Quick Draw: 5B Late Rifle Bull
The late 5b rifle bull elk hunt started just as any other, scouting before the hunt. 2 days prior to opening day, I glassed up a nice mature 5x6 bull with a huge whale tail on his left side. I watched that bull for those next couple days and got some great footage of him. The day before the hunt, I picked up my client Brent and his buddy Rick from the Payson Airport. Brent had flown his two seater Cessna all the way down to Arizona from Idaho. We stopped for groceries then headed to the cabin where we were greeted by Daniel along with his client, Brad, who had the 5a bull tag. The day ended with some great food and going over plans for opening day. We awaited the next day with anticipation.
On opening morning we woke up to snow fall. We headed to the ridge where I had last seen the big 5x6 only to find that he had moved out of the area. The day was spent hiking from ridge to ridge and finding nothing. It seemed that the cold front coming through had pushed the bulls into other country and out of areas they were in just days prior.
The next day started out a little better for us as I glassed up two bulls down the canyon from us on the opposite side. I watched the bulls feed over and out of sight. That quickly led to the decision to make dash for them. While hiking up the ridge towards the bulls we heard multiple shots go off in the distance and knew we had just lost our chance at Brent filling his tag on those particular bulls.
On day three we teamed up with Daniel, since Brad had filled his tag on opening morning in his unit. As we sat glassing the flats and rolling hills below us, 5 bulls barreled off the top a mere 30 yards to my right. Unfortunately the bulls continued their fast pace which never gave Brent a shot opportunity. That afternoon, Dillon showed up to camp to help out. We headed out for the evening hunt, all to separate areas to increase our odds of locating a mature bull. As Brent, Rick, and I headed to our glassing spot we received a call from Daniel that Dillon had just glassed up a very big 6x6 bull across the canyon. We immediately turned around and headed to meet up with Daniel. We hopped in the General then made our way over to the bedded bull. After a 30 minute drive and a short hike we were on top of the bull, just 300 yards away but the wind was not in our favor. The bull winded us then got out of his bed and started walking towards the edge of the cut. Brent got down on the rifle but was unable to find the bull due to the glare from the sun. The 340s class bull trotted off through the open into a ravine, not to be seen again.
Coming into the fourth day Brent was ready to shoot the next bull we saw. For the afternoon, having been skunked that morning, we headed to an area we had previously seen a couple bulls. As luck would have it, eight bulls ran across the road in front of us before making it to our glassing spot. We parked the Jeep and made a dash for them. They had stopped in a clearing at the edge of some junipers. Brent picked out a 5x5 bull in the group, raised his rifle to his shoulder, centered the crosshairs on the bull's vitals and squeezed off a shot. The sound of thunder rang through the clearing as the .270 WSM went off, laying the bull to rest.
Brent had finally punched his tag on his first Arizona bull. Dillon and Daniel met up with us to help us take pictures and quarter out the bull. I dropped Brent and Rick back off at the airport the next morning with a cooler full of meat and a good story to tell for years to come. Then I set course for the next camp to fill another late rifle bull tag in unit 23 in the few remaining days of the season.
Contributor: Cody Thomas