2021 Southeast Idaho Elk

Lilhowie83

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Jun 19, 2020
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453
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Southeast Idaho
With the lack of elk that I had seen once the season started compared to all of my preseason adventures plus with my truck breaking down I was feeling a little down about everything. I think this lead to me sleeping in a little bit and getting a little later start on morning 4 of hunting. I got to the trailhead just after 9 so the morning of hunt was pretty well shot. I had kind of decided to just use this day as more of a scouting day to check out this new drainage that I had never set foot in.

There is a nice gradual sloped hiking/horse trail that goes 10 miles right up the bottom of this drainage that I wanted to hunt, but after seeing the lay of the land in person and in the daylight, I decided not to go up the bottom of that drainage, but instead to hike up this long, steep, bald ridge to the east of the drainage that I wanted to check out. Doing this would put me out in a saddle that should give me a great glassing spot right in the middle of this canyon where I could glass up and down this canyon and should be able to see for miles.

I hiked up this ridge for about four miles and am getting close to the top, thinking the whole way, "there are no elk here, it's way to dry and wide open." As I get towards the top I come into this little basin where 3 small creeks start and go three different directions. As I come into this basin I start seeing elk sign everywhere. I was about a mile and a half from the saddle that I wanted to get to with one more hill to go up and back down, gaining about 200 feet of elevation and loosing it again. I was at the same elevation as the saddle already so I decided to try and maintain that same elevation and still hunt m way through the North facing, dark timber hillside to work my way over to the saddle I was trying to get to. It was rough going working my way through the dark timber because it was fairly steep and there was a ton of dead fall. Shortly after starting into the dead fall I quickly realized that this was one of the sanctuaries the Randy often talks about. It was a long ways from any road or trail, it was rugged, it provided good cover and it had you questioning why the hell did I come in here? There were elk beds everywhere. About half way through this timbered hillside I heard a bugle rip about 200 yards below me, followed by a bugle in front of me a little ways and just uphill from where I was. The thermals were going up hull and I didn't want to get busted by the one that was just above me, I quickly and quietly worked my way uphill to where I felt I was just above where the bugle came from. Once I got to that elevation I blew my cow call and was immediately answered by a bugle right in front of me a little ways off. I gave another little blow on my cow call and waited. Within a minute I heard something coming through the trees from the direction the bugle came. After another minute I was standing eye to eye about 20 yards away from a spike who thought he was going to get lucky. After a brief stare down he decided that I wasn't a suitable mate and took off down the hill to where the first bugle came from and then I heard several elk take off out the bottom of the timber into the creek bottom. I continued to make my way across the hill through the timber until I came out into a clearing that had a couple of springs and a big wallow, and more elk sign than I'd seen in one place all summer and fall. I took a couple of minutes and marked a few waypoints on my ONX and then continued the last couple hundred yards to the saddle that I wanted to glass from.

As I got to the saddle I was in awe at the beauty of what laid before me. 20211016_143321.jpg
I slipped my backpack off and pulled out some snacks since I hadn't eaten since about 6:00 and it was now aproaching 4:00 in the afternoon. I started to eat a little bit between glassing up and down this drainage. I thought to myself, "If I had to write a book on elk habitat I would just take a picture of this drainage and put it in the book." I continued glassing and eating some snacks. I turned the airplane mode off on my phone and happened to have service, so I text my wife and gave her a few updates as I continued to eat and glass. After about a half hour I started to hear some bugles coming from several different directions in the drainage I was overlooking. All of a sudden I heard two bugles going back and forth in the little side canyon just below me. I text my wife and told her I had to go, there were elk that want to play. I put my phone back on airplane mode, put my lunch away, slid my binos back in the harness and the chase began.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
The other amazing thing about that trash is most of it looks very old. Those coors cans are pull tops. How many other hunters used that area and never picked it up!!
I always pickup any trash I see when I’m out. Usually find a few Mylar balloons every season also.
Yeah, most of that trash was pretty old. The coors cans, some old #10 cans and old bottles. But there was also a lot of new garbage on top of the old. It is something I'll never understand.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
I slowly worked my way down the ridge about 400 yards, until I was at a spot where it seemed I was between the two bills that were bugling back and forth. I was on a narrow ridge and the elk were on the north facing timbered slope across the draw just south of where I was. I got as concealed good as I could beneath a lone fir tree and waited.. The bull that was higher up the draw had quit talking but the one that was lower down the draw kept bugling occasionally. Every five minutes I let out a cow call and that bull would bugle right back. But as I studied that hillside through my binoculars I could not find that bull or any other movement through the timber. It was just about 5:00 p.m. at this point. All of a sudden I heard a few cow calls just to my left in the bottom of the draw, the cow calls were followed by the loudest most thundering bugle I've ever heard. About 5 minutes later I started to see a few cows climbing up out of the creek bottom and start feeding on the hillside directly across from me about 200 yards away.

