A Flashback to 2008 When Tyler Killed His First Bull
When my dad told me about going on my first elk hunt, I was very excited to say the least. I have been bowhunting for the last five years, but this would be my first experience out West. My dad and I both spent many afternoons in our backyard fine-tuning everything; I could not go unprepared for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Fortunately, it all came together and we flew out on the last day of August for a four-day trip to New Mexico. I had been practicing as much as possible and counting down the days for this trip. I had no idea what to expect with this being my first elk hunt. The ranch was located just outside Albuquerque, so flew down and Mr. Perry Ross (our guide) picked us up at the airport. We arrived at camp later that evening, unloaded all of our things, grabbed some dinner and went to bed early in preparation for the morning hunt.
My dad woke me up around five the next morning. I put on my MAX-1 and grabbed the bow. I was ready to roll! After driving to our location we got out of the truck and walked up a huge hill that you could glass for miles. The sight itself gave me chills. As the sun came up Mr. Perry bugled off the hill. The sound traveled and echoed for miles. Soon after four or five elk responded. Now we just had to figure out which one to go after. After discussing our options, we finally made a commitment to one we could faintly see.
After pacing up and down mountains, we got as close as we could and set up, with Mr. Perry about a hundred yards behind us, in position to call. The bull came within range but stayed hidden behind some thick trees. The wind was blowing right toward the bull and before we knew it, he winded us and was gone, as was our first morning.
Later that afternoon the weather warmed up and Mr. Perry decided to put me on a water hole. The water hole was below a hill looking up a steep mountain where the elk bedded up in the afternoon. We had a variety of elk come in but no big bulls. There were three or four elk bugling in a draw, but they did not make their way to us. It sounded like they were hung up with some cows. A rain cloud was moving in to our left, and if something did not come quick our hunt was going to be over. As luck would have it, a bull bugled right behind us, 30 yards to my right. It was so unexpected I could not get myself together; I was shaking so badly. He walked right in front of us but I could not get a shot with him walking so fast. I let him walk into the water and watched him roll around for a few minutes. He stood up to leave and Mr. Perry ranged him at 53 yards. I drew back, put all nervousness aside and made a perfect quartering away shot. The elk ran 70 yards and fell over.
As I walked up to him I did not realize how huge that thing really was! I called my dad and he came to join us. About the time he got there the rain came pouring down. We loaded him up and headed back to camp.
I couldn't have asked for a better first experience in the mountains of New Mexico. There is really nothing I have done that compares to it. Hopefully I can make it back down there this year to hunt with Mr. Darryl Wealthy of Limestone Outfitters. It was also very special to have my dad there with me. He was the first to introduce me to the outdoors and I hope we can have a lot more father/son trips together in the future. I can't think of a better way to kick off hunting season!
Editor's note: This was originally published August 14, 2008.
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