As Luck Would Have It
By Bob Bell
There is an old saying that it’s better to be lucky than good. My primary hunting partner, Paul, and I started applying for hunts other than just top tier in most states. In my home state of Washington, I did not draw anything, so I had a general muzzleloader deer and elk tag in my pocket. I hunted hard during the early deer season and passed on some small bucks. I knew I could always hunt the late season for whitetails close to the house. I had all but given up chasing deer and decided to go to my granddaughter’s soccer game with the family. It was raining, and I should have been out, but I thought that since it was the last weekend of the early deer season and it was opening day of muzzleloader elk season there would be a lot of folks out. I would wait until after the weekend to look for elk.
Driving home from the soccer game, I got a phone call from my son. He told me that a friend of his had called to tell him of a bull that had just been seen crossing the main road near town. I was a mile short of where I was told the bull had crossed. I looked out in the distance and caught a quick glimpse of what looked like an elk. I pulled over, backed up, and could see a bull bedded out in a wheat stubble field.
I had no binoculars, gun, or hunting equipment, so I dropped the family off, made a quick change of clothes, grabbed the gun, and jumped in the pickup. I picked up my 13-year-old grandson, Dan, and drove the couple miles towards the bull. As luck would have it, he was in the same place. The wind was blowing hard, and we had a light rain. We made a quick plan. I grabbed my Nimrod pack and primed the old 50 caliber Lyman Trade rifle. We made a long loop to get the wind perfect and started the last part of the sneak. I spotted the tops of the bull’s horns, adjusted, and went to a crawl to close the distance. When we were about as close as we could easily sneak, I told Dan to stay put, look for signs of blood on the bull, and keep an eye on where he went.
As I belly crawled the next 20 yards, the bull’s head spun around and he looked directly at me. I placed the peep behind the shoulder and sent the 295-grain bullet at the bedded bull. The gun kicked, and the smoke obscured the view. The bull was running almost directly away from me, so I turned to Dan and asked if he could see where or if I had hit it. His report back to me was, “Papa, I could see blood right behind the shoulder.”
To my surprise, the bull was bedded down about 200 yards down the hill facing dead away with his head up. We decided to slowly slide down the hill to try and get within 125 yards. We didn’t go 10 feet when the bull’s head started to sway back and forth and then straight up and back. His head then fell to the side and he was done. We carefully walked up to confirm he was deceased and got our first good look at the massive bull. I took a quick photo and sent it to my son, asking for some help if he could get away from work. He arrived quickly with a quad to assist. The body was so large that we couldn’t move it with his big quad. I have harvested, been on, and guided numerous elk hunts, but this was the biggest bodied elk I had ever laid my hands on.
We scored my eastern Washington bull at 354 5/8" gross and my biggest ever. I am blessed to have had my grandson with me and the great help of my son. Thanks to them both and for the luck that arrived from above.