As I prepared for this hunt my coworkers and friends asked me what I was looking for in a bull. To this point I had never shot a mature bull. I've shot cows, spikes and a couple of raghorns but never a good mature bull. I've always loved heavy antlered elk and deer so I would respond that I just want to shoot a good heavy mature bull.

After another 5 minutes, 7 cows had fed up out of the creek bottom onto the hillside across the draw from me. The last two cows came up out of the bottom and they were immediately followed by a bull. I put my binoculars on him and knew immediately that this was a bull that I wanted to shoot. His tine length was not great, but he was very heavy and fit everything I was looking for in a bull.

As I slid my binoculars into the harness and picked up the .300 win mag, he fed behind a group of 3 fir trees and just hung out there for just over 5 minutes. If he had stayed behind those trees and fed directly uphill, he could have went 75 yards and over the ridge to never be seen again. But I knew based on what his cows did that he would feed to the right into a 30 yard wide opening before you hit the next group of fir trees. A sat and watched for what seemed like an eternity waiting for him to step out. As I waited I got my backpack situated where I could use it as a good shooting rest because my bipod was to short to work for the upcoming shot. I went through a few breathing cycles and did a few dry fires to make sure I was good and relaxed and ready to go. I chambered a round and sat and waited. Finally the bull stepped out and stopped right in the middle of this opening. I immediately settled the crosshairs right behind his shoulder and let a 180 grain Accubond fly. I heard a solid thud and saw the bull kind of hunch up as I chamered another round. The bull took a few steps forward and crashed into the scrub brush right by the next group of fir trees. I sat and watched for a minute as cow elk ran crashing off the hillside and back into creek bottom. I quickly gathered up all of my things, put my backpack on and dropped down into the bottom of the draw back up the other side to where the bull went down.

As I approached the bull I was filled with awe and was again overcome with emotion that things had finally come together and that I could find some success in this long awaited and sentimental hunt. I truly felt that my dad had been watching from above and following along on this hunt. After a few not very good pictures I quickly realized the work that lay ahead as I had to process this majestic animal by myself. 20211005_172324.jpg

8541.jpeg

I apologize for the not so good pictures. I took a couple that night quickly, but didn't take much time because I knew the work that I had to do, and I still had 6 miles to hike to get back to my car.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
If you’re in a prizm, for the love of all things holy, please shoot one where you can load it whole, and share with us. (I know this already happened)
I wish I could have done that, it would have been epic! But I was 6 miles from the trailhead and there was no way that I was getting him out hole.
 

choc dogs

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Apr 12, 2006
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1,581
Location
boise
Fantastic looking bull, in places you shared with your dad. I'm sorta overcome here myself. My dad passed almost 4 years ago, but it's been decades since we were able to make a big game hunt together. Thanks for sharing your journey, and your success. I enjoyed living it vicariously with you.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
Fantastic looking bull, in places you shared with your dad. I'm sorta overcome here myself. My dad passed almost 4 years ago, but it's been decades since we were able to make a big game hunt together. Thanks for sharing your journey, and your success. I enjoyed living it vicariously with you.
Thanks. It's been almost 25 years since I was able to hunt with my dad as well, but I sure felt reconnected to him through this hunt as well.
 

