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JMoffat

Late Bull Hunt Success!

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This year I drew a 7w Late bull tag for the second year in a row. Last year was my first ever bull hunt, and I was able to shoot a nice little 5x5 opening morning. 

Fast forward to this year's hunt. I went out scouting the weekend prior to the hunt with a buddy who had the late archery tag and was needing help as he was hunting solo. It was the last few days of his hunt and he'd been on several bulls during the week but just couldn't make it happen. I agreed to go out with him as I needed to get in some time locating bulls for my hunt. We went to a spot that I've hunted cows for the last 5 years and always been successful, and I usually see some smaller bulls in that area this time of year as well. As soon as it started getting light I had several small bulls in my new Swaros. (Just upgraded this year, will never go back what game changers!) They were grouped up with about 15 cows but he now had a spotter so he started in on his stalk. He had about 1500 yards to close to I proceeded to continue glassing some closer ridges and that's when I located 4 shooter bulls for my hunt. I didn't mention them to my buddy at first, as I was walking him in via texting. He was able to finally close the distance to about 50 yards when the two young bulls just decided to up and leave with good pace (not spooked). He was then gridlocked with the large group of cows and the stalk just didn't end up working out. I continued to watch the larger bulls on the closer ridge and they fed until dang near 10am before bedding. My buddy got back up to me and seemed a little defeated. Part of me didn't want to mention the big bulls I had located just 500 yards away from us in fears of them getting blown out by another unsuccessful stalk and me never seeing them again for my hunt the following week. 

 

Long story short I did the right thing and let him know about the other bulls I had found, and I was able to walk him into 38 yards before the bulls caught his wind and bolted off to the west. Well, there goes my hunt! 

My buddy was super grateful and excited about the opportunity to get in that close with such awesome creatures so it was worth it. 

 

Fast forward to my hunt. I went out the evening before opener to glass the same area. Never turned up my bulls but did locate a nice one up high on a mountain top about 1.5 miles away. High winds were expected the next day so I figured he'd drop down into the bowl on the south side and hangout there for the night. Went in opening morning and after hiking about 5 miles finally caught a small glimpse of the two bulls from the night before up on a ridge moving through the pines at 295 yards. Was never able to get a shot off and they disappeared into the abyss. 

The morning of day 2 I went out with my brother in law and decided to go back to where I had found bulls the week before. Right at first light I picked up the same 4 bulls we had bumped out a week prior, feeding down low in the cedars about 1200 yards out. 25 mph winds had them feeding for a short period before getting into the real thick stuff and losing sight of them. I didn't want to get down in there with them that morning with the winds being unpredictable in fear of blowing them out again. This would be the last time I'd see a shootable bull for 2.5 days. And after the weekend ended, I would be hunting elk solo for my first time ever. Monday I was by myself, and bumped out some cows and few spikes hiking into my spot. At this point, the mental games had begun to set it. It was 18 degrees with 30mph winds and only the mule deer and cow elk were up and moving. I glassed all day and never saw another bull. 

Tuesday morning rolls around and I didn't want to even get out of bed. I had already hiked nearly 45 miles in 5 days, and just felt defeated but something got me out of bed and back out to the same spot I'd been seeing elk consistently. I hiked up to the glassing point very carefully this time, and set up my tripod. As soon as glassing light was available to utilize, I found a lone cow wondering the flats. A quick pan up and down the cut she was feeding in revealed another shiny golden butt facing away feeding in a small old burn area. I patiently waited for this elk to lift its head and to my surprise I could see antlers! A quick scan with my rangefinder revealed a 980 yard shot. Not something I'm comfortable taking without a spotter or in high winds. I pulled up my maps to look for another high point I could get to and there was a another ridge just to my south that may or may not give me a better vantage point. 

I dropped my pack, and went in light with just my rifle, tripod and binos and hurried down the ridge I was on and over to the next one. I ended up coming to the edge of a rock bluff with a large dead pine tree laying perfectly across the top. I quickly pulled out my binos and scanned quickly to find the bull had actually fed even closer to where I had hiked over too. The rangefinder indicated a 459 yard shot and I quickly got my turrets adjusted and used the dead log as a rest in a seared position. The wind was in my face and sun at my back, so the bull had no idea I was there. I had buck fever like no other plus just having hiked 1/3 mile quickly I was shaking like a leaf on a tree. I called my nerves and waited for the bull to turn broadside and when he did I let one rip. I heard the thump and knew I had hit him, the bull did a 180 and ran about 60 yards before stopping again and giving me another broadside shot at 448 yards. Whack! I watched him take the bullet and the shock of it echo through his large body, but he didn't move and continued to stand there staring back at me. I loaded another round and sent one more down range. Another hit, this time a fatal one. I watched him hunch up his back and take several steps down into a ravine before going out of sight. I took a minute to process everything before calling my wife to let her know i shot one. I decided to give him a little time so I hiked back up to the ridge I glassed him from to retrieve my pack. I marked his last known location to the best of my knowledge and after about 30 minutes decided to creep my way over. The ground was still frozen solid so there were no fresh tracks. I also couldn't find any blood anywhere and I began to doubt myself. I began just making circles larger and larger until I caught a wiff of him. I followed that scent right down to his body where he laid down in a juniper thicket not 15 yards from where my last shot had been taken. I called my brother in law up from Prescott to get help for the pack out and he was on his way in no time. By the time I was able to get my DIY photos and get him caped and quartered my brother in law showed up to help me get him out. After about 2 hours, we finally were able to get him back to the truck and off to the processor and taxidermist. 

What an awesome and rewarding hunt, just when I felt like throwing in the towel things worked out in my favor and one of the bulls made the mistake i needed so badly. Thankful to our lord and savior for this beautiful harvest that will feed my family for the year to come. 

 

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Great write-up.  Congratulations on sticking with it and getting it done.  Those late hunts can be tough mentally. . . Way to stick with it

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Congrats on a great bull! Way to stick with it. Great write up and kudos to you bil for coming to help with the fun part.

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That’s a great finish to a well earned bull. Loved the write up . Congratulations!

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Way to get it done and great writeup too!!  Thanks for posting!

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Nice job Moffat!

-McB.

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Congrats

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Good to see someone put some meat on the ground in 7W this year.

My nephew and I averaged 7.2 miles and 4000' elevation change a day up there last week.  Saw some bulls, played a LOT of cat and mouse, and had a lot of LOOONG stalks that ended up with the bull departing before we could get him within range.  

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