Continued from Part 1:
I quickly shifted back to the bull and as he centered in my reticle- he stood! I took a breath and squeezed as he gave me a steady broadside shot. SNAP! …I came off the scope and quickly reloaded. I quickly got the reticle back on target and his front left leg was lifted off the ground, “good hit” I whispered to myself. He slowly pivoted to his right side on his back foot. My reticle was already steadied on his opposite shoulder. He stopped. SNAP! …I watched his body flinch from the slap of the bullet. He didn’t take a step. He stood. He was standing. I reloaded. In the frantic silence I raised my shaky rifle readied with a third shot. I could see the slow frozen breathes coming out of my bull. He began to lean forward slowly as though being gently pushed from behind. He dropped! I dropped. I sat and allowed my shaking to settle before raising my glass to be sure he was down. He was.
I packed up my gear and stood to make my way to toward the bull. As I closed distance cows, spikes, and smaller bulls began busting out of the timber just below me in every direction. The 325-yard trek toward my bull got faster and faster as I got closer. As I approached, I got a better idea of his size. I dropped my gear and went to a knee beside him. His ivory tips fresh from defending his cows. His hide was warm and thick. What an incredible creation lying in front of me.
I gave thanks to God for this moment and the blessing of having the health and the desire he has given to make this pursuit. After a few moments of reflection, it hit me. This animal is HUGE and I’m alone. Solo. Myself. I checked my cell phone and of course I had no service. I did not have any sort of satellite device at the time. I held my phone out and began walking around trying to find any service. I found one bar on top of ONE rock! I sent a text to my wife and a text to a buddy with a location. I got no responses but I had to get working on this bull.
I got out my tools and started to real work. The weight of this animal was more than I could have imagined or prepared for. With the help of some cordage and leverage, I was able to dress one side. Two hours later… I was exhausted. One side done. After spending 30 minutes trying to figure out how to flip the bull, I finally got him on his other side. I was able to dress that side…2 hours later. It was mid- afternoon by this time, and I had to get this meat moved and hung somewhere. He was about 150 yards from the timber so I began to pack him in game bags piece by piece through the crunchy snow.
Two hours later…my bull was safely hanging in the timber with his head leaned on a tree below. It was starting to get dark. While catching my breath and finishing my Cliff bar dinner, it hit me, I have over mile and a half hike BACK to the rig so I can ride 6 miles back to camp. As quickly as the sun was setting, so was the temperature dropping. I grabbed my pack and began the trek with my headlamp. I hadn’t gotten any texts back. I hadn’t heard from help. It was going to be me, the dark, and the silence of the timber ridge line for nearly 2 miles. In the dim light of the moon, through the crunchy snow my eyes finally saw the reflection of my rig lights down below! It was nearly 11pm. I made my way down, threw my pack in the back, sat in the seat, and took and deep breath and deep drink of water. Back to camp for sleep and we’ll figure out the plan tomorrow.
I had no issue sleeping through the night in my frozen camper shell. I woke up to the sunrise warming my dew covered windows. My body was aching and numb and I hadn’t yet even moved one piece of meat to camp. I loaded up the rig and set off up an old logging road. From my map it looked like it would get me as close to my downed bull as I could go. After an hours ride I finally got as far as the road would take me. My map showed he was just about 600 yards from this spot…I got out…looked up…it was UP! I mean STRAIGHT up. I emptied my pack and took only the necessities up with me. I slowly made my route through a small drainage up to my bull. Loaded my first pack. Turned over and stood, feeling the sheer weight of this bounty on my back. My hips, my knees, down to my ankles- all felt the bounty.
Down the mountain we go! Back up the mountain we go! Back down the mountain we go! Six trips up and down, eight hours laterthe bull was loaded in the back of my rig. I was soaking with sweat, numb all over, and wondering why I actually WANTED to do this with my life.
We’ve all felt that at some point I have no doubt, and this was my point. Coming off the mountain with a rig full of Gods country steaks is enough to give a weary man new life. I was excited, exhausted, joyful, humbled, and thankful. This is the reason we do it! It’s the months of preparation, planning, prepping, exercise, and scouting. Combined with grit, determination, patience, and thankfulness. We roll the dice at every drainage because that could be the one. We keep going just “one more hill” because just over that hill could be the one. We gather around the dinner table and share stories of the price that was paid for that meal we’ve prepared. It’s more than exciting. It’s more than fun. It’s greater than just rewarding. It’s passion. It’s the fulfillment of our passion. Our drive is the desire of this pursuit and this memory, not only the success of the kill.