EYJONAS!

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Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Messages
4,849
That's a fantastic hunt, congrats. Some beauty country there. I'm sure he'll be looking down smiling on you and your kids soon too. Congrats
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
That’s a really cool picture of the bull on the ground. Congrats!
Thanks. It was almost like he just laid down there and died. The way he was up against that scrub brush sure made it fun to quarter him. I ended up using the saw on my Leatherman and cutting most of those out of the way.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
That's a fantastic hunt, congrats. Some beauty country there. I'm sure he'll be looking down smiling on you and your kids soon too. Congrats
Thanks. It was really awesome to have this turn into kind of a 3 generational thing with my dad and my son. Even though my dad was not there in person.
 

HalfAce

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Joined
Jul 6, 2013
Messages
547
Seems like a lot of big elk are hitting the ground this year. That’s a great bull! Congrats.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
At this point it was almost 6:00 and daylight was fading really fast. I quickly went to work clearing some branches around the elk so I could work around him better. I also set up some parachute cord up high between two trees so I could hang some quarter bags up.

It has been a long time since I have shot an elk when I was by myself and I forgot how much work it was. I worked as efficiently as I could, resting shanks on my shoulder as I skinned and removed quarters from the carcass. I was able to get one whole side done before I had to turn on my headlamp. I managed to get the bull rolled over and got the other half done and all the meat hanging in the trees. I got everything cleaned up and put in my backpack by 8:30. It was supposed to get close to 30 degrees that night, so I wasn't worried about any meat spoilage so I didn't haul anything out that night.

I had close to 6 miles to go to get back to the Prizm down a drainage that I had never set foot in before. I knew that 5 miles of it was really good trail that went right down the bottom of the drainage, but I had one mile of steep, thick, blowdown he'll hole to get through first to get to that trail. I sat and studied ONX for a minute and it looked like everything was dense if I tried going down the ridge and I didn't really want to pick my way through it in the dark. I decided to say [email protected]# it and I dropped into the creek bottom below me and follow it down to the bottom of the main drainage. It was pretty rough going, with plenty of deadfall to crawl over and mud to stomp through, but I made pretty good time and got to the trail in the bottom and made the last 5 miles back to the Prizm by 11:00.

I hadn't set up camp that morning when I parked at the trailhead so I decided to make the 2.5 hour drove home, get a little good sleep in my bed and round up some help on the pack out in the morning. I got home at 1:30, lovingly woke my wife up and filled her in on all the details and got a few hours of sleep. At 6:00 I woke up and text my coworker a picture of the bull,
with the caption, "do you want to go for a horse ride?" He called me back within five minutes and said he was leaving work and headed to get the horse trailer and load his horses. I went and grabbed 2 of my neighbors horses that he let's me use, got them ready and my coworker was there within an hour and we headed off.

It took us about three hours to get over to the trailhead pulling the horse trailer. It took us another two hours to ride in, luckily we were able to pick our way through the brush and trees and get the horses right to the elk. Once we got there I skinned the head to save some weight and we then got everything loaded up between the two pack horses and headed out. It took us another two hour ride back out, we got everything unloaded and the horses put away and we headed for home. It took us another three hours to get home where got all the meat hung for the night and got the horses cleaned up and put away.
20211006_145641.jpg 20211006_151502.jpg 20211006_145959.jpg 7837.jpeg

The next few days were spent processing meat, cleaning things up and getting ready for the upcoming hunts. That pretty much wrapped up my elk hunt and now it was time to get ready for my son's hunt.
 

BlakeA

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Dec 13, 2012
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2,048
Location
North Dakota
One of the better threads in a long time. Congrats on an awesome hunt and journey all the way around. Love the mass and on that bull! Well done
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
One of the better threads in a long time. Congrats on an awesome hunt and journey all the way around. Love the mass and on that bull! Well done
Thanks, it was a lot of fun and I made a lot of good memories, and found a ton of new country to explore even more.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
We now had 8 days until my son's hunt started. I went back to work for one day, then had the weekend off to start getting everything ready to go for my boy's elk hunt. After the weekend I took Monday and Tuesday off to take my oldest son deer hunting. We had a pretty tight window to try and squeeze his deer hunts into in the morning because he had to be back early afternoon everyday for football practice. We had some encounters with a couple of good bucks each day, but he couldn't quite get things done so for deer he ate tag soup, luckily he still has a cow elk tag. I went back to work on Wednesday to try and tie up some loose ends and then took Thursday off to make sure everything was good to go for my 11 year olds opening day on Friday.

