After my five mile trek into elk country on the morning of September 11, 2016, I sat there an hour before daylight eating my breakfast bar and listening to four bulls sounding off bugles. As I waited for daybreak listening, I couldn’t help but think of all that suffered on this day and all the sacrifices that have been made since then. I knew I was blessed to be where I was, but I had no idea what was about to happen.
I had two bulls up the ridge and two below me. The wind was heading strong up the ridge, so I decided to go down and see if I could get eyes on the two below me. As it was now starting to get close to shooting light I headed down the ridge. The bulls were still being social, bugling every five minutes or so on their own. Working on closing the distance I sounded one squealing bugle. The four once social bulls that have been talking back and forth did not like a fifth voice joining in. For the next several minutes it was an all out bugle fest!! I came across a large game trail heading me into the middle of the action. I took off on a trot for four hundred yards. As I stopped and knocked an arrow, I heard the closest bull scream sending chills down my spine. He was fifty yards away tearing up a tree. As I was looking at him through the manzanita, trying to make a plan, I look to my left and there was an angus cow at twenty yards staring at me. My heart dropped as it busted out down the hill. From my past experience I knew that the bull would either spook or get even more fired up with the Angus making all that noise. As I quickly turn to look at the bull HERE HE CAME! Head tilted back full bugle and chuckles. I drew my bow; he stopped behind the only tree between him and I. He let out another deafening bugle and stepped out and giving me a twenty-six yard slightly quartered to me shot. I released the string on my BT-X and watched the arrow hit its mark perfectly. I watched him run off, knowing he was a great bull, and having great confidence in the shot. I know the country well and knew he was heading into a canyon with seemingly no bottom. I decided to give him two hours before I started tracking him. Unable to find my arrow I started tracking, after a hundred yards and no blood I kept on his tracks going deeper into the vertical canyon. Finally, one speck of blood. It wasn’t much, but I knew I was on the right tracks. Another hundred yards and one more speck. At this point I start questioning arrow placement. Arguing with myself, second guessing, worried about crippling one of these amazing creatures, I kept tracking. Down the mountain, four hundred yards, two specks of blood the size of my pinky nail. I take a deep breath and I remember telling myself “you made a great shot he is close.” I took two more steps and there he was. As I walked up to him he seemingly grew. At that point it is a bit of a blur and a plethora of emotions. After taking several pictures I pulled out a knife and my elk tag and cut out the date. It truly set in, 9-11. I felt guilty for being on such a high when so many people perished on this day. I felt great pride knowing as a country we are healing. I felt great honor knowing that our men and women protect our freedom daily, so I can enjoy this great country and all it offers. I felt remorse for having taken such a majestic animal’s life. Lastly I felt truly blessed knowing this animal will feed my family for months to come. I also felt blessed having the support of my wife Laura and amazing family and I am truly blessed and thank god for my health that allows me to make it into the elk woods every year.
This 9-11 bull is my biggest Oregon bull to date Gross score is 353 3/8. My heart goes out to all that suffered on this day and want say thank you to all who serve our country past, present, and future.