Speaking of hunting, I’m still stoked about an elk hunt I just returned from on White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. This 1.7 million-acre reservation is perhaps the best place in the world for giant elk. It is to elk what the best ranches in South Texas are to whitetails, and that’s saying something! I went there under the guise of shooting a TV show for Realtree’s Monster Bulls on Versus, the home of our own Tecomate show. (Truth is: I went there to shoot a big elk!) Monster Bulls is produced by The Bucks of Tecomate producer, Orion Multimedia, and of course, my personal relationship with the guys at Realtree goes back for decades. So in a way, this was a “family” project for Tecomate and me. And to be honest, it didn’t take much (actually, no) arm-twisting to convince me to go to White Mountain … during the height of bugling season! … for a monster bull elk!
And, what a hunt it was! I won’t give away all the details (you’ll have to watch the show next fall to see what happened during an incredible two days on White Mountain), but when the smoke cleared, I had the biggest elk of my life, a 395 gross B&C monster, shot after wading through about 40 big bulls. This was a grudge match for me. I had hunted White Mountain three years earlier with the same guide, Louie Zospah, as I had this year. Louie is a great guide and a joy to hunt with, but we went into this hunt with unfinished business. You see, on the previous hunt with Louie, I came home empty-handed after seven grueling days of climbing up and down the mountains of the reservation … and getting up at the uncivilized hour of 2:30 in the morning to begin the 2½-hour trek to our hunting area. During that trip, Louie and I certainly saw plenty of bulls, 66 by actual count, and some big ones. But of the four we saw that were big enough to shoot, three had broken antlers from the great battles mature bulls so often engage in. But there was this one bull …
On the morning of the fourth day, we crossed paths with a bull that I will forever regret not shooting. It’s a long story but suffice to say, I had the huge 6x7 bull at 20 yards, and after a few moments of tense deliberation, we decided not to shoot him. As soon as he walked over the hill into the “dark timber,” both Louie and I realized the folly of our decision and went after him, never to see him again. I knew then that I had made an awful mistake! That bull, which we figured would have scored over 380, would have been by far the biggest of my life. There will always be a hole in my trophy room where that giant should have gone.
When I arrived at White Mountain this year, with cameraman Mike Law to record the action, Louie and I held a powwow and determined NOT to let that happen again. If I saw a big bull meeting my size criteria … that I liked … I was going to shoot him, no discussion, no hesitation. But if you watch the show next fall, you’ll see that we once again came woefully close to being blinded by the mystique and lore of White Mountain super bulls by letting a once-in-several-lifetimes bull escape unscathed. Fortunately, God gave us a second chance and we came to our senses just in time … after a series of “interesting” events!
You gotta see the show! I guarantee it’ll be fun … and loaded with big bull elk action! But it may make you question my sanity, as I did when I put my hands on that awesome rack and realized that I hesitated on such an incredible trophy animal. The accompanying picture says it all – that’s a monster bull!