The original plan was to go camping Thursday and be at the trailhead ready to get rolling early Friday morning, but my oldest son really wanted to go with us and he had a football game Thursday night. So we decided to just drive up really early on Friday morning. I was grateful that my older son wanted to go with us, even though he didn't have the "glory" tag like my younger son. 1. He is a huge help in many aspects, but especially if we were to shoot something. 2. A lot of the time these two boys of mine don't get along the greatest, they butt heads alot, but everytime I have taken them hunting together, they become best friends for the next month. So I had every thing loaded in the car, this time my Wife's Sequoia not the Prizm, 😄, I woke the boys up at 3:00 we were on the road by 3:15 at the trail head by 5:45 and hiking a few minutes before 6:00.
 

cahunter805

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May 27, 2014
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2,175
Congrats on a beautiful bull and memories that will last a lifetime. Enjoyed your hunt story and can’t wait for the next chapter of your sons hunt.
 

Lilhowie83

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Joined
Jun 19, 2020
Messages
453
Location
Southeast Idaho
We decided to go back to the area where I had shot my bull, based on the number of elk I had heard, seen and had interactions with. Also because of the lack of human activity that I had seen in the area, my boys hunt did have alot more tagholders than my hunt did though. There were alot of people at the trailhead mostly horse people and most of the tracks were going different directions, none of them were going up the way we were going. Perfect!

We were about 3/4 of the way up the hill, almost to the basin that I mentioned earlier where I started seeing a lot of elk sign, right at legal shooting light. As we came over a little rise, my oldest boy quietly said there were some elk ahead in this big clearing up the hill about 400 yards. We quickly slipped back down the hill and behind some brush where I slipped my backpack off. Since we were so close to shooting light, I still had my son's .308 strapped to the back of my backpack (from this experience and one we had deer hunting with my older son, I've decided to order a kifaru gun bearer for all of our backpacks, to have quicker access to our guns.) As I was taking the .308 off my backpack, my older boy said there is a nice bull at the back of that herd. I got the gun off my backpack and threw my binoculars up, sure enough it was one of the biggest bulls that I've seen all summer and fall. He had really good tine length and was pretty heavy. The elk must have heard us coming up the hill crunching through the ice and snow, because you could tell they were antsy. As I was getting my boy set up the elk made a quick disappearance over the ridge and into a deep steep drainage to the north.

We continued up the hill and got to the top and then worked our way through the dark timber where I had my encounter with the spike earlier. We heard some bugling up ahead and below us but as we tried to quietly still hunt through the timber we all of a sudden heard crashing like aa freight train right ahead of us I looked over a log just in time to see several elk butts breaking their way through the timber into the creek bottom below.

That was now 2 groups of elk we've bumped, we're going to have to be more careful. We worked our way out of the timber and into the meadow right before the saddle that we wanted to glass from. We stayed to the edge and tried to stay as concealed as possible as we worked our way towards the saddle, so we wouldn't bump anymore elk.
20211015_091522.jpg
When we got to the saddle I could see the exhaustion and a little disappointment in my younger sons face. Exhaustion because we had just covered almost 6 very hard mules, and had worked ourselves pretty hard going through the timber. At least at this point the worst hiking was behind us, everything else was basically down hill. The disappointment in his face was because we had gotten so close to two groups of elk but he hadn't gotten a good opportunity to shoot yet. I asked him if he was having fun and he said yes. I then had a good long talk with the boys about the ups and downs, the failures and successes and the hard work and rewards of hunting. At this point it was about 10:00 a.m. I told the boys to put their jackets on, since we had been sweating and it was starting to cool off quite a bit. We started eating some brunch because we had only had a few snacks all morning and we were all famished a little bit and needed to replace some burnt calories.

