catching in the scope so I had to take the shot standing.  I'm shooting a Ruger .300 WinMag and all year I was shooting with a 200 grain bullet so I knew that at 200 yards it was dead center in the cross hairs.  I figured the bull was 225 yards maybe 240 yards away so I put the crosshairs about 3/4 up on the shoulder. I pulled the trigger and watched the elk jump and kick out his back legs through my scope, so I put another round in and watched the elk spin in circles trying to figure out what was going on and when he stopped he had his rear end facing me and he was lookin back at me and then walked down the other side of the hill. I was almost positive I had hit him but when we got over there we didn't find any blood or hair.  We followed his tracks for about 75 yards and still couldn't find any blood. When we got back to camp I unloaded my rifle and realized I grabbed the other box of bullets that were only 150 grain so if I did hit the bull it would have been high high on his shoulder or maybe grazed him, but hopefully I just completely missed him!

jim boyd's picture
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Joined: 07/06/2010
Posts: 889
Jimmy, That is a great story


That is a great story - I loved it.

I do feel badly for your dad... I am older also and want to go out there and hunt and know I have to get into better shape before I go. I do feel like the clock is ticking on me - and that time is NOT on my side here.

It is a shame that you could not find the bull - I thought you were gonna walk over there and find him laying not far from where you shot.

To have a second one walk out right after you shot seems shocking - you would think he would have headed for the hills when you shot the first one and he made some good commotion in the area.

Great story of hunting and I enjoyed it very well.

In spite of the fact that you did not get to harvest an elk, you named the story correctly - shattered dreams can and do create new memories.

I feel sure that you will be even more determined on future hunts.

I wish the best for you and your dad - who knows - maybe there are many hunts left for the both of you...

I also loved the photos you posted, they are magazine quality.

Great work, Jimmy - and a super story to boot.

JimmyB's picture
Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 09/04/2009
Posts: 74
Haha ya to be honest with ya

Haha ya to be honest with ya I thought that the bull was gonna drop once I pulled the trigger, and once I saw him slowly walk off the other side of the hill I thought that we would walk over there and see the bull down!! For those of you asking about where and how the shot was taken, look at the first picture I posted and look towards the top of the hill in the small little opening in the middle of the trees.  The picture was taken from exactly where the bull was standing.  If I had moved 7 feet to my left or right I would not of had a shooting lane. I don't know if this has happened to anyone else but almost every night when I try to fall asleep all I can picture is the bull in my crosshairs standing on that hill! It is burned into my mind! I could grab a piece of paper and draw out every single little detail!

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