The Conclusion by Tim Herald
by Tim Herald
In an earlier piece I wrote about preparing for an elk hunt . I just returned from a hunt in NM where I hoped to put my preparation to good use, and hopefully take a big trophy bull.
On this trip, I had the odds stacked against me, but you can’t be successful if you don’t try. First, I was only going to have 3 days to hunt because of a business issue that required me to be in the office on a Monday morning. Secondly, my hunt started on the day of the full (harvest) moon, and lastly the afternoon temperatures were still 75-80 degrees.
When I got to NM, my guide and long-time friend Hunter Dane picked me up, and told me that he and Hadley Miller had been seeing some good bulls, but they weren’t really bugling, and they weren’t on their feet much during daylight hours.
We met up with Hadley and scouted the next day and a half. We really concentrated on a big 7x7 that had a really big frame. He was the herd bull, and though there were satellite bulls around, we heard no bugling at all. We watched through spotting scopes at 1-2 miles away and tried to figure out a pattern. There were two water holes about 500 yards apart in one area, and the elk drank at one of the two each night, but they seemed to bed in different places.
On opening morning, we saw the bull early, but there was an open area of over 1,000 yards that we had to cross or work 3 miles around to get close. That afternoon, we tried to make a move on the elk, but when we were within about 500 yards with a small hill between us, the wind shifted, and we backed out. We did not want to blow this bull out of the area. We put in 12 miles on foot that day.
Day two we again found the elk early and watched them go into a thick area to bed only an hour after dawn. That afternoon, we hiked in early, crossed the huge open area, and stationed ourselves close to one of the water holes. We were 4.5 miles from the truck. Hadley was on a hill, a couple miles away, with a spotting scope and radio (that is legal in NM), and he would give us some direction.
About 5PM Hadley told us the elk were up, but they were not moving our way. They were just feeding contently. We were still over a mile from the elk, so we decided to make a move to try to get to them before dark.
We closed the distance with the wind in our face, and as we slipped from juniper tree to juniper tree, Hunter suddenly hit the ground. I did the same and crawled up to see a couple cows on the horizon some 300 yards away. When it was safe, I got into a prone shooting position and waited.
All the cows in the herd seemed to go by, and I knew any second the bull would appear. All the cows went left and out of site toward the boundary of our property, but for some reason, they did a 180 degree about face, and filtered back to the right. I had been watching the same gap in the trees for 10 minutes when I saw the tops of the bull’s long antlers appear. I flipped the safety.
Hunter had already ranged the area at about 320 yards, and I had adjusted the turret on my Trijicon 5-20x50 AccuPoint scope. When the bull took two more steps, I could only see his head, neck, and onside shoulder. He was quartering hard toward me, and I knew the shot needed to be between neck and shoulder, so I was good. I had been waiting a long time for the shot, so I knocked off the safety and settled in. I put the small green aiming point of my Trijicon just where the dark neck hair met the front of the shoulder knowing the bullet would go through to the offside shoulder and take out both lungs. I took a deep breath and gently squeezed the trigger sending a 225-grain Cutting Edge Bullets’ Lazer to its mark.
The bull’s front end went straight down, and his nose hit the ground. He got to his feet, but quickly went back down for good.
When we walked up on him, I was pretty emotional. Elk are my favorite North American Game animals, and although I have taken about a dozen nice bulls in the 300-330 range, I had always wanted a really big bull, one over 350”. This bull fit the bill. He had a huge frame that was 44.5” wide and had 54.5” beams plus 7 points on each side. I gave thanks to the Lord for blessing me with such a majestic animal, and we began the long process of getting him out of the field. We ended up doing about 10 miles on foot that day.
The next day I cut up meat and packed for my departure, and I even got an earlier flight home and was ready for work on Monday. Things just all fell into place on this trip for me, but the preparation I did leading up to the hunt definitely allowed me to be successful. Sometimes things are meant to be, and this was one of those times.