As we sat there eating I was just studying all of the terain I could looming for more elk. All of a sudden I heard a few cow calls and a bugle just down the hill a ways, not far from where I shot my elk. All of a sudden I saw a dozen cows, 1 big herd bull and 2 smaller sattelite bulls feed up out of the bottom and over the ridge to the southwest of us about 500-600 yards away. They didn't know we were there and casually dropped over into the next draw to the South. After they dropped out of sight you could hear them bugle for the next half hour, so I knew they were just going to go bed in that next draw. I told my boys that we would just let them settle down while we finished eating.

I continued to glass up and down the main drainage and the few little side draws I could see. As I was glassing, I noticed on the little bench about 200 yards below us there was a small 4x5 raghorn and a yearling calf just feeding without a care in the world.

My older boy was already looking at them through his binoculars and I handed my binoculars to my younger son. After he looked at him for a minute, I asked if he wanted to shoot him or try and go after the big herd bull that we saw go over the ridge to the South. Since this was his first time elk hunting the raghorn looked like a giant to him and he said, "I want to shoot him." Plus what's the saying, never leave elk to find elk?

We didn't have a very good shooting lane where we were at, so my older boy stayed there to watch and me and my younger boy slowly crept down the hill and to our left. We finally got to a spot where there was a big enough opening in the brush that his bipod would be tall enough for him to get a good, steady, clean shot. He got positioned and found the elk in his scope right away, we have worked on finding things in the scope alot. He didn't have a very good shot because the bull was quartering towards us and there was some small quakies in the way. I knew that the bull would step forward to our right and turn more broadside because of the way the trees and brush were. After a minute the bull did exactly what I thought he would and presented a perfect shot at 150 yards. I told him to shoot whenever he was ready.. All of a sudden my boy whispers that he can't find the bull in his scope anymore.. I'm trying to give him some direction and as I'm trying to help him I look over and notice that his scope is turned up to 12x. I reach over and turn it down to 4 and he immediately finds the bull. He takes a few deep breaths and whispers I'm going to shoot. I hear the thunder roar from his .308 and I see the 150 grain ELDX hit the bull right behind the front shoulder. The bull lunged forward about 10 yards and expired. We immediately ran back up the hill to where my older boy was, grabbed all of our gear, gave some hugs and high fives and made our way down to the bull. To say that we were all on cloud 9 is an understatement. I was so happy for my boy and he was so excited. He immediately began asking when he could go elk hunting again. My older boy was super stoked to be a part of it too. We got to the bull took some pictures and got right to work. 20211015_115030.jpg 20211015_115049.jpg 20211015_115110.jpg
 

220yotekiller

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Joined
Oct 15, 2017
Messages
291
We decided to go back to the area where I had shot my bull, based on the number of elk I had heard, seen and had interactions with. Also because of the lack of human activity that I had seen in the area, my boys hunt did have alot more tagholders than my hunt did though. There were alot of people at the trailhead mostly horse people and most of the tracks were going different directions, none of them were going up the way we were going. Perfect!

We were about 3/4 of the way up the hill, almost to the basin that I mentioned earlier where I started seeing a lot of elk sign, right at legal shooting light. As we came over a little rise, my oldest boy quietly said there were some elk ahead in this big clearing up the hill about 400 yards. We quickly slipped back down the hill and behind some brush where I slipped my backpack off. Since we were so close to shooting light, I still had my son's .308 strapped to the back of my backpack (from this experience and one we had deer hunting with my older son, I've decided to order a kifaru gun bearer for all of our backpacks, to have quicker access to our guns.) As I was taking the .308 off my backpack, my older boy said there is a nice bull at the back of that herd. I got the gun off my backpack and threw my binoculars up, sure enough it was one of the biggest bulls that I've seen all summer and fall. He had really good tine length and was pretty heavy. The elk must have heard us coming up the hill crunching through the ice and snow, because you could tell they were antsy. As I was getting my boy set up the elk made a quick disappearance over the ridge and into a deep steep drainage to the north.

