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September 2021
Story by Ryan Martenson
State: Nevada
Species: Elk - Rocky Mtn

Simply put, 2020 was the most difficult year of my life. I realize this can be said for many of you as well with the trials and tribulations that last year brought. However, in this case, Covid-19 or the drought of 2020 brought opportunity to me in the form of a turned back Nevada unit 111-115 first rifle bull elk tag. While my hunting schedule was expected to be full in 2020, rather than buy a point, I put in for the best units Nevada had to offer with 12 non-resident points. While it was no surprise to not draw a tag in the regular draw, I was very surprised after returning home from a Wyoming elk hunt that was a bust to receive a turned back tag in unit 111-115 first rifle elk. Wow! Even on a down year, you don’t pass this tag with 12 points.

My first call was to Huntin’ Fool to discuss my good fortune and devise a plan in regard to moving forward with this hunt in roughly 45 days. My second call was to Timberline Outfitters Guide Service and Thomas Brunson. I simply cannot say enough about the level of professionalism within this outfit.

Opening day arrived, and I soon witnessed the quality of this hunt and the opportunity that it possessed. By the end of day one, I had passed several 340-350" bulls, hoping for something bigger with this 10-day hunt. Never before had I been on a hunt and felt comfortable passing bulls of this size. The quality of this unit was amazing even in a down year. On day three, we had 10 inches of snow, which aided our hunt considerably. The evening of day three, we located my target bull, a large bull that had a busted beam after his fourth. The mass, length, and sheer size of this bull was amazing. He was 380" if he was intact. However, we were unable to make a move on the bull that evening because of low light and his location at the top of the mountain range.

We tried turning up this bull the remainder of the hunt, although we did not locate him until the evening of day seven. Again, it was the same situation of not enough time to get within range before legal shooting light expired that evening. Oftentimes, we were glassing bulls from three miles out. Quality glass is a must for this hunt!
How fortunate to end every day with me having the ability to pass 340-350" bulls. Unfortunately, we struggled to locate the large broken bull. On day nine, I lost my nerve and discussed with my guide, Tyler Hendrickson, that we should make a play on the next 350"+ bull we had an opportunity on. We were very fortunate to locate a broken 5x6 bull Tyler figured to be in the 350-360" range, and the hunt was on with only one day left. As hunters, we all realize how fortunate we are to have a hunt last the full allotment of time and yet still be able to harvest a terrific animal.

We had reached our shooting position after a long, arduous hike, roughly 10 minutes before the group of bulls came out to feed. One high shoulder shot at 425 yards with my seven Sherman short and it was over. While this bull was like most late season bulls, broken or chipped, we assumed he would score 357" fully intact.

For those who have hunted this unit, you can fill in the blanks of what I may have missed in describing it. For those who have not had the good fortune of hunting this unit or obtaining a “Pandemic” tag, I apologize for not finding the words to accurately do this hunt justice. Thank you to my loving family, Huntin’ Fool, and the friends I have there in Logan, Robert, and Garth.