There are hardcore trophy hunters that go their whole lives seeking out a certain type of bull elk. These rare bulls have points that sprout vertically off their first brow tines. They are called "devil tine" bulls due to the fact that these tines resemble devil horns. So when my brother-in-law's first bull ended up being adorned with these unique tines, we were shocked. But this wasn't only his first bull, or first elk for that matter. It was his first big game animal period!
The rest of our family had tried to convince him to come on our annual elk hunts for three years prior but he was unable to get time off to hunt with us. So when we heard that he suddenly was able to get time off and hunt with one of his friends from work, we were surprised but happy that someone had been able to convince him to give it a try. As it turned out, the coworker that he would be hunting with had been scouting the area they were to hunt for the last couple years. It borders a Ranching For Wildlife property and thus they knew there were some big bulls in the area. The guy had gotten trail and digital camera pictures of the devil tine bull and had watched him grow his impressive set of antlers that summer. The craziest thing was that the devil tine bull hung out with an even larger bull, but it didn't possess these rare tines.
Due to prior engagements, the hunt would be very short. They would have to make a five hour drive, leaving in the middle of the night, hunt just one day and drive back that night. Luckily they had horses to cover ground quickly once they got out to the area. As you might expect, they weren't able to get into the exact drainage they wanted to before light came up. But while they were riding in, they saw the biggest deer that any of them had ever seen. It was a heavy, non-typical with points going every which way. The buck paid them little attention, because none of them had deer tags of course. They topped a ridge where they could glass out to about a mile and a half. And not long after pulling out the binoculars, they had wapiti in the field of view. Out at a mile, they saw what looked like two giant bulls. And they had a pretty good idea of which two they might be.
They ducked into the timber and started off in their direction. It was a good thing that my brother-in-law's coworker knew the terrain well because they had to cover a lot of nasty terrain without being able to check on the opening where the bulls were hanging out. The guy dismounted and tied up the horses. They knew they were getting close to the area where they had last seen them. They crested a ridge and immediately saw one of the bulls standing in the same meadow which was now just over 250 yards away. My brother-in-law got on the only bull that was in view and let a round from his .30-06 fly. The bull stumbled and his partner called the shot low in the front leg. He put the crosshairs back on him and shot again. The bull took off on a dead run. When they got over into the meadow that the bull was standing in, they immediately found blood and started tracking the big bull. They didn't know what a journey the bull was about to take them on.
A half mile into the track the blood started to peter out. The tracking got much slower and more intricate at that point. Luckily the bull was running alone and they didn't have to decipher between numerous elk trails. They would find the occasional drop of blood every twenty yards or so. Forty yards down from the top of a ridge they found where the bull had bedded down and there was a sizable pool of blood in the middle. They crested the ridge and saw a bull creeping through the aspens at over 350 yards. My brother-in-law sat down and waited for the bull to step into a gap between the trees. When the bull did, he fired. The bull took off once again. They got to the area where the bull had been standing before his last shot and found dark long hair that indicated a grazing shot to the neck. The good thing was that the bull was bleeding good again. They played cat and mouse with the bull for another mile before they were able to get within range of him. My brother leveled the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed off the final shot. The bull finally went down for good.
When they finally put their hands on the big bull, they couldn't believe their eyes. There wasn't time for celebration though. They had used a ton of daylight tracking the bull and to count how many miles they were away from the trucks, they'd need both hands. It was a long pack out. The horse with the head kept getting jabbed by the antlers and was continuously acting up. By the time my brother-in-law made it back to his house it was 2AM in the morning. He decided to process the meat himself and the next two days were filled with knives, sharpening stones and freezer bags. Who would have thought that it would be possible to get such an amazing animal on your first big game hunt. One thing is for sure, he is going to have quite the hard time topping the devil tine bull!