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Triple Brow Bull

By Will Waldrip
AZ, Elk

Having lived in Arizona, I had always dreamed of chasing giant bulls that Arizona is known for. I was finally able to secure the statewide elk tag and hoped this dream of mine would become a reality. I knew I needed the best help I could get and enlisted the services of A3 Trophy Hunts. Seeing that I had 365 days to fill my tag, I was cautious when looking at the countless bulls they had to show me to make sure it was exactly what I had in mind. I also had to factor in that my immense love for archery hunting would possibly determine what bulls would have the most realistic odds to harvest.

On my first trip out, I met up with Jay Lopeman of A3 and we were off chasing bulls. I could not wait to chase these giant bulls with a bow in hand! Jay proved to know the elk and their patterns unlike anything I had ever seen. Every day was an adrenaline-filled frenzy with bull after bull in archery range; however, none of them quite fit the bill of what I was looking for except one bull with an exceptionally large third on one side. Unfortunately, after four days of hunting, we only had one fleeting glimpse of him as he disappeared into the thick cedar canopy.

A few short weeks later, Jay and Chad let me know that some of their guides had turned up an unbelievable bull on the early archery elk hunt in another unit. They urged me to come and put this bull down as it was a true monarch with huge beams and a 6x7 frame that was as big as anything one could ever hope for. I made the decision to not hunt during that time as I fully know and understand how hard it is to draw a coveted archery tag in Arizona and I did not want to take away from those who had drawn the tag in the Arizona Game and Fish lottery. In forgoing hunting during the archery season, I knew the odds of the bull hanging around long enough for me to have a crack at him would be slim to none, but a bull of that caliber could not go unhunted.

I made the trip out for a few days, and Hunter Weems and I searched high and low for this bull but with no luck. Over the course of three days, we saw multiple bulls, including one bull in the 390"+ range, but no sign of the bull we were after.

At this point in my 365-day quest to kill one of Arizona’s true giants, I knew my time would be limited due to work and other hunts. I was getting a sense of urgency to just fill a tag, if you will. Thankfully, the guys at A3 kept me calm and reassured me that the best was yet to come. They were right about that.

As the class of 2018 started developing into the droughted mess that they were, my worries set in again as some of the bulls we had previously been keeping tabs on were a staggering 20-40" smaller than the year before. The A3 guys assured me that we were still in good shape. I was told that there is always at least one big bull out there, but it just might be a tough bull to hunt. They had several bulls in mind, and only time would tell if they would show up and be candidates for this special tag.

It wasn’t long into scouting when Jay contacted me saying that the bull we were looking for was back and looking as big as ever. This 6x7 had a look that I could not stop thinking about. This was a bull that they had been keeping tabs on for three years. Jay and his team continued to keep tabs on the bull the best they could, and it wasn’t long before it was go time! After the logistical side of things were planned out and we had a date picked to start hunting, Jay told me that he had rounded up a team that would surely be able to dig this bull up as he proved to be tough to find on the hoof. Jay assured me that if anyone could do it, his guys could.

Prior to my arrival, the only way I could make it through the day without crippling anxiety was to touch base with the guys who had their boots on the ground. On the 10th, I arrived in Arizona with my son, Willie, and my good friend/cameraman, Matt Forsyth, to join the A3 crew in the hunt for the “Triple Brow Bull,” as we would come to know him.

On the second day with the crew, I made one stalk on a bull that was not quite as big. I was determined to use my bow, so I was okay with taking a smaller one if it meant using archery tackle. The torrential downpour foiled our plans, and the bull disappeared into the thick timber without us knowing until the rain subsided a few hours later. That left us tired and wet, yet hopeful for what the next day would hold.

The sunrise on the third day held a promising feeling that put a smile on our faces and lit a fire in our souls to give it everything we had. About an hour into the morning, the words, “I have the bull,” were heard. Dan H. had done what seemed like the impossible. Jay, Willie, Matt, and I started heading in Dan’s direction while the rest of the crew mobilized to get extra eyes on the group of bulls he was in. Dan had informed us on our drive there that the bull was definitely within rifle range but there was no chance of taking him with a bow. Though I knew how badly I wanted to use a bow, I could not help but think about how great this experience would be to have my son with me as such an incredible animal went down.

We met Dan and got into position 410 yards from the group of bulls. In the group, there was another bull we believed to hover around the 400" mark. I settled my crosshairs, and the shot was true. The bulls scattered as they left their leader behind. The smiles and celebrations were so heartfelt standing there with my son and great friends. Jay let the rest of the guys know that the Triple Brow Bull had fallen and for them to come join us where he lay. As we arrived at the bull, we were all in amazement and somewhat astounded at what we were looking at. What we had once believed to be a very solid 400" bull was now one that would be well over 425". This bull was the bull of the woods. His mass, tine length, and everything were amazing.

This hunt took me 331 days, three trips, and countless miles traveled and walked, but everyone was so sweet and cherished. I will always be glad we took it down to the wire.

I could not have done this without my family’s support. I am grateful that Willie was there with me, to Matt for capturing every moment in careful detail to be relived for years to come, and for the guys at A3 Trophy Hunts who helped this childhood dream of mine become a reality. Experiences like these will keep funding the conservation efforts in Arizona and will ensure wildlife for us today and the youth of tomorrow.

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