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Hunting with Family and Friends

February 2022
Story by David Heath
Hunters: David and Eric Heath
State: Utah
Species: Elk - Rocky Mtn

My brother and I had waited 20+ years to draw late season Utah elk tags. We each had different points and did not put in together, but we both drew on the same year. We were extremely excited! One of the first calls I made was to Garth at Huntin’ Fool to discuss the hunt. He was very helpful and got me started talking to other Huntin’ Fool members who drew the same tag and a couple of guys who live on the unit. I received a lot of great information from them and Garth. In speaking with my brother, Eric, we decided it would take a lot of pressure off of us having two tags to hire an outfitter. Having known Taylor Albrecht for years, he was our first choice. We spoke with Taylor once a month leading up to our hunt with him sending a lot of pictures and videos of bulls. Some of our target bulls were killed during the earlier season. That is one of the things you deal with on a late tag.

A week before the hunt started, I set up camp and began to look at bulls with Taylor. We were seeing 20-40 bulls a day! To say I was excited was an understatement. The Thursday before the hunt started, Eric and most of our friends and family made it to camp. We started spreading out more to pattern and look at bulls. The night before the hunt, we decided that a 6x7 with a lot of mass was going to be our target bull for opening morning. I went to one drainage to find him, while Eric went to another. We got the call, and Eric had found the bull and was making a move towards it. We abandoned my hunt to go glass and help him. When we arrived at the head of the other drainage, we could see a lot of bulls in the bottom. We watched Eric get into position and then heard two shots. The bull was down! Eric had killed our target bull opening day. We spent the rest of the day packing out his bull. We went to bed tired and excited for the next day to come.

The next morning, we spread out. We had about 20 people in camp and were able to cover a lot of mountain and elk. I received a call from my brother that I better get to his position and look at this bull. We drove to where he was glassing and looked at two nice bulls. One was a mature 7-point, but he did not have very long tines. The other had a huge frame and a big back end. As I watched through the spotting scope, I was amazed as he would turn his head and I could see how big his frame was. We decided we needed to get a better look at this bull. After discussing with Taylor, we determined that they were bedded on a trail that Eric took to pack his bull out. We knew right then we could kill that bull. We gathered everyone back at camp and came up with the plan. Most of us would go in one way to get closer to the bull, while Wes, Eric, and a few others would glass from the other side.

As we drove up the mountain and prepared for the stalk, I was nervous and a little sad that I was going to end this 20-year quest to kill a big bull on this mountain. As we approached the ridgetop we knew the bull was over, most of my friends and family stayed back so we wouldn’t spook the bull as we came over the skyline. Shelton, Taylor, and I moved over the top of the ridge but could not find the bulls. We backed out and went further down the backside of the ridge to get a different angle. As we crested the skyline this time, we could see an elk bedded in the mahoganies. I started to get set up as Shelton ranged him and gave me the minutes of angle for my shot. Taylor thought it was a cow at first, but as the elk stood up, all I could see was chocolate-colored antlers with ivory tips. The bull started to move off the small ridge he was on as Taylor said, “If that is what you want, take him.” The hills were so steep that as the bull moved away from us all I could see was the top of his head, neck, and back. I do not think Taylor finished his sentence when I shot the bull in the top of the back between the shoulder blades. The bull dropped and started to slide downhill. He got stuck in some quakies, and I shot him again just to be safe.

As we climbed down the hill towards the bull, I could not stop thinking about how thankful I was to have such good family and friends there to help us get two great bulls. As we got to the bull, it was extremely steep and we did not want him to slide any further down the mountain. We had to tie three different ropes to the bull just to get decent pictures. I will be forever thankful to my family and friends who shared this great hunt with me.