Heart Attack Elk
This is a story about my brother in law who like me had been putting in for an elk tag for the Book Cliffs in Utah for what seamed like forever. I had drawn my tag the year before and had taken a nice 7x6 bull at 7:05 on the opening morning but that is another story. When the notifications came out we found out that he had drawn his tag for the hunt so the planning started. Then on a Wednesday morning towards the end of May I got a phone call. My brother in law was headed to the hospital for open heart surgery. I had planned on going to Utah for a trip over Memorial Day so I just started my trip a little bit early. When I got to the hospital he was already in surgery and when he came out he had gotten a double bypass. The next few days were spent with family and friends as he recuperated. Once he was up and around and with the hunt just a couple of months away I mentioned that he might consider turning the tag back in due to medical conditions and try to draw the tag the next year. He would hear nothing of it. He told his doctor that he had been planning on this hunt for ten years and that he was going to go.
The scouting trips consisted of him either sitting in my truck or riding on the back of my wheeler. My sister would just look at him and shake her head when we would get up before the crack of dawn and head out to find where the elk had been running and to find that right bull for him. A lot of the scouting trips were over the weekends and we usually had at least one of his three son in laws with either me or him at all times since we really didn’t know just how well that he would be able to take the elevation or a little hiking. So once the scouting trips ended and September came around we started to make some final preparations.
The start of the hunt found more family with us than was really needed since there was only one tag. He had two sons in laws, his oldest boy, me and a few younger kids that were going to be there on the opening morning. That day found us hiking down a ridge to a location where we could watch a fairly good size pocket that we had found elk in before. Once there we set up on a huge rock and started to glass the area. While we were seeing elk there really wasn’t a bull that was big enough for him to consider since it was the first day. The end of the day found us coming out empty handed but we had see quite a few elk and the expectations were high. When we reached the road there was a warden parked at my truck waiting to check us out. As he checked the permit out I checked out a 6x6 elk rack that took up the whole back of his truck bed. He told us that he had confiscated it from a couple of hunters that had dragged it up from a bottom of a canyon and that they were not too happy that he took it. At that time it was illegal to have it unless you had tagged it. Since then the law has changed a little. So after all this it was back to camp. Sunday was about the same a little hiking and a lot of glassing but we were just not seeing what we wanted to see as far as bulls were concerned.
Monday rolled around and a lot of the family had to head home for school and work. My brother in law was feeling a little tired so all we did was drive around and glass the ridge lines and check out roads that we had never been on. Tuesday came and found us in a beautiful little canyon with a water pond in it. There were elk tracks all over the place so we decided to hike up into some ledges and sit there until dark. We hadn’t seen anything when a spike bull that was all alone came out and walked right down the middle of the canyon. He headed up a side canyon when Mike (one of the son in laws) took out a cow elk call and let loose with a squeal. That spike came towards us at a dead run and if he could of figured out how to get up that set of ledges he would have been in our laps. Four of us that were there just sat there and laughed at him but figured that was one convincing elk call.
Wednesday morning we rolled out of the sack to find that everything was socked in by clouds. There were four of us so we decided to take the four wheelers and head back into the same canyon that we had been in the night before so off we went. Once we had gotten into the canyon we took a little hike up onto the hillside to where we could get a good look at things and wait for daylight. Just as the sun was coming up we noticed a small heard of elk with one bull in it on the far side of the hill walking along the tree line. Charles (my brother in law) decided that it was a nice enough bull that he would take him. The first shot the elk stopped in his tracks and didn’t move. The cows were off to the races but the bull just stood there. The second shot went off and he was still on his feet. I couldn’t believe it. I figured that this elk had taken two shots from a 340 Weatherby Mag and was acting like he was superman. The third shot sounded and the bull decided that he had better get out of dodge and headed up the hill. I had never seen an animal take three shots from a round like that and then take off. As we watched him going through the trees we tried to figure just where he was going to come out at. Then at a clearing just off of the top of the hill he came out and stopped. Well, Charles had reloaded and was ready for him. The range was close to 500 yards with an uphill shot. He pulled the trigger and down the bull went. As we sat there watching him we noticed that he was still alive but at that range we decided for him not to take another shot but to hike up to the bull to finish him off. I told Charles that I doubted that the bull was going to go anywhere and that while he was hiking up to him to take it easy and if he got tired to just sit down and rest for a while. So while they were hiking up to the bull I jumped on my four wheeler and headed back to camp for the meat bags to get the bull off of the mountain.
By the time that I had rode back to camp ten miles and back and hiked up the hill to them they had the elk pretty much butchered and were just waiting for me to show up. But now the work began. We sent Charles down the hill to wait for us and to relax and we started to pack the meat down hill. It is funny at how when you first start to pack this nice meat down hill that you take great care in where you place it down. Well, after a couple of hours of this we were just about to the point of throwing the sacks of meat as far as we could throw them and hope that they would roll the rest of the way. By the time we had gotten back to the trucks and camper it was dark but we decided to pack up and head for home a four hour drive away.