Caribou Gear Tarp

Dad's Black Oak Canyon Bull


New member
Jan 8, 2001
Katy, TX
We (my father and I) had booked an elk hunt for the 2nd week in October 1999 in New Mexico with an outfitter in May 1998. It seemed like 1998 would never end and then 1999 finally came. Every conversation we had for the year somehow centered around our pending elk hunt. During April, my father started having circulation problems in his legs and arms, we didn't think too much of it because the doctors said it was the medication he was taking for his cholesterol. For Mother's Day, we decided to take my folks out for dinner and then a hockey game. During dinner Dad began to complain about a great deal of pain in his leg, in the past once he started moving the pain subsided. We decided to head to the hockey game, everything was fine until about mid-way through the 2nd quarter when shooting pains went through his leg. He was immobilized and we knew we had to get him to the emergency room.

My mother, wife, and 1 year old ran up the steps to get the vehicle and meet us at doors so we could get him to the hospital. We started up the stairs about two or three steps with me supporting almost all of his weight when his leg collapsed underneath him and he fell. I struggled to get him back on his feet and was trying to carry him up the stairs when another two guys saw what was happening and helped me carry him to the concourse where building security had a wheelchair waiting.

We took him to the emergency room where they thought it was a sciatic nerve problem and gave him a shot of cortisone for pain. They commented that he needed to see a specialist to confirm their suspicions. This was May 9th, 1999. During the next three months he was on disability from his job, Dad saw over 10 different specialists and some of the most prominent doctors in this area. We were told he had cancer, heart valve blockage, brain tumor, degenerative arthritis, to permanent spinal cord damage. After all of this it was finally determined that he had experienced a drug reaction that only affects 1/100th of 1% of all patients, less than 100 known cases. During all of this he had lost 90% of the strength in his legs and arms.

My father works in a machine shop and returned to work to the end of July first of August. His body did not have time to adjust to the extreme heat of his job and he was physically fatigued and exhausted at the end of his day. However, everyday he went to physical therapy to strengthen his legs and arms. I told him we need to cancel this trip and plan for 2000, because there is no way he is going to be able to do the walking. He said NO! I am going on this trip if it kills me. He religiously did his therapy in the morning at his lunch breaks and then with the therapist.

Finally, the time came for us to leave. Seeing him walk and how he favored his legs when he got up from a sitting position, I didn't know how he was going to be able to do this hunt. The night before we arrived in camp, in our hotel room's bathroom he did his physical therapy exercises for about an hour. The first morning was not very strenuous just lots of glassing. We saw a big 7x7 about a mile away heading into the timber through a spotting scope with 15 or so cows and we saw a 320 class bull run up through the junipers, but would never give us a clean shot. That afternoon, we hunted Black Oak Canyon and had bulls bugling all around us all evening. We hiked down the Mesa into the valley floor and saw elk at a distance, but nothing that we wanted to make a stalk after. Finally right a dusk, a huge bull came down the mesa we had walked down, but would never give us a clear shot. We are guessing it was a 340 to 350 class bull that had very heavy horns.

That night we split up, I was going to hunt high on the mesa trying to catch the elk in the huge meadows on the top and dad was going to hunt the bottom. We saw a few elk, a couple of small bulls, but nothing to get us excited. Dad had seen 100's of elk in the valley floor and missed a shot at a 300 class 6x6. All of the sudden I heard, a bull bugle, I look across the valley (3/4 mile the way the crow flies) and there is a huge 360 to 370 class bull taking his harem up the drainage, he had about 10 or 12 cows with him. As soon as he went over the nob, another bull this one in the 320 to 330 class with 15 cows came feeding over this nob. I looked down far to my left and there is my dad and his guide making their way up through the oak thicket and junipers to get to these bulls. We decided to take a seat and watch the events unfold. They weaved their way through the brush to get downwind of this bull and his cows. The bull began to push his harem up the drainage to beddown, two of the cows didn't want to leave yet and wanted to continue to feed. We began to cow call and bugle to get the bull fired up as did Dad's guide. The bull started bugling and answering everyone of our calls. He moved up the hill to get the first cow, he circled her and started pushing her in the direction he wanted her to go. When she didn't go, he lowered his antlers and crashed into her pushing her in the direction. He then crashed into her with his chest pushing her away from our calling. He finally got her with the other cows and headed back up the nob to get the other cow. This cow wanted no part of his aggressive tactics and when he got close she ran the 500 or so yards to the other cows. During this whole exchange he must have bugled about 25 to 30 times.

