Garden Fed Bull Elk

by Ashley Davis

Big bull elk from Arizona's White Mountains.
I drew a late bull elk tag for coveted units 3A/3C in Arizona. In preparation, I spent hours scouring maps and talking to people who knew where the elk were and how I could get one.

Opening morning I was in a great spot, right in the middle of where the elk cross from feeding to bedding down for the day, but I didn't see a thing. The rest of the day I hiked the tops of ridges trying to jump them up from their beds, but to no avail.

I logged over 10 miles and went home very tired and a bit discouraged because I had not seen a single elk.

The next morning I met my brother at his house and we started out of town before it got light. As we were driving past the town park, in the center of town, we saw two large bulls feeding on some hay in someone's back yard.

It turns out that these two elk were famous in this little town and had been in many backyards eating gardens and trees. One of them had broken a windchime off of someone's porch and it had been hanging on his antlers, chiming with every step he took.

We decided to watch them and see where they would go when it got light and if I could possibly get a shot at one of them when they entered the forest.

They stayed right there until the sun was up, shining brightly in the sky, before they made a move to the south.

We were to the south east of them and could see them on private property coming our way. Some dogs spooked them and they started running towards the very road we were parked on!

They crossed the highway and jumped the fence into forest property right in front of us.

They were down in the bottom, with a ridge thickly covered with juniper trees to the south of them. I jumped out of the truck and began running up the ridge, thinking that the elk would head for cover in the thick stuff.

I ran several hundred yards up the ridge through the trees, then turned to the north to catch my breath and see if anything was visible.

To my surprise, right at the moment I had turned to the north the elk had turned to the south and we met up about 20 yards apart!

I could see them through the trees but I had no shooting lane and as I quickly tried to think of what I should do, one of the elk took off running up the ridge in front of me.

There was a small opening in the trees where he had flashed through, so thinking the other elk might follow, I aimed my gun at the opening.

At the very second my scope filled with elk fur, and I mean filled (I still had the scope set on 9x from the day before) I pulled the trigger.

He ran a little ways and stopped.

I kneeled down under a tree (my only opening) and shot again. He bolted up the ridge so quickly that I just knew I had missed.

However, to my surprise and excitement, as I made my way up the ridge I found him standing broadside to me. I shot him at thirty yards and he dropped.

I quickly went over to him and bled him and then called my brother and my nephew and had them come and check out my prize.

We were all pleased with the size. Although we never had him officially measured I was very excited with this late bull.


Editor's note: Ashley is the last winner of a blacktail antler pen from S-Man Pens and Antlers.

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