Here is how it happened: Tim's Journal
It really was a dream hunt for me.
Everything came together so well, got the time off work, had a great scouting trip in September,
buddies loaned me equipment I didn't have, the weather was perfect, got into lots of elk,
passed on some lesser bulls, had a great stalk on a dandy bull but didn't connect in the end
(couldn't get too bummed, it was a blessing to see him, and messing up the stalk was my own fault),
connected and downed a beautiful bull on the morning of the third day,
got the head and cape to the taxidermist within two and a half days (well before cape damage issues),
and lastly but most significantly had three of the best guys possible come and help pack out quarters
(a HUGE thanks to Doug McGrail, Joe Windham, and Greg Bleyer).
If not for them, I would have been packing meat out for days. A guy couldn't ask for a finer line of pack mules!
Arrived at hunting camp at 1:00 am, set up pop-up camper, slept in till 9:00. Sighted in rifle: 300 Win Mag,
180 gr Nosler partions hand loaded with 72gr 4350, zero at 200yds, 43" drop at 500yrds.
Scouted and glassed country in afternoon. Saw 2 elk, both cows, and lots of hunters driving around.
Took off on the mountain bike at 6:30 am from gate, passed horsemen, never saw them again.
(I never saw another hunter beyond the gate the entire time I hunted, nice to have no others in the area, just elk and me)
Rode in 3 miles. Hunted the east side of ridge. Saw 3 raghorn bulls and 1 cow in the a.m.
Passed on one nice bull in the afternoon, I judged it to be a 320-330 point bull. Back at camper by 7:30 pm.
Again rode mountain bike in from the gate. Hunted the west side of ridge.
Saw 2 cows about a mile away in the bottom of the drainage.
Hiked over two finger ridges, saw two bulls at 900 yds. Watched them bed in the timber, 9:30 am.
One was a very nice bull, I didn't get a real good look at him from the side,
he was moving away from me, his rack was well over twice the width of his rump.
I started a long drawn-out stalk on these bulls. Saw two cows and a spike along the way.
Came up where I figured they were, was looking directly into the sun.
Misjudged their location, and they saw me and exploded out of their beds about 80 yds away,
12:00 pm. Never saw 'em again. Saw two cows on the hike out.
They were close, could have shot either one. Got back to camp by 6:00 pm.
6:15 am, no other hunters at gate, all camps had packed up and moved out.
Rode the bike in 4.5 miles. Backtracked about a mile on the ridge while waiting for hunting light.
Dropped off the east side of ridge, hiked for 45 min, saw elk in the lower drainage.
Ranged a cow at 336 yds, three bulls came in view nearby. Two raghorns and a good one.
Set up for the shot, the bull presented himself, I started to squeeze,
then backed off wondering if this is the one.
He made up my mind for me by going out of view over the ridge. The raghorns followed.
I second guessed my decision to pass on this bull, so I quickly picked up my gear and climbed the ridge they went over.
Had the bipod all set and rangefinder out.
There were two finger ridges in the distance, the close one at 225 yds and second at 446 yds.
Got into position just as the last raghorn topped the far ridge.
After about two minutes of contemplating the situation and swallowing my discouragement,
a movement caught my eye to the left.
A bull exploded out of the juniper and scrub pines and ran down the slope in front of me and up the first ridge.
I could tell right away he would look good on the wall. I already knew the first ridge was at hold zero range.
He stopped to look in my direction, sent one square in the shoulder, he went down.
He struggled to get up, there was a deep ravine about fifteen feet below, and I didn't want to see him go in so,
I sent another one into his neck.
I could hear both were solid hits, later found the bullets perfectly mushroomed under the skin on the off side.
8:35am. Approaching the bull I couldn't help but smile and give thanks to God.
It was a heavy beamed 6X7 that would make a beautiful mount.
After pictures and praises to God, I started in at 9:35.
It took a full 5 hours to cape, quarter the hinds, and remove the meat from the front half.
Took another hour to move everything up to a tree and hang it.
That particular tree is a stones throw away from where I shot a cow in 2008. Back at camp by 6:00 pm.
Called Dad and got the latest weather report, didn't sound good, rained hard that evening.
Slept in. 10:00am headed back to the bull with a game cart and pack frame.
The mud was as bad as it could get. Dropped the game cart about 3/4 of a mile in.
The mud stuck to the wheels so bad they stopped turning.
Continued on with just the pack frame.
Loaded the head and made it back to camp around 5:30 pm.
According to the GPS the bull was 4.25 miles in from the gate.
Got up at 3:30 am drove to Billings. Icy roads most of the way.
Wanted Jodi and Allie to see the elk before taking it to the taxidermist
(it'll be at the taxidermist almost one year).
Arrived at the taxidermist by 12:30 pm, Purcell's Taxidermy just outside of Red Lodge.
The pack mules (Greg, Joe and Doug) assembled at my house around 3:00 pm.
We arrived back at the gate and started hiking in at 6:10 pm.
A beautiful evening to pack elk. 25 degrees, mud was frozen, no wind, lots of stars.
Took in four pack frames and two game carts.
Had to pack the elk about one mile up the ridge to the game carts.
The guys did great, I pooped out and wasn't much help the last 2 miles before
we arrived back at the gate. Got to the truck at 10:15 pm.
Had a beer waiting for us, part of a special batch I brewed for the occasion;
Breaks Bull Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter. It hit the spot!
We all spent the night in the pop-up camper.
Got up at 4:40 am, packed up camp, back in Billings by 8:40. The guys went off to work. I showered and slept.