We continued up the hill and got to the top and then worked our way through the dark timber where I had my encounter with the spike earlier. We heard some bugling up ahead and below us but as we tried to quietly still hunt through the timber we all of a sudden heard crashing like aa freight train right ahead of us I looked over a log just in time to see several elk butts breaking their way through the timber into the creek bottom below.

That was now 2 groups of elk we've bumped, we're going to have to be more careful. We worked our way out of the timber and into the meadow right before the saddle that we wanted to glass from. We stayed to the edge and tried to stay as concealed as possible as we worked our way towards the saddle, so we wouldn't bump anymore elk.
View attachment 199827
When we got to the saddle I could see the exhaustion and a little disappointment in my younger sons face. Exhaustion because we had just covered almost 6 very hard mules, and had worked ourselves pretty hard going through the timber. At least at this point the worst hiking was behind us, everything else was basically down hill. The disappointment in his face was because we had gotten so close to two groups of elk but he hadn't gotten a good opportunity to shoot yet. I asked him if he was having fun and he said yes. I then had a good long talk with the boys about the ups and downs, the failures and successes and the hard work and rewards of hunting. At this point it was about 10:00 a.m. I told the boys to put their jackets on, since we had been sweating and it was starting to cool off quite a bit. We started eating some brunch because we had only had a few snacks all morning and we were all famished a little bit and needed to replace some burnt calories.

As we sat there eating I was just studying all of the terain I could looming for more elk. All of a sudden I heard a few cow calls and a bugle just down the hill a ways, not far from where I shot my elk. All of a sudden I saw a dozen cows, 1 big herd bull and 2 smaller sattelite bulls feed up out of the bottom and over the ridge to the southwest of us about 500-600 yards away. They didn't know we were there and casually dropped over into the next draw to the South. After they dropped out of sight you could hear them bugle for the next half hour, so I knew they were just going to go bed in that next draw. I told my boys that we would just let them settle down while we finished eating.

I continued to glass up and down the main drainage and the few little side draws I could see. As I was glassing, I noticed on the little bench about 200 yards below us there was a small 4x5 raghorn and a yearling calf just feeding without a care in the world.

My older boy was already looking at them through his binoculars and I handed my binoculars to my younger son. After he looked at him for a minute, I asked if he wanted to shoot him or try and go after the big herd bull that we saw go over the ridge to the South. Since this was his first time elk hunting the raghorn looked like a giant to him and he said, "I want to shoot him." Plus what's the saying, never leave elk to find elk?

We didn't have a very good shooting lane where we were at, so my older boy stayed there to watch and me and my younger boy slowly crept down the hill and to our left. We finally got to a spot where there was a big enough opening in the brush that his bipod would be tall enough for him to get a good, steady, clean shot. He got positioned and found the elk in his scope right away, we have worked on finding things in the scope alot. He didn't have a very good shot because the bull was quartering towards us and there was some small quakies in the way. I knew that the bull would step forward to our right and turn more broadside because of the way the trees and brush were. After a minute the bull did exactly what I thought he would and presented a perfect shot at 150 yards. I told him to shoot whenever he was ready.. All of a sudden my boy whispers that he can't find the bull in his scope anymore.. I'm trying to give him some direction and as I'm trying to help him I look over and notice that his scope is turned up to 12x. I reach over and turn it down to 4 and he immediately finds the bull. He takes a few deep breaths and whispers I'm going to shoot. I hear the thunder roar from his .308 and I see the 150 grain ELDX hit the bull right behind the front shoulder. The bull lunged forward about 10 yards and expired. We immediately ran back up the hill to where my older boy was, grabbed all of our gear, gave some hugs and high fives and made our way down to the bull. To say that we were all on cloud 9 is an understatement. I was so happy for my boy and he was so excited. He immediately began asking when he could go elk hunting again. My older boy was super stoked to be a part of it too. We got to the bull took some pictures and got right to work. View attachment 199824 View attachment 199825 View attachment 199826
That is a perfect shot! Great job!
 
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