The bull started pushing the harem up the drainage, but both of our groups continued to call and the bull continually responded to every challenge and cow call. Finally, Dad and his guide go to a point where they might be able to put a stalk on the elk. At this point, they were a good mile or more away from them. The guide started his hyper-cow call and the bull started responding even more vigorously and growling at the call. We couldn't see the elk clearly from on top of the mesa, but only catch glimpses of them every minute or two. Dad and his guide couldn't see them at all, they were completely going on this stalk by sound. Then the bull and his harem started back down the drainage towards my dad and his guides location. The bugles got louder and louder and closer and closer. Dad later commented that hair on the back of his neck was standing on end.

My guide said, you dad must be in some hell of a good shape to make it across this thick underbrush as fast as he has. I only said, if you only knew and left it at that. They kept working closer and closer to the bull and we finally lost sight of them in the underbrush. Dad later told me the brush was 10' to 12' tall and was all oak thicket. They were being so careful not to make a sound or crunch the leaves that he was exhausted. He kept telling himself just 10 more feet, just 5 more feet you can make it. Finally, we could see the elk and guessing on where Dad and his guide must be, they had to be close, really close! All of the sudden three cows and the bull burst from cover and ran about 75 yards up the hill and stood perfectly still behind a gigantic juniper.

When the elk burst from cover, Dad didn't know what was coming through the brush but he had never heard so many large branches breaking so close in all his life and not able to see anything but a glimpse of brown here and there. Dad had a small window to shoot through in front of him maybe 1 foot wide by 8 feet tall about 40 yards in front of him. He was able to see the bull moving his antlers back and forth surveying the area, but there was no way he was going to be able to shoot because of all the brush. Dad's guide started tapping his shoulder, finally he realized he wanted him to put his gun barrel on his shoulder for a rest. After about 10 minutes, seemed like 4 hours, the bull took two steps to his left. Had the bull gone any other direction, they would not have been able to see him. The bull stopped broadside in the shooting lane and he shot.

From my vantage point, I watched the bull raise up on his rear legs and take off and then I heard the KABOOM and WHAPP of the bullet striking home about 2 seconds later. At about the time I heard the bullet hit home the bull fell as he was trying to climb over this rise and then started sliding back down. Then when he stopped I heard the crash of him falling and then the sounds of rocks rolling down the hill. The bull only ran about 75 yards after the shot, and it took them about 20 minutes to get through all of the brush where the bull fell and then another 20 to 30 minutes of mashing the oak brush down so they could take pictures.

Dad was near tears when he finally got to the bull. He had endured so much during the year and it was finally well worth his effort. 6 hours later they finally arrived back at camp and you could tell that Dad was not only thrilled and excited, but somewhat relieved that he was able to make it and take an elk the way he wanted. Spot, stalk, and calling. The bull ended up scoring 325 3/8's B&C and now proudly adorns his wall.




I added a couple for you guys to look at....hope you enjoy!

[This message has been edited by TexasHunter (edited 01-17-2001).]
Texas Hunter-I dont know if anyone has welcomed you to Moosies forum but WELCOME!!!! Glad ya shared that story with us. I can see the exitement in his eyes when he got to that bull. Thats the best part about hunting is the excitemnet in peoples eyes. Thanks for a very well written story! AND WELCOME AGAIN!!! Hope ya stay around and share some more stories like that! bcat

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